June 22, 2018

A Free Prayer

By Tom, Asia Regional Director

During my recent visit to South Asia I heard a lot of stories about what God is doing through our team there. One thing that stood out to me is the number of different people from a variety of ethnic groups that the team has worked with over the years. Many of these were young men who came through the hostels that the team has managed or supported. These men came to faith as students and now that they have graduated, have moved to various places around the country. Many of them are still in touch with our team and it’s exciting to think about how God will continue to use them in the future.

Another current development is in Bindu’s* ministry. After she moved to the northern part of the country with her husband a few years ago, she began visiting new believers in several villages. She has a friendly personality and is skilled at telling Bible stories in an engaging way. The villagers welcome her warmly and her reputation is growing. Hiralal,* her husband, complains (half-seriously) that when she visits the villages she never gets home before dark. He is worried about her safety, but she phones to say “I haven’t left yet…they are asking me to stay a little longer.” The women in the villages are especially receptive to her but even some of the men come to observe and listen as she shares.

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June 14, 2018

Restoration for Pattaya

By Lydia Gingerich

Angie, Jake, and Karly live in Pattaya, Thailand, and are engaging in the effort to care for orphans and victims of human trafficking. Find out more about their story here.

When Angie, Jake, and Karly moved to Pattaya, Thailand, last year, they were struck by the vast number of abandoned and abused children as a result of pervasive sex tourism in the city. Through prayer, conversations with the leadership at their home congregation, and meeting with other ministries in Pattaya, this team has decided to pursue opening a home for vulnerable children.

The home will be an extension of 58:12 Rescue, a ministry established by Grace Mennonite Church in Holmes County, Ohio, to care for women who have been physically or sexually abused. Seeing the need to bring God’s healing to their community, Grace established a home to offer rescue, shelter, and restoration for these women and their children.

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May 31, 2018

Rain in the Desert

By Joe Showalter

It had been raining heavily for a few weeks leading up to our arrival in Lodwar, a small city in northwestern Kenya’s Turkana County. Benson, known by many as “the Desert Boy,” informed us that they hadn’t seen rain like this for five years. While the region has experienced a physical drought over the last few years, it has been a place of spiritual new life and growth.

Benson leads a group of churches called Glory Outreach Ministries (GOM). With churches not only in Turkana but also in neighboring Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. With fifteen mission training centers, GOM is a vibrant and growing network of churches. When Benson entered the International School of Mission (ISOM) program in Thika, Kenya, in 2000, he had planted eight churches. (REACH was instrumental in launching ISOM in 1999.). With the training and tools he received at ISOM, Benson believed God was calling him to plant 100 churches among his own Turkana tribe. Today, Benson says there are about 175 GOM churches in Turkana, but when you include the churches planted among neighboring tribes (he’s currently engaged with five tribes and has a vision to reach seventeen) and in neighboring countries, the number is over 400. Given the nature of these things and the simplicity of their strategy, Benson guesses there could actually be as many as a thousand churches, since he’s not trying to track all of the added layers of multiplication.

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May 30, 2018

An All-powerful God: Reflections During Ramadan

By Eugene,* RMM worker in North Africa

As I sit here looking at a blank piece of paper thinking about what I should write, my neighbors and friends are out and about like any other day – except they are not eating or drinking. Yes, Ramadan is here once again.

Yesterday evening I went out to the local café I normally go to. I wanted to see what was going on since Ramadan was starting. I sat down and began talking to my friend. It wasn’t long until he asked me the question I knew would come: “Are you going to fast?”

I turned to him and responded by saying that no, I wasn’t. He paused for a moment and said to me, “Fasting is good for you.”

I decided to take the opportunity and responded, “I know. Jesus tells us to fast. Fasting is good.”

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May 25, 2018

Thoughts on Harvesting

By Dan, long-term RMM worker

What can we learn from church movements around the world? Can their experiences teach us to be more effective participants in the world-wide movement of Christ?

Nicaragua: An Exponential Harvest

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9: 37-38 NRSV).

The challenge for the church around the world – according to Jesus’ words – is not a lack of harvest, but rather a lack of harvesters. Therefore, the church is called to find more harvesters to reap the already-ripe harvest. One lesson from the churches growing exponentially around the world is that the vast majority of needed workers come from the harvest itself. I first saw this principle at work in the rural churches in the villages of Nicaragua.

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May 21, 2018

In Translation: Three Stories about Language

Compiled by Lydia Gingerich

Language learning is one of the least glamorous yet most important aspects of working cross-culturally. When learning the language gets difficult, it can cause doubts, feelings of inadequacy, and a sense that ministry is put on hold. But success can result in the ability to speak with locals on a deeper level, greater ease to maneuver in a country, and countless insights into a culture.

This month, we received three updates celebrating the joys of learning a language and the possibilities that come with it.

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May 16, 2018

Nearing the End: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand

I’d say I can’t believe the end is here, but the truth is, I can. I’ve had a lot of things roaming in my mind lately. Things like…

How will our last week here go? How should I be processing the past nine months? What will reentry be like? How will I handle the goodbyes? What will it be like adjusting to a different culture and time zone again? What will it be like reuniting with loved ones? Where will I fit in? What happened while I was gone? How will I possibly summarize the last nine months to those who want to hear about my experience in this program? What will be the new normal? Will I be able to pick up where I left off? Do I have too high of expectations for my summer at home? What will my friendships look like? What will the next year of my life hold?

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May 08, 2018

Locally Grown: Building Community through Book Club

By Jessica Miller

When I lived overseas one of the things I enjoyed was the community that developed in neighborhoods. Visiting in each other's homes or yards and helping one another in practical ways was the social norm in the Middle Eastern city where I lived. Because everyone's worldview was impacted by religion, it was also common and fairly easy to have spiritual discussions with my neighbors. I found it much harder, after moving back to the US, to experience this same type of community in my neighborhood, but I was able to sometimes find it in small ways.

A little over two years ago, my husband accepted the pastor position at Bean Blossom Community Church and we moved to Indiana. We prayed and looked for a house that would be close to the church. We considered moving into a trailer park right next to the church, but felt like the Lord clearly led us to a house in a subdivision about a seven-minute drive from the church. After we settled in, I began to think and pray about how I could get better acquainted with my neighbors. I decided to try an experiment.

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May 04, 2018

Trees and Leadership: Hope for Nicaragua

By Dot Chupp, co-director of Rosedale Business Group

Nicaragua has erupted in mass demonstrations against the country’s administration in response to a social security reform announced in April. While the president has rescinded this reform, the protests against his leadership continue. As I look at these issues, I’m struck with the thought that Rosedale Business Group’s projects in the country seem especially significant.

First of all, a project that has been in process for a while, and seems to have met considerable obstacles, is to get the Spanish translation of the book, The Serving Leader (El Líder que Sirve) finished and ready for print. From the first mention of this project to translate the book into Spanish, our desire has been to find a way for this powerful teaching to reach the hearts of our dear friends in Latin America and especially Nicaragua. So, we ask ourselves, “Where do we go from here? How do we actually get this teaching to them and help them find a way to implement it?” In conversation with John Stahl-Wert (co-author of the book with Ken Jennings) about the delay and our deep sadness about not getting it done, his encouraging words were that he’s not worried about the timing – because God is in control. While this is comforting to us, the delay still feels overwhelming and unacceptable.

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April 26, 2018

Searching for Peace

A compilation of updates from Phil and Maretta, RMM workers in Spain

It’s not too long ago, in the Franco era (1939-1975), that the evangelical church in Spain was an underground movement. One brother tells us of how his grandfather was sentenced to death for publically attacking the idolatry and Mariolatry in the Catholic Church. Fortunately, his grandfather’s future wife had some relational connections to the local authorities and so the death sentenced was commuted to imprisonment in an internment camp. His father, then, was born in the internment camp, in the company of other evangelical believers who Franco had locked up along with communists, socialists, and others he deemed as enemies of Catholic Spain. Another brother recounts how even up to the early 1970s the Civil Guard would come in and break up meetings of believers that got bigger than the size of a family gathering.

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April 20, 2018

Nearing the End of ‘Normal’: A REACH Update

By Shontel, REACH Team Indochina

Life here still looks the same on the outside. We teach at school five days a week. We plan lessons. We eat dinner with friends. We play team games. We cook. We babysit. We hang out with teens and college students. Anyone peering in wouldn’t notice anything spectacular or different from the previous months we have spent here. But internally we have been processing a lot, well at least I have. Knowing that in less than a month, we will be leaving this place puts a new tone on life here. It’s like I’ve begun to see things through a new lens. Sometimes that feels like a good thing.

Sometimes it makes it easier to be intentional, because I know our time is short. But other times, that lens brings into focus contemplating the future and stressing over looming changes. It’s hard, because as much as I want to, I can’t remove this new lens. I often long for the earlier days when life here didn’t seem to have a time measurement, when homesickness rarely crossed my mind, and when decisions for the next season of life didn’t have to be made.

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April 13, 2018

The Best of the Old and the Best of the New

By Jewel and Richard Showalter

Over the last two years, CMC and RMM have developed relationships with KMM in South Asia – a rapidly growing network of churches, training centers, and schools. We traveled in South Asia for five weeks last fall accompanied by KMM’s president, Jolem*. We encountered both encouraging glimpses of new work and amazing stories of Mennonite connections with this group that date back over 100 years.

We sat in house church meetings in the middle-class homes of recent Hindu-background believers in the mud-walled village home of a house church leader on an island. We met dozens of house church leaders who are part of KMM, an exciting web of resourcing and relationships.

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April 11, 2018

I Am Just Like Them: A REACH Update

By Morgan, Team Thailand

A few days ago my teammates and I were led for the first time through areas of Bangkok that we, up to that point, had only heard about. An area filled with so many broken people in search of fulfillment. As we walked through floors upon floors of closed curtains, cracked open doors, and bars filled with people, it was easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and desperation. But as we continued passing through, I couldn’t help but think, I am just like them!

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March 29, 2018

Being Still, Not Passive: A REACH Update

By Paige, Team Mediterranean

My heart is full – full of love, full of joy, and full of life that the Father has graciously given me these past few months. He has provided several amazing friends that have played major roles in the fullness of my heart. They have opened their lives to me and shown me incredible kindness. At the same time though, my heart is heavy – heavy from the thought that a lot of those friends aren’t believers. The more time I spend with them, the more I can see hurt and confusion in some of their eyes. It is so painful to see the darkness they are in. They are longing for truth, longing for the Father. They are some of the best people I have ever met, but without genuine faith in the Son, that means nothing.

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March 13, 2018

“Say God”: Moving Beyond Knowing the Right Answer

Jordan Stoltzfus, CMC Outreach Mobilizer, with his wife Megan and son (newborn daughter not pictured).
Part 1 by Joe Showalter

In 2016, CMC hired sociologist Conrad Kanagy to conduct a survey to help reveal and clarify the identity and vision of CMC. After surveying over 1,200 CMC respondents and conducting listening sessions with almost 200 individuals, Kanagy and his son Jacob report a variety of interesting data. In response to the question, “Can you name one thing that God may be calling CMC to embrace in order to become more faithful in fulfilling its mission?” the researchers note a key theme of “Emphasizing more local outreach and mission.”

Following are two survey comments representative of this larger theme:

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March 12, 2018

Called to Faithfulness: A REACH Update

By Isaac F, Team Himalayas team leader

As I walk up the rough stone steps, I breathe deep. Not only because the walk is making me short of breath, but also because I want to enjoy the cool crisp air. It is mountain air – cool winds blown down from snowy peaks – mixed with the sunlight that shines down as the sun nears the noon position. As I continue to climb, the sound of rushing water grows louder in my ears. Finally, I reach the top and view the massive waterfall. It is several hundred feet in height, and continually unleashes several hundred gallons of water into the large pool below. It is a beautiful sight and as I get out my phone to take pictures there is a small voice in my head that says, “Wait. Just enjoy this. Look around.” I take several pictures, but then try and take a moment to soak up my surroundings. In front of me is the waterfall – beautiful, powerful. Then I walk to a small building painted red and white sitting to the right of the falls. On shelves along the outside are many candles, not burning, but small and spent. Brass bells also hang on the side of the building. I look into the building and see what has become a normal sight – a small statue of some god and stone plaques that have prayers engraved into their surface. All is cold, lifeless, and hopeless.

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March 08, 2018

A Daily Choice: A REACH Update

By Kara, REACH Indochina team leader

Right before we flew out of the U.S. we had a session that looked briefly at the phases of culture shock. The first three months are commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase,” where everything is exciting and rather rose-tinted. Three to six months marks the “frustration phase” when one can easily become irritated and emotionally exhausted. Six months to a year is the “recovery phase,” where one gains understanding and starts knowing how to better adapt to the culture. Since I’d already spent six months in this country last year, I was curious to see where I would fall on the cross-cultural wavelength, especially since I had never really dealt with the frustration phase, at least not in the cultural sense. Would I start the whole process at the honeymoon stage again? Would it feel like coming home? I’d spent most of my time back in the states daydreaming about returning to this country, so I was completely unprepared for what actually hit me.

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March 06, 2018

Introducing Kris: SEND Facilities 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.

Kris serves as this year’s facilities assistant – changing light bulbs, mowing lawns, and helping to keep the RIC running smoothly. He joins the SEND Intern team from Fair Play, South Carolina, and was on the 2016-17 REACH Team Thailand.

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March 05, 2018

Introducing Candace: 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.

Candace serves as a hospitality assistant at the RIC. She is from Pryor, Oklahoma – making her the 2018 SEND Intern who traveled the farthest to get to Columbus.

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March 02, 2018

Introducing Aaron: SEND Prayer 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.

As the 2018 SEND prayer coordinator, Aaron leads prayer-related activities during REACH and City Challenge as well as within the SEND intern team. Aaron’s family currently resides in Goshen, Indiana (where he lived for the first part of his childhood), but they have also lived in Plain City, Ohio, and Richmond, Kentucky.

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