« November 2018   |   Main   |  January 2019 »

December 24, 2018

New Traditions, Same Reason: Christmas in the Middle East

By Judah and Rayna, RMM workers in the Middle East

It’s that time of year once again where we celebrate and remember what Jesus did for us by taking on flesh and living among us. Being overseas adds a different twist to the season which is normally filled with making memories, spending extra time with family, and celebrating with others.

We, of course, will miss those things here in our new city, but we are working to make it special anyway. This year, I made time in my schedule to make a batch of our favorite Christmas cookies and peanut butter chocolate candies.

“Though many other things change, what he has done for us and who he is never changes.”In the midst of things being different, the real meaning of Christmas does not change. That is the joy and blessing of walking with the Father. Though many other things change, what he has done for us and who he is never changes. We have the gift of friends who we will be celebrating with this year and we have each other. It will also be neat to celebrate with others who are newer followers and to experience it with them. I am thankful for these different gifts the Father has blessed us with.

Please take some time to remember all the workers and REACHers around the world who are experiencing this Christmas in new and different ways. Pray that they would find meaningful ways to remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth and also have opportunities to tell others about the miracle of God coming to earth and walking among us.

December 19, 2018

It’s the Little Things: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand Leader

As I’ve been walking the nearby streets for the first time in a while, it has felt like a whole different experience than last year. I see the faces of familiar vendors for the first time in a long time and come to realize that only a short year ago I knew them only as strangers. It’s been fun to see a surprise flash across their faces when we make eye contact, and an encouragement to know that perhaps, by the grace of the Father, we may have made some sort of eternal impact. So without further ado, allow me to share with you some of these people and, along with that, ask for you to remember us as we continue to try to build relationships with them.

There is Kaao Dtuu, a young girl who lives in our apartment complex and often knocks on our door with hopes to come in and play. And Pii Newie, who lives right across the street and makes delicious food that we eat on a regular basis. Pii Foan is our amazing landlady and pretty much a mom away from home. And then there are my favorite vendors, the fruit man and smoothie lady who live across the bridge.

“Missions happens in the everyday moments when we choose to be intentional and love the very people the Father has placed right in front of us.”Something I have thought about since returning home last summer is how to give an accurate description of my time away. It would be pretty easy to make it sound like more of a thrilling adventure than it really was, but the truth is, missions isn’t the glamorous thing that we often make it out to be. Missions happens in the everyday moments when we choose to be intentional and love the very people the Father has placed right in front of us. Sometimes it feels like it’s not making a difference. Sometimes it feels like everyone is going about their business as usual and it’s easy to wonder if anyone even notices. But it is often these moments that can make the biggest impact. How easy it is to have your eyes focused on the “big” things of life, only to miss the little things that are quickly passing by.

I wish I could say that I lived out of this perspective throughout my whole time here last year, but I’m afraid that claim would be more than an overstatement. However, I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to return to these streets once again, to smile and say hello in passing, stop for a bite to eat, and mutually partake in the struggle of sharing pieces of our lives amidst broken language. Being back has shown me that perhaps these people have made more of an impact on me than I may have realized. It is the people who have taken a moment’s notice of interest – sharing short moments of each day – that have made the biggest impact. They have communicated to me (often without words) that they care and notice. I pray that in the coming months, perhaps the Father will use me to do the same, and remind me of the importance of each given moment.

Pray with Morgan that God will continue to use these everyday moments and interactions to work in and through the REACH teams.

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 on 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.