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“A Taste” of Taste of Missions

By Candice, RMM staff writer

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (NIV Habakuk 2:14).

Paul Kurtz, RMM vice president of new initiatives, opened the Taste of Missions service on Thursday evening at Conference by sharing this verse as “God’s mission statement.” He said, “If humankind really came to know who God is, as he revealed himself in scripture, they would fall in love with him.” Taste of Missions evening is a chance to get a taste of what God is doing all around the world, through the Conservative Mennonite Conference. During the evening, REACH alumni and RIC staff performed a drama based on Matthew 28, missionaries shared from the work in Thailand, Southeast Asia, and Spain, Bob Plank talked about his local ministry to the Amish and around the world, and Wayne Yoder recapped Ride for Missions.

Tom, Asia regional director began by sharing a prayer request about RMM workers from South Asia facing persecution and prayed for the encouragement and empowerment of the believers. Tom told the story of Lan, a believer who at first seemed like an unlikely person to be a church leader but whom God has chosen for a mission to his home country which borders Thailand. He shared stories of how God has given Lan a vision for sharing the gospel within various networks of Lao people living in Bangkok as temporary workers. Lan has baptized believers in sewing and tile factories and workers at a gas station. More and more people are showing an interest in knowing Jesus. Tom said, “Keep praying for our workers in Asia, for Lan and the people God is calling and keep listening and watching to see what God is going to do next!”

Taste of Missions Menu

Watermelon: "Dessert" following any meal is usually fresh fruit.

Kaak d'Essaouira: A North African cookie with anise, sesame, and orange flower water. Cookies are served with tea in the window of 4-6 p.m. before a later main meal. This kind of cookie is taken when visiting friends and relatives during the days of celebration following the end of Ramadan, when people congratulate each other on the completion of the month of day-time fasting.

Olives: Olives and olive oil are a staple. Rural people may eat several meals each day that consist of homemade bread dipped in olive oil.

Nut Mix: Almonds are a cash crop for many rural families. In the spring, green almonds provide a snack on long walks.

Mint tea: Hot mint tea is the hospitality beverage of the region. It almost always includes Chinese green tea, which Chinese explorers/sailors introduced to the region in the 1400s.

Bob Plank, from Locust Grove Mennonite Church, talked about finding that one thing that God is calling you to and how that discovery can sometimes be a long- term process of doing whatever God asks you to do. He said, “It doesn’t take everything that some people tell you it takes. It takes a desperate desire to study the Word of God and after that desire has been birthed, you will find that God can do more with you than you ever dreamed.” Bob said it was not his intent to cause guilt (“the worst motivator in the world”) but to challenge, because it takes all of us to do ministry.

Bob has been reaching out to the local Amish community over the past 25 years. He says that many are “truly lost,” (meaning they don’t know Jesus). Over the years, Bob has met with Amish friends late at night and in secret locations such as cabins, flower shops, and state parks. It took about 10 years of trying, of making friendships with the Amish before there was a breakthrough. The first believer opened a lot of doors to others. There are currently five counties with Bible studies going on and Jesus is doing amazing things among the Amish. The Amish are now doing a great work of discipling their own people.

Bob also shared about his ministry in various countries where God has given him opportunity to share the gospel. Bob concluded with this challenge: “Whatever he (Jesus) says, young people, do it. You’ll be blessed beyond words. You’ll have more stories to tell than you can imagine.”

Pablo and Judi, RMM workers in Spain, shared music and slides from their work and stories of their friends who are on a journey to faith. Spain has hard soil and the Kauffmans are working to try to discover good seed for Spain.

Wayne Yoder introduced the riders and support crew who participated in the 2013 Ride for Missions. This year’s ride covered around 350 miles and raised $116,000 for RMM. Wayne noted that the annual ride is more than fundraising—there is spiritual input, strong bonds between riders, ministry to each other, and ministry to new friends along the way. The riders share Jesus along with raising money and biking.

After the service, everyone was invited to enjoy fellowship around hors d’oeuvres (featuring typical foods and beverage from North Africa).