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February 18, 2013

Help Wanted

By Andrew Sharp
Staff Writer

Journalist, programmer, internal audit manager, engineer, payroll specialist, English teacher: which of these is a job for a missionary? All of them, according to Tom,* who leads RMM’s team in Bangkok, Thailand. “English teacher” might be the more traditional answer, and in fact that’s what Tom does. But those who are interested in helping RMM plant churches in Thailand can use many different skills in the growing Bangkok economy. “The huge city of Bangkok presents a wealth of opportunities for Christian professionals to work, live, and minister in this spiritually needy context,” Tom said.

Two websites that list opportunities include thailand.xpatjobs.com and jobsdb.com.

Of course, teaching English is certainly an option. “Thailand has endless opportunities for English teachers with college degrees,” Tom said, because the Thai government is making a strong effort to improve the English proficiency of Thai students. There are opportunities to teach in elementary schools, high schools, universities, and in private tutoring schools. A website that has a lot of information about how to get started and what to expect is ajarn.com.

Assumption University, a Catholic school in Bangkok, is currently recruiting teachers with bachelors degrees in English or education. Students at the university can study for a masters degree for free while teaching in the undergraduate program.

English teachers can also work in neighboring countries where there are many opportunities to share one's faith. “We'd love to have someone in these countries who could disciple young believers while working as an English teacher at an English language tutoring center,” Tom said.

The opportunities aren’t just for those who already have careers or college degrees, though. Thailand has several high-quality universities that provide internationally recognized bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees at a fraction of the equivalent cost in the United States, including Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok University, and Assumption University. RMM's team would welcome university students who could live on campus and develop natural relationships with Thai students. “These campuses are great places to form ‘simple churches,’” Tom said. “Our team is ready to mentor and support students who are involved in this kind of ministry.”

In June, Tom and his wife Candice and their family plan to move to the States for two years before returning to Thailand. One of their goals during that time will be to find others who want to work in Thailand with them. “If anyone is interested in starting that conversation we'd love to talk to them,” Tom said.

* We want to avoid making new believers and seekers in other countries feel like “projects,” so we have omitted Tom’s last name for privacy. Find out more about Tom and Candice on the “workers” page on our website.

For more information about these opportunities, e-mail tomcandice@gmail.com.


February 15, 2013

Encouraging and Disappointing

Excerpts from the REACH North Africa team blog posted January 29, 2013
By D*

Hello everyone. Life here been crazy, fun, challenging, good, bad, and just about everything in between. Our Guide has been really good to us this month. This is the end of month two of life here in the city. In exactly one week and one day we will be packing up our packs and jumping on a bus. Destination: mountains.

We will officially start our time as nomads. We have been doing a lot of preparatory work, and this time has been long awaited. We have continued studying language hard, attempting to acquire maps of places we would like to go, and learning about the people of this land.

Language has officially come to a close for us as of today. We have studied hard and are gaining lots of excitement for the chance to use our language, or at least attempt to use it. We have been doing a lot of preparing, and anticipation for the trekking has never been higher!

These last few weeks have brought some fun opportunities for me personally. One of my friends offered a few weeks ago to show me the place where he works out. This has turned into joining the gym with him. We go to the gym to get sore, tired, and sweaty most evenings. It has been an awesome way to get to know this guy. Our Guide has really been working in this situation, and bringing up chances for me to talk with him about my story.

Our Guide has been teaching us a lot about living lives of prayer. Praying for our friends and lifting them up to him is one of the best things we can do. We can try all we want, but we are not the ones who change people and draw them to the Father. Being able to talk a lot more about my life and beliefs has been a huge help. I have been asking our Guide a lot for chances to talk about why I love him, and it has been happening. It has been a really good thing and a big encouragement but also disappointing. I have a whole new realization of how deep Islam runs in this country. The people I have talked to are all very set in what they have been taught. It seems like they are willing to listen, but not really willing to actually consider what I am saying. While this has been frustrating for me, I feel like our Guide is teaching me a lot about prayer through this. So we have been really trying to learn a lot from this and take advantage of every moment we have here. Thanks so much for the support.

HE IS GOOD

D*

*Name withheld for security.

Note: the North Africa team has now completed an introductory four-day trek into the mountains, where they stayed with local villagers. To follow their adventures and read more REACH blogs, visit the team blog page here.


February 07, 2013

Locally Grown: Feeding Tigers at Zion

By Andrew Sharp
Staff Writer

There can be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about what Mennonites are like and what they believe, even in communities with a Mennonite church. In Pryor, Oklahoma, some in Zion Mennonite Church are bridging that information gap by connecting through something they do well—good Mennonite cooking.

Several years ago, the youth minister at Zion, Scott Miller, had a son who joined the local high school football team, the Pryor Tigers. He became aware that some of the local churches were hosting a pregame meal for the team, so he volunteered to host one of these meals at Zion. Scott and his father made smoked chicken, and some of the women of the church cooked side dishes and desserts for the 80 people who showed up—players, coaches, and the cheerleading squad.

The food was a hit. Scott said he overheard the coach warning his players that although the food looked good, they should remember that they had a game to play in a couple of hours. Despite his warning, the team devoured the food. Scott and his wife attended the game that evening, and when the opposing team started the game with a touchdown, people were asking them “What did you feed them?” But there was a happy ending—fueled by the chicken and peanut butter pie, the team was able to come back and win the game.

As the tradition continued, the team grew enthusiastic about their annual meal at the Mennonite church. The coach eventually asked Zion if, in addition to donating the meal, they would host the football banquet as a fundraiser. So the church agreed and this past year they fed 175 people, including the players’ families.

Scott said providing this meal has been a positive for the church, adding that it’s all about getting out into the community and serving them. He mentioned the preconceived ideas that hang on the word “Mennonite.” When he was in high school and people found out about his faith tradition, they would ask him, “Where’s your buggy?” When the church hosts the meal, with volunteers cooking and serving, it gives the community a chance to see where the church is, meet genuine Mennonites, and find out what they are really like. After one of the meals, the coach even asked them to explain what Mennonites believe, so they were able to share with him and get to know him better.

In our “Locally Grown” column, we feature stories about what local churches are doing to reach out to their communities, as well as ideas and advice from RMM personnel and others. If you know of a church outreach or ministry we should feature, e-mail us at mosaic@rmmoffice.org.