Mission & Ministry Spotlight
Time to pack shoeboxes
Costa Rican pastor thanks Canadians for packing shoeboxes
“In a lot of cases, that box is the only present they’ll receive this year”. At Torremelinos Christian School in Costa Rica, about one quarter of the 135 students are not Christian. These children are the mission field for Pastor Alvaro Rojas Sandi. And he’s grateful that Canadians like you are helping him through your support of Operation Christmas Child.
For Alvaro, who pastors the adjacent evangelical church, distributing gift-filled shoeboxes from Canada is an important way to share the gospel with children who may have never heard of the One who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8, NKJV).
“This community (a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city) is in an area designated by the government as being in extreme poverty,” said Alvaro. “It’s very important for the students to know these boxes were packed in another country by another kid just for them. In a lot of cases, that box is the only present they’ll receive this year.”
Pastor Alvaro eagerly anticipated inviting all the children receiving shoeboxes to participate in The Greatest Journey. It’s Operation Christmas Child’s voluntary 12-lesson evangelism and discipleship program that is offered through our partner churches to all shoebox recipients. Since 2009, God has used The Greatest Journey to bring more than five million children to faith in His Son.
“Through The Greatest Journey, these kids are pointed toward Christ and the program gives them the opportunity to accept Jesus in their hearts,” Alvaro said. “I want to tell Canadians ‘thank you for your generosity.’”
Samaritan’s Purse offers The Greatest Journey in more than 70 languages and reached nearly 100 countries in 2016, thanks to donations from people like you.
Please visit SamaritansPurse.ca/OCC for more information about Operation Christmas Child, including how you can support this vital ministry and help more children learn about Christ through The Greatest Journey.
Considerations for Missionary Care
Every church I’ve been a part of has supported missionaries. When cross-cultural missionaries were on home assignment, they would often stop by and share stories about their time overseas. I admit that, for me, these were the best Sundays. Sadly, that was almost the only time that I, as a member of a church community, was aware of what our missionaries were doing. I had little or no idea about the state of their families, the struggles they had with colleagues, the community that they belonged to when overseas, their financial needs, or how to pray for them. If the missionary had struggles and pulled on a life-line, I had no idea who was holding the other end. That’s why a strategy for missionary care is so important for every church that has a picture of a missionary on their wall. Without an intentional plan for care – who knows?
Paul Dyck of the More Network shares this true story: An ordinary everyday family, directed by the Lord, spent nine months overseas working at an orphanage. Dad did carpentry work, Mom worked with orphans and kept the family together, and the children were actively involved in the orphanage and were home schooled. Nine months isn’t a long time, one would think. In reality, it was absolutely life changing! Their teen-aged daughter heard about the transition retreat, ReBoot, and asked to attend. We were thrilled to host her; she fit in so well with the other MKs, many of whom had grown up overseas and were now repatriating to go to college. Why did she need to attend this transition retreat? She was returning to Canada with a brand-new reality. She now sees the world through a different lens: she’s broken for the lost, the needy, and the underprivileged, and her priorities have changed dramatically.
What about her parents? They’re also facing a new reality: returning to one of the wealthiest countries, and making daily spending decisions while recognizing 95% of the world wouldn’t even consider a purchase like we do daily. Their transition back to Canada is far tougher than most would realize. They too need a time of interaction with those who understand: a time of being listened to – informal and formal debriefing – and receiving assistance from Member Care experts on next steps. When God calls us to step outside of our normal lives, take risks, and live our lives for Him, it always looks different than what we imagined.
Missionary Care is hard to boil down to a simple formula of do’s and don’ts. There are some excellent resources that churches can access, such as the EFC Code of Best Practice in Member Care. However, as the church, our model of care needs to be founded first and foremost on relationship. With that said, there are things that we can do to be a thoughtful and supporting community.
Understand the people
When my wife and I were preparing to go overseas, we entered a candidate process. During that process, our psychological, spiritual, and physical lives were put under a microscope by the mission organization. This gave us a sense of security, knowing that someone was looking out for us. However, we had just started attending a new church and didn’t have very many relational ties in that community. It would have been difficult for someone to discern the state of our lives because of the limited time we’d been with the new community. Missionary care must be about the people first. Like a marriage, it is for richer or poorer, in health and in sickness… or sin. Missionary care extends beyond the individual and should take into consideration who the missionary is connected to, and how family and friends factor into the journey of life.
Understand areas of responsibility
Every church involved with missionaries has a degree of responsibility for their care. The perception of responsibility varies, depending on whether the church is the “sending” church (the community to which the missionary belongs and has the strongest relational ties with) or a “supporting” church. The mission agency also has a role in missionary care, as do the family and friends. Early and open communication enables a network of care to be established. Regular conversation about care is essential because of the changing nature of the missionary journey. An excellent resource to facilitate conversation in this area is Mind the Gaps from the Trinity Church Missionary Care Team. The consequences of not having this conversation can be the loss of a missionary, or worse, the fall of a brother or sister in Christ.
Understand the stage
The missionary journey is complex; care should be dynamic, not simply programmatic. Care needs to begin in the discernment phase, continue in the support-raising phase, and carry on until the missionary transitions successfully back into their home culture. No two people are the same as they progress through their adventure with God, but challenges can be anticipated and regular communication with friends, family, church, and agency give multiple avenues to share joy and struggle in each stage.
We all measure success differently. It’s not uncommon in an organization that a goal for one person will not be shared by another. The challenge of meeting goals is multiplied when you consider the different expectations that a sending church, a home sending agency, the field representatives, and host church have of the missionary and their family. Making sure that expectations are clearly stated and relevant to the individual and organization is important for a sense of well-being and success.
In October, Missions Fest Vancouver held its first Mission Pastors’ Roundtable discussion. The theme for the discussion was Missionary Care and was facilitated by Paul Dyck. The idea behind the meeting was to get Mission Pastors (and Mission Committee leaders) together to talk about best practices, build relationship, and set a foundation for collaboration. Have your church contact us for more information on future events.
Camp Squeah Retreat Centre
Camp is a place of trust
Trust is such a prized commodity. It is not given quickly or freely by many. We seem to be a guarded people and believe protection is of greater value over a calculated risk that might give good benefit. This dynamic interaction and the associated tension it causes happens a great deal in children’s camp … and why shouldn’t it? It involves our most precious ones: our children.
At the end of a summer I was talking with a mother of three who had sent all her children to our summer camp. She noted that her oldest is a depressed individual, which I inferred, for some time. In the photograph they received of her oldest child at camp with his cabin mates and counsellor, there was an unmistakable, and nearly unbelievable, smile on his face. What a remarkable experience and place to give a child who smiles so very little, such a great opportunity and reason to smile!
Ultimately, we (at Camp Squeah) believe every young person should have the opportunity to experience camping in God’s awe inspiring wilderness. We share with campers, through a Christian perspective, the belief that camp provides space for children to discover themselves in a safe and loving environment and that this helps them become confident, mature and fun loving people. You might take my word for it but I encourage you to take the initiative and get to know the camp(s) in your area. We are a great bunch of people who love children and do so in a unique and fantastic way: camp!
Tim Larson, Program Director
Changing lives with clean water
Did you know that 30,000 people die every day because they drink contaminated water? We believe that everything good starts with clean water and while contaminated water is the number one cause of death and disease in the world, it’s the easiest to fix. At Water Ambassadors Canada, we are dedicated to providing the most basic source of life for as many people as possible.
Water Ambassadors Canada is a faith-based, registered Canadian humanitarian agency committed to sending short-term volunteer teams down to some of the most remote villages and communities throughout Central and South America. Our mission is to drill and rehabilitate wells, install chlorination and filtration systems, build biosand filters, distribute Sawyer filters, teach health and hygiene – all in the name of Jesus Christ, the source of our living water.
You can help save the lives of those in developing countries by responding to this global need for clean water. You can help change the lives of hundreds of people in a just ONE week. Find out more on how you can help at www.waterambassadorscanada.org.
• 1.1 billion people (1/6th of the world’s population) lack access to clean water
• 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) lack adequate sanitation
• 1.5 billion people suffer from illness due to water-borne parasites such as worms, protozoa and bacteria
• 6,000 children die every day from illness caused by water-borne diseases
• 80% of all disease and sickness in the world is caused by inadequate water supply or inadequate sanitation
“Great cause, great people. I’ve been on 4 trips so far and they have been some of the best experiences of my life … I’ve made lifelong friends through Water Ambassadors, both in Canada and in Central America. Definitely a great organization.” Sabrina W. www.waterambassadorscanada.org
Over 5 billion people lack access to safe, affordable and timely surgical care. This is why medical charity Mercy Ships exists. For more than 38 years, Mercy Ships and volunteer has followed the model of Jesus to bring hope and healing to the world’s poor one life, one community and one nation at a time. In many developing countries in Africa, even basic medical care is a luxury. People are plagued by preventable disease, untreated illnesses and neglected injuries. Even a simple toothache can become a life-threatening crisis. Nearly 50 percent of the people have no access to a hospital or doctor.
Children, teens, adults and the elderly suffer and die every day from curable or treatable causes. A staggering 6.6 million children under the age of five died in 2012 from treatable diseases – more than 18,000 children per day. (Source: WHO). Mercy Ships and its volunteers treat life-threatening tumours, cleft lip and palate repairs, plastic reconstruction for severe burn-related injuries, hernia repairs, cataract removal, correction for orthopaedic deformities (club foot, bowed legs and other severe abnormalities), obstetric fistula repair and dental care, all free of charge.
A ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art hospital to regions where clean water, electricity, medical facilities and personnel is limited or nonexistent. And, because more than 50% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the coast, Mercy Ships can reach more people who need care.
The challenge is enormous but with your help lives can be saved. By donating to Mercy Ships you’re investing in people, in changing lives and in improving healthcare systems. Support Mercy Ships programs today www.mercyships.ca/give
• Mercy Ships is a global humanitarian organization who uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world.
• Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has helped to transform the lives of more than 2.42 million people in the poorest countries of the world.
• Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort.
What students are saying about the perspectives course:
“What I learned in class was actually WORTH something! So often we go to a class and never actually APPLY what it was they were teaching. Perspectives classes are a true-to-life example of the real world.”
“It’ll ruin you for the ordinary” (Floyd Mclung,YWAM). “Never before had something so lived up to this. It was no less than everything I’d been searching for in explaining how the Kingdom of God is lived out here on earth. And now, at least I know. And that’s half the battle. The living-it-out part is still a work in progress. I hope you ‘accidentally stumble’ you’re way into taking it. You won’t regret it!”
Upcoming courses: Sundays: Feb 4 – May 13, 6:15 – 9:15 pm Cloverdale Baptist Church, Cloverdale. Mondays: Feb 5 – May 14, 7:00 – 10 pm @Willingdon Church, Burnaby
Reasons to believe:
the big bang
While most people think of the big bang as an explosion in space, scientists use the term to describe the beginning of space, time, matter and energy. The Bible describes a few key characteristics of the universe that scientists now have the ability to measure. At least five biblical writers describe an expanding universe (e.g. Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13: Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zachariah 12:1). Scripture also talks about the constancy of the laws of physics, most explicitly stated in Jeremiah 33:25. Genesis 1:1 and Hebrews 11:3 declare that the universe began to exist (thus required a Beginner). Romans 8:18-21 speaks of a pervasive law of decay. These four characteristics – a singular beginning, cosmic expansion, and constant laws of physics including the law of decay – define a big bang universe. The Bible leaves many details such as the expansion rate and the strengths of the laws for us to measure. This correspondence between the biblical description of the universe, authored thousands of years ago, and the best scientific understanding of the universe provides strong evidence for supernatural inspiration of the words of the Bible. For more info: Reasons.org Email: email@example.com
International Christian Response:
Cuba for Christ
Cuban Christian leaders have set their goal to bring Cuba to Christ and it is beginning to happen.
For 60 years, the people in Cuba have been under a communistic government that has taught evolution and anti-God information. The Cuban leadership was resolved to eliminate Christianity by destroying the churches, pastors and Bibles. After the revolution in the sixties, it seemed they were going to succeed. But God saved his remnant.
On my last visit to Cuba, I was encouraged to know that many Cubans have come to Christ in the last 15 years and churches are growing and multiplying. When I asked how we could help, they said they need Bibles. In one denomination alone, they had 500,000 new Christians that did not have a Bible. We are so blessed to help Christians in Cuba and be a small part in the transformation of that country. We supply Bibles, bikes, clothes, shoes, houses for the congregations to meet, and monthly financial support for 550 new missionaries to unreached towns and villages. ICR Canada and Switzerland enable leadership training, provide emergency help and defend pastors who suffer injustice, etc. This is a special opportunity to see II Corinthians 5:17 come to pass in Cuba. Brother “Miguel” shared how he became a new creature in Christ.
“My name is Miguel. For many years I was a high ranking communist party official and did everything I could to stop the church. Our aim was to eliminate Christians and destroy Bibles. As I was exposed to these Christian people, something attracted me to them. As a part of my duties, I attended to spy out services, prayer meetings and house group gatherings. I started to realize that these people are not so bad as I was told. I began to desire what these Christians had. I asked about being a follower of Jesus, and I did become a disciple of Christ. I had to resign from my job and hand in my communist party membership. I asked to be trained as a Christian leader. For ten years after my conversion, I had to flee from my home district because of the opposition I faced. While I was in other parts of the country, I was being trained to be a disciple of Christ and a leader in the church I once opposed. I have now planted 11 churches and am back in my home district. God is helping me plant a new church right in my home area. I praise God for His strength, wisdom and grace.” “Therefore, if any person be in Christ, that person is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17
Sunday November 12.17 is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. For more information go to www.idop.ca or call 604-836-4546
Christian Friends of Israel
We are a non-denominational Christian organization, seeking to lift up the name of Jesus in all we do to bless His Jewish brethren and share the message of His love both for Israel and the church.
A true friend is faithful in all circumstances. As Jews in the past have suffered great persecution in the name of Christ, we seek to show them real friendship and love in His name.
Israel means the Jewish people, both inside the nation and in the Diaspora throughout the world. It also means the modern nation of Israel, which includes both Jews and Arabs, all precious to God.
So, we are Christians who love Israel and its peoples and believe that God has a special place for them in His Kingdom purposes before the return of Messiah.
Christian Friends of Israel began with a meeting of a few Christian leaders in Jerusalem in December 1985, from the UK, USA, France and Israel, who were aware of an urgent need to set up a framework in which they could serve the Lord and bless Israel as true friends.
Out of a number of names proposed, Christian Friends of Israel expressed exactly how we believed Christians should relate to the Jewish people, both in view of the church’s past history and also all that God was leading Israel through. The principles and aims of CFI were worked through word by word, and these foundational principles stand unchanged today.
The Kakapo is a large flightless parrot native to New Zealand. It is believed by evolutionists to have not properly evolved wings because it did not have any predators, at least until man came and brought with him predatory animals which almost brought the Kakapo to extinction.
Is this a reasonable theory? New Zealand has other parrot birds, the Kara, and the Kea, which do fly.
In Australia there are many parrot species. One well known is the Budgerigar (Budgie), a small parakeet often kept as a pet. Budgie breeders know that with a lot of inbreeding some birds do not develop proper wings and are unable to fly. They are sometimes called “runners”. They make great pets, but would not survive in their natural habitat where there are snakes and other predators. This is certainly not an evolutionary advantage, but a loss of important genetic information, and no doubt the Kakapo suffered the same loss. Parrots have the ability to use their powerful beaks, and feet to climb, hold food and bring it to their mouth. So for a large bird with no predators, the loss of flight would not be as important. All creation is decaying and becoming less complex. (See Romans 8: 20 & 22)
Inner Hope Youth Ministries exists to build long term mentoring relationships with youth and families in East Vancouver who struggle to overcome the systemic challenges of trauma, addiction, abuse and family breakdown. All programs and initiatives fall under one of four services areas: support, discipleship, life skills and housing.
We are celebrating our 10th birthday this year! We are incredibly thankful for everyone who has partnered with us. The journey is often full of struggle and pain, but each week there are numerous moments of joy and growth. Some recent milestones worth celebrating include a thriving mentoring relationship between a women and teen girl who has an absent mom, a young adult whom Inner Hope has mentored for 5 years receiving a scholarship to attend Capernwray Bible school, and four young adults having a stable, supportive home through Inner Hope’s housing services.
Would you partner with us through volunteering, prayer or financial giving? We are also seeking a new live-in House Parent couple for the home. Please help us share this life changing ministry opportunity. The job application deadline is December 1st. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or refer to www.innerhope.ca.
M2/W2 Association – Restorative Christian Ministries is blessed with 51 years of effective life changing ministry to inmates. Our volunteers (believers from the communities) and staff are passionate about coming alongside inmates in friendship, void of judgement but covered in prayer and love.
In prison, we offer inmates the opportunity to sign up for our W2 (woman-to-woman) or M2 (man-to-man) mentorship program. For those nearing the end of their sentencing or in transition we offer workplace experience as they work alongside us at Hidden Treasures Thrift Stores in Abbotsford or Chilliwack. It is here they gain valuable skills and grow in confidence. For ex-offenders in the community we offer NOLA (No One Leaves Alone) to help them successfully reintegrate into society.
In a world where there are so many gray areas, Jesus Christ gives us clear direction in Matthew 25:36; “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Abdul (an inmate) wrote, “I owe my M2 my life because you have taught me how to find Jesus Christ.” We are excited about helping rewrite the ending of offenders’ stories. For more information go to: www.m2w2.com
Conversion without discipleship
Erisa Mutabazi, a pastor from Rwanda commented about some of the atrocities that Christians have done to Christians in his country. He said, ”I have concluded that the idea of being a Christian at that time did not mean living as a disciple who was called to a completely new life in Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
When the Bible talks about a disciple it says: First a disciple is a fully committed “follower.” The first disciples learned their master’s teachings, method of ministry and way of life. They imitated his thoughts, actions and habits.
Second, in the Great Commission Jesus called His disciples to teach others to obey everything He commanded. Conversion without commitment to total obedience is foreign to a disciple of Christ.
Third, disciples go to others to help them find and follow Christ. Making disciples is not a spiritual gift or a call for the spiritual elite. All disciples are called to multiply.
To become a Christian is to become a new creation. May we boldly choose Christ as our first identity over nation, race, political party or religious denomination. May we seek to make disciples in whatever calling He has given us.
If you are desiring to understand more about being a disciple maker, contact us at DiscipleshipInt.org