Category: Missionary Service

White As Snow


Like most of our trips, this one was full of driving. We drove from village to village, singing and lifting up the people who live in the houses that we passed by. The weather here is turning from winter to spring, so the hills are turning more green and the rivers are flowing steadily. After driving a while, we came to a trailhead that leads to the top of a point that gives a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. It is one of the most glorious spots I have ever stood. Whenever I get a chance to stand up there, it feels like I have stepped right into a picture that the Creator is still painting and shaping. 

Sitting there at the top of the mountain, we played a couple songs and sang them over the valley below. My teammates and I froze as the last words of the last song played: “though our sins are scarlet, you’ve made us white as snow.” At the sound of these words, we began to weep over the valley.

Still wondering what the significance is? Allow me to unpack this a bit. As those last words played, snow began to fall. Even greater, the people who live in this valley are influenced and led by religious leaders who wear red robes. White snow was falling on the people who are clothed in scarlet. The Creator is showering love on the people, even before they have heard His name.

The story isn’t over. The next morning, we went up to a temple, where we were able to talk with some of the leaders there. As one of our teammates talked to the head leader dressed in scarlet, snow began to fall. It was a perfectly clear, blue sky morning, and snow began to fall in that place. Later that day, we visited another temple and snow fell again. As we finished our path along the villages, snow fell yet again, through the sunshine.

Where we saw people still clothed in scarlet, Father sees a people bathed in white snow. He wants to take away their scarlet sin and replace it with a pure, clean robe of His design. For Father so loved the world, He is continually showering love on His people like snow. My team and I are here to play some small part in telling His children that they are made white as snow, and they have no need to fear, because there hasn’t been a day that He hasn’t loved them.

By: Kingdom Worker, Serving in Asia

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Colombia Seminary Strives to Both Educate and Serve

Elizabeth Teaching

In 1944, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia was founded in Medellin, Colombia.  Dr. Benjamin Pearson was the first president.  God`s provision has been constant through the 73-year history under the leadership of God-fearing, Bible-believing men and women. Elizabeth Sendek, a missionary of United World Mission, is now president.

 

The mission of the seminary is to prepare professional men and women who are highly trained to exercise leadership for service to the evangelical church and the community.  The profile of the seminary has always been to be a Biblical institution, with our teaching models founded in Biblical teaching and practice.  We insist in Christian formation focusing on the devotional life of each student.  Being a University Foundation within the Colombian educational system, we know we must strive to maintain our faithfulness to the Word of God and the call that He has made to each one of us.

Chapel

Colombia is in a peace process after over 50 years of civil war.  We are looking for ways to serve the church with the new social/political challenges.  We are involved in a three-year research project funded by Templeton Foundation to study displaced people and how the church can serve them.  This project is titled: Integral Missiology and the Human Flourishing of Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia.  There are study groups to emphasis integral missiology, pedagogy, economics, sociology, psychology and interaction with the public sector.  We have finished a year of research and have discovered who these people are, and this year the emphasis is to write material for courses that will be used by the churches for teaching these groups.

Sara

Several students, including Sara Arrieta, are involved in this research project.  Sara will be preparing her personal investigation for graduation titled: Participation of the evangelical Christian church in the restructuring of the social fabric of displaced people in Colombia.  She will be using Ezekiel 37: 1-14 to show the connection between Ezekiel and the reality of displaced people in Colombia.

Sara has also prepared a field research portion of this project, and is assisting the area of pedagogy with a course on The New Identity. Her project includes studying the sociological literature about social capital, with exegetical and theological reflections and field research with interviews with religious leaders. She has helped the group studying the church involvement in the public sector where she helped to map the organizations that attend victims of sexual abuse.

The seminary focuses on both research projects and practical ministry assignments in the churches each week help to assure the student’s academic learning is applied to social and ministry realities.

By: Don Sendek, Serving in Colombia

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

Saying Yes…

We’re still buzzing from the many God-encounters we had last night & here’s how the day unfolded!

In the morning I grabbed a coffee, my reading materials, and sat down to quickly get some time to connect with Jesus, knowing the demands of the day ahead.

I started reading from ‘God’s Generals’ by Roberts Liardon; inspiring stories that highlight the cost of individuals following Jesus, and saying ‘YES’ to Him, despite hardships and persecution.

Naturally, it’s easy to think my husband, Gary, and I have already said ‘YES’ as we came to serve in England as missionaries almost 25 years ago!  But I found myself that morning asking the Holy Spirit for MORE.  ‘I want to say YES today, to ALL you have!  I want more of you, no matter what the cost!’

So I prayed and paused.  A beautiful rhythm of relationship to practice.  Something I’ve learned the hard way over the years.  It’s easy to pray, plow through the day, and miss the divine encounters the Father has for us!  As I waited, the Holy Spirit brought to mind:

‘It’s Halloween!  An American tradition that has surged in popularity in the UK and the community is coming to your doorstep tonight!’

Then the words echoed in my mind from, Bev Murrill, co-founder of CGI, a network of churches we’re involved with:

“Darkness isn’t the reason we can’t shine,  it’s the reason to shine!” 

Step by step, He began unfolding His plan!

As we live in a highly populated area outside of London, that evening, we ended up having over 150+ kids come to our door!

Gary and I were dressed as cowboys, including hats & boots, and with our strong American accents still in tow, many were engaging in conversation.  With each group, we handed out sweets & said we’re glad they were enjoying this American tradition, but also that I wrote a prayer of blessing that morning for each family.  Printed & placed on colourful card, they could take home and pray over their own family.

Great conversations ensued, hugs, from neighbors we knew & people we just met, genuine gratitude for the effort given to make them feel welcomed at our door.  We ran out of sweets, I even began giving clementines away (some kids were clearly distressed at this point), so we turned out the lights and took homemade brownies & cards to a few more neighbors.  The night ended with our neighbors, Nick & Deb, inviting us in for a spontaneous dinner & continue chatting together.

In the past 24 hours here’s what I learned.

Encounters happen when we surrender and say YES to His plan.

It might be the unexpected even uncomfortable.  But so worth shining His light in a dark world!

(Here’s the prayer below we gave to our community:) 

Halloween … an American tradition brought to the UK! 

We’re the Americans, tonight dressed as cowboys from Texas!  We loved sharing sweet treats with you from our home, & we’d love to share a blessing over your life as well.

As friends of Jesus, or Isa the prophet, as spoken in Arabic, we pray that you & your family:

  • Will grow STRONG … physically, emotionally, mentally not living fearfully but bringing LOVE to all you meet.
  • Will grow in CONFIDENCE & FREEDOM not living in guilt or regret of our past, we cannot change.
  • Will grow as one in COMPLETENESS despite setbacks & disappointments.
  • Will experience PEACE in a busy, demanding pace of life.

We bless your spirit to experience all you were created to be.

John 6:63 ‘It is the Spirit, who gives LIFE!’
Much love in Jesus
Penny & Gary

By: Penny and Gary Seithel, Serving in the UK

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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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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Big Fan

I’m a big fan of books, tv, movies and hanging out with friends. To sum it up, I love a good story in any way that I can get it. That is also my favorite part of my job – listening and sharing God stories.

As both a Mobilizer and the Communications Coordinator at United World Mission I have the privilege of hearing God’s stories unfold in a variety of ways.  Stories from the lives of people he is calling into missions, stories from people who are serving around the globe to stories where people are seeing God answer prayer, and stories of people who are hearing of Christ’s love for the first time.

A recent story happened as I was working with a young couple who were feeling called into long-term, international missionary service.  They had been through the process with another agency but was declined due to potential educational issues with their newly adopted son.

As we went through the mobilization process a few possible places around the world began to seem like good opportunities for them.  It was decided that Scotland was where they would like to serve based off their giftings, passions, experiences coupled with the opportunity and needs there.  During their interview they shared with the interview team that they are from Tennessee, which the Regional Leaders for Europe also had connections to TN. They quickly discovered that the Regional Leader’s daughter was the social worker in their case for the adoption of their son!   What a small world and awesome confirmation from God that He was at work in bringing them into this role with United World Mission.

I love seeing how God weaves stories together.  It encourages me to trust Him more and I hope it does for you too!

By: Jennifer Coshow, Mobilizer for Europe & Communications Coordinator

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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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