In 1994, a mission organization was taking a team to RUSSIA, right after the fall of Communism, when the Gospel became more accessible to the Russian people. Four New Lifers, including ME, went to do pastor training, speak with evangelical churches (our church met in an old crumbling theatre with no heat - we wore our coats - HUMBLING), tour hospitals & orphanages, and help with a giant "Moscow for Jesus" rally in a former Olympic stadium. I was a young SAHM, one income family, little kids at home - how was this possible? People donated to our trip, my husband sold his car, people brought meals, the dads took turns watching the kids - it was a beautiful picture of community. In 2001, one of our missionary partners was taking a trip to "Asia" to offer English camps (and share the Gospel in every way possible) - I HAVE AN ENGLISH DEGREE - this trip was MADE for me! It was such a great experience that I went for 10 summers, taking all of my kids with me! We shared the "cultural" holidays such as Christmas & Easter and were able to share Bible stories with hundreds of students. We found lots of other ways to share the Gospel - and even managed to smuggle in some Bibles. Meeting with the Underground Church and hearing firsthand how they came to Christ in an aggressively anti-Christian land was life-changing.
Well, actually, for me, it really WAS life-changing as this trip led to me interning at New Life in the Missions Department and coming on staff over 20 years ago. Since then, my life has been one-million percent focused on Global Missions and how our church can best serve those around the world who need to hear the Good News, as well as encouraging churches all around the globe. We have supported Aids orphans in Africa & families torn apart by the war in Uganda, sent teams & resources to Haiti, worked with North African refugees in France, sent student teams to Russia to share the Gospel with Russian students, we sent many teams to India where we worked with a Bible Institute & ministered to thousands of orphans and children. We've sent teams to rural Nicaragua and indigenous areas of Costa Rica to support work with the poor and met with the local churches to help as needed. We currently support workers in hostile nations that we aren't able to visit yet we "meet" with them via technology and offer financial & prayer support. In desiring to make more of a long-term impact with our missions partners, we have identified 3 strategic partnerships that we've worked with for literally decades, and we send teams to visit them every chance we get. Covid was hard when we couldn't reach them and we knew so many were suffering in various ways. They have truly become our family.
Workers Dan & Beth & their kids live in "Europe" & work with North African refugees & immigrants. There are many security issues and cultural realities - not to mention spiritual darkness & occult practices - that make this a difficult area to serve and bring teams but the workers are able to find practical ways to serve their neighbors. Our work in Los Anonos, Costa Rica, began in 2009 & currently focuses on the local church, La Vina, and Pastor David & Angie Jimenez and their two boys. Located in a slum just outside the capital city of San Jose, this area is filled with immigrants & refugees, addicts, gangs and poverty in every form, yet the church offers a place of respite, hope, and JOY with worship services, kids' & youth activities, men's & women's activities, small groups, Bible classes, even taking their own people on mission trips to rural areas in need. Mukono community in Uganda includes a church, a school, and a child sponsorship program that helps children living in abject poverty go to school, have a hot meal every day, obtain medical care and the Good News of the Gospel. Our teams are able to speak at church services, offer training on various topics, encourage the families as well as the staff onsite, offer food to the poor in the name of Jesus, teach various skills and activities, and bring the love of Jesus to a community that needs HOPE.
When Jesus "commanded" us to GO into all the world and preach the Gospel to all people, I think local church "Missions" is one big way this is done today - full-time missionaries, short term trips, BAM (Business As Mission) - even media & tech is being used to share the Gospel in hostile or closed nations. That also means...plain old regular local church Christ-followers can be used to spread the Gospel all over the world. You don't have to be a Seminary-trained pastor or a Bible scholar, a professor or an evangelist. Can you play with kids? Hold a hammer? Read a story? Cook a meal? Paint a room? Teach a skill? Pray for the sick? You are QUALIFIED! Like that day I sat in that freezing cold theatre (in my coat!) with Russian Christians and took Communion with them, I understood "the fellowship of the saints" and the "Body of Christ." What a privilege to share the Gospel with those who have never heard - to encourage the believers in hard places - to offer HOPE to the hopeless in the name of Jesus.
Now for the sales pitch - if you have a valid passport, we have trips to Costa Rica (late July) Uganda (late September) and France (Oct 10-30) - passport processing is SUPER backed-up so you might need to look at Costa Rica in late January 2024 if you need passports! Every trip is led by a trained leader, fund raising opportunities are provided, travel insurance is provided for every trip, training is provided, French & Spanish are certainly assets but English is great. I have travelled with my friends, my family, my small group- and with a whole bunch of people I'd never met but are fast friends today! JUST DO IT - you'll be glad you did! Contact me in the Missions Office at , leave me a message at the church 614.475.8500, or flag me down in the church lobby Sunday morning!