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

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

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

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

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

Exciting things are happening in Bolivia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pastor Caleb Befus (Grace Bible Fellowship—Jenison, Michigan) and GMI Executive Director Jeremy Clark visited sister churches in the Netherlands November 9-17.  Pastor Caleb and Jeremy conducted seminars covering topics such as leadership, the distinctions between law and grace, a biblical perspective on goal setting, evangelism and more.  The attendees were pastors, church leaders and members of the three churches affiliated with Grace Ministries International in the country.  The work in Holland grew from the original church planted by GMI missionaries Carlos and Denise Brunk before they moved to Bonaire and eventually became missionaries with GMI in December 2013.

Photo Above:  Caleb giving his first leadership seminar through an interpreter translating his lessons into Dutch.  All of the meetings and church services were held at schools, such as the one in the photo, or at other rented facilities.

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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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