Category: Holistic Mission

Overcoming the Odds: Jeremiah’s Story

Jeremiah was born into a large, poor family. His parents are subsistence farmers. They live in a small, rural village just a few kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro in an area that for years was both economically and spiritually depressed. The area was known for outlaws, illegal homemade alcohol and witchcraft. At one point, there was actually a gang of bank robbers living in town.

In 1997, a local pastor, Wariael Mafie, travelled the area frequently and God began to put a burden on his heart for the area’s children. In 2003, the pastor started a small primary school. Despite advice to the contrary, he registered the school as an English medium school, meaning that English would be the language of instruction. Government schools teach in Swahili, the national language of Tanzania.

Jeremiah was a member of the very first class to start attending the school in 2003. In time, he graduated and went on to secondary school. In the meantime, his family was able to slowly pull themselves out of poverty. The scholarship Jeremiah received to attend school meant that, rather than pay school fees, his parents could use their scant financial resources to gradually improve the family’s situation. This is a common dilemma among the poor – how to prioritize and use their money when it isn’t enough to allow them to do both. When he finished secondary school, Jeremiah’s father sold a portion of the family land to help pay Jeremiah’s tuition at a nearby teacher’s college. After finishing the two-year program in primary education, he earned his teaching certificate.


Today Jeremiah is back at his primary school, but now he is a teacher! He has come full circle and is now helping the current students lay the foundation for their lives – just as he himself did a few years ago. “I am so glad to come back” to teach at his former school, Jeremiah said. “There is no other member of my family who has achieved a higher level of education.” Now, he is able to help his family financially as well.

Jeremiah has also given his life to Jesus Christ. After his father passed away while he was in college in 2015, some members in his family wanted to take him to a witch doctor who would tell his future. Instead, “I ran to Jesus because there is eternal life. I have committed my heart to Jesus Christ.” He is now an active member of Pastor Wariael’s church. “I am teaching Sunday school,” he beamed. He has quickly become one of the school’s prayer warriors.

Jeremiah is the embodiment of the vision God gave to Pastor Wariael – twenty years in the making.

By: David and Mary Ann Taylor, Serving in Tanzania

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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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.

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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By Word and Deed

Two men confronted with truth, two totally different responses.

The elderly man, “White Hair”, down the street, with a simple greeting and asking what he’s thankful to God for today is set off complaining about the problems with his son, the unfairness of God in making some rich and some  poor,  even about the fact that I am wasting money buying 4 liters of milk for my family.   Contrast this with “Joyful Heart”, who soon after starting work as a clinic guard joined in on a day of prayer for some issues at the clinic and asking God to bless the officials involved in the issue.  After that experience, he wanted to read the Word together. By the time we got to Isaiah 53 on the 7th week, he was ready to ask God for forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ , and was soon declaring he wanted to know the Bible better so he can teach others, and was sharing with his friends immediate family, and coworkers.

There are many reasons for the difference.  Father, of course, was working in “Joyful Heart” preparing him for the Word, but another difference is that “White Hair” heard words without having a chance to see gospel lived out.  “Joyful Heart” saw Biblical core values lived out among coworkers and with patients at the clinic daily.  He saw us loving our enemies and praying for those who persecuted us.  He saw dying to self as believing employees put other’s needs first day by day.  He saw seeking God and trusting Him in the context of a stressful clinic days and business challenges.    He saw integrity – the consistent whole (though by no means perfect) of love, service, action, and speech.  Clinic work, business, village outreaches all give a chance for integral mission.  “Joyful Heart” isn’t alone.  This wholeness has drawn “Beautiful” to read Creation to Christ stories with two women coworkers weekly.  It has made Dr. “Sunshine” eager for every Thursday staff Word and prayer time – always the first to read and answer questions in our study.  Each of these exposures to spoken and written truth are integral extensions of service, respect, encouragement, and compassion that they see lived out through the week.

Throughout the world, some sort of ministry that meets needs – whether business, health, education, or other mercy ministries – is a key aspect to most movements of disciple multiplication by demonstrating love and providing access and integrity when sharing gospel truth.  Besides co-workers mentioned above, we have seen Father open many doors to share with people through the clinic in many directions:  patients whose homes we have visited and who we have prayed with in the clinic, young physicians coming regularly for training which includes both medical training and training in the core values of the clinic, government officials who inspect and oversee, and even other business people.   All these people aren’t just being taught truth, they are being impacted and discipled as they see the consistency between word and action of integral mission.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 (ESV)

By: Worker, Serving in Central Asia

Interested in Giving?

Giving is one way to be a part of what God is doing through the medical clinic in Central Asia. We would like to invite you to join us in that way or if you would like more information to pray or go please contact us as well: info@uwm.org

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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

Global Church

Are you interested in serving with the global church around the world? We would love to share opportunities with you as you consider missions.

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The Best Joke Ever…Except it Wasn’t

A monk, a missionary, and a ladyboy get on a train. The ladyboy (born male, living as female) arrives first and is happily seated between two other passengers—pretty ladies should always have seats on trains. The missionary is content standing and frantically preparing for the class he is en route to lead. When the monk arrives, a seated passenger politely moves and offered their seat out of respect for the monk’s honored position. But a monk cannot touch a lady, so the open seat, which happens to be next to the ladyboy, can not be accepted.

Awkward silence.

Ladies seated everywhere. Finally more shuffling and another passenger gives up their seat, the ladyboy scoots down, and the missionary is called upon to sit between the monk and the ladyboy and act as a buffer—perhaps a cleansing agent of sorts. The whole train breathes a sigh of cultural relief.

It could be the lead-in for a joke. Or it could be everyday life.

When we first arrived here, our family was pleasantly surprised that so much diversity can coexist in such apparent harmony in our city. As our eyes grow more adjusted culturally, however, the glaring difference between tolerance (non-confrontation) and true love (grace-filled acceptance paired with truth-speaking) becomes more stark. People here are given tolerance – they can live their lives in almost any way they please. But their souls are not satisfied. You can see it behind their eyes, in their behavior, in their pushing of the cultural limits—they crave more. They surround themselves by either religious restraint or alternatively by complete freedom to indulge their passions. But one cannot simply restrain the quest for love out of the human soul. And passion is likewise an unfulfilling substitute. True love surprises us by at the same time restraining us and freeing us.

That missionary, the buffer between the monk and the ladyboy, gets to be part of bringing God’s surprising love to some very broken, abused, exploited, and vulnerable individuals who were born as men. Most of them are not currently living as either men or women…they have found a new niche for themselves, a place where they feel they belong, they have chosen a third gender. They change their bodies, wearing with pride what cultural conservatives (who seek to hide their sin) would call shameful. They wear their sin on the outside, as some say. Broken as they are, God is not ashamed to pursue them. They were created in his image. They have rebelled against Grace. They have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…just like every child of God. And God is calling them back to himself. He is making a name for himself among them.

God’s love is indeed surprising. It accepts us just as we are. It doesn’t sugar-coat our position and tell us to stay just like we are. (How many times have we signed a yearbook with the words that seemed loving, “don’t change ever”?) Love calls us upward. It calls us to holiness and then stands by us when we fail to be holy—I will never leave you or forsake you. It calls us to surrender our status symbols—our athletic prowess, business successes, long flowing hair (or other body parts whether natural or surgically enhanced, which will not be named here)—and yet does not demand transformation within a certain timeframe. Love is patient. It is kind. It carries a clear agenda and yet is not offensive. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

Some among the transgender in our city are finding hope in Christ’s love. Our family has the joy of partnering with a non-profit that is geared towards this special demographic—helping them find healing for trauma, further their education, and training them for “normal” jobs in mainstream society. Their journey of transformation is often long and confusing, riddled with questions about what God says about body-changing surgeries…or perhaps undoing those surgeries. Many find hope in Scriptures that refer to eunuchs, who may have been similarly  surgically modified: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters” (Isaiah 56:4-5) There is hope for the broken who turn to God.

Our family is a completely imperfect embodiment of Christ’s love. You probably are too. But how is God calling you to surprise by love? And how is God’s love surprising you?

A monk, a missionary, and a ladyboy get on a train…

By: Daniel and Michelle, Serving in Asia

Surprised by Love

How is God calling you to Surprise by Love? One way may be to go and share His love with others in another nation. If you are sensing a call to the nations start here.

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The Privilege is Greater than the Price…

A WOMAN OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY: HELEN ROSEVEARE (1925-2016)

“God never uses a person greatly until He has wounded him deeply.
The privilege He offers you is greater than the price you have to pay.
The privilege is greater than the price.”
—Helen Roseveare

Written by Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition on Dec 7. 2016

Helen's Story

Helen Roseveare's inspiring story through traumatic suffering while serving in the Congo is a present-day challenge to all of us who follow Christ.

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