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Pastors Mathews Selengu (Grace Churches of Malawi National Council Chairperson and Lilongwe Bible School final year student), Davies Balala (pastor at Chisiyo branch and Lilongwe Bible School second year student), and Joseph Asong went to Mauni, which is about two hours northeast of Lilongwe, on Thursday, June 15. They opened a new Chichewa Bible School Centre and taught the first 15-hour course: Methods of Bible Study. Eight students started the course and all eight sat through to the end. Given the brevity of the trip, we did not engage in evangelistic activities because the students needed all the time to catch up with homework and prepare for exams.

Please pray for the beginnings of this Bible school: pray for more students to attend and complete the courses; pray for wisdom and the ability to communicate well for those who teach the courses, pray for spiritual growth for all who are involved in this Bible school project.

* (The picture above is of the first class of students at Chichewa Bible School Centre.)

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The following was written by Frosty Hansen and first appeared in the Hansens’ recent email update. Frosty and Cathy are missionaries serving in Bolivia under Grace Ministries International.

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Three months ago we arrived in Bolivia fully aware of some challenges which lay before us. Some of these were personal – adjusting once again to life in Santa Cruz, getting up to speed with our Spanish, making needed repairs to the house, fulfilling residency requirements and purchasing a vehicle. Though Spanish is always a work in progress and the paperwork was more cumbersome than we anticipated, the final obstacles were overcome the last Friday of May when Frosty completed his three-week wait for a driver’s license and took possession of a 1999 Mitsubishi Montero. Thanks for your prayers!


But we did not come to Bolivia just to establish residency and become part of the organized mayhem which is Santa Cruz traffic. Grace Ministries International’s Bolivian partners, the Misión Evangélica Bethesda (MEB), requested assistance in establishing a theological training center which will equip men and women to serve both here in Bolivia and as missionaries to other Latin American countries. Though ministry training has long been a focus of GMI’s work in Bolivia, the formal training facility had ceased operation a number of years ago.


Since our arrival Frosty has met with the MEB leadership on countless occasions, discussing how to move forward. Since adequate facilities are a major need, a lot of time was spent examining and praying about potential plans for a new facility. In May the MEB tentatively approved a plan to add a second story to their existing building (picture and architect drawing above) to house the classrooms, library and office space of the Centro Teológico Bethesda (CENTEB). Demonstrating their commitment to the project and a willingness to make a sacrifice for the future generations, the MEB pledged to raise $15,000 toward the project.


Our recent bi-annual newsletter from GMI mentions GMI’s willingness to partner with the MEB in the construction project. If you did not receive our letter in the mail, you can read it HERE.

  

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Last weekend a family from Grace Bible Church in Alajuela, Costa Rica (Alvaro and Mauren Barrantes and their children) took another survey trip to David, Panama, to get a better understanding of what it would look like for a missionary family to live and serve there under the church in Costa Rica and Grace Ministries International (GMI). Panama is a country GMI is actively investigating as a potential new field and we would like your prayers as we continue to evaluate this option.

While in Ciudad de David, the Barrantes had three objectives to accomplish: 1) search homes for rent for future missionaries; 2) search schools for missionary children; and 3) see buildings to rent to start a church and check out the cost of land where they could build in the future.

HOMES FOR RENT:

When searching for homes to rent, there are a couple of things to take into account–the cost of rent, the area where it is located, and whether there is adequate drinking water because the city has been going through a supply problem. Another thing to consider is the climate of the city and whether you will need air conditioning and how much this will drive up the cost of electricity.

AVAILABLE SCHOOLS:

Alvaro and Mauren visited two schools while on their trip. One was The Oxford School where everything is in English. Another school is bilingual and the cost of tuition is lower. There is also a third school called the Adventist College of David that could be considered. Generally speaking, the quality of education is lower in Panama than in Costa Rica.

LAND OR CHURCH BUILDING:

Because they had limited time on their trip, Alvaro and Mauren only saw one piece of land.

Several other important points were observed on the trip, such as the cost of vehicles and what it costs for gas. Food costs were approximately the same as Costa Rica but fast food costs were considerably lower in Panama. The Barrantes family was also able to make contact with a man (seen on the left) whose parents are members of the church in Alajuela. He is a musician and is a potential leader of the praise ministry in Panama.

Please pray for IBG Alajuela in Costa Rica and GMI as Panama is evaluated as a possible new field. Important decisions are being made as we pursue our goal of eight new fields by 2023.

 

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Below is what Milo and Raquel Seravalli, GMI Missionaries serving in Nicaragua, reported about the day the first service took place on the property:

Today was our first formal meeting on the property that God has provided for the ministry– and what we now call “Rooted” church (Arraigados).

At 3 PM we started the Children’s Club called “Come and See” (Ven y Ve). Our biggest fear was that the children who lived near our house would stop going to the group. The surprise was that all the children attended and they were joined by the children of the neighborhood San Julián where the church is located. We had a total of 60 children. There weren’t enough chairs or crafts for the children, but the leaders were able to minister to the kids. There weren’t enough cookies, but there was plenty of desire to learn about God.

At 6:30 PM we had the service for adults. Because we didn’t have enough chairs for the children, we rented 12 more; however, with 80 people, we needed about 30 more chairs. The good thing was that all those who were standing are people who ALREADY GO TO THE CHURCH – the people we have invested in for more than three years, those who already have a relationship with Jesus. They were ready to serve, some ministered to the guests, others served food, some gave their testimony in the service. There was praying, singing, caring, and giving a Bible lesson to the children – everybody loving each other.

At the end of the afternoon we saw the big list of things we need: classrooms for children, an auditorium, chairs, speakers, and microphones. But those things are the least important compared to what we already have — disciples — people ready to share their faith with others. Prayers. The Holy Spirit. The Word of God. What else do we need? The One who started the work will improve it until the final day.

The Name:

During those days we were praying for an identity for the church, and we both had in our hearts the desire to bear fruit, we found the verse Colossians 2:6-7 which says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, live in him now, rooted and built up in him, confirmed in the faith as taught, and full of gratitude. “With this they understood the importance of roots to bear fruit.” That’s why we chose the name, Rooted, for our church.

A seed sown to bear fruit:

As part of the program, we made a “time capsule.” This is a container that we filled with prayers, desires, photos, and stories of how this church started in Nagarote. We buried it and will open it again on May 20 of the year 2037 — in 20 years. A great road lies ahead.

How beautiful it is to know that God allows us to dream about the future of this church. So to see fruit we put “fertilizer” to those roots sown. We wrote a Mission, Vision, and Values, which give us a True North, an address.

The Mission: the mission of Rooted is to know, imitate, and share Jesus.

The Vision: the vision of Rooted is to evangelize the lost, edify new believers, equip disciples, and send leaders.

Our Values: we are Christocentric, bibliocentric, we pray, we disciple, we are united, we have grace, and we move in faith.

Maybe you couldn’t be here, but you are part of this church. Every prayer unites us. Every time we share what is happening in Nagarote, you do something that we cannot do from here. Thank you for being a part of the sowing of God, and if you have time, just pray and praise the Lord because of what He is doing in Nagarote.

Please enjoy the photos below!

                    

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What can I do now to prepare for life as a missionary?

This is one of those questions I am frequently asked by college students, recent grads, and families or individuals thinking about joining our missionary team. Recently, Grace Ministries International put together a brochure which gives practical tips advising how a person who has decided to become a missionary or is seriously considering it can start preparing now for this adventure of a lifetime. Click HERE to read that document and feel free to contact me if you have any questions (616-241-5666 or gmi@gracem.org). You can also fill out this Getting Acquainted Form so we can get to know you and be in touch soon.

For some of you, having read that last paragraph, the wheels are turning and you want to know what the opportunities to serve with GMI are and what it looks like to become a GMI missionary. As you check out those links please know that we need your help as we continue to open new fields and expand the work on established fields.

One of the joys of serving as a missionary is being a part of the Lord’s work as you get something new started. In Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, around 30 people attended the first service on May 7 in the new facility the GMI missionary team is renting. Click HERE to see a video of that first service. Likewise, Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli had their first service on May 20 attended by 80 under the new pavilion on the property in Nagarote, Nicaragua.

GMI missionaries Brett and Debby Chapman, serving with Jeff and Sally Roth, are busy in the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where they are leading Bible studies, running kids clubs, teaching English, and much more. All of this they do with the goal of evangelizing and planting churches that teach God’s grace to their Nicaraguan neighbors. They would love to host ministries teams to help them reach out to more of their community as they build relationships in Matagalpa. Again, please contact us if you would like more information about sending a team to work with the Chapmans.

Last weekend a family from Grace Bible Church in Alajuela, Costa Rica, (Alvaro and Mauren Barrantes and their children) took another survey trip to David, Panama, to get a better understanding of what it would look like for a missionary family to live and serve there. Panama is a country GMI is actively investigating as a potential new field and we would like your prayers as we continue to evaluate this option.

In my last email update, I told you about a new GMI missionary family, Givemore and Sylvia Nyakambiri, who will serve with our missionary team in Malawi for a time before moving to neighboring Mozambique to evangelize, disciple, and plant churches there. Since they are originally from Zimbabwe they do not have a support base or home church here in the U.S. from which they can raise funds. I would encourage you to consider investing in this family as they ultimately will help GMI open Mozambique as a new field. Monthly support is key for any missionary since this lets them know how much support they can consistently depend upon to carry out their ministry. They are just starting out and need both monthly support and also special gifts. If you would like to give towards the Nyakambiris’ ministry through GMI, click HERE.

Thanks for your faithful prayers for and interest in Grace Ministries International. All that we do is a team effort and you are part of that team!

Pressing towards the goal,

Jeremy Clark
GMI Executive Director

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This brief article was written by Erin Kemper, our Social Media Specialist at GMI. She was raised in Tanzania as an MK (missionary kid) along with her two sisters and a brother. 

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Ruby opened the door with a big smile and outstretched arms with hugs for all of us. She had a blanket laying over one arm, and when all six of us made it inside, her husband Herb took Dad to watch football and sat him in a nice comfy chair. Ruby handed my mom the blanket and showed her to a room for a nap and then took us four kids to the table for some fun and games. We were eventually led outside to the lawn where we could see Mt. Saint Helens. Somehow in all that time Ruby also prepared an amazing meal which I obviously remember.

This couple refreshed my family by putting themselves in each of our shoes. They gave rest and allowed their home to be used for a place to restore and renew. They encouraged us and listened. They embraced us and let us relax and be ourselves. They served us and found unique ways to minister to my family…because sometimes those in ministry need to be served too. I know my parents, my family, needed it that day, and because Herb and Ruby were sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, my family got the boost they needed that day to continue the job that was before them.

I tell you about this sweet couple because I want you to realize that it doesn’t take much to make a big impact in someone’s life, specifically today talking about our missionaries’ lives. They are normal people just like you and me. They are excited about what God has called them to and they eagerly want to share about what all that entails with those who have a listening ear. But they also need rest, encouragement, and someone to be sensitive to what their particular needs might be at that time.

So, from things I remember people doing for my family, I decided to make you a list. That way, at your next church missions conference or the next time your missionary friend is on home assignment, you have a few more ideas for ways to bless them.

10 Things to Do to Encourage a Missionary on Home Assignment:

1. Give the missionary or missionary family a gift card to go out to a restaurant. If they have kids, offer to babysit while they go out.
2. Have the missionary or missionary family over for dinner (into your home) and let them rest and play games with no agenda.
3. Take a missionary out to coffee and ask the deep, hard, exciting questions with genuine care and interest.
4. Give them a little spending money to do something fun on the road. (They will spend hours driving while on home assignment.)
5. Make sure they are suited with warm coats and boots for winters or swimwear for the summer.
6. Some MKs get warn thin. During a Sunday School hour offer to take them aside and let them hang out with you instead of going to their 10th new Sunday School class.
7. If they have kids, take them to a park and just let them run, play, laugh, and “let their hair down” while the parents do whatever they want and/or need to do.
8. Take them to the movies.
9. Prepare your church family beforehand with information about the visiting missionaries and encourage people to invite them into their homes for meals, take an interest in their lives, and build relationships with them that could remain after they are gone.
10. Keep in touch after they leave with notes of encouragement, phone calls, and a plan to reconnect on their next home assignment.

NOTE: One response to an update letter from the missionary can be a huge encouragement.

Do you have ideas you would like to share with ways you have been able to bless and encourage a missionary or missionary family? We would love to hear from you at GMI! Email us at gmisocialmedia@gmail.com

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Having a church is much more than renting a place, hanging up a sign, and inviting people. It takes many people praying, supporting, and offering. We thank you all very much! – Alex Gulart

What Alex is describing here is a beautiful thing–the Body of Christ working together to bring the gospel to the world. Looking back over the past few years I am amazed to think that the inaugural services of Iglesia Bíblica Gracia (Grace Bible Church), Ciudad del Este, all began with presenting a new ministry opportunity to our brothers and sisters in Christ across North America. In 1 Corinthians 16:8,9 the Apostle Paul refers to Ephesus as a “great door of effective work” that was opened to him. We had a similar perspective of the opportunities in Paraguay, thus making it our joy to present the potential of the field to you. Since then you have partnered with us in prayer, guidance, encouragement, and financial support, all of which have been pleasing to God and a blessing to His ministry here. May 7, 2017 was a special day as a weekly Bible study became an officially established church within the inner city of Ciudad del Este. Alex delivered a Dr. Sam Vinton inspired message, breaking down the church title into its three parts as the foundation of the ministry in the community Grace (salvation in Christ alone), Bible (His Truth), and Church (the Body of Christ). We had a group of three dozen worshiping together, with people from Paraguay, India, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, the United States, Uruguay, and Bolivia, as well as those with a Lebanese/Paraguayan background. Praise be to God for this incredible evening!

Click HERE to see a video of the service.

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined with us in our endeavors for Christ in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay! This is a moment to be celebrated by all.

With much love,

Team Paraguay

 

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Frosty and Cathy Hansen, GMI missionaries in Bolivia, recently obtained their 3-year residency in Bolivia and they are praising the Lord! In their recent email update which was sent to their supporters and those interested in their ministry they wrote:

“A tremendous feeling swept over us as we walked out of the immigration office in Santa Cruz on May 3 with our passports in hand. Inside was the page seen above, indicating our papers had been accepted in La Paz and we are now official residents for a three-year period. Praise the Lord! The initial three-year residency is fairly new and a cost saver. Over the past number of years other missionaries have started with a one-year residency, meaning they would soon need to go through additional paperwork and expense to have it renewed, so the three-year residency is a true blessing!

“This now opens the door for us to get our Identification cards, a requirement for everyone in Bolivia whether a natural citizen or a foreign guest. We will present those papers on Friday morning May 5. Once that card is emitted, Frosty can pursue a Bolivian driver’s license after which we will purchase a vehicle, enabling us to get to our churches and accomplish our ministry with greater ease.”

Frosty and Cathy Hansen recently returned to Bolivia, where they previously served with Grace Ministries International from 1993-2004. Frosty’s ministry for the past 12 years has been as president of the Grace Gospel Fellowship (GGF), the association of pastors, churches, and organizations of which GMI is affiliated. They are getting involved in theological education, ministry training, mentoring, and women’s ministries. Please pray for them as they get settled into their life and ministries in Bolivia.

        

Above left: A great group of Santa Cruz pastors who were challenged to personal growth and the development of future leaders for the MEB (the Bolivian church, Misión Evangélica Bethesda)

Above right: Emanuel Church anniversary with Elisa Ortega and daughters, Silvana and Lilibeth.

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John and Naomi Caprari are overjoyed by the little miracle God has given them! Her name is Jael Lynn (pronounced Jayelle) and she arrived Saturday night, May 6, at 9:45pm. She is a tiny little one weighing in at 6lbs,1 oz and 19 inches long. She is healthy and mom is doing well. We here at Grace Ministries International say congratulations, John and Naomi! We praise the Lord for Jael’s safe arrival!

          

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A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Harry and Kaylah Alicea, GMI missionaries in Puerto Rico, on the birth of a baby boy on April 29!! Jairus John Alicea was born in the afternoon at 3:58pm! He is a healthy baby weighing in at 8lbs 4oz and 20in long. Harry and Kaylah are so thankful he is finally here and everyone is doing well! Welcome to the GMI Family baby Jairus!

        

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