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October 20, 2017

Finding Treasure in Flint: A REACH Update

By Paige, REACH Team Mediterranean

It’s amazing how much the Father will speak to you when you silence yourself and listen. It’s exciting how much he will guide and lead you when you ask him and once again, listen. This past week our team experienced his leading us in an awesome way. We spent the week in Flint, Michigan, for practicum, which is a week where all the teams go to different places to work with a variety of outreaches and people that will hopefully prepare them for their overseas outreach. It’s also a time for the teams to connect deeper and test out life on their own.

On our second day in Flint, our outreach coordinator, Lynette, came up with a treasure hunt for us to do as a team. The treasure hunt was not really structured but was designed to be led by the Holy Spirit. We all got a piece of paper with specific questions to ask the Father (i.e. for a place, person, color, etc.), and we were supposed to go off by ourselves for a while to listen for answers and then come back and compare our answers to see where we would go and who we would find. Once we all gathered again we were so excited to see how the Father was laying a lot of the same things on our hearts. We ended up going downtown towards a coffee shop that one of us saw and there we found Robert, who is an older homeless man that was in a blue hoodie and a baseball cap. Those are weird details to give about him, but when we were asking the Father the questions for the treasure hunt, several of us saw an older man, some saw the color blue, and one saw an older man in a baseball cap – and to top it off he was right by the coffee shop we saw. How cool is that! The Father led us right to him! We got to talk with him for a while and hear a little of his story and then we all talked to the Father together. I thought that our time with Robert was just for that moment, but we ended up getting to spend a lot of time with him and encouraging him throughout the week.

“He will lead us to hungry and hurting people for us to love…” The place we worked with has a center for homeless people to stop in and hang out when Lynette is there; they can also get breakfast on Mondays and Tuesdays. Robert has been going to the center for a little while now so whenever we were there we got to hang out with him. It was amazing to see how the Father used the treasure hunt to start new friendships and to lead us to someone who really needed to be encouraged and loved. It didn’t take much for us to start building a relationship with Robert, just getting out of our comfort zones and being obedient to go where we felt our Father leading us. This treasure hunt is a brilliant idea that anyone can do anywhere. He will lead us to hungry and hurting people for us to love, that’s exactly what he wants us to do, so why wouldn’t he lead us?

In what ways is the Father asking you to get out of your comfort zone to see the treasures he has for you?

October 17, 2017

Wow, Has It Been Busy: An Update from Thailand

By Karly, RMM worker in Thailand

If you search Pattaya on Google, what do you find? The words tourist, walking street, and sex will pop up. Not many people come to this city for a calm place to find their rest within the Lord; but for our family, that’s exactly what God has given us. With all the darkness and sin surrounding us, God has made his beauty bold here! We can feel within our hearts this beauty and comfort.

We have lived here for one month and wow, has it been busy. We spent the first two weeks in meetings with founders and co-founders of different organizations and met with the pastor and his wife from the church that we are currently attending. We also had the opportunity to do some ministry work by teaching English in one of the poorer neighborhoods with one of the organizations. Jacob has also been doing some extra handy-man work that is needed in the community. I've already seen two moms and two daughters come to the Lord and witnessed Buddhist believers coming forward for prayer in Jesus’ name. Praise God!

“There’s a movement and change happening here in this city and it’s an honor for us to be able to be a part of it!”The Lord is here and we not only see it, but feel it! We have also met some amazing people on fire for Jesus. There’s a movement and change happening here in this city and it’s an honor for us to be able to be a part of it!

God is also bringing change to our lives. A long time ago the Lord placed on Jacob’s heart a desire to pursue the area of public speaking and preaching. He's been praying for the Lord to open a door for some type of schooling or training to help in this area. A few weeks ago, during a meeting with our pastor here, our pastor shared with us how he trains people and helps them become better public speakers with more confidence in preaching. This was an exciting moment for us. We truly feel like this is a door God has opened for Jacob, and we are both excited to see him engage in this new path. We believe this is something that God wants Jacob to do now, to be used in the future in some way or form. We are excited! Praise the Lord for this opportunity.

Pray for Jacob, Karly, their two boys, and their teammate Angie as they work on getting longer-term visas, connect with more foundations in Pattaya, and seek God for guidance in future ministry.

October 11, 2017

How to Help a Refugee

By Lydia Gingerich

According to the UN Refuggee Agency, 28,300 people each day are forced to leave their home because of conflict and persecution. Whether or not you believe that it is our country’s obligation to house these displaced people, there is strong biblical language urging followers of Christ to care for the lost and the hurting in our world – showing them the love of Christ at a time when they need it most.

Glen* responded to this call and traveled to the Middle East in February 2017 to work alongside an organization that aids refugees through building housing and providing community. During his six-month internship with RMM, Glen helped with a preschool class, taught English, played soccer, learned new card games, went on picnics, listened to stories of brokenness, and saw a lot of hope.

The organization that Glen worked alongside focuses on creating a place where refugees can look to the future rather than dwelling on the past by building “communities of hope.” Every physical community contains approximately twenty houses – each with their own kitchen and bathroom. This arrangement provides privacy, normalcy, and a sense of ownership for each family. The families can think less about missing the comforts of their old home, and instead work to make their new living space a home. Schooling and job opportunities are also provided so that families can make money and continue their studies without being set back by their refugee status. Lastly, the organization focuses on meeting more than just the physical needs of an individual. They provide trauma counseling, community support, and spiritual care for anyone who is interested.

The impact of these intentional choices provided Glen with firsthand testimony to their effectiveness, “I heard stories from other camps of people just sitting around and dwelling on the past. But when people are able to continue working or continue their schooling, they have more of an idea that they are working for the future and working to make things happen. The emphasis on forgiveness in the trauma counseling sessions was also an important part of moving forward.”

“If you are only doing things for people, you are missing out on giving them what is most important: the knowledge that they are worth spending time with.”Glen often found himself kicking around a soccer ball or just hanging out with a group of kids instead of teaching English to children who had just gotten out of school and were not in the mood to learn more. Conversation was limited by the language barrier, but “it’s amazing how you can build relationships with people just through interactions.”

Many times it was important just to be with people. “If you are only doing things for people, you are missing out on giving them what is most important: the knowledge that they are worth spending time with.” Glen wanted to show people that he was helping them not out of obligation, but because of their great worth as individual humans. He found that the best way to do this was to spend time playing, talking, and laughing – letting them know that “they are cared for just because of who they are.”

After his experience in the Middle East, Glen sees refugees in a new light. He knows refugees as those who were forced to leave their home. “It was their last chance – the alternative to leaving would have been imprisonment, captivity, or death.” These are vulnerable people living in a new place, building their lives from the ground up.

“I guess when I think about the church and our reaction to that, I think that if we say we shouldn’t do things for them or accept them, I think we are going completely against what Jesus taught and the heart of God throughout all of Scripture. We need to be serving them however that looks. We don’t all have the opportunity to go overseas, but there are many that are coming here that need to be served and that need relationships formed. We need to be committed to serving them and spending time with them and finding ways that we can be helping them out.”

Listed below are three categories and some examples of ways we can help a refugee:

1. Go build hope

The organization that Glen worked with, and many others like it, are looking for people to come and volunteer at refugee camps. They need counselors, teachers, doctors; men, women, and families who are willing to offer what we have. Basic skills like construction, teaching English, and listening are in high demand.

To serve these displaced people does not always require crossing the ocean. Find out if refugees are located nearby and try to be a vessel of hope in their lives. Hope is knowing a ride will be available to a doctor’s appointment. Hope is an extra hand to move furniture into a different apartment or home. Hope is a neighbor listening to your story. Hope is an advocate speaking the local language. Hope is a friend.

2. Support hope-givers

Individuals and groups need encouragement and financial assistance to continue bringing hope to the many displaced people all over the world. Look for ways to empower those who are trying to help. The 2017-18 REACH program is sending a group to Eurasia who will spend time living and working in the same location as Glen. To learn more about how to support this team or the organization they will be working with, contact info@rmmoffice.org.

3. Pray for hope

Another important way to be involved from afar is through prayer. Glen asked for prayer for forgiveness, soft hearts, and that God would be revealing himself to these people. Try using a portion of the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Romans as a guide: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill [these displaced people] completely with joy and peace[…]Then [they] will overflow with confident hope.” (NLT, Romans 15:13, brackets added)

*Name changed for security

October 10, 2017

60 Years of Camping

60 years ago the Conservative Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (which would become Rosedale Mennonite Missions) purchased a 300-acre property in eastern Kentucky that is now Bethel Camp. In the summer of 1957, the first youth camp took place there and the ministry has continued to grow since then. RMM encouraged Bethel Camp to become their own organization in the late 90’s, and is grateful for the friendship that still remains between the two agencies. RMM recently received a letter of thanks from Bethel Camp director, Roger Voth, which included this paragraph:

“Thank you for the way you molded and shaped Bethel camp during those early years and gave needed vision during the 60+ years of camping we have enjoyed. Thanks also for giving us the challenge to step out on our own as a ministry, giving us support to make that move, and blessing us with the gift of the camp property as well as a large portion of the coal money. You had vision in 1957 to see God use this property, and this past summer 494 campers heard from God during a week of summer camp (you can’t come to camp and not hear God speaking to you….) Thanks!”

The youth of our conference and RMM have been blessed by the flourishing ministry of Bethel Camp, and we pray that the programs we are currently involved in will have the same kind of impact in 60 years and beyond!

October 08, 2017

Job Opening: Property Manager

Rosedale Mennonite Missions is looking for a full-time property manager to oversee all facility maintenance and grounds care. A great property manager will have a solid understanding of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems as well as carpentry and other crafts. The ideal candidate will be well-versed in all maintenance processes and health and safety regulations. He/she will also have aptitude in undertaking administrative tasks such as reporting, budgeting, using a computer, etc. Three to five years of experience in a similar capacity is preferred. The goal is to ensure the Rosedale International Center facilities are well-cared for and adequate to support RMM’s programs, participants, and events.

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

October 05, 2017

A Vision of the Night

By Lydia Gingerich

This story comes from a conversation with Tom, RMM regional director for Asia. Tom and other members of the Thailand team have been involved with a group of believers in a neighboring Southeast Asian country. To learn more about this group, read Fuel on the Fire: New Sparks of Faith in Southeast Asia.

“For God does speak—now one way, now another—
   though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
   when deep sleep falls on people
   as they slumber in their beds.” (Job 33:14-15 NIV)

Mari woke up afraid and unsettled from a dream implying her upcoming death. What did the dream mean? Was she going to die soon? As she asked others what they thought of her dream, many told her to talk to Lan – a friend of her brother-in-law. Mari did now know much about Lan, but she had heard that he believed in an unseen God who healed and forgave people.

“That’s right, you are going to die,” Lan told Mari after she recounted her dream. “But I can tell you how to find new life.” Then Lan proceeded to share with her about the new life that is found in God’s son, Jesus. The story captivated Mari, and she began to develop a faith in God. A few days later Lan took Mari and her husband, Lot, to church. At the end of the service, Lot told Lan that he also believed. Mari and Lot asked to be baptized as a sign of their new faith.

In the time since Mari and Lot’s conversion, the couple returned to their village where their personal lack of education and money attributed a low status to them. But as a daughter and son of the king, they hold firm to the knowledge of their eternal standing. They study the Bible together, worship with a small group in their village, and enjoy teaching their daughter about God.

Life looks different now for Mari and Lot. Before his decision to follow God, Lot was a Buddhist, but he never asked any questions about his religion. In his new relationship with Jesus, he is deeply curious – always wanting to study the Bible for greater insight. Lot feels called to pray for his village and live as a Christian witness to his neighbors. Mari finds many opportunities to share the good news in natural ways with her friends. Some men have made fun of Lot for his change of lifestyle and have even tried to force him to drink alcohol, but even through this resistance the couple remains excited about their faith and are an encouragement to believers around them. Mari and Lot pray about what they should do each day, and they thank God for the way he has changed their family.

Tom adds that he has been impressed by Lot’s growth – Lot is eager to learn and has a vision for spreading the gospel in his village. Pray that God would continue revealing himself to people in cities and villages all over Southeast Asia.