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.”
Amar* laughs sadly before he brushes his stylish hair to the side and snaps a selfie. He tells us that this haircut would get him killed in his home city of Aleppo, Syria. Although we encourage his less-conservative personality, the warring rebel groups vying for power in Aleppo do not.
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.”
Entering God's Story
Bashir is a member of a tribe in North Africa which comprises fifty percent of the country’s population. Despite the fact that slavery is officially outlawed in this country, current estimates state that four percent of the populace are enslaved, most of which are from Bashir’s tribe.
Recently, I went into a local prison to visit a friend of mine named Pascal. Six months ago, he was leading a church. Now he’s in prison. Six months is a long time to be in a horrible place through no fault of your own. The prison is crowded, dirty, and full of corruption.
“It takes a full day of travel for us to reach the community of Sinai,” explained Alan Foster, long-term worker in Panama, “which includes a four-hour journey in a four-wheel drive and then at least another three to four hours up the river in a dugout canoe.”
I needed a helper. I was asked to organize the children’s ministry component for a family camp, and so I needed someone to help me tell the stories in Thai. I asked one girl, but she wasn’t available. Then I thought of Guy. When I asked her, she happily agreed.
When Art Loewen retired from teaching in 1999, he was ready for a new adventure. “I enjoyed my thirty-three years as a high school mathematics teacher, but I always had this dream of being involved in cross-cultural mission work overseas.”
During my TREK assignment in Thailand, our team had the privilege to visit a remote tribal village high in the mountains of northern Thailand. We were taken there by Bin, our Thai teacher and good friend. It took more than a day for us to reach the village. It felt like we had arrived in another world.
At a recent gathering of church planters in Central Asia, I heard a man named Dameer (not his real name) tell his amazing story. He grew up in Germany, the son of immigrants, and was a very angry young man.
“God, help us,” we prayed as we approached the village. “Only you can open a door!”
We had no idea of how God would do it.
Mama Mananga arrived at the seminar with a ready heart. She was eager to study the Bible with fellow believers.
We have charts with zeros on them, charts that are meant to keep track of how people groups in our region are being engaged by the Gospel.
They share the Gospel through a facebook account. In a country without religious freedom, these two brothers in Christ are able to speak plainly about their faith. Although they use pseudonyms, they are able to connect with people online and offer encouragement.
“I never imagined that this war would be possible in my country,” says Roman Plechun, a self-employed plumber and active member of the New Hope Church in Zaporozhye, Ukraine.
I felt naked without my Bible. I felt lost.
It was only nine months from diagnosis until death. We buried my mom in the same cemetery as her father.