Category: Establishing Churches

Help From Historical Heroes

How can a missionary share the good news of scripture in a way that people in a given culture can understand it with minimal cultural barriers?  The same Gospel UWM shares around the globe may be rejected as foreign, as western, or as “un-Slovene” (fill in any other people group here).

Over ten years ago UWM missionaries Benjamin Hlastan and Todd Hunnicutt began to learn more about Slovenia’s Reformer, Primož Trubar.  Together with other scholars and church leaders they rediscovered the simple, clear Gospel that Trubar shared in the 1500’s, and they saw the potential for impact.

Several Kairos moments have followed since then.  In 2008, the 500th anniversary of Trubar’s birth, they co-founded a Slovene non-profit organization to translate Trubar’s works into modern Slovene.  Three key books have come out gaining attention from national media, one during the 450thanniversary of its original publication (originally published in 1564, republished in 2014).  Materials are being used in educational settings, including various videos and an animated biography of Trubar that was made by UWM missionaries Brian and Barbara Thompson and an animator from a church that supports the Hunnicutts.  Countless events, lectures and concerts with Reformation themes have followed in the years since.

2017 was the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation; and Todd and Benjamin worked with others to provide events and outreaches all year long.  After years of work by Benjamin and another scholar, 50,000 copies of the New Testament from the first Slovene Bible (1584) were printed in 2017 by Eastern European Mission.  A book that sells a few thousand copies is considered a best-seller in Slovenia, so to be able to partner with the evangelical churches to distribute all 50,000 copies in 2017 was a massive accomplishment!  Time after time at live events, in open markets, on the street, people gratefully received God’s word; they couldn’t believe such a quality edition of this book which is so important in Slovenia’s cultural development could be given away for free.  All of this has been done in partnership with the evangelical churches of Slovenia and in partnership with various mission agencies in Slovenia and in Europe.

What has been the response?  One person who received a New Testament was literally going to commit suicide the day he got a copy on the town square, but said he knew this meant God is calling him. Another man who used to go to an evangelical church had fallen back into drugs; he was on his way to his dealer when we saw people from that church giving out Bibles.  He stopped to talk and is now coming to church again!  Churches have had people come to church who got a New Testament and then found out about a local church on the Dalmatin Bible website. The first copy of this New Testament was given to Slovenia’s president, and a copy has even been sent to First Lady Melania Trump, who is Slovene.  If 50,000 copies of the New Testament have been given out, that means, we can estimate that around 10% of Slovenia’s 500,000 households now have a copy.  Slovenia’s reformer is sowing seeds 500 years later that we trust will bring fruit in the years to come; and they are planning a reprint of 15,000!

So….how can Christians share the Gospel in a country with a predominant religion, such as nominal Catholicism in Slovenia?  Look to see what God has done here before in this land and who were his mighty men and women of faith.  Trubar is the father of the nation, the one who synthesized a written language out of the various oral dialects of his time, who wrote the first books in Slovene, who started the first schools and libraries.  But like many great men and women of God from the past, he has been defined in the centuries since by the agendas of others, his message muffled by the passing of time and changes in the language.  By breaking the molds Trubar has been trapped in, the Hlastans and Hunnicutts are cooperating with others to claim space for the evangelical church in the public square, they are allowing Trubar to speak once again, they are restating Trubar’s words in ways modern Slovenes can understand and are creatively finding ways for the message to be heard broadly.  The public profile of evangelical churches is much greater, and there has been amazing media coverage. There is no one more “Slovene” than Trubar, so the Gospel cannot be easily rejected as “un-Slovene.”

UWM missionaries are partnering with others to enable his Gospel message to be heard again after 500 years, in a culture that is searching for identity, a people who have rejected traditional forms of Christianity for materialism or eastern mysticism.  His life is a model to a nation as a man of character with a message as relevant in today as in his time.  And Trubar is also speaking into the small Slovene churches with a solid, biblical theology.

By Todd Hunnicutt, Missionary to Slovenia

Paving New Roads in Spain

This year marks the inauguration for Avance España (AvanceESP), a sister program to Avance in Mexico. In this post, we interview one of the first AvanceESP participants, Audrey, as she settles into her life and ministry apprenticeship in Granada.

AvanceESP: Audrey, you have been here for just over a month. What has been one of the best things about the Avance España program thus far?

Audrey: The connections!  Kevin and Leah have accomplished so much in setting up the Avance program in Spain.  As a result, I have connections to various churches and Christian organizations all over the city.  What a blessing it has been to spend time with the individuals involved in each organization and to have their loving and prayerful support!

 

AvanceESP: What has been one of the most challenging things for you?

Audrey: As a woman that loves to stay busy by actively serving, I have found it challenging to find close friends.  I am in the Word daily, and I have a loving church community in which I serve.  But, when I spend most of my energy investing in and mentoring others—which is so fulfilling!—sometimes I forget to also seek out a few friendships with more reciprocity.

 

AvanceESP: Since Avance is a mission immersion program asking all participants to come as learners, we try to frame our learning within context (i.e. Granada, Spain) and congregation (i.e. the ministries in which you serve).

Let us know briefly what your ministry placements are and in two sentences describe the place that you live.

Audrey: Currently, I have two ministry placements: La Iglesia Evangélica Bautista de Granada (IEBG) and Existe+Mundo (E+M).

My role at IEBG is to welcome, care for, and disciple young women in the church ranging from ages 18-22yo.  I will also be involved in Sunday school with the younger children and summer activities!

My role at E+M is to help with digital marketing, to participate in caring for the homeless individuals of Granada, and to aid in the administrative aspects of E+M’s organizational structure and event planning.

My host family has four members: Cristina (Mama), Cristi (18), Dani (14), and Alicia (12).  They are so kind, loving, and welcoming in every way.  In their home, I am blessed with my own room that has a window displaying the entire city of Granada, including the Alhambra!

 

AvanceESP: In Avance España we try to frame all that we do around imago Dei (image of God) and missio Dei (mission of God).  How do you see these two missional concepts play out in your daily life and ministry while immersed in this new context?

Audrey: As humans, we are created in the beautiful image of God.  Although I am imperfect, I strive to reflect His image, His character, His being with accuracy.  God has also created me with a unique purpose, and I choose to embrace my identity in Christ rather than in the expectations of others.  Therefore, each morning I place my life in God’s hands so that He might speak to me and shine through me as I interact with others in love, authenticity, truth, and obedience to His calling.

 

AvanceESP: What is your favorite spot so far in Granada?

Audrey: I have enjoyed every part of the city so very much.  Granada is filled with local and unique shops as well as well-known chains.  In other words, it has a little bit of everything!  But, one my favorite spots at the moment is the Río Geníl.  I’ve spent some time walking along this river (even on rainy days!), and I find it simply enchanting.

 

AvanceESP: What is something you have encountered in this city that we can be praying for?

Audrey: Many people in Granada have no interest in hearing about Jesus.  In fact, many individuals view evangelicals as unintelligent and feeble-minded.  For example, when Cristi’s teacher realized that Cristi was a believer, she responded “Oh… I thought you were smart.”  My request is that you pray for God to open the hearts and minds of the people of Spain.  Pray that God will unveil their eyes and spark a curiosity for the truth like never before.


Avance España and Avance Mexico both exist to provide mission apprenticeship opportunities under local, national leaders while immersed in the local context. Through mentoring, spiritual formation, and engagement in ministry, our year-long apprenticeships offer an opportunity for young adults to explore their missional call while utilizing their gifts and education and growing in new capacities.

Interested or know somebody who might be? Inquire here: http://uwm.org/serve/internships-tracks/

*Both Avance España and Avance Mexico partner with Go Corps (gocorps.org)

*Also inquire about the optional master’s degree with South African Theological Seminary

Fighting for Our Hearts – Czech Republic (Czechia)

At the beginning of this year, in a room of 45 people, someone asked a simple question, “How many of you are here in part, because of the impact Martin (a Czech believer) has had in your life?”

As more than half of the hands raised around the room, Martin’s eyes filled with tears. These were Martin’s friends and people who had seen, first-hand, the transformation in his life. Little did Martin know that entering the battle for his heart a year and a half ago would impact and inspire others to enter the Battle process themselves.  In this tearful moment, in a small retreat center outside of Prague, Martin experienced God’s faithfulness in his own life and in the lives of those around him and began to get a glimpse of the weight of God’s glory.

The group gathered represented Czech nationals and missionaries who embarked on the Battle for Your Heart Process in Czech Republic, bravely desiring to enter into the unique roles they have been created to play in God’s bigger story.

After going through the Battle process together several years ago and experiencing transformation in our own lives, our UWM team in Prague has been curious to see what God would do. We couldn’t have imagined that a year later, our Czech friends would be asking us to provide this opportunity for them and already inviting their friends to participate!

Last September, the first group of 35 Czech nationals began this process, learning more deeply of God’s heart for them and their unique identity in Christ. As I interacted with the university-aged girls around my table throughout the weekend, I began to sense a freedom and lightness about them that hadn’t been there on the first day of the retreat as the reality of God’s love and pleasure over them began to sink more deeply into their hearts.

One of the girls shared the impact that the initial weekend had on her:

“These three months were really special to me. I had never thought how many things can change in something like 90 days before this event. Things and relationships in my life started to change very slowly as I started to experience God’s love and acceptance in a very marvelous and tremendous way. It was like waking up my heart to feel again. To be more aware of my feelings and desires and for the very first time not to be ashamed of them.

 And I didn’t force the things in my life to change, they just started to change! And it was not about me. My team and God are at the center of it. Such a blessing to get to know God’s heart for me better and to find out that I can reflect God’s heart to others. Such a relief that I can be who I am and I don’t have to be someone else. It has solved so many problems in my life and I’m slowly starting to build my life on the rock.

I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to be part of something so powerful and meaningful. And I’m so excited to spread this among the people in my domain.”

In January, many of these people plus a few more took the next steps of engaging their hearts and stories more deeply, thanks largely to the impact that Martin has had in their lives.

As a team, we rejoice to see the good work that God is doing among His people in Czech Republic and it’s with great eagerness that we anticipate what He will do in this country as more of His people begin to engage their unique roles wholeheartedly!

By: Kristin, Serving in Czech Republic (Czechia)

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

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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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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A Beacon in the Valley

This particular Thursday night last May had been unlike any other night of evangelism our ministry team had led. Our “Coffee With God” outreach time of discussing a short Bible study in a one-on-one setting while sharing coffee together had gotten a little out of control. Normally we had a slow, but steady flow of people that allowed us to spend time with most of our participants and engage in the Bible study and any other discussions they might be interested in starting.

This Thursday night we experienced a tsunami-like flood of people who quickly and almost simultaneously surrounded our tiny table hoping to get a small cup of Nescafé Ricoffy (a hot drink blend of coffee and chicory that is popular in the South African coloured* community) mixed together with at least three heaping scoops of sugar. Additionally, unlike most of our previous weekly outings, the majority of the people that came that evening seemed to be only interested in the coffee portion of our coffee with God time, quickly exiting the area with their sugary, caffeinated drink in hand.

The mess of an evening was completed by the fact that two people who were in line for (what was supposed to be) a Bible study and coffee got into a fight leading to one of the men pulling a knife on the other. During this time, Denver, one of our ministry team members, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was accidentally slapped in the face knocking his glasses to the ground, but yet unfazed – Denver is a fit guy and a champ after all. As things seemed to heat up I began walking my 6’5” 220 pound frame over to the two men with the goal of helping them peacefully resolve their issue. Initially I hoped my size and peaceful intervention might dissuade them from getting further into their argument. Really, though, I prayed as I walked because I was a bit unsure of how to handle the situation – I am of course a lover not a fighter. Fortunately, before I could even get halfway to them the two men ended their argument in a stalemate with each walking in the opposite direction down the road. This was the disaster that was our evangelism evening, or so we had thought.

That same evening we happened to have a professional photographer join us. He was taking pictures for an organization who partnered with Trinity Church. The photographer happened to be away taking neighborhood photos when the initial flood of people arrived and the disagreement arose, but was present during most of the remaining part of the activities.

About a month later we received some of the photos he took. The scene that he captured shed a different light on what had happened that night. Although many people rejected the “seeds” we had offered, for many others what had happened was engagement. A momentary, but meaningful engagement with their lives and with the Gospel.

Amidst the fray – and there was a whole lot of “fray-ing” going on – something special was going on as a number of individuals desired for more. They spent time talking with Nimo, Denver, Kaycee, Basil, Yolanda, and me. They asked questions, they discussed that night’s portion of Mark’s gospel we were offering, they interacted with the night’s real purpose behind the activity. They were not coerced or forced into talking, but craved something more than an overly sweet cup of coffee could provide. A number of them have continued to search and have had later conversations with some having joined us in our Sunday morning services.

Trinity Church Grades 5-6 Bible Study

These are the true dynamics of ministry at Trinity Church, a small congregation sitting in the heart of a neighborhood called Beacon Valley, an area with high poverty and even higher gang activity and drug use. A world-surprising church that itself sits within the valley all the while standing tall as a beacon of Gospel-sharing light amidst the numerous offerings of prosperity gospels and new apostle churches.

A church where even in a small congregation, the diversity spreads large with members being made up of coloured, Xhosa, British-descent, and Afrikaner South Africans; Zimbabweans, Dutch; Australians; and Americans. This diversity bringing in many different cultural backgrounds, outlooks, and histories yet everyone coming together in unity as a family of Christ. A church that seeks justice amidst the poverty where some members offer a weekly meal for the children whose parents have little. A church that opened a much-needed student- sponsored primary school (elementary school in the U.S.) in order to provide a quality education for many of the children in the neighborhood. A church that takes time to share the freeing Good News of Jesus with the alcoholic couple (we met one evening), the many drug users addicted to tik (meth in the U.S.), the gang members, and even the gang leader who happened to stop by to grab a cup of coffee and then stay for a bit to hear the Bible study we were offering. In contrast to its size, the Trinity stands large in faith and its ability to live out the great commission.

This is the church we have had the privilege of partnering with. The church, much like the aforementioned Thursday night, continues to quietly impact many people’s lives while mostly getting overlooked amidst the noise of the surrounding neighborhood and its reputation. A church that lacks ample financial resources and staff and (because of its poverty) is oftentimes looked down upon by wealthier churches in its congregation. A church that nonetheless continues to faithfully follow the Father in offering justice, mercy, and His Good News. A church that received our partnership and assistance all the while equally offering the strongest of witnesses and faith-building moments to us. May the Lord continue to use Trinity to surprise the world in all that it does and may we continue to see more of these small snapshot-like moments as it does so.

* The term “coloured” is an official designation for one of the five racial categories in South Africa and does not carry with it the racially derogatory association that it does in the United States.

By: Leo Wurschmidt, Serving in Africa

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More Than I Expected or Imagined: Serving Thai Believer’s Vision


Protestant missionaries have been working in Thailand for almost 188 years, and yet this nation, known as the most Buddhist country in the world, still has less than 1% evangelical Christian.  The remaining Thai population is made up of 93% Buddhists and about 6% Muslim.  So why has there been such slow progress in seeing Thais receive the Gospel?  I began to think that maybe we missionaries have not been as helpful as we thought we were.  After studying how Christian movements in the past have accelerated, I was convinced that reaching the city and seeing churches established was the most effective way to reach a nation.

After serving in a campus ministry organization in Thailand for 14 years, I changed mission organizations in 2005 and joined UWM.  During this transition time, I was encouraged by my director to do an informal survey to see what Thai leaders thought about what kind of work missionaries should be doing in Thailand.  After so little progress, I thought this would be helpful to see what Thai’s thought about the how ministry was being done and the missionaries’ role.  I talked with several leaders, but one Thai leader, who was the president of a Thai seminary, told me something that changed the trajectory of how I approach doing ministry.  He said, “in the past missionaries would come to me and ask, ‘Do you have any seminary students you could send me to help me start my church, or my denomination or ministry organization?’  So, we would send Thais to the help the missionary accomplish their vision.”  He said, “this was okay in the past, but now we have Thai leaders who have a vision and are equipped to start churches and ministries on their own. Now, we need the missionaries to come alongside us Thais, to help us accomplish the vision God has given us for our nation.”

At that point, the organization that I was working with had started two very weak churches, one in Bangkok and the other in the Northeast of Thailand. Not only was it propped up financially by us missionaries, there were too many missionaries in both churches and this inhibited the Thais ability to step up and lead.  So when this Thai leader said this, it made sense, and I’ve never gone back to trying to get Thais to help me accomplish my vision.  It’s their nation, and they know their people better than me. Therefore, they are more likely to see Thai people come to Christ.  At that point the Thai leader invited me into what was called, the Thailand National Plan.  This was a plan to see churches started all over the nation.

Over the past 11 years, I’ve been able to come alongside Thai leaders on the local, regional and national level to help them accomplish their vision to reach their nation.  This has been much more fruitful and rewarding in seeing churches started.  Locally, I am partnering with Thai business leaders to establish a church, and just this month we moved into a new facility that was not your traditional way of building a facility.  The business leaders partnered with another businessman who has soccer sport complexes throughout the city, so when he was planning to start a new business in our area of the city, we invested in the business and built our facility within the sport complex.  A creative and more economical way of getting a more permanent facility.   The thing about joining with a national to help them accomplish their vision of planting a church is that, if I have to leave at anytime, the ministry will continue because it was the Thais vision from the beginning.  I see missionaries struggling to turn over the churches they’ve planned or the ministries they have started, and many times the ministry dies because it was never owned by the Thais.

Regionally, our team has come alongside churches and organizations to provide discipleship and leadership training.  Offering this kind of training to many churches has been exciting and the local pastors welcome and appreciate the opportunity to partner with us.  On the national level, as God opened the door for me to serve through the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand and on a national planning committee thinking and planning for strategic initiatives on the national level.   Over the past 11 years, I have been able to serve denominational leaders and to bring resources, training and ideas to the table help enhance and expand the vision and plans of national leaders working together to reach the entire nation.

One recent example of working with Thai church planters is that I have been able to join with a church planter training team who trained over 250 pastors and leaders in four regions throughout the nations.  These pastors set a goal to start 150 new churches over the following year.  Last year when we followed up on these pastors 134 churches had been started.  Through helping the Thais accomplish their vision God has done more than I expected or imagined.

By: Gregg Nicholson, Serving in Thailand

His plans vs HIS Plans

Natán grew up in a home that was filled with unhappy moments.  Before he entered his teens he knew what his plans were.  As soon as possible he would leave home, join the Sendero Luminoso (the terrorist group), return to his village and kill those who were causing great problems in his family.  A young 12 year old boy had his plan, but God also had HIS plan.

Natán ran away from home to the big city of Arequipa.  He stayed with extended family who invited him to a youth group at a local church where his uncle was the pastor. That night Natán recognized God had a different plan for his life.

Even though he had grown up in church, Natán realized he needed to repent of his sins, receive God´s grace and forgiveness and enter into a relationship with Christ.  God´s plan began unfolding from that time onward.

A short time later he began attending a rural Bible Institute in Chiguata, Arequipa, Peru.  He was being discipled, learning about ministry and discerning God´s plan for his life.

After graduating from the Bible school God directed Natán to attend the biblical seminary in Lima to prepare to be a pastor. While studying there he began a relationship with one of the girls from Chiguata, Patricia, who would later become his wife.  

In 2016 Natán accepted a position as a pastor of a church in Lima, Peru.  It was  his first time to be the main pastor of an entire church.  He was asking God for help, direction and maybe someone who could walk alongside him during this time.  

During a visit to the seminary his path crossed with one of his former teachers at the Bible Institute in Chiguata.  It was a joyful reunion for both Natán and me, Vikki!

An even greater joy was shared as Natán met my husband Nelson and they began a friendship.  Soon after we moved to Lima, Natán asked Nelson to work alongside him; to be his mentor and coach as he began discovering what it means to be a pastor of a church.

Natán thought he knew his plans for the future.  God stepped in and reshaped those plans.

We thought we knew our plans for our future in Arequipa. God stepped in and reshaped those plans.

We are so thankful for His plans.  

By: Vikki Maya, Serving in Peru

Prayer

Pray for Natán and Patti and for us as we continue to seek God´s plan for our lives. Continue to lift up the country of Peru and for the many others who need HIS story lived out in their lives.

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Church in Belgium: Forming Faith, Community and Mission

United World Mission’s core belief is about developing well trained, spiritually-formed leaders and to strengthen and multiply disciple making churches that proclaim and demonstrate the gospel. Here in Brussels, Belgium a church called The Well is doing just that.

One area that they are concentrating on is mentoring and training new leaders in the church while also making disciples who make disciples who make disciples… These leaders go out into the neighborhoods to reach the lost with the gospel; through prayer, Bible studies and by serving those in need.

In my first six months here, I have seen the body of Christ in this church reach out to those that are lost and serve them in multiple ways. Mainly through the vehicle of Serve the City, which was founded by The Well.  Via Serve the City, the members of The Well serve breakfast to refugees two mornings a week as they wait in line for the government office to open so they can try to get asylum.  They also serve food to the homeless on the streets, and help feed those in shelters along with repairing and assisting the shelters as needed.  This involves working with government agencies that have these social programs and also with Roman Catholic charities as well. Due to this unique situation not only do we get to share Jesus with those that are in need, but also with community volunteers we serve alongside who may not be believers.  These relationships take time to build and the process is slow, but already I’ve had some personal conversations with people.

 

As The Well prays and seeks God’s direction in the life of the church, it is building up and changing communities. When there is a need the social agencies, charities, etc call on Serve the City for help. They have a reputation for genuinely caring for people and assisting when and where needed.

For example, Missionaries of Charity needed additional help feeding the homeless on Tuesday afternoons. This is in my neighborhood. As a member of The Well, through the umbrella of Serve the City, I started volunteering there on a weekly basis. Now it has been opened up to others in the community via STC website. I’m coordinating and teaching the volunteers how to serve there. There has been such a positive response that we are looking to help the charity in other ways such as in the mornings preparing the food to be cooked, cleaning their garden, and more. Sister Monia, who is the head nun there, was asked  a question one time by someone if I was a Roman Catholic missionary. She said no but we both love Jesus and we work together for Him. It is amazing to see God work through and use us from different denominations to further the kingdom, along with making new friends who still need Christ’s salvation.

Jesus said we are to go to the ends of the Earth proclaiming His name.  Here in Brussels where only 1% go to Protestant church and 5% go to Roman Catholic church there is much work to be done. I am grateful, honored, and humbled that God would call me to a place where there are so many lost and yet new relationships being made that will lead to their salvation.

By: Jen Rowland, Serving in Belgium

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