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August 16, 2016

Put Your Yes on the Table, Let God Put It on the Map

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

In 2014, Larry Kaufman, pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in Millersburg, Ohio, worked through a sermon series called, “Do Justice.” Pastor Larry says, “We resolved to speak out for orphans, and those who are alone and abandoned, the unreached, and those who have no voice and no hope in our world. We asked people to pray and discern if God was calling them to engage with any of these injustices. Out of that series the Lord called our Thailand team.”

After that series a group began meeting every Wednesday night to figure out what the next steps should be. During this process the team learned a lot about trusting God. Their plans came in and out of focus during those months, and after much prayer and fasting, they all felt confirmation to go and join Rosedale Mennonite Mission’s team in Bangkok.

Angie grew up in Berlin, Ohio, and has spent her adult life working as a nursing aide, serving at Grace Fellowship’s home for abused women, and participating in mission trips to Nicaragua, Uganda, and Brazil. She also spent approximately five years in Costa Rica as a host to short-term missionaries.

“Will it be hard? Yes.
Is it worth it? Yes.
This is our mission.
Let’s do it.”
Jacob (originally from Holmes County, Ohio) and Karly (originally from Leon, Kansas) met as participants of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) four years ago in Orlando, Florida. A year after spending their outreach in Thailand and China, they got married. They now have two boys, McKinley (two) and Nehemiah (seven months).

Janessa grew up in Millersburg, Ohio, and has traveled to Brazil, and the Himalayas this past year with YWAM. She will assist with caring for Karly and Jacob’s two boys while they attend language school.

Angie, Jacob, and Karly all have a passion for preventing and ending human trafficking. According to Angie, “Thailand is so full of needs and so full of ways to get involved it will be hard to choose what we do, but all three of us feel strongly about anti-human trafficking.” They hope to begin that ministry once they have completed the initial year of learning the Thai language and culture. Karly mentions that they “want to spend a lot of time in prayer and fasting to seek what God has” for them.

This team and the church sending them believe firmly in living out the great commission and trusting God through every part of the journey. Pastor Larry says, “Personally, I came to a place as a pastor where I am no longer satisfied outsourcing the great commission. Our vision is to reproduce a sending process over and over with people from Grace. I want to tithe at least 10% of our church to the least reached areas of the world. Will it be hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. This is our mission. Let’s do it.”

On August 12, the Thailand team of four adults and two children left to join RMM’s team in Thailand. Pastor Larry shared that at Grace, they say “put your yes on the table, and let God put it on the map.” He believes that “everyone is called to participate in the mission of Jesus.” Grace has responded to the call and trusted God with their “yes”, and now they get to send this group of people and watch God work.

Please join in this mission by praying for Angie, Jacob, Karly, McKinley, Nehemiah, and Janessa:

  • Pray that they will settle into their new community well
  • Pray that that Angie, Jacob, and Karly will have clear minds and success in language school
  • Pray for unity and helpful attitudes among the team as they interact with each other and the rest of the RMM Thailand team
  • Pray that God would use this team to bring healing and love to his people in Thailand

You can also give to the Thailand team by going to donate.rmmweb.org and designating your donation to Angie, Jacob & Karly, or Janessa.

Conference Recap: Missions Day Offering 2016

Even though some of the totals are still being counted, we’ve put together an overview of how the various parts of the Missions Day Offering fit together as a whole. Many thanks to everyone who gave, or raised funds for RMM this year. We thank God for the generosity of our partners and the participants in our annual fundraising events.

Ride for Missions – $118,918 / 55.7% Ride for Mission 2016 looped through 380 miles of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. 45 riders and 10 support volunteers participated in the ride, which raised $100,658 in support of missions. When this total is added to the amount raised by the Florida ride — which took place earlier this year — the total jumps up to $118,918. Thank you to the many sponsors, participants, and donors who support these events.

Touchstone Donations – $47,250 / 22.1% Touchstone Donors are a group of people who have joined in RMM’s work with major financial support in an ongoing way. We are so grateful for these partners and the investment that they make in the work of inviting the nations to worship Jesus.

General MDO Giving – $35,523 / 16.7% These gifts come from the Sunday morning offering at CMC's annual conference, and the designated donations that are received before and after Conference. We are continually grateful to the people of CMC who generously support RMM’s work around the world.

Rosedale Missions Cruisers – $ 11,750 / 5.5% This year, 29 motorcyclists spent the day cruising from Greenwood, Delaware, to Chincoteague, Virginia, and back. This event and its sponsors have blessed RMM for the last three years, and we hope that more and more people will join in the years to come.

If you would like to donate to RMM’s work or become involved in any other way, click here.

Conference Recap: Sunday Morning

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By Lydia Gingerich

Conference concluded on Sunday morning with RMM’s Missions Day program, highlighting God’s call for all of us to make disciples and celebrating his faithfulness in blessing us as we live out that calling. The congregation was invited to join in God’s work through RMM by praising God with the children’s choir singing about missions, led by Deborah,* and giving financially during the missions day offering. Along with these components of the service was a celebration of God’s faithfulness to RMM, a time of commissioning for new workers, and a message from Richard and Jewel* about the urgency of responding to God’s call.

A Celebration of God’s Faithfulness

Joe,* RMM President, and Mark,* RMM Board member, publicly thanked God for blessing RMM with the ability to fully pay back the money they used to purchase and remodel the Rosedale International Center (RIC). They shared the story of prayers of discernment in purchasing and renovating the building, of asking God for the provision of funds, of thanksgiving for the way God has allowed RMM to be debt-free much sooner than they had planned, and of celebration for the work God is doing through RMM at the RIC.

A Commissioning of Laborers

Colleen, RMM HR Director, introduced a group of eight RMM workers who will be leaving for the field within the next year. Colleen shared that working with this group of three families and three individuals over the past months has been a pleasure. She has seen that “they are very dedicated and willing to make a lot of sacrifices,” and she has been impressed with “their deep love for Jesus and passion for the lost.”

Cora* is going as an intern to North Africa this fall to help the families that are working there. She shared how she will have restrictions as a single woman. “In general, men and women do not interact socially unless they are related, so as a single woman I will have to be very cautious about how I interact with men.”

Judah and Rayna* are going to a country in the Middle East that has seen much upheaval and turmoil. Rayna shared that they deal with this by remembering that they have been called to this country. “When you feel that God is calling you to an area, you have to think about your choices. And to me, our choice is only obedience. Whatever happens, we have to trust that God knows best.”

Eugene and Katrina with their two young children, Jimmy and Lucy* are going to North Africa early next year. Katrina shared that they will have to trust God to help them overcome misconceptions of who Christians are and the fear of getting a local person in trouble by sharing the gospel with them. They plan to eventually establish a business near the coast that allows them to build relationships with employees and those with whom they have transactions.

Colleen then introduced the group of workers from Grace Mennonite Church, who were excited about heading to Thailand in less than a week: Jacob, Karly, and Angie. (Note: Jacob and Karly’s two son and a childcare assistant, Janessa, will also be traveling with the team, but were not able to attend conference) They shared about being motivated by a strong call to go and share the love of Christ with the many people who do now know him in Bangkok.

Led by Colleen and Joe, the body of believers gathered in the auditorium commissioned this group of workers. Joe prayed, “We rejoice that you are sending these workers into the harvest and we continue to beg you to send more workers into the harvest, because the laborers are few. We the church stand together to send these people whom you have called and are sending with your authority, your hope, your light, and the peace of Jesus. We commission them, as you have already done, to go and make disciples to the ends of the earth.”

A Challenge: Here Am I, Send Me
By Richard and Jewel*

Richard began with a question he asked his dad years ago: “What does it mean to be a Mennonite?” His father’s answer is one that has helped to guide Richard’s life ever since; “I think being a Mennonite is like being part of a movement.” Over the years Richard has seen Jesus saying the same thing to people following him all over the world – “You are a part of a movement. I am Jesus, and I am building my church on you.”

After asking whether the people in that room wanted to be a part of that movement, Richard said, “Many of us this morning say we want to be a part of a movement, and I think a lot of us here know we are part of a movement, but I think God wants to drive a stake in the end of this meeting today in which we go from this this place with a renewed vision that we are a movement… We are a part of a great global movement under the leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Richard went on to look at how the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 has provided vision for him and Jewel in how they are to live out the great commission. Like
Peter, we are eager to commit. But when the call becomes costly, we are tempted to go back on our promises. Richard pointed out that in this story Cornelius is being sent by God to Peter, before Peter is sent to him. “When God finally gets us going, we usually need as much conversion as those to whom we go.” Realizing that being a part of God’s movement can be challenging, Richard gave a challenge “to receive and disciple those who are sent to us” and “be willing to be sent to those whom the Lord sends to us.”

Jewel and Richard continued to tell story after story of believers whose walk with God was one of passion, and a filling of the Holy Spirit. These people listened to God and sought to lead others in walking with him. It is a walk that includes a willingness to repent, a dedication to honest testimony, and an eagerness to trust in God.

Richard closed with an invitation to join the movement through praying this prayer: Father, this morning I dedicate the rest of my life to meeting those people you have prepared for me. Wherever I am, in my own home, in the community where I was born, or in some other place to which you have taken me or take me in the future, lead me to prepared people—those you want me to meet, to love, to disciple, to serve, to shepherd, and to lay down my life for. I owe my life to you, you have bought me back by the blood of Jesus. I belong to you. Please forgive me for the ways I’ve been side-tracked—you know them all. Give me a life of Kingdom focus, until I see you face-to-face.

*Names changed or omitted for security

August 15, 2016

Conference Recap: A Taste of Missions

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By Lydia Gingerich

Over the years, the Thursday evening program at CMC’s Annual Conference has grown and changed. What was once a somewhat dry time of reporting to pastors and others interested in missions, has evolved into a well-attended kickoff to the weekend.

This year’s program began with a welcome from CMC leadership. Brian Hershberger, CMC Executive Director, offered an appeal to make the weekend a time of learning “how to live as...and make authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.” John David Swartzentruber, Pastor of Greenwood Mennonite Church, and vice chair of the local planning committee, passed along his greetings from the home community. Dale Keffer, outgoing CMC Moderator, then addressed the audience, and shared some thoughts on what CMC has meant to him over the years and some hopes for its future.

After a time of worship led by Kevin Yoder and the conference worship team, Andrew,* RMM Director of Partner Development, introduced Sheldon Swartzentruber and Wayne Yoder – coordinators of the Rosedale Mission Cruisers and Ride for Missions fundraisers. These events – and their many participants – have substantially blessed RMM with financial support over the years. Wayne shared that RFM is more than a fundraiser; “it is a rolling mission passing through a broken land…it is a foundation for friendships, comradery, and healing.”

Joe,* RMM President, then discussed the essential call of every believer to not only walk and talk like Jesus (discipleship), but to also help others to do the same thing (disciple making). When we are making disciples, we will also be reproducing other churches. Joe then introduced someone who will be giving direction to CMC in reproducing churches as Director of Church Planting: Larry Kaufman, pastor of Grace Mennonite Church. Larry requested those listening to pray for CMC “as we are defining this church planting vision.” He also asked anyone who knows that they want to plant a church to come talk to Joe, Brian Hershberger, or himself for assistance in taking that first step.

RMM then shared a short video about a recently baptized believer in South Asia who is sharing the love of Jesus among the villages in his region. His story comes after many years of work in South Asia by RMM and a team of local believers who are discipling Hindus and Muslims there. A small community of believers has begun to meet together and God is working in their hearts in spite of the intimidation and danger of continuing to live for him. In the video, Dan (an RMM field worker) asked those listening to pray for boldness and to get involved in the work God is doing.

Andrew then took the stage again with Scott Miller, assistant Pastor at Oak Dale Mennonite Church, and Sam Scaggs, director of RUN Ministries (an acronym for “Reaching Unreached Nations”). They shared how churches can get involved with unreached people groups in places like South Asia. Scott talked about how his relationship with God made him want to help those who have not heard about God. He took action to see if their church could adopt an unreached people group as a way to pray for, partner with missionaries in the area, and even to go to that place to engage the group. Sam’s work with RUN provides a link between churches in the West and churches that are a part of the growing movement towards Jesus in the places where it is dangerous to be a believer. Scott then ended the program by leading those in attendance in praying for three unreached people groups from Thailand, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Everyone was then invited to taste snacks from South Asia including a spiced rice and vegetable dish, a sweet dish made from potatoes, sugar and milk, and a regional take on lemonade.

Café Diego: The Cost of A Dream

Following the Taste of Missions Program, RMM and RBG premiered the movie: Café Diego: The Cost of a Dream. Those who stayed enjoyed the inspiring 30-minute documentary that follows the life of a Nicaraguan coffee farmer named Diego Chavarria. It is a story of hardship, risk, faith, poverty, and perseverance. It is about being faithful with what we have, and believing God has a dream that is bigger than our own. You can watch the full movie below or at: cafediegomovie.com

*Names omitted for security

August 10, 2016

A Father to the Fatherless

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By Danita Beachy

Danita led the 2015-16 REACH Team to South Africa. Here she shares about an experience she had during her time there.

It was a Friday night in mid-February. My team and I were about halfway through our time in Johannesburg, South Africa, serving at a home for abandoned babies. In a pinch, I was asked to cover night shift at the hospital. One of our babies, sweet 11-month-old Sybil,* had a major surgery on her skull (i.e. cranial release and reconstruction) the previous Tuesday. She had just gotten out of ICU and was stable, but they didn't want her to be alone. I felt way out of my comfort zone, surrounded by medical terminology and burdened with the fragility of this precious baby’s life.

It was a long night, yet I clearly remember the peace I felt. What I experienced in that hospital has forever changed me. I've never felt more like a mom than I did that night, sitting by Sybil's bed, comforting her and praying fiercely for her little life. I'm thankful for surgeons, technology, and medical care, whatever sort it is. The Johannesburg hospital was one of the nicer ones, but it's definitely not up to Western standards. There were three other children in beds in the same dingy gray room, I counted more than a couple of cockroaches in the hallways, and I spent the night on a hard chair next to the hospital bed. I dozed there until around 3 a.m. and a nice nurse brought me hot tea from the employee room (probably because she felt sorry for me).

“But even more beautiful to me is that I love because Christ first loved me and showed me the full extent of His love.”I got the privilege of unhindered time to sit with, pray over, sing to, and love Sybil. I was so close to tears every time I gazed at her. She doesn't yet have a mom and a dad to stay up with her and be worried sick, so I got to be mommy to her. I was calling on God as her good, good Father; the One who knows every hair on her head (even the ones that were shaved for surgery); the One who does not leave us as orphans – to be Sybil's healer. I remember asking God to let me bear any pain or discomfort on her behalf. I’m not a mother yet, but that night I experienced God’s parental love through me. I love that sweet girl more than I can describe or understand. But even more beautiful to me is that I love because Christ first loved me and showed me the full extent of His love.

The LORD, Sybil’s good Father, is the One who heals. I'm happy to say she was released from the hospital just one week after the surgery, and when we said goodbye in May, she was doing well! My heart rejoices that she has a hope and a future, yet still grieves because I don’t get to watch her grow up. Please pray with me for an adoptive family for Sybil. Forever etched into my memory is the night that I got to experience the love of the Father for a little orphan girl in a hospital bed on the other side of the world.

“Father of the fatherless… is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home…” (Psalm 68:5-6)

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

*Name changed for security

August 01, 2016

Three Generations of Faithfully Following God’s Call

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

To protect the safety of certain family members who have chosen to follow God into places of the world that are closed to the gospel, the names in this story have been changed.

What is missional living? The traditional answer to this question usually includes moving across an ocean, learning a new language, and serving under a mission organization. But this is only one depiction. Missional living is defined in thousands of different ways by people all over the world as they choose to follow God’s call to join him in his work — each one unique, important, and beautiful.

While we must ultimately look to God for what missional living looks like in our own lives, it can be helpful to examine the stories of others to learn from and gain inspiration. Many examples of missional living can be found in the Bible, throughout history, and in the lives of those around us today.

Edmund and Florence Book are a couple who have been following God’s call for many years. In the Book’s story, we see three generations of families choosing to serve God in a missional way. Each family’s story is built on the influence of the generation before, and each is a picture of God’s faithfulness and provision for a family that has chosen to say “yes” to him.

Edmund’s parents said “yes” when God called them to church planting in Northern Minnesota. Edmund had seven brothers and one sister, but his parents always made room in their van on Sunday mornings to take neighbor children to church. It was a decision to be flexible and graciously allow hurting people into their home and life, even when it would be easier to keep the mess outside.

Florence’s family followed God’s call to Alaska when she was four. They intentionally lived out their faith in a way that people around them would notice. They left familiarity and family to live starkly different from the people around them, while loving these people with complete sincerity.

With parents who were dedicated to missional living, all that Edmund and Florence knew was following God to new places and reaching out. So when they started their family together, it is no surprise that they found themselves moving to Alabama to work with a prison ministry. It was not easy to move three children under six years old across the country, but they knew this is where they were called.

After spending some years in Alabama, they felt God calling them to be involved in a church in Florida. As their family became a part of the community there, Edmund and Florence wanted to involve their children in ministry just as their own parents did with them. It was not unusual for one of the children to accompany Edmund on a hospital call or church visit. The four children were not shielded from the challenges faced by their parents; they shared their struggles with their children, and called them to prayer about these things. The children were engaged as their parents followed God’s call to different communities, churches, and ministries.

It can sometimes be hard to know how much to involve children in ministry, and how to divide time between these two important facets of life, but they both had strong feelings and ideas about how to meld their family and ministry.

One way they did this was homeschooling their four children. The time spent learning together at home was an important way to bond with the children and grow closer as a family unit. Florence says that if you were to ask any of her children what their favorite part of the school day was, they would say the beginning. She started each day by reading true stories of Christians who served God all over the world. These books promoted the idea that following God is hard, but it is an adventure that should not be turned down – an idea that was also encouraged by the way their family lived.

Another choice Edmund and Florence made when raising their children was involving them in the big decisions and establishing a bond of loyalty with them. No matter how young they were, the children were always assured of their place in the family. Edmund remembers instances from his childhood in which his parents believed in him during a challenging time, and that meant so much to him. The Books not only supported their children, but they made sure that their children supported them. They moved a lot, and every time they made a decision to move, the opinions of their children were of extreme importance.

“They have learned that discomfort and transition are worth the reward of following God, and they will praise him no matter what happens.”Facing the struggles as a family was hard, but it made them stronger. Their children are their best friends, and now they are watching them move on to begin their own ministries. The Books taught their children to say “yes” to God’s call, even when it is frightening to do so. And when God called the Book’s children away from the safety of their parents, they followed. All of their children are involved in foreign missions in one form or another.

As their children move away and make decisions to live missional lives, they see God’s hand of protection again. They know that there are dangers to living in foreign countries, but one thing resonates with them as they pray for their children: “When we read about the apostles being persecuted in the book of Acts, they did not pray for safety, but for boldness. We are not called to be safe, we are called to follow Jesus.” Edmund and Florence saw their parents following that call, they followed the call, and now they have to trust God as they watch their own children following the call. They know that “there are dangers out there, but if that’s where God is calling, then that is where they need to go. Being in God’s will isn’t always the safest place, but it’s the best place.”

Florence cried as she admitted that releasing her grandchildren into God’s will is challenging. These were not tears of disappointment or worry, but of sympathy. She knows how hard it is to live a life set apart for Christ. She knows about the cost. When her grandchildren come back to the United States, they will not fit in. Living in foreign countries will fill them with experiences that others cannot relate to, languages that others cannot speak, and hurt that others cannot begin to understand. But these experiences, languages and hurts will also make them incredibly rich and beautiful people.

These children are not only affected by their parent’s ministry, but the ministry is affected by them. Edmund has heard his son say that “the children are a vital part of the ministry.” They open doors, helping to make natural connections with the families around them.

Their children have moved on, but Edmund and Florence are still on a journey. They continue to earnestly seek out God’s will for their life and are currently being called to begin a ministry in yet another community, building relationships with those who have turned away from organized church. They have learned that discomfort and transition are worth the reward of following God, and they will praise him no matter what happens.

The Books know that the Lord is the one who did the work through their lives. They said “yes” to God, allowing him to lead their life, and he is taking them on an amazing adventure. It has not always been an easy journey, but God has been faithful, and they know he will continue to be faithful.