August 23, 2017

Religion in Context: Exploring Viable Forms of Christianity in East Asia

By Lydia Gingerich

Everything we do is covered in culture: the way we wash our hands, what time we eat meals, and even what we eat for those meals. Each part of the world has developed a way to execute daily tasks, providing comfort through ritual. But what if we were told we must change these basic practices in the name of religion?

“In Buddhist culture, the first forty days after death is a time of high importance, that person’s spirit is still in limbo before going to the next body,” report William and Rebecca,*RMM workers in East Asia. If family members do not perform the correct rituals, or if they do not take the first forty days seriously, it shows a lack of care. Many generations later, a family will still be judged for the way they handled those days. In the midst of this cultural practice, East Asian believers are trying to understand their responsibility as both followers of Christ and participants within their communities.

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August 17, 2017

I Love You, I Care About You, I Want You Here – Adoption, Foster Care, and the Heart of God

The Church: Looking after Orphans

by Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

In the last five months, a commitment and drive to care for orphans has developed at Bethel Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Florida. Members are signing up to care for, pray for, and parent the many children in their county who are in the foster system. This ministry is so new that it does not yet have a name, but to sum up the vision of this movement, Senior Pastor Shawn Otto referenced James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

When Shawn preached on this verse in December 2016, he presented the serious need for Christians to live out this call. While adoption and foster care can be exhausting, we have a God who is the perfect source of strength and inspiration. “God’s greatest demonstration of care for orphans is in his care for us—as spiritual orphans.” Shawn believes that in light of the way our Father has reached out to us, “the church ought to be at the forefront of orphan and widow care.”

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August 09, 2017

The First Will Be Last

Written by Esta Felder

This play was performed at Taste of Missions during Conservative Mennonite Conference’s Annual Conference 2017. Esta Felder,* an RMM worker in the Middle East, writes and directs dramas that are performed live as well as filmed and broadcast on the only full-time Christian television station in the Middle East.


Characters
Doorkeeper
Robert
Old Woman
The doorkeeper stands center stage. An old woman with a cane slowly makes her way toward the entrance.

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August 04, 2017

My Field

By Eugene,* RMM worker in North Africa

This month marks half a year in North Africa for Eugene, Katrina,* and their two children. Eugene shares about getting to know their city and seeing God at work in it.


On a cool January day in Pennsylvania, I had stood in my doorway looking out across the empty farmland, and I had wondered what field (neighborhood) God was going to place me in. Just as the field in January was waiting for spring to arrive and for the farmer to come plant, I knew God had a field that was waiting for me.

Jump six months ahead. I am now standing in my field. The field is a city in North Africa, and as I walk through my field I am getting to know its type of soil. In my field I have young people who are desperate for a new start. They come from all over the southern end of the country to a university. They come with the dream of studying and then making a life for themselves. This makes my field very full and busy. Café’s with free internet are always filled with these young people studying or just hanging out. Two of those young people have graduated from the university in the last few years and are looking for work, but in the meantime are tutoring Katrina and myself. Both are bright and very helpful. We are thankful for their willingness to come teach us.

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July 16, 2017

Soccer and Prayer: Introducing New Workers in Spain

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

A young boy and his friends huddled behind a concrete building, hoping to evade the enthusiastic Christian walking down the street. They hated when the evangelicals started talking to them about heaven, hell, Jesus, and Salvation. Like most people in Honduras, Rolando’s family was Catholic. They went to mass and said the prayers, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Christians. The kids breathed a sigh of relief when the loco evangelist walked by without noticing them, allowing them to continue their soccer game in peace.

Around this same time and 1,500 miles north of the street soccer, a young Mennonite girl got into the car with her mom to attend another revival meeting. Lately her mother had been quite enthusiastic about her faith and Andrea was hearing a lot more about Jesus and his love. Andrea could feel that love inside of her and she enjoyed going with her mom to these meetings. She wished that everyone could know the joy of Jesus’ love.

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July 13, 2017

The Unruly Bull

By Nixon, RMM worker in Thailand

Rhonda and Nixson joined the RMM Bangkok team as a couple in 2015 after working there separately for a number of years. During this time they have connected with and helped disciple many individuals from Thailand and neighboring countries who have moved to the city for better economic or educational opportunities. Some of these connections were made in coordination with the Rosedale Business Group (RBG). From their interactions with a Southeast Asian believer comes the following story.


RBG has recently financed several projects in Southeast Asia, enabling Asian believers to bring the Gospel to the marketplace. One of these projects was to support Lan in a cattle raising project. On one occasion when Lan and two of his friends went to buy some cows in a neighboring village, they met a man, discussed prices, and decided to buy several cows and a bull from him. The owner warned them to be careful with the bull, as it was known to be very dangerous. In the past, sorcery and idols or amulets were the only ways to make the bull obey them.

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July 05, 2017

Trip to China

By Jonatan, RMM worker in Thailand

I want to thank God because he has been good to me, taking me to places that I never thought to go, and giving me the opportunity to know new people every day.

Recently, I received an invitation from Li, my university roommate, to go spend time with his family in China. I was very excited about this new adventure, but at the same time, I was afraid, because I would be the first foreigner to stay in their home. After five hours of flying, we arrived at the Shanghai airport. The family was waiting for us there and welcomed me very kindly. I spent two weeks in their house and got to know their beliefs, behavior, and some social problems they face. Every day we made food together, went to different tourist attractions, and met many friends of my roommate and families close to them.

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June 29, 2017

Trauma Counseling and Suicide Bombers

By Andrew*

When Salam* came in for counseling at a refugee resource organization in the Middle East, she was ready to commit suicide. She was planning to find some kind of explosive device, strap it to herself, and then go back to a location known to be under ISIS occupation and blow herself up. The amount of hatred she had for ISIS and for herself was that severe.

ISIS is a terrorist group that has plagued the Middle East for the last several years and they commonly use sex slavery to fund their military endeavors. They conquer an area militarily and then kidnap as many women as possible. After escaping or being released, hundreds of these women, like Salam, now live in refugee camps. Some of the women are pregnant after being raped and abused, and now deal with some of the worst emotional trauma that can be imagined. The families – the fathers, and the brothers are also dealing with the guilt and shame of having been powerless to help or to protect their homes. Add all of that emotional baggage to being forced out of their homes and neighborhoods and having an uncertain future for their children. All of those emotions provide a basis from which trauma and fear emanate for refugees in the Middle East.

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June 27, 2017

An Evening in North Africa

By Cora,* RMM worker in North Africa

This excerpt comes from a recent update from Cora, and gives a brief glimpse into her life in North Africa. Please continue to pray that the RMM team there will be a source of light and truth to this country.


The sun is still bright and it’s already 5:20 pm – time change makes all the difference. I walk down the boulevard to go mail a letter. Down through a row of palm trees, on either side of me, wild flowers are starting to bloom! So much to see, so much to take in. Others are enjoying the evening as well. Sitting all along the way on benches made just for that. Some girls quietly talking amongst themselves; some mothers sitting and watching as their children play in the open square; some couples enjoying each other’s company and laughing over a comment made; a grandmother hugging her grandson; an older gentleman leaning up against the base of a palm tree, resting in the grass and shade.

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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, RMM staff writer

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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