Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Border Crossings

Editor’s note:  This is an excerpt from the Schierkolk’s newsletter.  To read the entire document please click here.

“‘. . . and they shall call His name Immanuel’ which means, God with us.”
                    -Gospel of Matthew 1:28

imageAdvent and Christmas bring some paradoxical feelings for us.   On one hand, we are really enjoying being with our daughter Rachel, seeing snow, being with family, experiencing the joy of the many events of the Christmas season, and touching base with friends.  We enjoyed the Christmas concert at the Bible School (AFLBS) so much we went twice!
On the other hand, this is the first Christmas that the kids in the clubs in Jerez won’t have us “with” them and we won’t be having a Christmas party where they’ll be getting a present and they won’t get to watch the traditional showing of “Red Boots for Christmas” in Spanish.  No tamales made by Adri (who passed away in May) enjoyed with all imageof the people from the church in Jerez.  No watching the serious excitement of a young person in church lighting the Advent candle.  So we feel a significant paradox (or as we often say in our family, “pair of ducks”).  But God is “with” us and He is “with” them…

Todd, Barb, Rachel, Megan and Kirstie Schierkolk

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A New Life This Christmas!

Merry Christmas!NathanaelPillman

Christmas is a time to celebrate God's gift of His only begotten Son to the world. This year, we are also celebrating God's gift of a son for our family! We are so thankful for His good and perfect gifts. May your celebrations this Christmas season always be focused on Jesus!

Because of Him,

Justo, Patricia and Nathanael

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kvale Connection: Christmas Edition

Editor’s note:  Please access the PDF copy of the entire newsletter here where you can read their prayer requests and praises.

imageImagine knowing about Christ and desiring to live according to His word without having the word of God in your own language to clarify God’s precepts.   

John 15, verses 4-8, reveal to us things that are missed in our understanding without God’s word for us to study and know Christ more personally.  Bible-less people are deceived by the enemy to believe that “God must not speak my language”, “He does not care about me”, or “This God, He is not with me.” But when Scripture is heard for the first time, they are moved to tears to find out that God cared about them from the beginning of time, that He does know their language and is making a way for them to have the word themselves, or that He has always known the exact places where they were born and where they live today. 

…and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (Acts 17:26b, NIV).

We pray God’s word may truly be for everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Lights

We knew this single mother of three who was struggling to make ends meet. One night before Christmas, she was walking with her little boy  looking at some houses that were decorated with Christmas lights for the Holiday. Wonder filled the little boy’s eyes as he contemplated the sight, then he  turned to his mother and said, “I know why Santa never comes to our house on Christmas, we don’t put any lights up so he can find us”.  How often we are like that little boy, especially at Christmas. We want God to see our good works (as little lights) and bless us (the naughty and nice syndrome) instead of being lights to dispense His goodness to others. Daniel 12:3 reminds us, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”  Let us pray that this Christmas we would be a light that shows God’s goodness and glory to mankind.             

Wow! Another year is coming to an end. What a year! It seems to me like two years in one. The first half being in Brazil with what seemed like a million things to do before leaving for the US. Then the other half here spending much time on the road, but really enjoy visiting with so many experienced (not to say “old”) friends and enjoying the Bible Camps, Conferences, Conventions, and Rallies along with all the churches and pastors we have visited. Now we will slow down from the road a bit to spend some time with family over the Christmas Holidays. We will have Mom and Dad, April, Thomas and Jed (our nephew) with us in Wisconsin at the Mission home for some 14 days.  The little house will be jam packed with people and activity, but it will be fun. After that Mom and Dad will head south, all the way to Brazil, the kids will return to AFLBS and we will hit the road again. We are really looking forward to all the great things God is going to do in 2012 if Jesus doesn’t come back first.

Things on the home front (Brazil) are going well. Though there are always many challenges, our church seems to be encouraged and moving forward. The Seminary and Miriam Infant home are finishing a good year. We praise the Lord for His goodness!

Jonathan, Tamba, April, Tom & Michelle Abel

To access the PDF form of this greeting, go here.

Where is Home This Christmas?

“There are many homes up there where my father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly.”   John 14:2-3

Jesus left His Home in glory at Christmas to dwell among us.

This was the greatest gift (of salvation) ever given to all the world. Millions are still waiting to hear the good news, yet there are many who’ve heard the gospel and are still rejecting that great gift of salvation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful at this time of the year to lovingly admonish your unsaved loved ones to come home to Jesus this Christmas.

Read the rest of Connely Dyrud’s Christmas greeting here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opening and Closing

Editor’s Note:  Here is a teaser from Jonni’s December newsletter.  Enjoy the full document here.

The  end of the year is always so special. Christmas, New Years, family time and parties - all of it speaks of hope and joy! One year ending, another brand new, ready to begin!

But it doesn’t always work that way. When you see many years come and go and little seems to change it is easy for hope to fade. We have two young people in the Miriam Home in an unusual situation. Most of the children we receive are here for a short time, normally for two to six months; until their families can take them home or until they enter a whole new family. For some of the children the “normal” doesn’t happen.

Josivaldo came to the Miriam Home when he was just 2 years old; today he is 17 years old and the only real home he has ever had is right here. Josivaldo has family, his mother lives right here in Belo Horizonte. Sadly, her son was never high on her list of priorities. Josivaldo tried living with her a few times, but his mom always had a new man in her life and conflicts would arise between the boy and the boyfriend. At the point of conflict Josivaldo’s mom always chose the boyfriend over her son. Josivaldo would come back to the Miriam Home, where at least he knew he was wanted.

Today Josivaldo is on the edge of a big step! In January he turns 18 years old and is a powerful young man. He has a heart for missions (actually, he would like to be a missionary in Africa). He is working at a local grocery store, he is learning to make (and keep - the harder part!) a budget. God has great plans for Josivaldo!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December World Missions Devotion

Editor’s note:  The following devotion was written by Craig Wentzel.

Sometimes, it feels like our lives are “boats” afloat on the “ocean” of life.  A boat can be really unsteady and, as a passenger, you feel like you’re not in control.  This can be true of us as the busyness of the Christmas season threatens to “engulf” us, or there are “tsunamis” of major problems or troubles looming over us about to “crush” us, or there are “huge waves” of feelings like discouragement, or fear, or indecision      “crashing” over us.

This fall, I was in such a “storm” as my wife was facing her last days of struggling with cancer.  The account of Jesus stilling the storm in Luke 8:22-25 was helpful in my situation…

Now it came to pass on one of those days, that he entered into a boat, himself and his disciples; and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake: and they launched forth.  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.  And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, We perish. And he awoke, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.  And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And being afraid they marveled, saying one to another, Who then is this, that he commandeth even the winds and the water, and they obey him?

I learned 3 lessons from this story:

1) I’ve learned that the “boat” of our lives may easily be “rocked” by the “storms” of life.  Even the “friends” of Jesus who are following His lead will run into “storms” in life.  Such a “storm” can take control of our lives to some extent and make the decisions FOR us!  We can find health, financial, or other problems, or even other people, can make decisions for us.

2) I’ve learned that we have no control over the “boat” of our lives. The disciples found that they couldn’t keep the waves out of their boat.  They were about to be “swamped” and sunk.  Sometimes, WE may feel like the “storms” of life are “sinking” us and we are being overwhelmed with troubles and feelings.  And they couldn’t go in the right direction!  When the “storms” of life overtake us, we can’t go in the direction we planned on going.  I’ve learned that when you lose your spouse, your life takes a different direction and looks differently to you than you ever planned!  When the disciples lost control of their boat, they ran to Jesus and when we lose control of our lives in a “storm”, it is a good time to go running to Jesus in prayer!

3) I’ve learned that Jesus is in control of ALL things.  Jesus is in control of “storms” or events of our lives (Lk. 8:25b)!  He will make them turn out for OUR good (Rom. 8:28).  And He will bring an end to them at the RIGHT time (Ps. 31:14-15a).  Jesus is also in control of the “boat” of my life!  Another time when the disciples were in a storm and Jesus came to them is recorded in Jn. 6:21.  Jesus brought them safely to where He wanted them to go and He will bring ME safely to where He wants me to go!

When we feel like things are “out of control” for us, we can always go to Jesus who is in control of all things!

Schierkolk’s Mexico Video

Check out the Schierkolk’s current video of their work in Mexico.  The Schierkolks are home on furlough at this time.  Pray for their timely return to Mexico.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Redemption Needed…

Yesterday, I (Andy) returned from another weekend of teaching Bible seminars in two different cities. It was an interesting weekend as two polar opposite realities were on display. What a joy it was in one congregation to teach a group of 25 young adults who desired to learn and grow in the Lord. God is working in this group. Unfortunately, at the next location, the spiritual pendulum swung. I have heard, read, and in some ways experienced the catastrophic effects upon spiritual life caused by 70 years of atheism.

However, yesterday opened my eyes and I saw this devastation afresh. To be honest, it was completely discouraging to witness a congregation not interested in Jesus and spiritual things. Seventy years of atheism on demonstration. Yet as polarizing as this trip was, I believe it illustrates the situation here in Ukraine well. There is light. God is bringing people to repentance and faith. People are growing in the Lord. Yet at the same time, so many are distracted and hardened to God’s Word. Despite how difficult and deep these problems are, the answer for Ukraine is quite simple. Ukraine needs Jesus. They need the profound message of the cross, for it is only the penetrating Word of the Gospel that can break through hardened hearts and bring forgiveness and salvation.

Editors note:  To read the rest of this newsletter, receive an invitation and know how to pray for the Coyles,  please click here.