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What can I do now to prepare for life as a missionary?

This is one of those questions I am frequently asked by college students, recent grads, and families or individuals thinking about joining our missionary team. Recently, Grace Ministries International put together a brochure which gives practical tips advising how a person who has decided to become a missionary or is seriously considering it can start preparing now for this adventure of a lifetime. Click HERE to read that document and feel free to contact me if you have any questions (616-241-5666 or gmi@gracem.org). You can also fill out this Getting Acquainted Form so we can get to know you and be in touch soon.

For some of you, having read that last paragraph, the wheels are turning and you want to know what the opportunities to serve with GMI are and what it looks like to become a GMI missionary. As you check out those links please know that we need your help as we continue to open new fields and expand the work on established fields.

One of the joys of serving as a missionary is being a part of the Lord’s work as you get something new started. In Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, around 30 people attended the first service on May 7 in the new facility the GMI missionary team is renting. Click HERE to see a video of that first service. Likewise, Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli had their first service on May 20 attended by 80 under the new pavilion on the property in Nagarote, Nicaragua.

GMI missionaries Brett and Debby Chapman, serving with Jeff and Sally Roth, are busy in the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where they are leading Bible studies, running kids clubs, teaching English, and much more. All of this they do with the goal of evangelizing and planting churches that teach God’s grace to their Nicaraguan neighbors. They would love to host ministries teams to help them reach out to more of their community as they build relationships in Matagalpa. Again, please contact us if you would like more information about sending a team to work with the Chapmans.

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. 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.

In my last email update, I told you about a new GMI missionary family, Givemore and Sylvia Nyakambiri, who will serve with our missionary team in Malawi for a time before moving to neighboring Mozambique to evangelize, disciple, and plant churches there. Since they are originally from Zimbabwe they do not have a support base or home church here in the U.S. from which they can raise funds. I would encourage you to consider investing in this family as they ultimately will help GMI open Mozambique as a new field. Monthly support is key for any missionary since this lets them know how much support they can consistently depend upon to carry out their ministry. They are just starting out and need both monthly support and also special gifts. If you would like to give towards the Nyakambiris’ ministry through GMI, click HERE.

Thanks for your faithful prayers for and interest in Grace Ministries International. All that we do is a team effort and you are part of that team!

Pressing towards the goal,

Jeremy Clark
GMI Executive Director

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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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As many of you know, several of GMI’s Tanzania missionaries have been on the move recently and it is hard to keep track of exactly where they are. Of course, you can always reach them by email which is the most reliable mode of communication at this time or you can send a card or letter c/o Grace Ministries International, PO Box 9405, Grand Rapids, MI 49509. We will make sure it gets to them in their monthly mail packet.

TED AND KIM RABENOLD: Ted and Kim are hard at work in the Rukwa Valley of Tanzania. We received an exciting email update of their work this morning which you can read HERE.

BROOK SEEKINS: Brook is currently in Ohio spending time with her parents and getting some rest. She would love to hear from you!

JOHN AND NAOMI CAPRARI: John and Naomi can be found in Grand Rapids, MI, where they are awaiting the birth of their baby in a couple of months. It was advised that they be near a doctor and hospital when they were having some complications and South Africa was not an option for them due to visa issues.

STEVE AND BARB SHERMAN: Steve and Barb continue their ministries in Mwanza, Tanzania. They would love to hear from you via email. It is always an encouragement to hear from people back in the States.

CORY AND KIM HODGSON: Cory and Kim and their three children are currently in Portland, OR, where they are spending time with family and just adjusting to life in the U.S. That back and forth transition always takes a bit of time.

MIKE AND LYNN CARAWAY: After spending time with their daughter and son-in-law in Dubai, Mike and Lynn, along with Luka, just recently arrived in the States. They continue to work with Grace Community Development & Education (GCDE) from a distance.

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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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Photo credit: www.revelationtv.com

Everyone knows there is power in prayer. It is easy to say when things are going well and life is gumdrops and roses. But do we REALLY believe it deep down when the going gets tough…I mean REALLY TOUGH…like when you are a missionary on a foreign field with a medical emergency and the nearest medical facility is three hours away. Does your belief that there is power in prayer sustain you?

In the past couple of weeks Brett and Debby Chapman, GMI missionaries in Nicaragua, have had to deal with two very sick and dehydrated toddler boys – Asher and Ethan –  due to a virus. After being sick for several days, Brett and Debby made the three-hour drive to the hospital in Managua so the boys could get IV fluids. They remained in the hospital about five days before they were well enough to be released. This is Brett and Debby’s response to the ordeal: “Praising God! Our God is so good and He hears our cries! Feeling so thankful for each one who took the time to lift our boys up in prayer this week. God answered!…Praising God for this huge answer to prayer.”

John and Naomi Caprari, GMI missionaries in Tanzania, also had a health crisis concerning Naomi’s pregnancy which was alarming enough for them to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa. They did need to see the doctor there and be treated for the health of Naomi and the baby so we are thankful they made the decision they did. Here is some of their latest update from yesterday (Tuesday, January 3):

“Today, like many other days—since 6 days ago—I cried, but this time it was tears of joy. We had a doctor’s appointment today and got great news. The doctor found the reason for our pregnancy scare. She said I (Naomi) have an infection. This is something that went unnoticed in the biggest city in Tanzania during our last visit. Naomi doesn’t have any of the symptoms that normally come with an infection and that is why it went unnoticed before. We are thankful that we were able to get a good doctor because a continued untreated infection could have led to worse symptoms leading to an early delivery/preterm labor… We will be in South Africa for a little while longer as we have some more testing to do in a week’s time…In the meantime, also pray for our paperwork in immigration to come in quickly. Tanzania recently got a new President that has been changing a lot of the rules in immigration. Therefore, this makes it confusing for many immigration officers and for us as well as we work and wait for our paperwork to be processed. There is a letter we need to get from immigration before re-entering Tanzania. Waiting on immigration can be a slow process, especially with the changing of rules and confusion among different offices. Pray that things go quickly and we are able to return when we get the OK from the doctor here.

“In the meantime, we are excited to see what God’s plan was in sending us here for this time. We are excited to work on making lessons in Swahili—since we are still new at the language it takes us a lot longer to make lessons in Swahili. We are excited to partner and learn from the Things to Come missionaries here in South Africa as they have been doing church planting as well.

“Thank you all for coming on this journey with us and covering us with prayer. We are so thankful that it was not more serious but also thankful to have come here to get treated before it became dangerous for our precious baby. Thank you all for your encouragement and especially for your POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE prayers. What a God we serve.”

So what do you think based on the responses of these two missionary couples? Does their belief that there is power in prayer sustain them when the going gets tough? I think so! I would suggest in both cases prayer was a lifeline, a source to truly pour out their hearts and to have a conversation with their Lord and Savior who knew everything that was happening. He is the One who can give you peace in all situations.

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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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