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Read our blog to hear stories of what God is doing around the world, to learn about current trends in missions, and to expand your global awareness.

Training Pastors and Leaders in Cuba


After 10 years of ministry, it is gratifying to hear the following phrases:
“Sembradores has given me helpful tools for my ministry.”
“After Sembradores, my ministry has become stronger.”
“Sembradores encourages me to continue on in ministry.”
These are phrases that you hear from the lips of pastors and leaders all throughout Cuba.

Sembradores is training that has provided Cuban pastors and leaders with tools and strategies based on the experiences of years of church planting work, now with fruit in the mission field. At each meeting, failures and successes of both the speakers and the students are shared, and these nourish the participants with the spirit and desire to continue the work. It doesn’t matter where they work or the church they come from, the vision of expanding the Kingdom of God is what unites us. Church planting is the means given by God and the method used by Sembradores to saturate the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today, after years of work, you hear testimonies from pastors who have seen their ministries grow to be fruitful and successful, and they pass the word on that Sembradores’ training is effective. A lot of them have multiplied into sister churches and leaders, who in turn have continued to reproduce. After blessing more than 1,500 pastors in 36 denominations in Cuba and seeing the result of more than 800 new congregations started and the birth of new prayer groups that have put Sembradores methods into practice, it encourages and inspires us to continue forward in our work for the Lord, which is never done in vain.

We are motivated to train the many who feel called by God to the nations and that wait for us, Sembradores, to train them. In our missionary work, we provide leadership tools, tools for marriages and the strengthening of people’s spiritual lives, tools for the personal and ministerial life of the leader, as well as providing means for each ministry to strengthen its gifts and to reach and serve churches and society.

Today, Sembradores rejoices in respect, credibility, and trust within the Cuban church, which has been reached in all these years of work with United World Mission and American churches, as well as churches and collaborators in other countries that pray and wait for Cuba to give of its people for the missionary work and fulfilment of the Great Commission. It is encouraging to hear each pastor full of gratefulness to the Lord for the existence of Sembradores’ ministry in Cuba.

By: Otoniel Martinez, Serving in Cuba

A Global Gathering

Meet Zechariah.

Bishop Zechariah is from South Sudan, one of the 40,000 lost boys who had to flee their homes and journey, on foot, from political violence to neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. Amongst a past riddled with suffering, Zechariah became a Christian in a refugee camp and has since travelled across the world and dedicated his life to seeking theological education to equip himself in shepherding his family, community, and fellow clergyman.

Zechariah is one of fourteen pastors visiting South Africa for three and a half weeks in an inaugural PhD program piloted by a partnership between the Oxford Institute of Theological Studies, Stellenbosch School of Theology, and the Barnabas Foundation.  According to research from the Oxford Institute, is estimated that 70% of students who go for doctoral studies in Europe or the States for their PhD’s never return to their home country for ministry. This program is unique in that it allows students to access the best of global theological education with university credentials and remain with their family and not abandon their sphere of ministry. This will be a three to four-year journey of research, writing, and a whole lot of time and hard work for each of these men.

East Mountain has entered in as a community offering assistance and hospitality in any way we can: hosting, helping, feeding, transporting, and immersing them into our lives and activities. One particular event, our weekly Friday braai (barbeque), was a participant favorite and gave us the opportunity to enter into conversations over a shared meal. We at East Mountain find value in connecting over food and believe it is where authentic life and conversation happens. It was around the table where I heard Zechariah’s story and where I was able to absorb so much of these pastor’s unmeasurable wisdom.

Three weeks went by fast, but East Mountain cherished the opportunity to connect with other believers from such drastically different countries and cultures who are truly living out God’s commission to His people. These pastors are literally from all over the world visiting from Ghana, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the Bahamas, Nigeria, South Sudan and Madagascar.  We have been deeply humbled and truly grateful to sit with, listen to, and pray with these inspiring men. Their stories, their humility, and their ministries have reminded us of how many religious, social, and economic liberties we take for granted daily. More than anything though these men have inspired us to press harder into the work we feel we are called to do, investing holistically into the lives of our young leaders and residents here in South Africa. As sad as it was to say goodbye to our new friends and fellow brothers of Christ, we now have not only stories to share, but people and places to pray for and hopefully visit.

By: Megan Buchan, Serving in South Africa

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Walk for Freedom – Spain

Avance España (#AvanceESP) has partnered with a local Evangelical collective of ministries in Granada, Spain called Existe Más Mundo. This is an exciting time of collaboration between ministries to reach society with the Good News of the Gospel while serving social needs. The first event of this budding collective has been to organize evangelical slavery abolition group, A21’s, annual Walk for Freedom.  Granada is a new city for Walk for Freedom.

Please pray for Granada’s first march. We have seen churches come together who otherwise have never collaborated before.  Our original goal was to have 100 people sign up between churches, ministry, and those in the community not even related to the church. We are well past that goal.

October 14th, the annual Walk for Freedom. Look on the map for a city near you – http://www.a21.org/content/walk-for-freedom/go8h3c.

By: Kevin Book-Satterlee, Director of Avance España  
Serving in Spain

Spain

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Equipping Leaders

We hear the same stories everywhere: Leaders burning out. Leaders controlling people. Leaders falling. Leaders needed.  We want to reverse these storylines. We long to see Christian leaders who walk with God, preach the Word, and serve in the way of Jesus!  We want to see leaders that thrive and experience joy in the ministry over the long haul.

We equip leaders through spiritual formation, church planter training, theological education, mentoring, coaching, life-on-life discipleship…and through refreshing friendship.

Sometimes we work in formal settings like seminaries and Bible Schools. We have partners in many nations waiting for missionary scholars that will serve in theological education. See Initiatives.

We also work through non-formal training initiatives for church planters, pastors, and evangelists in many contexts who don’t have formal schools accessible to them or who can’t take time off from work for a degree program.  They are already doing the best they can to lead or plant new churches but they long to be equipped more deeply.

They need equipping where they are, just-in-time, while they are on the job.   It is not the degree they need.  They need biblical understanding, skills, and someone who will encourage them and help them grow in Christ-like character and leadership

We have developed creative approaches to non-formal training in many places around the world—and you don’t need a doctorate or seminary degree to be effective at equipping others for ministry.  You would be amazed at the difference you could make!  You may be surprised how prepared you already are to equip others for ministry.

Explore Opportunities.

We also sense a special calling to the spiritual formation of leaders. See Initiatives – Spiritual Formation.

Who’s In Charge Here?

The plan was to travel with a medical team to Senegal and serve 2 villages by providing free doctor’s consultations and free medicine to people who were too remote and too poor to seek medical help in the city.

The morning of the team’s departure from Charlotte, we got word that the government would not allow any medicines to be brought into Senegal.  We all had to quickly re-pack our suitcases and remove all the Tylenol, aspirin, Neosporin, etc. that we had intended to use in the free clinics.

Upon arriving in Senegal, we were told that the government would not allow us to do a medical clinic in the villages.  We had 2 doctors on this team and 3 nurses.  Why would God allow this to happen?  The only thing to do was pray.  As our team sat there in a circle, Dr. Joe was not discouraged.  He said, “Obviously the Lord has other plans for us.”  We prayed for God to show us what He wanted us to do.

After that prayer time, our Senegalese partners came to us saying they had received permission to take our medical team to 2 prisons and serve the prisoners and guards.  So we were able to treat them, pray for them, and share God’s love with them.

We did go to our adopted village, but instead of offering the medical care, we visited every family in each hut and prayed for them individually according to their specific need.  There was not one person who refused prayer.  God’s plan is always the best plan.

By: Cheryl Toombs, Former Missionary to Senegal, recently retired from Home Office Staff.

Little Taste of Heaven

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you felt like you experienced a little taste of heaven?  I had a moment like that recently when I traveled to Denmark.  I went with the goal of finding more opportunities for missionaries to serve alongside our Danish church partners.  While that goal was met, I also experienced a memorable day of connecting with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from many different nations.

 

It was a Sunday and I visited 3 unique churches in Copenhagen.  We worshipped God in Danish and English with people from over 30 countries.  I remember thinking, “Heaven is going to be so cool to be with people from every part of the world and to worship God together”!

I was warmly welcomed at each church, making the stranger (me) feel at home far away from my home.  As I think back about the diverse family of God that I encountered that day I was encouraged with their expression of love through their hospitality and kindness. The Holy Spirit also brought a verse to my mind that is in John 13:5, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   What a difference in my life it was to have that lived out that day and I pray God continues to give me a deeper love for those he brings my way as well.

By: Jennifer Coshow, Mobilizer for Europe & Business Manager

Lessons Learned


This brief summer in Charlotte interning at United World Mission has gone by too fast. I came to UWM thinking I would be inputting data into a financial program and testing new systems. I have done both of these and more. The staff here has found plenty of things for me to do, if the opportunity presents itself I would like to continue helping out in the future.

UWM’s Chief Financial Officer asked me to create a cost of living estimator. It counts how many people want to go on a mission trip, where they want to go and for how long. It can factor in retirement, loans, education, health insurance and specific ministry expenses. Then, it creates a categorical budget by month and year and the whole cost a mission trip. There are also three option you can choose from, basic to live like a local, moderate to live like an American and quality to live the highest quality of life according to the UN database. The purpose of this application is to provide a quick glance of how much missionaries need to raise in support and that they are not forced raise too much.

The main purpose for coming to UWM was to help out the financial department. Each day I check to see if our missionaries emailed their expense reports and that they are approved. Then, I save and file them away ready to be reimbursed. Make sure you put your project number on your expense reports!

Though, the biggest time saver is the custom made macros I made for almost everyone. The macros take raw data out of the financial program on to an excel spreadsheet and correct the format into neat tables, totals or charts. To my surprise macros run on visual basic which is the only programming class I ever took. I did not find it appealing at all, but now I am grateful I took it. Now it gives me great joy to see the finished macros saving the staff from mind-numbing hours of data manipulation.

Through this whole time being here, I have learned what exactly it takes to be a missionary. You need money in your bank account, a home church with hundreds of people praying for God’s protection in your life and small achievable goals. However, that is just the prerequisites, once you are on the field it’s all in God’s hands. It is God, The Holy Spirit, who brings men and women into the body of Christ and we the body, are the hands and feet that carry Jesus’ message of salvation.

By: Phillipe Ma, Serving as a Summer Intern in the Charlotte, NC office.

To Be Seen

There’s a true comfort in being seen. Not just noticed, but actually seen. In the Gospel of Luke, we hear the story of Zacchaeus. He was described as a short man, who, in order to better see Jesus, climbed a tree to get a clear view. Jesus came to the base of the tree, looked directly up at Zacchaeus, called him by name and asked him to come down.

Zacchaeus tried to put himself in a position to see Jesus, but left having been seen by Him.

I think that echoes the character of God so clearly. If we are to see as God does, we have to look past what we can see with our eyes, and embrace what we can see with our heart. A few weeks ago, I had the honor of traveling to Haiti. During our time, we visited different ministry sites in Port au Prince. One of the places we ended up was a construction site, where a local family was helping a contracting crew build their home. As I was looking around the sides of the home, I noticed a little girl of about 6 or 7 curiously looking from over the fence of the house next door. We made eye contact, and we both moved closer to each other. We were separated by the fence still, as there was rebar and other dangerous construction materials everywhere. There was one hole through the bushes and the fence, though, that I could stick my hand through, allowing us to shake hands.

I don’t speak French or Creole. She didn’t speak English. Yet, in that moment, I saw her. Above the noises of concrete mixing, people talking, and all the other construction sounds, I saw her. There were about 20 people on the side of the fence that I was on. On her side, she was alone. And yet, she was seen. I tried to tell her she was beautiful; that she was loved. We only spent about 5 minutes together in total, but those 5 minutes have stuck with me.

I was challenged in that moment to always try to see people the way that Jesus sees them: individually.

By: Renee Gillespie, Social Media & Short-Term Teams Coordinator

Mobilizing for Missions…from all the World to all the World!

When God led me to Mexico to serve with the Avance Program as a single Asian-American woman, I never anticipated how one year could become fourteen years of cross-cultural ministry, from serving the local church in Mexico to eventually mobilizing Mexicans for global missions!  Over the past seven years, our staff has been able to bring Mexican short-term teams to serve in Latin America, Europe, N. Africa and Asia.  We have seen countless numbers of young people, adults and pastors grow in their understanding and involvement in global missions, and we have had the opportunity to walk with many of them on their journey of following Jesus to the nations.  Never did I imagine that God could use my cultural background to serve as a bridge between the US, Mexico and Asia!

When the UWM leadership team invited me to serve as the Director of Mobilization last year, I was humbled and overwhelmed by the opportunity to help mobilize the Church for global missions, not only in Mexico but also around the world.  One of UWM’s goals for 2020 is to help mobilize 100 non-North Americans for global missions, and it is a privilege to serve with an amazing mobilization team, both Stateside and in Mexico!  Our hope is to help UWM become more ethnically diverse to reflect the changing demographics of the global Church and to continue connecting God’s people to His work around the world.  By God’s grace, almost 60 new missionaries were appointed with UWM this past year, and our prayer is that God will enable us to involve more people in His story to reach the nations!

Our heavenly Father never ceases to surprise us as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness as His beloved children.   In 2015, God surprised me with a wonderful Mexican man who desired to support and encourage me in life and ministry, and on July 8, Ivan and I will marry in Mexico City.  We know that God has brought us together to bless the nations, so know that you are always welcome to visit us if you come to Mexico City.  “Nuestra casa es su casa” (Our home is your home)!

I thank God for His incredible provision, a wonderful mobilization team, and the amazing privilege of serving together to mobilize the Church for global missions…from all the world to all the world!

By: Wendy D, Director of Mobilization

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DR Congo: What in the World is Partnership?

Today “partnership” is an overly used term meaning everything and anything, but for UWM it means advancing national leaders, churches, organizations, and movements by bringing together necessary components to see something “audacious” happen. I like the word “audacious” because it’s literary means, showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.”

One bold risk was the establishment of a new effort to transform a generation who suffered genocide, government corruption, and unfathomable atrocities. In the early 2000s Dr. David Kaswera told his wife, Kaswera, “God’s telling me to move home”. Puzzled Kaswera replied, “but we are home.” Dr. David Kasali was president of Nairobi Evangelical Seminary by Extension in Kenya, but David being Congolese responded, “No, home to Congo.”

Now you have to understand at that time the war in Congo was not over and the government didn’t have control of the country. More than Five Million people were murdered within five years as roving militia terrorized the people, robbing, killing, raping, and exploiting people in ways that were indescribable to the world.

By being audacious, trusting God, and bringing together like-minded churches, people, and organizations Congo Initiative emerged as light to this beleaguered nation. Transforming a new generation so they can transform their nation is the goal so through education in several practicums, student community service, and heart transformation a new transformed generation of people is entering every stratum of society, and change is taking place.

This all takes bringing those of like mind together, or “partnership.”

Years ago we found this message scrawled on the wall of one dorm. I think it says it all, “ils n’avaient pas d’avenir mais ils ont reussi. il n’y a pas d’accident” translated; They had no future but they succeeded. This was no accident!”

By: Mark Szymanski, Director of Strategic Partnerships Africa, Latin World, Brazil & The United States

Church Parnterships

Are you and your church interested in partnering with a national church around the world? Please contact us and we would be happy to discuss how to do so.

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