I recently heard the amazing story of Sean, one of our newest mission candidates. He was born in Laos during the Vietnam War and both of his parents died tragically when he was a child.
We had just arrived on the property, and we knew that the local Buddhist monks had already communicated that they were opposed to the building project.
Sonam grew up in the mountains of Tibet. Like most others in the area, his family eked out a living on a small farm, terraced on a steep hillside. In addition to looking after the few acres of land that belonged to his family, Sonam also worked odd jobs in construction. Their religion was Tibetan Buddhism, which pervaded every aspect of their lives.
As we walked up to the house, I quickly asked the Holy Spirit, “Do you have something for me about this person?” Right away, I saw a boat. Hmm. As we rang the doorbell, I wondered if there was any significance about the boat or whether I had just made it up.
Ali grew up in Iraq where eventually he became a translator for the United States military. When life became too dangerous for him to remain in his native country, he was graciously offered asylum by the US government and found himself living in a large city on the west coast.
I met Hiromi when I first arrived in Amagasaki in May 2009. She was a member of the Amagasaki MB Church where I was teaching English. About a month after I arrived, she got married.
Among the Khmu, a tribal people of Southeast Asia, where the church is growing rapidly, the question is not so much, “Is Christianity true?” For the Khmu, the real question is, “Is Jesus powerful?”
What happens when Jesus invites you to walk on water?
In the midst of the storm, you feel afraid and anxious. You’re facing something that seems impossible, maybe sickness or even death. But Jesus calls out to you and invites you to trust in him. Why?
Will the Church be the Church?
The pictures of refugee families carrying their few bags and streaming across borders and over treacherous seas have filled our screens over the past year.
“I used to be a typical housewife,” Rama explains as though it is an unbelievable statement. She speaks of her former self, and of her country, as something of a sad memory. “I never wanted to leave my life in Syria, but that day the bombs went off next door, I thought my children were dead. I ran through the village screaming. When I found them, I made the decision to get out. I told myself, ‘This is not a place to live.’ ’’
It’s one thing to sit on my comfortable couch at home, reading Facebook stories about Syrian refugees. It’s a whole different thing to come face to face with the refugees themselves.
Our Burmese brother shook his head and smiled, perching gingerly on the filthy, tattered hospital mattress as he told his story.
On the way to Germany, on each of my three flights, the seat beside me was empty. I wondered why. I wanted to talk to someone. I felt exhausted after saying goodbye to family and friends in Paraguay, and the closer I got to Germany the more I struggled with a nagging uncertainty and fear of the unknown.
“I came to the conference depressed,” one woman told me, “but during the very first session, I felt a heavy burden being lifted from my soul and I began to walk in freedom.”
Sioux Falls, South Dakota is growing more and more ethnically diverse through immigration. Today, there are 130 different languages represented in the city’s school system. Local churches are learning to see this challenge as an opportunity, which is illustrated well in these two short stories.
It was time to disengage. God invited us to take some time off from ministry, but my husband and I knew that if this time was to be productive, we would need to learn how to be unproductive. So we determined to step away from the urgent, the important and the necessary, and to adopt a new unhurried rhythm.
The Time is Now
On a recent trip to Kansas where I participated at a mobilization weekend for young leaders (read the story of the event on page 10), I met a software engineer named Nasser. Last spring, he had served on a short-term mission assignment with us in Paris.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” the leader of the Oasis team said after he saw a large crowd of Arabic speakers respond to the Gospel in Germany. “I saw the Holy Spirit like an athlete running around among the people, and he was very excited.”
A movement has begun in the Midwest of the U.S. that some have described as a train led by the Holy Spirit. Even though the passengers don’t know the destination, they are eagerly jumping on board.
What happens when God brings together a missionary couple from Colombia, a church family in Saskatoon and indigenous communities in Panama?
As a church family, we’ve been supporting Otto and Marjorie Ekk for more than twenty-five years – their entire tenure in Portugal – and we’ve never sent a team to visit them. Along with my husband, Dale, I recently led a nine-member team on a thirteen-day trip to Portugal as a part of Ross Road’s new commitment to the missionaries that we support.
Pastor Madou Traoré was in a tight spot. Instead of teaching the big group of new believers in the Nanerigé village of Zanfara, he was refereeing a heated argument. On one side was a visiting pastor from a different cultural group that Madou had invited along in an effort to build unity among the wider group of local churches.
Living the Story of Hope
Last year, in the remote indigenous village of Capitee in the rainforest of Panama, a group of forty-five youth became demonized in a short period of time, leaving the village in a massive crisis.
“I’m pregnant,” our friend tells my wife, “for the fourth time, so I won’t be able to leave my house for a year.” Our friend is afraid that the government will discover her pregnancy and not allow it to continue.
Since we’ve only lived in this country for a couple of months, I’ve really appreciated every opportunity to make new friends in our neighborhood.
Pat is a self-taught farmer who loves Jesus. He took up farming as a way to serve the poor and destitute in his community in Northern Thailand.
One thing that is abundantly clear to us during this season of instability is that we are not in control.
Rani (not her real name) is a single woman in her forties. She comes from a rural setting in North Africa where the culture is very traditional. Despite her upbringing in a conservative Muslim family, she has become a follower of Jesus.
“I had never been outside of North America,” said Trevor Rysavy, a church planter in Calgary, Alberta. “My wife and I were not exactly travel savvy and, to be honest, we really had no heart for overseas mission. We were called to Calgary.”
“Before we left for Europe, I asked God for one thing,” said Jonathan, one of the TREK participants on the all-male team of four that spent seven months in France, “that I would be able to make close friends with people who lived there. God answered that prayer in a magical way.”