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Fully Armored
By Dr. Lloyd Kim


How do you discern simply having a bad week from being spiritually attacked? Right before some very important meetings, I caught a cold—the kind of cold that has you in bed for a couple of days with fever and chills. It was also during a time when we were wrestling with some escalating situations on different fields.

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I had also found out from my wife that our youngest child, who is 9, was crying again because she missed her life in Cambodia. Was it all just a coincidence?

During that week we were welcoming about 25 new missionaries to MTW. Several of our CMTW (Committee on Mission to the World) members were there and our chairman gave a charge to these new missionaries. He began his charge by telling them that they now have a target on their backs and will be the subject of spiritual attack. The passage he read was from Ephesians 6:10–20 describing the need to put on the full armor of God. Two things struck me from his message: (1) the reality of the enemy and his desire to distract, discourage, and destroy God’s people; and (2) the hope we have in the gospel as the foundation of the armor of God.

The reminder was timely, not only for the new missionaries, but for me as well. As the apostle Paul writes, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).

Interestingly enough, I had a restless night soon after because of a bad dream. In the dream these strange people were attacking me and my family. We all had guns and were shooting back at these enemies. When I awoke, my heart was still pounding. I couldn’t help but make a connection with the dream and being attacked by the evil one, so I prayed for God’s protection over our family. When I shared this with my wife in the morning, she laughed and reminded me that I had a Nerf battle with my kids the night before and that maybe I carried that battle into my dreams … hmmm?

Would you pray for God’s protection over these new missionaries and our MTW family as we engage in God’s kingdom work?

The 5 Types of Stress Every Missionary Faces
By Chery Flores

The DAR debriefing retreat I attended last week was a wonderful time with 36 other missionaries and 25 children to consider the common joys, challenges and stresses we face serving cross culturally. I left very encouraged, more relaxed about how I'm adapting to life in the States, and with some new tools to help me take good care of myself.


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Three topics we discussed really grabbed my attention: Stress, transitions, and identity. We talked about five categories of stress that missionaries face. When we made a comprehensive list of the stress experienced by my group, I was sobered by how much stress missionaries experience on a daily and cumulative basis. I gained a renewed appreciation for how much stress I've experienced living in Spain (even though I really enjoy being there). I realized my attitude has been "just do it" (common to all missionaries) and I've failed to appreciate how accumulated stress impacted me.

Below are the five main categories of cross-cultural stress, followed by some of the specific stressors in each category that have affected those in my group.

1. Situational Factors: Dirt everywhere; pollution; earthquakes; team conflict; heat and humidity; leadership problems; constant turnover of teammates; changes in leadership structure; government bureaucracy; being hassled at road checkpoints; corruption/lack of integrity; spouse's workload; unable to form close friendships; loss of relational/emotional support; poor heating; frozen water pipes; isolation and loneliness.

2. Daily Hassles: Communication challenges; language learning; crowded public transportation; changing schedules and plans; no hot water; constant interruptions; filtering water; bike stolen; adjusting to local babysitters; not being "one of them;" being a minority; beggars everywhere; parenting difficulties; always more to do than time allows; everything takes longer; shopping; car repairs; daily life tasks; noisy living environment.

3. Life Events: Missing birth of grandchildren; death of parents and family members; moving overseas with 6-month-old; miscarriage; pregnancy; children moving on; moving many times; residency renewal issues; adjusting to new city, home, language, and culture; changing friendships; no stable place to stay when in USA; major illness; surgery; move from city to village.

4. Traumatic Events: Confronting thief in my home; near fatal accidents; seeing fatal accidents; chronic poverty we can't escape; not being with my sister when she almost died; marriage issues; feeling non-supported by our church; protecting children from dangerous local events; unplanned return to U.S. due to terrorism or residency issues; struggling with cultural adaptation; "American-ness" affects work with nationals; mass exodus of teammates.

5. Personality/Gender: Living in a male-dominated culture as a woman; being an extroverted woman in a culture where women are to be silent; living in fatalistic culture; perfectionism; struggling with being performance driven; trying to live up to expectations of adopted culture; questions about singleness; an extrovert working alone; confronting American stereotypes; need for more down time; private personality in a very nosy culture; being a control freak.

As I listened to these stressors being read out loud, I was a bit overwhelmed as I considered how much stress we deal with as missionaries. As a group, we were amazed and almost speechless when we saw the degree of stress that accompanies missionary life.

I so appreciate the continued prayers of friends and supporters during my HMA (Home Missionary Assignment), as I dedicate time to reflect upon the joys, challenges, and stresses I've experienced during the past seven years. In addition to the stressor categories I mentioned above, I was reminded that I've gone through six transitions since June 2008. My reaction was, "No wonder I've been feeling so tired!" I left the retreat recognizing that one reason God brought me back on an unscheduled furlough is to have time to rest and renew my energy, to reflect upon and process my missionary journey thus far, and to prepare for my return to Spain, which, Lord willing, will be this fall.

Chery Flores is an MTW missionary serving in Spain.

 
Hope for the Scattered South Sudanese Refugees Find Hope in Uganda

By Phil Mobley

The Rev. James Bab was already on foreign soil in late 2013 on the day he became a refugee. In the middle of December, civil war came to his homeland of South Sudan when conflict broke out between the president and a political rival. Bab was visiting Uganda when the shooting started.

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Unable to return home and aware that his family was imperiled, he soon received tragic news from friends in the network of six churches he helped plant in South Sudan. As he wrote in January of 2014: "As a church [we have] lost many beloved brothers and sisters, [which] means we have orphans, widows, and widowers." Since then, three of the congregations have managed to continue meeting despite the conflict, but the others have been scattered. Also dispersed was a group of 60 pastors Bab had been mentoring in the town of Bentiu, several of whom were killed.

The young nation of South Sudan, founded only in 2011, had devolved into ethnic warfare between the Dinka and the Nuer, two of the country's largest traditional groups. Many thousands have been killed since the fighting began, with many hundreds of thousands displaced.

A clean and clear theology
Though not at home, Bab was among friends in Uganda. One of them was Don McNeill, part of the MTW team in Kampala, the nation's capital. The team's primary emphasis has been providing theological training to pastors and church planters like Bab, which they do in partnership with Westminster Theological College (WTC). (See the sidebar at the end of this story for more on MTW's theological training efforts in Uganda.) McNeill first met Bab in 2007 and knew him throughout Bab's Bible college days.

When Bab first arrived at WTC, he—like many others before and since—had a Bible, but no other books or teaching resources. He had very little historical or doctrinal knowledge to guide his interpretation of the Bible. He also barely spoke English, which meant he was learning language alongside theology. "Don and the team taught us very clean and clear biblical theology," Bab said. "They generously gave us books and Kindles."
The training was invaluable to Bab as he returned to South Sudan in 2011 where he planted churches and trained pastors. And his relationship with the MTW team proved fruitful in crisis when the team was able to supply financing and logistical assistance to get his family out of South Sudan in the spring of 2014. The reunited family now lives at the Kiryandongo U.N. refugee settlement in Uganda.

Crisis with kingdom opportunities
According to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 140,000 South Sudanese refugees were in Uganda as of January, a figure that is expected to double by year's end. Bab and MTW have been diligent in seizing the kingdom opportunity afforded by this crisis. As he had done before, Bab planted a church—this time among the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. With some financial assistance from MTW and various individuals, the church put up walls and a tin-sheet roof. At the same time, they worked together to bring more people safely to Uganda.

In April of 2014, MTW Compassion funds helped provide travel costs and border fees for 99 refugees from Juba, the South Sudan capital. Most of them were particularly vulnerable: widows and orphans, the sick and disabled. Their arrival on a Sunday via a fleet of large vans they called "taxis" touched off celebratory worship. More joined them in September, again financed by donations coordinated by MTW and believers in Kampala, who also helped provide clothing. Bab continues to raise money to bring even more taxis full of his countrymen to safety.

A fruitful sojourn
Led in part by the theological perspective he gained at WTC, Bab sees God's sovereignty at work at Kiryandongo, despite the horror of civil war and ethnic strife. In fact he even reminded friends in a series of text messages that we should not be surprised to see such events, since Jesus Himself warned us they would come in Matthew 24. "When my family was caught in war-torn South Sudan, I felt bad, but my motto is 'God is in control'—and He actually is! My faith was strengthened. When they came out, I praised God for His protection."

Bab also sees God's hand in the mix of people who, though all South Sudanese, come from different places and are different colors. "Galatians 3:28 says that in Christ we are one," Bab said. "I am now connected with many people I did not dream I would meet." Their joy and unity has not gone unnoticed among the U.N. workers at the camp, who initially marveled at the uplifted countenance of people forced from their homes and carrying precious little with them.

During their sojourn as refugees, Bab has not lost sight of the possibilities for this latest church plant. His vision goes far beyond the refugee camp, and it is borne of the simplest of strategies. "My aim is to let the people I meet know Jesus and be saved—like me!" he said. "Then those who are saved will serve God and teach others everywhere they go."

"James is still training pastors," said his old instructor Don McNeill. "After the war, there will be even more people trained to carry on church-planting work." McNeill and Steven Edging, MTW missionary and coordinator for the South Sudanese relief project, have also taught in the camp.

All three men long to see the gospel multiply in South Sudan. For now, they wait and learn. It is not yet safe to return, though they pray that it will be soon. Then the band of refugees will "scatter" anew, this time not to flee from war, but to sow seeds. Both James Bab and Don McNeill have seen enough to trust in God to make them grow.

You can help South Sudanese refugees by making a donation to MTW's South Sudanese Refugee Project.
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The Importance of Theological Training
MTW focuses on theological training at Westminster Theological College (WTC) in Uganda and through dozens of independent pastoral training centers initiated and coordinated by African leaders, many of them former graduates of WTC.

Missionary Don McNeill and Bruce Sinclair, MTW Uganda team leader, teach at some of these centers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Jeff Borden, MTW missionary and MINTS International Seminary coordinator for Africa, has seen an explosive interest in the MINTS study center paradigm, reaching pastors who don't have the opportunity to study at residential schools.

According to McNeill, who taught at WTC from 2007-2011, this type of training can be a slow process, particularly because many African pastors do not initially see the need. After all, their congregations are growing rapidly as the Holy Spirit brings new believers. But McNeill has seen great benefit come to these newly trained leaders. Many beginning students approach Christianity legalistically; learning more about the doctrines of grace proves corrective and liberating in their understanding of justification and sanctification.

McNeill also has seen theological training manifest itself in practical attitudinal and behavioral changes. "Many students believed that working in the fields was beneath the dignity of an educated person," he explained. "We teach them about the dignity of all labor before God, and many come to an understanding that manual labor is as sacred as preaching a sermon."

McNeill is encouraged to see leaders impacted by truth. "God uses solid biblical teaching to reach His people," said McNeill. "Very often, as the leadership goes, so goes the church."

"Hope for the Scattered" is the cover story for the 2015 Spring/Summer issue of Network magazine. Magazine copies available free of charge upon request. Email info@mtw.org.

Assessment Team Heads to Nepal


Our Global Disaster Response ministry deploys an Advanced Needs Assessment (ANAT) team to Nepal Monday, May 4 to arrive in Nepal May 5. The goal of the team is to meet with national partners and visit churches in Nepal's Emmanuel Church network to assess the needs and develop a course of action for further response.

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The assessment team is going in response to the 7.8 earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015. As of this writing, more than 7,000 have lost their lives and thousands more are injured and homeless.

Our national partners are experiencing the devastating effects of the earthquake firsthand. Seventeen people died while gathered for worship in one of the Emmanuel network churches. (Nepal churches worship on Saturday.) In total 23 believers involved with MTW partner churches have died. Many more have lost their homes. One partner church, though significantly damaged itself, has become a temporarily shelter for 150 community members who've lost their homes. Those seeking shelter there are sleeping within the walls of the church compound (which also houses a Bible school, children's home, widow's home, and home for widows) though they are sleeping outdoors due to the constant threat of aftershocks.

Our Global Disaster Response efforts are always coordinated in connection with the local church, making MTW unique. All donations will have a direct impact on MTW partner communities. The assessment team will look at the best ways to provide for these partner church communities to help them rebuild and heal from the devastating impact of a disaster

We are asking for help in three ways: First and foremost-pray for MTW's national partners and their congregations in Nepal. Then consider an online donation to help meet critical needs in the wake of this disaster. And finally, share a bulletin insert and PowerPoint slide in church this Sunday (available at www.mtw.org/disaster.

For more information visit www.mtw.org/disaster, or follow MTW updates on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

 
Ebola Follow Up
By John Sexton

The American news is so fickle! We have heard virtually nothing about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for many weeks. However, the epidemic still has been present there. The good news is the number of Ebola cases is decreasing.

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In fact, there is a possible vaccine for it now, but it cannot be tested due to the decreasing numbers of cases. The bad news is that Ebola is now present in West Africa and will probably periodically crop up in the future. We are taking advantage of the interest in preventing Ebola to teach general health concepts in these countries.

Last March, Hugh Davis and I taught students from a West Africa seminary to be health teachers. I was also able to return in September and give them further training in Ebola prevention. In the U.S. in February I was able to meet with church leaders from the region. During these meetings, the leaders shared how the students trained in September have taught in a variety of settings. They have plans to do health and evangelism outreach to 25 towns. This will be a mixture of Ebola teaching, general health teaching, and evangelism. I will be joining them in the next few weeks as they reach out to five of these towns.

It is such a delight to see these churches have such a spiritual zeal and also a zeal for helping those they meet throughout their communities. In addition to the above projects, I was able to go to a "new" country and train their church planters to be health teachers. Their goal is to offer help to all throughout their country. They also would like to have a course on "Serving in the Community" which we have taught in a neighboring country. I am praying that another missionary living in this area will teach it with me, enabling more duplicating of ministry.

Pray the outreach of the national Church that the listeners will take the health teaching to heart, and that God's word will also penetrate their hearts.

John Sexton is an MTW missionary and nurse practitioner. If you're a health educator and want to learn more about volunteering, email medical@mtw.org.

 
What Is Reality?
By Kathleen Shumate

Jonathan and I have begun to feel the stirrings of homesickness. Everyday life (especially with kids) has its routines and doesn't allow for a lot of sitting around and contemplating. You just do it. Of course you speak Chinese if you go out in public. Of course you walk half a mile to the market in the alleyway to get the best deal on vegetables. Of course you breathe in the heady scent of cherry blossoms and revel in the shocking green of spring, and also earn a dozen or so mosquito bites whenever you step outside.

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Of course we provide entertainment to dozens of people on the MRT (metro), either because we are wearing only one layer of clothing in the winter, or because the baby is toppling over from belly laughing at an impromptu game of peekaboo.

Of course. But then I remember the old "of courses," and I recall that life is a little different now. Mainly I miss the friends and churches we love, but I even feel a yearning for things I never thought were special, like driving to H.E.B. to buy whatever groceries we crave. It's in those moments that it hits me: we moved to a new country. What on earth? What were we thinking??

It's not that I don't like it here. I love our new home with all my heart, not because I have a naïve view of it, but because God made this land and people and they are lovely. It's ok to feel the paradox of loving two places, without forgetting our previous home of decades. Thankfully we can keep up with our loved ones from a distance, but I know that what used to be home to us will never be the same. People will move, or move on, and our lives will not intertwine in exactly the same way. We'll miss their special times and they'll miss ours.

The good thing about this tension is that it forces me to face Reality, the Reality that's so easy to forget when we are comfortable: We aren't meant to spend our lives honing a system of maximum pleasure and comfort. We are meant to spend our very selves for God's kingdom. We are here not because we have calculated that settling in Taiwan will give us the best possible life. We are here in answer to God's call: as beggars who have been given bread, eager to share this bread with anyone we can, in a place where most people are living and dying without Christ. We are here to be a small part of God's plan, watching in awe as He expands His kingdom to include every tribe, every tongue, every nation.

Kathleen Shumate and her husband Jonathan are serving with MTW at Christ's College in Taiwan. You can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.adventurersarewe.com/blog.

 
Why Missions Is a Big Deal
By Ben Johnson

The word of God is powerful.

As a missionary who is in the process of trying to convince fellow followers of Jesus Christ that missions is important, there are times when it feels like I'm jumping up and down, waiving my arms around like a fool, and screaming at the top of my lungs, "Hey everyone, getting the gospel to the nations is a big deal!!!"

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But my words feel so powerless. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people listening. But I just cannot come up with the words to explain how earth-changing the task of missions really is.

So I'm going to let God do the speaking.

Let's start with Genesis 12:1-3:

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)

Thousands of years after this promise was first given, we can see much of its fruit. God gave Abraham a son, Isaac. That son's family eventually ended up in Egypt where they became slaves and were delivered by the hand of God. The world watched as God, in is loving power, guided His people through the desert and placed them in a land that was his gift to them. In that land the nation of Israel and the temple in Jerusalem became the center for the worship of the living God. If the world wanted to know who created them, who gave His rich blessings to those who followed him, and who would bring salvation, they looked to Israel to show them.

The world was blessed by Israel's ministry.

But God wasn't done. It was from within the people of Israel that God raised up a Savior, Jesus the Messiah. He lived, died, and rose again to bring salvation and blessing to all His people. And before He left this earth, He sent his disciples out, not just to the Jewish people, but to all the nations of the earth. Salvation was for everyone who would call on the name of the Lord.

Through Jesus Christ, the family of Abraham grows. It expands beyond national boundaries and ethnic lines. And as it expands, it brings the message of light and life wherever it finds darkness and death. Abraham and the faith he displayed continue to be a blessing to people throughout the globe today.

But what did this involve for Abraham? What did God call him to do? What was his job? Was it his responsibility to make sure he had a son? No. In fact, he tried having a son his own way and it lead to pain and suffering. Was it Abraham's job to multiply his family and bring them back to the land God showed him? Nope.

Did Abraham orchestrate the events of history so that the Messiah would be born in Israel, deliver his people, and then give the news of this great gift to the world? Not a chance.

God called Abraham to do one thing:

Move.

He told him to leave his family and set out to a place God would show him. While this was no small thing for Abraham, it was all God wanted of him at the time.

But that one thing showed God and the world something far bigger. Abraham believed what God told him. He believed that God would give him a son, a nation, and a Savior. The day he told his household to pack up was the day he proved his faith by his action.

Those of us who follow Jesus today are in the same situation. God isn't calling us to convert the entire world. But he does ask us to do something.

God has called the Johnson family to move to Thailand. How is he calling you to move? Where is he calling you to go? What is your piece of the missions puzzle? What task has our Lord given to you so that the world would know Jesus Christ and experience the same blessing as Abraham?

When you've taken that step in faith, stand back and watch God bless the world!

The Johnsons are itinerating to go to Thailand with MTW. You can follow them at www.johnsonfamilymission.com.

 
From the U.S. to Christo Redentor by Divine Appointment
By Sandy Trotter

"We apologize for the inconvenience, but everyone will need to get off the plane. We cannot land in Atlanta because of a low ceiling."

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There we were, once again at the gate, realizing that we could not possibly make the connecting flight to Guadalajara from Atlanta. There was not another flight until the next morning. As Larry was standing in line to make all of the changes, he began to speak in Spanish to the man behind him. Larry told him that we live in the southwest part of Guadalajara, and he replied that he lives in the second section of Bugambilias, which is exactly where we live.

Larry helped change his flight for the next day. He seemed to have some interest in Christianity, and Larry invited him to our cell group and church. He spent the night in the airport while we got a simple hotel room, but the next morning we "bumped" into him in the airport as he was about to board his plane to Guadalajara.

I saw this delay as a complete inconvenience and was so stressed about all I would have to do when I got back a day late. However, God had a different plan. Wednesday evening we were cleaning up after the Bible study when the door bell rang. There stood the man from the airport who came by to apologize for not making it to the study. We invited him to informal tea and conversation. The next week he was seated on one of our couches participating in the study, and was one of the last ones to leave.

What I saw as an inconvenience God ordained as a divine appointment. Pray for this man to meet Jesus.

Divine exchange
A few Sundays ago I was struggling to open the nursery door when I turned to see a young lady walking into the church with her Starbucks coffee in hand. I stopped to greet her and then asked her to sit with me on the front row. She agreed and began to share her story with me.

She told me that she had spent one year in the United States as an exchange student. She lived with a Christian family who introduced her to the love of Jesus Christ. She had fully embraced the gospel and was looking for a place to grow and find Christian fellowship. She had been back in Guadalajara since August but had not been able to locate a church.

The family in the States found Cristo Redentor online and had listened to one of Larry's sermons, so they sent her our way. She just "happens" to live in the next community which is about five minutes away from the church. I just "happened" to be in the foyer when she walked into the church. And she just "happened" to be looking for someone who could help her grow in her newfound faith.

We have begun meeting to study the Bible on Tuesday afternoons. Her hunger for spiritual things is amazing as is her freshness in discovering the rich truths of justification, adoption, and sanctification.

What a blessing to be a part of the spiritual journey of this beautiful 17-year-old high school student. Her spiritual mom in the States wrote to express her gratitude for our interest in continuing to disciple this young woman. The reality of God's care has overwhelmed me as I know that this precious woman is just one of His many children who need to be nurtured and loved. What an amazing and loving God we serve! He really cares about all of our needs. We need to be ready to be those vessels through which He can flow.

Be a vessel for God in Guadalajara! Bring a team from your church to Mexico this summer. Visit www.mtw.org/explore to learn more, or email go@mtw.org for longer-term opportunities.

Larry and Sandy Trotter are MTW missionaries serving in Guadalajara, Mexico.

A Cord Of Three Strands: Pastoring Missionaries from Far Away

By Susan Fikse
Archie Moore answered his phone. He didn’t say what many of us might: “I’m at the stadium in the middle of a Braves game, can I call you back?” Instead, Archie stepped out of his seat, left the cheering crowd behind, and found a quiet place for conversation. Counseling and encouraging the woman on the other end of the line, Archie offered to pray.

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Blaire Oakley Smith still remembers the moment, because as Archie prayed with her on the phone that night, she could picture him on the other end of the line—on his knees in the middle of the Braves stadium, praying. “I was going through a difficult time in Berlin dealing with circumstances back home, and that was huge for me,” Blaire recounted. “Archie always answered his phone—no matter where he was. And he would often pray with members of our team on the phone. When he prayed, he would drop to his knees, no matter where he was. Who else would get down on his knees in the middle of a Braves game for me? For him to take the time for me that night meant so much.”

Pastoring “Over There”

Archie and Glenda Moore serve as a Pastoral Associate Couple for MTW’s missionary team in Berlin. Although the Moores travel to Berlin only one week a year, former team leader Ken Matlack (who currently serves as MTW’s international director for Europe) claims Archie as the team’s pastor, joking that they “loan” him to Greenwood Church in Greenville, S.C., the rest of the year. Archie considers the Berlin team an extension of his South Carolina congregation: “It’s just an extended pastorate,” he said. “You do over there what you’re already doing here.”

For Archie and Glenda that means encouraging, counseling, caring, and praying for the Berlin team all year—one week on site and the rest of the time through emails, phone calls, and prayers. Archie explained the role: “Pray for them, with them. During the good times, during crisis. Listen to them. Share their joys, their heartaches, their burdens, their concerns.” The Moores know from experience what a difference that kind of support can make. “We were missionaries to Korea in the 1970s. We experienced the need for pastoral care,” he said. “It can get lonely. We know what that’s like. It thrilled us when people from the States came to minister to us. We saw from our own experience its importance and the need for it.”

A Picture of Love

While Blaire Smith pictured Archie kneeling in prayer at a Braves game, Kay Burklin remembered another picture. A former member of the Berlin team who now serves as director of mercy ministry for MTW, Kay recounted a story of one of the younger members of the Berlin team getting into trouble. While Kay struggled with anger at the disturbance this incident caused to the team, she remembered Archie opening his arms wide to this young person, and the child racing to his fatherly embrace. “This was such a picture of the Father’s love through Archie, and the way I always remember him,” said Kay. “He did not just accept us, but loved us unconditionally.

That’s just Archie.” Archie and Glenda schedule their annual visit with the Berlin team during the team’s retreat, when there will be more time to meet with each of the missionaries personally and spend time together as an extended family. From a team leader’s perspective, Ken appreciates the time Archie spends with each member of the team individually. “They may feel more comfortable talking with a pastor than someone in leadership,” he said. “They open up to Archie.” But perhaps even more important to the team is the follow-up throughout the rest of the year. “Archie and Glenda are people of prayer,” said Ken. “They very specifi cally pray for the requests of our team. Each individual member knows that they can contact Archie any time they feel the need for prayer.”

Prior to coming to Berlin for the retreat each year, the Moores contact the team for a wish list of items to bring from the States. Archie described with excitement in his voice the privilege of fulfilling the team’s requests, even though it meant lugging two heavy suitcases through airport terminals. “It may sound silly, but it’s real,” he said. “The first thing the team would do when we arrived was to tear into the suitcases we brought. It was like Christmas—whatever time of year!” Blaire remembered, “Every team retreat we would have a cereal night, eating sugary American cereal. It was such a treat!”

But Blaire also remembered a more serious demonstration of love. One year during the team retreat, she got sick—even requiring an emergency room visit. So, on their final day together, while the team was celebrating communion, Blaire was in bed. “Archie and another member of the team came to my room and ministered communion to me. It was powerful to me to know that I wasn’t forgotten,” she said. “Then I rode back to Berlin with my head in Glenda’s lap. When you’re sick, it’s nice to have someone you consider family there for you.”

Why Pastoral Associate Couples?

Kay and her husband, Heiko, now serve as a Pastoral Associate Couple for another field, and Kay sees the high bar Archie and Glenda set for the role. “They are really the penultimate pastoral associates!” she said. But seeing the other side, she also realizes that the benefits of the relationship are not just for the missionaries. “It sounds really sappy,” she said, “but we have gotten more than we’ve given. It is one of the most enriching things we do as a couple.” The pastor’s home church also reaps the rewards, she adds. “It can really expand the ministry outlook of your church as they get involved with the missionaries you serve. It’s a win-win!” However, Ken does not take for granted the support of Archie’s church in South Carolina. “They set Archie free—we’re very thankful to the church for giving him the time,” he said.

Archie emphasized that support from the local congregation is essential for any Pastoral Associate Couple: “The church needs to realize this is not a time for a pastor to go over and have a vacation—it’s long hours. Nor is it competition for the local congregation. For this work to be productive, Pastoral Associate Couples commit for five years. The church needs to feel part of the ministry. Elders, deacons, and the congregation need to say, ‘This is good!’ ” He also pleaded with those considering a role as a Pastoral Associate Couple: “Please, pastor, have your wife in this with her whole heart!” He explained that Glenda helps ensure that the single women and missionary wives receive special attention on their visits to Berlin. “She’s more valuable than I am,” he said. “Those ladies and children grab her!”

Ken agrees that Archie and Glenda have set the bar high as a Pastoral Associate Couple, but he says the most important thing for those considering the role is to view it as more than an annual trip. “Pastors need to see these people as part of their congregations—staying in touch and encouraging and praying for them throughout the year is important. It might not mean that much time, but it means being available,” Ken said. Sometimes, it may just be a matter of answering the phone.

Interested in becoming a Pastoral Associate Couple? Join us! We’re hosting a training and fellowship for new and existing Pastoral Associate Couples July 13–14, 2015 at Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center in Brevard, N.C. Contact Krista Gibson in MTW’s Spiritual Life Department for more information at krista.gibson@mtw.org or 678-823-0004 x2351.

 
Goliath Must Fall: Two Gospel Stories

We'd like to share with you two stories from a hard-to-reach, largely atheistic European city—two stories that declare the gospel to be "the power of God unto salvation."

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We listen too often to the taunting voices of the Goliaths of this world, defying that our God exists or is powerful. We stand, like the Israelites, trembling and fearful on the cliffs of Elah, hoping and waiting for a champion. These two stories are stones thrown by our Champion. Helmet or none, His gospel will prevail.

Andrea
We thought of Andrea* as someone seemingly unreachable by the gospel. She defied our human strategic plan: She's over 50 and as stereotypical of our city's residents as you get—blue collar, straightforward, caring, and staunchly atheistic. But the Spirit began wooing her heart through death—not her own, but Anna's.

Anna, the daughter of our team's national partners, was born in a near vegetative state. For 15 years she required constant care. Her parents loved her because she was made in God's image. Their love and stubborn commitment to the value God places on life led to the conversion of just about every nurse who aided her. Anna died in October of last year. Her parents knew her death was coming, but it was nonetheless painful.

Sarah, one of our teammates, meets with Andrea regularly. At a meeting in early December, Sarah noticed Andrea was particularly disturbed because she knew Anna and the family. In fact, Andrea's own son of 26 years is bedridden. She said, "I have no categories for how someone can go through that much trauma and still have hope. I have no hope. I want to live with hope." Sarah shared with Andrea the hope found in Jesus and Jesus alone.

Andrea never should have come to Christ. She's older, guileless, and atheist. But in December she did. God's grace is always surprising. It defies our expectations. Nothing, or better yet, no one is beyond the reach of God's grace.

Monika
At our church's New Year's service, Monika shared how she recently came to faith. Her story is dramatic and powerful. Her father was a head of a cabbalistic order and believed she, Monika, was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. Her grandmother was a witch, her brother a shaman.

Monika was dedicated to witchcraft as a baby. She was abused, went into prostitution, became a Wiccan, was plagued with demons, and tried to commit suicide. In her desperation, she turned to her pimp for help. He was a shaman who told her that she needed to sacrifice her baby (by drowning him in the bathtub) in order to get rid of the evil spirits that plagued her. Thankfully, she refused to do that. God refused to let evil prevail.

Through many miraculous things and a Christian friend who invited her to church for refuge, God rescued Monika out of this horrible life. Since then, her life has completely turned around. She is now assisting in one of the most prominent ministries to those caught in human trafficking. She continues to receive death threats today. Literally, today she spent the morning with me praying about a recent threat on her life. Just the other day she found animal parts in front of her doorstep. This young lady is now in our church.

Pray for Monika, that God would continue to heal her, give her a new purpose, and protect her life from physical harm, which is a real possibility. Spiritual syncretism is real, dangerous, and absolutely destructive to the human soul. It promises power and influence but leaves its victims shackled in darkness and self-destruction because that is what the human soul does to itself under the influence of our adversary.

Pray for Andrea, that she would grow deep roots of faith and be a witness to those like her—unlikely subjects—of the reality of the grace of God. Pray also that the power of the gospel would continue to break people's chains in our city and throughout Europe. Pray for more stones to be flung by our Champion.

*Names have been changed. Photos are stock images.

 
A Year Worth Celebrating in Ethiopia
By Jason and Liz Polk


Celebration

The picture quality of the images is not the best, but they are priceless to us. These photos were taken in November 2014 at the first anniversary of our Suki church plant fellowship. Nearly all of these men and women have become new believers in the past year. They have encountered Jesus Christ through the Scriptures in new and profound ways. They have experienced the power of praying with and for one another. They have learned and internalized the hope of the gospel as we have memorized the Apostles' Creed together. And as you see in the picture—they also know how to celebrate together.

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This is no small thing. They come from different ethnic groups. They grew up speaking different mother tongues. Many were taught from young ages to view one another with a measure of distance and suspicion. They come from backgrounds of incredible pain, poverty, and challenge. And yet, for the past year God has been weaving their lives together as a redeemed community of Jesus Christ. Words only begin to express the beauty of what God is doing in their lives, and in our lives through them. Please pray for the Suki church plant as we continue this journey together in 2015. Pray God's kingdom would increase throughout Addis Ababa.

Handshakes
In early 2014 Jason and our son, Nathan, travelled to Gambella, Ethiopia, to conduct a preaching seminar for the Anglican clergy serving in refugee camps along the border with South Sudan. On one hot Sunday morning Jason and Nathan had the joy of standing in this amazing welcome line.


In Gambella, Ethiopia, 200 men, women, and children stood in line to greet one another.

After the worship service, each member of the congregation exited to a long line of greetings and handshakes, afterward taking their place at the end of the line to greet all those coming after them. The result was a long snaking line of 200 men, women, and children all greeting one another with the grace and joy of Christ.

About 100 handshakes into this event, Nathan looked up and said, "Daddy, my hand is tired of handshakes." But after a short rest, he rallied to finish strong with another 50 or so greetings. Whether he realized it or not, he was participating in one of the foundational beauties of so many African cultures—to greet is to know and be known by someone, to belong to one another. It is being human together, and in this instance, being human together as the body of Christ.

Community
Several months ago we began a Church Renewal Network of pastors and elders from our area of Addis Ababa. We wanted to help bring together Ethiopian ministers with similar vision and passion for reaching the city, all in the hope that we grow in sharing life and ministry in community with one another. As we went around the table sharing our hopes for this network, one Ethiopian pastor particularly touched my heart when he said, "I have been in ministry for over 20 years and never had someone with whom to talk about how things were really going. I am so thankful for this gathering." Pray that this fellowship would grow in number and in shared vision for our city.

Tears
Liz began a Bible study in our home with one dear friend earlier this year. Our friend has been reading the Scriptures for the first time in her life, even though she has been connected to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church since she was a child. They are working through the gospel of Mark, and at many points our friend has been moved to tears: tears at the tenderness of Jesus in ministering to beggars, at finding the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments in Scripture for the first time, at the humble obedience of Mary in accepting her role as the mother of Christ, at hearing God speak through His Word. We praise God for her openness to his Word and humble faith in Him. Pray that Liz and our friend would continue to find Jesus more beautiful as they encounter him together through the Gospels.

Consider serving in Ethiopia! Email go@mtw.org to start a conversation.

 
Short-term Missions in Mexico: A Life Changed

MTW missionary Jamie Burkemper, along with Mexican national church planter Fernando and his wife Miralda, met Claudia during a short-term outreach in Claudia's Ciudad Juarez neighborhood this summer. During a prayer walk through the city, they noticed a neighborhood they'd never been able to access before. Today, the gate was open.

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It was in this neighborhood that they encountered Claudia. She said that she'd been given a Bible by her daughter but had trouble understanding it. Claudia welcomed them into her home. By the end of the visit, she hadn't just found a church, she'd found Christ.


After praying with Jamie and the others, an excited Claudia asked them to stay put while she ran to the bedroom. When she returned, she was holding her cell phone with the text message conversation she'd just had with her daughter. "Have you found a church yet?" her daughter had texted. "I am praying you find one tonight."

Encounters like the one with Claudia are repeated around the city. Jamie explained the method used by the volunteer teams who come each summer: "We spread out in groups of two and three … and walk around the city, praying, handing out flyers, and inviting people to English camp." The previous summer, English camps—run primarily by short-term teams—helped many women in the community come to Christ and caused their congregation to triple in size.

Are short-term trips effective?
Even though stories like Claudia's happen regularly, missionaries often hear the question: Is it really effective to spend eight days onsite with missionaries in a foreign country?

"One of the elders from Denver asked that question," said MTW missionary Dave Diaso. "This is what I told him: The church in Ensenada hadn't done a VBS in three years. When they heard a church from the States was visiting, it gave them the energy and excitement to pull a VBS together. We had 60 kids come and 80 percent of those kids didn't go to the church. It was an amazing outreach opportunity."

Dave also explained that the Denver team provided an unexpected opportunity for him to develop relationships with the people in Ensenada. After the team was gone, they left behind a foundation that Dave could build upon.

Room for the Holy Spirit
Short-term teams are full of unexpected opportunities. They create space for the Holy Spirit to work, and you never know how He will work. Or what opportunities He has waiting—like Claudia meeting Jesus for the first time..

Claudia herself marveled at God's sovereign design. She asked Jamie, Fernando, and Miralda how they'd gotten into her neighborhood, as it was usually closed. They pointed out the open gate through which they had entered and with renewed awe, Claudia assured them that the gate was never open.

Never.

Except when the Lord decides to unlock it, just so He can send one of His messengers to answer the prayer of one of His children.

Join us this summer in Mexico! Visit www.mtw.org/explore to learn more.

 
From the Streets to Safety
By Cheryl Crocker

I wanted y'all to meet Michael. I met Michael on a recent medical trip I led to the Philippines. Michael is 7 years old, believe it or not, and lives at Ang Bahay Parola (ABP), an MTW home for street children in the Philippines. Michael was abandoned to the streets at 3 years old, having been dropped off at the local trash dump.

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He was "taken in" by the guards there who have a small little hut. They mainly gave him a place to sleep and watched over him a little during the day.

These security guards are a pretty rowdy bunch. They do a lot of drinking and use coarse language when they are off work. Somehow the men heard about the street center and brought Michael there, knowing that they were not the best people to bring up Michael. Michael looks like he is about 4 and also has a developmental level of a 4-year-old. When Michael first came to the home he wanted a little juice with his liquor and cursed like a sailor! He had never had milk before, but they were able to transition him from cocktail hour to having a little milk after dinner.

It has been a hard transition for Michael-he has lots and lots of past trauma of almost every kind and has had (and will have) much to overcome. But now Michael feels safe and knows he has a home.

The thing that drew me to Michael was what I call the "Michael glare." There was another little boy trying to hone in on his "box drum" time and he was having none of it. As one of my teammates said it was the kind of look that says, "If you persist in this behavior, I am not at fault for what will happen to you!" It sort of reminded me a little of my own glare that I have been known to get once in a while myself!

Our medical team was at the children's home doing yearly medical check ups on the boys. There are four boys there with tuberculosis. The boys really need your prayers, as does the staff as they try to keep the boys isolated from the rest of the children and get them to keep their masks on all the time.

We covet your prayers for all these boys, for Michael as he adjusts to his new life, and especially for the ABP staff who are precious. They love those kids so much.

Children at Ang Bahay Parola are sponsored through MTW's ONEChild program. To sponsor a child like Michael, visit MTW's ONEChild Sponsorship page.

Jesus at the Stoplight and the Supermarket
by Craig Pohl

In Chile, we've noticed that certain periods of the year seem to be marked by spasms of intense activity sometimes followed by a bit of a lull. The last quarter of each year is jam-packed as the close of our academic and calendar year coincide with a crescendo of Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Now that we can catch our breath and look back, we invite you to rejoice with us in the ways the Lord has enabled Lonquén Valley Presbyterian Church to reach out to their community-and how He continues to open doors for our family to serve together with our new church family in unique opportunities.

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Evangelism at the Crossroads
Without a permanent location, no local malls or other popular gathering points, church leaders have been looking for new ways to meet folks in Lonquén-a semi-rural, semi-residential area on the outskirts of Santiago. "What about El Cruce?" someone asked. El Cruce is what some locals have dubbed the meeting place of the two main roads which crisscross the area. The intersection is also quite near the town hall where we worship. Perfect!

So, on two consecutive Saturdays in November about half of the church headed for El Cruce to share a message of Christ's redeeming love in a dynamic visual presentation (timed to fit with each cycle of the stop lights). Others greeted passersby with a warm personal invitation to join us for worship and a custom-designed pamphlet explaining the gospel message. Many thanked us for our efforts; a few were put off. Several enthusiastically remarked, "We had no idea there was a church so close by!" And at least one person we met has joined us for worship on several Sundays.

A few carols to go with your produce?
In December our church's Brazilian pastor, Egimar Olivera, approached the manager of the largest supermarket in the area (also near El Cruce) about the possibility of singing Christmas carols at the entrance of the store and distributing invitations for the Christmas Eve service.

We were all surprised by the response: "Of course! But your choir might need more room. Why don't you plan on presenting inside? We'll free up a large space in the center of the store." Our family is pretty sure it's the first time we've played and sung "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" between discount signs and dish soap displays. However, we also trust and pray that it's not the last time that many in the Lonquén area of Santiago will come into contact with Christians living out their faith-in the center of everyday

We're so thankful to serve alongside a church that launches such creative outreaches. Pray with us for increased fruit in Santiago as people have opportunities to hear the gospel in the midst of their daily routines.

Craig & Stacy Pohl are MTW missionaries in Santiago, Chile.

 
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