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June 30, 2015

Introducing CMC’s 2015 Annual Conference Missions Day Speaker: Carl Medearis

“Learning to say ‘Yes!’ to Jesus”

Carl Medearis will be the featured speaker on Sunday morning at Conservative Mennonite Conference’s 2015 Annual Conference in Hartville, Ohio. Carl is a speaker, writer, missionary and internationally known expert on the Middle East. You can find a full biography of Carl here. He is the author of Muslims, Christians and Jesus and Speaking of Jesus among other books. His latest book, Adventures in Saying Yes, about the adventure of giving Jesus control of our lives will be available for purchase at conference. Carl is known for his engaging stories and enthusiasm for exploring new ways to share Jesus with the world.

“A few years ago we gave copies of Carl Medearis’s book Speaking of Jesus to all our workers because some of us at the RMM office had read it and found it helpful in thinking about how to relate and communicate with those around us who don’t yet know Jesus. Many of our workers agreed that his perspectives led them to change their approach to the conversations they were having with those around them. Carl is an excellent story teller and speaks and writes in an engaging way. Come and see for yourself!” – Joe Showalter, RMM President and Director of Global Missions

Click here for more information about Annual Conference or to register.


“It Isn’t a Class About Missions...”

Finding new vision in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

For Scott and Crystal Miller, and the church communities of Grantsville, Maryland and Salisbury, Pennsylvania, a life-altering journey started quietly, with a vision of what God could do. More than half-a-decade after he first heard about “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” close to five years after he took a course using the Perspectives Reader as a textbook, and a year after he took the “Perspectives” course in an intensive format, one day, as Scott Miller prayed, asking God “What can I do to make you famous among all peoples?” something clicked.

“God gave me a vision” says Scott, “of how impacting this course could be in both my home church and neighboring churches.” As soon as he was given the vision, Scott went to work on finding out if he could make his vision a reality, “I simply got onto the website and started making calls and sending emails.” Soon thereafter, he took a coordinator’s workshop, and started assembling a team and working out the logistics involved with hosting “Perspectives.”

The class, “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” or simply “Perspectives” is a ministry of Frontier Ventures, a nondenominational ministry formerly known as the U.S. Center for Global Mission. The course typically lasts for fifteen or sixteen weeks, meeting once a week, for approximately three hours. It is designed to be organized and run by volunteers in local churches, with support from a national office in Pasadena, California, and regional offices throughout the United States. Sessions are taught by instructors from around the country, and vary in format depending on the instructor. Each week, students also have reading assignments from the “Perspectives” Reader, a large collection of essays and articles written by men and women from diverse backgrounds, denominations, callings, and locations around the world. Each speaker and writer speaks or writes from his or her own context, but as the course progresses, this great diversity of voices reveals a unified message, and paints a single picture; a God who has been at work from the dawn of history, winning humanity to himself.

“It isn’t a class about missions, but a course on how every believer can be intimately woven into the story of God using His people to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.”Much of what is said in class and written in the reader is about mission work, and ministry, but according to the “Perspectives” website, “It isn’t a class about missions, but a course on how every believer can be intimately woven into the story of God using His people to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.” As Scott Miller says, “The goal of the “Perspectives” course is not to send people to overseas mission work. The goal of “Perspectives” is to develop missional living no matter what your geographic location.” For many students, hearing God speak through “Perspectives” is life-changing.

This life-changing experience is facilitated by the hard work of the staff at regional and national offices, by instructors who travel from distance to teach, and by the high-quality course materials themselves. All of these things come at a cost, and for some potential students, the financial burden of enrolling in “Perspectives” becomes a serious obstacle.

At Rosedale Mennonite Missions employees are encouraged to take “Perspectives,” and almost all have. Beyond RMM employees, though, it’s our desire to see as many members of CMC churches as possible go through “Perspectives.” We feel that “Perspectives” helps students understand and share our vision for reaching the least-reached, and develops excitement for missional projects at home and abroad. As CMC’s mission agency, it’s a part of our role to foster energy and vision for missional living throughout CMC. One way to do that is to remove a substantial portion of the financial burden of taking “Perspectives” from the individual student.

In early in 2014, Scott Miller was talking to the regional director of the Mid-Atlantic region about what steps he would have to take to host “Perspectives.” At the same time, RMM introduced a “matching grant” scholarship program designed to ease the financial burden of the class for members of CMC churches who wanted to take “Perspectives.” Any money that a CMC church offers to pay for a student to take “Perspectives,” RMM will match, up to $100. If the church pays $100, and RMM also pays $100, on average, students only pay about $50 out of pocket for “Perspectives.” This matching grant scholarship can be applied to any “Perspectives” course, not just those hosted or coordinated by CMC churches.

Each of the three CMC churches in the Grantsville/Salisbury area took advantage of RMM’s matching grant scholarship program to help students pay for “Perspectives.” Scott says, “The matching grant program was one of the best marketing tools we had.” Of the 112 students who enrolled in the course, hosted at Oak Dale church in Salisbury, 68 were from the CMC churches. After accounting for additional discounts (such as early registration and book-sharing), some students from the CMC churches had out-of-pocket costs as low as $20.

The impact in Grantsville and Salisbury has been profound, both for individuals and the broader church community. One alumnus of the Salisbury course said, “While I have not felt called to go to unreached people groups, I am excited to participate in sending others and looking at my everyday life as a mission to spread the kingdom of God to the unsaved I come in contact with.” Another wrote, “In the beginning session, we talked about having "shriveled vision" and I had written down what I hoped would happen with this 15-week period; ‘...hoping for God to open my eyes and my heart. That I will be changed and will glorify Him with my life.’ That is exactly what happened, is happening and I hope continues throughout my life.”

Students also speak of change in their communities as a whole—of congregants discussing missional issues in social conversations, and of a new focus on praying for unreached people groups. One student said, speaking about changes in his church, ”Some have been called to go. I have also sensed a new desire to reach those in our community where they are, even though this may not always be comfortable to the current church members.“

For Scott, taking the course for a second time has been truly life-changing, for himself, his wife Crystal, and their young son Abiel. They fall into the 21 percent of “Perspectives” alumni who sense a call into long-term cross-cultural outreach. Scott writes, “God has given me an irreducible desire to see Jesus proclaimed among all peoples! God has been developing this desire within me over the last decade, but this class has clarified a lot of things for me! Currently, my wife and I are praying about and planning for a move into cross-culture ministry in the northern region of Thailand.”

Whether it is by going, as God has called Scott and Crystal to go, or by staying, sending, and reaching out to those around us, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is an invaluable tool for finding and understanding your role in God’s mission. As one student from the Salisbury class wrote, “Sure, it isn't the answer for everything, and doesn't cover it all, but you will not look at the mission of God in His church the same way afterwards.”

For more information on “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” or to find a “Perspectives” class in your area, visit www.perspectives.org. For more information about the RMM matching grant scholarship program, email info@rmmoffice.org.


June 26, 2015

Taught by God

Last Saturday I attended a conference at which we spent a few minutes reflecting on some verses from John 6, where Jesus quotes Isaiah, saying, “They will all be taught by God.” That concept isn’t one I’d thought much about before. Sure, I knew that Jesus was an amazing rabbi (teacher), and that the Holy Spirit is described as one who “will teach you all things,” and I hear people say things like “God has been teaching me to be patient.” But God the Teacher hadn’t really been on my radar.

“They will all be taught by God.” What is Jesus saying here? What sorts of things does God the Teacher teach us? Jesus doesn’t go on to say exactly what God teaches, he simply says what happens to people who listen and learn from him: “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” God the Teacher enables us to come to Jesus.

As I reflected further, I realized I have been hearing of this happening in lives all around me. Yesterday I heard how God has been teaching some in North Africa, who until recently had been isolated from the truth, that Jesus is far more than just a prophet. One by one, God the Teacher is enabling them to come to Jesus.

I also think of Aaron’s story. Less than a year ago, Aaron got serious about listening and learning from God and came to Jesus. Aaron is a young man from our church family who is currently serving a few years in prison. It’s been amazing to watch how Jesus is transforming his life. Last week I learned that Aaron continues to maintain the perspective that while he’s in prison, God wants him to be a missionary. He wasn’t surprised that recently God the Teacher enabled his atheist friend to come to Jesus.

“We don’t outgrow our need to come to Jesus, or get so wise and mature that God doesn’t teach us anymore.”We don’t outgrow our need to come to Jesus, or get so wise and mature that God doesn’t teach us anymore. I learned a few weeks ago about a young couple in one of our CMC churches who recently completed the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course in their community. Through that experience, they sensed God teaching them new things about what coming to Jesus looks like for them. Even though they are deeply rooted in their community and church, God seems to be calling them out of that place. As God the Teacher enables them to come to Jesus in a new way, they hope to go to a place where millions have not been exposed to the gospel.

If God the Teacher teaches us to come to Jesus, then coming to Jesus must be a pretty big deal. Maybe it’s because Jesus shows us who God is and what he’s like: he’s the only one who has seen the Father. He’s the only one who can feed us bread from heaven that enables us to live forever. I can see that I need to keep coming to Jesus, so I think I’m going to keep learning from God the Teacher!


June 22, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions: Missions Day Offering

Throughout the spring and early summer, you may have noticed RMM talking about the Missions Day Offering (MDO). Many of our friends are familiar with MDO, but for those who may not be, we’ve prepared a short list of questions and answers about this special event in our annual calendar.

Who is RMM, and what does RMM do with the money from Missions Day Offering?

Rosedale Mennonite Missions is the missions agency of the Conservative Mennonite Conference. We seek to fully engage CMC churches in building God’s kingdom locally and globally, prioritizing disciple making among the least reached. Money from Missions Day Offering goes to help cover the costs of running our programs and administration for long- and short-term workers. This includes all our SEND programs (REACH and City Challenge) and long-term, cross-cultural outreach programs. RMM is committed to using the funds in a God-honoring fashion that will most effectively help God’s kingdom grow on earth.

What is Missions Day Offering?

The Missions Day Offering is a giving opportunity centered on an offering taken up during the Sunday morning service that concludes Conservative Mennonite Conference’s Annual Conference. It also includes funds raised by the Ride for Missions bicycling event, the Rosedale Missions Cruisers motorcycle event, early online contributions, and gifts from our Touchstone donors.

Does RMM do other large-scale fundraising events like Missions Day Offering throughout the year?

God is generous to us through our supporters; besides MDO and other Annual Conference-related events such as Ride for Missions and Rosedale Mennonite Cruisers, RMM does not do any large-scale, general-fund giving events.

I’m not going to be at CMC’s Annual Conference. Is there a way for me to be a part of Missions Day Offering?

Yes! You can either support a rider on Ride for Missions at rfm.rmmweb.org, or donate online at donate.rmmweb.org, and designate your gift for “MDO.”

How can I stay updated on what God is doing with my gift?

You can do this a number of ways. You can follow us on Facebook to get updated information with what is happening. You can sign up for the Mosaic, our e-newsletter that comes out every month. One of the best ways to stay in touch with RMM is to join a prayer chapter in your local community. Or better yet, start one! For a list of current prayer chapters, send us an email at info@rmmoffice.org


June 11, 2015

Keeping the Bonds Strong: Nine Ways to Connect with Workers on the Field

By Candice,* Asia member care provider

When a mission worker heads to the airport to leave for their assignment, ideally they have their church behind them and a missionary support team (MST) in place. They are wrapped in the glow of the commissioning prayers and the love of their friends and family. They get on the plane with confidence in their calling, excited to begin their mission. The team, family, and church friends serve as a kind of “safety net” backing the worker. As time passes, however, it can be easy for the worker to become busy and to stop communicating regularly with friends at home and for friends in the local church to forget to pray or to feel disconnected from the worker. So, the question is, what can both workers and sending church members do to keep the bonds strong over the long term?


1

Pray. Nothing that you can do is more important to a mission worker, yet we all know how easy it is to forget! Here are some simple ideas to help you keep workers upheld in prayer.
  • Pray often for workers and their countries in your worship service, small group, and family.
  • Post the worker’s prayer card on the refrigerator at home and in the church foyer, so their photo will be seen frequently as a reminder to pray.
  • Use the church Facebook page, email list, or an existing prayer network within your congregation to send missional prayer requests.
  • Pray for your friend as you write their support check or when you see the transfer from your bank account.
  • Try saying a short prayer each time you see your friend’s profile picture on Facebook.
  • Each time that you receive a note or e-mail from a worker, pray for them immediately. Please don’t read prayer requests without praying.
  • Obtain a physical symbol of a country in which the worker ministers as a prayer reminder and keep that object visible.
  • Pray your way through the RMM prayer directory. This daily guide gives you a framework to pray for all RMM workers and locations each month. Involve your children in reading about workers and praying for their needs. Request a free directory at info@rmmoffice.org.
  • Tell the worker you are praying and what you are praying for. One RMM worker said, “It means so much to meet the senior prayer partners at Annual Conference and hear about their ongoing prayers for specific requests we have given.” Prayer chapters are awesome! The members tend to know the most about what’s happening on the field and keep many workers covered in prayer. Join a team of prayer partners or start one in your area. Contact RMM prayer coordinator, Mim Musser at mim@rmmoffice.org to find out how.
  • Workers, remember to pray for your friends “back home” and ask them for their requests and needs, too. Connection is a two-way street.


2

Maintain Worker Visibility. Sometimes “out of sight, out of mind” can apply to workers who are missing from your church life for years at a time, so it’s important to think about ways to keep them on the minds of your congregation. The more the workers’ faces are actually seen, the better the chances are that they are being covered in support and prayer. Missionary Support Teams (MST) play a vital role in this kind of work, as they are the viable representatives of the worker to the church.

The church can include pictures in a Sunday morning PowerPoint with current prayer needs, a bulletin insert, a bulletin board of pictures in the church foyer, a printed newsletter in each church mailbox, etc. It’s also possible to connect with a worker live on a Sunday morning so that the congregation can ask questions and feel more connected and involved with the workers.

Don't forget to include the missionary kids (MK)! Place their photos in Sunday school classrooms to remind children of their friends around the world. Give a few facts about the MK, like “she just lost her first tooth and loves playing with Legos” to give kids a picture in their minds as they pray.


3

Utilize Technology. Happily, we no longer live in the time when it took a missionary’s letters months to cross the ocean. We can be in touch with worker friends via Facebook, e-mail, Skype, FaceTime, phone, and texting. Use the means available to you to send notes of encouragement, fill the worker in on your life, and ask how you can pray. Be sensitive to your friend if there are times they need to limit their use of technology in order to bond more deeply in the culture where they are serving. Often this is a wise thing to do, especially at the beginning of an assignment when it is important to depend on local relationships. Workers can utilize technology by e-mailing out regular updates, videos, photos, and newsletters as well as prayer requests when urgent needs arise. The church can also keep the worker updated and involved in church life by e-mailing church newsletters and communications. One RMM worker suggested that: “people from the church take turns each week to write an update from their life. This helps with the feeling of mutual sharing. Ideas for sharing would be: recent books you have read and enjoyed; something that has happened in your local community; what you are picking from your garden; a challenge you are facing; what’s for supper; ways we can be lifting you up.” The worker can follow along with church happenings through the church blog or Facebook page.

Security Note:

Internet technology has made it much easier to connect meaningfully with our workers far away. But some of our workers live in very sensitive contexts so we need to exercise caution in our use of the internet when sending emails to them or referencing them on Facebook, for example. RMM has published guidelines for communicating with workers in sensitive contexts. Please contact info@rmmoffice.org with any questions you might have about the guidelines for the specific worker and country you are writing.


5

Send Gifts. One way to show love to a friend overseas is through mailing a package. Holidays and birthdays, especially early in an assignment, can sometimes evoke feelings of loneliness and missing “home” and a thoughtful package can be a great way to show your love.

You can start by checking with your friend about whether a package is welcome (make sure there are no security issues if the country is sensitive and ask about customs charges). It is also a good idea to ask what types of things are difficult to find in the place they live. If you want to send a box, try one that is a flat rate up to a certain number of pounds (check with your local post office). Gifts of money have no shipping costs and can provide a single worker or family with a break, or provide for an unexpected need or a special experience. Other great gifts that have no shipping costs are iTunes gift cards or books or magazines for an e-reader. Remember, kids really enjoy getting mail from other kids, so encourage your children to develop pen pal relationships and send notes and pictures.


6

Follow Up. For both the church and the worker, follow-up is important. If a worker sends a prayer request to the church, it’s important for them to later follow up and let the church know the impact of their prayers. If a worker sends out a newsletter and gets no response it can feel as if no one reads it or cares. Even a short response like “I’m so excited about what God is doing in your friends!” or “I’m happy your baby is now sleeping through the night!” is encouraging.


7

Live a Giving Lifestyle. Determine what lifestyle changes you can make to allow you to give more to missions. Your giving demonstrates that you are passionate about and invested in the work that God is doing in your friend’s host country. Involving your children helps teach them to invest in spiritual things that last. Workers need the investment of long-term supporters.


8

Learn about the country where your friend is living. Take the time to check out a guidebook from the library and learn about some basic customs and history. Eat at a restaurant or cook food at home from that country. The worker will deeply appreciate the fact that you care enough to try to understand their context and the many things they adapt to daily.

You can also take the time to learn about the holidays in the workers’ adopted country, which may now have significance for them. Find a creative way to celebrate the holiday yourself or send a greeting during Ramadan or the Thai New Year, for example.

Be on the lookout for online news stories from the worker’s country. Stay connected with current events so that you can be praying for the country and the workers there.


9

Go and See. Travel to visit the worker if possible. One of our workers said: “We are really touched and grateful for these visits and the connections they bring.” Another family of RMM workers in North Africa said, “We have found that occasional visits from people on the MST as well as others in church can really help those on the field feel supported. It gives those who are visiting a glimpse of everyday life and specific ideas for prayer. It has also been really positive when there has been a child who has come to visit our children. This helps children on the field feel understood in a different way and gives them more points for connection when we are back on home assignment.” Visits should be planned and coordinated with the worker and MST. RMM trains and sends prayer teams to our locations—contact Mim Musser if you’re interested in being a part of one!

Over time, it is healthy for the worker to feel at home in their adopted country and to find sources of support and deep friendships with locals and their team. As time passes, you may notice that they seem to have less need for emotional support. This is a wonderful thing and means they are adapting well. Still, as you can see from these suggestions, your continued caring, prayers, words of encouragement and visits mean a lot to long-term workers. When you invest in them, you are letting them know that their mission is important to you and that you are willing to walk beside them in love and friendship. Thank you for journeying with our friends on the field.


These suggestions are not intended to be comprehensive and are a collection of my own experiences as a worker, contributions from current and past RMM workers, and a variety of mission agency materials.

*Names changed or omitted for security.


June 04, 2015

Impact Groups: Who Are You Discipling And Who's Discipling You?

Kevin Mayer, director of SEND Ministires, shares about how Impact Groups have shaped his life over the last 15 years.

Impact Groups are based on a concept for small-group discipleship that provides a blueprint for reproducible groups of two or three people carrying out Jesus’ great commission by discipling each other. While Impact Groups are not the only way to practice discipleship, it is a proven, effective method. SEND Ministries uses Impact Groups as part of REACH discipleship training school and the Staff Internship program and has published a guide to the Impact Group strategy for public use.

Download a free Impact Group brochure here.