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This article, which includes information used in a brochure for those looking to serve as missionaries under Grace Ministries International (GMI) sometime in the future, was written by Jeremy Clark, Executive Director of GMI. Jeremy and his family served as Costa Rica missionaries under GMI from December 2004 until August 2012 when he started as Executive Director. During the years prior to joining GMI, Jeremy worked in the Law Office of Garwood and Clark in Huntington, IN. During that same time he worked 3-1/2 years as a part-time deputy prosecuting attorney for the Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office. While practicing law, he also worked as a part-time youth director.

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Perhaps you are either seriously considering missions as your new vocation or you finally gave in and have made that commitment to pursue missions full-time. Now you may wonder what you can do to get prepared for such a life-changing venture. Once you apply to Grace Ministries International, you will go through different orientations, perhaps specific training geared for your ministry, and probably language studies. However, you are wanting to know what you can do before all that happens to better prepare yourself and your family to serve the Lord around the world. Maybe you have not even contacted us yet, but you still want to get ready for this next chapter in your life. Here is the best piece of advice I can give: live here and now like you will live there and then. Let me explain this by taking you through a few areas of life where you can begin to live now like you will as a missionary then.

Do Ministry Now. Serving the Lord is the Christian norm. It is not a special calling nor is it something you begin doing after you pick up your luggage in customs in your new host country. It is something you do now and forever because you are saved. Not writing to pastors or missionaries, but to everyday believers in the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul writes, “…walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). We were called through Christ’s death and resurrection—the ultimate and only sacrifice available for our sins which had eternally separated us from God. That’s quite a calling! Not only does this implore all of us to live honorably and righteously before God in this world, but if you want to serve the Lord on the mission field, you need to practice now what you hope to do then. Are you discipling others now? Are you teaching or leading Bible studies? If you are inclined to serve or are talented at administration, how are you using these gifts for the Lord now? Do you share the gospel with others or are you waiting until you reach the field before you exercise your “calling” to do so? God desires that all men be saved (2 Timothy 2:4) and He has given us the privilege of sharing the gospel of the grace of God until He returns. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity now!

You may have a full-time job which you believe makes it nearly impossible to give much time to the Lord. Remember, when you are on the field you will be the full-time missionary encouraging people who are working 40, 50, or 60+ hours a week to give of their time to the Lord. Not only do you want to practice good ministry habits now, but it is not a bad idea to put yourself in the shoes of those local believers with whom you will be working on the field.

Practice Self-Motivation. Much of mission work requires initiative and intrinsic motivation. There usually is not going to be someone around telling us what to do or how to do it. While not all of us are leaders of others, we can all practice a degree of independence. What I mean by that is simply getting the job done as if it depends on us alone, doing it well as if no one else is looking, and seeing it through to the end. This is a skill and a work ethic which is learned and refined through practice. Here is a small example. No one told me to create this brochure. I saw the need, began the project, asked others to help, and now you are reading it!

Hand Over Ministries. If you are in ministry or doing ministry, what are you doing to hand over your areas of responsibility to others? In a practical sense, you may very well be leaving your ministry and heading to the mission field soon. So, who is going to carry it on when you leave? On another level, training others to do what you do (and even doing it better) is excellent practice for missionary life. As a missionary, the ability to train others to do a job and turn them loose to see it grow and flourish is a valid measure of success on the mission field.

Relationships. Practice good relationships now. You have all kinds of relationships at the workplace, at church, in your neighborhood, within your extended family, and in the community. When you get to the mission field your world, in a relational sense, will get a lot smaller. You may be working with only one or two other missionary families. You will not have a family network immediately available to you nor will you have that wide circle of friends you have here in the States. So, having healthy relationships is all the more important. You cannot be indifferent to your relationships on the field as we might be more inclined to do here in the States  knowing that we have other people, friends, or family members we can depend on for help or friendship. Practice treating people here as if you depended on them there. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

Family and Marriage. The same is true for your immediate family. The missionary life will draw your family closer together in ways you never imagined. However, if you do not learn how to deal with the stresses of life as a family now, the tensions you experience on the field could also potentially have the power to pull your family apart. One valuable discipline you can practice now is serving together as a family as you would then on the field. You will get to know your spouse’s and children’s strengths and weaknesses and how to set them up for success and avoid failures.

Coming at the subject of relationships from another angle, if you are single and want to be a missionary, why would you ever date someone who has no interest in missions? You are certainly free to change your mind and decide you do not want to serve as a missionary, but if it is important to you and you think it will be for some time to come, do not settle for someone who does not share your same goal. On the flip side, if you are married and you want to be a missionary, but your spouse does not, you cannot force him or her to share your goal. All you can do is share your desire, pray, and wait.

Finances. You are not going to be rich on the mission field so practice living here as you would there. If you have debts, aggressively pay them off. Not only is debt one of the biggest impediments to people serving overseas, but by disciplining yourself to pay off your debt much sooner rather than much later, you will naturally force yourself to live on a reduced income. Even if your debts are paid off, put away as much as you can into savings. Not only is it good to save, but once again you will see just how far you are able to live below your means.

Begin to look at spending in a different light. What do I want and what do I really need? What things must I have and what things are dispensable? You may have never thought about this before. The reality is the options for clothing, food, household items, and electronics will be drastically limited by the lack of availability, different options, or the increased cost of obtaining some of them. Instead of being shocked by what you cannot purchase then, reevaluate your wants now and find out what it is you really do not need.

Health. Living on the mission field typically leads to a healthier lifestyle. You tend to eat better and exercise more if nothing else because people walk to more places than people who live in the States. Start exercising and eating healthier now. Moving, adapting to a new culture, and learning to live in new surroundings are tiring enough. Why not reduce some of the physical stress by getting into better shape now which will certainly help you then? Not to mention, being healthier now will lead to fewer physical problems down the road.

Education. Aside from the requirement to have at least one year of college-level Bible education to become a GMI missionary, you may simply want to further your biblical knowledge. If you are going to teach, you need to learn. If you are going to train, you will want to be equipped. While this applies to your knowledge of the Bible, it also applies to any other area of teaching or training you anticipate doing while on the field. Furthermore, take what you learn now and put it into practice here. You are not automatically going to become a great teacher/discipler/equipper there if you are not doing it here. Ask other mature Christians whom you know well what areas of your ministry you can improve upon or where you need to step up your game so you can serve effectively on the field. This might require additional training or more ministry experiences.

Language Studies. Education also encompasses language learning. You are not going to become fluent or conversant in a language using Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, or poring over grammar primers and vocab cards, but it is a start! If you know the language of the region where you want to serve, start learning it. Sure, you will need to go to language school, but why not make it easier by learning as much as you can now? You will develop a basic understanding of the grammar and some vocabulary which will help you acquire the language that much faster meaning that your meaningful ministry will also begin that much quicker.

Perspective. This might be the hardest thing to do now which will prepare you for life when you are on the field, but it is time to change your perspective about what really matters in life. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by considering all things in light of your eternity with Jesus Christ and the eternity of the lost around you and around the world who do not know Him. When you do so, most other issues in life will fall into place. Paul often thought through these kinds of issues even as it pertained to his own life. He says in his letter to the Romans, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). Essentially, his passion for his lost Jewish countrymen was such that he wished he were the one separated from Christ, not them! From prison he writes to the Philippian Church, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-25). Do I want to die to be with Christ or live for the purpose of bringing others to Him or closer to Him? That is an eternal perspective.

When we think this way our possessions, income, comforts, and conveniences do not seem all that significant any more. They are no longer pursuits which drive us day to day, but Christ and His salvation for others takes preeminence in our minds. What begins to happen is that when you think in this manner you declutter your life. In essence, it becomes that much easier to pick up and go. No longer do you have the attachment to so many physical things you do not think you can part with, your routines, habits, and endeavors which might hold you back. Having an eternal perspective frees you to enjoy your heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:19) while moving about the earth He created to share His salvation and His Word with the people He created.

Now get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

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

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

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

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

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

The Name:

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

A seed sown to bear fruit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy the photos below!

                    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        

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Frosty and Cathy wrote this earlier today: “The trip begins! Getting ready to board the flight to Chicago – the first leg of the journey. Good to have prayer this morning with the GMI staff and then at the airport with Craig and Pat Apel and Don TenHoeve. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support.”

Frosty and Cathy Hansen left for Bolivia today! Please pray as they have said their goodbyes to friends and family and are traveling all the way to Bolivia. Please also pray for adjustments to their new life and ministry as it begins in Bolivia. We are excited for the wonderful things God has in store!

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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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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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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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This post is from Kim Hodgson, GMI missionary in Mbeya, Tanzania. She wrote this update a couple weeks ago and it first appeared on the GMINEWS blog but I also wanted to share it with you on this website. As you will see, it was written before the U.S. election, but the challenge and encouragement is just as relevant post-election. She shares a touching story about the opportunity her husband, Cory, had to lead a dying boy to Christ because Cory was open to the Lord’s leading and had eyes to see an opportunity he was being given. What opportunities could the Lord have for you this week to reach the lost and hurting for Him? He gives them to us daily. The question is, how will we respond?

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Greetings from Mbeya, Tanzania!

Sometimes it is quite difficult to be so far away and feel so disconnected from life in the States. However, as the election continues to draw closer, I am glad not to be around all the campaigning. Every election I can recall, I have known people on each side and have seen how strongly people feel about “their” candidate. Usually, it is more about how bad the “other” candidate is. Social media has only increased the frenzied opinion sharing. Yes, who the next president of the U.S. is, is an important thing. It does affect our lives. However, we need to keep it in perspective. God is ultimately in control. He doesn’t want us to get so wrapped up in things of this earth that we forget the big picture. It doesn’t matter what political side you are on. If you are a Christian, you are called to represent Christ to others. There are bigger things at stake than who occupies the White House. The world around us is hurting and in need of Jesus, the Savior. Things will eventually simmer down politically, but the need for souls to come to Jesus will not diminish. In the midst of all the tensions, is your witness staying strong? Or are you alienating those whom you should be reaching out to? Please think about the big picture and what our ultimate goal as Christ followers is. Here is a recap on some events that took place over the last six weeks. Hopefully, it will encourage, motivate, or challenge you to reevaluate your perspective.

While getting some shopping done in town, Cory bumped into a woman we know who runs a secular home for at-risk children. Knowing Cory is a missionary and because he had taken the time to minister at the children’s home before, she told him about a teenage boy from their home named Baraka who was in the hospital waiting to die. Several years back, Baraka was sick. He probably had strep throat. A very treatable condition if you have access to antibiotics. Left untreated it can lead to rheumatic fever which can cause heart failure. This is what most likely happened in Baraka’s case. Why else would an otherwise healthy sixteen year old be in the hospital with congestive heart failure? Cory went to the hospital to pray with Baraka. Over the course of a week, he returned daily to pray for and with him. Cory also brought [our children] Naomi and Elijah to encourage Baraka. The opportunity arose for Cory to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with this young man, and because Cory made himself available and was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, Baraka chose to put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

A few weeks back Baraka was taken to Dar Salaam to have surgery to relieve the pressure around his heart. This procedure could prolong and increase the quality of his life. The surgery was postponed several times. It was officially scheduled for next week. We have been praying that he would make it to and through the surgery as his condition continued to worsen because of the delay. Baraka is no longer battling with congestive heart failure. He is whole and healthy in the presence of Jesus. His physical body died yesterday. We mourn his passing, but rejoice in the knowledge that he put his faith in Christ. His funeral is today. Please pray that through this tragic loss of life, many others will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, possibly for the first time. Please pray for those who loved Baraka.

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Kim for the Hodgsons

Visit the Hodgsons’ Website http://www.hodgsonhabari.com/ to learn more about their ministries,

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