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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Home Office Staff, the Board of Directors, and the Missionaries serving under Grace Ministries International! We pray the Lord blesses you and yours abundantly in 2019 as you seek to follow Him in all you do. We pray the year 2019 is your best year yet! As you pray about the coming year and what the Lord has for your future…

Have you considered becoming a missionary? HELP WANTED! We need missionaries both to expand the ministries in our current fields and to plant churches and start ministries in new fields. We are looking for people with a strong commitment to sharing God’s grace and who are dedicated to dreaming with, planning with, and releasing ministries to believers around the world so that new works will be indigenous, self-sustaining, and self-propagating.

Where are the opportunities for you to serve? We need people to be a part of a pioneering team in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Burundi, and Mozambique to evangelize, plant churches, disciple, and train believers to advance the ministry in these countries. We also need people to work in many of our established fields to disciple; evangelize; work with youth, children, and women; come alongside the national churches and believers in these countries to help develop new ministries and outreaches; and to otherwise share God’s grace! Would you consider being a missionary with Grace Ministries International?

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Dan and Mary Sue Reed were asked by a college student if they would be willing to answer some interview questions for a paper that was required for a class. I thought after spending many years on the mission field of Bolivia the Reeds’ answers would be enlightening for all of us and would give us a peek into the hearts of faithful missionaries serving on the field. So…

1. When did you first feel like you were being called to be a missionary?

I think it was in the spring or summer of 2004 that Dan visited Jerry and DeAnna Olson (his sister and her husband) while they were back in the States from Bolivia. During that visit Jerry  and DeAnna expressed the need for more missionaries in Bolivia and challenged Dan to really prayerfully consider the possibility of our family being involved.  Dan came back home and shared all of this with me. The two of us prayed about it and in time we felt the Lord leading us  into missions, and specifically to Bolivia. Dan and I had each taken a missions trips to Bolivia previously so we were somewhat familiar with the ministry opportunities there.

2. How did you know this was your calling?

After praying about it we both felt a real peace from the Lord, and doors opened for us to move forward and become missionaries. Another thing that really confirmed our decision was the response of our kids. They were 10, 12, and 14 years old when we headed to Bolivia. We wondered how they would feel about the possibility of moving to Bolivia as missionaries. At their ages we thought it might be hard for them.  Our oldest son, Taylor, was all excited about this new adventure. He was ready for a change!  Our younger two, Trevor and Tasha, picked up on his excitement and they were ready to go! What a blessing for us as parents.

3. Did you ever fight or question your calling?

Not really. I was raised on the mission field in Japan so it was very exciting for me when we felt the Lord leading us into missions. It was a very natural transition for me into a lifestyle that I was very familiar and comfortable with. I was ready to make that decision before Dan was.  Ministry was nothing new to Dan. He was raised in a pastor’s family and we had been in the pastorate ourselves for many years.The thought of missions involved a bigger change and adjustment for him. The incredible thing is that the Lord in His perfect time lead us each separately to feel His leading into missions.

4. Have you ever wanted to back out of doing missions?

I think we all have those days when we think, “Is this really worth it?” but then in a few days things usually seem to turn around.

5. How are you living out your calling?

Our mission here in Bolivia was started over 60 years ago and it is well established. Our churches have Bolivian pastors and our schools are run by the Bolivians. We also have a camp ministry which is run once again by Bolivians. Our purpose as missionaries here in Bolivia is to encourage and empower our church leaders to effectively do the work of the ministries that the Lord has given them. We spend time with leaders one on one and in group settings. We work alongside them, encouraging them to use their God-given gifts and talents, and to continue to develop them. One example would be a kids club that we are involved in. The kids that attend are from non-church families and can be pretty challenging at times. We want to also reach out to their parents and neighbors and be able to start a church plant when the time is right. We have Bolivian leaders who lead the club and are in charge, but Dan and I are there to work right along with them. We share materials and ideas with them, and also give counsel and encourage them. This has been a challenging yet rewarding ministry to be involved in.

6. What part of missionary work do you enjoy the most?

I would probably have to say the people. Getting to know them is always such a blessing.Sharing in their trials and times of celebrating.  There is something very special about the deep  friendships that we have with many of the Bolivians.

7. How did you balance your family life while in the mission field?

Since Dan and I both grew up in ministry families we knew firsthand how much ministry can affect your family life. With that in mind we didn’t force our kids to be involved in every aspect of ministry. We tried to make ministry fun so they would want to be involved. We let them           pick and choose how and when to have an active involvement in our ministries. Also, although  we did have people and meetings in our home at times, we tried to really keep our home a place of refuge for our family. It was a place where we could be a family and not always be dealing with ministry. In our home we were just a normal family. We also tried to make sure our kids knew that they were our priority.  Ministry is important but our family is even more important! When we had really busy ministry times we made sure to then take a bit of a break to spend time as a family. It really is all about finding a good balance.

8. How did you know that you wanted to be missionaries together?

We each felt the Lord’s leading and He gave us each a peace about being missionaries.

9. How has cross-cultural service enriched your life?

It really opens your eyes to view the world in a different way. It helps you to have a broader understanding of how different cultures and people are, and that is a beautiful thing. It also develops a desire to be more accepting towards people that are different from us. People     and cultures are so interesting and when you live cross-culturally I think you learn to really value that. We feel drawn to people that are different from us and want to get to know them.  It is an experience that definitely enriches our lives. I also think it has made us more people- oriented and less materialistic.

10. What advice would you give for people going in that direction?

I would say take a missions trip or two. See how you feel about being out of your comfort zone….in a different culture. Talk to missionaries and pray for God’s clear leading in your life.

11. What do you perceive are your strengths in ministry?

I am organized and can plan out details. Dan is very much a people person. We are both encouragers, which is something very needed here in Bolivia. Dan and I work well together, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

12. What do you see as your weak points in ministry?

Probably our Spanish. I don’t think that either of us would be considered gifted in learning a new language. We came to Bolivia when we were in our 40’s and it was very hard work to learn Spanish at that age. Our kids picked it up playing soccer with neighbor kids and interacting with the people at church. It was a natural process for them.There are still times when we can’t express ourselves like we could in our native language.That can be frustrating but I think it  has taught us to listen more. I guess that’s a good thing.

13. What is your philosophy of ministry?

Our philosophy of ministry is to bring people to the Lord, help them grow in their relationship with the Lord, and then equip them to be involved in ministry themselves. On a new mission field the missionary is doing or starting the ministries since it is completely new to the nationals. But as ministries are established we believe the missionaries need to step back and transition the ministries over to the nationals.  They need to be in these leadership roles. As  missionaries we don’t want to be doing ministries that the nationals can do themselves.In time our goal is to work ourselves out of a job, and if the nationals can continue in ministry without us, we have done our job.

14. How are you ministering to the people of Bolivia? What do you do?

I work with a women’s committee which plans events for the women in our mission. I used to speak more often at these events and at our different church women’s groups. At this point in our ministry we have more Bolivian women who are capable of speaking so I have taken more  of a step back from that role, but there are always other ways that I can help. Dan and I meet  with individuals or groups of leaders to encourage them and to give counsel on ministry issues.

In fact I’ll be meeting one on one with a young girl tonight. Dan often receives calls from  pastors in our mission who want to meet with him to get his opinion on ministry ideas or  problems. Dan and I work at the kid’s club that I mentioned earlier. We have Bolivian leaders who are in charge but we work right alongside them. Dan and I have had the chance to build a good relationship with the caretaker of the property and his wife and three kids. This in itself has been a special ministry. Dan has opportunities to teach and preach within our mission             here right in Santa Cruz and at times is able to travel up to La Paz to do some teaching among our pastors and leaders there. Our favorite ministry and what comes naturally to us is just encouraging our Bolivian believers.

15. What is a misconception that you had to learn to overcome?

I had always heard that once you learned a second language, learning a third language was not so hard. Having grown up in Japan I was fluent in Japanese and English as a child.  So I  thought there are my two languages….Spanish should be easy. I was in for a big surprise.    Spanish was hard and I had to work much harder to learn it than I ever expected. It has been a good language to learn though, since there seem to be Spanish-speaking people all over the world.

16. How have the people of Bolivia impacted you as a person? As a couple?

Bolivian people are so kind and gracious!  It is a joy to be with them. It’s amazing how they respond so kindly in certain situations that could be very frustrating. By their example they have helped me to learn to think before responding at times. They are so gracious when we            as foreigners do something that is culturally a bit off. They are patient and calm, things that we are still learning from them. One big way that the Bolivians have impacted our lives is the value and importance they put on people and relationships rather than events and activities.  Bolivians often arrive late to events because they see a friend along the way and choose to chat with them. Relationships are their priority!  Another thing would be seeing Bolivian believers who have so little and yet are full of joy! They are examples to us of contentment and knowing what is really important in this life.

17. How would you describe your overall experience?

It has been good although very hard at times. We have been stretched way out of our comfort zone, and yet God has always carried us. We have grown in our dependence on God. We know very clearly that we cannot do things on our own. We can accomplish things only with the help and strength of God. We have had trials and disappointments but also so many victories and  reasons for celebrating. It is so encouraging to see kids that we worked with in Awana who are now young leaders in our churches. They accepted the Lord, grew in their faith, and are now  ministering to others. That’s what it is all about!  We thank the Lord for the opportunity to minister among these precious Bolivians. We wouldn’t trade our time in Bolivia for anything.

 

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MIKE AND LYNN CARAWAY’S LETTER

Dear Family and Friends,

We are so grateful for the wonderful opportunities we have had to be part of GMI’s Tanzania missionary team over the past 15 years. Perhaps our lives have been impacted even more so than the lives of the people we’ve been privileged to minister to and with along the way. We are especially thankful for the support you have given us – prayerfully, financially, and emotionally.

Last year we came back from Tanzania not knowing if we would be returning full-time or not. During the past year in the States, we have had the privilege to be close to our parents and help them through many medical issues. We can see now that the Lord brought us home at this point to be helpful to our parents in this season of life.

After much prayer and many discussions we have come to the conclusion that it would be best for us to resign from full-time missionary service with Grace Ministries International (GMI). This was not an easy decision for our family to make, and we are grateful for opportunities to stay connected with GMI, the people and ministries we have been involved with.

Late last year we spent a couple of months in Tanzania working with Grace Community Development and Education (GCDE) which we were excited to see was continuing on well. It appears there will be many more opportunities to continue mentoring and encouraging GCDE, its staff, and board members as they minister to the people of Tanzania. This fall we will be making another trip to Tanzania in partnership with GMI, GCDE, and St. Martin’s Kids (a group committed to working with the orphanage in Sumbawanga).

Michael participated in a survey trip to the country of Ghana for GMI last fall, and in the next couple of weeks we will be in Belize investigating possibilities for future GMI ministries there. We are excited to continue in a volunteer capacity for Grace Ministries International as opportunities arise.

Thank you again for your greatly appreciated support over the past 15 years during our time in Tanzania. We appreciate your continuing prayers for our family.

With love from Michigan,

Mike, Lynn, and Luka Caraway

 

      

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JEREMY CLARK’S LETTER

May 2018

Dear Friends and Family of the Caraways,

It is much easier to see missionaries leave full-time service with Grace Ministries International when we know they are still going to be around! Mike and Lynn Caraway have exemplified the self-sacrifice necessary to serve on the mission field as they have invested far more in GMI than we could have ever given to them. Likewise, you have blessed Mike and Lynn through your financial support, prayers, and encouragement over the years. Thank you for that. As you read their letter you get just a sense of the enormous impact they have made in Tanzania and elsewhere around the world bettering the lives of others for the sake of the gospel.

I don’t like to think about Mike and Lynn leaving GMI, but they will be doing ministry in a different way which will continue to bless the work the Lord has given us. This month Mike and Lynn will do survey work in Belize. As part of GMI’s Vision 2023, one goal is to open eight new fields by 2023. Taking survey trips to potential new fields, as Mike did when he traveled to Ghana last fall, are essential to this vision. He will remain connected to GCDE in Tanzania and will assist our fields, as opportunities arise, in developing Christ-centered business training, ministries, and outreaches.

Mike and Lynn’s last official day as GMI missionaries is May 31. That date is soon approaching and I would ask you to consider ways you can continue investing in their ministries and the work of GMI around the world. The following are some ways you could direct your support starting in June:

Caraway Ministry Fund – This will help Mike and Lynn with travel to Tanzania to continue work with GCDE, potential new fields, and GMI’s established fields to help develop business training/ministry models.

GCDE – You can help the ongoing ministries of GCDE which includes, among other ministries, literacy programs, cleft palate surgeries, agriculture training, and business training in Tanzania.

Mwanza Outreach – Methodi Mwendapole, a Tanzanian pastor respected by his peers and the GMI missionary community, is planting churches and directing a Bible school program in the strategic region of Mwanza. Because this work is both new and growing rapidly, monthly funds are necessary to keep pace with this vibrant ministry.

GMI missionaries Tom and Michelle Sanchez are serving in Zambia in the short term before relocating to Burundi to open that new field for GMI. In order for Tom and Michelle to continue serving in Africa without having to return to the States in the middle of their term, they will need to raise additional monthly support. Tom and Michelle are veteran missionaries, having served in Congo from 1987-2001 with GMI, and are doing a tremendous job working with church leaders and pastors in Zambia.

If you would like to support any of these ministries, please let us know by mailing back the enclosed return slip with your next gift. After May 31, any gifts we receive for Mike and Lynn’s personal support will be designated for one of these four ministries mentioned above.

Thank you again for investing in Mike and Lynn as they have invested in others. We are thankful for the work they have done and the firm foundation of ministry they have built which will bless the Lord for years to come!

Pressing towards the goal,

Jeremy Clark
Executive Director

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