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The following is from Mary Sue Reed, GMI missionary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She and her husband Dan write a monthly update on their ministries and this is an excerpt.

On December 30 we were in for a big surprise when we arrived at our kids club. We knew that a group of leaders from La Gracia Church had planned on bringing Christmas gifts to the kids the previous week when we were out of town. What we didn’t know was that those plans had been postponed because of heavy rains. What a day! A group of 35 leaders and youth from the church had arrived early and gone door to door in the neighborhood to invite all the kids to a special program and to receive a Christmas gift. When we arrived many of the leaders had taken all the neighborhood kids to the park to enjoy a time of games. Then when they came back to the Carlos Laborde property we couldn’t believe it….they just kept coming. About 120 kids and at least 30 moms and dads! A clear gospel message was presented to them using Child Evangelism materials. Then they all received a snack and a special Christmas gift. It was really incredible! Dan and I were able to meet some of the parents and neighbors. It was truly a delight!

Many of the children who came to Carlos Laborde in Bolivia on December 30

Exciting things are happening in the ministries in Bolivia. Please continue to pray for Dan and Mary Sue Reed and also for Frosty and Cathy Hanson, the two couples who make up our GMI missionary team in Bolivia.

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Grace Ministries International (GMI) began ministering in Malawi in 2000 when two Zambian Bible School graduates were sent as short-term missionaries to that country. In January 2005, Rev. and Mrs. Kennedy Simtowe, GMI missionaries to Zambia, moved to Malawi to strengthen the work by establishing a training center and expanding the evangelistic outreach and church planting ministries. In September 2009, Titus and Kristy Lloyd joined the team to work in leadership training and establishing a computer training center. Joseph and Emmanuela Asong came in June 2012 to work in theological training. Bill and Sue Vinton arrived from Congo in September 2013 and Eric and Mercy Mango joined the team in January 2014.

At the present time the training center in Lilongwe is running an English Bible school. The English program is in the process of being translated into Chichewa which will be offered in the different regions of Malawi. There are currently 30 Grace churches throughout the country.

Thank you to Stefanie Sherman of Mapped Media who spent the summer of 2018 traveling to several of GMI’s fields to capture our ministries on video so we can share them with you! The video of Malawi and our missionaries serving there can be seen right HERE.

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Pictured above: Prison Ministry Chaplain Jackson, Tom Sanchez, Michelle Sanchez, and Grace Church Elder Eddie Phiri

Tom has been working with leaders from several countries to develop an effective and practical approach to prepare leaders for local churches. It has been found that most who are leading local assemblies can’t get away from their families and livelihoods for any significant amount of time to be discipled and attend centralized schools for the theological education they need. Bible correspondence courses (BCC) have been used in the past as a distance learning tool to get around this obstacle and have been revived. The spread of cellphones, computers, and photocopying technology have made it far easier to tap into this resource. We requested and have been given permission to use Bible Correspondence Fellowship’s course materials, and in return, we are editing the lessons so that they fit the size of paper used here and require fewer pages to be photocopied. The courses can be downloaded anywhere in the world by anyone with a working knowledge of English who wants to increase their knowledge of the Word of God. While we’ve been getting these lessons ready for use in Africa, an amazing thing happened: they were introduced to the local prison and immediately over 150 lessons were distributed and returned within a week, completed by prisoners wanting to study the Bible. We are now trying to keep the prison chaplain supplied with lessons for inmates.

Even as we were getting the first couple of Bible correspondence course (BCC) lessons up and running, an unintended offshoot of ministry exploded! A Zambian friend involved in prison ministry described the BCC materials to Jackson, the local prison chaplain and we showed him a sample lesson. He was ecstatic because he had been praying for some idea or tool to jumpstart his stagnant ministry that had become more focused on guards than inmates. He tested for interest in BCC among a segment of the total prison population which numbers somewhere above 2,000. Immediately and without hesitation, 150+ inmates and some guards signed up for the first lesson which is a 10-pager that goes through the Scriptures showing God’s revelation of salvation by grace through faith. An Egyptian Christian who attends Grace Community Fellowship in Kabwe stepped up to cover the cost of getting those first 1500 pages of photocopying done. The chaplain distributed the lessons and within a week, ALL 144 budding scholars completed their first lesson and returned them to the chaplain for correction. The logistics for finding Bibles for inmates, registering them to track their progress, correcting their lessons, and giving them feedback suddenly pushed us to put together a much larger team to get involved in prison ministry as a part of BCC outreach. Our intended target audience was to use BCC as a tool to bring Bible training to pastors and lay leaders, not prisoners. Bible Correspondence Fellowship, in partnership with Prison Mission Association, had created the lessons for prison ministry. Now they’re going to do what they were designed for, and evidently, what God wants done.

Part of the Prison Ministry Team representing the US, Zambia, South Africa and Switzerland. 

We experienced a couple miracles getting over hurdles that we were told could potentially stop this work in its tracks for months or even indefinitely. We needed government permission to proceed with what we were already doing and to take it, personally, inside the prison walls. We spent several days carefully crafting a letter to the Commissioner General for Corrections for permission to minister in prisons, and a few more days getting another letter into just the right official’s hands in Lusaka to ask that foreigners (mostly missionaries) be allowed to help alongside our Zambian teammates. The SAME DAY that we deposited the letters, we received calls saying that letters of affirmation were ready to be picked up. A same-day response is something I was told NEVER happens in Zambia, let alone twice at two different levels of government. The Lord is showing us that He wants this done NOW! The Zambian Gideons have agreed to help by supplying some New Testaments and whole Bibles to the prison library. It’s all coming together and we took our first trip into the maximum security prison Saturday, Dec. 8. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 90+ men came forward to receive forgiveness and declare faith in the Lord Jesus. Then the following week we preached another message to 100 death row inmates in two shifts of 50 each and about a dozen came forward. Pray with us to bring the message of forgiveness and peace that comes with it to Zambia’s prisoners. In the time between face-to-face visits the BCC lessons will keep many minds focused on what they have believed and growing in their faith.

Prisioners in particular cannot afford to pay the cost of printing lessons, so we are receiving donations HERE to help with the cost of printing lessons, about 30 cents each. Just choose Project #1. 

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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Home Office Staff, the Board of Directors, and the Missionaries serving under Grace Ministries International! We pray the Lord blesses you and yours abundantly in 2019 as you seek to follow Him in all you do. We pray the year 2019 is your best year yet! As you pray about the coming year and what the Lord has for your future…

Have you considered becoming a missionary? HELP WANTED! We need missionaries both to expand the ministries in our current fields and to plant churches and start ministries in new fields. We are looking for people with a strong commitment to sharing God’s grace and who are dedicated to dreaming with, planning with, and releasing ministries to believers around the world so that new works will be indigenous, self-sustaining, and self-propagating.

Where are the opportunities for you to serve? We need people to be a part of a pioneering team in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Burundi, and Mozambique to evangelize, plant churches, disciple, and train believers to advance the ministry in these countries. We also need people to work in many of our established fields to disciple; evangelize; work with youth, children, and women; come alongside the national churches and believers in these countries to help develop new ministries and outreaches; and to otherwise share God’s grace! Would you consider being a missionary with Grace Ministries International?

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Grace Ministries International (GMI) missionaries endeavor to make sense in the community where Sylvia Nyakambiri has ministries with the women of Zimbabwe and Malawi. In the picture below, Sylvia is sharing groceries with Zimbabwean ladies. This ministry has now grown to also include Malawian women and helps the ladies to build small businesses to assist in the finances for their families.

The ladies with their newly purchased groceries on December 15, 2018

The ladies contribute a few dollars each month for a period of six months or more, and then groceries are purchased at wholesale price. Their money ends up buying a lot more than what individuals would have bought at retail price. The picture above shows the results of the shopping trip on Saturday, December 15, 2018.

Each lady goes home with a large amount of groceries which includes necessities such as sugar, wash soap, bath soap, toiletries, and cooking oil to list a few.  

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As many of you know, J-Nathan who is the son of Givemore and Sylvia Nyakambiri, was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2018 when he was 5 years old and began chemotherapy treatments in Malawi right away. He had not been feeling well for quite some time prior to the diagnosis but nonetheless it was quite a shock for Givemore and Sylvia. J-Nathan just turned 6 on December 1.

Below is an update that Givemore just wrote to keep us informed of J-Nathan’s progress. Please continue to pray for the whole family.

“J-Nathan Boyd is on his maintenance cycle 2 which is going on well. Praise be to God. He is getting tired of shots and chemotherapy. His immunity frequently drops to 0.250 which is very dangerous. Because of that he sometimes misses school. But the Lord is faithful. He is seeing us and the boy through. JB (as he is affectionately called) has many wishes and desires that as parents we try by all means to fulfill but some are beyond our reach. 

“We thank God for keeping us and the whole family strong. The boy celebrated his 6th birthday with friends around him. We believe and trust God for complete healing. 

“May you please pray that his body will be able to fight against opportunistic infections and reactions to one of the drugs he is getting. Pray that his immunity will not drop to below normal and that he adjusts well to school life. He is lagging behind in his school work but we are hopeful that he will be able to adjust and be able to learn. 

“Continue trusting for God’s healing with us. HERE is a link to a video that shows the hospital where J-Nathan goes for treatment.

“We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.”

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Misión Evangélica Bethesda (the organization of churches affiliated with GMI in Bolivia-the MEB) celebrated their 60th anniversary Sunday evening, December 2. Pastors and members of churches from Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz attended the event which also served to recognize the newly-elected leadership of the MEB. The board of the newly-formed Bible training center also took advantage of the evening to distribute promotional material announcing its course offerings for the 2019 academic year. Missionaries Dan and Mary Sue Reed and Frosty and Cathy Hansen, along with GMI Executive Director Jeremy Clark and board member Cliff Tulsie, represented Grace Ministries International at the event. The GMI team also visited local churches undergoing construction projects to meet the needs of their growing congregations while also meeting with pastors and leaders, some of whose churches are in the process of beginning or developing strategies for new church plants.

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Emmanuela Asong and her husband Joseph are part of our GMI team in Malawi. Joseph and Emmanuela arrived in Malawi in June 2012 and worked with others to establish the first Bible School with the Grace Churches in Malawi. Theological education and leadership training have been their primary focus, but they are involved in other ministries, such as preaching and teaching in Lilongwe and in other Grace Churches scattered all over Malawi, and Emmanuela’s business training and cooking,

Just to let you get to know Emmanuela’s background, she was born in the city of Bamenda in the northwest region of Cameroon. Her family was a strong Christian family and her father, a customs officer, also served as a church planter and elder in their family’s church. After obtaining her advanced level certificate in 2002, she proceeded to the Higher Teacher’s Training College (ENS) in Bambili and graduated with a Higher Diploma in teaching (Economics) after three years. With a firm determination to continue upwards on the educational ladder, she enrolled at the University of Dschang in 2006 where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Economics after two years.

Here is the update Emmanuela recently wrote about her ministries:

I am teaching almost 30 women at Area 44 in business training and cooking every other Wednesday. This venture is evangelistic in nature as most of the women in the class are not members of the Grace Churches of Malawi. So whenever we meet, Pastor Malongo Evans, pastor of the Area 44 Grace Church and one of our Bible school students, shares the Word with these ladies for 30 minutes. I also teach an average of 12 women in Area 38 every other Tuesday. We are receiving numerous testimonies of how the business training is transforming the businesses of the ladies. We also received positive reports of how the cooking training is strengthening families because of the appreciation of the recipes taught.

The building of the kitchen is progressing very well. We have about two months to finish and equip it if all the funds needed become available. Thanks.

In His Grace,

Emmanuela

If you are interested in donating to this project you can go HERE and scroll down the page to Malawi Ministry Kitchen. Also please pray for these women that through this ministry those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ may come to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior.

 

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Dan and Mary Sue Reed were asked by a college student if they would be willing to answer some interview questions for a paper that was required for a class. I thought after spending many years on the mission field of Bolivia the Reeds’ answers would be enlightening for all of us and would give us a peek into the hearts of faithful missionaries serving on the field. So…

1. When did you first feel like you were being called to be a missionary?

I think it was in the spring or summer of 2004 that Dan visited Jerry and DeAnna Olson (his sister and her husband) while they were back in the States from Bolivia. During that visit Jerry  and DeAnna expressed the need for more missionaries in Bolivia and challenged Dan to really prayerfully consider the possibility of our family being involved.  Dan came back home and shared all of this with me. The two of us prayed about it and in time we felt the Lord leading us  into missions, and specifically to Bolivia. Dan and I had each taken a missions trips to Bolivia previously so we were somewhat familiar with the ministry opportunities there.

2. How did you know this was your calling?

After praying about it we both felt a real peace from the Lord, and doors opened for us to move forward and become missionaries. Another thing that really confirmed our decision was the response of our kids. They were 10, 12, and 14 years old when we headed to Bolivia. We wondered how they would feel about the possibility of moving to Bolivia as missionaries. At their ages we thought it might be hard for them.  Our oldest son, Taylor, was all excited about this new adventure. He was ready for a change!  Our younger two, Trevor and Tasha, picked up on his excitement and they were ready to go! What a blessing for us as parents.

3. Did you ever fight or question your calling?

Not really. I was raised on the mission field in Japan so it was very exciting for me when we felt the Lord leading us into missions. It was a very natural transition for me into a lifestyle that I was very familiar and comfortable with. I was ready to make that decision before Dan was.  Ministry was nothing new to Dan. He was raised in a pastor’s family and we had been in the pastorate ourselves for many years.The thought of missions involved a bigger change and adjustment for him. The incredible thing is that the Lord in His perfect time lead us each separately to feel His leading into missions.

4. Have you ever wanted to back out of doing missions?

I think we all have those days when we think, “Is this really worth it?” but then in a few days things usually seem to turn around.

5. How are you living out your calling?

Our mission here in Bolivia was started over 60 years ago and it is well established. Our churches have Bolivian pastors and our schools are run by the Bolivians. We also have a camp ministry which is run once again by Bolivians. Our purpose as missionaries here in Bolivia is to encourage and empower our church leaders to effectively do the work of the ministries that the Lord has given them. We spend time with leaders one on one and in group settings. We work alongside them, encouraging them to use their God-given gifts and talents, and to continue to develop them. One example would be a kids club that we are involved in. The kids that attend are from non-church families and can be pretty challenging at times. We want to also reach out to their parents and neighbors and be able to start a church plant when the time is right. We have Bolivian leaders who lead the club and are in charge, but Dan and I are there to work right along with them. We share materials and ideas with them, and also give counsel and encourage them. This has been a challenging yet rewarding ministry to be involved in.

6. What part of missionary work do you enjoy the most?

I would probably have to say the people. Getting to know them is always such a blessing.Sharing in their trials and times of celebrating.  There is something very special about the deep  friendships that we have with many of the Bolivians.

7. How did you balance your family life while in the mission field?

Since Dan and I both grew up in ministry families we knew firsthand how much ministry can affect your family life. With that in mind we didn’t force our kids to be involved in every aspect of ministry. We tried to make ministry fun so they would want to be involved. We let them           pick and choose how and when to have an active involvement in our ministries. Also, although  we did have people and meetings in our home at times, we tried to really keep our home a place of refuge for our family. It was a place where we could be a family and not always be dealing with ministry. In our home we were just a normal family. We also tried to make sure our kids knew that they were our priority.  Ministry is important but our family is even more important! When we had really busy ministry times we made sure to then take a bit of a break to spend time as a family. It really is all about finding a good balance.

8. How did you know that you wanted to be missionaries together?

We each felt the Lord’s leading and He gave us each a peace about being missionaries.

9. How has cross-cultural service enriched your life?

It really opens your eyes to view the world in a different way. It helps you to have a broader understanding of how different cultures and people are, and that is a beautiful thing. It also develops a desire to be more accepting towards people that are different from us. People     and cultures are so interesting and when you live cross-culturally I think you learn to really value that. We feel drawn to people that are different from us and want to get to know them.  It is an experience that definitely enriches our lives. I also think it has made us more people- oriented and less materialistic.

10. What advice would you give for people going in that direction?

I would say take a missions trip or two. See how you feel about being out of your comfort zone….in a different culture. Talk to missionaries and pray for God’s clear leading in your life.

11. What do you perceive are your strengths in ministry?

I am organized and can plan out details. Dan is very much a people person. We are both encouragers, which is something very needed here in Bolivia. Dan and I work well together, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

12. What do you see as your weak points in ministry?

Probably our Spanish. I don’t think that either of us would be considered gifted in learning a new language. We came to Bolivia when we were in our 40’s and it was very hard work to learn Spanish at that age. Our kids picked it up playing soccer with neighbor kids and interacting with the people at church. It was a natural process for them.There are still times when we can’t express ourselves like we could in our native language.That can be frustrating but I think it  has taught us to listen more. I guess that’s a good thing.

13. What is your philosophy of ministry?

Our philosophy of ministry is to bring people to the Lord, help them grow in their relationship with the Lord, and then equip them to be involved in ministry themselves. On a new mission field the missionary is doing or starting the ministries since it is completely new to the nationals. But as ministries are established we believe the missionaries need to step back and transition the ministries over to the nationals.  They need to be in these leadership roles. As  missionaries we don’t want to be doing ministries that the nationals can do themselves.In time our goal is to work ourselves out of a job, and if the nationals can continue in ministry without us, we have done our job.

14. How are you ministering to the people of Bolivia? What do you do?

I work with a women’s committee which plans events for the women in our mission. I used to speak more often at these events and at our different church women’s groups. At this point in our ministry we have more Bolivian women who are capable of speaking so I have taken more  of a step back from that role, but there are always other ways that I can help. Dan and I meet  with individuals or groups of leaders to encourage them and to give counsel on ministry issues.

In fact I’ll be meeting one on one with a young girl tonight. Dan often receives calls from  pastors in our mission who want to meet with him to get his opinion on ministry ideas or  problems. Dan and I work at the kid’s club that I mentioned earlier. We have Bolivian leaders who are in charge but we work right alongside them. Dan and I have had the chance to build a good relationship with the caretaker of the property and his wife and three kids. This in itself has been a special ministry. Dan has opportunities to teach and preach within our mission             here right in Santa Cruz and at times is able to travel up to La Paz to do some teaching among our pastors and leaders there. Our favorite ministry and what comes naturally to us is just encouraging our Bolivian believers.

15. What is a misconception that you had to learn to overcome?

I had always heard that once you learned a second language, learning a third language was not so hard. Having grown up in Japan I was fluent in Japanese and English as a child.  So I  thought there are my two languages….Spanish should be easy. I was in for a big surprise.    Spanish was hard and I had to work much harder to learn it than I ever expected. It has been a good language to learn though, since there seem to be Spanish-speaking people all over the world.

16. How have the people of Bolivia impacted you as a person? As a couple?

Bolivian people are so kind and gracious!  It is a joy to be with them. It’s amazing how they respond so kindly in certain situations that could be very frustrating. By their example they have helped me to learn to think before responding at times. They are so gracious when we            as foreigners do something that is culturally a bit off. They are patient and calm, things that we are still learning from them. One big way that the Bolivians have impacted our lives is the value and importance they put on people and relationships rather than events and activities.  Bolivians often arrive late to events because they see a friend along the way and choose to chat with them. Relationships are their priority!  Another thing would be seeing Bolivian believers who have so little and yet are full of joy! They are examples to us of contentment and knowing what is really important in this life.

17. How would you describe your overall experience?

It has been good although very hard at times. We have been stretched way out of our comfort zone, and yet God has always carried us. We have grown in our dependence on God. We know very clearly that we cannot do things on our own. We can accomplish things only with the help and strength of God. We have had trials and disappointments but also so many victories and  reasons for celebrating. It is so encouraging to see kids that we worked with in Awana who are now young leaders in our churches. They accepted the Lord, grew in their faith, and are now  ministering to others. That’s what it is all about!  We thank the Lord for the opportunity to minister among these precious Bolivians. We wouldn’t trade our time in Bolivia for anything.

 

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Land is needed in Paraguay and Panama. The church plant in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, rents a facility that does not have enough room for the current congregation let alone for growth. There are 35-40 consistent attendees while several more participate in different weekly events, and even more visit during the month. They need to purchase land or a building which they can develop in order to grow their church through evangelism and train new leaders to help with the church planting efforts locally and throughout the country. Below is a video made by our missionaries in Paraguay in which they share their need for another place for their people to meet.

To get a jump start on the ministry in Panama, GMI is encouraging the missionary team to purchase land where they can plant a church, conduct outreach, and train Panamanians for ministry. Economic conditions are now favorable to buy property in a strategic and developing area just north of the city of David in the western part of the country. Visit the project page at gracem.org to help with these projects.

 

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