Blog Archives

As many of you know, several of GMI’s Tanzania missionaries have been on the move recently and it is hard to keep track of exactly where they are. Of course, you can always reach them by email which is the most reliable mode of communication at this time or you can send a card or letter c/o Grace Ministries International, PO Box 9405, Grand Rapids, MI 49509. We will make sure it gets to them in their monthly mail packet.

TED AND KIM RABENOLD: Ted and Kim are hard at work in the Rukwa Valley of Tanzania. We received an exciting email update of their work this morning which you can read HERE.

BROOK SEEKINS: Brook is currently in Ohio spending time with her parents and getting some rest. She would love to hear from you!

JOHN AND NAOMI CAPRARI: John and Naomi can be found in Grand Rapids, MI, where they are awaiting the birth of their baby in a couple of months. It was advised that they be near a doctor and hospital when they were having some complications and South Africa was not an option for them due to visa issues.

STEVE AND BARB SHERMAN: Steve and Barb continue their ministries in Mwanza, Tanzania. They would love to hear from you via email. It is always an encouragement to hear from people back in the States.

CORY AND KIM HODGSON: Cory and Kim and their three children are currently in Portland, OR, where they are spending time with family and just adjusting to life in the U.S. That back and forth transition always takes a bit of time.

MIKE AND LYNN CARAWAY: After spending time with their daughter and son-in-law in Dubai, Mike and Lynn, along with Luka, just recently arrived in the States. They continue to work with Grace Community Development & Education (GCDE) from a distance.

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Photo credit: welllebanon.org

Since the beginning of 2016 there has been a lot of activity and many changes in the GMI missionary family. People marry, babies are born, children move away, and life keeps moving forward. Have you ever been in one of those conversations with someone and you assume they are as up to date as you are and things go into a downward spiral of confusion? Been there, done that?

Well, we are going to update you on some of the happenings in the last 13 plus months of some of our missionaries’ lives:

HARRY AND KAYLAH ALICEA: Harry and Kaylah are expecting their 2nd child in just a couple of months. Their family is growing!

CHUCK AND JOY BEFUS: Chuck and Joy’s big family is getting bigger. Last month Erin married Arturo in Costa Rica and they are also expecting the addition of two grandbabies this year! Autumn is also planning a wedding for July which will add another son-in-law.

JERRY AND SANDI BOMERS: Jerry, Sandi, and their two children raised their support and arrived in Paraguay where they are excited to be serving the Lord alongside the Gularts.

JOHN AND NAOMI CAPRARI: John and Naomi went to Tanzania, had some difficulty with the pregnancy and went to South Africa for medical care. While in South Africa they ran into visa problems which wouldn’t allow them to stay until the birth of the baby, so they are now back in Grand Rapids, MI where there are excellent doctors for Naomi and excellent neonatologists should the baby decided to come early.

BRETT AND DEBBY CHAPMAN: Brett and Debby had twin boys, Ethan and Asher, on 1/26/16 and I don’t think life has slowed down for them since! They have battled some illness in their family during this last year.

FROSTY AND CATHY HANSEN: They have raised their support and are headed for Bolivia on March 6. I believe that is the quickest I have ever seen anyone raise their support!

APRIL LORENZ: April is raising her support and ideally would like to have her support in by June so she can leave for Puerto Rico early this summer. She is also engaged to be married

ERIC AND MERCY MANGO: They are anxiously awaiting the birth of baby #3 who is due in just a few months.

DAN AND MARY SUE REED: They have been working hard down in Bolivia but in the last year and a half both have lost their fathers.

TOM AND MICHELLE SANCHEZ: Tom and Michelle will be spending several months working with the national leaders in Zambia before opening the new field of Burundi, but they have to raise their financial support first.

STEVE AND BARB SHERMAN: Steve and Barb have moved to Mwanza, Tanzania, to begin new ministry there. They must settle in a new home and get used to working with a new group of people and get settled in a new church.

KENNEDY AND SOFIA SIMTOWE: Kennedy and Sofia are expanding their ministries into Mozambique in 2017.

TALO AND PATTY VERGARA: Talo married Patty in July 2016. She was a newscaster on a local Christian radio station but had wanted to be a missionary. He is finishing his commitment to CIMA International and waiting on the Lord to show them where He would have them go for future ministry.

BILL AND SUE VINTON: Bill and Sue are in the U.S. and will be in the Boston area on February 15, one day before their daughter Rachel and her husband Andrew are due to have their first baby. This will be Bill and Sue’s first grandbaby so they are pretty excited!

 

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How can we help our missionaries who are serving so far away on foreign fields? Or how about when they are in the States on home assignment? How can we show our missionaries that we really care about HOW they are doing and WHAT they are doing? There is so much information available on this topic, especially on the internet. We have whittled it down and taken some information from TEAM and used it with their permission. Now we would like to share it with you.

NINE WAYS TO HELP YOUR MISSIONARY ON THE FIELD

  1. Regular, intelligent, heartfelt prayer is your missionary’s number one need. Nothing else is as important; perhaps nothing else is harder to give on a consistent basis.
  2. Communicate regularly with your missionary. A five-minute telephone conversation may not be as expensive as you think. But check the time difference — don’t call at 3 a.m.! Send emails without an obligation to respond to every one.
  3. Send your missionary something to help celebrate the holidays: for instance, Thanksgiving napkins or Christmas placemats.
  4. Birthday cards are very important, especially for children. Mark your calendar to send cards far enough in advance to get there on time (but late is better than never!).
  5. Visit your first-termer, or send your pastor or missions chairperson. Always give advance notice and don’t stay too long. Remember that your missionary is busy and can’t always drop everything and act as your tour guide. And do leave a monetary gift to cover the cost of your stay.
  6. Read your missionary’s e-mails and prayer letters thoughtfully. Is he lonely? Is she discouraged? Then send an encouraging note and refer to items mentioned in previous letters.
  7. Send money at Christmas for something “extra” or for your missionary’s vacation. A few days away at a quiet spot will do wonders for his outlook and ministry!
  8. Send gifts that can’t be obtained on that field. Favorite foods, videos of football games, or the latest books in English you can gift through Kindle can be a treat. How about a magazine subscription they would really appreciate that they could get online? If you choose to send something, please check with the missionary first about duty charges and whether it is wise to send them packages. Sometimes you may know someone going to visit them who would be willing to take something small.
  9. Music is appreciated. Remember the ages of your MKs and select music they would enjoy. Recordings of familiar hymns and contemporary worship songs will help your missionary teach his children the basics of North American worship.

 

EIGHT WAYS TO HELP YOUR MISSIONARY AT HOME

  1. During home assignment, give your missionary your friendship. Share what God has done in your life and what you are doing in service for Him. Make a consistent effort to encourage and nurture your missionary’s personal spiritual growth.
  2. Help with the transition back into North American life. Assist with signing up children for school. Offer your name as the “secondary emergency contact” person for school or events. Suggest good places to shop or explain optional activities for children such as library reading hours and the Little League.
  3. Plan a shopping trip. After several years away, your missionary may need to update his wardrobe. Why not treat her to a new outfit? It is particularly important that MKs have clothes to fit in with their peers.
  4. Provide some R & R. Do you have a “get away” spot (cabin, cottage, trailer, in-law apartment) that you could make available for a few days for your missionary? Traveling from place to place while on home assignment can be stressful.
  5. Provide a list of area resources such as reputable doctors, good places to shop, fun places to take the kids, babysitters, beauticians, and barbers. It has probably taken you years to build up a list of places where you do business. Why not share that resource with your missionary?
  6. Can you make your car available for your missionary? A reliable car that will take your missionary over miles of home assignment travel is a gift of peace of mind.
  7. Reorient your missionary to your local church. Lots of faces have changed since your missionary was last there. Make sure you and others connect with your missionary not only in church but also in informal gatherings outside of church. Having a party? Invite your missionary!
  8. Most of all, pray. Wasn’t that already mentioned? For a missionary in the heat of spiritual battle, nothing is more encouraging than to be told, “I pray for you every day.”

 

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Yesterday Bruce Kemper went home to be with the Lord at the age of 79. He left quite a legacy here on earth and was loved by a long list of family members and many, many friends. He will be missed.

During his adult years Bruce served as a youth pastor at Seattle Berean Bible Church. He then went on to pastor three churches – Berean Bible Church in Spokane, WA; Grace Bible Church in Anaheim, CA; and Grace Bible Church in Port Orchard, WA – before becoming President of Grace Bible College in Wyoming, MI.

While serving in all of these ministries he also gave of his time and talents to sit on the Board of Directors of Bethesda Mission which then merged with Grace Ministries International (GMI) – a total of approximately 46 years serving GMI!

Bruce had a heart for missions! He faithfully attended the board meetings 3-4 times a year, always corresponded with our missionaries, and kept up to date with our missionaries and their ministries so he could pray for them very specifically. That is 46 years he dedicated to the missionaries of GMI!

His son Ken B. Kemper wrote on Facebook yesterday, “Lost my hero today to God’s presence. What an incredible moment that must have been when Dad got to see Jesus and those who beat him there. He probably said, ‘What a great day for the race!’ – the human race! He saw his dad who died when he was 8 and his mom and others.”

Bruce left a legacy with the missionaries of Grace Ministries International. He impacted the lives of many of those serving on various fields around the world. He was loved by many of GMI’s missionaries, board members, and home office staff. Thank you, Bruce, for your MANY years of service and the lives that were changed because of YOU!

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At the end of 2016 we published our Christmas catalog with projects listed, one being John and Naomi Caprari’s project for Kiswahili and Kisukuma Treasures in Tanzania. The Treasure is a field-tested solid-state digital audio Bible. The unit, which fits in the palm of your hand, has a built in solar panel with rechargeable batteries. It is very portable and lightweight and each unit can hold more than 400 hours of audio material. More than 200 languages have an entire New Testament available! The Treasure brings the gospel to life for millions of unreached oral learners!

You God Speaks My Language from Soapbox Pictures on Vimeo.
World Vision states: “According to field studies, 70% of the world prefers a non-literate form of learning. The utter tragedy of this statistic means that more than half of the world does not have an adequate way in which to fully engage with the life transforming Word of God! Thousands are hearing the gospel for the first time, and many are coming to Christ. Each experience is unique but in most instances an oral learner will listen to The Treasure within a group of 8-12 people. Each Treasure is used more than 2,000 hours over the duration of its lifetime. Therefore, it is safe to say that anywhere from 100 to as many as 2,000 people will hear about Christ through each Treasure!

If you would like to be a part of getting God’s Word out to those who are oral learners or those who cannot read the Bible, click HERE to join those who are using Treasures to spread the Word of God. John and Naomi’s project is #8 in the catalog.

Photo credit: deviantart.net

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Empowering X-cultural Interchurch Team Experiences

 

EXITE 2017: Join the 2017 EXITE team as we serve in Paraguay! This summer a select group of high school and college students will travel to Paraguay to learn how to share the love of Christ with the children and youth in Ciudad del Este. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”(Romans 10:15).

A trip like this can be a life-changer as you see firsthand what God is doing on GMI’s newest field. Join us as we work together with GMI missionaries–Alex & Deltha Gulart and Jerry & Sandi Bomers. This will be the first EXITE team to serve in Paraguay. Something exciting happens when we step out of our comfort zone with other students to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.” EXITE is about spiritual growth as we put our faith into action in practical ways serving our Paraguayan brothers and sisters in Christ. Experience the joy of seeing how God can work through you in new and powerful ways as you share His love with people in need of a Savior in a culture and environment very different than your own.

Cuidad del Este has a large Muslim population, many who are open to the message of the Gospel of Grace. You will learn about their culture and observe how the missionaries are living out the Gospel in this bustling city. We will visit the Iguazu Falls which are three times higher than Niagara Falls and wider than Victoria Falls in southern Africa. You will love the warm, welcoming culture of Paraguay. Join the EXITE team today.

Trip Information:

Dates: July 17 – August 2, 2017

July 17-20: Boot Camp at Grace Bible College

July 20 – Travel to Paraguay

August 2 – Return to Grand Rapids

Cost:

$850 – EXITE fees (room & board, local transportation, boot camp costs, project donations, etc.)

$1350 – Estimated plane fare

$2200 – Approximate total cost

Age: 14 years old or 9th grade – college

Alex and Deltha with their children in downtown Ciudad del Este

Alex and Deltha with their children in downtown Ciudad del Este

Alex Gulart teaching a Bible study

Alex Gulart teaching a Bible study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qualifications: No prior construction experience required. You need to be willing to work hard together with a team in cool weather in an urban setting. Enjoy the warm Paraguayan culture, delicious food, and beautiful scenery. Be ready to share your faith, step out of your comfort zone, and serve others in Christ’s name. Prepare to grow in your faith and see God at work in and through your team.

Join our team today!!!  Fill out the application form HERE and send your $100 deposit to GMI, PO Box 9405, Grand Rapids, MI 49509 by February 17, 2017. Sign up today!

If you are interested in being a part of the EXITE team, you can call the GMI office at 616-241-5666 and speak with Don Ten Hoeve to get more information or visit our FAQ page.EXITE

Email us at gmi@gracem.org to request more information or call 616-241-5666.

Here are videos of the EXITE trips in 2015 and 2016 for you to enjoy:

 

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When do you plan to leave for Bolivia?

This is the most common question when we visit churches or talk with friends about God’s call on our lives to return to Grace Ministries International’s work in South America. It is so encouraging to sense your excitement and to know you are supporting us in prayer as we make preparations to once again be involved in the work of equipping men and women in Bolivia to effectively serve Christ in their churches and throughout Latin America.

From the beginning we have set an aggressive goal to be in Bolivia by early March, always wanting to be flexible to the Lord’s plans. As things have progressed, it is looking like this may now be a real possibility. In fact, Cathy has signed up to attend an international conference for missionary women in Santa Cruz beginning March 15.

The following letter is from Jeremy Clark, Executive Director of GMI, explaining where we currently stand as we get closer to setting a date for our departure:

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Just four months ago Frosty and Cathy began raising support to meet an aggressive goal to get to Bolivia by March 2017. We praise the Lord that to date He has provided around 80% of their monthly support!  Thanks to all of you who have pledged to support them and/or have given a special gift towards their ministry. Having raised just over three-fourths of their monthly support, they still need to raise another $920 towards their monthly budget which covers various expenses such as the day-to-day cost of living, ministry expenses, international health insurance, and travel. They will also incur one-time expenses such as airfare, setting up their home and ministry, and purchasing a vehicle.If you would like to join the Hansens’ support team in order to get them to the field by March, click HERE to make a monthly and/or special gift to their ministry.

We are excited to see how the Lord will use them to train others in Bolivia and work with our greater South American missionary team to reach other parts of the continent with the grace of God!

Jeremy Clark
Executive Director
Grace Ministries International

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Thank you once again for your interest in Bolivia and in our ministry. We encountered some treacherous roads during our recent trip to New York and New Jersey, but rejoice in God’s protection as many of you were praying for us.

Your prayers are also appreciated as we go through the process of downsizing – deciding what to toss, donate, store, or take with us – while also traveling to churches. So far the Lord has allowed us to do so with joy and laughter – may we continue with the same spirit!

We thank God for you!

In His grace,
Frosty and Cathy

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Ellie Ratter is a recent graduate of Grace Bible College who was given the opportunity to relieve Kim Hodgson of three months of home schooling responsibilities so Kim could focus more on ministry and just take a break from the home schooling routine. This trip allowed Ellie to get a taste of a different culture and to sense the Lord’s leading in her life concerning what He has for her in the future — a win win, for sure! Below are Ellie’s reflections about the experience:

“Shortly after I graduated from Grace Bible College, I went on a three-month mission trip to Tanzania, East Africa. Before the opportunity was presented to me I had never given much thought to going on a mission trip, let alone Africa! In fact, I had never been out of the country or even on an airplane!  I was searching for different options for work after graduation. I had a handful of different jobs that I would really enjoy to choose from, yet none of them felt right to follow and I couldn’t figure out why. When I was told about the possibility of serving in Tanzania, seemingly everyone and everything pointed to that!

My mission or job was to serve the Hodgson family by teaching their two oldest children (Naomi and Elijah). I did not study to be a teacher, so I really felt like I was living the phrase, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.” And He did! It was eye-opening to be immersed in such a different culture, but it was also a lot of fun! Being in a place and a culture unlike anything you have ever experienced is a beautiful thing. Your world view expands quickly and it pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is hard but SO worth it. I spent a lot of my time with the Hodgsons and some other GMI missionaries, but I was also able to see and experience some cultural things – such as a wedding in a village, a meal at a national’s home, and even simply learning what I could of Swahili so I could communicate with people on my walks to the Hodgsons’ and elsewhere.

If you have ever considered going on a short-term mission trip and the opportunity is available, go! If you have not ever given much consideration to doing a short-term mission trip and the opportunity is presented to you, go! Experiencing a different culture and building relationships with other missionaries and nationals is priceless. And when you do go, make the most of your short time there by befriending some locals as much as it is possible and learn some of the language. There will be a lot that you have never seen or experienced, but you need to embrace it and let the Lord equip you and guide you – because He will!”

 

Photo credit: swiftsat.com

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Photo credit: www.revelationtv.com

Everyone knows there is power in prayer. It is easy to say when things are going well and life is gumdrops and roses. But do we REALLY believe it deep down when the going gets tough…I mean REALLY TOUGH…like when you are a missionary on a foreign field with a medical emergency and the nearest medical facility is three hours away. Does your belief that there is power in prayer sustain you?

In the past couple of weeks Brett and Debby Chapman, GMI missionaries in Nicaragua, have had to deal with two very sick and dehydrated toddler boys – Asher and Ethan –  due to a virus. After being sick for several days, Brett and Debby made the three-hour drive to the hospital in Managua so the boys could get IV fluids. They remained in the hospital about five days before they were well enough to be released. This is Brett and Debby’s response to the ordeal: “Praising God! Our God is so good and He hears our cries! Feeling so thankful for each one who took the time to lift our boys up in prayer this week. God answered!…Praising God for this huge answer to prayer.”

John and Naomi Caprari, GMI missionaries in Tanzania, also had a health crisis concerning Naomi’s pregnancy which was alarming enough for them to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa. They did need to see the doctor there and be treated for the health of Naomi and the baby so we are thankful they made the decision they did. Here is some of their latest update from yesterday (Tuesday, January 3):

“Today, like many other days—since 6 days ago—I cried, but this time it was tears of joy. We had a doctor’s appointment today and got great news. The doctor found the reason for our pregnancy scare. She said I (Naomi) have an infection. This is something that went unnoticed in the biggest city in Tanzania during our last visit. Naomi doesn’t have any of the symptoms that normally come with an infection and that is why it went unnoticed before. We are thankful that we were able to get a good doctor because a continued untreated infection could have led to worse symptoms leading to an early delivery/preterm labor… We will be in South Africa for a little while longer as we have some more testing to do in a week’s time…In the meantime, also pray for our paperwork in immigration to come in quickly. Tanzania recently got a new President that has been changing a lot of the rules in immigration. Therefore, this makes it confusing for many immigration officers and for us as well as we work and wait for our paperwork to be processed. There is a letter we need to get from immigration before re-entering Tanzania. Waiting on immigration can be a slow process, especially with the changing of rules and confusion among different offices. Pray that things go quickly and we are able to return when we get the OK from the doctor here.

“In the meantime, we are excited to see what God’s plan was in sending us here for this time. We are excited to work on making lessons in Swahili—since we are still new at the language it takes us a lot longer to make lessons in Swahili. We are excited to partner and learn from the Things to Come missionaries here in South Africa as they have been doing church planting as well.

“Thank you all for coming on this journey with us and covering us with prayer. We are so thankful that it was not more serious but also thankful to have come here to get treated before it became dangerous for our precious baby. Thank you all for your encouragement and especially for your POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE prayers. What a God we serve.”

So what do you think based on the responses of these two missionary couples? Does their belief that there is power in prayer sustain them when the going gets tough? I think so! I would suggest in both cases prayer was a lifeline, a source to truly pour out their hearts and to have a conversation with their Lord and Savior who knew everything that was happening. He is the One who can give you peace in all situations.

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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 2017 as you seek to follow Him in all you do. We pray the year 2017 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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