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April 25, 2016

Handing Him My Ashes

By Jada, SEND Ministries Staff Intern

I am continually amazed by how God works through terrible circumstances for his glory. He takes the tragic stories in our lives and uses them to minister to others, to make something beautiful.

Christmas of 2014 I was traveling with my REACH team in South Asia. We had only been there about a month when I got the phone call nobody wants to get. My brother had passed away, and my biggest nightmare was proving true. I’m not going to even try and explain how much he meant to me, or how much I loved him. Mostly because this isn’t about my feelings, but about how God has used my journey of grief and pain to glorify Him.

So now, a year and a half later, I’m back at the Rosedale International Center living life as the Kitchen Assistant Intern. It’s been a journey in itself getting used to the routine and responsibility of my job. We recently took our team mission trip to White Pigeon, Michigan where we served with a youth group, an after school program, and various service projects. Although the trip was busy and slightly exhausting, it was great, and our team really enjoyed the trip.

For me, there were some hard days. March 12 was my brother’s birthday and a very emotional day. I stayed back from service projects that day to allow myself time to process and grieve. Little did I know that God was using that day of pain to create a beautiful time of ministry. God pulled me through that day and even gave me things to thank him for in the midst of loss.

The next day was Sunday, and apparently one of the guys in the youth group had asked where I was the day before. After hearing a little bit of my story, he immediately sympathized. He had also lost his brother recently. We began to talk and encourage one another. At the end he asked if I could pray for his sister as she continues to walk through the pain of losing a sibling.

It was such a blessing to be able to encourage, pour into, and love one another. We stood in a circle with the youth group and prayed that God would continue to heal us all. God set up this meeting for us to encourage each other. He continues to amaze me with his divine appointments and mysterious ways.

As I reflect on this incident, Isaiah 61:3 comes to mind. And provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Without him there isn’t a beautiful crown, just ashes. No oil of joy or garment of praise to replace the mourning. But with him the pain in our lives displays his splendor – if we have open hands to give that pain to him, if we allow him to walk through us. Don’t get me wrong, it is still hard to hand him my ashes, but I am never disappointed with the crown he hands back.

April 19, 2016

Ecuador Earthquake Relief

June 2016 Update:

RMM has invited Kirk Kauffman to serve as Ecuador Relief Coordinator Please contact info@rmmoffice.org for more information and ways to get connected with the relief efforts.
To give, visit donate.rmmweb.org and designate “Ecuador Relief," or mail checks to:

Rosedale Mennonite Missions
2120 E 5th Ave
Columbus OH 43219

Thanks for your generosity and your continued prayers.

Praying for Ecuador

April 25, 2016
  1. Please pray for all of the grieving families who have lost people they love and lost their homes.
  2. Pray for the Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa and his team to make wise decisions on behalf of the country in the midst of chaos.
  3. Pray for the members Ecuadorian Evangelical Mennonite Church (IEME) who have lost homes and family members. Pray for these brothers and sisters to have courage and keep the faith to stay unified in their families and churches and also reach out to their neighbors and communities during this time of tragedy.
  4. Pray for the churches not effected by the quake, but are doing all they can to help the churches that were. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide all of the churches to be unified and help each other.
  5. Pray for the leaders of the churches that were affected by the earthquake. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide all of these leaders to make the best decisions possible for how to help their congregations, communities and cities.
  6. Pray for David Shenk and Peter Wigginton as they visit the effected areas to plan how to respond with reconstruction, medical care, counseling services and economic development.
  7. Pray for wisdom for RMM leaders in how to best serve our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters as they walk through this tragedy. Pray for Dion and Naty Peachey and Carla Wanty as they communicate with the churches in Ecuador to be sensitive to hear what the churches need and clear in communicating with RMM and the CMC churches in how they can help.
  8. Pray for the Holy Spirit to release the gift of creative generosity to our brothers and sisters in Ecuador.

A message from the Ecuadorian Evangelical Mennonite Church:

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, April 18, 2016 — Greetings brothers in Christ, we are sending this to you to inform you of the situation that occurred in our country and in our Mennonite churches.

As you probably know by now our country experienced an earthquake of 7.8 on the Richter scale and it affected primarily the coastal cities of Esmeraldas, Pedernales, Portoviejo, Manta and Guayaquil. The devastation very great.

The death toll currently is at 350 but the authorities estimate that it will probably double as time passes. The number of injured is very great and they should be evacuated by air because our hospitals can't handle anymore.

At this time these cities are isolated and out of communication, phone service is very difficult, electricity is running at 30%. Highways are destroyed in a number of places and it is necessary to take alternate routes. Food is very limited, almost no drinking water, and medicine is needed to attend to the injured.

From what we know about our congregations; we do know that the parents of Pastor Fabian Buenaventura have lost their home, the home of the mother of Hermana Graciela has been totally destroyed and the home of Pastor Tumbaco has a wall that collapsed, this is what we know at the moment. More detailed information is being gathered about Manta, Portoviejo and Pacoche.

As a national church we are working at sending help immediately… supplies, water, medicine, clothing, shelter, repellent, etc, is being distributed.

Nationally, emergency help organizations are receiving and collecting but the distribution is way too slow and many times doesn't come in time.

As the National Administrative Leadership of IEME (Ecuadorian Evangelical Mennonite Church) we request any assistance you can provide to our brothers who are going through this unfortunate and difficult situation.

Fraternally in Christ,

Pastor Angel Castro,
Vice President IEME and logistics coordinators

Rebuilding the Ancient Ruins in Holmes County, Ohio

By Jewel Showalter

“The magnitude of the problem of physical and sexual abuse in our very religious Amish-Mennonite community keeps weighing on us,” said Larry and Kendra Kaufman, pastoral couple at Grace Mennonite Church in Millersburg, Ohio, for the past 15 years.

The Kaufman’s explained that just this year in their community, the once-hidden issue has been thrust into the public eye through the conviction and imprisonment of an Amish preacher who is a sex offender. Larry explained that since many in their congregation come from an Amish background, Grace has felt led to launch a safe house known as 58:12 Rescue – “a safe place of healing and restoration for female victims of sexual and physical abuse” in Holmes County.

“My parents left the Amish church years ago,” Larry said. “So we feel a very personal connection. We understand and respect the community, but we are also determined to break the silence and secrecy surrounding the issue of abuse that is so prevalent in these closed communities.”

“We understand and respect the community, but we are also determined to break the silence and secrecy surrounding the issue of abuse that is so prevalent in these closed communities.”Kendra shared about several women who have come to Grace Church and specific ways they have tried to help these women and educate people about abuse and justice.

“We’re committed to helping people find healing through Jesus, the healer and restorer of our brokenness,” she said. “But it’s sobering to hear how often families want to brush this shame and guilt under the rug and not become a part of the abused person’s healing journey.”

Kendra said that when abused women first began coming to them they would take them to a secular women’s shelter. But increasingly they have sensed God calling them to open a shelter closer to home.

“We feel like we’re entering a huge battle zone,” Larry said. “This problem has existed for a long time. There are fears that keep people quiet. Young people end up in my office, telling me things they’ve never told anyone. We want to ‘walk in the light,’ to educate people and work on prevention. We are passionate about building godly marriages and healthy families.”

“It’s not about tarnishing people’s images,” he added. “But we need to expose this evil problem. Isaiah 58:12 captures our vision to be a healing place (in case you don’t know where our name comes from!) we are called to be the ‘repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.’ We are all broken and in need of God’s healing grace.”

58:12 Rescue is a registered 501C-3 organization that is an extension of Grace’s ministry to the community. Someone with a heart for vulnerable women donated a beautiful piece of property and a fully furnished home that can hold up to 15 residents. In addition to the emergency shelter, 58:12 Rescue provides Bible teaching, mentorship, Christ-centered counseling, life skills training, and medical care. They have also set up a hotline: (330) 204-5788.

“Our vision is to welcome vulnerable women into a safe and loving environment where they can receive healing and grow into their God-given potential,” Kendra said.

“Our vision at Grace Church is to create an environment that is transparent and unapologetically Christ centered,” Larry said. “We believe in the power of the gospel to break strongholds of abuse, and to set people free from shame and guilt.”

If you would like to financially support 58:12 Rescue, send donations to 58:12 Rescue, 5850 CR 77, Millersburg, Ohio 44654. “Help us get the word out about 58:12 Rescue.”

If you, or someone you know has been, or is being abused, please call the United States national hotline numbers: 1-800-656-4673 for victims of sexual assault and 1-800-799-7233 for victims of domestic violence.

April 12, 2016

RMM Welcomes a New Staff Writer

RMM welcomes Lydia Gingerich to the Communications Department as staff writer. Lydia entered the world of missions at age four when her parents, Mike and Cindy, moved to the Philippines to work with the urban poor as a part of Action International Ministries. Growing up in the Philippines meant speaking two languages, endless summers, and many goodbyes. She left her home and family in 2012 to attend Rosedale Bible College in Ohio (only about 8,000 miles, 12 time zones, and one large ocean away).

After receiving an associate’s degree from RBC in 2014, she returned as the Resident Director of the Women’s Dorm—a job she is currently juggling with the staff writer position at RMM. She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at RBC—learning, building friendships, and witnessing the body of Christ at work. This fall she plans to attend The Ohio State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lydia has a passion for reading, writing, and listening closely to the stories being told around her. In her free time, Lydia loves to design and sew clothing, cook, and bask in the beauty of God’s creation. Her life’s aim is to absorb and project God’s light and love on a daily basis and use the gifts he has given her to enrich and expand his body.

April 04, 2016

A Fire: An Update from Rivers in the Middle East

Rivers* is one of three men who traveled to the Middle East this past January on a six-month internship with RMM, teaching English among a minority people group. Read more about the Middle East internship here.
...It was truly amazing to witness firsthand, and it has given me a renewed sense of purpose in being here. It reminded me a lot of the story in 1 Kings 18:20-40. Who knows, maybe it was even on the same mountain!

My third weekly Adventure Day was coming up, and I wanted to do something a little more ambitious than just hiking. I wanted to cook a meal on the mountain. There's usually some wood laying around. So I packed my bag on Friday night and set a chicken breast out to thaw. When I woke up Saturday morning, the first thing I did was look out the window to see if it was as nice a day as the day before. Nope. It was rainy, foggy, and cold. Miserable. I was disappointed. But we had fellowship in the morning anyway. By the afternoon, it wasn't raining anymore, thank goodness. But it still looked dreadful. Whatever, that wasn't going to stop me.

I got back to the apartment, threw the chicken breast and two eggs into my bag (carefully wrapped, of course). Since the wood on the mountain was wet from the rain, I had to go with a back-up option: a little grill kit, which includes a bag of charcoal, some oil-soaked kindling, and a wick. Sure, it was a little less robust than I wanted, but it would get the job done. I also bought a fresh loaf of bread and then walked to the mountain and climbed straight up it.

When I got to the top, there was a little blackened spot where people had made fires before. Nice! The wind was blowing pretty ferociously, but as long as I blocked it with my body, it would be fine. I got my little kit all arranged and lit the wick. The oil-soaked wood lit quickly and burned for a while, but the charcoal didn't ignite. As much as I tried to block the wind, it kept changing directions and almost putting out the flame. When the wood had totally burned up, I was left with some hot – but unlit – charcoal. The kit had utterly failed me. I was a little desperate at that point. Like I said, it was a cold day. I was freezing and starving, and most of my food was raw. In my desperation, I went around gathering all of the sticks and dead grass that I could find. It was a last-ditch effort. I piled them up nicely, prayed quickly, and lit the grass. This is when I made the mistake that ruined all my chances. When I lit the grass, I kept the lighter too close to the flame. The tip of it melted, “...let this fire be like your kingdom in this place, and build it up against all odds, against the unfavorable conditions like the damp wood and whipping wind.”and it was totally ruined. I watched helplessly as the grass all burned up and the damp sticks remained unaffected. I tried to shield the tiny fire from the wind, knowing that this tiny little flame was my last chance. I prayed at this point. I pulled a pretty cheap card on God and said, let this fire be like your kingdom in this place, and build it up against all odds, against the unfavorable conditions like the damp wood and whipping wind. It was cheap, it was desperate. I looked at the single smoldering twig, and when the grass was all gone I knew there was no hope.

But at the moment I prayed, three distinct things happened. One, the wind started blowing stronger than ever—chilling me to the bone and almost knocking me over; two, all the mosques in the city started sounding the call to prayer; and three, God told me with crystal clarity: I'll take care of the fire. You pray for the city.

It was impulsive, and almost beyond myself. It seemed so ridiculous and foolish to walk away from the fire right then. I needed to keep shielding it from the wind, and to do what I could to nurture that little ember. But I got up and walked over to the edge of the mountain and started singing the first song that came to my mind, "Awesome God.” I sang it for several minutes, trying to drown out the mosques and their call to prayer. I prayed for the city and I prayed for the Kurds for as long as the call to prayer was going on (maybe five minutes). Then I walked back to the fire pit and saw that the entire thing was on fire. The little sticks, the big sticks, all of them wet, but all of them burning. The fire was big enough that the wind couldn't possibly hurt it now. God had literally started that fire. In conditions where I couldn't start a fire with a fire-making kit. With oil-soaked kindling, I had failed. I can't fully explain how impossible the thing was that happened. When I hear other people tell stories like this, I always doubt it at least a little. But right then, I knew there could be no other explanation. He started that fire. I cooked my food, and reflected on the fact that God himself had provided this meal for me. He continued to talk to me and encourage me. He let me know without a doubt that a fire is starting in this place. And that all of the unfavorable conditions in the world won't be able to stop it. That I'm not here for no reason.

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

*Name changed for security reasons.