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January 29, 2016

“I Feel at Home:” An Update from Jonatan

Jonatan has been sent by the Nicaraguan church through RMM’s Latin American Missions Partnership to work with RMM’s team in Bangkok, Thailand. This update was received nine months after he arrived in Thailand.

I thank God for the opportunity to provide this update to you and also thank him for life, strength and protection. God has been with me in Thailand and I’m glad he has me here as a light in the darkness.

Soon it will be nine months that I have been here. It has been a valuable time, and I have had good experiences while learning many things. God has been showing me the need of living sacrificially and he chose me to help carry the message of salvation and hope to the lost. I realize God has a plan for each one of us, and I sense his close presence to me as I work within his plan for me.

At first it was quite difficult being here. It was a new life and everything was different, especially the food which was so very different from Nicaragua. The climate is also extremely hot. I missed my family, friends, church, community and in fact, everything.

Probably the most difficult thing was learning a language with sounds that are quite different from Spanish. I recall the first day, I returned to where I was living and felt so very discouraged and frustrated and thought there is no way that I can ever learn this language. But I forced myself to learn the language well and as time passed I started to adapt to life here in Thailand. Now, nine months in, I feel at home. I even like the spicy food, and in fact when I eat food that isn’t spicy, I really don’t care for it.

“I’m so grateful to God for all his blessings and for being able to be a testimony to those around me.. I want to reflect God to them and show them the love of Jesus."I’m so thankful, God has watched over me and protected me and never forsaken me. When I missed my family and would have liked to be with them God provided me with strength to persevere and move ahead. God has been faithful by being with me, and I have faith and confidence he will continue to help me with my struggles, and he will be with me through whatever he has for me. I have many ideas and desires of things I would like to do here in Thailand, and I continually ask God for direction and guidance for each step in my work here. I’m so grateful to God for all his blessings and for being able to be a testimony to those around me still in darkness. I want to reflect God to them and show them the love of Jesus.

Thank you so much for praying for me, my work, and my protection as well as supporting me financially even though you don’t know me. I am encouraged because I know there are people who pray for me and think of me. I know I am not alone and there are many people who make it possible for me to be here. I am glad we are all the body of Christ and that God uses all of us in different ways to bring about his plans.

I continue to ask you to pray for me for me to learn the language well. Pray for my ministry here and what it will be. I have many friends who I would like to introduce to Christ. I ask God for wisdom in finding key people who are chosen to be his disciples. I also ask you to pray for my plans and that God would give me wisdom and would open doors for me. As you pray for me and the team here, ask that God would strengthen all of us. Please pray for my family in Nicaragua as it has been very difficult for my mother, father and my brothers because I am not with them. They would love to have me there but understand that this is a necessary sacrifice for the cause of Christ. May God bless them and all of you richly!

Update: Jonatan has recently secured a part-time job at a Mexican taco stand which he is enjoying. He goes to school in the morning and starts the job in the late afternoon and into the evening. While Jonatan still hopes to find a better paying teaching job to support himself, the restaurant work is thriving. Recently his boss at the taco stand asked him why he is different from the other employees. He said that his customer base has increased substantially since Jonatan began working for him! Furthermore, the job has given Jonatan numerous ministry opportunities to interact with customers who often ask him to share more about his faith.

Translated from Spanish

January 27, 2016

Dreaming Big

By Morgan Winter, REACH Team Canada

When God created mankind, Genesis tells us that He created us in His image. In this way, many of our most basic characteristics are direct reflections of God’s character. Our capacity to love, laugh, create, and dream are all derived from who God is. God imagined and crafted everything we know to exist; He is a masterful artist and certainly the greatest inventor. So it makes sense that God would choose to relate to His creation in an amazingly creative way: dreams.

Throughout the Bible, God reveals himself and his plans to many people through dreams. One such example kept sticking out to me this week, and that is the story of Joseph. Even though he was a simple shepherd, God revealed to Joseph through his dreams that one day his whole family would bow down to him. A dream like that seems nothing short of a miracle; and yet we read that even after Joseph was sold as a slave, wrongly accused, and imprisoned, he never stopped believing in God or his dream. “When everything is falling apart, remember that it doesn’t mean God has left, it just means He is the only thing left to hold on to."Joseph’s life stands as an amazing testament that when God gives you a dream, nothing and no one can take it away. When Joseph’s brother threw him in the pit, did God have to frantically run about, trying to figure out how to get his promise back on track? Of course not. God knows the beginning from the end, and he knows everything that is going to happen. That makes the promises that he gives infallible.

As if that weren’t enough, God is also a God of provision. Dreams given and inspired by God are always followed by unwavering faithfulness. Let’s break that down. Unwavering is defined as firmly determined or resolute, unshakable. Faithful is defined as reliable, trusted, and believed. When God makes promises, we should have no problem in believing with our whole heart and soul that they are true. Yet, so many times we lose hope and faith in God. Joseph was at the lowest point he had ever been before God fulfilled his dream. There was no evidence of God’s faithfulness in Joseph’s life for twelve years, yet he continued to profess it to others. God gives us plenty of opportunities to have complete faith in him. When everything is falling apart, remember that it doesn’t mean God has left, it just means he is the only thing left to hold on to.

This week I have had the opportunity to see and hear about many dreams that God is giving the people of this city. From the young people at Urban Abby who have a vision for a 24/7 open-door facility, to the retired pastors seeking after new plans for the future. Even within our team, God has been stirring visions for youth centers, ranches, and revivals. We believe in a God who does amazing things, we see the truth of his promises, and we dream big.

January 26, 2016

Recommended Reading for Churches, Leaders, and Mission-minded Individuals

By Andrew*

As Director of Partner Development with RMM, I keep my eye open for books that help churches and individuals become more engaged in building God’s kingdom. The following are books that I recommend for those that desire to be more mission-minded. They are good for church leaders and those that simply want to be part of God’s movement to reach the world for Christ.

Gaining By Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send
By J.D. Greear

Jesus pointed to sending, not gathering, as the key to reaching the world with the gospel. Bringing in large groups of people is good; training up disciples and sending them out is better. But kingdom multiplication comes at a cost. Church leaders must take their hands off their ministry and empower their people to go. J.D. unpacks 10 plumb lines that you can use to reorient your ministries around kingdom priorities. The good news? We don’t need to choose between gathering and sending. Effective churches can, and must, do both.

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches
By Peter Greer and Chris Horst

Without careful attention, churches and ministries drift from their founding mission and lose their Christ-centered focus. It will happen. Slowly, silently, and with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their purpose, and many never return to their original intent. In Mission Drift, Greer and Horst give examples of organizations that drifted from their commitment to Christ and others that stayed true to their mission. They share the results of their research and, more importantly, show what you can do to prevent this drift or get your church or ministry back on track.

On the Way with Jesus: A Passion for Mission
By Richard Showalter

Richard shares insights and thoughts from a lifetime of working to grow the body of Christ all over the globe. His wisdom and encouragement will lift your spirit and grow your desire to join in this work. As Ralph D. Winter states in the foreword, “This little book is simply incredible. It is jammed with fascinating anecdotes, irrefutable facts, wise judgment, and the handling of very delicate issues with phenomenal wisdom.” I encourage you to grab a copy and enjoy the reading.

Missional Moves
By Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder

The church wasn’t designed to be a fortress for the righteous; rather, it is to be a flood of revolutionaries bringing the good news of the kingdom to broken lives and communities. Today, millions of Christians are awakening to the holism of the gospel call, expanding their mission beyond just touching individuals to lives transforming entire communities with the message of God’s grace. Rob and Jack give the reasons and the blueprint for transformation both on a local ministry and global outreach.

*Name omitted for security

January 25, 2016

Childcare Assistant Needed in North Africa

Raleigh and Opal, RMM workers in North Africa, are seeking a child care assistant to help their family for 1-2 years as they continue to focus on language study. This assignment, beginning in May/June 2016, would include caring for two toddlers and an infant.

For more information contact RMM’s HR Director colleen@rmmoffice.org.

RMM Seeking a New HR Assistant Director

Are you detail-oriented and energized by working in a social environment? Are you passionate about building God’s kingdom and interacting with missionary candidates? Rosedale Mennonite Missions of Columbus, Ohio is seeking an HR Assistant Director. This full-time position, available in May, requires strong organizational and computer skills as well as good interpersonal skills. Training and/or experience in administrative duties is preferred.

For information contact colleen@rmmoffice.org.

January 20, 2016

Introducing Amos: A Self-sustaining Intentional Ambassador of Christ

By Jewel Showalter

“I’m a guinea pig of RMM’s new professional placement program,” said Amos,* as he prepared to begin three years of English teaching in North Africa in January 2016.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Amos recently earned a BA in English along with a CELTA certificate to teach English as a second language. He is amazed at how the details of his study and upcoming service have all come together.

During his REACH experience in North Africa (2012-13), Amos learned that he loved linguistics and hoped he’d be able to study more Arabic someday. But North Africa faded into the background as he jumped into college studies in New York City and joined a church plant that was reaching out to new immigrants.

“In New York I began to understand the gospel and its power in new ways,” Amos said. “I loved North Africa and my experiences there but couldn’t see how God might be calling me back until I talked with Jay Martin,* RMM’s director for the Mediterranean Region.”

As Amos heard Jay share his vision for North Africa and encouraged him to join the team he said, “Together we were creating this assignment. I began to get excited.”

But what’s this about guinea pigs? RMM, through the Rosedale Business Group, has developed a program to place qualified, “I’ve been on my own journey of brokenness, healing, and redemption. Now I believe God is calling me to live in the Muslim world, serving as an English teacher, and watch him work to bring peace and freedom in Christ to many." self-supporting professionals around the world—especially in locations where they can join other RMM teams. Amos is a pioneer in this vision.

After hearing Jay’s vision for English teachers in North Africa and Amos’ sense of call, RBG enlisted Phil Swartzentruber, a long-time teacher and pastor from Turners Creek, Kentucky, to mentor Amos in his teaching work in North Africa.

Although Swartzentruber doesn’t know much about the North African context, he knows a lot about serving as a professional in the Kentucky public school system. So as part of his orientation Amos spent time consulting with Swartzentruber and his wife Rosie at the Rosedale International Center.

Along with the professional coaching Swartzentruber offers, Amos is also meeting with other workers in the region and RMM staff who give administrative and well-being support to his assignment.

Compared to the typical budget for an RMM worker, Amos raised only moderate start-up funds that will allow time for six months of language study and bonding with the local culture and host family. Since he loves singing, and comes from a musical family, Amos hopes to learn how to sing and eventually read and write in Arabic. That probably won’t happen in only six months, but by September Amos hopes to find a full-time English teaching job and become self-sustaining while continuing language studies more informally.

After meeting with RMM staff during his orientation Amos said, “I’m so glad to be part of the body of Christ. This is how it’s supposed to work. As a body we’re connecting, communicating with each other. I feel an awesome sense of belonging to all of you as I go.”

As he shared his vision for North Africa, a majority-Muslim region of the world, Amos told his own story of how he’d been set free from bondages and lies which had bound him especially since the identity struggles of his young adult years.

“I’ve been on my own journey of brokenness, healing, and redemption,” Amos said. “Now I believe God is calling me to live in the Muslim world, serving as an English teacher, and watch him work to bring peace and freedom in Christ to many. It’s all about love and building bridges that connect people to the truth of the Gospel.”

Amos asks that we pray:

  • for strength for him to resist the lies and traps of Satan
  • that he will be wholly surrendered and dependent on Christ and have boldness and wisdom to share Jesus
  • that God's love and power will break through the lies and stronghold of Islam and that God would continue to build his church in the region
  • that God provides the right English teaching job for him in North Africa

If you or someone that you know is considering professional employment in an overseas context or a potential kingdom building business endeavor, contact rbg@rmmoffice.org to discuss a variety of ways in which RMM and RBG can help you plan, develop, and implement your vision.

*Names changed or omitted for security reasons.

January 15, 2016

Curried Sweet Potato-Apple Soup

By Susannah Fath Cotman

The following recipe can be found in RMM’s cookbook, The World at Your Table.

Curried Sweet Potato-Apple Soup

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 T. oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

½ T. ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

1 ¼ tsp. curry powder

salt and pepper

4 c. chicken/veg broth or water

1 ¼ c. applesauce

½-1 T. olive oil

1 T. apple cider vinegar

pinch curry powder

1 ½ T. fresh cilantro or green onions, chopped

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, nutmeg, curry powder, and salt/pepper to taste, and cook until toasted, 1 more minute. Add the diced sweet potatoes and water/broth to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the applesauce. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree soup with a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, keep warm. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add remaining curry powder and cook, stirring, until browned; remove from heat and add the vinegar. Serve the soup topped with curried oil and chopped cilantro.

Serves 4

January 14, 2016

Help! We need you!

RIC calling for volunteers to assist with facilities.

Each year hundreds of people come through the doors of the Rosedale International Center. It gives us joy to offer hospitality and peace in the midst of a busy world. Many of them have stated how much the hospitality has blessed them.

A large part of this hospitality is making sure our facilities are kept clean and functional for guests. With the many rental groups, City Challenge, REACH, and other responsibilities our staff have a hard time getting everything done.

Last year we asked for a few volunteers to help during several extra busy weeks. They were a big help, and we were very grateful for the assistance. As we look ahead to the events and projects scheduled for 2016 we are again calling for volunteers who can give of their time and skills.

Whatever your gifts, you could be of great help to us! Work projects may include yard work, deep cleaning, washing windows and blinds, painting, laundry, etc. Volunteering at the RIC also gives the RMM staff and workers an opportunity to get to know you. It also gives you an opportunity to see our building and grounds, meet our staff, and learn about all the ways God is working through RMM ministries.

If you are interested in bringing a group or work team for a day or two, volunteering on your own, or if you have any questions, please contact Kristyn Byler, the RIC Hospitality Manager, at ric@rmmoffice.org or call 614-258-4780 so we can schedule a time for your service.

January 07, 2016

Pioneers Depart for the Middle East

By Jewel Showalter

Early in 2016, just a month after the REACH teams departed for their outreach locations, a different kind of team left the Rosedale International Center. Three interns, Leo, Kimble, and Rivers,* traveled to a war-torn nation in the Middle East where they will spend six months working as English teachers among a minority people group. Many in the region are displaced people and refugees.

Unlike a REACH team, the interns did not apply for this team, but RMM specifically asked them to consider going. Out of six potentials who received the invitation, these three felt a quickening “yes” in their spirits.

Although the country where they are serving has been severely torn by conflict in recent years, things are now relatively stable and deemed safe for westerners. Nevertheless, the appointment was not lightly offered, nor lightly accepted, and calls for unusual courage and wisdom.

"...we are proud of them for being willing to serve in this sacrificial way. This is a new region for RMM, and we are excited to see what God will do with these pioneers."Colleen, HR director for RMM said, “While we have legitimate concerns for their safety, we are proud of them for being willing to serve in this sacrificial way. This is a new region for RMM, and we are excited to see what God will do with these pioneers.”

All three of the interns have gone through the REACH discipleship training school, served as staff interns at the RIC, and felt God’s clear direction during the decision-making process of joining the team.

For Leo, it wasn’t something that was on his radar, but when he was asked to consider going, he said, “I immediately felt peace that this was a good direction to go. I hope to gain a deeper knowledge of Jesus through being immersed in a totally new environment.”

Kimble said, “I had already felt a call to go to the Middle East, and then an opportunity presented itself. I hope to gain a better sense of what it is like to be in more of a long-term mission atmosphere.”

Similarly, Rivers said, “My heart for Muslims has been growing since my time in REACH. This will give me experience in teaching English overseas and a firmer grasp of what a future in missions could look like.”

As they geared up for the assignment all three of the interns completed TESOL certification. Since none are experienced teachers, they were glad to learn they can begin by shadowing teachers at the language center. Eventually they plan to pick up classes of their own, four nights a week, teaching intermediate English to 18-24 year old adults, most of whom are displaced persons.

Kimble admitted he was scared of teaching, but was looking forward to developing relationships informally with local people through things like playing soccer.

Leo said, “Besides teaching I am quite looking forward to many conversations with people about God, Islam, Jesus and any other topic that comes up.”

“I’ve read a lot about the warmth and hospitality of the local people,” Rivers said. “I look forward to building genuine friendships – both inside and outside the classroom.”

“We are guinea pigs,” Leo added. “This is a new thing for RMM, so we’re needing to learn to go with the flow.”

Not a bad thing, really, for followers of Jesus.

The team requests personal prayer for:

  • confidence and creativity as teachers
  • boldness, strength, courage and perseverance
  • grace to adapt quickly to a new setting

The team requests regional prayer for:

  • a strong, reproducing local church to be birthed
  • continued openness to the gospel
  • peace and security in place of ethnic and religious tensions
  • provision for the many refugees

*Names changed for security reasons.