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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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The following was written by Frosty Hansen and first appeared in the Hansens’ recent email update. Frosty and Cathy are missionaries serving in Bolivia under Grace Ministries International.

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Three months ago we arrived in Bolivia fully aware of some challenges which lay before us. Some of these were personal – adjusting once again to life in Santa Cruz, getting up to speed with our Spanish, making needed repairs to the house, fulfilling residency requirements and purchasing a vehicle. Though Spanish is always a work in progress and the paperwork was more cumbersome than we anticipated, the final obstacles were overcome the last Friday of May when Frosty completed his three-week wait for a driver’s license and took possession of a 1999 Mitsubishi Montero. Thanks for your prayers!


But we did not come to Bolivia just to establish residency and become part of the organized mayhem which is Santa Cruz traffic. Grace Ministries International’s Bolivian partners, the Misión Evangélica Bethesda (MEB), requested assistance in establishing a theological training center which will equip men and women to serve both here in Bolivia and as missionaries to other Latin American countries. Though ministry training has long been a focus of GMI’s work in Bolivia, the formal training facility had ceased operation a number of years ago.


Since our arrival Frosty has met with the MEB leadership on countless occasions, discussing how to move forward. Since adequate facilities are a major need, a lot of time was spent examining and praying about potential plans for a new facility. In May the MEB tentatively approved a plan to add a second story to their existing building (picture and architect drawing above) to house the classrooms, library and office space of the Centro Teológico Bethesda (CENTEB). Demonstrating their commitment to the project and a willingness to make a sacrifice for the future generations, the MEB pledged to raise $15,000 toward the project.


Our recent bi-annual newsletter from GMI mentions GMI’s willingness to partner with the MEB in the construction project. If you did not receive our letter in the mail, you can read it HERE.

  

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Last weekend a family from Grace Bible Church in Alajuela, Costa Rica (Alvaro and Mauren Barrantes and their children) took another survey trip to David, Panama, to get a better understanding of what it would look like for a missionary family to live and serve there under the church in Costa Rica and Grace Ministries International (GMI). Panama is a country GMI is actively investigating as a potential new field and we would like your prayers as we continue to evaluate this option.

While in Ciudad de David, the Barrantes had three objectives to accomplish: 1) search homes for rent for future missionaries; 2) search schools for missionary children; and 3) see buildings to rent to start a church and check out the cost of land where they could build in the future.

HOMES FOR RENT:

When searching for homes to rent, there are a couple of things to take into account–the cost of rent, the area where it is located, and whether there is adequate drinking water because the city has been going through a supply problem. Another thing to consider is the climate of the city and whether you will need air conditioning and how much this will drive up the cost of electricity.

AVAILABLE SCHOOLS:

Alvaro and Mauren visited two schools while on their trip. One was The Oxford School where everything is in English. Another school is bilingual and the cost of tuition is lower. There is also a third school called the Adventist College of David that could be considered. Generally speaking, the quality of education is lower in Panama than in Costa Rica.

LAND OR CHURCH BUILDING:

Because they had limited time on their trip, Alvaro and Mauren only saw one piece of land.

Several other important points were observed on the trip, such as the cost of vehicles and what it costs for gas. Food costs were approximately the same as Costa Rica but fast food costs were considerably lower in Panama. The Barrantes family was also able to make contact with a man (seen on the left) whose parents are members of the church in Alajuela. He is a musician and is a potential leader of the praise ministry in Panama.

Please pray for IBG Alajuela in Costa Rica and GMI as Panama is evaluated as a possible new field. Important decisions are being made as we pursue our goal of eight new fields by 2023.

 

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Having a church is much more than renting a place, hanging up a sign, and inviting people. It takes many people praying, supporting, and offering. We thank you all very much! – Alex Gulart

What Alex is describing here is a beautiful thing–the Body of Christ working together to bring the gospel to the world. Looking back over the past few years I am amazed to think that the inaugural services of Iglesia Bíblica Gracia (Grace Bible Church), Ciudad del Este, all began with presenting a new ministry opportunity to our brothers and sisters in Christ across North America. In 1 Corinthians 16:8,9 the Apostle Paul refers to Ephesus as a “great door of effective work” that was opened to him. We had a similar perspective of the opportunities in Paraguay, thus making it our joy to present the potential of the field to you. Since then you have partnered with us in prayer, guidance, encouragement, and financial support, all of which have been pleasing to God and a blessing to His ministry here. May 7, 2017 was a special day as a weekly Bible study became an officially established church within the inner city of Ciudad del Este. Alex delivered a Dr. Sam Vinton inspired message, breaking down the church title into its three parts as the foundation of the ministry in the community Grace (salvation in Christ alone), Bible (His Truth), and Church (the Body of Christ). We had a group of three dozen worshiping together, with people from Paraguay, India, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, the United States, Uruguay, and Bolivia, as well as those with a Lebanese/Paraguayan background. Praise be to God for this incredible evening!

Click HERE to see a video of the service.

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined with us in our endeavors for Christ in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay! This is a moment to be celebrated by all.

With much love,

Team Paraguay

 

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Take a look at THIS VIDEO about “Breakthrough”—the GMI-affiliated taekwondo ministry team heading to our newest field, Paraguay, this summer. Through their ministry, they are hoping to reach hundreds of Paraguayans with the gospel of the grace of God. To date they have raised nearly half of the $12,000 this six-person team needs to serve in Paraguay this August. The timing for this trip could not be better as GMI missionaries Alex and Deltha Gulart and Jerry and Sandi Bomers will begin having church meetings soon in the building on which they have just recently signed a lease. Click on the link www.gracem.org in order to give your tax-deductible gift through GMI. Also, for more information about this team you can read their team letter. http://gracem.us/…/Paraguay-2017-Fundraising-letter-email.pdf

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Emiliano and Raquel sharing about their ministries in Nicaragua

Iglesia Bíblica de la Gracia (Grace Bible Church), Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, held its first missions conference March 26-April 2 to promote worldwide missions within its congregation and to encourage its members to support missions, pray for missionaries, and to strongly consider serving the Lord on the mission field. Grace Ministries International (GMI) missionaries Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli are serving in Nicaragua sent both by their home church in Costa Rica (Comunidad Bíblica de la Gracia—Grace Bible Community) and by GMI to serve in Nicaragua. They were a perfect fit for this conference having been sent out by a sister Latin American church to a foreign field. Emiliano preached the first Sunday of the conference and they each shared during the week with both adults and youth about serving the Lord, our relationship with him, and the perspective of Latin Americans being prepared and sent by their church in Costa Rica. GMI missionaries Harry and Kaylah Alicea and Lawrence and Barbara Trumbower also shared during the conference about how they got involved in missions and their perspective on the missionary life.

Barbara Trumbower sharing about her ministries in Puerto Rico

GMI Executive Director Jeremy Clark taught on the importance of planting churches, shared with the youth the process of becoming a GMI missionary, and encouraged the congregation on the last Sunday of the conference to evangelize the lost. Iglesia Bíblica de la Gracia counted this event a tremendous success because of the turnout, excellent response, and impact it made on the lives of those who attended.  Pastor Miguel Ortiz, the church’s leadership, and GMI missionaries in Puerto Rico planned and ran an excellent conference.

The cover photo is of Emiliano and Raquel on the air with Miguel at Radio WCGB in Puerto Rico.

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This was first posted on our News of Grace blog in February and was written by Kaylah Alicea who is a GMI missionary in Puerto Rico along with her husband, Harry. Their GMI webpage will give you more information on who they are and what ministries they are involved in.

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These past six months have been a testament to the faithfulness of God in my life and how there are times when He simply calls me to listen and rely on that faithfulness. Let me share a bit of a story with you and as you read my journey may you feel empowered to remain faithful to Christ in the season of life He has placed you.

Summer here in Puerto Rico is always bustling and busy with groups from the States visiting and doing different ministry projects in the barrio. We also have camp, Vacation Bible School, and themed club weeks. By the end of summer, I’m usually exhausted, but overflowing with gratefulness for all that God has done in and through His ministry here. Then everything comes to a grinding halt. All the teams go home, the interns return to college, the kids go back to school, and there seems to be a deafening silence through the barrio. I then have the privilege of getting back into our fall routine with club and adjusting back to life during the school year. However, something different happened this year. We opened club like normal for August and September and then suddenly monsoon-type rains took over our island for the months of October and November. After living on the island for over three years now, I have never seen so much rain EVERY SINGLE DAY! Because most of our kids walk to club, the rain immediately stopped them from coming and it simply wasn’t safe for them to be outside through the constant thunderstorms. We would eventually get a little break in the rain for the morning and I would prepare myself to put on club as usual and literally right at 3pm when I was about to open the gate the rains would begin to pour yet again. I began to get very disheartened. We had just finished an amazing summer and I was ready to carry those emotions into our school year. Yet, every day God was simply trying to tell me to wait on Him and trust His faithfulness.

alicea-november-2016-300x300It was during these eight weeks I found out I was pregnant with our second child and was still trying to adjust to life with an active six month old. I struggled with feeling as if I was failing because I wasn’t doing the thing I felt like God was calling me to do. Little did I realize I was doing exactly the thing God had called me to do and I simply needed to know that God was still faithful and He would prove that through the continuation of His ministry here in Puerto Rico in His perfect timing.

At the beginning of the year, we reopened club and to my joy and surprise there were 25 kids ready for me to open the gate again. It was in that moment God reminded me there are seasons in life and in ministry. I wasn’t failing because God was calling me to rest and trust Him with the outcome through the storm. A few weeks later, I was reading Matthew 14 where God used another passage of Scripture to speak His truths to my heart. In this passage, Jesus had just performed another amazing miracle and fed 5,000 people. People were following Him everywhere and His truth was spreading. Right after this miracle, He tells the disciples to get into a boat and cross the lake as He goes up to a mountain to pray. Jesus tells them this knowing there will be a storm that night. The disciples obey Jesus, and are quickly ushered into a storm of ‘perfection.’ It wasn’t a storm of ‘correction’ because they had obeyed what He told them to do – He simply was getting ready to test their faith again. This whole passage reminded me of how God had been working in my own life. I had just finished an amazing summer of ministry and God was simply reminding me to remain faithful to the calling He had placed on my life. I had obeyed by preparing and opening club, but God was more focused on where my heart was through it all. He wanted me to trust Him and know that sometimes we just have to sit back and rest as He performs more miracles in our hearts. And He once again gave me the strength to ride out the storm and see that His faithfulness would be displayed in the faces of those 25 club kids who reappeared on the other side.

Life is full of storms of correction and perfection. My prayer for us today is that we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He is trying to tell us through them. May we remain faithful to His work and trust that His faithfulness will always be guiding us through the storm to the calm waters on the other side.

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Steve and Barb Sherman, GMI missionaries in Mwanza, Tanzania, recently sent out an email update and it was so full of good information that we had to share it with all of you. While this isn’t in the same format, it includes the same information and photos.

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Greetings from Mwanza Tanzania. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for and supported us. Barb and I made the trek north (about 22 hours) back in October. We got straight into the ministry and still have not been able to get completely unpacked and moved into our new home.

Since arriving in Mwanza in October, Steve has preached almost every Sunday. We have 3 church plants and one established church. We lack trained leaders so Pastor Methodi Mwendapole and Steve take turns rotating in the four churches. Steve is pictured here at the Nyashimba church last Sunday.

Below the article is a picture of the Nyashimba congregation. They have some pretty lively choirs. Because of the dirt floor they kick up a lot of dust when their choirs start dancing.

Pictured below is the home of our host family where we ate lunch at the Nyashimba church.To the right are the ladies washing dishes after our meal and at the bottom is the beautiful setting we ate in. You would be surprised how comfortable it is eating outside under a mango tree with a light breeze even in the 90 degree weather.

The majority of our time is spent at the Nyangulugulu city church plant. Pictured below is Pastor Methodi, who is a Tanzanian missionary that we work with, teaching the Wednesday evening Bible Study this week. We are averaging about 60 men, women, and children on Sundays.

Barb and Methodi’s wife take turns teaching the kids Sunday School, Junior Church, and also the Women’s Bible Study on Tuesdays. Believe it or not we are in church 12-15 hours a week with each of our 5 meetings lasting 2-3 hours.

Steve had the privilege of leading a man and his wife to the Lord yesterday at the Nyangulugulu church. Their names are Benadi and Zainabu. They have three children—Peter, Margaret, and Leah. Please pray for this family as they have never attended any kind of church before and are the epitome of the phrase “babes in Christ.”

Leah took an immediate liking to Steve. She began to cry when Steve left the building. Later when he came back she came up to the front of the church where Steve was waiting to preach, sat on his lap, and promptly fell asleep.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to help us build a ministry center here in the Nyangulugulu area of the city of Mwanza. The building is now complete with an office, a large classroom, and two smaller multi-purpose rooms. This is where we will run our Bible School, teach seminars, and operate our correspondence school from. It is also our head office for the Mwanza region.

For now the Nyangulugulu congregation meets in the ministry center. Later, after we have grown some, we hope to build a church to the left of the ministry center that uses the fence walls as two sides of the church.

This week we are continuing to work on the fence around our compound. With the current money we have we should be able to finish about 80% of the fence.

Keep praying! Pray for our new congregations that they continue to grow in Christ. Pray as we develop leaders to work in these churches. Pray for our missionary team in Mwanza (Mwendapoles, Shermans, and Capraris who are in the States for medical treatment). Pray as we plan for further development.

In Christ,
Steve and Barb Sherman

Nyashimba congregation

Barb teaching Sunday School

We ate lunch under the Mango tree

Pastor Methodi teaching the Wednesday evening Bible Study

 

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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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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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