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December 14, 2018

When Our Best Doesn’t Feel Like Enough: A REACH Update

By Ginny, Team Mediterranean

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the culture and the things that the Albanians’ value. This place has an interesting history and a bright future! The people are ambitious and hard-working, and I have a lot of respect for them.

But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. In this time of change for us, there have been days that it has been hard to adjust. One of my best friends sent me a message one day (when I was really struggling with jet-lag), telling me to give myself lots of grace and not be too hard on myself. That was what I really needed to hear. It’s easy to let negativity get inside of my head. Some mornings I wake up and I don’t feel like I have anything to offer and every day reveals new areas where I am inadequate (like hardly being able to order from a restaurant). I’m learning to laugh at my mistakes and let go of my need to ‘have it all together.’ Because really, no one does.

“I’m learning to laugh at my mistakes and let go of my need to ‘have it all together.’ Because really, no one does.”Today Ross and I sat down at the lunch table with a group of second graders. After several failed attempts to communicate with each other, we realized that neither of us could speak well in the other’s language. It was frustrating at first, but then after a minute, we started pointing to each other and saying our names. It was so fun that both groups were interested to learn the other’s language. Even though I still have no idea what the kids said, they taught me a lesson: you don’t have to know all the words perfectly to communicate. Even though I get frustrated with myself because of my accent and how I pronounce words wrong, I’m learning to be okay with messing up.

Often, we get stuck on comparing ourselves to someone else’s appearance of perfection without ever taking the time to get to know that person, and that is very, very sad. Learning that I have nothing to prove has been my greatest take away from the second week here. I don’t want people to look at me and see the perfect image that I paint, I want them to see me as the person I am. And I want to look past other people’s masks and see them as a person, loved by God, and worth getting to know for real.

In what areas of your life are you being too hard on yourself? As you ask God to reveal more of his grace to you, pray that the REACH teams would also be reflecting this grace in all of their interactions.

December 13, 2018

Piercing the Darkness

By Phil, RMM worker in Spain

Recently, The Pew Research Center conducted surveys among 24,599 adults (ages 18 and older) across 15 countries in Western Europe to assess the spiritual state of the region. Their report, “Being Christian in Western Europe” makes sobering reading. It seems like we live in a continent where God is unnecessary. For example, they found that across the 15 countries only a median of 11 percent of the population prays once a day (compared to 55 percent in the U.S.) and a median of 40 percent say they never pray (rising to 62 percent in Sweden and Denmark)! Only a median of 11 percent said religion was very important in their lives, only a median of 15 percent believe in God with absolute certainty, and only a median of 22 percent attend church at least once a month. Belief in God is met with skepticism and incredulity by a majority of the population.

We observed this happening on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” program when a prominent British scientist expressed some credence in the possibility of God’s existence. He had been in outer space and seen the earth from that perspective, and been so impressed by its beauty and design that he had had to admit that there might be a Creator who had brought this into existence. When the interviewer pressed him on how he could hold such a notion and still have credibility as a scientist, he quickly added that he was still agnostic and waiting for science to discover the origin of the universe and possibly prove, or otherwise, the existence of God.

“Despite this dark backcloth, it is encouraging to see advances being made for the kingdom of God.”Despite this dark backcloth, it is encouraging to see advances being made for the kingdom of God. Antonio, with the backing of the La Victoria church, is pressing ahead with the Farm School Project that is designed to link public school students with Springs of Life Camp. He plans to visit about 70 schools in the area of the camp to encourage them to bring groups of students for a day out at the Farm School at the camp. A lady, called Montse, who was active in the church’s choir, although not a believer, has recently come to faith. She now regularly attends church and the mid-week prayer meeting and has brought her husband along to church as well. He’s also showing openness to the gospel. Montse plans to be baptized in a beach service along with four young people from church families. Last Sunday, a young couple recently arrived from Paraguay to join their family here in Spain and made a public commitment to Christ.

Praise God for the work he is doing in Spain! Pray that Phil and Maretta would continue to see God’s light piercing through the darkness.

December 05, 2018

God’s Handiwork: A REACH Update

By Julie, Team Zambia Leader

Hello from Zambia! We were welcomed at the airport by our outreach coordinator and journeyed into town. I was excited to soak it all in but my overstimulated and tired brain limited me. As we drove the dirt roads to the place we now know as our temporary home, the base, I continued to be in awe that I was in Africa.

After a 45-minute drive, we stepped out of the van and were welcomed and greeted by the base staff. We spent the rest of the day taking tours of the base and the village, meeting new people, and settling in. A sense of peace washed over me as God reminded me that he has always been here and that he isn’t leaving. It’s quite obvious that God handcrafted this country, the people, the culture, the SUNSETS, the STARS, the river, it’s all so beautiful, and it all points to a beautiful creator.

“And I begin to realize, more fully, what truly brings joy. Joy is found in relationship with God, and in caring for your neighbors. And these things can be found no matter where you are.”God’s joy is evident in the smiles of the kids as they play football (a.k.a. soccer) or catch small fish in the river. God’s love and provision abounds as two women from the village invite us in to try their nshima, vegetables, and fish; they’re overjoyed by visitors. God’s movement and power is displayed in small groups studying the Word and applying it. My eyes and ears rest on God’s creativity in music and art. God’s expression is found as we dance and sing at the Sunday morning gathering, his faithfulness in each testimony. And I begin to realize, more fully, what truly brings joy. Joy is found in relationship with God, and in caring for your neighbors. And these things can be found no matter where you are.

Please pray for all of the REACH teams as they begin their six months of outreach in Ecuador, Indochina, Israel, the Mediterranean, Thailand, USA (Phoenix), and Zambia. Pray that their appreciation of the world and God’s work in it would grow. Pray that they would know how to be bearers of love and light in these new settings.