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June 30, 2016

A Delayed Start: Re-Introducing Al

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

Often when we are following God, he calls us to something that ends up going quicker or slower than we had planned. But we know that God’s timing is always best. For Al, unexpected life circumstances and a number of new government regulations for obtaining a visa stretched a few months of delays into over a year. The hurdles both here and abroad took longer than expected, but we are delighted to announce that Al left to begin his work among the people of the Amazon River Basin in Brazil on June 26th. Al is sent by RMM along with his home church, Berean Community Church.

Many of you already “Got to know” Al in November of 2014, when we first introduced his assignment. Today we would like to rerun some of that interview so that you can re-introduce yourself with Al’s story and better lift him up in prayer as he begins this journey.

Can you tell us a little about your growing up years?

I was born into a large Amish family in Holmes County, Ohio. I am the second to youngest of twelve children. I attended elementary school through the 8th grade and then began to work in my father’s sawmill at the age of fifteen. Growing up we were never farmers but always had various animals on our property, like horses, steers, dogs, and chickens. We always kept a large garden, which we tended to religiously every morning during the summer months. We were never rich or poor as dad, mom and all of us worked hard to keep food on our table.

How did you come to know Jesus?

Early in my life, I was introduced to God and his Word in the Amish church we attended, but I rejected God for a ten-year period of my life. During that time, I went through the “rumspringa” (a rebellious adolescent) phase in my life. As alcohol and other worldly pleasures left me empty inside, I began to seek a deeper purpose for my life. Through several influential people, I came to give my life to Christ in the summer of 1999.

How did you get interested in this part of the world?

Shortly after my baptism in 1999, Pastor Dave Clemens asked me if I would be interested in going on a short-term missions trip to the Amazon to do some construction. I was fairly miserable on that trip and wanted nothing more than to leave and never go back. But, I went back the following year and grew attached to the Amazon and its people.

What is the heart of what you’ll be doing in country?

There are approximately 33,000 river communities in the amazon with only about 3,000 of those having the evangelical gospel. I will be working with an organization (SEARA) to make evangelical and humanitarian trips by boat to these communities. Currently, SEARA is working in approximately 140 villages. I will also be making trips to help SEARA’s missionaries who live and work in these communities, with my long-term goal being to eventually live and work, evangelizing and discipling the river people in the interior.

What is the most different aspect of the culture that you’ve experienced in past trips?

Hmm… this is a difficult question as there are many very different aspects to the ribeirinho (river people) culture. But, I think the biggest thing is simply the difficulty of living in the Amazon with a hunter/gatherer subsistence lifestyle. Hunting and fishing (both of which I currently do just for fun) are a daily part of simply staying alive.

What is something that the culture has taught you and that you want to internalize?

The village mentality, where everything is basically communal and pretty much all items are shared for the common good. If one family has a net full of fish, it is shared. If one family’s net breaks, a net is borrowed from someone else, and so on.

What is the typical way you get around?

In the interior there are no roads so all transportation is by canoe or a motorized canoe called a rabeta. In the bigger towns there are taxis, buses and motorcycle taxis. Large passenger boats run between the bigger towns and villages.

What is your favorite local food?

I love several fruits such as cupuacu, acai, tucuma and mangoes.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I look forward to representing RMM in the Amazon. I will do so to the best of my abilities. I want to thank everyone involved with RMM for first believing in me and second for sharing my vision. I deeply appreciate it. Also, I want to thank everyone at Berean, especially Pastor Steve and the mission board, for their support and financial backing. And I want to thank Pastor Dave and Erma Clemens for the years of mentoring and tutoring. Without them none of this would ever have been possible. I covet prayer like nothing else; please, please pray for me!! Thank you and God bless.

Thank you, Al! We are so thankful for the way you have heard and been obedient to God’s call in your life. We are excited to see what he will do through you!

June 23, 2016

Introducing RMM’s Human Resources Assistant Director

RMM is pleased to introduce Myron Sommers as our new Human Resources Assistant Director. Myron is originally from Hartville, Ohio, but he moved to the Plain City area in 2004, and now lives in Irwin with his wife Rhelda, and their three children: Lanay (who is six, and playing T-ball this summer), Althea (who is three, and loves to put puzzles together), and Maci (who is one, and focusing on learning how to walk). His girls “are the love of [his] life,” and he desires to assist his family spiritually, emotionally, and physically. In his free time, Myron enjoys camping with his family, reading, and playing or watching sports.

Myron also has a deep passion for high-quality education. He studied Integrated Language Arts at Malone University in Canton, Ohio and then went on to Ohio Dominican University to earn his master’s degree in Education with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction. He has taught at both Hartville Christian School and Shekinah Christian School in Plain City, Ohio. This year though, God has focused Myron’s attention towards working for RMM. As the HR Assistant Director, Myron does the behind-the-scenes paperwork for all of RMM’s workers and oversees the Wellness Program, making sure that employees are retaining a healthy balance between work and home life. Myron also has a love for grammar and does an outstanding job assisting the Communications Department with editing and proofing written publications. Myron yearns to work for God’s kingdom wherever he is, and he says, “if that is assisting workers in the field that are spreading his word, I will do all I can to facilitate that.” RMM is excited to see how God will use Myron’s many gifts as he joins our family.

June 21, 2016

Serving God Through Disappointments

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

On October 28, 2015, Patty Córdova* left her home in Manta, Ecuador to follow the call God had placed in her heart. She was sent as a part of the Latin American Missions Partnership (LAMP) to work at a special needs school and community center in a small coastal town in North Africa.

For many years, Patty has been passionate about family, children, and missions. She received a university degree in elementary education, and then taught at and directed an elementary school in Manta. From 1999 to 2000, she spent time working with RMM missionaries in Durán, Ecuador, to help plant the church that is now there.

Patty was excited to combine her love for children and missions by working at the school in North Africa established by a non-governmental organization from Spain. LAMP and RMM partnered with a Latino missions agency to send her. During her time there she traveled to two different cities meeting other workers and working to get her long-term visa. She developed a valuable relationship with two expatriate workers in the city where she was supposed to live. While there she enjoyed serving at the school and teaching children with hearing and speech impairments. It was exciting for her to be able to talk in Spanish with a few local people and learn to mix Spanish and Arabic to communicate.

After going to many different places to try and get a long-term visa, she began to see that it might not be possible for an Ecuadorian who entered the country on a tourist visa to apply for a long-term visa. This was not something RMM or LAMP thought would be a problem. She received numerous answers about whether or not she would be able to obtain a visa from the different authorities she asked, but in the end, her request for a long-term visa was permanently rejected.

“We can’t sit around with our arms crossed while there is a world without hope and without Christ. Every obstacle that the enemy puts in front of us should challenge our churches more to prepare missionaries to go to the field.”In the two months she spent in North Africa, Patty had come to truly love the teaching she was doing and the people she was serving with. It was frustrating to have to leave all of this potential behind and return to Ecuador, but there was no other option. It was hard for RMM, LAMP, and the other organizations that had put so much energy into sending Patty to face the disappointing truth that there was currently no way for someone from Ecuador to remain long term in the country. Even though this has been difficult, we know that God has a plan in all of this.

Patty says that in spite of the limitations and the change of plans to return so soon, God taught her that “we can’t sit around with our arms crossed while there is a world without hope and without Christ. Every obstacle that the enemy puts in front of us should challenge our churches more to prepare missionaries to go to the field.”

Back in Ecuador, Patty is working at the Christian school where she was before and has joined a team to plant a new church in Las Jacuatas. Through her time in North Africa, she has learned that “All of humanity has been created by the same God, and for that reason, no one is unreachable to Christ. But if we are to take them the message of salvation, we need to know their culture, language and religion.” She desires to be a missionary wherever God has placed her, and she continues to promote missions and inspire others to go overseas.

Patty asks that we pray for the church to obey the command God has given us in Matthew 28:19 to prepare workers and send them to unreached people, and that there would be open entry for people from Latin America to other countries.

June 16, 2016

A Relief Coordinator for Ecuador

Even now, two months after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Ecuador, the need for physical and emotional restoration is felt deeply. RMM is grateful for the funds that have been raised by numerous churches and individuals to help in this process. As the levels of need and the means to meet that need remain high, we want to use the donations in an effective and helpful way. To ensure that this happens, RMM has invited Kirk Kauffman to serve as our Ecuador Relief Coordinator. In this volunteer role, Kirk will spend time in Ecuador making local connections and assessing the situation, motivate and mobilize churches in North America to get involved, and help oversee the relief budget.

Kirk has a deep connection with this country where he and his family served with RMM from 1987– 1998; they left when he was 16. He now lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, Karla and their three children. He is excited about filling this integral role and being a part of the relief work in Ecuador. Kirk shared that many of the Ecuadorian church leaders who he will be communicating with are people who impacted his life while he was growing up there and he said, “This is a great opportunity to serve those who served me.”

If you would like to give towards the earthquake relief work in Ecuador, visit donate.rmmweb.org and designate “Ecuador Relief," or mail checks to:

Rosedale Mennonite Missions
2120 E 5th Ave
Columbus OH 43219

June 12, 2016

“Did you ever doubt that I could provide for you?”

By Amos*

Amos was sent as a pioneer of Rosedale Business Group’s professional placement program this past January to teach English in North Africa (learn more here). A critical component of the program is finding meaningful employment that will provide sustainable income and enable cross-cultural missional living.

I sat in the court square watching taxis and life happen all around me. Men, women, and children all milling about seemingly enjoying life. As I watched, I knew that God cared for them and loved them so deeply.

After maybe three or four hours of sitting and listening to God, I got this idea that I should go visit one of my friends at the restaurant he manages. For some reason I kept thinking that this is a really good idea and I should go see him. So I got up, left the square, and went to the restaurant. Five minutes after I sat down, a middle-aged American man came and sat at a table right beside mine. We started talking and I learned that he is the director of one of the largest English schools in the country. After an hour and a half of conversing with this man, he casually mentioned that he “would love to have me work for the school,” and that I should send in my resume. As I left the restaurant that night, I felt like God said, “Did you ever doubt that I could provide for you?”

I sent in my resume and two weeks later I got a call about coming in for an interview. Five minutes after the interview they offered me a job for a full-time teaching position. I have since started teaching, and the new adjustment has been difficult and stretching, but God’s provision has been incredibly rich.

This job is a huge blessing, as it provides Amos with the opportunity to get his residency with much more ease than normal. The school he works for has extensive connections in the area and can open many doors for him.

*Name changed for security reasons

June 09, 2016

16th Annual CMC Golf Scramble

If you enjoy golfing, come and join the 16th Annual CMC Golf Scramble Thursday, August 4, at 11 a.m. during CMC’s Annual Conference this summer. The event is open to men and women, and costs $40 per participant, which includes 18 holes and a cart to be enjoyed at Hooper’s Landing Golf Course in Seaford, Delaware. A generous donor has agreed to cover the cost of the event, so that your $40 will be given as a donation to the 2016 Missions Day Offering and help support RMM's work around the world.

Sign up for the event by emailing mbyoder@gmail.com by July 15.

June 04, 2016

Is Discipleship the Same as Disciple Making?

By Joe,* RMM President

I frequently hear people use the terms ‘discipleship’ and ‘disciple making,’ and sometimes I wonder what they really mean. The term that I hear most frequently is discipleship, and sometimes I think people actually mean disciple making when they say discipleship. Other times, I think they’re using the term discipleship as something totally distinct from disciple making.

One of the three core visions of CMC is discipleship, and this summer at our Annual Conference in Delaware we’re going to be focusing on that theme. I’d like to pose some questions to be thinking about before then. And in case you have to miss all the various discussions and input at Conference, I’ll plan to write some further reflections later this summer so you’ll at least know how I answer the questions I’m asking here.

We of course want to go to scripture for our definitions of these two terms. If you’ve read much of the story of Jesus, you can probably think of some things he said that help us define the two words. Things like:

  • “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”
  • “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
  • “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
  • “Here are my mother and my brothers” (pointing to his disciples).
  • “…those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Here are some questions about these two terms that I think are worth thinking about:

  • How did Jesus distinguish between discipleship and disciple making?
  • When does discipleship start in a person’s life?
  • When does disciple making start in a person’s life?
  • What activities are involved in my discipleship? My disciple making?
  • How do I know if I’m being faithful in discipleship? In disciple making?

Why does it matter? Jesus sometimes framed these as life and death issues, so it only makes sense for us to think deeply about them. If these two terms are not synonymous, we ought to understand the distinctions between them. I hope we can all learn new things as we explore them together this summer.

To think through some of these questions, come to Joe’s talk called “Discipling vs. Disciple Making” on Thursday evening of the CMC Annual Conference this summer, during Taste of Missions.

*Name omitted for security

June 03, 2016

Simple Discipleship

Tan Kok Beng praying for a Mennonite participant at the 20th anniversary celebration of Bethany International University in Singapore.
By Richard Showalter

Tan Kok Beng, president of Asia-Pacific Missions and a Singaporean Mennonite pastor, spoke passionately in his first meeting with a young pastor, his wife, and me. I had just invited him to give us an update on the mission, but he was not about to omit his testimony.

“Only about one percent of all funds Christians give to missions goes to reach the unreached,” he said. “Most of what we do goes to support already-existing churches and ministries.

“But our goal here at Asia-Pacific is to reach the unreached. Early in my missionary work, I noticed how often people go into missions but then get burned out. There were team conflicts on the mission field, and I even saw some couples get divorced. I knew something was wrong.

“I realized that a big problem was training,” he said. “People would get their training in seminaries, but only one of ten seminary students would actually go into missions. Others would go to Bible schools where they received good biblical training, but they were not prepared for the rigors of cross-cultural service.

“So we started a training school specifically for missionaries. We mentored them carefully, preparing them for the shocks and surprises of going to a new culture. We taught them how to plan to begin new churches in a place where none existed before. We taught the importance of language learning, cultural adjustment, mission strategy and planning. We taught them how to hear God and to live by faith.

“Then we started to send them out. But we realized that we could multiply workers in every place by training some to train others and start new training schools in the places they go.

“So today we have more than 800 training schools in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Each year there are at least 16,000 new workers sent into the harvest from these schools.”

But Tan Kok Beng was not finished. “The two most important things we teach our students,” he said, “are to learn to hear God and to trust him completely as their provider.

“For too many Christians, trusting God is theoretical. In our minds we trust him, but we are taking no steps of faith.”“This is not theoretical,” he said. “For 55 years I have lived without a salary, trusting God to supply my personal needs. We operate our training schools the same way. We never speak in churches on behalf of our schools, write prayer letters, talk with people personally about our needs, or raise funds in any way. God knows what we need, and he always supplies.

“Because we want to demonstrate to our students what it means for us to live by faith, we do not ask them to pay for their education or their visas to live in Singapore. It is all free for them. They see that we are trusting God on their behalf. Singapore is a very expensive place to live, so if God can provide for our needs here, he can provide for our students anywhere they go!

“Each month it costs us about $20,000 just to pay for our rent. Each month God provides. When he asks us to do something, he supplies what we need.

“For too many Christians, trusting God is theoretical. In our minds we trust him, but we are taking no steps of faith.”

Walking away from our conversation with Tan Kok Beng, I reflected once again on the meaning of discipleship. A disciple is one who lives each day like Jesus did, depending on the Father for direction, for courage, and for provision.

Not many of us will lead mission training schools which impact thousands as they multiply, but all of us are called to serve and reach out to others in everyday, ordinary faith—loving, witnessing, and trusting our great Provider. All of us can learn to hear God and obey.

As we do, we too will see the glory of God.

Discipleship is that simple.

Richard and his wife Jewel have served as evangelists and church planters all over the world for the past 45 years. RMM is pleased to have them sharing at CMC Annual Conference this summer for the Sunday morning Missions Day Program.