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September 27, 2018

Open Doors

By Judah and Rayna,* RMM workers in the Middle East

"Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut."

In the country we are living in, this past month held a religious holiday that involved millions of animals being sacrificed. This provided us with opportunities to share about the sacrifice that we trust in. One afternoon during the holiday we visited a local coffee shop. Since there were few customers, the man running the shop spent a lot of time sitting and chatting with us. Because of the holiday, we struck up a conversation regarding sacrifices. Our friend was interested in hearing our view regarding sacrifices, which enabled us to share both about the ultimate sacrifice that was made, as well as other aspects of how we view the world. Even though he was not necessarily open to changing his thinking, he had the opportunity to hear the truth, and only the Father knows if or when the seed will sprout.

Rayna also had a very exciting door open for her this month. Rayna's friend was quite turned off by all of the animals that were killed over the holiday, and asked Rayna if there was a similar custom in our views. This provided Rayna the opportunity to explain how the final sacrifice has been made and no further animal sacrifices are required. Rayna gave her a copy of our book, which the girl has started to read and has said that she is really liking what she is reading. “…we don't know what will happen with the seed, but we are trusting the Father to help the seed to grow.”One day while Rayna was with her, she was even defending it to the people around her who were asking questions about it. Like the man, we don't know what will happen with the seed, but we are trusting the Father to help the seed to grow.

This past month, we also saw a door seem to open for us in another way, and we are trusting that no one will be able to shut it. After many months of seeking where the Father would have us live, we feel we have discovered the open door. At the end of this month we will be making a transition to another city about eight hours east of where we are currently living. Initially, we will be doing a six-month trial period before making a final commitment to the things going on there.

There will be two main things we will be involved in. Judah will be helping with a business startup aimed at providing work to people who are not able to find work otherwise because of their chosen beliefs. As a freelance company, Judah will be trying to line up work projects for the various people. In addition to this, we will be connecting with the current fellowship in the city and endeavoring to deepen the walks of the people in that group. Even though we will be making this transition in a few short weeks, we are still working out some of the logistics, specifically residence permit details, and this is where we are trusting that "no one can shut" the door that is before us.

Please pray for Judah, Rayna, and their family as they prepare to leave their current city. Pray for healthy closure and that the seeds they planted would sprout and grow even after they move.

*Names changed for security

September 21, 2018

My Time in Nicaragua

By Jonatan, RMM worker in Thailand
What follows is an account of Jonatan’s time at home in Nicaragua. As we read it, we were struck with the contrast of his initial departure three and a half years ago, compared to this time. He has committed to another three-year term and the likelihood of him seeing his family or anyone from his country during that time is slim. His tenacity in doing what he needed to do in order to return to Thailand is a testimony of his dedication to living there. It would have been so easy for him to say it wasn’t worth the risks he took. His family would have loved to have him stay, but he persevered and in the end was blessed with what he needed to return to Thailand.
– Larry and Dot Chupp, Directors of Latin American Missions Partnership
After spending nearly three and a half years in Thailand, during which I did not see my family, I left on March 6 to go home to Nicaragua. I was very excited to see my family again and spend time with them, and also to see my friends and eat Nicaraguan food.

After a long and tiresome trip of almost 30 hours of flying, I arrived in Nicaragua on March 7 late at night. But that did not take away the excitement of getting to see my family. They were waiting for me at the airport, and I do not know how to explain the happiness I felt when I saw them again and I was able to hug them after so much time. I was a little surprised too, especially when I saw how much my younger brother had grown. He was not the same child he had been when I left Nicaragua. That night we traveled to our family home. I fell asleep shortly after leaving the airport, I was so tired.

The first thing I saw the next day were the faces of my two nephews, who had been waiting for me to wake up to welcome me. That made me very happy. That morning I drank the coffee that only my mother knows how to make, and that I had missed so much. I also received visits from brothers and friends who came to welcome me home. I was very happy to be home again.

My plans for the time in Nicaragua included being with my family, visiting the churches, and sharing about my work in Thailand. I also needed to renew my United States transit visa.

During the first weeks I stayed home, resting from the trip and spending time with my family. Around that time I attended a national meeting of pastors. I wanted to be share with the pastors about my work in Thailand and encourage them to become more involved in missions, though I could only share with some individually since there was not time for me to speak at the meeting.

Four days after the meeting, serious political problems began in Nicaragua. People were protesting against the government because of changes made to the social security laws that people considered unfair. As time went by, things became violent, and the police repressed those who protested. Groups of people began to barricade and block all the main roads in the country so people could not travel anywhere.

For weeks I was stuck in my community because there was no transportation. During that month I had planned to go to Matagalpa to spend time and share with the Iglesias Vida (Life Churches) and pastor Pablo Loaisiga. These churches were going to have a missionary training event, but due to the circumstances I could not go (and the event didn’t happen). It was very frustrating because I was excited about going and sharing with the churches there, as well as other churches in Nicaragua.

One of the most difficult things was getting my U.S. transit visa renewed. It had expired while I was in Nicaragua. There were many complications, but in the end I was able to fly to Costa Rica to apply there and everything went very well. I also had the opportunity to visit and share in some churches there. I stayed in the home of the pastor Francisco Medrano in Heredia and also went with him to Upala to an event promoting missions.

“Take care son. We’re going to miss you. We know that everything you are doing is out of your love for God.”I then returned to Managua where I spent one last day with my parents before I left for Thailand. The next morning we left for the airport. It was sad to say goodbye again, and to see their sad faces. I remember their words, “Take care son. We’re going to miss you. We know that everything you are doing is out of your love for God.”

During my time in Nicaragua I could not do everything I had planned such as visiting churches and friends. Instead I saw many things occur in my country that I never imagined. But I remain grateful to God for the refreshing time I had with my family.

Jonatan asks that we pray for the situation in Nicaragua to resolve soon, and for God to give his family strength and protection. Pray also for God to continue working in the hearts of his friends in the university, and that he can continue to be an example and light to everyone around him.

September 07, 2018

Three Nights in the Jungle

By Nixson, RMM worker in Thailand

Since his baptism in 2011, Lan has been constantly looking for ways to share the gospel with people in his home village and surrounding areas in Southeast Asia. He has been working with a team of six other believers from nearby villages for almost two years (read more about this group here). They have been creative in finding ways to meet people in new areas and build relationships. Last year they started a project planting watermelons in a new village as a way of meeting people and sharing the gospel. They have also hosted Christmas and New Year’s parties in new villages. The people living in the villages of the teammates and the surrounding villages are mostly Buddhist, while those living in the more remote areas are tribal groups who worship spirits and ancestors. Lan and his team believe the tribal groups are more open to the gospel and that the gospel spreads more rapidly among them.

“According to their beliefs, if someone enters the jungle and leaves without staying for three nights, the jungle spirits will be angered and attack those living in the jungle.”Recently the team took a three-hour motorbike trip to visit a jungle tribe in a new area to start building relationships. Their plan was to travel there, spend a few hours with them, and then travel back home the same day. But once they arrived at the village, their plans changed drastically. The tribal people would not let them leave. According to their beliefs, if someone enters the jungle and leaves without staying for three nights, the jungle spirits will be angered and attack those living in the jungle. The team felt that if they tried to leave, the tribe would be upset and would not be open to the gospel message, so they decided to stay for three nights. There were frustrating moments for the team and they had to wear the same clothes for three days! They made beds with tree leaves and slept on the rocks by the river. They had to eat some interesting things that they weren’t used to eating like snake and monitor lizard. The tribal people were trying to find a monkey to eat one day, but Lan prayed that they wouldn’t be able to catch one, and they didn’t! As they spent time with the people, they began to share about God and the Bible.

After three nights the team returned home to clean clothes and worried families. Since there was no cell phone service in the jungle they were not able to communicate with anyone outside for the three days they were gone. Back in the jungle people were talking about what these men shared with them. None of the people that the team shared with directly have believed so far, but they have been sharing with others about what they heard. And now there are three families of believers in the tribe! It is amazing to see how God is working and people are hearing about Him in unexpected ways. Lan and his team planned to take a day trip, but God had other plans and we’re thankful that they were obedient to His leading.

Please keep Lan and his team in your prayers as they travel and share God’s word in their country. Pray also for the new believers in the tribe, that they will continue to seek and find God.

September 06, 2018

Love the Lord with All Your Strength

By Lydia Gingerich

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Joe Showalter, president of RMM, opened his Sunday morning address to the 2018 Multiply Conference with these verses from the end of Matthew 9. He went on to point out that the state of being “harassed and helpless” is still prevalent in our world today. Giving examples of helplessness in Central American countries and in the Middle East, adding that “even among us, we are harassed and helpless people, apart from Jesus.”

Showalter continued with an encouraging account of the ways CMC has been involved in outreach since its formation. Through the power of Christ, this group of believers has proclaimed and extended God’s love to the harassed and helpless, starting in Maryland and Kentucky, and moving to Latin America, North Africa, and Asia. This process has not only expanded the Kingdom of God, but enriched the conference.

While CMC has been intentional about reaching those around them, their growth has often looked more like addition than multiplication. In the last 40 years, the conference has gained 14 churches and about 5,000 members. “The church has never been perfect,” he said, “But God has, across the centuries and in some very different parts of the globe, shown us what can happen when the natural power of multiplication is unleashed in the church.”

Utilizing the metaphor of farming used by Jesus in the Matthew passage, Showalter asked the congregation how many seeds there are in an apple. He then asked another question: “How many orchards are there in an apple?”

The image of countless orchards being contained in one apple illustrates the potential within a single believer. Showalter emphasized that when the church is focused on making disciples who make disciples, there is the possibility for exponential growth.

“...if we want to multiply, we simply have to do what comes naturally as we’re connected to Jesus.”Jesus often used plants as a metaphor for the Kingdom. The vine and the branches, trees bearing good fruit, the parable of the sower, and many more. This is not just a convenient accident. God’s Kingdom, Showalter pointed out, is designed for exponential growth. This kind of organic, reproducing faith is what will happen when believers are connected to God, and truly allow him to influence every part of their lives.

“So if we want to multiply,” Showalter said, “we simply have to do what comes naturally as we’re connected to Jesus.”

To illustrate the power of multiplication in a tangible way, Showalter conducted an experiment using his audience of roughly 700 people. He held two thick stacks of white notecards and asked everyone to stand up. The rules of the experiment were this: if you receive a stack of notecards, keep one, split the stack in half, give the two halves to two other people, and then sit down. There was a timer counting how long it took for everyone to be seated.

It took two minutes and eleven seconds for all of the 700 people in attendance to receive a notecard. The cards spread slowly at first, but as more and more people held cards in their hands, the dispersion happened faster and faster.

This is what happens when people encounter God. It is a simple concept, but it is not always easy to carry out, and it will take all of our strength. Showalter ended his address with three practical steps for every believer to multiply the Kingdom of God:

1) Listen to Jesus
2) Do what he says
3) Help other people do the same thing

CMC has a history of reaching out, and Showalter encouraged the audience to continue doing so with even more intentionality – to see the potential of orchards within ourselves, to take a notecard for ourselves and pass the rest on, to pray for more workers, to listen to Jesus, to do what he says, and to help others do the same.