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Introducing a New Partnership in East Asia

We are pleased to introduce William and Rebecca,* a couple newly-appointed by RMM but with close connections to CMC and years of missions experience in a challenging setting. In 1998, William and Rebecca moved to a mountainous region of East Asia and began living among a people group with very little Christian witness. They have spent years learning the language and culture and building relationships. During that time their family has grown and they now have four young sons, ranging in age from two to nine. They have been working with Eastern Mennonite Missions and are continuing that relationship while also joining the RMM family. William explained that they wanted to formalize a connection to CMC and RMM that they already felt strongly since their family and church roots are in CMC (their sending church is Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship).

Over the years William and Rebecca have worked in a variety of settings – both in business and with a development agency. Because they are working in a “closed” area they have had to be very careful about how and with whom they share their faith, but as they have formed deep, trusting relationships they have discovered many opportunities for talking about Jesus. The government and societal pressure are so strong in this region that there are no known Protestant churches with local leaders. A few small fellowships are led by outsiders. “Because of the strong Buddhist influence and the cultural isolation of this people group, the majority of the people know nothing about Jesus or the Bible.”One of William and Rebecca’s goals is to “raise up leaders and lay the foundation for the church there.” A key piece of this, they feel, is presenting the gospel message in new ways. Because of the strong Buddhist influence and the cultural isolation of this people group, the majority of the people know nothing about Jesus or the Bible. While there is a translation in the local language, it is outdated and uses antiquated language. Efforts are underway to produce a more readable translation and William and Rebecca are helping with the recording and distribution of an audio version. But even beyond the need for a more comprehensible Bible, William and Rebecca have become convinced of the need for a new effort of contextualization – connecting the gospel message to “something that they already know.” In light of that, they have put a lot of effort into learning about the local religious beliefs and how those beliefs have shaped the assumptions and day-to-day lives of the people. In doing so, they’ve discovered that traditional Western ways of talking about important issues like sin, guilt, and salvation make little sense in their context. And so they are learning a new vocabulary and finding ways to present the truth about Jesus in a way that connects more readily with the questions that their friends are actually asking.

Please remember William and Rebecca in your prayers. They live at a high altitude and with limited access to medical care, and consequently, health and safety are always a concern. William is managing several coffee houses, Rebecca does some English teaching, and both spend a lot of time talking with friends who stop by their house. They ask that we pray for “more devoted followers of Jesus” and look forward to a day when a vibrant local church is able to more fully represent Jesus to its own people.

*Names changed for security