Opportunities Abound!By Candice, Tom and Jay*
Has God planted a love in your heart for other cultures? When you hear the stories from mission workers about buying noodles from a vendor, planting seeds with local farmers, or visiting with friends over tea, do you get that “homesick for the bigger world” feeling? Is it possible that God has given you that love for culture so that you can transplant yourself into another county and share Jesus with people who need him? Maybe you’ve already had a short-term missions experience that God keeps bringing back to your mind or maybe there is a people group who have been on your heart and in your prayers for a long time. If God is tugging at your heart about doing something new for him, we have a several opportunities at RMM for you. We are currently seeking workers for the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and Thailand.
Jay Martin,* Mediterranean regional director, is also currently seeking workers for Spain, the Middle East and North Africa. We are looking for people who are committed to making disciples among the nations that are still unreached by the Good News of the kingdom. Penetrating these last frontiers for the kingdom of God is difficult but not impossible. We need workers who are willing to leave family and comforts behind in order to inherit new brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts in their new homelands. Spain is willing to give religious workers visas for those who come to work in full-time ministry. North Africa, in particular, is a place where development workers can put their skills to good use. Community health educators, ag specialists, and physical therapist assistants are finding opportunities to make a difference in rural communities among the local people. In virtually all of the countries we serve, there is an open door for English teachers at all levels: kindergarten through university. There are opportunities to be classroom teachers or math and science teachers in English language elementary and high schools. And there are opportunities to study at quality universities in the region as well. Multi-year residence permits are easily obtained in the Middle Eastern country we are working in. In addition to long-term assignments, we are also open to sending interns for a year or two. Opportunities abound for those who are willing to commit the time and effort to learn a new language and way of life… in order that others may learn and live under the reign of Christ.
If you’d like to explore joining the team in Thailand, please get in touch with Tom and Candice at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 614-512-7232. If your interest is in Spain, North Africa or the Middle East, contact Jay Martin at email@example.com or call 574-238-4874. Talk to your pastor or church mission team about helping to discern your call to missions. At CMC’s Annual Conference in New York this year, we are planning to have some location-specific meetings and times of prayer. We’d love to have you join us to discern if this is the right time and which is the right team for you.
*Name changed for security reasons.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
It is with this command in mind, that a group of people here at Fairlawn Mennonite Church in Apple Creek, Ohio have recently felt called to form a Community Missions Team. While not called to overseas missions, we have felt a growing burden for the people of our own neighborhoods who desperately need to know the redemption of our Savior. The team, led by Steve Bixler and his wife Becky, is composed of people of various ages and life stages who share a common goal of intentionally serving our community in order to make Jesus known.
We have met as a group many times to pray about opportunities to serve. We have been in awe of how, with much prayer and "waiting on God to part the waters," we have been able to serve our community in diverse ways. One of the ways we have begun to minister is through outreach to a nearby trailer park with a largely Hispanic population. These folks speak a different native language than we do, live a very different lifestyle than the majority of Fairlawn congregants, and live only a few miles down the road! One of our team members began a summer reading program last summer as a way to provide a positive activity for the children and help them not to fall behind on their studies over summer break. This energetic lady used her gifts in teaching, worked with the local elementary school, and developed a fabulous summer program. People from Fairlawn served as tutors or helped prepare snacks for the children. Many children in kindergarten through seventh grade were able to participate in reading and writing activities as well as form relationships with the people from church. Some of these same children later attended Wednesday evening activities at the church. "It has been neat to see the trust being developed," commented one team member.
We have seen God at work in our own lives as well since the formation of the team. We are discovering, or perhaps learning at a deeper level, that it is not necessarily easy to be a missionary in our own community. While in many cases, though certainly not all, we share a common culture with those around us, our faith in Jesus Christ makes a distinct difference in the choices we make and in the way we live our lives. It is all too easy to develop friendships with the people we interact with daily and talk about the weather but never broach the subject of faith or beliefs because "Won't the neighbors think we are odd?!" or "We don't want to make things awkward." These excuses too often allow us to lapse into complacency. Many of us are discovering a newfound boldness in leaving our "comfort zones" and winsomely sharing the Good News through our actions and words. We have certainly developed a bond since the formation of the team. It is so encouraging to gather together in prayer and to feel the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We talked recently about the sense of urgency we feel. The trailer park community tends to be a transient culture and people will move on. Are we making the best use of our time? Have we planted the seeds of faith in Jesus? These are questions we as a team must ask of our efforts and truly, each of us as believers in Christ must ask individually. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Neither are our friends and neighbors next door and down the street. We invite you to join us, in living intentionally in the communities in which you are placed to help bring people to Christ so that he is glorified.
“Locally Grown” is a regular column featuring 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 are aware of a local church with a creative and effective ministry, let us know! Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taa, a young man who is being discipled by our team and who is leading the small group of believers at a gas station in Bangkok, recently returned home to his village in a neighboring country, when his mother became seriously ill. His family came to faith around five years ago when his mother prayed to God and was healed. Since that time they have become leaders of the small fellowship in their village and have helped to introduce many of their friends and neighbors to Jesus. This time God did not heal his mother, but Taa wrote that as she was dying "my mother told us, 'Children, don't forget God. Love God.'" Taa is grateful that his mother is now with the Lord and is thankful for the support and prayers of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
RMM's team in Thailand has heard from friends in this neighboring country about the recent arrest of twenty-three believers in a small town close to Taa’s village. Although this country is communist, registered churches are allowed to meet in the larger cities, but small groups of believers in more rural areas are often harassed by local officials and ostracized by their neighbors. The police had warned the believers to stop meeting for worship and then jailed them when they continued to meet. Some of them were released, but eleven continued to be jailed after they refused to sign a document promising to withdraw from the church. Their families were allowed to visit them. While our team has not been working directly with any of those arrested, we have had some contact with them and our friends Lan and Taa know them well. Our team has stood with them by praying for their safety and release, for their families, and for the believers in that area to remain strong in their faith.
We had contact with Lan on June 8 and asked about the believers who had been imprisoned. He said that they had all been released. Praise God! In the end they were fined about $1,300 (as a group) and they are prohibited from using their recently constructed building. So, they are meeting in homes instead.
The believers in Taa’s village are still meeting and at this point are feeling fairly secure. Earlier, when they talked about constructing a building they were warned by the authorities that this would cause problems. So they have backed off from that plan and are still meeting in a home—although Lan did say that as they keep growing it’s getting crowded!
Our team in Thailand continues to meet with Taa and the other believers in Bangkok, and we stay in touch with Lan over the phone and though regular visits. This week Efrain and Sujen are spending time with him near his home. In spite of the many difficulties these brothers and sisters face—both in their home villages and as low-paid laborers in Thailand—it has been encouraging to see their faith in God and excitement for sharing the gospel.
Thanks for your continued prayers for these brothers and sisters.
*Last name and country name omitted for security reasons
The New Me
Friendly people, friendly faces
I want to fit in. I really do.
But why do I feel odd? Like I have two extra thumbs.
At “home,” I feel lost;
Away, I feel at home.
Can I express that?
Do I realize what I feel?
I drive people away with my raw honesty.
I don’t want to get my driver’s license;
too much independence.
How much money should I keep in my wallet?
How do I treat my North American peers?
What was that joke again…?
Depression and anxiety creep in. I cry myself to sleep.
I’ve heard time is my friend.
I need time; lots of it.
A chance to grow into myself. Who am I?
I like who I am. Does anyone else?
I can relate to friends in the jungle (especially the concrete jungle).
Can I also relate to you?
So many new experiences.
I’m learning to never say never.
I do feel the love.
I do love this place.
I may not fit tight, but
This is the new me.
Rose is an adult TCK whose parents were RMM workers in Ecuador for eight years. Today, she is married and a mom of three, and lives and works with EMM in East Asia. Rose along with her husband, work to inspire vision for Silk Road mission opportunities among local believers in East Asia, Latin America, and North America. In her free milliseconds of time she enjoys reading, drinking coffee, playing games, writing, and being in quiet, naturally beautiful places. Her favorite part of growing up in a missionary family was the adventure of it all, and the hardest part is still the good-byes.
*Name changed for security reasons.
Do you want to be more mission minded but feel stuck in your daily life and are too busy to even think about it? A recent study* shows that people who have participated in any of the following five things have become more focused on missions as a result. See if you can work one or more of the following in your life.
*Study by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, via Mission Increase Foundation.