Engage: A spotlight on Christian Mission and Ministry – Spring 2020
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by Jason Dueck
Alida Thomas has been thinking about food differently lately. She didn’t get a new cast iron frying pan or start working her way through a whole cookbook; she’s been thinking about the way community is shaped around shared meals. How we centre weddings and funerals, happy times and sad times, around eating together. This has been on her mind since she started giving through Share Your Table.
A new monthly giving program from MCC Canada, Share Your Table (http://mccshareyourtable.ca) provides food for displaced families around the world. Nearly 71 million people are displaced around the planet – the highest than at any point in history. While the causes and solutions to displacement are complicated, generosity isn’t. With a donation starting from just $7 a month, MCC provides food where there isn’t any. Each month, donors receive a story from a family helped by donations like theirs, along with recipes shared from dinner tables in that family’s region.
One such recipe is beef wat. This rich hearty stew is a common staple on dinner tables in Ethiopia, where Nyadieng Gach Gatkouth lives as a refugee since being displaced from her home in South Sudan. Thomas says the thought of sharing a meal at someone’s table, being a distant dinner guest, added a layer of personal empathy to her giving
“What stood out to me from the very beginning was the holistic approach,” says Thomas. “Share Your Table
is thinking about people as whole people—not just people who need food. They’re full people aside from their immediate needs.”
Thomas says if she could share a meal from her table with someone like Nyadieng, there is no doubt what would be on the menu.
“I come from a Dutch background, so it’s this dish called stamppot,” she says. “Mashed potatoes, carrots and onions all smashed together—some people do it with kale. You can add farmer sausage or rookworst. It’s lik
e Dutch comfort food that always reminds me of being a kid. I also remember eating it a lot during university and grad school.”
After receiving her master’s degree with focuses on refugee and forced migration studies and international human rights, Thomas has worked in international development and relief. She says it’s easy to feel helpless when faced with such daunting numbers of people in need. She’s often asked herself what can ever be done to help that many people. But hope, she says, is worth working for.
“Those are 71 million stories, 71 million dreams, 71 million networks of relationships, 71 million people with unique skills, capacity, and agency, and 71 million people made in the image of, and dearly loved by God,” she says. “If we each do our part – individually, communally, nationally – to generously care for and walk with as many of those 71 million as we can, we can transform that number.”
White Rock resident Sheila Vicic, 57, is back home after spending almost two months (March 17-May 12) in Cremona, Italy at the Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital.
Sheila was there serving as finance manager dealing with contracts, arranging services, looking after payroll and procuring supplies. She stayed out of the hospital’s patient treatment zone but was able to safely visit with patients who were able to go for brief walks.
The Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital was set up, at the invitation of the local government, because the number of coronavirus victims overwhelmed local medical facilities.
Sheila said her time in Cremona “was amazing. We saw an entire community go from fear to hope when we arrived.”
This is Sheila’s seventh international deployment with Samaritan’s Purse. Her previous deployments, usually with our emergency field hospitals, include:
- Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, 2019
- Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, 2017
- The ISIS-Iraqi government battle for Mosul, 2016-17 (the emergency field hospital was 20 kilometres from the fighting)
- The Bangladesh Rohingya refugee crisis, 2017
- The Greece refugee crisis, 2015
While she has definitely been in some risky deployments, Sheila said her husband and three adult daughters are okay with it. “It’s what they would expect me to be doing. They’re pretty chill with it because they know it fits with me.” In each case, she serves as a short-term Samaritan’s Purse employee. In Canada, Sheila deployed with Samaritan’s Purse after flooding in Windsor, Ontario, the Williams Lake BC wildfire (2017), flooding in Ontario and Quebec, and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.
Sheila shares some thoughts on serving:
Q. How did you see God moving in the midst of the fear and chaos caused by this pandemic?
A. There are two aspects of God at work that stick with me. Unity and Providence. In every deployment, we have unique needs to get operational – a hospital in tents still requires power, water, sanitation, assembly. And the team needs gear and climate-appropriate clothing and food and shelter. In the midst of fear and chaos, our Italian partners assigned by the region to help us were the conduits to the resources we needed, and when we asked – where can we get winter clothes – they knew who to call.
Miracle after miracle of provision of accommodation, clothing, food, oxygen supply, drinking water were facilitated by these co-workers; but God had prepared the hearts of the donors / owners. He had pre-positioned exactly what we would need in and near Cremona in the months leading up to our arrival. That provision, which I can confidently say exceeded €1 million, was from God’s storehouses, through the local owners, through our Italian co-workers who didn’t volunteer for this role, but were assigned it by their regional government. All these people and businesses being used by God to provide for our facility day-by-day decreased the chaos into orderly operations. To know, from the business perspective, that God was in the very minute details of clothing the team, oxygen systems for patients, housing and food for the team; brings confidence that God is present and near in the work we are doing in Cremona.
Unity among the local churches of all denominations often arises in crises. In Italy, we were able to see servants from every church, including monastery and convent, join us in serving the sick and supporting our team. I see God desiring unity in His people worldwide and if I was looking for meaning in a pandemic, I would clearly see God bringing unity to His churches, no matter how they express their faith in Jesus.
Q. Is there one particular person, or story, that still lingers in your memory?
A. There are two moments that I will share – among many that will stay with me and motivate me to serve again. The first was as an observer of a ‘fence’ visit where family members could stand about 10 ft apart and visit their recovering family member. A lady who had been very ill and who hadn’t seen her son in about 6 weeks since entering the hospital system, put on her lovely pink housecoat, had her hair combed through and then told her son about her stay at the camp hospital. It was her first time staying in a tent and so she told her son that her first ‘camping trip’ was totally lovely, the people were like family and she was having a good time and he wasn’t to worry about her. He was to go home and eat better and she was fine. What I loved was her resiliency to a relatively harsh hospital environment, and a brutal disease and her optimism and positivity about being in a cot, in a tent hospital in a parking lot. To see her turning her concern to her son, for his well-being, allowed me to see that she is indeed on the mend, even though still frail and sitting in a wheelchair for this visit
Our first intubated patient that survived and was released from the tent hospital was a miracle recovery by every definition. This man arrived in our care 100% on life support and on a beautiful sunny April day, he walked out to a waiting taxi, carrying his own duffle bag and waving and calling out his thanks to God and to his caregivers. As we stood 1-2 metres apart, masks, gloved hands clapping and cheering for him, overwhelmed by the miracle we were watching, an Italian co-worker turned to me with tears in her eyes, and we hugged. All our protocol and PPE aside – humans and miracles need hugs and so we had a brief embrace – but an important release of all the beauty of God’s miracles that we were witness to. Subsequently this co-worker prayed for the Lord to be her Saviour and I know that tender moment allowed her to be vulnerable in an extremely anxious and fearful environment.
Q. What motivates you to serve in this way?
A. Although the title within SP is called Finance officer or Finance manager – I prefer to think of myself as Stewardship Manager. We have been given so much by God and through our donors, but we have a lofty responsibility to manage it wisely in the field, to carefully consider what we are doing from start to finish on a deployment and to apply the God-given resources with wisdom and avoid waste. Not many accountants, CPA’s, are inclined to be in these unpredictable, risky work situations. I think by nature, accountants are risk averse and prefer order to chaos. For me, it is safer to be obeying God’s call on my life than to be seeking safety away from risky situations – those factors of risk and chaos don’t weigh heavily on my mind while I do my work. I’m a person who can get it done no matter what and likes to bring order out of chaos or reduce the sense of risk by bringing reason and a principled stewardship perspective to situations full of crazy variables. I know that God has made me this way (able to process a ton of information from different sources and perspectives and see the commonality or the priority) and that He has called me to serve in tough places where these skills are needed. By doing the relatively routine, yet decisive tasks of a finance (stewardship) role that are the necessary business end of meeting the needs of those facing crisis and disaster, I allow others to also serve in their area of strength and not have to stress over the matters of finance and payments, contracts and securing funds.
Samaritan’s Purse, and Canadians like you, are snatching lives from the fatal jaws of COVID-19.
“When you go through something like this, you really get scared.” For days, Umberto struggled to breathe normally and his temperature had slowly risen to an alarming 105 degrees. He recognized the warning signs of COVID-19, the virus that had disrupted the daily lives of so many in his community in northern Italy.
An ambulance rushed him to Cremona Hospital on March 17 where he tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors and nurses placed Umberto on a ventilator to keep him breathing – his lungs were not strong enough to keep him alive on their own.
“I remember that someone said now I am going to fall asleep,” Umberto said. “Then I only remember that I woke up and I saw you [Samaritan’s Purse staff] and that is it.”
Umberto was among the initial intensive care patients treated at the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital in the city of Cremona, Italy. He was transferred to the Christian charity’s mobile hospital, specially outfitted as a respiratory care unit, still on a ventilator and unable to breathe on his own.
At the time, no coronavirus patients once in ICU at Cremona Hospital had survived. Samaritan’s Purse doctors and nurses – including Canadians such as B.C. native Bev Kauffeldt – prayed for a miracle, that Umberto would be one of many patients to walk out of the ICU as a testimony to the healing power found in Christ.
After more than two weeks on life support, that prayer was answered. Umberto woke up and was finally able to breathe on his own. He was overjoyed to be met with the smiling faces of the medical staff who had cared for him.
Though he had been mostly unconscious during his time in the ICU, he heard team members praying over him and reading the Bible. That continued, even more so, once he was alert and removed from life support.
“Everything was about Jesus,” Umberto said. “Everything they do, I could feel that they didn’t do it only because they are nurses and doctors but also because they really believe in Jesus.”
Umberto is now healthy and reunited with his wife and kids at home. He recognizes that he is a miracle, repeating over and over that he feels as if he has been “rebirthed.”
“I cannot even describe it, only the thought that I am here is a miracle,” Umberto said. “It’s like being reborn and now I’m seeing things from another point of view.”
He is forever grateful to the Samaritan’s Purse doctors and nurses for their spiritual support and physical care. “There aren’t words to describe it, I cannot thank them enough. There are no words to thank them, saying thank you wouldn’t be enough.”
“Samaritan’s Purse is a paver of God’s Word to come to people who probably never had the Gospel presented to them in a real, tangible way,” said Damaris Scalzi, a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
“Christ laid down his life, it wasn’t taken from him. COVID-19 is taking lives, but the Lord is giving [patients] an opportunity to have peace regardless of the outcome. It’s a perfect time for us to be here, actually during this season, during this holiday.”
Each day as Samaritan’s Purse team members enter the hospital site, an empty tent serves as a reminder of God’s protection.
“I think one of the coolest parts of being here at the site is coming in the morning and seeing one of our tents set aside for any staff who get sick; right now, it is empty,” said Matthew Hodgkins, a member of the organization’s Disaster Assistance Response Team.
Please continue to pray for God’s strength, guidance, and protection as the Samaritan’s Purse teams continue to serve patients in Jesus’ name.
You can learn more about the organization’s COVID-19 work in Italy, Canada and the United States at SamaritansPurse.ca.
by Jason Dueck
Things like frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the new normal. This is life during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures help reduce the spread and keep everyone safe. We’re all in this together.
But the hardships we bear are not the same. Some of our neighbours will be faced with impossible choices like staying home safely or earning enough to pay rent. Others have no one to call when they need help buying groceries. This virus is not an equalizer. It’s especially true for the tens of millions around the world who were already vulnerable before this crisis began. They face even greater risks during this pandemic.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) knows this well. For over a century, MCC has cared for people who are vulnerable around the world. We know there’s not just one answer to a crisis. However, there are areas of MCC’s work that are vital to supporting people who are particularly vulnerable in situations like this.
Temporary shelters, close quarters and a lack of hygiene supplies – this is where disease and infection spread. It’s also the reality in the Mubimbi and Poste displaced persons camps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). MCC is partnering with the ECC-MERU (Church of Christ in Congo) to provide healthcare to displaced people there. A clinic provides treatment for the hundreds of people living in each camp.
Water and hygiene
Now that you’re washing your hands what seems like a dozen times a day, it’s easy to see the importance of clean, safe water. Many people around the world don’t have access to it. MCC supports water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs that drastically reduce the spread of diseases. Clean water, effective hygiene practices and proper waste management keep people healthy.
Two remote Haitian communities, Wopisa-Gabriyèl and Kabay, saw 291 deaths from cholera in 2016. In 2017, MCC began public hygiene training, providing water purification equipment and building latrines. The result? Cholera was eliminated from the two communities.
In southern Chad, tens of thousands of refugees who’ve fled Central African Republic have virtually no access to resources. Living in camps and nearby villages, they often rely on unsafe open-pit wells for water. MCC partner SECADEV (Catholic Relief and Development) is working to install new sealed water pumps, build latrines and provide education on proper hygiene practices. This ensures waste doesn’t contaminate the local water supply.
It’s not unusual to hear reports of stores with empty shelves and restaurants closing in recent days. Feeling unsure of secure food is a new feeling for many of us. But millions around the world can’t walk to a nearby supermarket or order takeout when they are hungry. MCC provides emergency food and helps farmers grow food to feed their families.
After Cyclone Idai hit southeastern Africa in 2019, many families had no access to food. MCC and local Brethren in Christ churches worked to provide emergency food to thousands. This urgent work continues across the globe including places like Syria, DR Congo and Colombia.
In rural Cambodia, it’s common for families to run small-scale rice farms and vegetable gardens. But many don’t produce enough to sustain their homes. MCC partner, Organization to Develop our Villages, invests in farmer-led co-operatives, which bolster families’ ability to feed themselves and sell their surplus to pay for things like medical care.
The constant stream of news updates about the spread of COVID-19 has caused fear and anxiety for many. MCC’s peacebuilding tackles the difficult work of creating peaceful dialogue in areas of tension and conflict while also educating people about how to prevent the spread of the virus.
In 2006, Issa Ebombolo started Peace Clubs in three schools in Zambia to help students build peace and speak up for their rights and safety. Now, more than 650 peace clubs exist in 14 African countries, not just in schools. Communities, churches and refugee camps have also adopted this nonviolent method of building peace.
MCC is well positioned to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in the places we work. Together, we can care for our neighbours, whether across the street or around the globe. Thank you for your support.
As MCC celebrates 100 years, in the coming months we will look at how MCC has expanded beyond its beginnings. We will explore the many ministries serving locally, nationally and globally.
by Laureen F. Guenther
“If it wasn’t for MCC, I wouldn’t be here,” says Renita Hamm. “My grandparents were starving. MCC saved their lives.”
In 1918, Sara Reimer and Heinrich Kornelsen, Hamm’s maternal grandparents, lived with their parents in what was then Alexanderkrone, Ukraine.
The Russian Revolution had occurred in 1917, and anarchy reigned. The Red and White Armies engaged in a civil war, and the Reimer and Kornelsen families lived near the warfront. Soldiers moved in and out of the villages, stealing or destroying whatever they wanted.
During the 1918-1919 winter, Sara Kornelsen wrote in her memoirs, their family had overnight ‘guests’ – soldiers from the Red Army, or the White – every night for five months. Soldiers of both armies, and bands of robbers, demanded food and stole belongings, destroyed property and assaulted girls and women, and murdered hundreds of people.
“The invasion of the (soldiers) also brought lice and an epidemic of typhus, which caused many deaths,” Sara remembered. “We had no choice. The soldiers made themselves at home in our homes.”
Then famine added starvation to their sorrow. The summer of 1919 brought total crop failure. “The sun was so hot the grain burned before it could fill out,” Sara wrote. “Our vegetable crop was poor too.”
At the end of the summer, when Sara and her mother harvested their half-acre of potatoes, they carried the entire harvest home in one trip.
They started the winter with some flour and barley, but not enough to bake bread. In the attic, where they’d stored grain, they swept up the left-behind kernels, mixed with roof plaster and mouse droppings. They sorted out the grain, washed it and boiled it, then mixed that with ground beets to make flat loaves of bread. It wasn’t enough, but it was all they had.
“When we were sitting at the table with our meager rations, Russian children from the villages looked in the window and begged, ‘For God’s sake, a piece of bread,’” Sara remembered. “It was so hard to say no. We were all so hungry too. We took to drawing the window shades so no one could see when we were eating.”
Sara’s brothers found crows’ eggs, which were baked into the bread. Then they all ate the family cat.
After Easter, Sara’s oldest brother, who’d emigrated to Chicago, sent a package of flour, rice, sugar and tea. “How delighted we all were when that parcel arrived and we could, for once, all satisfy our hunger,” Sara wrote.
In spring, the hens began to lay again, and the perennial herbs began to grow.
In summer of 1920, four Mennonite men from Ukraine went to western Europe and North America, to tell their fellow Mennonites of Russia’s troubles and to plead for help. At that time, small local Mennonite relief commissions were working in various locations. When they heard the stories from Russia, they decided to join forces.
The Mennonite Central Committee held its first official meeting in September 1920, but it was more than a year before the Soviet government allowed MCC to enter Russia. Hamm says her grandfather, Heinrich Kornelsen, was on the committee distributing the first food and clothing. MCC also set up soup kitchens and fed thousands of starving Russians. Later, they brought in tractors to replace the Mennonites’ horses, lost to war and starvation.
In 1923, Sara Reimer and Heinrich Kornelsen were married. There was food again, and relative peace, but Russia was still unsettled. That same year, Heinrich left his parents and siblings and emigrated with his new wife to Canada, settling in Coaldale, Alberta. Hamm’s mother Elvira was their second daughter, born in 1926.
Elvira Kornelson married John J. Dueck. Renita (Dueck) Hamm is their seventh child.
At family and church gatherings throughout Hamm’s childhood, she heard her grandparents begin every prayer with a heartfelt outpouring of, “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You again that You brought us here (to Canada).” “Those prayers were heard every Sunday in church,” she says. “It resonated (with me) for a long time.”
Hamm’s mother, Elvira Dueck, never forgot what her parents had suffered, and how MCC had helped them. She volunteered at the MCC Thrift Store in Lethbridge, for over 50 years. She also volunteered at her church, the hospital and other community organizations. She passed away in 2019, at the age of 92.
Hamm and her husband Bill have four grown children and two grandchildren. As her mother did, Hamm still supports MCC. Recently, she participated in an MCC quilt-making project that provides comforters for displaced persons. And like her mother, Hamm gives to her church and community.
“Thank you for listening to the Spirit,” she’d like to say to the MCC founders and volunteers who rescued her grandparents. “Thank you for (paying attention to) the news. Thank you for caring. Thank you for getting organizations like CPRail and International Harvester to come onboard and help, and for providing ways for Canada to welcome us. Thank you for asking everyone to pay attention. Thank you.”
To those of her children’s and grandchildren’s generations, she hopes to pass on another message. “We’re all God’s children,” she says. “The world is just a big, inter-connected community and we’d better pay attention to all its members. We’re not alone in this world. There’s a debt that must be paid forward. In doing that, we honour our past and our future.”
by S. Daniel Smith
Roy and Nancy Jones arrived in Spain as missionaries in 1978, starting three fellowships in Madrid suburbs between then and 2020. The most recent church plant is a roughly fifty-person fellowship in the town of Torres de la Alameda. Unfortunately, in the weeks since COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic and ravaged Spain’s culture and economy, the Jones family has struggled to minister to a culture that needs the love of Jesus Christ now more than ever.
The Jones family is not alone in feeling the pinch associated with the virus’ impact on Spanish culture. Mario and Paola Iglesias, working in the small town of Sopela, also face stiff measures designed to halt COVID-19’s spread, but unintentionally affect mission work as well. Their struggle gives a window into the life of missionaries during a pandemic and provides a possible foreshadowing for ministers in the western hemisphere.
A new virus strikes
First appearing in Wuhan, China in late 2019, COVID-19 made its way quickly across the globe. Before full quarantine measures could take effect, it struck victims not only in China, but in at least one hundred countries around the globe. Spain, along with Italy, have borne the brunt of Europe’s tragedy. Missionaries Mario and Paola Iglesias, working in Sopela, know of two pastors who have died due to COVID-19. “We have brothers from the Church in the hospital as well,” reports Mario.
The Iglesias family, SEND International missionaries, with their two children, purposely chose Sopela because it had no evangelical presence. Since COVID-19 struck, the family has had to take all ministry online. Like many parents in North America, they’ve also had to start homeschooling their children.
Sopela is in Spain’s Basque region and is approximately 420km from Madrid, where Roy and Nancy Jones minister with ABWE.
Quarantine measures affect life and work
Quarantine measures have placed heavy strains on the Jones family ministry. “I tend to be pretty optimistic,” says Roy from his home in Campo Real (a Madrid suburb), “but in this case we are pretty much at the mercy of the government here and they’re not saying much. So far, they have been extending [the measures] by fifteen-day increments. We just have to wait and see how this develops.”
A country that used to be largely open and democratic before COVID-19’s increasing death rate, Roy now laments, “I got stopped by the Civil Guard the other day because I took the trash to a container that was farther away from our home.” Mario Iglesias adds, “It is forbidden to go out; you can only go out to buy food and [go to the] pharmacy.”
The strict measures create uncertainty on the mission field. “We haven’t had church services since March 15th and don’t know when we’ll be able to have them again,” reports Roy.
Missionary hopefuls also affected
Missionary hopefuls are also feeling the effects of the COVID-19 scare. Jordan and Jenny Standridge, missionary hopefuls to Italy, find that their move to Rome may be on hold because they can’t get out to churches in order to raise financial support. “We’ve had to cancel a few church visits,” says Jordan, who still hopes to move his family to Rome to begin language training in the summer despite the virus’ impact on fundraising.
Another concern is the rapidly growing jobless rates in America due to COVID-19. “If people lose their primary source of income, they might not be able to support us.” COVID-19 may be causing delays and roadblocks to ministry, but the Standridges are undeterred in their end goal. “Some wisdom is called for,” he says.”
COVID-19’s long-term impact on the Spanish people remains to be seen. Mario and Paola Iglesias know they will be needed once COVID-19’s threat diminishes, noting that many, “will need a hug from God and a lot of comfort,” when that day comes.
Likewise, Roy Jones believes that the Spanish culture will rebound and looks forward to a day when he can oversee the Torres de la Alameda flock in person. “We have no plans to leave,” said Roy. “This is our home.”
S. Daniel Smith is a freelance writer living in San Diego, California, with his wife of 19 years. They have three children and a beloved family cat. Dan blogs at his website: www.sdanielsmith.com.
by Frank Dabbs
After his resurrection, Jesus met his disciples on a Galilean mountain and asked them to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming the gospel. He promised to go with them to the ends of the world.
The history of Christianity for 2,000 years was shaped by the obedience of these eleven apostles to Jesus’ great commission. What do Jesus’ words mean today in the context of thousands of languages and cultures on the globe?
For two years beginning in 2017, World Partners, the mission leadership arm of the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, listened to and learned from the leaders and members, and worked with them to reset the EMCC missions’ paradigm. The result is a church that belongs to no nation and has no borders or boundaries.
“We work with individuals and churches in pursuing how God is nudging us all to participate in His mission in the world,” says Joel Zantingh, the executive director of World Partners.
Most of the world’s Jesus followers live south of the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23.5 degrees north).
The new paradigm recognizes that the rebalancing of Christianity southward is fundamental to missions.
No longer are Christians from Europe and North America sent out to proselytize the heathen.
Rather, Christians across the globe are now walking together to proclaim the good news.
“We work with individuals and churches in pursuing how God is nudging us all to participate in His Mission in the world through learning, connecting and mobilizing,” says Zantingh.
The World Partners assistant director, Nicole Jones-Qandah says, “we are brothers and sisters in Christ, walking together, learning together, mutually enabling and encouraging each other, praying together and and giving spiritual and financial aid where needed.”
Three words, Learn, Connect, Mobilize, summarize the re-envisioned work of the World Partners, the EMCC ministerial leadership and the church membership.
The discovery assessment process to determine the new paradigm permeated the EMCC at the congregational, ministerial, regional and national levels.
“The buy-in to the reset paradigm is encouraging because it will affect the posture and strategic direction for the churches’ relationship with global partners, for global workers, and for development initiatives,” Zantingh says.
Learn, Connect and Mobilize has five core values.
It is commission-driven, living out the way of Jesus by listening, trusting and obeying the Spirit of Jesus, and practicing sacrificial love.
It puts relationships first by fostering mutuality with Canadians and global partners.
It is cooperative, collaborating with like-minded partners in Canada and internationally.
It is integrated, engaging churches and individuals in Jesus’ mission, offering experiences that integrate development with disciple-making.
It is culturally aware, increasing the ability of all partners to serve each other with cultural awareness and sensitivity.
“We are opening a new chapter in global missions, journeying with the body of Christ together around the world, says Zantingh.
For example, in a Latin American country, EMCC is facilitating the church in enabling Christians to train and support medical workers to be sent elsewhere on the globe.
In North Africa, a Tunisian woman who considers the EMCC to be her spiritual heritage because she met Christ through EMCC missionaries, is leading house churches and aiding women in crisis because they face violence and fear due to their faith.
World Partners is meeting with EMCC pastors, members and leaders across Canada to share the new paradigm.
Zantingh says, “There are things we cannot see. What does God want to teach us? We need to develop a learning posture.
“We need to learn from one another. We need to be inquisitive, to slow down our pace of actions, to set aside the North American results-oriented culture and patiently listen and learn.”
According to Zantingh, “followers of Jesus can be more engaged in international missions because the globe has shrunk, due to ease of travel.
“There are many more opportunities for short term teams and mission assignments.”
He says, “the EMCC is shifting its mindset to develop a global heart that knows that senders and receivers have been replaced by mutuality. Christians are a global family of equals.”
“Although the church’s paradigm has change, the scriptural mandate hasn’t.” says Jones-Qandah.
She cited Micah 6, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
And Isaiah 61, “the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
For more information on the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada World Partners, check the website at www.emcc.ca/world-partners/wp-profile.
by Laureen F. Guenther
First Steps Health Society, a Canadian non-profit agency, has been providing nutritious food and supplements for children and mothers in North Korea since 2001.
The first seeds of First Steps were planted in 2000, when Susan Ritchie, working as an interpreter, accompanied Canadian Senator, Lois Wilson on a research mission to North Korea.
Ritchie had visited other countries in difficult times, but she says, “I’d never seen hardship like I saw in North Korea just after the famine.”
She and Senator Wilson visited a mother with four-month-old twin daughters, and Ritchie could tell the mother wouldn’t have enough food for the babies after they were weaned.
“I wondered how she would manage without any kind of supplemental food, apart from eggs and a few vegetables she was able to obtain from her relatives in the countryside,” Ritchie says. “She had no access to any kind of food.”
Ritchie returned to Canada, back to caring for her own nine-month-old son, but she kept thinking of that mother and her babies.
“(My son) would wake up in the middle of the night and cry, and I could easily whip up some pablum and give it to him and he would go back to sleep,” she says.
“But I couldn’t go back to sleep, just thinking about the moms that I had met, that mom with the twins …. I would just end up praying every night, thinking about those moms.”
One night, Ritchie thought of I John 3: 16-18: “This is how we know what love is, Christ Jesus laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? So let us not with words or tongue, but in actions and in truth.”
“I felt God was asking me, ‘Are you just going to keep on praying every night?’ And I recall praying, ‘But I’m only one person and I don’t know what to do.’ The answer was coming back to me, ‘Just follow Me.’”
The need in North Korea was so huge at the time, she says, only very large organizations were getting in to help. It was essentially impossible for small organizations to start working in North Korea.
Plus, “I knew nothing about how to work there, how to get started,” she says. “I was starting from zero.”
She called the 1-800 number for the Charities Directorate in Ottawa. She told her North Korea story to the woman who answered, explaining what she wanted to do.
The woman said it would cost nothing to register, and all Ritchie had to do was mail in a completed application. Ritchie did as she was told and in just a few days, within the first days of September 2001, First Steps was a registered charity.
Then on September 11, the entire world changed. “After that,” she says, “there was no way we would have been registered.”
But now First Steps was registered, and Ritchie still didn’t know what to do.
“Initially, I thought, ‘My child needs supplemental nutrition. I’m feeding him pablum. So children in North Korea need pablum.”
With donations from family members, she sent a shipment of pablum to North Korea. But when she went to monitor its use, she realized it wasn’t a good cultural fit.
“They didn’t seem too excited about it,” she says.
“I started to realize, the water’s not clean and they don’t know how to use (pablum). And it’s very, very expensive.”
She went back to praying. Then she read about the Vita Cow and Vita Goat, Canadian-developed machines that produce soymilk. Soymilk is part of the traditional Korean diet.
The Vita Cow uses electricity and the Vita Goat burns on combustible fuels like coal, wood or dried corn cobs. They’re both “very highly energy efficient.”
“North Korea is chronically short of electricity,” she says. “So it’s a perfect fit.”
A steam boiler connects to a 20 L pressure cooker, producing 15 L of soymilk every 15 minutes. One machine can feed up to 2,000 children a day.
Using Vita Cows and Vita Goats, First Steps implemented a soymilk program, providing daily cups of soymilk for children in North Korean daycares, orphanages, schools and hospitals.
Institutions chart the children’s height and weight on a monthly basis and visiting First Steps teams see a visible difference.
“The teachers say the children have more energy,” Ritchie says. “They can focus better. Their skin has improved. Their growth is faster when they get a daily cup of soymilk.”
At orphanages, the beans are also used to make many traditional foods. Ritchie could see it made a great difference – but strangely, only for some children.
“They’re in an orphanage so they’ve got the exact same nutritional intake,” she says. “How is it possible that some children are going through a growth spurt and others just are failing to thrive?”
She realized those children had probably been malnourished before birth.
So Ritchie decided First Steps had to do more.
“Soymilk is great,” she says, “but it’s not going to prevent this stunting.”
“That’s when I began praying again, and the Lord led me to micronutrient Sprinkles.”
Micronutrient Sprinkles had been developed at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital at UNICEF’s request, to replace iron drops. The Sick Kids team distilled iron into a powder and added more nutrients, resulting in micronutrient Sprinkles, with 14 nutrients for children and 15 for women.
Working through North Korea’s public health system, First Steps introduced micronutrient Sprinkles into the country.
They’ll choose a specific geographic area, then aim to provide micronutrient Sprinkles to every expectant mother and young child in that area. Expectant mothers receive Sprinkles from the time they register their pregnancies until 6 months after birth. Children receive Sprinkles from 6 to 24 months of age.
“If you are receiving Sprinkles, it improves your appetite,” she says. “You’re less likely to be malnourished. So it gives the moms an appetite, and their nutritional status improves and the nutritional status of the baby at birth is so much better.”
For North Korean children under two, she says, diarrhea and pneumonia are the leading cause of death, because when malnourished children get ill, they’re too weak to be treated. Iron deficiency anemia and rickets are also common. But Sprinkles changes that.
“When the mother is healthier and when the babies are healthier (because of Sprinkles), when they get diarrhea or pneumonia, they can treat the illness.”
To learn more about First Steps, including opportunities to volunteer or donate, go to firststepscanada.org. In the Three Hills area, contact Mary Amendt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-412-4047. Around Calgary, contact Joseph (Kil Jae) Park at 403-554-0272 or email@example.com.
edited by Al Coats
The chaos in Hong Kong that dominated the headlines in 2019 has become overshadowed by the coronavirus in 2020, but the fight for freedom in Hong Kong continues. Ongoing protests, continuous arrests (over 7,000), and mysterious deaths have not ended since the inception of the anti-extradition law last June. In fact, the onset of the coronavirus, which has shuttered businesses and countries alike, has only escalated tensions in Hong Kong.
Most recently, the Chinese government in Beijing is proposing a new “National Security Law”, to tighten its grip on the ruling of Hong Kong. This law could ban secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and foreign interference in Hong Kong, as interpreted by the Chinese government. This has caused a fresh wave of anxiety over Christians in Hong Kong, as they see this as further encroaching on their human rights and freedom of speech and religion.
Christians in Hong Kong account for 12% of the total population of 7.5 million, and they have been involved in the protest movement for a long time. Many of them have been the driving force behind it. Christians there know that once political freedom is eroded, religious freedom will follow, and they are only too aware of the situation regarding the oppression of churches in mainland China. Already, there have been reports of police monitoring certain churches.
Prayer vigils, special sermons, waves of open letters and statements to the SAR government, and meetings with Chief Executive Carrie Lam are some of the measures Hong Kong Christians have taken.
One Christian shared, “My faith in God’s sovereignty gives me assurance while living in uncertainty and helps me maintain peace to stay optimistic while there is a lot of stress and negativity that have built up over weeks and months of fighting against Goliath. My faith has given me purpose and conviction to continue to fight for Hong Kong. While there is no end in sight, the Lord will surely make a way for Hong Kong. We just need to wait for His time.”
Please Pray for Hong Kong.
Source: http://www.persecution.org (ICC)
Aftercare Ministries (ACM) Society is a not-for-profit Christian outreach ministry that exists for the purpose of faithfully and prayerfully proclaiming the good news of the cross of Jesus Christ to those incarcerated in prison. We are grateful when God allows us to witness as the seed of His word bears the fruit of a transformed heart. We work in the prisons to share this message of hope and assist in transition from prison to society.
Through involvement in the prison ministry following incarceration, ACM has become more familiar with the plight and special circumstances of offenders, ex-offenders, and their immediate and extended families. The aftercare needs are numerous and significant, and the opportunities for Christian service are virtually unlimited. They include: pointing individuals to the transforming power of Christ, assisting the new believers in one-on-one, ongoing long-term friendships, mentoring, connecting to a biblical community, and providing discipling and guidance through incarceration and the transition to freedom.
ACM works with other agencies and Christian ministries to access appropriate community resources for participants. This is the joy and privilege of this type of ministry and if you would like to volunteer or support our work, please contact us at 403-540-5736.
Rather than being a source of joy, your marriage can destroy your quality of life, causing silent frustration and catastrophic disappointment. But every couple is entitled to a meaningful marriage filled with passion, intimacy, and shared purpose. The All-for-Nothing Marriage by Daniel Zopoula is a highly practical tool designed to help couples identify a path for achieving just those things.
Drawing in his experience and a guiding faith, Zopoula will walk you through the philosophy underlying his unique take on today’s marriage solutions with brilliant insights, personal reflections and practical advice to show how any marriage can be better.
The book is divided into two intuitive sections: Part One explores the internal workings of a marriage; Part Two challenges readers to implement four practical steps to rekindle the core connection which results in phenomenal love and ultimate fulfillment in life.
Here is a step-by-step guide for neutralizing your marital problems with a redemptive mindset, one that will turn a mediocre marriage into a remarkable one. Here is a paradigm-shifting approach to recalibrate your expectations, increase intimacy and emotional togetherness, make the most of your relationship, live a better story and experience a meaningful life.
Whether you are married, or, just looking for illuminating advice, The All-for-Nothing Marriage will forever transform your understanding of the anatomy of marriage, and the unique value you bring to a relationship that’s critical to so many people’s lives.
Nothing is more frustrating than having a calling or passion for a cause but not knowing how to move forward in doing it. Over the last twenty four years, Bridges of Hope has seen many leaders wrestle with this exact scenario.
“Creating a not-for-profit is not easy,” Daniel Zoppoula, CEO of Bridges of Hope, said. “There are many loopholes you have to jump through just to help people. That’s why we’ve seen a need to help equip leaders to make a difference in the world.”
We believe that leaders should be able to simply focus on the cause they care deeply about instead of the complexities that come with it. By joining Bridges of Hope, leaders maintain all of the benefits of personal branding but gain the support of a global network and a full time staff to support CRA compliant donations, legal and accounting. This opens up possibilities for anyone who sees a need, whether it is here in North America or across the globe in Africa, Asia and beyond.
We make it easy, according to Shawn Mehler, Marketing Director of Bridges of Hope. “All you need to do is apply and share your vision.” Bridges of Hope is not new to uniting charities together. In fact, there are over 100 projects active in several countries around the world.
Some of the key benefits of starting a partner project with Bridges of Hope are:
Reduced administration costs
Access to payroll and benefits
Donations and receipting
Bridges of Hope has leaders locally and abroad running orphanages, health clinics, churches, youth centers, child sponsorship programs and more. Bridges of Hope is a great organization for anyone who feels passionate about making a difference but can not see a way forward.
Financial supporters of Bridges of Hope are also passionate about giving to such a cause. Many donors know that their contributions reach much further with such a connected and robust organization like Bridges of Hope.”
If you would like to learn more about starting a partner project with Bridges of Hope or becoming a passionate financial supporter please visit www.bridgesofhope.ca.
Are you looking for something good for kids to do while stuck at home? Then check out CSB Canada’s growing library of free Achievement Samplers. These resources have always been a take-home opportunity to build boys as men of God in training; people who grow like Jesus “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52. They have been formatted for boys (and girls) ages 5 to 18 years old, and are found on the CSBBC website at: www.csbbc.org/brigade-at-home. New Samplers are added each week for Tree Climbers (children 5 to 7 and their dads), Stockade (boys 8 to 11) and Battalion (young men 12 and up). This past week included Star Lantern, Pet Owner Interview, Electricity, Special Needs, Mastermind and Siege Weapons.
CSB builds Godly men (and women) of today and tomorrow through resources, training and certification. Check out how CSB can serve you.
Christianity Explored (CE) is an outreach ministry which was developed in a church in London, England, in the early 2000’s by evangelist Rico Tice, under the leadership of John Stott. It involves a seven week journey through the Gospel of Mark to look at Jesus from three perspectives: Identity (Who is he?), Mission (Why did he come?), and Call (invitation to follow him and what does it mean to do so.) It uses the format that has proven effective in communicating the Gospel message to todays, lesser-churched culture – invitation, food, talk, discussion – where guests are welcomed unconditionally and encouraged to ask any question or offer any opinion without ridicule or condemnation.
CE has resources not only for leading people to a first-time relationship with Jesus Christ, but for discipling and deepening the faith of those God has brought to that new relationship through other means.
God’s Littlest Angels is a Haitian orphanage. It was founded by John and Dixie Bickel in 1994, when a nearly two-pound baby girl was born at the hospital in Fermathe. Because of her size, she was not given much of a chance of survival. However, through the efforts of the Bickels, Angel Noel went home to her parents after four months. Today, GLA offers short-term assistance to children needing a place to stay due to bad health or the death of a parent, but who are not up for adoption. These children will return to their families once their circumstances improve. Some cannot return to their families and are waiting for adoptive parents.
Sign up today for a “Donate your change round-up giving account.” When you make an everyday purchase using your chequing or PayPal account (credit/debit card), you will be giving your spare change to help GLA. It is rounded up to the nearest dollar.
Your donation of $1 per day will help GLA cover the basic expenses so we can focus on other supplemental services. glacanada.donateyourchange.ca
What a picture – Jesus is kneeling before His disciples to wash their feet! I know it does not sound right, especially when we think of Him as the object of our exclusive praise. It is, however, a part of Jesus as a servant. He came to serve.
He also took time out with His disciples and taught them to serve too. They talked about who would be the greatest. This teaching of leading by serving continues to have an unfamiliar ring in an age that calls for us to be recognized for doing great things. How do I respond to the word of God that describes what the kingdom of God looks like – to lead is to serve?
Erwin van Laar is the President of MECO Canada – called to serve those in and from the Middle East – www.mecocanada.ca.
Our missionaries are active across Canada in evangelism, discipling, and ministering to the needs of the whole person. We do these within the framework of the bigger picture – we believe that establishing local fellowship groups and churches is central to the Great Commission and the building of God’s Kingdom among Canada’s First Peoples.
There are still many Aboriginal communities without a healthy Bible-based church. Can you imagine anything more rewarding than seeing, firsthand, a church planted where there previously wasn’t one?
We have career church multiplying opportunities, as well as short- and long-term ministry openings in Bible camps, publishing, television, office, and facilities maintenance.
Visit our website (www.ncem.ca) or call 306-764-3388. See how God is working among Canada’s First Peoples when you tune in to our TV program Tribal Trails … or watch anytime online at www.tribaltrails.org … and come see us at Missions Fest Alberta, Feb 21-23.
People International Canada serves in greater Central Asia often referred to as the Stans. Our friends and those we minister to are shop keepers, teachers, bakers, taxi drivers, grandmas, farmers and business people. Our goal is to invest in local believers and build up the local churches. In one country we work in, a “Gypsy” or Roma ministry has begun. One of our team members has a special interest in Gypsies. He ministers in a gypsy community where many have now come to Jesus. Not only have they decided to follow Jesus, but the decision has changed their lives: they have registered their marriages, put their children in school, and started working! No one has ever heard of such life changes before in this country. This is the real ou come of sharing Jesus in hard-to-reach places. People’s lives are transformed. Communities are changed for the good.
At Rock Solid Refuge we believe that building relationships is the single most influential thing we can do to help our students succeed!
So our goal is to build influence and help them see that personal change is both good and necessary.
We know kids change through Relationships, not simply from the exercise of Authority.
Below are some points that we think would be valuable for you the parent to consider:
- If your teen doesn’t have a relationship with you, they will have it with someone else.
- If they don’t get their wisdom from you they will search for it somewhere else.
- If they don’t spend time with you they will spend it with someone else.
- If you don’t give them value, then they will find their value elsewhere.
- A young person best recognizes wisdom when there is a Relationship.
- Often a relationship problem is actually a communication problem.
- Ask question. Asking questions shows young people that you value what they think, and has an amazing way to get them THINKING more.For more on this, or other parenting topics, go to https://rocksolidrefuge.com/resources/
Exhausted flood victims receive vital help from Samaritan’s Purse and people like you Volunteers provide physical, spiritual aid in Jesus Name to grateful northern Alberta family
By Frank King
The situation at Gerry Gaunt’s home in Fort McMurray, Alberta was bad. So bad, that the 53-year-old machinist didn’t step off his property for a week after the Clearwater River flooded in late April, depositing almost four feet of water in his shop and nearly two feet in his house.
“I wasn’t expecting the water to breach the house,” he said quietly while sitting on a garden tractor. Once the floodwaters receded, Gerry used that tractor to move dirt around the house and encourage the water underneath his home—which doesn’t have a basement—to finally drain away.
“I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation; I was concerned, but optimistic,” he said.
The gravity of the situation became frighteningly clear when Sheri, Gerry’s wife, and their three dogs had to be kayaked out of the property by one of their sons, as rising water cut off the home from rescue vehicles.
An overwhelming amount of work
After the floodwaters disappeared, the amount of work ahead of Gerry and his family was overwhelming. He felt he had no choice but to stay on the property, sleeping in an RV so he could spend as much time as possible cleaning up.
That’s when an army of orange-shirted Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived to offer a welcome light at the end of a long, dark tunnel that was looming ahead of the Gaunt family.
Thanks to prayers and support from people like you, the team was able to bring in specialized recovery equipment and spend two days removing waterlogged furniture and belongings, tearing away soaked drywall and flooring, and spraying to stop mold growth. All this at no cost to the Gaunt family.
As Samaritan’s Purse volunteers respond, the organization is investing extra resources and taking special precautions, while coordinating with government officials, to protect them and those they serve from COVID-19.
Offering stability in an unstable time
“This is a big help,” Gerry said gratefully as he watched volunteers coming and going from his home, many of them carrying tools or removing damaged drywall. “It would take me a long time to get this work done.”
The timely help and professionalism of the Samaritan’s Purse volunteer team also impressed Gerry. “Everyone’s polite and courteous. They offer stability in an unstable time,” he said.
The Gaunts are just one of more than 90 Fort McMurray families that reached out for help after the ice-jammed Clearwater and Athabasca Rivers drowned their homes.
Please continue to pray for them. Many are still recovering from the devastating wildfire that ripped through Fort McMurray in 2016, while also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and very challenging economic times.
In times of disaster, you can continue to bring stability, help, and hope in Jesus’ Name to hurting Canadian families. As you do, you “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV). Please visit SamaritansPurse.ca to learn how you can help.