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February 23, 2018

Eyes on the Invisible

By Sarah,* RMM worker in North Africa

Recently, I have been thinking about what it looks like to maintain and grow in our relationship with Jesus when our lives are full of the ordinary and seemingly insignificant details that feel unrelated to the Kingdom. How do I keep my eyes on the invisible when my life is full of the beautiful busyness of being a mom of five – keeping track of all the logistics of mealtimes, snacks, books for school, and bedtime routines? “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1). I try to focus on him as I pick up the tiny Lego pieces for the umpteenth time, as I pack the second snack for the day, hang up the next load of laundry or begin homeschool with our oldest daughter. I know this is all related to the Kingdom and the effort that I put into any of these tasks and into the relationships of those closest to me reveals my desire to be like him, but these are all the visible realities of my life.

As I was playing tetherball the other day with my daughter, I wanted to cuss when the ball hit me in the face. It wasn’t about the ball hitting me, although it really hurt, but it was about not knowing how to respond to our daughter as she talked again about her loneliness and wishing her life looked different this year. I can’t make it better, I can only cry with her and listen and encourage her to see the positive things that are in her life right now. It was about listening to one of our twins whine about how the other one got him wet on purpose after he had “accidentally” hosed him. One more dish to wash, one more time putting away the food that no one else seems to want to put away, and one more time sweeping up the crumbs and folding the clothes. And I am tempted to be discouraged about how any of the things I am doing really matter.

"The darkness that expresses itself in the pounding of my heart and the nonsensical thought patterns that make me feel like life is out of control and overwhelming."How in the middle of all of this do I train my eyes to see the invisible? I’m not sure I have the answer to this, but I know that recently when I have let go of striving and asked him to give me contentment in the moment, I have had a lightness in my spirit that I am starting to recognize as joy. It is a lightness that I have experienced in the face of the darkness that has stolen my sleep many nights. The darkness that expresses itself in the pounding of my heart and the nonsensical thought patterns that make me feel like life is out of control and overwhelming. How do I face these realities in my life when the anxious thoughts threaten to steal my peace?

The answer to my question came in the form of a book I’ve been reading. In Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster says the Incarnational tradition, one of six he highlights in Christian faith, “…focuses upon the present visible realm of the invisible spirit. This sacramental way of living addresses the crying need to experience God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life.” Viewed through this lens, the unending dishes, laundry and toys to be picked up become sacrament, and each of us are priests as we consecrate these beautiful activities of daily living to Jesus. The invisible is being made visible through the incarnation.

I want to live into this reality even if it means suffering with Jesus and carrying the scars that he did. The times that I can’t sleep because my mind won’t turn off or the times I face the darkness head-on when I prepare to go to work in a small town about an hour away; these are the scars I carry from the battle I am fighting. When I go to work, my hands and feet are his hands and feet and sometimes they carry the scars that his did. And as the Kingdom of God breaks through in healings, a smile on the face of a child who used to think she didn’t belong, or an association that is bringing hope, the invisible is being made visible.

As I write this, I am sitting on a stool in my kitchen flipping pancakes for my family’s breakfast. Can I see Jesus in the nourishing, filling of my children’s stomachs, providing them what they need for today? I am invited to see that it is as sacred as the time my husband and I spend in God’s presence in the mornings. I want to live into this reality, seeing the dichotomy of visible and invisible melt into one as I view them in the light of the incarnation.

This doesn’t mean I won’t get tired and frustrated with the unending tasks constantly in front of me, but I can find joy in the times I put in the next load of laundry, sweep up the crumbs, start the next meal, or drive over the mountain to work, knowing they are all sacred and that I am living sacramentally, joining Jesus in living out the invisible in this visible realm.


Please pray for Sarah, her husband Josiah,* and their five children as they continue to live and serve in North Africa. Pray for strength to perform both the monotonous and the exciting tasks, and pray that God would use their daily sacramental living to shine his light in North Africa.

*Names changed for security



February 22, 2018

Introducing Paige: SEND Administrative Assistant Intern

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.


Paige, from Hartville, Ohio, joins the SEND Intern team as the administrative assistant. She helps with paperwork, mailing, and finances for both City Challenge and REACH.

“I know how instrumental it was to have people that were encouraging me growing up. So just doing that for other people is something I'm really looking forward to.”In her free time Paige enjoys journaling, listening to music, and being outside. She also likes hanging out with the other interns. During her time with REACH in Thailand last year, Paige found that being on a team brings encouragement and intentionality – she is excited to have that support again this year.

Paige also looks forward to empowering the youth who come to the RIC for both City Challenge and REACH. “I know how instrumental it was to have people that were encouraging me growing up. So just doing that for other people is something I'm really looking forward to.”

Please pray for Paige and all of the interns as they meet people from many walks of life at the RIC and in Columbus. Pray that the interns reflect Christ as they serve and encourage those they encounter.



“Greetings from Granada, Spain!”

By Rolando and Andrea, RMM workers in Spain

Rolando and Andrea moved with their two sons to Granada, Spain, in January 2018. Before moving, Andrea taught Spanish and ESL to high schoolers while Rolando discipled men who had been incarcerated. Read more of their story here.


Greetings from Granada, Spain! We arrived safely on January 12 and are slowly getting used to so many new sights, smells, and sounds of our new home city. Since we arrived here, we’ve been staying at a hostel in the city center, where we also have access to a kitchen in a neighboring apartment. We will be moving to an apartment at the beginning of February. Wilmer and Daniel started school last week, Andrea starts her Hispanic studies classes this week, and Rolando is looking into how he can visit the local prison, among other things.

Here are a few first impressions of life here:

“Everyone that we have stopped to ask directions from as we’re walking all over the city has been super friendly and helped us as much as they can.”The smoking habit is evident in both the young and old. Spaniards are into fitness, but the paradox is that many people are seen smoking on the street. Everyone that we have stopped to ask directions from as we’re walking all over the city has been super friendly and helped us as much as they can. Our boys say that teachers here are more laid back than in the U.S. and that in general students are responsible to get the information; if the students are talking over the teacher, it’s their problem if they aren’t listening. Students also stay mostly in the same classroom and the teachers move from one place to another. School is also half an hour shorter than back home (our boys love that!). The quality of the food here is wonderful, especially that of the freshly baked breads and pastries and the myriad of delicious cheeses you can choose from. We have been extremely impressed with the buses, metro, and taxis here. They are fairly priced, clean, efficient, and used by many people in the city. All over the city are restaurants, bars, and cafés, where people take time to sit down and enjoy food, drink, and conversation at all times of the day.


Please pray for this family as they face transitions into a new house, a new school, and a new culture. Pray that God gives them patience, understanding, and love in all of their interactions.



February 20, 2018

Introducing Grant: SEND Outreach Coordinator

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.


Grant from Hartville, Ohio, serves as this year’s outreach coordinator. In this role, Grant contacts numerous outreach locations within Columbus, organizing service groups for both City Challenge and REACH.

Growing up with seven brothers, Grant has learned to enjoy most sports and outdoor activities. He recently signed up to run the Columbus Half Marathon in October and says he has lots of training to do before then. “Sometimes it didn’t really feel like we were doing a lot, but I just had to remind myself to press into God during those tough times.”In the future Grant hopes to work in a field that combines his love of sports and physiology – such as personal training or physical therapy.

In 2017 Grant traveled to North Africa with the REACH program. His team spent most of their time in a small village where they farmed and hoped to be a reflection of God’s light. “Sometimes it didn’t really feel like we were doing a lot, but I just had to remind myself to press into God during those tough times.” Grant looks forward to facilitating that kind of reliance on God in other young people who come to the RIC this year.

Please pray for Brenda and all of the 2018 interns as they love and serve this year.




February 16, 2018

Introducing Brenda: SEND Food Services Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.


Brenda Miller, the 2018 food services assistant from Sugarcreek, Ohio, is excited to learn about meal preparation and planning as she helps the RIC food services manager, Susannah Cotman.

In 2016-17 Brenda was on REACH Team Ecuador. She and her team volunteered at the Shekinah Foundation – providing care for at-risk children “Unexpectedly, Ecuador wasn’t like missionary life, it was just life. So the same principles of love and service apply to being at home.”and adolescents. Her time in Ecuador fostered a love of Spanish-speaking countries and cultures and she hopes to work in that environment in the future.

After returning from her time in Ecuador last year, Brenda began to see her life in the United States in a new light. “Unexpectedly, Ecuador wasn’t like missionary life, it was just life. So the same principles of love and service apply to being at home.” She hopes to learn more about how to put that into practice this year.

Please pray for Brenda and all of the 2018 interns as they love and serve this year.



February 15, 2018

Dismantling the View of Missionaries as Super-Saints

By Colleen, RMM Director of Human Resources and Calibrate Facilitator

Miraculous healings. Hundreds coming to Jesus at one time. Explosive church growth. These kinds of stories can cause us to put missionaries on a pedestal – a position of super spirituality and near perfection. I felt that pressure as an overseas worker. I lived with the burden of high expectations and often wrestled with knowing how to communicate my own disappointments, struggles, and fears to supporters. I often thought, “If I am honest, will people lose their trust in my ability to live here and do this job? Don’t they only want to hear good news and miraculous accounts?” These doubts were used as accusations from the enemy trying to convince me that I was not worthy of the calling and was not living up to the highest standard.

Enormous courage is required to share vulnerably from a pedestal position that was never desired in the first place. I did not choose to share the gospel in Ecuador or Thailand because I thought I could do it better than anyone else. I recognized my own weaknesses and even pointed them out to God. Yet, I could not deny the call to obey and make disciples of all nations. I know I am not alone in this. In my current position at RMM, I am privileged to care for and support our field workers. I hear their struggles, I see their pain, and I understand the pressure they feel to fully meet all of the needs around them.

“Missionaries are not super-saints. They have made a decision to live and work overseas, but that decision does not change them indelibly.” Missionaries are not super-saints. They have made a decision to live and work overseas, but that decision does not change them indelibly. They have the same challenges and weaknesses on the other side of the ocean as they did while living in the states. They still lose their patience when raising children. They still lose sleep at night worrying about the future. They still have doubts and temptations. They still have dry periods in their relationship with God.

Unfortunately, challenges are compounded in a cross-cultural setting. Multiple adjustments and stressors intensify the daily struggles that we all face. Many field workers spend double or triple the amount of time they normally would running errands, preparing meals, and conducting business in another culture. Financial concerns are heightened as they live by faith on donated funds. There are language and cultural barriers to overcome, and a constant sense of bewilderment in the learning process. Married couples can feel shame or competition as they both tackle the language, and one learns more quickly than the other. Field workers with children need to navigate a different educational system and make difficult decisions for their family needs. Single people face loneliness and extra challenges in being known and understood.

All of these adjustments create stress that can be quite detrimental to physical and emotional health. Psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe developed a social readjustment scale to predict how stress can result in illness. This tool has been revised and utilized in mission training settings to help candidates become more aware of the high levels of stress they will encounter when living overseas. Dodds and Gardner estimate in their book Global Servants Cross-cultural Humanitarian Heroes Volume 2, that an average American lives with 100-200 stress points in a typical year. Those numbers predict a moderate risk of developing a serious physical or psychological illness within two years. The average worker overseas lives with about 600 stress points. Those numbers can increase to 800 or 900 during the first term of service when countless adjustments are being juggled at one time. This obviously raises the risk of burnout or illness unless field workers are resilient, equipped with good coping skills, and have a strong support system.

RMM’s Calibrate training for long-term workers attempts to highlight these realities and gives candidates practical tools for coping in a cross-cultural setting. We focus on the need for good nutrition, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. We ask workers to maintain healthy rhythms for Sabbath, silent retreats, and vacations to get breaks from the constant stress. We teach them about caring for their souls and intentionally building emotional support structures that will help them maintain a healthy perspective. These are lifestyle choices over which workers do have some level of control. However, it requires discipline to remain consistent.

There are other things about life in a cross-cultural setting that feel much more out of control. The spiritual atmosphere in some regions can be so oppressive that it is almost tangible. That reality combined with the immense needs of the local people can result in a heaviness that is difficult to throw off. Spiritual warfare is real and I intercede often for workers who are being attacked physically, emotionally or spiritually. We all need reminders about the authority and power that God has given us as followers of Jesus. We need to take authority over our minds and challenge discouraging, anxious, and false thoughts with biblical truth.

Our field workers are also ministering in very difficult locations. We send workers to unreached places precisely because the need is so great. Yet that also means they will encounter more resistance and are required to invest patiently without seeing clear results quickly. This can lead to discouragement and doubts about success and purpose. I often remind our workers that success is not measured by the way other people respond to the message. Success in ministry is based on faithfully obeying what God has called us to do. We are not responsible for the results; God does the work of transformation. We cannot carry the burden of false guilt or responsibility for other people’s choices because that often causes frustration and hopelessness.


There are some practical things you can do to help support and encourage our field workers who are living with these realities day in and day out.
  1. Take them off the pedestal. Remember their frailties and adjust your expectations for what you might read in their newsletters. Reassure them that you want to know how they are really doing, not just the positive side of things. Create safe spaces for them to share honestly.

  2. Intercede for them. Pray for spiritual strength and perseverance. Pray for protection from the enemy. Pray God’s promises over them and remind them of the truth in letters and emails. Pray for breakthrough in the spiritual realm as they minister in very dark places.

  3. Welcome them with open arms and with a lot of grace. Home leave can also be a stressful time for field workers. They are living out of suitcases, traveling from place to place, and trying to visit as many people as possible in a short period while dealing with reverse adjustments and new routines. It can be challenging to make small talk with strangers and feel out of place at conference gatherings. Give them hugs and affirm them. Think about what might make them feel more at home. Give them grace for cranky children and fatigue. Avoid assumptions and ask honest questions so that you can care for each individual well.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:11



February 13, 2018

Introducing New Property Manager

By Lydia Gingerich

RMM is excited to introduce Kegan Yoder as the full-time property manager of the RIC. Kegan began this role at the end of January 2018.

Kegan currently lives in his hometown of Plain City, Ohio, but since graduating high school he has spent time in Virginia attending Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), and in Arizona volunteering with Aim Right Ministries. Interested in the idea of combining service with business, Kegan studied business administration at EMU. After graduating college in 2016, he spent a year with Aim Right Ministries, an urban youth ministry near downtown Phoenix. While there he led Bible studies, ran a mobile food pantry, and assisted in other community programs.

In his free time, Kegan enjoys reading novels, but says he is branching out into the non-fiction world – recently appreciating A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd. He also plays on an indoor soccer team with friends from high school.

Kegan’s plethora of experience includes construction and landscaping work, but he is also looking forward to learning much more in his position as property manager. RMM is happy to have Kegan join the work of inviting the nations to worship Jesus.


Please pray for Kegan as he learns the ropes of property managing – acquiring new skills and getting to know the RIC.



February 06, 2018

A Day in the Life of a Mama

By Opal,* RMM worker in North Africa

In many ways my life as a mama here has not changed from the life I would lead as a mama there, but some glimpses into my days might show slight variations. Look into the window of my day…

Every day I think about food. At least one day a week, I walk with Raleigh* to the fresh market. We often stop at the cubicle which houses two men and a cage full of chickens, “a one pound chicken please.” It will be warm when we pick it up in a few minutes. We move on to the cubicle of Mohammed and Hamid. Vegetables are heaped all around. They hand us plastic bowls to fill and place on the scales (weights still made of heavy metal on one side). We choose a cabbage, potatoes, onions, peppers, peas/beans, parsley, and pumpkin (which they cut off from a massive pumpkin sitting on the old, wooden counter). We return to pick up the chicken and sometimes we add a kilo or two of sardines which someone has scaled and cleaned for us. Then we head home again to wash, peel, store, and cook meals from scratch. Right now, my laptop sits on the kitchen table and I juggle lunch prep, typing, and a one-year-old who will get into everything messy that she can!

On other days I walk to the supermarket – a western feel. I pull our wheeled cart-bag behind me. Sometimes I have a child strapped on or walking beside me, and we walk several blocks to get tubs of yogurt, big packs of diapers, coconut milk, raw sugar, or other rare items not found in our corner store. Often I meet our friend, a tall, elegant beggar lady who knows we share lentils or yogurt because we follow Jesus. We chat about the weather, her bad family situation, or her sad health diagnosis. We show respect for the lives we share with one another.

Every day I carry laundry to the third-floor washing machine. On sunny days (most are sunny), I hang out load after load in the moisture-sapping North African beauty of a blue sky and a clear breeze. The kids scamper around the sunny roof. We look out across people’s roofs, mosque minarets (often they blast into our sunny afternoon), trees loaded with oranges and lemons lining the street, and mounds of vines with fragrant flowers hanging over others’ walls. This is a great space for contemplative prayer. I think about the kind neighborhood watchman just one street over, who respectfully greets me and is often reading his Quran as I pass. I see the neighbor lady in a house across a vacant lot at her kitchen window preparing or washing up. I also think about the gentle young man who Raleigh relates to at our corner store. He is far from his home down south working a thankless job for little wages.

Some afternoons, I welcome my language teacher into our little second-story office/classroom. She pulls out the kids Bible storybook for me to read, “This is the adventure: errands without a car, blessing neighbors in God’s name, the patience it takes to raise children, and the patience it takes to see what God’s Spirit is blowing into these dear people’s lives.”translate, and discuss. Recently, our classes have been very deep. She is asking the big questions, longing for answers. I’m straining my brain in her language, extremely rich for both of us. She loves God but wants to know truth for sure. After classes, I search for answers to the big Jesus questions we discuss.

On one day an outing may find me catching a little red taxi with friends. We explore a big market on the edge of town, tables full of used clothes, shoes, perfect and plentiful vegetables, huts selling fried fish, dates, household needs like an individual roll of toilet paper, plastic everything, or a broom head.

This is the adventure: errands without a car, blessing neighbors in God’s name, the patience it takes to raise children, and the patience it takes to see what God’s Spirit is blowing into these dear people’s lives.


Pray for Opal and Raleigh and their children as they go about their lives in North Africa – pray that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and find opportunities to share the love of Christ in each moment.

*Names changed for security



February 05, 2018

Introducing Sarah: SEND Hospitality Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our 2018 SEND Interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship to God and his Kingdom through serving at the RIC and being discipled by the SEND Department. RMM is grateful for their hard work and is excited to see them grow this year.


Sarah is from Millersburg, Ohio, and was on the REACH 2016-17 Team Eurasia. She is one of the hospitality assistants with duties like making beds, cleaning bathrooms, and hosting groups who come to the RIC. When Sarah is not working, she likes to take naps, read, or journal. In her few weeks at the RIC, Sarah has enjoyed getting to know the other interns during their late-night chats over cereal.

“I don't think I realized how powerful that prayer was at the time, but even to this day God is showing me how big his love is...” Back at home, Sarah spent time volunteering at the safe house run by her church. This involvement hatched a passion in Sarah to work with women and children who have come out of abusive relationships, and she hopes to do this in some capacity after her time as an intern.

The past year of Sarah’s life has been a lesson in love. While in Eurasia, Sarah prayed that God would show her the immensity of his love. “I don't think I realized how powerful that prayer was at the time, but even to this day God is showing me how big his love is – not only for me but for those around me.” Sarah is excited to keep learning this lesson as an intern, and for the rest of her life.



February 01, 2018

A Response to Pov.ology

By Candice, RMM worker in Thailand

We climb the concrete stairs of the pedestrian bridge, my mind on the long list of items my family needs from the grocery store. On the landing sits a small puddle of humanity, dressed in rags with beseeching eyes, her cup held out to me, holding me with her eyes. Further out on the bridge I find a man cooking eggs over coals; I buy two and some noodles. My daughter runs back to give them to the lady and we continue on our way to fill our cart with groceries. The guilt follows us. How can we be comfortable in our blessed state when there are those with deformities and open sores and hunger and lack sitting on the stairs? Poverty is all around – asking us for a response. What will it be?

This year, our Thailand team completed the video series Pov.ology. The series is made in association with New Life Christian Fellowship and the Evangelical Mennonite Conference located in Ontario, Canada. Pov.ology is a series of six videos “discussing poverty, theology, and the church, and what it all has to do with the individual Christian. It features interviews with folks like Shane Claiborne, Dr. Ronald J. Sider, Bruxy Cavey, and many more." In interviews, these leaders attempt to answer the questions: What is our role in alleviating poverty? What was Jesus’ response to the poor? What does the gospel have to do with it all? Is the church doing more harm than good?

For me, this series opened many doors to thoughts I’d never considered, and it helped our team discuss some of the guilty and dissonant feelings we experience when we consider the needs of the poor in our context here in Bangkok. An important thing is to narrow the gap between what I say I believe and what I do. What I believe is actually shown by my actions toward the poor. Concrete action is expressed in love, justice, and compassion. We all need to be in a transformative relationship, and when I have relationships with poor people both they and I are transformed. The speakers encouraged us to try and to fail – to take positions of service and solidarity, to do things that foster humility – uncomfortable steps, to help the poor to feel dignity and honor, and to help them re-establish a sense of choice and autonomy, empowering them for their own change. The Holy Spirit is our helper in this – listen and be sensitive.

"I want to see the gifts and assets of the poor around me and serve together with them.”As a team, we discussed the many kinds of poverty and the fact that we’re not called to address just one. The rich of Bangkok are suffering from a kind of spiritual poverty. We need to actually get to know the needy person with their hurts and problems and find what kind of poverty they are facing. Our motivation for giving should reflect the great generosity we have been shown by God.

I wrote in my journal, praying that the Lord would increase my compassion: “I don’t want hard-hearted cynicism. I want to feel with people, not pity for people. I want to see the gifts and assets of the poor around me and serve together with them. I want to express solidarity and love.”


My teammates shared:

“I liked the episode ‘The Power of Small Things’ very much. The way that small things can impact people in big ways, for example, dedicating time, understanding, sincere friendship, and respect.” – Jonatan

“I thought that the video creators handled a difficult topic very well and gave us a lot to think about without it being only guilt-inducing. And it was a relevant and practical topic for our team to discuss together.” – Tom

“I remember a part about living life with those with less and trying to truly understand them. The importance of building relationships and giving time instead of only money.” – Karly

“I really appreciated the variety of perspectives and expert interviews included in the series. It was very meaningful for me to hear the voices of experience.” – Anna


The six sessions are called:


• Session 1: Our Homeless Leader
• Session 2: Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is
• Session 3: Responding to Poverty
• Session 4: Do No Harm
• Session 5: What About the Gospel?
• Session 6: The Power of Small Things
.

If your small group or church is interested in this series, you can find it at www.povology.com, or like we did, on the Conservative Mennonite Conference website.