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May 17, 2019

Stories of Hope

Following the call to share God’s word in another culture is difficult and many workers report times of fatigue and disconnection. But the hopeful message of God’s redemption is more powerful than any discouragement. Followers of Christ can put their trust in a God who has called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). Below are three stories which speak of that light.

A Resurrection
By Phil, RMM worker in Spain

Springs of Life Camp

John Calvin observed that “the story of the church is a story of many resurrections.” We can certainly see that on a macro level through the last two thousand years of church history. Periods of time in which the church has been faithful to the Lord and his word and God’s kingdom on earth has flourished, have been eclipsed by times of apostasy and unfaithfulness. Miraculously, the church has, time and time again, been lifted out of its malaise and restored to fruitful ministry by the intervention of God’s Spirit.

On a more modest level, we feel we have seen something of a resurrection in our own ministry situation here. The Farm School Project, to connect the local Christian camp ministry to the public schools, has been through many difficult times when we thought the project was dead.

Not least of these was when the director, Antonio Cherino, had to be laid off by the camp due to lack of funding. But there have been other obstacles and hurdles along the way. The Springs of Life camp had to get its facilities up to the requirements necessary for hosting people from the general public. The sewage system, kitchen facilities, water treatment system, dining area, and grounds of the camp all had to be improved, and approved, by the local authorities before the Farm School could open. Time and again it seemed that the project would get hung up on this hurdle or that hurdle.

So, we were both grateful and amazed recently when the Farm School Project was not only able to establish a legal basis for hosting schools at the Springs of Life camp but also contracted with a public school to bring seventy-five students to the camp for a day of learning in the outdoors at the camp. Hopefully, this will create a relational link between these school children, who have had little exposure to the gospel, and the Springs of Life camp.

Can you think of something God restored in your life that you once thought was dead? Please join us in praising a God who can redeem any situation.

Melodies of Truth
By Morgan, REACH Team Thailand

We recently spent an evening working with NightLight International, an organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore those in the sex industry in Bangkok. I started out feeling frazzled from the rush of setting up as we were running behind, and what seemed like a million little things playing in the back of my mind. We stopped for a quick time to pray, but I couldn’t help but feel distracted. However, as we played our music and the melodies rolled into the streets, finding the ears of those passing by on the sidewalks and causing them to stop in their tracks to listen, it made me think…how often am I just going about life, minding my own business, not stopping long enough to hear what the father is speaking?

“Be still and know.”

With a handful of songs behind us, I took a deep breath. I was reminded that it is not I who does anything, but the Father. I felt my spirit relax and the atmosphere around me change. There is something powerful about singing truth in a place that seems overcome by darkness. It speaks hope. Sometimes I wish I could see what is happening in the hearts of those passing by and the path that they have walked, but I trust that the Father is drawing them near, planting seeds that will one day take root. How often do I wander the “streets” in my life, minding my own business? Focused on the wrong things and caught in a distracted, pre-occupied state, the Father, in a moment’s notice, sings melodies of truth into my being. He captivates me. He causes me to stop in my tracks. He stirs a curiosity and wonder in my spirit. He speaks truth.

“You are my beloved.
I will lead you.
I am with you.
You are not alone.
The battle is won.”

Please keep this team, and all of the REACHers, in your prayers as they finish outreach and return to Columbus. Pray that they stay connected to Jesus during this turbulent time and make good connections and plans for the future.

Laying a Foundation in the Middle East
By Jerry, RMM Mediterranean Regional Director

The Apostle Paul had amazing insight. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:6-7, 11)

"May we wholeheartedly believe his promise, 'If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.'"All our striving to find the perfect methodology, the perfect missiological approach, the perfect form of church seems to miss the point: We already have the perfect Savior. Moreover, when we continuously think (and argue) that if only others would do things our way we would see greater results, we aren’t much different than the disciples arguing about who is the greatest. Planting churches amongst unreached people groups is hard work – impossible, actually, apart from divine intervention. May we humbly cry out for more of Jesus! May we agree with him that, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” May we wholeheartedly believe his promise, “If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”

I recently had the privilege of spending ten days in the Middle East. It was great to reconnect with Esta* and Judah and Rayna,* as well as numerous church leaders through connections made by Emmanuel and Jill*. It was great being able to travel with Emmanuel and Jill, and also to benefit from their extensive network of connections in the Middle East.

It is very encouraging to see a growing movement to Jesus in the Middle East. There is an online atheist club in a big city there with over 10,000 members, and recently the leader of that group came to faith through watching a Christian TV broadcast. Although they call themselves atheists, it’s quite possible that they are more anti-Islam than anti-God. When we attended church at the fellowship in that city, another member of that same atheist club stopped by after the service. The pastor talked with him for close to two hours, sharing what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The young man sat in rapt attention, often asking questions. May God call forth new sons and daughters out of this darkness!

As we see this hopeful situation unfold in the Middle East, pray for continued endurance for believers in this region.

*names changed and last names omitted for security

May 14, 2019

Pressing On: A REACH Update

By Morgan, REACH Team Thailand

The REACH teams have all finished their six-month outreaches and are beginning two weeks of re-entry at the Rosedale International Center. The following update from Morgan, Thailand team leader, was written during their last weeks in Bangkok.

It’s the final countdown – the final stretch of goodbyes, packing, and reentry in Ohio. To be quite honest, it feels like I never left Bangkok since entering the program two years ago, and that I will still be here for a while. Life here has become my “normal” and my “known.” My comfort zone has been expanded to include this country – many, many miles away from home. So now, when I’m faced with the reality that it will all come to an abrupt stop, I think back on my time here over the past two years and think to myself, “now what?”

Now, I breathe in, seeking to embrace the transitions and change to come. I say goodbye, knowing God used me in their lives in some way and will continue to work in their lives after I leave. I remind myself that God is sovereign, in control, and omnipresent. I feel the sadness of leaving (knowing I may never see these people again), the joy of reuniting with loved ones, and the nervousness of the unknowns all at once. “Abba is walking with me every step of life, rejoicing and weeping with me, and I rest knowing I am fully known and loved by him.”As seasons come and go, and people do the same, the sweetness of relationship and the presence of Abba becomes something more and more treasured. Sometimes it’s sad thinking how my friends and family will never really know the things I’ve experienced, places I’ve seen, and people I’ve met in the last year, but there is something in the sadness that reminds me of the Father’s heart for me. Abba is walking with me every step of life, rejoicing and weeping with me, and I rest knowing I am fully known and loved by him.

As I think about things that I’ve learned and experienced over the past nine months, a theme that I see is letting go and trusting the Father. As I was lifting my team to the Father before our paths officially crossed, I felt like identity was a theme that he kept pressing on my heart for the coming year, and now I can look back and see how that is something that’s been woven amongst different things that I’ve been learning. He taught me that the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders and challenged me to let go of responsibilities and pressures that I was not meant to carry. He taught me to surrender the things and people that I often hold on to, assuring me that he is holding them and cares more than I do. He taught me to have faith, go with the flow, and align myself with his expectations, not my own. He replaced judgment with compassion, fear with confidence in him, and hurts with healing. He taught me to delight in all he is, finding him even in the small, mundane feeling moments of life. He taught me to love sacrificially, lead by example, and let go of control.

Even though this is my last blog, I know that the Father is not finished. In the same way, he has been continually working at home, he will continue to work here, and in me. I know that two years ago I would have never guessed what lied ahead for me. It leads me to wonder if I will say the same in another two!

Please continue to lift up the REACH participants over the next two weeks as they go through re-entry, process their outreach experiences, and step into whatever God has next in their lives.

May 10, 2019

Fearless: A REACH Update

By Sara, REACH Team Indochina

Fearless. What does this mean? I don’t actually think it means a lack of fear, but rather a sense courage. Where one embraces the fear and pushes onward. Now maybe that’s me just putting a positive spin on the fact that I tend to be a fearful person, but I don’t think fear defines me. Papa has taught me so much about the difference between being consumed in fear and not living the free life he has for me, and living free from the shackles of fear.

The friends we’ve made the past six months feel quite like family. Saying goodbye is scary. What happens next? What happens to the kids we teach? What happens to the family we live with that feel like a second set of parents and siblings? All of their lives keep moving forward just as mine will. How do we possibly have enough time to truly let them all know how much they mean to us? Did I truly love them all well? Is there anyone I need to make amends with? This list goes on for miles. But then I hear Papa’s gentle voice that he loves them all too. He loves them all more than I possibly could and he’ll take care of them all. Who knows, some might keep in touch; it’s not a permanent goodbye, just a long distance friendship.

A few weeks ago our team took our vacation. We traveled out to the countryside, kayaked, caved, saw mountains and elephants. Our vacation also included swimming at a waterfall and a turquoise lagoon. At one of these beautiful lagoons, there was a BIG tree that had thick long branches hanging over the water…with rope swings and jumping spots.

When we got to the lagoon, the guys climbed up and got a little nervous looking down, but they eventually jumped. And they lived; no injuries; smiles on their faces. Now I didn’t want to be outdone, so I climbed up and I was slightly shaking but I can swim so it’s not like I would die. So after a mini panic, I jumped into the water. It was so much fun and felt freeing as I stepped off the branch.

Then Katie decided she wanted to give it a try so I told her I would go with her. Well, she reached the top, looked down at the water, and started walking back toward the ladder that I was still climbing up. So being the friend that I am I blocked her way, gave some encouraging words, and then I did eventually step out of the way. I wouldn’t force her to do it if she truly didn’t want to. But I said, “It’s okay I did it once and I’ll be right behind you”… well, Katie faced her fears and jumped in like a champion!!

Now you’re expecting me to say I jumped in right after her, right? Well, you would be wrong! Instead, I started to panic, not just a little, but a lot. My eyes watered and I couldn’t let go of the railing, so I turned around to walk back to the ladder and climb down. I was giving into the fear like I have countless times in my life in various ways. Then Seth ran over and climbed up the ladder before I could get down it and was not letting me pass. He also spoke encouraging words to me, but at the moment they meant nothing. I was too caught up in my own fear that I couldn’t even hear what he was saying. I couldn’t get myself to jump. But then I started to calm down and think rationally. I already did it and it was fun. So after some tears, I let go of the railing and jumped. You know what happened….I lived and all was fun.

Fear and comfort zones are like the tree I jumped from. Their roots go deep. Sometimes you don’t realize how ensnared you are until Papa calls you to step out of it.

“…I can live fearless – knowing that if I am nervous it’s okay because Papa can see the bottom of the water, and created me to swim in it.”Sometimes it’s easy to step off of the tree the first time. Then a day, week, or month pass and you find yourself right back up in your comfortable tree. This time when Papa asks you to leave it again, you start to panic. You think of the things that could go wrong, the uncomfortable things that might happen, or you think the tree that you’ve built is better than what Papa has for you. While you’re panicking, Papa is standing with you on the tree in the middle of your mess speaking truth to your heart, waiting for you to calm down and hear his voice, and then eventually, when you’re ready, to guide you to take a step of faith.

When I leave my “fear tree” great things happen. For one, I breathe freely. I don’t have to have all the puzzle pieces of my life put together. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to keep my eyes on my loving Father who will guide me to take steps that I can’t see the bottom of.

Do I know what’s next? Nope. Do I know how I’ll say goodbye to my amazing new friends and this culture? Nope. But I know that my Father loves me, and loves them, and will take care of us. Therefore I can live fearless – knowing that if I am nervous it’s okay because Papa can see the bottom of the water, and created me to swim in it. Therefore, I need not fear.

Please pray for Sara and all of the REACHers as they leave their outreach locations and begin re-entry this week. Pray that they would be able to trust God during these transitions.

May 02, 2019

Introducing Alexis: Food Services Assistant

By Lydia Gingerich

Over the last few months we have been introducing our 2019 interns. This group of seven REACH graduates will spend the year deepening their relationship with God, 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.

Alexis is this year’s Food Services Assistant, hailing from Belleville, Pennsylvania. She loves sports, calligraphy, reading books, and even has her own small photography business. Alexis also enjoys cooking and baking and is glad to have opportunities to practice these activities through her internship.

“Alexis mentioned that before REACH she became worried when her future looked unclear, but now she can get excited, knowing God is in control.”During her year in the REACH program, Alexis’ team went to Spain and the island of Cyprus. “A big theme over outreach was learning to trust God – through the hard things that happened, or even through the good things,” she said. Alexis mentioned that before REACH, she became worried when her future looked unclear, but now she can get excited, knowing God is in control.

This year, Alexis is looking forward to forming deeper relationships with the other interns as well as those in the City Challenge and REACH programs. Deepening her relationship with God is another aspect of this internship that Alexis looks forward to: “A focus that has been prevalent so far this year has been learning more about who I am, and who God is, and who he's made me to be.”

Pray for Alexis and the other interns as they continue to get to know each other and work in their roles. Pray that God will use them to impact the many people who come to the RIC this year.