June 15, 2017

Broken Vessels

By Rachel, REACH Team Ecuador

This reflection on Rachel's REACH experience was originally published on her blog, deloscielosblog.wordpress.com


To the people who didn’t quit, I write this dedicated to you: Alisa, Essie, Erica, Katie, and Brenda.

To the One who took our broken vessels and made them worthy, I write this for the glory of the Father!

I miss Ecuador, but even more I miss our team. Our little, filthy, close apartment of six girls, friends, amigas, sisters, and workers in a dry and weary land. Yet, a place where people learned together; where we laughed through the difficult, cried through the weariness and prayed through it all. A place where six VERY different people learned to work together, explore together, love together and just be together. Where daily life of working foundation shifts, eating ice cream, dead tired evenings ending with inside jokes, breaking everything related to the kitchen and telling stories brought us together. Oh how this team is one of stories and storytellers. A majority of our time was spent telling stories, stories of our day, of funny moments from last week, of our own lives, of our pasts, and of our friends and family. We even learned to tell the stories of our souls.

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June 13, 2017

Fasting and Feasting

By Judah,* RMM worker in the Middle East

Judah and his wife Rayna* have lived in the Middle East for the past nine months and are currently experiencing life in this region during Ramadan, which is from May 27 to June 25 this year.


As another month has begun, a few things have been different here. Right now is the month of Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast and feast. Here, where we are, they fast from 3:30am till around 8pm every day. In the evenings after 8pm, they enjoy a big meal together. What is the reason for the fasting? Fasting is one of the five pillars of their beliefs that they are required to follow to be in right standing with Allah or to help them gain good favor in place of the bad they have done. Ramadan is also a time of feasting where they make special foods to eat and share with each other.

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June 09, 2017

Signs of Maturity

By Lydia Gingerich

William and Rebecca* and their four sons enjoy living in East Asia, where they are involved in a retail business. They work with about twenty employees and are leading a small worshipping group of local people and occasional seekers’ Bible studies. They are also developing new, contextualized materials that bridge into the Buddhist world view.


During their nineteen years of ministry in East Asia, William and Rebecca have observed many believers exhibiting a difficult time developing a close relationship with God. But now, they are starting to see growth and depth in two significant ways.

The first way is by believers talking about their faith with friends and family members who are not Christians. Revealing their own conversions from Buddhism could incur alienation from both society and family. Previously, this has been enough to stop them from openly sharing, “but it feels like they are experiencing Christ at a deep enough level that they want other people to know how wonderful he is.”

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June 05, 2017

Multiplication

By Joe Showalter

This article was originally published in The Beacon, June 2017, in the column, “Multiply.”


Multiplication is perfectly natural. Multiplication is totally normal. Multiplication is utterly amazing!

One acorn grows to become an oak that can produce as many as 10,000 acorns in one year, each of which in turn has the potential to produce thousands more. One kernel of corn grows to produce a couple ears, each of which has around 800 kernels on it that can repeat the process.

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May 25, 2017

Hope for the Future

By Judah,* RMM worker in the Middle East

Recently, during a break at language school, the topic of heaven came up. This provided a perfect opportunity for me to ask my classmate his view on how we can get to heaven. His perspective was a common one, not only for the part of the world we are in, but for America as well. In a nutshell, in order to get to heaven, we need to do enough good things to outweigh the bad things.

Based on other information I have learned about the religion here, even if someone could somehow do that, God could arbitrarily tip the scales and keep them from entering heaven. This does not provide much room for hope, as compared to what we find in the Bible. For followers of Jesus, our hope does not rest in doing enough good or the judge not being in a bad mood, but in the blood of Jesus who offered himself on our behalf. We can have hope in him because if it rested on our shoulders we would be hopeless.

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May 22, 2017

Where Do We Even Start?

By Angie, RMM worker in Thailand

Where do we even start?

This is a question I asked myself on a recent trip to Pattaya, Thailand. Three leaders from our sending church joined Jacob, Karly, and me, to continue discovering what ministry will look like for us as a team. For part of that trip, we spent two days in Pattaya to see if God is leading us to relocate there in the future.

Pattaya is one of the main hubs of the sex tourism industry in Thailand. There is so much going on in this city and the needs can feel overwhelming. Our focus while there was to meet with Thrive Rescue and to prayer walk the infamous bar streets. Thrive Rescue is an organization that works directly with the police department in Pattaya to rescue children that have been trafficked or are at risk of being trafficked.

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May 18, 2017

Going Home

All of the REACH Teams are now back at the Rosedale International Center for a week of re-entry activities. These two reflections from Danae and Sarah of Team Eurasia talk about the struggles of going home and the need to continue putting their faith in the God who takes care of us no matter where we are.

Have Faith

By Sarah

I always joke that I'm not coming home, but surprise, I am. With leaving to come home, there are many questions that follow. Questions like how do I prepare my heart for this? How do I say goodbye to strangers who are now family? How do I just pack up my bags and come home?

I've met a lot of different people and each one has a story. They have passions, goals, dreams, and fears just like me. It was always interesting to hear where they were and how they got to where they are now. Sometimes it was hard to hear someone's story, to listen to all they have been through, or even what they're facing now. I remember I would laugh so hard that I would cry as I would hear stories. Sometimes I would be overwhelmed with sadness and would cry with them. However, people like to be heard, refugee or college student. Everyone has a story. A few weeks ago, I was really struggling with the thought of leaving. This time I'm leaving and not coming back. I’m not going to a new country, I'm coming home. It's time for a new transition. A good but hard transition. As I was talking to our Father, He showed me that I was scared. I was scared to leave, move on, and to let go. This is all I've known for the past nine months. Coming home would mean to leave this and part of me still isn't ready.

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May 12, 2017

Trading Shoes: A REACH Update

By Katie, Team Ecuador

Katie and her team served at a foundation in Manta, Ecuador, helping to care for neglected and at-risk children and teens.


One day during rest time I was hanging out with some of the older girls in their room. I was sitting on a bed with my shoes off as we talked. Next thing I knew one of the girls put my shoes on and gave me hers. She wanted to trade. I was hesitant at first because she was giving me her new thick rubber flip-flops, while in return I had old flip-flops – so worn out that I felt barefoot in them. I knew I was getting the better end of the deal, so I tried talking her out of it – she couldn’t be convinced. She didn’t care that I was getting the better shoes, that’s what she wanted. I was certain that she’d want to trade back after she realized how truly worn out my sandals were. But no, she said she wanted to keep them.

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May 08, 2017

The Unwritten Word of God

By Lydia Gingerich

As covenant workers with RMM in North America, Butros and Amina* are making disciples and building relationships among an unreached people group who do not yet have the Bible in their language. Their family is recording Bible stories, sharing the Word of God, and beginning home Bible study fellowships with these east African refugees who live in their city. They are also visiting and connecting with approximately thirty other communities across the United States where this people group are located.


“God began laying a passion on my heart to share the unwritten Word of God, the Word incarnate – Jesus Christ with these people.” Amina reflected back to over a decade ago when she initially came in contact with this people group from an east African nation. This group faced heavy oppression in their native country and many refugees have found their way into the United States. Amina’s passion for these people grew as she found that most of them do not communicate through writing or through pictures – only through speech. Amina, Butros, and their three children have been trying to live out that passion by reaching out to these people, by becoming a part of their community, and by helping them in the everyday struggles that arise.

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May 03, 2017

Deep and Wide

By Larry Kaufman, Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC) Director of Church Planting

This article was originally published in The Beacon, May 2017, in the column, “Multiply.”


As a kid, one of my favorite songs in Sunday-school class was, “Deep and Wide.” I wish we could sing it together, just for old times’ sake. Aside from the nostalgia, there is a compelling message in that old song that I think captures God’s heart for Christ-followers, for pastors, and for local churches.

Our gospel mandate is to be theologically deep and to be evangelistically wide. It is not either/or. It is both/and. Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AND teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20).

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April 27, 2017

Love Like the Father: A REACH Update

By Sarah, Team Eurasia

I've met a lot of people in these last five months of outreach. People who have stories, dreams, passions, fears, and futures just like me. During our first three months, we worked with refugees, but they're so much more than that. They are my precious friends. I got to meet people who have lost all hope, who are scared, who are angry, and who are lost. They dream about freedom and what it looks like, what it feels like. They crave it. They used to have it all. My friends used to have jobs that paid well. They used to have cute little houses with little white fences around them. They used to have nice cars and closets of clothes. They used to have friends to hang out with and things to do. Then one day a war started or some other upheaval, and they had to leave. Everything was gone, ripped right out from under them. The only thing they have left is the pain they carry with them. It's still so hard.

During the last two months, we have been helping college students practice English. These are also some of my precious friends. They are happy and safe. They have lots of energy and make their dreams into reality. They have such eager minds and want to soak up all they can. They work hard in school. They aren't afraid to make mistakes. When you see a person so passionate about what they are learning or doing, there's a light in their eyes that sparks with excitement. It's so inspiring to watch students show me what they care about. They know they have so much potential ahead of them. They have the world at their fingertips, but these friends also have pain they carry with them. It's still so hard.

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April 25, 2017

North African Carrot and Chickpea Salad

By Susannah Fath Cotman
Serves 5-6

Dressing


1 clove garlic, crushed

½ c. fresh parsley (preferably flat-leaf Italian), chopped

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

¼ c. lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)

½ c. extra virgin olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; blend well. Then, with motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until well blended.

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