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On January 4, Juana Diaz Bible Church in cooperation with Camp Caribe, Club Maravilla, and another local church in Ponce, went to the town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, to deliver blankets, Christian literature, firstaid kids, and solar-powered radios. Club Maravilla, directed by GMI missionary April Sykes, provided “Bags of Hope” or bags of necessities to encourage Puerto Ricans who are still affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. This project was designed with the purpose of letting people know about God’s love and provision in the midst of everything they are enduring. Adjuntas was one of the hardest hit areas. The church is planning to visit another town on the island with the supplies they have left.

Here is a link to a video showing the joy on the faces of the people in Adjuntas, especially the children: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1znnePHIiLZ3EY8jPmN7FRQdVib0a5oet

 

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The information in this post comes from Steve Sherman, GMI missionary who has been serving in Tanzania for many years with his wife, Barb.

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In October Mike Caraway, another GMI missionary, and I had an exciting trip to Ghana, West Africa. We were asked to conduct a second survey trip by the GMI board (Joseph Asong, a GMI missionary in Malawi, having made the first trip a year ago). It was fascinating to visit a group of 13 Grace churches that got started through a correspondence ministry 35 years ago. Working on their own with only books to guide them they have developed into a strong indigenous church with proactive plans for evangelism, church planting, and leadership training.

The reason that I am writing this email is to ask you to pray as both they and Grace Ministries International (GMI) consider partnering together to plant churches in other parts of Ghana and more importantly to reach the surrounding countries of West Africa.

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We traveled many hours and were able to visit 12 of their 13 churches.

 

      

In each church we were able to preach and encourage them to continue to reach out. We also were given time to explain who GMI is and how GMI would like to partner in the gospel. They had a lot of questions which we took the time to answer.

      

They had been operating in isolation and were encouraged to learn about the Grace churches in 11 other African countries.

      

On the last day we met with 12 of their 14 leaders to dream about future possibilities. I also got a chance to preach on a radio station that covers half of the country.

Since returning I have been asked to participate on a task force with GMI board members as we seek the way forward in working together with the Grace Churches of Ghana. Please be in prayer that God guides both sides as they decide whether or not to have a partnering relationship and what form that relationship should take.

Thank you again for your prayers and support!

Steve and Barb Sherman

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Eric and Mercy Mango, GMI missionaries in Malawi, traveled to Mvera in the central part of Malawi October 20-22 to help strengthen the women’s and youth ministries in the church as well as reaching out to the nearby villages with the gospel. They were accompanied by Yamikani, the National Secretary; Ephraim, the National Youth Director; three young men; and three pastors’ wives.

They were warmly welcomed by the people who had gathered waiting for their arrival. Adults and children alike were excited to see them! Some came from the mountain top where the church is located to meet them partway down the mountain because their car failed to make it to the top due to the bad road. They left the car behind and everyone had to hike with their little ones on their backs and carrying their luggage. Even the youngest ones helped as you can see in the photo on the left. The children who always enjoy an adventure enjoyed the hike up the mountain. When they finally arrived at the mountain top a wonderful meal awaited them — Nsima served with small fish called Bonya.

On the first day Eric, Ephraim, Yamikani, and three other young men from Lilongwe, accompanied by the host, Pastor Dziwiseni and other leaders in the church, went to a nearby village to show the “Jesus Film” and share the gospel. Because everyone lives so far apart, they wondered where people would come from, but the turnout was amazing. After showing the first half of the film people still wanted to see the second half that night. On the second day they had even more people. Over 400 people made public commitments to follow Christ!

While the men and boys were out doing evangelism, Mercy, along with some pastors’ wives, taught the ladies Bible lessons and some basics of baking.

They had a wonderful weekend in Mvera! If you would like to hear more about Eric and Mercy’s ministries and receive their prayer letters, email us at gmi@gracem.org and we will put you on their mailing list.

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As many of you know the BREAKTHROUGH Taikwondo Team traveled to Paraguay August 2-14, 2017, to work with GMI missionaries Alex and Deltha Gulart as well as Jerry and Sandy Bomers. The team has been able to positively impact hundreds of lives through their powerful testimony of ministry. Below they share their personal testimony of what being on the BREAKTHROUGH Taikwondo Team has meant for them.

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Paraguay was an amazing experience. Being part of BreakThrough allows me to share the Gospel in a different way. We were able to reach people across the spectrum from the poorest of communities to the wealthiest. Seeing the diversity opened my eyes and allowed me to see that the ones who have less are willing to give more. I loved seeing the children’s faces light up when they saw the performances, and seeing their ears perk up when we shared the Gospel. I could tell they were listening and I hope they took away enough to have the idea in their minds to learn more about Jesus Christ. The number of people we reached was incredible: over 3,500 people heard the Gospel. This was more than I ever thought we would reach in the short time we were in Paraguay. I shared my testimony for the first time during church and I believe it was the right time in my life to share. Though I have gone on a mission trip in the past with BreakThrough, the Paraguay trip was great in its own way because we reached so many more people, and I was stronger in my faith during this time.

After most presentations the students would surround us asking for autographs on our broken boards. One day, we went to a school and after the demo the students gathered around us and one girl came up to me and we talked for a long time about her faith and experience and how she was thrilled what we as a team were doing. I was able to connect with her on a personal level with where we were in our walk with Christ. During a lot of the trip it was hard to communicate but I was able to grow in my Spanish language skills and have meaningful conversations with others.

~Morgan Ebright

 

It was the Christmas season of 2004.  I was home on Long Island visiting my family during my two weeks of leave from Operation Enduring Freedom in Ar Ramadi, Iraq as part of the Global War on Terrorism. That Sunday evening, Grammy Powell, a congregational matriarch and a personal prayer warrior, approached me and said in her gentle, sweet, and sincere voice, “Jon, it is my prayer that someday you won’t be at war against the Muslim people, but that you’ll be able to minister to them.”

After miraculously surviving the war and having the privilege of returning home alive I made a quick visit to Grace Bible College in the fall of 2005. While visiting previous classmates and professors in the cafeteria, Dr. Sam Vinton sat down at my table. He inquired of my guerilla Army experience and listened intently to my responses. At the end of the meal before standing up and leaving he made one statement as he put his hand on my shoulder, “Jon, I pray that someday you will fight the Muslims with a Bible in your hand instead of a rifle.”

This past summer I had the unique honor to travel with the Grace Ministries International affiliated martial arts team, BreakThrough, to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. The team performed 13 forty-five minute demonstrations of intense martial art sequences during the 11 days of ministry. Over 3,500 individuals would hear the Gospel message during these presentations – many of whom had never heard this message before. In fact, Ciudad del Este is an international city on the borders of Brazil and Argentina and has significant populations of Hindu and Muslim believers.

As BreakThrough was warming up for one of the demonstrations, Alex Gulart, GMI Missionary to Paraguay, told me to look at the crowd of 800 students that was assembling. With a huge sparkle in his eye and a smile that was horizons wide he asked, “Jon, do you see all the Muslim individuals in the crowd?” (This was evidenced by their headgear.) “Today, they will hear the Gospel for the very first time!”

BreakThrough members performed spectacular martial arts skills which included forms, self defense, and acrobatic aerial kicks.  They also break wooden boards & ceramic roofing tiles with their hands, elbows, feet, and heads. Throughout the demonstration I would present the Gospel message in three to four minute segments. That day, as I held a Bible in my hand and spoke the bad news of sin and the Good News of Jesus, I could not help but think of Grammy Powell’s and Dr. Sam Vinton’s prayers for my life. Grammy Powell has since gone on to be with our Lord and Savior in Heaven – but her prayer has been answered. Twelve years after that conversation around the cafeteria table Dr. Sam’s prayer was lived out.

Yes, the BreakThrough team and I went to Paraguay to minister, serve, and bless the people and ministry there. However, I was ministered to, served, and blessed through the experience of seeing first hand God answering tangibly the prayers of people I know personally. Thank you to all who have supported the martial arts team, BreakThrough. It is such a joy and privilege to share the Gospel by utilizing the martial arts. Paraguay was an absolutely amazing place to experience the Hand of God at work.

~Jon Young

“But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” – Psalm 66:19-20.

 

Never in my life did I think I would be able to share the gospel with thousands, most of whom were Catholics, Buddhists, and Muslims. But thankfully, Taekwondo has given me that opportunity. During the week and a half I spent in Paraguay alongside the Breakthrough martial arts team I learned and experienced many new things.

Nearly every day during our trip we conducted at least two demonstrations at schools, parks, or other public places. We performed in front of anywhere between 30 to more than 1000 people each day. The gospel was clearly shared during each demonstration. After each presentation some adults and youth would come up to the Breakthrough team and thank us for presenting the message of Jesus Christ to them, their families, and friends. It was truly amazing to see so many people hear and be exposed to the gospel for the first time. It was also very encouraging for fellow Christians to attend our demonstrations and support our cause.

When we had no demonstrations planned for a time, we would usually go sightseeing. Three places we visited that really stood out to me were the Iguaçu Falls, a Buddhist Temple, and a Mosque. We were able to take some very neat team photos at the falls. As we were taking pictures several people would stop to see us in our taekwondo uniforms and ask us who we were and why we were dressed the way we were. We would gladly explain our purpose which would eventually open up a window for us to share the message of Christ. Even on our days off we did not stop spreading the name of Jesus.

The two other places the team visited were a Buddhist Temple and a Mosque. It was quite sad to see that people waist their time praying to Buddha or bowing down to Allah. It made me realize all the more why it was so important for people to hear the gospel. It made me see why more mission teams, such as Breakthrough, and individuals need to leave their comfort zone and share the good news with people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

This year’s Breakthrough mission trip to Paraguay was truly amazing for me.  I learned and experienced so much in such a short amount of time. It was amazing to see so many Catholics, Buddhists, and Muslims hear the gospel for what might have been for some their first time.

~Berea Clark

 

During the first two weeks of August, I had the privilege of serving with BreakThrough Martial Arts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to over 3,000 people in Paraguay. Over the course of the two weeks, the team and I broke over 250 boards and 200 tejas using our hands, feet, elbows, and even our heads [see photo at the top]. The experience from this trip is something I will always remember. More importantly, this trip sparked a fire in my heart to serve Jesus Christ.

While on this trip, my favorite memory was when BreakThrough did a demonstration for children in one of the poorest areas of Ciudad del Este. While in the barrio of San Rafael, children and parents watched as BreakThrough presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with open ears. For me this was a surreal experience for two reasons. First, as a team, we showed ourselves what happens when we submit to God and allow Him to work through us. The entire time, the team put forth wonderful energy and enthusiasm for the Gospel and performance, both teaching and entertaining the spectators. Second, it made me realize how impactful this mission organization could be. Working with a local missionary, Christopher, we were able to preach to many who had never heard the Gospel before, as well as opening doors for Christopher’s mission.

This trip also taught me the value this organization holds when it comes to helping missionaries. Not only did BreakThrough reach 3,000 plus people, it opened the doors for the Gularts’ and Bomers’ mission field. Throughout our two weeks there, we performed at many local schools and other venues. These performances set a precedent for the Gularts’ and Bomers’ mission, furthering the reach of the Gospel, through their work.

By the end of the trip, I was excited for our next adventure. I hope and pray that next year’s Nicaragua trip will be more successful than Paraguay and that we may reach even more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We thank all of you for your prayers and support and ask that you continue to pray both for the members of BreakThrough and for BreakThrough as an organization. God bless.

~Christian Mohrhardt

 

Image credit: Artie Bowman

 

 

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On October 2, 2017, GMI missionaries Steve and Barb Sherman wrote an email update – The Sherman Safari –  to their supporters, so all of the information I am sharing with you in this post comes from that update.

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We continue to ask for your support and prayers for Tanzania Grace Bible Institute (TGBI). Steve continues to be an advisor to TGBI’s various schools and helps them in many ways.

1. Pastoral College – (3-1/2 year program with ten 2-month modules)

TGBI’s Pastoral College continues to train future pastors and ministry leaders for the Grace Church of Tanzania. They currently have 18 students and have just finished their third module.

2. Bible Schools – (2-year program with eight 3-week modules). TGBI currently has 4 Bible Schools in progress.

3. Iringa Bible School – This Bible School is in their 2nd module. Due to a shortage of funds Pastor Evanie Simtowe is teaching by himself (we usually have 2 teachers at each school)..

4. Tatanda Bible School – This school is in its 5th module and is being taught by Pastor Jeriko Peter and Pastor Dasoni Ruben.

5. Makuzani Bible School – This school is located on the Pastoral College campus and is taught by the Pastoral College staff. They are in their 6th module.

6. Mwanza Bible School – (pictured above) This is our newest school, having finished the Bible School building earlier this year. They are just starting their first module with 11 students. Pastor Methodi Mwendapole (our co-missionary in Mwanza) and Pastor Emmanuel Nyami from the Rukwa region are both teaching. We have nine students from the Mwanza church plants and two students who have traveled a long way north from a recent church plant in the city of Mpanda.

As you have read, TGBI is active and students are ready to learn and be trained so they can train others. Please pray for the instructors and the students at TGBI. Pray especially for stamina for the students as many of them have families they need to support as well.

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Thanks for praying for the situation in Puerto Rico, our missionaries, and ministries there. We just received some very brief videos of Camp Caribe. Click HERE and HERE to see videos of one of the dorms and the chapel which lost its roof.

Yesterday we were in touch with GMI missionary Barbara Trumbower who was able to give us a report on the conditions in their area of the island. Power is still out, water service is sporadic, gas lines are long, and some stores have opened on a cash basis. The Trumbowers and our friends in Puerto Rico are all well, but they ask that we pray they can avoid injury and sicknesses given severely debilitated infrastructure. The Trumbowers are the only ones who have returned to camp although there is still no power or running water.

If you would like to give a gift to help our GMI missionaries and affiliated ministries in Puerto Rico with hurricane recovery, cleanup, and relief, please click HERE and choose “Puerto Rico Recovery” from the dropdown menu.

Thanks for praying.

The picture above is of the entrance to the Juana Diaz Church pastored by our friend Miguel Ortiz.

 

 

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Puerto Rico is on all of our minds and hearts as we pray for our missionaries, our Puerto Rican friends, the camp, the churches, and ministries affiliated with Grace Ministries International on the island. Because cell service, internet, and electricity have been completely knocked out, we have been receiving information at a frustratingly slow pace. We can tell you that our missionaries are well, but Camp Caribe has suffered extensive damage. Fourteen to sixteen inches of water, mud, and sand inundated most of the buildings on the property which means that much of the contents has been damaged or destroyed. Most of the buildings’ roofs suffered damage while the roof on the chapel was completely destroyed. All the power lines outside of the camp have been knocked down from the camp to Santa Isabel to the east. Cleanup and repair will be a long process.

Many of you are asking about sending teams and what you can do to help both at the camp and with our other affiliated ministries on the island. We are still in the process of assessing the needs, but there are a few things you can do now. Consider assembling a team so you can send the team sooner rather than later once we have more information as to when a team can go and what the teams will be able to do.

We also encourage you to give. Though our properties are insured, we do not know yet exactly what insurance will cover, and we also know there will be many expenses associated with the recovery from the hurricane in terms of repairing damage and replacing items that were destroyed. We also anticipate that our missionaries and affiliated ministries will have opportunities to help their neighbors devastated by the hurricane. As you can imagine there will be several unforeseen expenses.

If you would like to give a gift to help our GMI missionaries and affiliated ministries in Puerto Rico with hurricane recovery, cleanup, and relief, please click HERE and choose “Puerto Rico Recovery” from the dropdown menu. Our initial goal is to raise $20,000.

The situation in Puerto Rico is very difficult as communication is limited or non-existent on most of the island. There is practically no electricity and the food and water supply is running low in many areas. It is extremely frustrating that there is so little we can do at the moment. In times like these, God wants us to bring our burdens and our cares before Him.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”  1 Peter 5:6-7.

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Frosty Hansen, GMI Missionary in Bolivia, shares the following exciting news with us concerning the progress of building the Bolivia Training Center in Santa Cruz. They are 80% of the way towards raising the funds needed to complete this much-needed training center to prepare future generations of church leaders. If after reading this the Lord is working in your heart to join the team of financial donors, you may click HERE for more information. Please pray for this project as they move through the construction phase. Exciting things are happening in Santa Cruz, Bolivia! 

This picture above was taken on August 23 when Frosty and his wife, Cathy, presented a check for half the cost of the new Training Center construction project to the owner of the construction company. On the far right next to Cathy is Pepe Yucra, the president of the MEB (the national denomination), who officially signed the contract with the architect/builders. Future payments will be made and money is being set aside for the costs of equipping the building (seats/desks, teacher desks with lecterns, acrylic boards, video projectors, air conditioning, bookshelves, and office furniture).

In the picture, we are standing in the MEB office, which will continue to be on the first floor of the building with the Training Center occupying the second floor. The Training Center will contain three classrooms (one large and two medium), a library, a restroom, an office for a receptionist, and an office for the director. It will be accessible by an interior stairway and an exterior ramp.

The work will begin this week with the removal of the roof, which was originally designed to be raised for a second floor.

Today I will begin classes for our current pastors who are in the Santa Cruz area in preparation for ordination. Each Friday evening in September and October we will meet for two hours for an overview of the different areas of systematic theology, beginning with the Bible. The classes will include practical application of the truths we are studying. Early next year we will begin studying Dispensational Theology, and then a series on Pastoral Theology as they get ready for the ordination process.

Twice a month I am meeting with students who are currently studying at other theological institutions to answer questions, specifically regarding what they are receiving in their classes as it compares with the doctrine of the Misión Evangélica Bethesda (MEB). They have asked to begin by looking at when the Church, the Body of Christ, began. I started with two weeks (1½ hours each) investigating the difference between the Church and Israel. On September 10 we will discuss various possibilities of when the Church began and look for biblical reasons for/against these options.

We are hoping to begin a broader array of classes for everyone after the first of the year. The construction should be completed by mid-December.

So let’s keep praying for this ministry! Pray for safety for the construction workers, a clear presentation of the lessons, more students, understanding of what is presented, and faithfulness in attendance so much is learned!

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Thanks to all who have prayed for the taekwando team Breakthrough, given financially, or sent messages of support. After 10 months of planning and preparation, the team is officially in Paraguay!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8 (NIV).

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To see a video of the team doing their presentation in a gym setting, go to this link:

https://www.facebook.com/bautista.edu.py/?hc_ref=ARRSUh_WcqL_QsOFuGYYhPf2Dv6ls-c48tzh5n4Fw9ZVbD8fqo-MXr6sBj4zSS-l3Tc

 

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At the February 2013 board meeting, GMI adopted its 10-year ministry plan. Part of reaching the goals set is having more missionaries join the GMI family on the various mission fields. Below you can see the areas where there are specific opportunities to serve, but note under “General” there are areas we may not have thought of yet. Will you please pray with us for those individuals who God has for those areas of service? Could one of them be you?

General:
  • In addition to the specific needs we have listed below, we would ask you to pray that God would simply raise up missionaries to meet needs or expand works on existing and new fields which we have not even considered or thought of or we may not even know about yet.
Bolivia:
  • Bolivia is an established field with churches located in and around the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz. In recent years, the Bolivian churches have recognized the need to have their own training center to equip men and women for ministry. We are looking for more teammates who will come alongside our current GMI missionaries and the Bolivian leadership to teach the Bible, theology, and ministry skills as we prepare godly pastors, leaders, and missionaries to expand the ministry to other regions of Bolivia and neighboring countries. 
Mozambique:
  • GMI missionaries Kennedy and Sofia Simtowe are returning to Mozambique in 2017 to continue to facilitate the process of church registration and to seek approval of their work permits. There are already a handful of churches in that country associated with the ministry of GMI organizing themselves into a national church structure. Kennedy’s emphasis will be church planting and evangelism. We need missionaries who can come alongside the churches and believers in Mozambique in order to better equip and provide further education for the pastors and church leaders. This would be similar to the ministry in Malawi, where GMI missionary Bill Vinton and GMI Partners Joseph Asong and Eric Mango are providing theological education for pastors and church leaders to edify the churches already established in this field.
Nicaragua:
  • Nicaragua became one of GMI’s fields early in 2014 when GMI missionaries, Jeff and Sally Roth, along with GMI Associate Missionaries, Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli, moved there to begin their ministries. Each week around 100 adults, youth, and children pass through Emiliano and Raquel’s home in the town of Nagarote for various Bible studies, worship services, clubs, and discipleship groups. Jeff and Sally took survey trips to the region in and around Matagalpa and have begun a new ministry in that area with the goal of planting churches. They have been joined by GMI missionaries Brett and Debby Chapman who host weekly Bible studies in their home.With two ministry sites, we need to increase our missionary force. We would like to see additional missionaries or missionary families with a desire to evangelize, disciple, and establish local churches work with our Nicaragua team in Nagarote or Matagalpa.
Paraguay:
  • Paraguay, located between GMI’S field of Bolivia and our affiliated field of Uruguay, is our newest field opened in June 2015, when GMI missionaries Alex and Deltha Gulart moved to Ciudad del Este to begin their evangelism and teaching ministry. We are looking for even more teammates to come alongside and complement them and GMI missionaries Jerry and Sandi Bomers as we strive to plant churches in Paraguay. We are looking for individuals with a heart to disciple new believers and help establish them into local churches. The goal of the ministry in Paraguay is to plant churches in Ciudad del Este, throughout the rest of the country, and even into neighboring Argentina and Brazil.
Puerto Rico:
  • GMI is committed to working with established churches and ministries in Puerto Rico which share our common beliefs and our desire to evangelize, plant churches, and disciple future leaders in the Body of Christ. Because of this commitment, GMI is actively looking for energetic and motivated missionaries to come alongside affiliated churches and ministries on the island to further facilitate ministry efforts in such areas as: evangelism, youth ministry and outreach, theological training, development of methods for effective church planting, and practical training of Puerto Rican workers in the Body of Christ who will serve both in Puerto Rico and in other parts of the world as fellow missionaries. Understanding that finding just one person to meet all of these needs would be difficult, we would enjoy talking to anyone who is interested in any one or more of these areas of ministry.
Zambia:
  • The GMI ministry in Zambia needs missionaries to mentor and encourage pastors both in their practical, day-to-day ministry responsibilities and to help further their understanding of God’s Word and His grace. To help meet this need, GMI’s goal is to implement a regional Bible school program (already under development) which will be run by the Grace Church of Zambia.
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