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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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GMI missionaries Dan and Mary Sue Reed are faithful in writing a monthly email update to their team of interested supporters of their ministries in Bolivia. On December 9, 2016, they had something very special to report concerning the mission (called the MEB) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, as well as other activities on the field:

“Last Sunday evening, Mary Sue and I attended the 58th Anniversary of our mission here in Santa Cruz. It was such a blessing to see a new generation of our young leaders participating in this evening of thanks and praise! Julian Chambi, the president of our mission challenged all in attendance by saying, ‘we have churches, schools, a camp and ministries but of most importance is that we grow spiritually!’

“We’re looking forward to Frosty and Cathy Hansen returning to Bolivia to work together with us in the ministry. Their desire is to reach full support to enable them to arrive in Bolivia the first week of March. They know the mission, language and Bolivian culture. This is the ideal time for them to return to Bolivia. They bring experience and passion in the desire to work alongside the Bolivian leadership to help prepare the next generation of pastors and Bolivian missionaries to reach other areas of South America.

“Tomorrow morning, we’ll be making a trip to Viru Viru airport to pick up 4 grandchildren of former missionaries, Art and Gretchen Matychuk. The following Wed., the John Mattias family will be arriving. John’s father and mother, Eduardo and Dorothy Mattias, were also missionaries for many years here in Bolivia. This will be a special time for these family members to again visit the country where their relatives are so loved.

“Tonight is a fund-raising concert for a new ministry in Cochabamba. The son of one of our pastors is working towards creating a ministry to children living on the city streets. The goal of tonight’s concert is to provide food for 1,000 street children.”

Exciting things are happening in Bolivia!

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Written by Erin Kemper, GMI Social Media Specialist, and also an MK who has experienced what it’s like to be uprooted from life in the States and go with her family to a foreign field. Her parents, Mike and Terese Benton served under GMI in the Rukwa Valley of Tanzania for 13 years working especially with a children’s ministry in that area.

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It feels like just yesterday, the day my parents sat us down on their bed to talk with us about the opportunity the Lord had led them to, to consider full-time missions in Tanzania with Grace Ministries International. At the time I was no more than 9 years old, though the vividness of that memory makes it seem like it could not have been 16 years ago. But it was.

As I think about that memory, GMI’s Vision 2023 comes to mind as I consider the families around this country who could be in the same position my family and I were in those 16 years ago. That is, if they should step out obediently in faith into whatever and wherever it is God is calling them. For me, God has called me to Stephens City, Virginia, to serve in the local church alongside my husband. For others, you are called to leave this country and go to a new country. My parents, for example, have served faithfully for the last 13 years as missionaries and would be the first to tell you that God can use anyone, any gifts, and any experiences He has provided to you if only you are willing. Because of God’s faithfulness through my parents, they have impacted so many lives for Christ. Another couple who has answered the call to cross-cultural, full-time missions is my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, John and Naomi Caprari. Since their acceptance as missionaries by the GMI board, they have become part of the progress being made under Vision 2023. Exciting things are happening with GMI!

Tanzania changed my life. I saw it change many lives as team after mission team would come through our doors. People would come to the country I called home one person, and leave another, molded a little more by God through their experience. Experiencing missions has a way of transforming hearts, opening minds, and changing perspectives in wonderful ways and in ways that I have never ever heard one person claim to regret…not one.

When missions first became something on my parents’ radar they had invited missionaries to stay with us during our church’s mission conferences each year. If missions is even slightly something you have thought about, I want to encourage you to invite missionaries into your homes. There will most likely be a missions conference at your church this year, this is a great opportunity you do not want to let slip by.

The next step my parents took was a short-term mission trip to the country of Tanzania. At first just my Dad was going to go but they realized that if God was truly calling them, then it was important they both go in order to see and experience what God may be calling them to and how they might be used. God was calling them as a couple, not just one of them. They left an 8, 6, 4, and 2 year old with relatives for two and a half weeks while they explored God’s calling in their lives. This trip changed them. Though the process looked different for each of them, in God’s perfect way, He led them to a decision together.

Whether God uses a short-term trip to call you to missions full time or to give you a burden for missionaries and become a stronger support system for them stateside…or if He even opens up your perspectives to the world around you and the work God is accomplishing all over the world, a short-term mission trip is something that I would highly recommend and ask you to consider. It was very difficult for my parents to leave 4 small children in America while they went to Africa, but it ended up being one of the biggest life-changing events for our family. What might be holding you back from going on a short-term trip?

People may say, “Can’t the money be used for something better?” or “I can’t leave my family or job for that long.” However, though at the time those things seem like a major issue, the Lord can use your presence in a new country and ministry in ways that He never would have been able to if you had not been willing to go. On a previous short-term trip that my husband, Zach, took to Tanzania they were doing door-to-door evangelism in the village of Ilemba and the pastor escorting Zach would introduce him and say, “This man came all the way from America because he has an important message about Jesus to share with you. Will you invite him in?”  They always invited him in saying they were honored and yet bewildered that someone from America would leave all they have there to come be with them. You can’t put a price tag on the impact you can have on people’s lives in another country.  Moreover, you can’t put a price tag on the impact God will have on your own life. The molding, bettering, serving, and cross-cultural experiences are all well worth the price paid, the vacation days lost, and the personal effort spent raising support for the trip. If God is calling you to this He will provide. I have no doubts of this.

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Of course, they do! Missionaries are regular people like you and me. Do you sometimes need encouragement?

Erin Kemper, our GMI Social Media Specialist, contacted our missionaries on the field and asked them what friends and supporters back here in the States could do to encourage them while they are away from home, and here are some of their responses:

  • Let us know they are praying. Send a simple care package. (So much fun to get a little package from someone who was not known to be an interested person.)”  ~ Barbara Trumbower
  • I’m not sure about others missionaries, but I love to receive letters. It means people took the time to write. I love to hear (or read) affirmative words! Many people think that missionaries are tired of hearing nice things, but this is not always true, nor will our ego explode… it is good to hear affirmative words.” ~ Alex Gulart
  • Pray and let us know you are praying. Respond to updates even if it is a simple word or two. Ask intelligent questions when we communicate.” ~ Brook Seekins
  • Pray. And then write them every once in a while to tell them you are praying or thinking of them.” ~ John Caprari
  • I am so encouraged by people who look out for and love on my daughters when I am not there to do so! I am also very encouraged by notes, fb messages, and personal emails. I love it when people pray for us!” ~ Sally Roth
  • Remember them even though they are far away. It’s easy to forget to call or send a note, but those things are so encouraging. Ask how things are going and be genuinely interested in what is going on in their lives.” ~ Sandi Bomers
  • Pray for us and let us know you are praying. There have been so many times when we have been going through a rough time, and yet we can feel the prayers of God’s people. What an encouragement!” ~ Mary Sue Reed

The most common thing the missionaries say is to pray for them and let them know you are praying for them. Drop them a quick email (their emails are available on this website) and encourage our missionaries today!

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