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September 24, 2014

City Challenge: Crossroads

By Brittany Troyer

Crossroads. We all experience these in our lives.
Some may seem small and insignificant and others seem overwhelming and life-altering.

As we in the SEND Department were developing the theme of “Crossroads” for City Challenge, we were thinking about all the decisions a young person makes during their high school years. I remember in high school, especially as a senior, feeling stressed out anytime someone would ask me, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” Up until that point, my life had pretty much been decided for me. Now I suddenly needed to have a plan for my life. Was I going to go to college and get a degree? Continue at my job? Go on a missions trip? There are so many opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming to try and pick just one!

During this year’s City Challenge, we wanted to take some time to talk through how we make these decisions—not just the big ones like figuring out what to do for the rest of your life but also talking about the smaller choices. Every day decisions like who do we hang out with? How we spend our time or money? Are we going to God for guidance and involving him in these decisions, or is it all about us and what we want?

We focused on three things during the sessions throughout the week: choices, priorities, and desires. In the end, how we choose to act is an overflow of what our priorities and desires are. As Christians, our underlying desire should be to follow Jesus.

This summer we had the privilege of working with 252 young people and youth leaders. There’s something about working with young people that refreshes and revives you, even if you’ve been going for a few days straight without much sleep! Some of the highlights of our summer were: seeing young people overcome their fears of talking to strangers, praying out loud in front of their peers for the first time, seeing God answer their prayers, declaring the truth of who God is, and getting excited about reaching out in their home communities.

When I think about some of the things City Challengers “took home” this year, I think most would fall under the category of loving the people around us; specifically people that we may not know or people who are very different from us. The City Challengers were sent into the city of Columbus quite a few times throughout their five days with us. "When I think about some of the things City Challengers 'took home' this year, I think most would fall under the category of loving the people around us..."Sometimes they were helping with a specific need but mostly they were sent out with the goal of going out, meeting people, listening to their stories, praying for them, and loving them. City Challengers often seemed surprised about how many people appreciated that someone just came up and talked to them. Sure, there were times when they were rejected or ignored, but for the most part their small acts of kindness were widely appreciated by those they met. The youth realized the importance of being aware of the people around them, how God is already working and moving, and looking for ways to encourage people wherever they’re at—even at the grocery store. They talked about the fact that a lot of times we’re all in our own little worlds with our own agendas and we’re too busy to see that there are others out there who may be hurting and who might need someone who is willing to listen.

I remember one City Challenger sharing a story from her experience during our Wednesday night outreach. She was serving dinner to the homeless at a soup kitchen downtown and one of the men came back for seconds and thanked her for her smile. The man told her that her smile encouraged him so much. Often we think we have to come up with an extravagant plan to reach out to people, but sometimes something as simple as a smile can make somebody’s day. I challenge you to be on the lookout for where God is already moving and to be more aware of the people around you and what their needs might be.

All in all, we had an awesome summer. We are so thankful for the ways the Lord showed up this summer during City Challenge. He is good and faithful. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Brittany and her husband, Brian, are serving a three-year term as SEND Ministries program facilitators. They oversee the staff internships and City Challenge program and are also involved in the day-to-day activities for REACH. They live in an apartment at the Rosedale International Center in Columbus. Brittany has served on two REACH teams to Thailand, and Brian was on a REACH team to Spain. They both served as Community Outreach Coordinator staff interns. The most rewarding part of their job is getting to see young people grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and how to be a light to others around them. In their free time they enjoy playing games and drinking good coffee with good people.

September 19, 2014

Introducing Tiffany Troyer: Finance Department Administrative Assistant

We’d love for you to meet the new administrative assistant in the Finance Department, Tiffany Troyer. Tiffany lives in Plain City, Ohio, and is a member of Shiloh Mennonite Church. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and has worked in the past both as an accounting clerk and as an administrative assistant. Tiffany has been on several short term mission trips with her church and youth group to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. Tiffany was interested in the position at RMM because the job description fit her experience and education and for the positive work environment. She loves RMM’s focus on “inviting the nations to worship Jesus.” In her free time, Tiffany enjoys reading, playing softball on a community co-ed team, and hanging out with her friends. Thanks for your prayers for Tiffany as she learns the details of her job!

September 16, 2014

Partnering in Missions with the Nicaraguan Church

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Participants from the Boaco Adentro Seminar.
By Dan B.*

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19

How is the church in Nicaragua to carry out this command when the nations (ethnic groups) that are unreached are so far away from them? This was the topic we discussed together this June and July in the eight regions where Mennonite churches are located in Nicaragua. Pastors, church leaders, and interested youth gathered for one-day seminars on missions in each of the regions to look at what the Bible teaches us about what the church is to be doing in missions and to discuss what this means specifically for the churches of Nicaragua. Altogether more than 350 people participated and there was a lot of discussion—especially on how the churches should respond to this challenge.

Questions we discussed were: How do we determine whom God is calling to go to the nations? How are these persons to be trained? Where are the resources going to come from to send and support these workers? There was a lot of excitement and the most gratifying result was that 35 people, including both singles and young couples, responded to the call as candidates for missions. These candidates come from both city and rural churches and have varied backgrounds in education and church experience. Some are pastors, some are evangelists, and some are Bible teachers and students. There are eight couples (a few with young children). There are four candidates from another church conference with ties to RMM and located in the coffee growing region of Matagalpa. The candidates are diverse, but what they have in common is a desire to offer their lives to God to be used to reach the nations with the gospel message.

Candidates from Managua, Nicaragua.

The three members of the Missions Commission of the Nicaragua Mennonite Church participated in the eight seminars, and they will be the leaders of the program to follow up on this interest. They plan to get to know each of the candidates better to help discern which of them have the call and the gifts to go overseas. The Commission members have encouraged each candidate to take basic extension courses in the Bible and theology. They are planning to encourage each to participate in practical outreach through their local churches and to travel to other areas of Nicaragua to demonstrate their desire and ability to share their faith cross-culturally. Candidates who are called and prepared to go overseas will prepare to do so, while the others will work in outreaches in Nicaragua. Pray for the three members of the Commission—Faustino Nurinda, a pastor and evangelist; Reyna Lumbi who spent a year as an intern in Thailand, and Nelson Ramirez, a young man who has studied missions for several years—as they give direction to these candidates and seek financial support for them.

An all-important issue for the churches and candidates is how they are to arrange the finances for going to Thailand and a neighboring country. The churches are poor and have little money to give to those going overseas. However, they have shown that they are willing to give sacrificially to send some of their own to Asia. Last year, the Conference as a whole sent over $5,000 to support Efrain and Suyen who have lived in Thailand since January 2013 (Efrain had lived there as a single from 2011-12). And they took up special offerings totaling more than $500 during June and July to support Jonathan who would like to go to Thailand in 2015. They are willing to do special projects to raise funds as well. The goal is that each candidate will raise enough to support him or herself for up to two years until they are able to work on the field as a self-supporting mission worker. Even so, in order to send a family or several singles, it seems that some outside support will be needed.

A few years back RMM partnered with the Nicaraguan Conference to send Nixson and Efrain to study at a Bangkok university for four years. What is God calling RMM, the CMC constituency, and other interested supporters to give to assist the Nicaraguan Conference in sending more workers? We ask your prayers as the Latin American Missions Partnership (LAMP) team discusses these issues and seeks financial support to help send these brothers and sisters.

Nixson and Rhonda (from the RMM Thailand team) plan to spend September through December in Nicaragua to follow up with the candidates and sending churches. Having had extensive experience in Thailand, they are suited to evaluate the candidates to determine whom God is calling and to help them lay out a training plan and develop ideas for raising financial support. An exciting opportunity lies ahead—may we support the church in Nicaragua with our prayers as they seek to follow the Lord’s command to send workers to “invite the nations to worship Jesus."

Currently, Dan lives Bangkok, Thailand where he tutors English students, mentors the team in church planting and disciples leaders in the church in South Asia.

*Last name omitted for security reasons.

September 12, 2014

Introducing RMM’s New HR Director

By Candice, staff writer

RMM welcomes Colleen as the new HR director as of September 1. Colleen is from Leo, Indiana and Carrol Community Worship Center. She has a long history with RMM, beginning on a REACH team to Israel in 1996, following a year at Rosedale Bible College. After REACH, she served a two-year term as an RMM intern in Ecuador. As she reflects on that experience, she says that God used that time to test her missionary calling and she learned a lot about her ministry giftings. God confirmed to her through her time in Ecuador that he was calling her to longer term mission work. Colleen attended Grace College and earned a BA in Counseling/Psychology and a master’s degree in Intercultural Ministry from Grace Theological Seminary. During seminary, Colleen returned to Ecuador for field work related to church planting and cultural research. During the years that Colleen was discerning with RMM where and when to go into long-term service, she worked in her home area at a crisis pregnancy center, primarily with Hispanic clients.

In 2007, Colleen led a REACH team to Thailand. “It was a more difficult adjustment compared to my other missions experiences,” she remembers, but her calling and love for Thai people began to grow and she returned to Bangkok to join the team as a long-term worker in 2009. While in Thailand, Colleen focused on building relationships and discipling young believers, which is an ongoing ministry focus and passion for her. She also worked in a Thai university as an English teacher. “It was the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life,” she says. When she returned home to Indiana, she decided to pursue further education in the field of counseling. This past year, she has worked toward earning a master’s degree in Interpersonal Relationships.

Colleen has always loved learning about new cultures and learning languages. She’s fascinated by the way that people express themselves in different languages and how their communication connects to their cultural values. Even as a kid, she loved National Geographic Magazine and was intrigued by how people lived in other cultures. Colleen is a talented language learner and is fluent in both Spanish and Thai.

Colleen is excited to work with RMM again because of her good experiences in the past. She especially wants to be an encouragement and support system for workers on the field. Outgoing HR director, Mim Musser, has been a mentor and friend to Colleen for many years, and Colleen views stepping into this role as a way of giving to others some of the same things she has received from Mim.

Colleen, welcome back to RMM! We’re thankful for the ways God used you in the past and we’re anticipating seeing how he will use you in the future!

September 08, 2014

The Beauty of Mosaics

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By Paula Shore*

Paula and her husband Art are RMM workers among the immigrant community in the Waterloo region of Ontario. God is opening up many opportunities for them to live among, learn from, and love their neighbors from around the world.

Having lived in the Middle East for a period of time, I have come to appreciate and enjoy mosaics, the beautiful images and designs made from small pieces of different colors. These wide varieties of minuscule pieces combine to tell stories which widen the world of the viewer. Our multicultural neighborhood, too, is a mosaic of many cultures and races and we feel privileged to be a surrounded by this diverse richness.

Since October, we have been house-sitting for friends who chose this neighborhood in order to reach out to this “mosaic” community; opening their home as a “House of Prayer for All Nations.” Two local Kurdish families we have become acquainted with have, on occasion, requested prayer for their extended families’ needs and, more recently, have been joining us on Sunday evenings for prayer, worship and reading of the Word together. What an exciting time as we explore the great stories of Jesus, currently in Matthew. Several weeks ago, one Sunday evening, without warning our front door opened and in walked a man we had never seen before. “I am here for the meeting,” he announced. (Another member of our group had invited this Bangladeshi man without notifying us.) At our last gathering, another Kurdish lady joined us for the first time, along with her Korean friend.

During the Harvest and Christmas seasons we invited our neighborhood to the local community center for a potluck meal. There were activities for the children, special music, a short presentation of the message of Jesus' coming (at Christmas), along with a rich assortment of delicious food and some great fellowship. Those evenings were great opportunities to become acquainted with many of our neighbors.

Two months ago one of the Kurdish couples from Iran experienced the birth of their first baby. Since they do not have any family here in Canada, we became family for them, and I spent most of the next two weeks in and out of their home. The mother had a long and difficult recovery and it was a privilege to support her and the baby at this exciting but rather lonely time of their lives. Imagine the excitement of your first child, but with no family to celebrate it with! Communication was difficult as the mother’s English is very limited and our Persian and Kurdish are nonexistent. We did discover, however, that the Turkish language has borrowed from the Persian language, and sometimes we found words in common. "We understood how much the support meant to this new mother when one day, in her broken English, she said to me, 'You my sister, my friend, my mother, and I love you!'"Yes, there were many amusing moments in this whole process. Because of the language challenges, the visits to the doctor seemed rather overwhelming, so the parents asked me to accompany them. We understood how much the support meant to this new mother when one day, in her broken English, she said to me, “You my sister, my friend, my mother, and I love you!”

We planned a baby shower with a number of church friends. Each friend brought pictures to show and tell about their own families. The new mother took an interest in each family. When it was her turn to talk about her family, she stated with some emotion, “Canada, no family… you my family.” She seemed so grateful for her newly-found friends.

Newroz, the Kurdish New Year is an important celebration for Kurds around the world. Our city hosted this lively and colorful event for their people in Southwestern Ontario on the 22nd of March. Perhaps a thousand Kurds in the region joined in this extended time of music, dancing and tea drinking. Art was privileged to experience this event with our friend while I stayed with the new mom and her baby.

Recently we had an incredible experience. Shortly after we left our house for a walk in the neighborhood, a block down the street we met M, an Iranian believer we had met four years ago but not heard from since. Ten years ago he had escaped from Iran, later becoming a follower of Jesus in Turkey. He joined a one-year discipleship program and, along with a group of students, did a week-long service project in our city, staying in our home. Following the discipleship program, he had started a fellowship for Iranian refugees in his city in Central Anatolia; it continues to grow since his departure, now numbering approximately eighty people. After many applications (and rejections) to go to the West, he surrendered that dream. Then last year, unexpectedly a church from Ontario sponsored him and brought to this country. After nine months, he moved to our city for another job, renting an apartment less than two blocks from our house. He had no idea where we were; we had not heard from him since our time together in 2010. Since then, he has joined our house fellowship, and at times during our Bible study he reads the passage from his Persian Bible for our Iranian friends. What a miracle that God has brought this man to our neighborhood! It was through the witness of a Kurdish believer in Turkey that M was introduced to Jesus and now he is doing the same for Kurds from his home country here in Canada.

Recently the family with the new baby hosted a huge picnic in the local park in honor of the birth of their son. There were four Kurdish/Iranian families and a large Afghani family plus a few Canadians there. It was a full day of great kebab, many cups of tea, and good fellowship. We had a wonderful day together; we needed to remind ourselves that we were in Canada, not the Middle East.

Our city hosts an annual Multicultural Festival in June. That festival is a mosaic of colors, sounds, flavors and sights. Many cultures are represented with great food, concerts, dancing, arts and crafts, as well as numerous faith groups doing outreach. We were involved with a tent where we were giving out Bibles in a number of languages, and sharing and praying with people as God gave opportunity. Our message is that Christ is for all the people groups of the world. We trust the Word will bear fruit.

We marvel at the receptivity of our Kurdish and Iranian friends and at what God is doing among their people, both in their home country and among the diaspora. Pray that God may use these people who have suffered so much to bring the Good News to the entire Middle East.

Our lives have been enriched by the beauty of this cultural mosaic in our city and neighborhood. What a great opportunity to become family for these displaced friends and invite them to our great big eternal family... the one that knows no language, race or color.

*Names changed for security reasons.

September 02, 2014

Ride for Missions 2014: Thanks for Supporting RMM!

September 01, 2014

Fundraiser for Cassia Olmstead

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Many of you have been praying for Nate & Denise Olmstead (RMM Church Planting Team Coordinator) and their five-year old daughter Cassia who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. She recently started chemotherapy and they continue to need your support. If you would like to help cover some of her medical expenses and other costs associated with her care, please visit www.rmmweb.org/cassia, or send a check made out to “Naumburg Mennonite Church” to:

Olmstead Fund
Naumburg Mennonite Church
PO Box 124
Castorland, NY 13620

Naumburg Mennonite Church is also holding a fundraiser for Cassia on Friday, September 19 from 4-8 p.m. if you live in the Upstate NY area.