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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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GMI missionaries Carlos and Denise Brunk were invited to share Bible stories, play games, and do crafts with kids for a cultural event organized on October 6. Most of the kids know about Denise from the Brunks’ radio program during which she tells stories from the Bible.

They shared the gospel with both the kids and their parents who also know Carlos and Denise from their daily radio program. This includes visitors from Aruba who listen to the radio program over the internet. The event was a success and they were able to meet many listeners of their radio program.

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This past Friday, Alex Gulart and Cory Hodgson conducted their first Bible study in the border city of Posadas, Argentina. After a four-hour drive south to the Paraguayan city of Encarnacion, across the Paraná River from Posadas, they were joined by Alex’s friend Natanael who is currently a university student interested in ministering to Muslims. Natanael has some contacts at a university in Posadas, and they agreed to meet for a Bible study.

We met with Arnold, an influential student leader, and Patricia, who works in a café. Alex discussed some important ideas from the book of Hebrews and there was some great interaction. About halfway through the lesson, a young man named Emanuel overheard what was going on and asked to join the study. He had some great questions and was grateful to hear what Alex was sharing. After the Bible study we visited with a Christian man who is part of the Laotian community in Posadas and from there we visited a local Buddhist temple.

We are thankful for the contacts Natanael has supplied in Argentina and for his dedication to sound doctrine and evangelism. Please pray for our team in Paraguay as we seek to broaden our contact base in Argentina and continue to reach university students with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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A Bible study in Caaguazú

GMI missionary Alex Gulart writes this: “A few months ago, we started taking trips to Caaguazú, a small city of 130,000 people, around 90 miles away from Ciudad del Este, when a friend of a sister from our church mentioned two things to her: 1) the difficulty of finding a church with sound doctrine, and 2) her desire to open her house to study the Word of God. These 2 comments made noise in our hearts and with prayer we started going there. The mother of Elvira (our contact there) had a stroke so we had to stop going for a few weeks while she focused on taking care of her mom. During that time Etienne was born and I had to go to Uruguay for my father´s health. Two weeks ago we started going again. We have had 2 Bible studies so far with 8-10 people attending. There are a lot of possibilities of ministry there (we can visit the prison, the hospital, the nationals, etc.), and we are making good contacts. We are so excited to see how God is blessing little by little our work there. Please pray for wisdom and God´s guidance so we can take the right steps.

“Encarnación is the third main city of Paraguay with almost 210,000 people. It is located around 185 miles from Ciudad del Este. This beautiful city was always in my heart since we came to Paraguay. Encarnación is a mix of cultures, surrounded by different colonies (Germans, Ukrainians, Japanese, Brazilians, etc.), and also a large, growing Muslim population (they have 2 mosques already). We know that there are a lot of people who are searching for a Bible church but they cannot find one – this is sad but true. But God is at work! He provided a young follower of Christ named Natanael (pictured right) from Posadas (pictured left), the neighbor city on the Argentinian side (just crossing a bridge to get there). He moved from Posadas, Argentina, to Encarnación, Paraguay, just following a desire to reach the foreigners in this city. He studies at the University of Posadas, so the possibilities in that city are real and we may start a Bible study inside of the University. Please pray for open doors, because if God opens a door for us, we want to enter and give Him the Glory that He deserves. Please pray that God give us passion for His name…if we are passionate for His Holy name, we will be passionate for making His name known among the nations, reaching the souls that don’t know him yet. Please pray for the hearts of the people we talk to… that they might come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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On Monday, September 10, GMI candidates to Panama Ronnie Mackensen and Jaque Neiverth were married in a lovely beachfront ceremony just north of Grand Haven, Michigan. They met when Jaque came to the States for three months earlier this year and stayed with Pastor and Mrs. John Lowder and their family in Byron Center, Michigan. Both Ronnie and Jaque have a heart for serving the Lord in missions. They will be traveling to the Pacific Northwest and visiting churches to raise support during the next three months, so if you live in that area, hopefully you will have an opportunity to meet them!

To learn more about Ronnie and Jaque, click HERE.

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BreakThrough visits Puerto Rico. This Caribbean island was the latest field visited by the GMI-affiliated martial arts team, BreakThrough. From August 1-10 the team performed evangelistic presentations in parks, two churches, a strip mall, and other public venues attracting crowds of all ages who heard the gospel. At Juana Diaz Bible Church, the team conducted a series of evening self-defense classes attended by both regular church goers and several people from the community visiting for the first time. Each class concluded with a message from God’s Word.

 

 

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Grace Bible Center in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, is now open. GMI missionary Frosty Hansen and GBC (Centro Bíblico de la Gracia) Board President Miguel Mendez cut the ribbon to officially open the training center on July 22. Those present at the ceremony toured the facility while the inaugural class took place the next day.

 

 

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Traveling to Zimbabwe at the end of July GMI board member Jim Moore, along with GMI missionary Tom Sanchez (Zambia), and the leader of the Grace Churches in Zambia, Chrispin Mundia, conducted a multiday seminar for around 30 church leaders in Zimbabwe hungry to learn more about the grace of God. This was an opportunity to continue developing a relationship with these churches and to further explore the possibility of working together with them in the future. The conferences were another catalyst encouraging both Zimbabwean and Zambian church leaders to seek ways to develop programs to teach God’s Word and to train and equip members of their local churches.

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In Nicaragua, after months of civil unrest, GMI missionaries Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli have resumed offering Bible institute courses. On a related note, twelve years after offering its first class, Grace Bible Institute in Costa Rica, from which Emiliano and Raquel graduated, continues to train another generation of leaders.

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On the island of Curacao over the past year, Pastor Michael Look has offered courses in theology and homiletics. Earlier this month in his church, Iglesia Bíblika, he recognized three students who received certificates for their achievements in these courses (see photo).

 

 

 

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While evangelism is important to growing and planting churches affiliated with GMI around the world, biblical training is imperative to their succession. Part of our mission is to equip local believers who will ultimately do the training. Pray for more missionaries to help us in this effort. We are looking for additional missionaries to serve in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Zambia, and elsewhere to come alongside local believers to facilitate biblical training to ensure that new generations learn God’s Word.

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PROJECT OF THE MONTH. Our Project of the Month is ATV Wheelchairs for Tanzania. These wheelchairs are made by a company called SIDO using bike parts! The wheelchairs last through 5-6 years of hard use in Tanzania in off road conditions and are easily repaired by simply buying bike parts locally and swapping out the broken parts for new ones. The cost to buy and transport a 3-wheel wheelchair 700 miles to the Rukwa Valley is $600. There are several people in the remote Rukwa Valley who could really benefit from using one of these wheelchairs. $1200 for two wheelchairs.

OUR GOAL THIS MONTH IS TO RAISE FUNDS FOR TWO WHEELCHAIRS. **To give online, go to: https://gracem.org/?ch_cause=small-projects/atv-wheelchairs-for-tanzania .

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A team of 20 students and leaders from 12 churches in seven states came together in July at Grace Christian University to prepare to serve cross-culturally in both Curacao and Bonaire as this year’s EXITE Team. After preparing lesson plans, special music, crafts, games, and testimonies in boot camp, we began our ministry about 40 miles north of Venezuela on the beautiful island of Curacao. It was great to serve together with our local leaders on work projects like building a storage shed, doing fence repairs, and helping to renovate the interior of the church. Sharing our testimonies, singing, and worshipping together with the believers in two churches affiliated with Grace Ministries International (GMI) was a blessing.

After a 25-minute flight, our next stop was the island of Bonaire where GMI missionaries, Carlos and Denise Brunk had a busy week lined up for us. In addition to lots of painting in the church’s meeting place, we were able to share the Gospel with kids in four Community Centers through the creation story. What a blessing to watch high school students stepping out of their comfort zone and sharing the Good News using the Evangecube! Another highlight was helping the church host a beach volleyball tournament as an outreach event. It was a fun night and many heard the Gospel as it was shared through the testimony of Pastor Marshall Look of the Netherlands. The local TV station and newspaper gave the event a lot of coverage. Neither of the two EXITE teams won the trophy but we had fun trying.

One can’t travel to Curacao and Bonaire without taking time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. The snorkeling, the flamingos, the iguanas, and the salt flats were all incredible.

A big thank you to Carlos and Denise Brunk and the leadership of the two Curacao Grace churches for making this trip possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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