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January 31, 2015

From San Jeronimo to Bangkok

RMM workers were first asked to come to Jonatan’s village, San Jeronimo, Nicaragua, during a severe drought in 1976 in the hope of being able to secure a water source for the village. They presented Christ, the source of Living Water, to Jonatan’s grandfather who became one of the first believers in this village, and his family later also accepted Christ. Never underestimate what God will do with a drought and a cup of water.

Jonatan felt the call to missions at the age of sixteen and began dreaming and working for when this time would come. Preparation to go overseas required finishing high school. Because there was no high school in his village, Jonatan would get up at 3:00 a.m. once a week to either ride a horse or walk, traveling three hours (each way) for five years to the town which offered a high school education. Jonatan also received Christian education courses which were taught by his father, who is a pastor.

Jonatan plans to go to Thailand in early 2015 to work with the LAMP (Latin American Missions Partnership) and RMM Thailand team already in Bangkok. The Nicaraguan churches have been raising money for Jonatan whose first year budget is around $13,000. This has been especially difficult because this area, already known for its dry climate, has been hit with the most severe drought since 1976. The farmers have lost their complete first crop (which is normally their biggest) and many animals have died as well.

We thank God for Jonatan’s calling to Thailand. With your help, we want to gather around our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua during this time and assist them in sending Jonatan to Thailand.

Help Send Jonatan

To help send Jonatan to Thailand and support other LAMP initiatives, you can contribution online at donate.rmmweb.org. You can also make a check payable to RMM and mail to 9920 Rosedale Milford Center Rd, Irwin, OH, 43029. Designate your contribution for “LAMP/Jonatan.”

RIC Renovation Photos

Renovation is underway at the RIC! Leon Ruch from Beiharz Artchitect Inc. in Defiance, OH designed the floor plan for the remodel and Weaver Commercial Contractor from Wooster is doing the construction. Plans are for the office wing to be finished near the end of March and RMM staff will move offices in April. We’re super excited about being in one building instead of two!

January 27, 2015

Introducing a New Member of the Thailand Team!

Anna* is a teacher in Thailand who has joined the RMM Thailand team. We are so happy to have her as a part of the team in Bangkok and for the gifts and desire to serve Jesus that she brings. Anna is from the London, Ohio area and grew up attending London Christian Fellowship, which is now her sending church. She attended Cedarville University, studying Elementary Education and ESL (English as a Second Language) and had the opportunity to do her student teaching in Bangkok. Anna taught at the International Community School (ICS) and fell in love with the school and with Thailand. She had peace about returning and when a teaching position became available, she decided to return the following year.

Anna is now in her second year of teaching at ICS and has committed to an additional year. She teaches students in grades K-5 in a pull-out ESL classroom. She is very involved in many other areas of school life as well including: English testing for admissions, facilitating chapel, teaching an after school Bible program, and tutoring. Outside of school, Anna enjoys time with her friends, running (when it’s not unbearably hot!), studying Thai with a tutor, and going on adventures around Thailand with her friends. She is also working with a ministry called Lifesong whose mission is to rescue and disciple children found in migrant construction sites and slum communities. Anna participates in this ministry by teaching English classes to children of Cambodian construction workers and local Thai kids who don’t have the opportunity to learn from native English speakers. She has made occasional trips to Cambodia to support the Cambodian side of the ministry.

Anna is a covenant worker with RMM. This means she has a job that provides for her financial needs but will work with RMM’s team in its ministry and will support RMM vision in Thailand. Anna says that she always had the goal of using ESL in a missions setting and is excited to see this dream becoming a reality as she comes alongside the team. At RMM, we are grateful for God’s provision of a job and ministry in Thailand for Anna and that she can work together with our team to reach Thai and Cambodian people with the Good News of Jesus!

Anna’s prayer requests include:
• Wisdom in relationships and commitments
• Patience and a loving heart for my students, their families, and my co-workers
• Spiritual growth

Thank you for your prayers for Anna!

*Last name omitted for security reasons.

Keith Scheffel Resigning as CFO

Keith Scheffel, who has served with RMM for the past 22 years, recently announced plans to resign as CFO, effective February 28. He has accepted a position with Layman, Diener, and Borntrager Insurance and Financial Services. We are very sorry to see Keith move on after such a long history with RMM, but we appreciate the spirit in which he is leaving and we wish Keith and his family many blessings.

A word from Keith about the transition: “At the opposite end of my excitement about my new position, is the deep sadness I feel in resigning from RMM. RMM has been my life's work and family for the past 22+ years. "RMM is very grateful for Keith's faithful service over the years. We have been blessed by his talents and will miss him immensely."I have been greatly enriched by my interaction with coworkers, field workers, board members, and supporting constituency. I am deeply grateful for the way the RMM board and administration entrusted me with various responsibilities over the years. RMM has contributed significantly to my personal, professional and spiritual development.”

RMM is very grateful for Keith's faithful service over the years. We have been blessed by his talents and will miss him immensely. Please join us in praying for a smooth transition for Keith and those who will be assuming his responsibilities at RMM.

January 23, 2015

Exciting Day!

Please pray for Nixson and Rhonda as they return to Bangkok today (January 23). They need prayer to find housing in a central location (between school and work). They will both be studying Thai for a few months as a refresher and to learn the more formal Thai used in the Bible, so pray for quick language progress. Pray for them as they reconnect with old friends, rejoin the RMM team, and begin their work again.

Pray also for Jonatan who will be flying from Nicaragua, to the States to meet Rhonda and Nixson and will fly to Thailand with them. Pray for his cultural adjustment and as he learns language. Pray that he could meet key people to help with his adjustment. Praise God that he can meet his goal of going to Thailand after four years of preparation!

January 22, 2015

Puzzles and Seekers: A New Year in Spain

By Pablo,* RMM worker in Spain

For us, 2015 literally started out with a bang! We were able to watch fireworks from the rooftop after our New Year’s dinner. For the dinner, we had roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts and parsnips, made by a good friend with my help. It was a risky thing to do, given that he has not made it for 15 years and my major ignorance of cooking and kitchen protocol. But it turned out splendidly and was timely as well. We finished eating just before the stroke of midnight, then stuffed down grapes, one for each of the 12 chimes of midnight, which is a tradition here in Spain. Some say it’s for good luck, and if you can’t get all 12 grapes down in time, something bad will happen during the year. A more probable theory is that the tradition began within the past 75 years or so to get rid of an abundant grape harvest. Of course, making a profit had nothing to do with it! But I digress.

Last year six of us celebrated the New Year together. This year one couple couldn’t because of his mother’s advanced skin cancer. It’s untreatable at this point. She’s in pain and requires family members to be with her constantly. This is probably the last New Year she will be with them, unless God does a miraculous healing. We’ve not had opportunity to meet her, and visiting people in the condition she’s in is just not something Spanish families do. But why not ask him for healing? He can do it!

On New Year’s Day we cleaned up from the night before and enjoyed a meal with six other friends. Our common bond was music. Our host, a neighbor of an English student, took me to the first choir rehearsal some five and a half years ago. The meal was typically Spanish—a five-hour event spiced up by lots of conversation. The topic of the afternoon was relationships and sexuality. Spaniards are generally quite open and frank about it. Of the six people there besides us, three are divorced, two are single mothers, and the sixth has a broken four year live-in relationship behind her. Experts! At least opinionated! For us, it was an interesting insight into current Spanish thinking about sexuality. The women agreed that, for them traditional roles and expectations of marriage and intimacy have resulted in disappointment. As happens with discussions on politics, economy, religion, and personal well-being in general, problems were identified without many solutions. People are looking for answers, but most lead to changing things that are hard to change: beliefs, tradition, customs, people!

"Problem is,
whether it’s politics, relationships or whatever, change won’t come without a fundamental change in individuals from the inside out, with Jesus’ help."
In discussions like this, we mostly listen and wait for opportunities to become involved, so when they asked about the secret of our 38+ years of marriage, we jumped in. Our response was that relationships require a great deal of work and commitment, and marriage is no exception. Fortunately, we have an unseen Friend who gives enablement (we call it grace) and direction to help us do things that we are unable to do on our own. In short, our faith in God and commitment to him helps us in all of our relationships. This contrasts, we believe, to self-help ideas that boil down to the works-religion mentality that if we work harder things will get better. Problem is, whether it’s politics, relationships or whatever, change won’t come without a fundamental change in individuals from the inside out, with Jesus’ help. This seems obvious to us, but is really quite a foreign idea to many people here. The idea that God Almighty (if he exists at all) has become like us to establish a relationship with us so that we could become more like him, has been obscured by religion and all its trappings, plus the shortcomings of clergy, priests and leaders in general. It’s quite sad, but there is hope. The need is there and we pray for not only a hunger and thirst to experience something better, but for plenty of wisdom to live and articulate the hope that there is in Jesus.

I’ve been working on a puzzle (a yearly tradition); this year’s seems especially difficult. I was tempted to give up, but it seemed a voice was saying to persist, maybe as a parable of what we’re about here. Parts of putting together puzzles are fairly obvious, but other parts require lots of study, patience and trial and error. Doing the puzzle is a reminder to “seek until finding.” In our hearts, this new year, is a hope to see the Father continue to put together a group of true seekers that will find him, be transformed by his love and be gathered into little communities of faith. Our desire this year is that more pieces of the “puzzle” be found and that the picture would more clearly take shape. Blessings on you and your “puzzle” this new year.

*Last name omitted for security

January 20, 2015

Hello from Sunny Costa Rica!

Liz is an associated worker with RMM. She is working as an assistant director of Vida 220, a discipleship training school based in Talamanca. She is mentoring students, working with local children and building friendships and discipling relationships with university students. She is from Plain City, Ohio and her sending church is Agape Community Fellowship.

Hello from sunny, warm Costa Rica! It's hard to believe how quickly the time has gone since I left Ohio back in September.

We are in the second to last week of Vida220 training Right now Elam Stauffer is with us teaching on the spiritual disciplines. We have a great group of students here, and it's been really fun getting to know each of them. There are four from the Hartville area in Ohio, two from Mexico, and six from Costa Rica—three of which are from the indigenous reserve where one of VidaNet's bases is located and where Vida220 training is held.

My days are full and busy here with translating, teaching English, building relationships with the students, administrative things, and maintaining a close relationship with Jesus. I often feel like there simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do. So, I'm in a constant search for balance as well as discernment to determine which things need to be priorities and which things can be pushed off for one more day. It's definitely a growing experience!

A few weeks ago a pastor from Kentucky came to teach on the Holy Spirit, and we all experienced so many wonderful things. Tuesday evening was the strongest time for me personally, and I want to share a little bit of what happened just to give testimony to God's power and goodness! We saw at least six miraculous healings happen within the group. Two people were healed of relatively serious injuries that had happened throughout the course of the week (a head and neck injury and the effects of an electric shock), one was healed of a pinched sciatic nerve, and at least three others were healed of minor aches and pains that they had been experiencing. I personally received healing in my lower back, which has frequently bothered me for years now, and it's been 100% great since then. I was honestly taken by surprise when it happened because I had never personally received healing like that before. I later realized that it was probably because I had never asked for it. After all, the Bible does says, "You have not, because you ask not" and "ask and you will receive." What I liked most about that evening was that it wasn't just one person doing all of the praying, instead we all prayed for each other. I think many times things like this come across as one person having this super connection with God and only that person can pray for healing. But God uses whoever he decides to use. In this case he chose to use brand new Christians who had never seen or experienced anything like this in their lives to minister to other Christians who might be seen as "more spiritual" or more mature in their faith. God is good and wise and he definitely works in mysterious ways!

I really appreciate your continued prayers for the students and leaders of Vida220 as well as for the leaders of VidaNet, Thank you and God bless you!

January 15, 2015

Needed: Both Sprinters and Ironmen

By Keith Scheffel

I’m awed by super athletic achievements. I remember watching in admiration at the smoothness and relative ease at which Usain Bolt, aka “the world’s fastest man,” won the 100 meter and 200 meter race in the 2012 Olympics. Both those races were over in the blink of an eye. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve stood in awe of my wife’s niece who has completed several Ironman triathlons. These grueling events take several hours to complete. I only wish I was fit enough to complete just one of the three legs of those triathlons—2 mile swim, 100 mile bike ride and 26 mile run!

At RMM we are grateful for both the “sprinters” and the “ironmen” in relation to financial partners. Sprinters are those who provide the burst of one-time contributions at the front end of a missions assignment. Ironmen are those who make monthly contributions for the duration of the assignment. We need both types. There are significant costs at the beginning of an assignment (plane tickets) that the sprinters help with. There are also ongoing costs (visa fees, housing, school) that need the monthly commitments of the ironmen. While both are needed and deeply appreciated, I’m especially grateful to those who are committed for the long haul.

RMM has several workers who are currently raising support as well as some who have been serving for many years who could still use additional monthly partners. RMM provides two convenient options for partners to contribute on a monthly basis. One option is by completing an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) agreement that allows RMM to withdraw a specified amount from the donor’s bank account every month. Another convenient option is to sign up for a monthly contribution via our website. The EFT agreement and the “Contribute Monthly” form are both available on our website at donate.rmmweb.org.

Whether you choose to be a “sprinter” or an “ironman” know that we appreciate your partnership in taking the Gospel to unreached areas.

January 12, 2015

Not that Different: An “Ordinary Life” at Home in North Africa

By sisters, Sarah and Candice (staff writer) Names changed or last names omitted for security in online version of this article

When we think of RMM workers living overseas, we picture a foreign culture, with a difficult language, strange food, and a religion that we don’t understand. For kids like Charis (11), Joy (9), and David (6), who moved to North Africa as young children (David was born there!), it’s what they’ve always known. Speaking with the children, via Skype, I was struck again by the normalcy of life for them. Charis had been making a pumpkin pie when I called and talked to me while wearing her apron. All the kids ran to bring me samples of their Arabic and French writing and pictures they had drawn. In the background was a steady stream of canary chirps and the shouts of their twin toddler brothers, Conrad and Philip. As we chatted, I got the sense that the kids think about living in North Africa not as “another culture” but simply “home.” For them, America is the second culture which they visit and adjust to as needed. In their little town, they lead a life that feels ordinary—getting up and going to school every day, sometimes arguing with their siblings, having playdates and making bracelets with friends, etc. Feel free to eavesdrop as their parents and I talk to them about life as it is right now...

What are your favorite things about living in North Africa?

David: My favorite things are making forts in the living room out of pillows and playing on my bicycle.

Joy: I like different places. I like a town where we visit sometimes because it has trees and green grass, and I like the town where we live because it has a bunch of hills and sunsets. I like the food—like couscous and tagine [a dish eaten by dipping bread in a common bowl] and also beets and peas.

I like the holiday Ashorah [10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar]. All the kids are happy because they get stuff from their parents.

Charis: Friends, fresh bread, milawi [crispy flat bread served warm with tea in the afternoons].

What are your least favorite things about living there?

Joy: I don’t like the Eid at all because I don’t like to see sheep butchered. [The Eid Aladha is the celebration that happens about 60 days after the end of Ramadan. Each head of household slaughters a sheep, remembering the story of Abraham and his son].

David: How our neighbor boy teaches the other boys how to do bad things.

Charis: We don’t get vacation for Christmas and Thanksgiving because the culture is Muslim and they don’t celebrate it.

Who are your friends and what language do they speak? What religion are they? How do you see them practicing their religion?

Joy: My friends are the kids in my class. They speak Arabic and French and a little bit of English. All of them follow Allah and are Muslims. At our old school, instead of sports, the boys said their prayers and the girls did their prayers—in back which was no fair.

What is a Third Culture Kid??

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of a similar background.

– Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken)

David: They speak Arabic. They chant the Quran.

Charis: They (speak region-specific) Arabic, French, classical Arabic and a little English. They are Muslims. They kiss the Quran whenever it falls on the ground.

(Editor’s note: The children listed all of their friends by name. For security reasons, we can’t include them here. Sarah says that names are very important and it’s very important for the children to be able to name each child in their class by first and last name.)

Is it hard to communicate with your friends in other languages sometimes? What does that feel like?

Joy: No, it’s not a problem, but one time I tried to tell them that Jesus died on the cross for them and they didn’t talk to me much for like a week or so after that. It feels bad.

David: One time I accidentally talked in English and they didn’t understand me. It made me feel silly.

Charis: No, it’s not hard to communicate with my friends.

Was it hard to learn to speak and read in Arabic and French? What are your favorite words or phrases?

Joy: I don’t remember how I learned. I like to say cacahuètes, which means peanuts, and bastingage, which means a post for tying up a ship. I like the song Daba Hellazoune which is the story of a snail carrying its home on its back. I like the word L’ami, which means friend.

David: Yeah, it’s sort of hard. I used to know French but I forgot it, but I know Arabic really well. I like the word “Asahabi” which means “my friend.”

Charis: I don’t remember learning (the local) Arabic or French. It’s sometimes just a little hard to learn classical Arabic.

What can you do in North Africa that you can't do in the U.S.?

Joy: Go to the hammam [public bath; most neighborhoods have a public bath with different hours for men and women].

Charis: Walk to school and climb a mountain in our neighborhood.

What or who do you miss the most from America?

Joy: My grandparents and my friends. I miss the teepee and the playground at my granddaddy’s house. I miss the ol’ barn where my other grandparents live.

David: Grandma and Ty.

Charis: Everybody.

Can you remember the best day you had recently? What did you do?

Joy: The day that M. A.*and her brother first came over was the best day. We played in the playhouse a bunch and then we ate figs and plums right off the trees. And then we played with our doll, Nellie. My friend looked so happy skipping down the road when they left our house but their mother was afraid they would fall.

Returning home to Thailand

For Claire (11), Eliza (9), and Silas (6), after living in Thailand almost seven years, consider it one of their homes. They have spent the last year and a half in Columbus, Ohio, attending city schools and learning a lot about their identity as Americans, as well as spending time with family in the States. While they now understand a lot more about where they originally come from, all three kids still feel that “home” is in Thailand. They are looking forward to settling back in Bangkok in the summer of 2015. While they are looking forward to the move, they will face challenges in adjusting back to Thai culture and language. It’s going to take effort and energy to adapt and learn and make friends again. Please pray for them as they say difficult good-byes and pray that they can adapt and thrive, with God’s help, back in Thailand. Pray that their parents, Tom and Candice, will make wise decisions about schooling and that Claire, Eliza, and Silas can make many great, new friendships with Thai kids. The kids ask for prayers for “nice teachers” and “that Thailand won’t seem too different.” Pray for peace in their hearts in the time of transition and upheaval that is coming this spring.

David: Finishing school was a good day. I like getting all the books back that I worked on so that I could see what I did.

Charis: We went to the beach and went swimming and had a picnic.

Can you remember the worst day you had recently? How did it make you feel?

Joy: When my teacher said not to say that again when I told the kids in my class that Jesus died on the cross. It made me feel mad.

Do you have any pets?

Joy: We have four turtles and four canaries. Lola is the turtle and the canaries are May, Sebastian, and Carver. The rest don’t have names.

What is your house like?

Joy: Our bedroom is small and I don’t like sharing a room. We have a living room, a kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom. It’s nice.

David: We have a really nice living room that has lots of pillows to play in. You can make a big pile and jump in them, make a fort or make a wall with them. We have a lot of books in our house.

Charis: It’s the bottom floor of a villa [a big house]. Joy and I share a room and the boys share a room.

Do you have a garden?

Joy: One that we share with our neighbors.

David: Yes, we can dig in it, but we have to cover up the holes because it’s not our garden.

Charis: We have fruit trees—cherry, pears, figs, pomegranates, plums—and a playhouse in the garden area behind our house.

What is school like?

Joy: Arabic is hard and the rest is mostly going smoothly. English is so easy—it’s my favorite. Math and French are also my favorites.

David: It’s a little bit boring because sometimes we are sitting around and waiting until the bell rings because my teacher doesn’t have anything else to do. My favorite subjects are English and Arabic.

Charis: There are 16 kids in my class and I have four teachers. I study Arabic in the morning and I study French in the afternoon. We study English for 2.5 hours each week and it’s super boring. We have 15 minutes of recess in the morning, a 2.5 hour break for lunch, and then 15 minutes of recess in the afternoon. I like to jump rope during recess. Class starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. We go to tutoring for Arabic three times a week. Math and French are my favorite subjects.

Do you ever feel isolated or treated differently?

Joy: Yes, they think their grades are better than mine just because I don’t study the Quran. I don’t like it because my grades are just as good as theirs, but they don’t care about the individual subject grades, but only about the total.

David: No, I don’t feel different.

Charis: I feel different because I don’t study the Quran.

Do you go to church? What’s that like?

Joy: Yes, once a month. I like playing with the friends I have there.

David: Yes, I like Sunday school. It’s a little bit fun.

Charis: We go to church once a month in a big city.

Most of the people in your country are Muslim. What do you know about Islam?

Joy: They don’t eat pork. They do prayers five times a day at the mosque. Every time they say their prayers they say Allah Ou Akhbar, which means God is the greatest.

Overseas for the First Time

Robbie *(2) and Anna* (infant) (children of Raleigh*(brother to Candice and Sarah) and Opal*, workers in North Africa)

Opal and Raleigh ask for prayers...

Please pray for Robbie to be strong enough—and willing—to walk before our family's assignment begins in July 2015.

Pray for Robbie and Anna to have patient endurance for long car rides to trainings, speaking engagements, and to visit family.

Please pray for Anna and Robbie to become friends early in their lives and to support each other.

Charis: They have to butcher sheep on the Eid. They think that Mohammad is a prophet. They have to fast a month every year and they have to go on the Haj [pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia]. They have to go to the mosque five times a day to pray.

What do Muslims think of Jesus? Do you meet many people that know Jesus?

Joy: All of them know about him, but just believe that he is prophet. Yes, there are a few believers.

David: Nobody thinks about Jesus. Not really.

Charis: They think he is a prophet and they don’t believe he died.

How do you pray for your Muslim friends?

Joy: I pray that everyone would become Christians so that when Jesus comes back everyone will be Christians.

David: That they would believe in Jesus.

Charis: That I could have chances to share with them.

Why are you in the country that you live in?

Joy: It wasn’t my decision and my parents moved here when I was one year old. They thought that God wanted them to do that.

David: Because I like it. Because my family wants to live here.

Charis: To tell people about Jesus.

Are there ways that you help your family with their ministry?

Joy: I talk to my friends about God at school. I study as well as I can in school and do my best.

David: I tell kids about Jesus, but they don’t want to believe it. One time I told them that if you’re ever sick Jesus can heal them, but not Mohammed. When I tell them that they say, “Be quiet, that’s not even true. Only Mohammed can save us.”

Charis: I try to be a friend to the girls at school.

What do you want to do when you grow up? Would you like to live overseas?

Joy: I want to be an English teacher. Yes, I would like to live in North Africa.

David: I haven’t decided yet. I would like to live in China because the food is good. I would like to live in the United States because there is no glass [broken on the ground] like in North Africa.

Charis: I want to be a teacher. Yes, I would like to live in another country.

What are good ways that we can pray for your family?

Joy: That we could help more people be believers. That Charis’s Arabic teacher would stop speaking fast so Charis can understand her better. That David would have a good time at school. That Conrad and Philip would keep on growing healthy. That our whole family wouldn’t get sick for a while.

David: That I wouldn’t have bad dreams.

Joy: That the kids in my class, the director, and my teachers would become Christians.

Sarah, worker and mother to Charis, David, and Joy (as well as Philip and Conrad who are a little too young for the interview!) shared a few prayer requests for her children. She said, “One thing I think is cool about the kids’ experience is that they can relate to people across spectrums of age and culture. For example, David right now is learning a lot of new Arabic words and using what he knows. When we came home in a taxi one night recently, he was interacting with the driver, pointing out things outside the window and chatting. It’s good to see them being able to connect like that. For David, you can pray for positive peer influence. Many little boys are used to getting away with a lot and are not very respectful. We’re praying for a good, positive friendship for him. Pray that the kids would grow deeper in their understanding of Jesus’s love for them and that as they are in the school setting, they would know God’s presence and protection.”

Tools for Transition

In October, the children (going in the field this year) met together in Columbus, Ohio for a training called “Kid’s CALIBRATE.” Jeanette Hunt (Third Culture Kid Coach at Eastern Mennonite Missions) and Lydia Yoder (adult TCK, daughter of current RMM workers, John and Cecelia) gave input for the kids. Jeanette taught on themes like change, transitions, and good-byes. Lydia supplemented the lessons with crafts and games as well as sharing her experiences as a TCK with the kids and the adults. Meanwhile the adults met to ask questions, encourage each other, and discuss topics related to raising kids in another culture.

As you pray for transitioning kids, keep in mind the qualities that they will need to develop in order to be good cross-cultural explorers and learners. This is the “toolbox” they were given during their training weekend:

Stuffed lamb - Choose sacred objects; the special things to take along.
Camera - Take pictures to help remember people and places.
Bottle of water - Tears and sadness over leaving. It’s okay to cry.
Rubber bands - Be flexible!
Rocket - Have a sense of adventure. Just jump in and try it!
Binoculars - Observe new things. Listen and ask questions.
Notebook - Journal and draw to help process your feelings.
Bible - Keep family traditions to bring stability. Stay connected to Jesus.
Lips (from Mr. Potato Head) - Talk about your feelings with your family.

Special thanks to Jeanette Hunt for sharing this toolbox with us.

January 08, 2015

Locally Grown: Grantsville’s Bridge to the Middle East

By Tim Yoder

This story begins long before anyone at Maple Glen became a part of it. It is a story of how God, through the power of his Holy Spirit, begins to draw people to himself and allows us to become part of something bigger than ourselves.

Abdul and Nany* grew up in Muslim families in Iraq. As a young person, Nany was drawn to Jesus and wanted to follow him, but was forbidden by her family. After Abdul and Nany married, Nany and her mother-in-law would occasionally attend church. It was soon discovered that Abdul and Nany could not have children. When Nany and Abdul’s mother would go to church, together they would ask Jesus for a child. After six months of asking Jesus for a child, Abdul’s mother told him that he also needed to go to church and pray for a child. Abdul and Nany went to the church and prayed. As Abdul prayed, a very nice feeling, something “electric,” went through his body and tears began to run down his face. The next month Nany was pregnant and they knew that the baby was from Jesus. Soon they were enjoying their son Hassan.

When the United States invaded Iraq, Abdul was hired as a driver for the U.S. Army. One night Abdul was asked to go and investigate a situation near the airport in Bagdad. While he was looking around he saw a shining light in the shape of a cross. As he investigated the light, he noticed a bomb. He told everyone to get down and no one was hurt when the bomb exploded.

Things soon became very bad for Abdul and his family. Because of his involvement with the U.S. army, he was ambushed by insurgents and shot 16 times. Miraculously, none of the bullets were fatal, but he was seriously injured. A U.S. Army convoy arrived just as his attackers were going to ensure that he was dead. His attackers fled and the U.S. Army sent him to Kuwait for medical attention. Meanwhile, his family found his car riddled with bullet holes and assumed he was dead. Twenty-one days later, Abdul was able to call his family and let him know that he was alive.

Abdul and Nany were forced to flee Iraq and they spent the next seven years bouncing around different countries throughout the Middle East. They were finally able to gain refugee status and moved to the United States.

Life in the U.S. was not easy for them. They did not understand the culture or the social system. Abdul was taken advantage of and ended up working 12 hours a day for only $50 a day. They were also plagued by a legal problem that was causing lots of stress in their lives.

It was at this time they came in contact with New Life Church in Queens, New York. They started taking English classes at the church and members of the church began to faithfully share Jesus with them.

At about this time, New Life Church asked if they could give a presentation at Maple Glen Mennonite Church. During the presentation they showed a diagram of concentric circles and sometimes an unreached person does not know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who knows Jesus. For an unreached person to become “reached,” a follower of Jesus must be willing to cross cultural barriers and be willing to step in the circle of the unreached person. When that happens and the previously unreached person begins to follow Jesus, there are hundreds of people who are suddenly within reach of the Gospel.

The same evening, a lady from Lebanon shared her journey of faith from Islam to following Jesus. She described how she was in the United States for 10 years and not a single Christian ever introduced her to Jesus.

A Risky Undertaking
By Eileen Yoder

Inviting an Arabic family to come to the community and live among us seemed like a risky undertaking, and exactly what God was asking our church to do. I had just lost my job of 18 years and was feeling at loose ends, not sure where or what God wanted of me next. My husband and I had limited financial resources, but I did have unexpected time on my hands, and the urging of the Holy Spirit to offer myself, with all my skills and limitations, to use for his glory in this situation.

It has been amazing to watch God answer prayer in so many ways! Getting to know Nany, Abdul, and Hassan has been such a blessing. And we have been privileged to welcome and love a few of their friends from Saudi Arabia. Abdul’s commitment to Christ has had a huge impact on his life and the lives of his family and acquaintances around the world. At his baptism I welcomed Abdul as a brother in Christ. An expression he often uses is, “I’m sorry about such a hard time, but what I do? And I ask you, ‘cause you my sister.” Their progress with the English language has made communication progressively easier and provided much humor to accompany the patience required.

Nany is a dear sister. I take her to appointments, go shopping, share produce from my garden… and we share favorite foods, and stories about her life in Iraq and then other countries as refugees, about her sisters and mother, and the father and father-in-law whom she misses so much since their deaths. She knows the names of my children and grandchildren and which one looks most like me, even though she has only met them a few times. She and Abdul dream of a day when there would be enough peace in Iraq that they can take us with them to meet their families and see their former homes and neighborhoods.

Regardless of where our journeys take us in the years ahead, we know that we will share eternity in heaven with this family and many others, because the love of Jesus shares a home in our hearts.

At the end of the presentation they described how we could partner with them in their ministry. We could pray, give, or adopt a family. When we inquired what was needed to adopt a family, they said they needed a house, a job, and a community to love on them. After meeting and praying about the opportunity, we contacted New Life Church and said we would be willing to adopt a family.

Abdul, Nany, and Hassan soon came for a visit. We showed them where they would live and the job that Abdul would be doing. They went back to New York to decide if they should move or not. While they were in New York, Abdul asked Pastor David to have an Arabic translator at church on Sunday morning. At the service, he made it known that he wanted to follow Jesus. As the pastor laid hands on him and prayed for him, Abdul felt the same feeling flood over him that he felt back in Iraq when he first went to a church to ask Jesus for a son. Abdul began to see how God was drawing him throughout his whole life. Abdul says that it was not until he came to the United States did he understand why God used the cross to save him in Iraq.

Nany was still unsure about following Jesus and moving away from New York. One night she could not sleep. She had a vision that Jesus came and put his hand on her cheek and drew a cross on her forehead. She experienced overwhelming peace and slept late into the morning.

Abdul, Nany, and Hassan soon moved to Grantsville. Soon after they moved, Nany made the decision to follow Jesus. We had the great privilege of baptizing them both.

It has not been easy, but the rewards have been life changing. Abdul is filled with the desire to see people come to follow Jesus. He has shared with his family, and some of them have come to know Jesus. Some of his family refused to talk to him as a result of him following Jesus, but now some of those same individuals are asking him questions.

He continues to use multimedia to reach those who otherwise would never hear the gospel. At last count, there are 200 people from all around the Middle East who have made a commitment at some level to follow Jesus.

His zeal has created opportunities for many of us in the church to meet Arabic people from around the world, a couple of which have become dear friends. Their commitment to Jesus with the reality that it could bring about their death, makes our sacrifices look meager and has deepened our own commitment. Their experience has made news events that used to be distant and impersonal, very real. Their presence has enlarged our vision at Maple Glen and has opened our eyes to what can happen when you take a risk, move across cultural barriers, and step into someone else’s circle and share Jesus.

*Names changed for security reasons

January 07, 2015

Change of Plans for the Esh Family

There has been a change of plans with a family that we hoped to send to Thailand this month. We are disappointed to inform you that Conrad and Vicki Esh have decided not to join the RMM team in Thailand. They have reached this decision after a period of uncertainty and prayer. They have sought advice from RMM, their Mission Support Team and a professional counselor. We are sorry to lose Conrad and Vicki, but we are releasing them from their planned assignment and we wish them God’s blessing as they continue to seek and follow his leading.