Friday, May 25, 2007

Naomi Andrews - AFLC Receptionist to Minister in Russia

May 27, 2007 I take off for my third short-term mission trip to Russia. My team and I will be teaching in one of the colleges in Petrozavodsk, using the Bible as our curriculum. It is an exciting opportunity to share God’s Word openly in the classroom. For most, if not all of our students, this will be the first time they have heard the Gospel message. Between class and friendship evangelism we pray we will plant many seeds and see these young adults come to Christ."

Psalm 139:17-18 says “How precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more that the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Each one of us is so precious to the Lord that His thoughts are more numerous than all the grains of sand in the world! I pray these young adults will come to know Christ and how incredibly precious they are to Him.

Please partner with me in prayer for these young adults we will be encountering in Russia. Please pray for my team as missionaries to be strengthened in our daily walks with Christ, our witness about Jesus, and open to God’s leading in our lives. Please pray for our students; pray that they would have a desire to hear and learn about God and openness to His Word. Please pray for Russia, for God’s hand in its government, and encouragement for Christians there.

I return June 10, 2007 please pray for safe flights there and back. Please pray for good health for me and my team. Please pray for God’s protection through customs and travel in Russia.

In Christ,
Naomi Andrews

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Greetings from Chmiels

Greetings from warm Europe! We are definitely getting some pretty hot days here in Prague and we are again learning to enjoy summer without any air-conditioning.

Our short time in the Czech Republic is coming to an end and in just ten days we will be in Ukraine again. We used our time in the Czech Republic to already start learning some Ukrainian.

We finished the Pimsleur Ukrainian Comprehensive Program (30 lessons of audio tapes) and according to the publisher we should now have achieved spoken-language communication skills at the Intermediate-Low Level. In just ten days we will see for ourselves if it is true that we should now be able to participate in simple conversations on every day topics, we should be able to order food or make simple purchases; and we should be able to establish rapport with strangers in a foreign country.

We realize that we are still far from where we need to be language-wise in order to be able to effectively minister to people in L’viv but we are enjoying each step of this learning process. We are also looking forward to starting lessons with our Ukrainian tutor soon! :)

We wanted to thank all of you so much for praying for our US visa. We were granted a one-year religious work visa and were told that it should not be difficult to renew after that year. Praise God for that. Having this visa makes it easier for us to be employed by our US mission organization, come back on furloughs etc…

We also went to the Ukrainian embassy this past week to see what we need to do to in order to get a more permanent kind of visa for Ukraine. We have never seen such a chaotic embassy in our whole lives! There were tons of Ukrainian people, everyone seemed nervous, people were pushing and yelling at each other in Russian. But we did find out what kind of documents we need to provide in order to get this “longer” visa. Right now we have to leave Ukraine and come back every three months (we can do this by going to Poland which is about an hour from L’viv).

Tomasz is 30
Tomasz celebrated his 30th birthday this month! He had a birthday party with his family and relatives two days before his birthday and then we had a little celebration of our own on the 10th. Because we both loved “French Silk Pie” when we were in the US, we decided to try to make it on our own and it turned out great! You can see some birthday pictures in our picture gallery:

Apartment in Ukraine
Next time we email you, it will be from Ukraine! We already have a temporary apartment ready for us in L’viv. We will be in this apartment until we find a place we would like to rent long-term. From what we heard it should be a nice small apartment but the challenge will be only having water for three hours in the morning and three hours at night!!! We were told that this is typical in L’viv unless you have your own water tank that you use during those in-between hours. We hope to have such a tank in our next apartment but for now we will learn to arrange our lives around those “water-on” times.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Couples Retreat at the ARCA - Report

Thanks for praying for our couple’s retreat at the ARCA over this past weekend. It was a blessed occasion! Sunday morning each participant shared a testimony about what they had learned during the retreat and the changes they would like to make in their marriages by the grace of God. Pictured here are some of the couples who participated.

We taught about the roles of the husband and wife according to biblical principles. There were also sessions about sexuality and forgiveness and emotional healing. We were blessed by the testimony of a couple who have had innumerous hardships and health challenges and how these difficulties have strengthened their marriage and helped them grow spiritually.

Paul and Becky sang a special number during the closing service encouraging all the couples to cherish their spouses as a present from God. João e Elma are pictured holding hands at the Sat. night banquet. For years Elma was bound in spiritism as a spiritist medium, encorporating evil spirits and tormented by the devil. She was freed by the power of Jesus three years ago and has been faithfully witnessing to her husband. She was thrilled that he agreed to come to the retreat. João seemed very open to everything that was taught and both of them are willing to work on their marriage. They have a 13-yr old daughter and a 1-yr old son.

It’s rewarding to see changed lives and realize that Jesus can do infinitely more than we can ask or think! Let Him make changes in your life and marriage for the glory of God!

Yours for the Gospel,
Paul and Becky

Danny Giles - Short Term Assistant

Danny and Marcela Giles are Short Term Mission Assistants in Mexico. They will help with the youth while missionary Todd Schierkolk is on furlough and have become involved in a counseling ministry with several families and individuals from the congregation in Jerez.

Gifts for the Giles ministry can be sent to the AFLC World Missions office. Please mark it "Danny Giles."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Laura Redman & Kari Gudim Going to Ecuador

On May 19th, two rather inexperienced college girls are going to take a leap of faith into the mission field! Laura Redman and Kari Gudim will be going to Cuenca, Ecuador for five weeks.

We will be staying with Pastor and Mrs. Ulloa, the parents of AFLBS student Ruth Ulloa, a good friend of ours. Nearly a year ago they invited us to visit and spend time teaching English at one of the schools, discipling some of the youth, and trusting God to direct.

Laura has never been on a mission trip, I've only been on one, and neither of us have much experience with Spanish and no experience with teaching English. Despite all of this, we are thrilled about this poortunity to join God's work in Ecuador!

We would like to ask you to join us in prayer as we set off on this adventure of following God. Our prayer requests include:

  • safe travel
  • wisdom as we help teach and disciple
  • the formation of friendships
  • understanding of Spanish
  • discernment to see other ways that we can serve our brothers and sisters in Ecuador
We know that without prayer and God's support, nothing we do will last for eternity, so thank you for brining us before the Throne of God.

We will be keeping a blog updated as much as possible while we are there. You can find it at Feel free to leave us comments too!

God bless you all!

Kari Gudim

Team of Five Going to Uganda

A group of five young adults will be traveling to Uganda on June 21 to July 20 to show the Jesus Film and evangelize under the guidance of Nate Jore. The group consists of Justin Strand, Sam and Rachel Mange, Joe Faldet and Micah Berger (not shown).

Ben Jore and Jesse Long will join the team from Tanzania where they have been showing the film on weekends.

Saturday, June 2 has been designated as a day for fasting and prayer for this campaign. We know prayer is vital because of the spiritual opposition that is sure to accompany this film showing. The plans are coming together well so far.
Please pray for the team from the States and Tanzania who are preparing to assist in this campaign and who will be arriving in just a month.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"We will bury you within 10 days..."

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..."

Hello dear friends,

Thank you for blessing us with your prayers. We have all been healthy now for the past couple of weeks. The Lord has been faithful. We have recently become aware of some difficult situations around us. The Devil is busy doing his work of stealing, killing, and destroying, and we need your continued prayers to stand against him.
  • One young man, a member of our church, is in need of our prayers. He was informed by members of his clan that the demons had selected him to come back to the village and serve full-time in the shrines. They said that the demons had selected him even before he was born and that now it was time for him to fulfill his role. He refused, saying that now he is following the Lord and is free from that bondage. They responded that the demons would come and kill him. "We will bury you within 10 days," they told him. He is not worried because he is confident in the Lord's power over darkness. However, he has been experiencing a lot of spiritual oppression since they came to him.
  • A neighbor girl who frequently comes over to play with our boys and to help Rhoda in the kitchen was raped this past week. She is twelve years old and has had to go to the hospital since the incident. Sin is so ugly.
  • Another neighbor woman confided to us this weekend that her husband beats her and is "very dangerous." He does not work so she has been trying to provide for the needs of her family but is struggling to make enough money to pay for her kids' education.
  • The lady that has lived on our compound and helped Rhoda with housecleaning since shortly after we arrived in November just moved out this past week. She left us with many unanswered questions and concerns, and we were hurt by her deceitfulness to us. We all loved and trusted her and are saddened by her leaving. She just came to the Lord in January, and we are praying, first of all, that her commitment to follow Jesus was real, and if so, that she would stand strong in her young faith as she goes now to live with Muslim family members.
  • The "Jinja for Jesus Crusade" just completed here. It sounds wonderful, but the "heavily annointed woman of God" leading it preaches a message that is purely health, wealth, and prosperity. It is so blatant that people are invited to come and receive prayer only after giving money. Benny Hinn was also just here this past weekend announcing, "come and receive your miracle... you will not leave empty-handed." There is a real battle for the truth. The great majority of churches are moving in the direction of prosperity theology. I am thankful that our churches have not gone after that, but we are still concerned that this false teaching here in Uganda is spreading.
  • Please join us in prayer for the Jesus Film Campaign we are holding that will run from June 27 - July 15. We have designated Saturday, June 2 as a day for fasting and prayer for this campaign. We know prayer is vital because of the spiritual opposition that is sure to accompany this film showing. The plans are coming together well so far. Please pray for the team from the States and Tanzania who are preparing to assist in this campaign and who will be arriving here in just a month.
Thank you to all who have let us know you are praying for Rhoda's Sunday School kids since we mentioned them in our last prayer update. We have attached a couple pictures of a few of the regulars.

Thank you for standing with us!

In Him,
Nate, Rhoda, Elijah, & Judah

Stephanie Nelson to Minister in Nepal

My name is Stephanie Nelson, daughter of Randy Nelson, the pastor of Lisbon Bethlehem Lutheran Church in IL.

After going on a week-long mission trip with my youth group last summer, God made it clear that He had more mission work planned for me. Over the last eight months He guided me as I made the decision to spend this summer serving Him in Nepal, a small country between China and India. I will be going with a group of other teenagers from across the nation from June 23 - August 1 through Royal Servants International. We will spend time doing lots of street ministry and evangelism, as well as volunteering in an orphanage, sharing the love of Jesus with isolated leper colonies, and various other service projects. I am so incredibly thankful that God has provided me with this opportunity; I cannot wait to go share Jesus with the people of Nepal! Though at times it can be overwhelming, it is so encouraging to know that Jesus will go with me everywhere; He'll never leave my side. And this promise is for all of us! May the Lord continue to bless each of you as you support His work!

Thank you for this opportunity to share; it's always exciting to talk about how God is working!

Stephanie Nelson

Friday, May 18, 2007

Couples Retreat at the ARCA

This weekend, May 18-20, the ARCA is hosting a couples retreat for the married couples in our churches. We are expecting 25-30 couples. There is a real need to strengthen marriages and families so that the work of the church can go forward.

We appreciate your prayers for us as we teach and share from God’s Word. Pray for open hearts, willingness to make changes to improve relationships, and growth in fellowship between the participants. Next week we’ll let you know how things went.

Rain is predicted for 5 days now. We are in the midst of remodeling the ARCA kitchen and the roof is not finished yet, so this presents a few challenges.

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.” Ps. 128:1

Investing in lives for the glory of God,

Paul and Becky Abel

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prayer Requests from Nate Jore

Listed below are a couple of prayer requests from Nate Jore
  • We are seriously looking into a vehicle that we could purchase as soon as the end of this week. It is a 1990 Nissan Terrano and would be the kind of vehicle we would need to get back into the bush. Please pray for the Lord’s will to be done; for an open door or a closed one.
  • I would like to designate Saturday, June 2 as a day for fasting and prayer for the Uganda Jesus Film Campaign. Ben and Jesse’s latest updates have reminded me of the spiritual opposition that is likely to accompany such a mission and that we need to do battle on our knees. We will be having a pastor’s meeting that day from this end and will commit that time to prayer. I would encourage praying for each showing in each village as well as all the preparation details from the US team, Ben and Jesse, the pastors on the ground, and me overseeing the campaign.
Thanks for praying,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

News from Darwin Jacksons

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:26,27

"...prayer is partnership with God in His planet-sized purposes, and includes the 'all things' beside, as an important detail of the whole." S.D. Gordon

Mary, Mary Ann's mom is doing pretty well considering she has been given only a few more months to live. She is able to walk now from that fall she had. She was up for most of the day the other day cooking, visiting and just enjoying life. My girls are doing good. We miss one another, but are very thankful they can spend this precious time with Mary.

My little brother Lenny has been spending a lot of time with Gracie, as well as visiting Mary Ann and her mom. My brother isn't a Christian yet, but is coming very close. He even took his family to church last Sunday (which is a huge step for him). Please pray for him and his family to come to Jesus soon. They are actually on-the-road right now as they are taking their oldest daughter April to her grandparents in Pensilvania. She has been really giving them a hard time lately (not going to school, staying out all night, maybe drugs, hitting mom and sister) and have decided it's best if she leave for awhile.

I visit Calvary Free Lutheran Church in Everett WA. this Sunday. The time I spent with Atonement Free Lutheran sparked practical talks later on how to practically implement evangelism locally as well as "partnership with God in His planet-sized purposes." I'm also mentoring a brother at our home congregation (Elim Free Lutheran) in evangelism a couple of times each week. Pray for us as we make visits in the neighborhood.

Praise the Lord that as we partner with God to "make disciples of all nations", we can receive His peace as we bring the details of our daily needs as well. I praise God for you as well for partnering with us in prayer.

Your fellow workers,
Darwin, Mary Ann and Gracie Jackson

Monday, May 14, 2007

Update from Jesse Long

We took this picture during a recent weekend of ministry in the village of Donya. It is of the father of one of our students. I just thought you might enjoy how photogenic he is. It was one of those days we felt like we were living inside National Geographic.

Thank you for your prayers on my behalf as I was in Arusha. The week ended up going different than we had hoped but we were able to finally get the speaker fixed on Friday and still do Jesus Film showings in three different locations that weekend. We have been encouraged in a new way to pray that God would protect all our equipment and allow it to function well for a long time to come.

I would also like to ask prayer for a student of ours whose name is Paulo. I think I mentioned him to some of you a couple months ago because I was amazed that he was here at school even though his wife was at home having their fifth baby. Several weeks ago we actually had the opportunity to make a trip with Paulo to see his village, do a film showing at his church, and meet his family. We even got to hold his new little baby!! Well, on Tuesday morning this past week, Paulo came to our door to get some help with bus money to go home. He had just received a call from someone back in his village informing him that his new baby had just died. They said the baby was being spoon-fed milk by the mother and apparently it went down the “wrong pipe” causing it to stop breathing and ultimately pass away. Pray for all involved in the situation: siblings, parents, extended family, church members, and neighbors. It seemed like Paulo was taking it ok but I’m sure that when we saw him (within 15 minutes of getting the news) he had not even had time to comprehend the reality of the situation completely. We pray comfort for all and that God would somehow work good – as only He can – even through this bad situation.

Please continue to pray for all of our weekend ministry opportunities. It is often easy to get frustrated or to feel like there is no visible fruit, but we know there is – why else would the Enemy be trying to put up so many obstacles (equipment failures, competing groups, delayed transportation, etc.)? Furthermore, we received some wonderful encouragement during one of our most recent film showings. The student whose home congregation we were visiting explained that it was actually at a Jesus Film showing just like the one he was now helping to host that he had been saved! How exciting to see this man (who had stumbled in as a drunk those eight years ago) now standing before 750+ people to preach the Gospel! He will be returning as lay pastor of that church after his June 24th graduation here at Waama. God is working and building His Church…even in the most unexpected ways.

One final prayer request: Please pray that God would protect and even multiply the crops here at Waama. We have been receiving a lot of rain in recent days and at this point in the year rain can actually damage and even destroy the corn crop.

Thank you all for your faithfulness. May God continue to richly bless you as you serve Him in your assigned mission field.

In Him,


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Prayer Request from Dan Giles

Could you pray for Samuel, an eight-year old boy in our church, who was bitten by a poisonous Brown Recluse spider a few days ago and is in the hospital here in Jerez?

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Dream Come True - History of the ARCA

"He who promised is faithful." Heb. 10:23b

Paul and Becky Abel have always enjoyed working with youth, especially in a camp setting. They dreamed of one day having a camp of their own. In July of 1991, Paul eyed an advertisement for a farm for sale outside of the city. The ad mentioned a beautiful property with electricity, city water, phone, bus service, two small houses and a large rabbit barn. The following day they took a leisurely drive away from the busy city to a rural area with rolling hills and small farms. The property was picturesque and the view spectacular as they enjoyed taking a look at the little wooden cabin and small caretaker's cabin before touring the "eyesore" on the property - a large concrete rabbit barn - 160 ft. X 30 ft. As the real estate agent tried to take attention away from the barn, Paul and Becky were already imagining how the building could easily be transformed into a retreat center with dorms at each end and a chapel and dining hall in the middle. There was plenty of space for ball fields and woods galore for hiking on the 21-acre property. What a find! Only one problem - no money!

As they drove back to the city the agent explored their financial resources and soon discovered that the only remote possibility of closing a deal would be dependent on the sale of their home in the city. An hour later the agent appeared on their doorstep with the couple who owned the farm. After a quick tour of the house and property the husband consulted with his wife and promptly asked if the Abels would be willing to trade their home in the city for the farm. By the end of the afternoon the Abels were proud owners of a beautiful farm. Only God can orchestrate circumstances in such perfect precision!

Paul and Becky are very thankful for friends who loaned them funds to add on to the little house on the farm and six months later in January 1992 they moved to the country. They donated seven acres of land and the big concrete rabbit barn to the Free Lutheran work and established a non-profit organization called the ARCA. ARCA stands for Acampamento e Retiro Cristão da Associação which means Christian Camp and Retreat Center of the Association. The simple word "arca" in Portuguese means "ark" and is descriptive of the large camp building set into the wooded hillside. As God was faithful to Noah and all His people throughout history, He has been faithful in providing for all the needs of this developing ministry. During that first year the Lord moved in the hearts of many to miraculously provide for the transformation of the rabbit barn into a camp building. Donations and volunteers appeared regularly to complete the rustic camp building in time for a Free Lutheran Youth Convention in September 1992. 200 people gathered to praise God for His faithfulness in making a dream come true.

Since that first retreat many improvements have been made on the camp and several church groups have enjoyed the blessing of spending time at the retreat center. Thousands of lives are touched through this ministry every year as people get away from the distractions and busyness of everyday life and are immersed in the beauty of God's creation and in the teaching of His Word. The camp is fully equipped to host 120 people comfortably. It is used several times a year for Free Lutheran camps and retreats for children, teens, couples, and families. The remaining weekends are available for other evangelical churches to rent the facilities. As the Word of God is preached and taught souls have come into the Kingdom, and men and women have been called into deeper commitment to Jesus, and some have gone into full-time ministry.

Missionaries Paul and Becky Abel manage the camp as part of their church-planting ministry. The ARCA is a faith project, maintained by rental fees and volunteer contributions. The beautiful grounds and facilities are a testimony of His provision through many generous groups and individuals. In recent years a gymnasium was built which has increased the outreach of the camp ministry. A Brazilian couple, Carlos and Yara, work alongside the Abels in this ministry.

What began as a place to multiply rabbits became a place to multiply souls for the kingdom of God. Praise God who gives the increase! The ARCA continues to depend on the promise from God's Word which they have chosen as a theme verse – “He who promised is faithful.” Hebrew 10:23b Dreams (according to God’s will) really do come true!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jesus Film Shown to Large Crowds in Tanzania

We got started right away with our village ministry for this term the weekend of April 20-22. It was a wonderful weekend during which we were able to show the Jesus Film in two different villages and participate in 2 different Sunday services. Between the two showings, we estimate around twelve-hundred people were in attendance. Most of these were not a regular part of their local church. The showings were not without their challenges, however.. At the bigger of the two showings (attended by over 750 people), another religious group was having some sort of “special meetings” at the school which was right next to the church. Unfortunately, rather than being willing to peacefully co-exist, they seemed to be more interested in trying to compete. They not only aimed their speaker in our direction but turned it up as loud as they possibly could. They even had people at the back of our group trying to get people to come instead to their meeting. For as loud as they were being you would have thought they had an attendance of several hundred, too, but it was actually only about 50-60. There was really nothing we could do except pray…which we did more than we ever have before. We trust, despite the distraction, that God’s Word was heard and will have an impact. Please continue to pray for us each weekend. We have seen more struggles, complications, and technical difficulties in recent weeks than ever before.

In fact, this past weekend (April 27-29), we were in the village of Donya. During those days we estimate a total attendance of about 1300! Unfortunately, on Friday about 20 minutes into our first showing, our speaker started doing some scratching and cutting out. We were able to finish and then used some of the local church’s equipment the second night. However, now I am in Arusha getting our speaker fixed at the shop we purchased it from. We decided that Ben would stay back to teach the classes during these days and I would go get this taken care of. Fixing it as soon as possible was absolutely critical as we have many village film showings scheduled in the next couple weeks…the first two being this Friday/Saturday.

Plans continue to be laid for the Uganda Evangelistic campaign we will be participating in after Waama’s June 24th graduation. Please continue to hold this time up in prayer. Pray not only for the preparations that Ben and I are making at this time but also for Nate and Rhoda who are heading up the work in Uganda as well as 5 others who will be coming from the States to help with the campaign (June 24-July 17).

Beyond these specific things, we praise God for His overall provision and protection which we experience on a daily basis. With the many kilometers we travel across poor roads, and the food we eat in these different villages, it really is a testimony to God’s faithfulness that we have never had any major incidences. A small reminder came last term during one of our showings. After setting up, our driver parked the car right next to an 8-foot hole (neither Ben or I knew it was there). I have no idea what it was for…there is a lot of random stuff like that around here (I’m mostly just glad it was not a hole for waste). Anyway, we had walked past it several times in the dark and during the showing Ben and I were resting in the truck. When it was nearing the end, we climbed out of the truck and were going to get ready for the closing. As I climbed out and stepped back to let Ben climb out, I fell right into this hole (!) and twisted my knee. Thankfully, over the past month and a half, it has almost completely healed and we praise God for that little reminder of His protection at times when we don’t even realize it! OK…well I don’t know why I thought to tell that story right now…sorry.

Keep the prayers coming! We need them every day. Thank you again for your part and I look forward to seeing many of you in July/August!

In Him,

Jesse Long