« October 2016   |   Main   |  December 2016 »

November 21, 2016

Breaking Boxes and Giving Love

The Discipleship Training School (DTS) for REACH culminated this past Friday with a service of commissioning for the eight teams that leave for outreach next week. The past three months have been a time of molding and growth for many of the REACHers and here are some thoughts on that from Micah and Lauren from team Eurasia:

Breaking Boxes

If there’s something I’ve learned during the past few months it’s that God isn’t completely formulaic nor systematic. This means I will forever remain unable to figure him out. Since nothing God creates is 100% formulaic I will always need God to change my paradigm (which one of my past professors has dubbed “Box Breaking”). This Box Breaking happened recently while I was sitting at church.

I grew up in a smallish church of approximately 50-80 people. We didn’t venture down the road of percussive instruments and stuck to our well-loved hymns and the occasional contemporary worship song (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). This being my base mind frame for how church should be done, I grew suspicious whenever a church did it differently.

“I can promise it won’t feel too good, but a deeper understanding of God is worth Box Breaking.”But God, being God, didn’t allow my perception of the church to be so small (unintentional pun). Our team is now attending a church that has an occupancy of over 500 people, a full-fledged band with drums, guitars, etc., as well as about four different campuses all over Columbus. Needless to say I found it hard to engage the first few times of attending church there. But as time progresses I’ve found myself increasingly impressed with the mission of this church to seek those who are lost and share Christ, as well as having the various congregations based in small discipleship-type groups. The sermons I’ve heard have also been mostly on point biblically (based on a grand total of a year and a half of bible education so I mean this to come across with humility).

I was thinking about all this while listening to the sermon and suddenly realized I had made an idealized version of church in my mind and had been judging this church against somewhat faulty logic. To put it simply, God broke my box around the church. I put something that God made into a box and accidently made a strict formula concerning non-important issues that a real church had to follow.

What boxes have you created? Is it a box around prayer, church, the gifts of the Spirit, or something else? I encourage you to prayerfully ponder what boxes need to be broken in your life. I can promise it won’t feel too good, but a deeper understanding of God is worth Box Breaking.

— Micah

Giving Love

Here we are with our training officially at its end. I feel a nervous excitement for what is ahead and can't wait to put into practice everything we have learned these past three months. But at the same time I know that leaving will not be easy.

During Tuesday's outreach at the Dream Center, I was able to see a friend that had been coming to the center for a while. I noticed that he was acting differently than usual. So, when I had the chance, I pulled him aside to catch up. As we started talking it was evident that life, in that very moment, had brought him to the end of his rope. While I listened to his story he broke down and stated something I will never forget: We (the people at the Dream Center) were the only ones that cared about him and his situation.

“...one of the best ways to show God's love to people is simply sitting down and talking to them.”Working at the Dream Center, has taught me that one of the best ways to show God's love to people is simply sitting down and talking to them. Many well-meaning people invest in ministries without the most important step: love. We tend to be quick to give money, but not our time and our willingness to care for others. All of the people at the Dream Center have some sort of struggle that brought them to the place they are now. Many are homeless, they smell bad, and act that way too. There are those with disabilities that struggle just to keep or find a job, and there are always those few drunk people. But there are also those who, despite their struggles, are reaching out for God and wanting to better their lives. As believers we are called to live alongside people, sharing in their successes and struggles while displaying the love of Christ. One of my friends struggled to get a job for months because of a mental disability, and I still remember the joy on his face when he told me he got a job and showed off his uniform. God had answered our prayers right before our eyes.

It is hard to leave my friends at the Dream Center and those who I have bonded with during training. However, whether they are people living on the streets of Columbus or people following God's call overseas, God has shown me that he has placed people in my life, or me in the life of others, and he will continue to protect and provide those I must part from.

— Lauren

Pray for this team and the others as they enter a new culture. Pray that they would allow God to continue breaking their boxes so that they can better love and serve the people they meet there. Click here to read other updates from the Team Eurasia blog.

Thai Red Curry Squash Soup

By Susannah Fath Cotman

Here is a fall soup with a Thai twist that could be a fun addition to your Thanksgiving feast. As you figure out what dishes to serve this year, consider taking advantage of this opportunity to invite someone new to join your families' table.

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

Thai Red Curry Squash Soup

1 c. Coconut Milk

½ tsp. Thai Red Curry Paste

4 tsp. Sugar

½ tsp. Salt

2 c. Vegetable Broth

4 c. fresh or 24 oz. frozen Winter Squash, such as butternut, chopped=

1 Lime

2 c. fresh Baby Spinach

Chopped fresh Cilantro

8 oz. firm tofu, drained

1 T. Soy Sauce

½ tsp. Thai Red Curry Paste

1 tsp. Vegetable Oil

In a soup pot, combine the coconut milk, ½ tsp. curry paste, sugar, salt, and broth. Add squash, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the squash is thawed, about 15-20 minutes. During this time prepare the tofu by cutting small cubes and placing them in a bowl. Toss tofu with the soy sauce and the other ½ tsp. curry paste, and let sit for a few minutes. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Set aside. Lightly grate the lime peel and juice the lime. Add 1 teaspoon of the zest and 2 tablespoons of the juice to the simmering soup. Stir the spinach and tofu and cook just until the spinach wilts. Add more sugar and salt to taste. Serve the soup garnished with cilantro.

Serves 4

November 14, 2016

New Beginnings: An Update from Judah and Rayna

Judah and Rayna* recently moved to the Middle East to serve as students while helping to spark a people movement to Jesus in a strategic urban center. To learn more about this couple and their vision for the Middle East, read Getting to Know Judah and Rayna.
After much planning and praying, we have made it to our destination. To fill you all in, we ended up having to push back our arrival time due to our visas taking longer than we hoped in getting processed and back to us. We arrived in the Middle East on October 21. Our flight and everything went smoothly. We are currently staying with a couple in their basement. They have been helpful and we are thankful for this place to stay, temporarily.

There is so much to take in and figure out when coming to a new area. The basics that you normally know at home, you don't know anymore. For example, where is the grocery store? Which bus do I need to take to get to the grocery store? How many groceries can I buy as I will have to be able to carry it all to the house from the bus stop? It can be interesting figuring it all out, but the Father has been helping us.

Pretty much every day we have been going out into the city, exploring. We try to speak some with the locals. It can be interesting trying to understand the language but when you do, it sure feels good. In our exploring we have been searching out different areas of the city, looking and asking the Father as to where we should live. We will see how He directs us.

Please pray for Judah and Rayna as they start language school and look for a place in the city to rent long-term. Also pray that they would not get overwhelmed with everything that needs to be figured out, but rest in the Father's peace.

If you would like to receive monthly updates from Judah and Rayna, contact info@rmmoffice.org.

November 08, 2016

Seeking an Administrative Assistant for SEND Ministries

Are you detail-oriented, highly organized, and have a longing to see Jesus glorified among the nations? Rosedale Mennonite Missions (RMM) is seeking an administrative assistant for SEND Ministries, RMM’s short-term department. We are looking for someone who can help with all of the paperwork, calendars, correspondence, and details associated with REACH, City Challenge, the staff intern program, and the SEND department in general. The vision and ideas to grow the ministry are in place, but help with the logistics to make it all happen is vital. Does your brain automatically think about the details? Do you enjoy setting up systems and creating processes? If so, you may be the person we’re looking for.

For more information please contact Myron Sommers at humanresources@rmmoffice.org.

November 03, 2016

Tips to Prepare Your Life for Long-term Missions, Even if You’re Not Ready Yet

By Andrew Sauder, RMM Mobilizing Coordinator

As an agency, Rosedale Mennonite Missions desires that every person would engage in the work of global evangelization in a meaningful way. In my role as mobilizing coordinator, I connect with young people who have a passion to reach the unreached and unengaged peoples of the world and I encourage them to fulfill that calling. Through this work I have met many young people who have that vision, but often struggle to know how to prepare themselves and their futures for that type of long-term work.

If you are facing those uncertainties, here are five steps that can be taken to help prepare you for future mission work. Some of these ideas are simple, while others require long-term sacrifice, preparation, and planning. If you eventually want to serve in another country, consider these suggestions:

1. Talk to Others About Your Dream

This first step is important. Don’t hide the dream that God has given you. Having someone with which to discuss mission ideas can really help to keep the vision alive while you are preparing to go. Tell other like-minded individuals in your life about your calling. Discuss it with your parents and close friends; share it with your pastor and other mission leaders in your church. Start the conversation now and keep seeking ways to talk about your passion.

I love talking with people about missions and mission’s topics. Feel free to send me an email at andrews@rmmoffice.org to discuss any mission topic that interests you.

2. Find a Missions-Minded Mentor

Being mentored by someone who has been on the mission field is a great way to keep the vision for the unreached alive. More than likely you have people in your community who have been involved on the mission field and would enjoy regularly meeting with you about your calling. If there isn’t anyone, we are connected to many missions-minded people and we could put you in contact with them.

I’ve heard countless young people, who have passion to work among the least-reached, talk about how they fear getting comfortable and losing vision for God’s work among the unreached while they are in training or in college. This is a very legitimate fear, and we’ve seen it happen to many people. That’s why it is vitally important for young people to find ways to keep the vision alive while they are preparing to go. Having a mentor and a supportive group around you will help keep that flame alive. Seek out books, resources and online communities focused on missions and evangelism.

3. Develop Your Passion into a Skill

If you feel God leading you to go work among an unreached people group, take some time to check your passions and see what skills you have to offer that specific location – and then work at developing that aspect of yourself.

Many times that will mean you should go to college and receive training, but it could mean that you need to develop a different, non-college related skill. Either way, focus on becoming competent with a desirable skill and not necessarily on just getting official credentials. I know people without college degrees but with farming backgrounds who are extremely helpful in developing countries because of their competency in agriculture. I also know people without college degrees who have a knack for business, making them an asset to a mission team.

If you are attracted to working among the unreached, but you aren’t sure if your skills could be helpful, contact RMM to see what options there might be for you. There are other countless opportunities to work in countries: theater and drama, computer programming, graphic design, starting businesses of all kinds, teaching (mostly English but other subjects as well), community development, social work, camp ministry, coffee production, nursing and other medical related arenas, etc. If you are passionate about the unreached, then we believe God will make clear a place for you among them.

On a side note, RMM does offer loan payment assistance for young people who hope to go to the mission field before they’ve paid off their student loans. If loans have been the only thing holding you back from getting involved in mission work, please contact us!

4. Build Cross-Cultural Relationships Where You Are

One huge step someone can take right now, which will prepare you for future cross-cultural work, is to befriend internationals who live near you – especially internationals from the location you wish to go. If you feel that you have been called to a specific area of the world, go out of your way to show hospitality to, and build relationships with the people from that location who live nearby. After all, isn’t missions about the unreached people and not the geographical location anyway? So, if you are called to these people, engage them wherever they may be in the world.

I know people who have befriended immigrants from countries where it is illegal to proselytize. Some of these immigrants – knowing of their faith – invited them to come to their home country to work. Just imagine going to a restricted country with a preexisting network of connections! These types of relationships are not hard to find if you live near urban areas or if you attend a moderately large university, but you will have to make sacrifices in order to develop them. I would strongly encourage moving into a neighborhood with a high percentage of first-generation immigrants if possible.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you go out and build relationships with people for the purpose of getting an invitation to their country. I am saying that if we care about the people who have never heard the gospel, we can find those people around us. Getting to know them might even be a strategic piece of living within an unreached people group in the future. There are even ministries that specialize in showing hospitality to international college students like International Friendships Inc. and International Students Inc. and they are located all across the country in different universities. They are always in need of more volunteers. Getting involved in this type of work can be extremely helpful in keeping your vision alive while you prepare to work long-term in an unreached people group.

Perhaps the most important way to keep your vision alive is to find ways to be missional every day. Find the unreached people nearby, as described above. Volunteer in ways that get you out in the world and into other people’s lives. Listen to the hurts and struggles of the world around you, and pray for God to give you a bigger and deeper heart for the lost.

5. Don’t be Afraid of Commitment

As I’ve spoken to ministry leaders about involving young people, one thing that often comes up is that millennials and generation Z have a hard time making commitments. The many options available to young people are constantly pulling them in different directions. They can get connected somewhere for a while only to move on to the next thing before they get a taste for what ministry looks like longer term. In the unreached and unengaged people groups of the world, a long-term commitment is needed to till soil, plant seeds, and slowly nurture any seed that starts growing. Sometimes the soil tilling aspect alone can take several years. I’m hearing ministry leaders ask, “Do millennials and generation Z have what it takes to do ministry in these areas?” I think we do, but it will require us to reframe how we live life and how we view ministry success.

Remember that not all of us are called to work internationally. Realizing this concept before you go will be a huge benefit to you and to the people sending you. Don’t be discouraged though, the work of global evangelization can’t just be accomplished by people who go to the unreached. We also need people who stay and pray for workers and for unreached areas, we need people who support workers financially, we need people who disciple future mission workers and prepare them to go, and we need people to work with the unreached around us in America.

Discerning God’s leading in life is not an easy task; staying faithful with a calling for the unreached is even harder. But, if you think that God is calling you to go to the least-reached people of the world and share God’s love with them, I urge you to pursue that calling.

One way you can do this is to go to the field as an intern. You can make a short-term commitment of six months to two years to a location that you think you might be called to. RMM currently has interns in North Africa, as well as a few in the process of going to Spain, Thailand, and The Middle East. If you want to spend some time learning from long-term workers, experiencing foreign misisons and seeing how God can use you in a different country, contact RMM and we can get you started on that process.

Remember that a lot of time and effort will have to go into making your calling a reality. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like it’s taking a long time. That’s normal; just keep taking steps. The sooner you start taking steps the better. No matter what role you end up filling, do it with passion and excellence so that God’s kingdom can advance and people of all nations, tribes, and tongues can worship his name!

If you have questions about this article or want to learn more about the opportunities mentioned, please contact andrews@rmmoffice.org.