AFLC World Missions News is moving to our updated website. All new posts can be found at http://www.aflcworldmissions.org/resources/prayer-and-news/ .
Thursday, October 23, 2014
We are excited to welcome Joshua Dan Pillman into our family. Thank you to each of you who prayed for a safe delivery and birth. We thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy and that the birth went so well.
Because of Jesus,
Justo, Patricia, Nathanael, Hannah, and Joshua
To reply to this email, please write to email@example.com
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
It has been a while since I have updated you all on my life and ministry, and there is much to update. So, here I go - I’ll try to be brief and clear.
I have been in the USA for over a month already. First, I was in Alaska with my brother Andrew and my two brothers-in-law and my dad to celebrate my dad’s 60th Birthday; then I came to Minnesota where I am now. My fiancé, Ednay, is studying at AFLBS and is enjoying it very much even though it is very challenging because of the language barrier.
In September Ednay and I met with the AFLC Mission committee. We were accepted as AFLC missionary candidates and we are now going through the required paperwork. In December we will either receive a missionary call and begin raising support for the mission field or we will be given some more prerequisites of the AFLC as we prepare for the mission field wherever that may be. Ednay and I are open to a wide range of possible ministry options and are following the leading of the Holy Spirit one step at a time as He reveals to us “this is the way, walk in it” (Is. 30:21).
I have spent the past three weeks working on a farm in Stephen MN. Two weeks were spent harvesting sugar beets and one week harvesting soybeans and washing and winterizing farm equipment. I also had the opportunity of sharing at the Free Lutheran Church in Alma with Rev. Dennis Grey.
Now I am back in the Twin Cities metro area. I am blessed to be living in the basement of Dale and Gretta Westvig’s home in Chanhassen, MN. I am currently looking for work. I will be in MN until the 14th of December when Ednay and I will go back to Brazil for four big events - her sister’s wedding, Christmas, my cousin’s wedding and Children's Camp at the ARCA. We plan on returning in January for Nay to attend the spring semester of Bible School. I don’t know how circumstances may change our plans, but as far as we know that’s the plan. Ideally by this time next year I will be married and on the mission field serving long term.
Please pray for us as the days go by and decisions are made. Pray for the clear direction of the Holy Spirit. Pray for spiritual discernment for me. Pray for daily opportunities to preach the Gospel and share God’s love with people anywhere and everywhere. Pray for Ednay as she deals with the homesickness, the new language, new culture, the ever-cooling weather and me.
Thank you for being involved in my life. May the outrageous love of God bring you joy and peace today and always.
In His service,
P.S. If you are in my area and can make some time for us to get together sometime, please make it happen because I would love to see you! If you would like me to share with your church about missions I'd be happy to do that as well.
Facebook: Mafú David Abel
Mail: AFLC World Missions 3110 E. Medicine Lake Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55441
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the tack of testifying to the good news of God's grace." Acts 20:2
Monday, October 20, 2014
“It is finished.” These are the words spoken by Jesus on the cross, in John 19, right before he died. And this tells us that Jesus had fulfilled the will of the Father. It tells us that his work of atonement was now complete.
Because this is true, have you ever wondered why we’re still here? If Jesus has atoned for our sins, why are we still living in this world? If our salvation is complete, why must we continue to live in a world of sin? If our sins have been cleansed, why can’t we go to paradise now?
I think this is addressed well in 2 Peter 3:9, where he writes: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
We see in this passage that God is patient. And, although we might like to experience his eternal kingdom sooner rather than later, this is yet another demonstration of God’s grace. He’s patient because he does not want any to perish. He’s patient because he wants all to reach repentance.
In displaying his patience, God is giving people the opportunity to turn from their sin. He’s giving them the opportunity to receive the salvation he’s provided for them. And this is where the role of the church ties in. This is where we see the purpose of missions.
As the church, we’ve been called by God to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15). We’ve been called by God to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). As those who have received the grace of God, we’re to share his heart. We too are to desire the salvation of all. And we’re to make the most of every moment that others might have the opportunity to hear the gospel and trust in Jesus.
The question for us, then, is this: Do we share the heart of God? Do we truly desire the salvation of all people? Are we making the most of every moment, that others might have the opportunity to receive his salvation?
I, for one, am eternally thankful for the patience of God. Were he not patient, I would not share in his blessings. However, because he is long-suffering, I was given the opportunity to hear the gospel and to trust in him.
I now want others to have the same opportunity. Even though it would be wonderful to live in the presence of God right at this very moment, even though it would be delightful were I now free from this world of sin, I desire that others receive the same blessing. I am willing to endure what I must that others might not perish.
I pray that, as a church, this would be a desire shared by us all. I pray that, because of the great blessing we’ve received, we’ll patiently endure. I pray that we’ll endure that we might carry out the call entrusted to us by our Lord. And I pray that, in this way, he’ll use us to draw many to faith that they also might share in the blessings he’s provided.
~ Kent Sperry
Friday, October 17, 2014
Due to the growing threat of the Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone, Lutheran Bible Translators evacuated our team. Our family left on August 3, and we anticipate being in the USA for 6-12 months until the epidemic is controlled. We continue in our Scripture engagement (Josh) and translation (Ruthie) roles in a limited capacity
while also picking up some projects for Lutheran Bible Translators HQ. Please pray for our friends and colleagues in Sierra Leone. We appreciate you, Team.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
-So grateful to get Kirstie’s
-Thankful for a great VBS this
summer. Praying for the kids to
come to Kids’ Club as well.
-Grateful for your continued
prayers for our family spread out
in the U.S. and Mexico.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
KVALE CONNECTION PRAYER LETTER -September 2014 - Supporting Missionaries in Bible Translation with Information Technology
Misconception, Interpretation, or Conditioning?
As you think about your view of God, was it first shaped by the Word of
God? Maybe like most people, your view of God was shaped in your mind
based on relationships in your life or rules you had to follow or what love
looked like to you. Some of that was hopefully a healthy setting for you
and, sadly, sometimes many of us experience things that are very far from
the character of God and then we allow Satan to attach that thinking or
experience to our view of God. Until people come into our path that help
peel away our misconceptions, interpretations, or conditioning with
satisfying morsels of truth, we can walk around labeling God, ourselves
and others until we have created a rut under the soles of our feet.
It rains and then we try to figure out how to escape the muddy mess
the enemy loves to continually mucky-up. The grace of God is so
beyond us. His Holy Spirit very capably renews our minds through: the truth of His Word we read for ourselves, those who will share it with us, and those who will pray for us and with us. We can do the same for others. We pray for those without God’s Word or truth bearers near-by. God’s true character is so satisfying!
September 2014 brings us to anticipation of the Fall New Testament
celebrations unveiled and testimonials that humble us.
September for our family, brings us to: Lenaya turning 16 and
driving! Neli beginning her Senior year and graduating! Steve
and Glenda beginning their 25th year of marriage and eight years
serving with Wycliffe-USA! He holds our every moment in time!
IT Begins Rollout of New Software System
As Wycliffe continues to work to both sustain and increase the number of missionaries, financial resources and intercessors committed to the work of Bible translation, many of the software systems required to administer these resources have reached a tipping point of obsolescence and instability. Good stewardship now requires that they be replaced. The opportunity for increased efficiency, reduced costs and capacity growth
promises great dividends.
Beginning this month, our IT department will begin to implement
features of a new software system called Workday. The first phase of
the software rollout will take approximately nine to 12 months to implement, with the first benefits realized by our Human Resources
team. Workday will serve our staff by assisting with benefits, tax and
payroll information, performance reviews, expense tracking and even
timekeeping. The system is cloud-based and offers a mobile application
for staff convenience.
Your prayers will be appreciated as this phase begins and how Steve
is utilized for this project over the next year. Praying through roadblocks,
scheduling conflicts, technical difficulties and communication
set-backs is key. We also pray and trust the Lord for wisdom, unity,
blending of one another’s professional assets and the desire to glorify
God in it all. We are very excited about enabling global connections!
• For the Tolaki people of Indonesia as they become more familiar
with God’s Word in their own language since February 2014 and shed misconception about God, who He is and also shed strongholds of darkness.
• For the Wycliffe IT team as they meet each morning to pray regarding
the up-coming projects and all that needs God’s guiding hand and affirming Spirit.
• For continued stamina for Steve, and health & safety for all of us.
• For Jason in goals, dreams, work, and exact place to live.
• For Neli in her Senior year of High School, choices & peace.
• For Lenaya in 10th grade & 16!
• For VBS kids wanting more of Jesus in their lives.
• For Glenda in the victories of joy each day and the compassion
she shares for wounded women.
• Praise God for the Tolaki NT going forth and the hymns of
praise they are singing!
• Praise God for truth that heals.
• Praise God for decisions made on the next software project.
• Praise God for prayer warriors we sadly lost recently. May their
testimonies live in our hearts.
It’s the Girls Turn
In the last two months we have seen two groups of sib-lings return to their families, two teen-agers run away (both returned to their families) and one young lady came for two days, on her way to a recuperation program for drug addicts (you can imagine she brought a little excitement to the house). During the last year we have almost constantly had 20 or more children in the house, and in August we had 25; suddenly we had 7! Can you imagine the silence?
The quiet only lasted a little while. Before I sent out the September letter three ones joined us: Yasmin (4 years old), Stefani (3 years old) and Mateus (1 year). It actually took us a little while to find out the children’s whole story.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Misconception, Interpretation, or Conditioning?
As you think about your view of God, was it first shaped by the Word of God? Maybe like most people, your view of God was shaped in your mind based on relationships in your life or rules you had to follow or what love
looked like to you. Some of that was hopefully a healthy setting for you
and, sadly, sometimes many of us experience things that are very far from
the character of God and then we allow Satan to attach that thinking or
experience to our view of God. Until people come into our path that help
peel away our misconceptions, interpretations, or conditioning with
satisfying morsels of truth, we can walk around labeling God, ourselves
and others until we have created a rut under the soles of our feet. It rains and then we try to figure out how to escape the muddy mess the enemy loves to continually mucky-up. The grace of God is so beyond us. His Holy Spirit very capably renews our minds through: the truth of His Word we read for ourselves, those who will share it with us, and those who will pray for us and with us. We can do the same for others. We pray for those without God’s Word or truth bearers near-by. God’s true character is so satisfying!
Saturday, October 04, 2014
Dear Prayer Team,
Just a few weeks ago, we began our 2014-2015 school year. This year God has given us six returning students to begin our first ever second course. These students have already been to (International Bible School-Petrodolina) and completed our first course. We are thankful to have them back as they continue to be shaped and molded by God’s Word and Spirit. God has also given us three new students for the first course, making a total of nine students. Our plan was to have two simultaneous full-time courses. However, we decided with only three students in the first course and our limited staff resources, we couldn’t make it work. As a result, Course 1 students are taking primarily Course 2 material. There were also be breakout courses throughout the year just for Course 1, which cover essential classes. This adjustment has led to some difficult planning, simply because the design and intent between Course 1 and Course 2 is great. However, despite this, the classroom dynamics are outstanding as returning students provide leadership and an example for our new students. Please continue to pray that this time in their lives would not just be about knowledge, but that they would be open to God’s powerful working in their lives.
AFLC World Missions Devotional
Pastor David Nelson
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:1-14 (ESV)
As Jesus’ disciples were admiring the beautiful buildings of the temple, Jesus warned them of the trouble that would come upon them and upon others who would trust in Him. When? That was the question that the disciples had for Jesus. When will this happen? We know that the temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. We also know that there have been false prophets and false christs from the beginning of the Christian Church. Unfortunately, these false teachers will be around until the Day of Judgment. “See that no one leads you astray,” is how Jesus warned them. That was not exactly the specific answer they sought.
Anything else? Yes, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” If those first disciples lived in our day they might have asked where their “better life now” and “trust in Jesus and your problems will go away” fit in. It seems like it will get more and more difficult, not easier. Should I just give up now? Will my local congregation really make a difference? Jesus challenged them (and us!) in verse 13, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” I don’t think I can. In fact, I know I can’t! No, you can’t. Not in your own strength. But Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit who will help and empower us.
If we don’t know when the end will come, and if we know that it will be more difficult before Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, maybe that awareness will help us focus on our priorities. What are will called to do until the end? We know this from verse 14: “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Of course every Christian and every Christian congregation is to love their neighbor, show mercy on those who are suffering, and have compassion for those who are suffering. But that is not the Gospel. I am not the Gospel. You are not the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that is to be shared with everyone: Jesus, the very Son of God, lived a perfect live, suffered, and died on a cross to pay for my sins and for the sins of the world. Sometimes our deeds of mercy, done in love, will give us an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings about repentance (a change of mind about sin) through the law of God—the wages of sin is death—we are convinced that we, too, are sinners and cannot save ourselves. Then the Holy Spirit creates faith through the gospel when we hear the comfort and assurance that your sins are forgiven you for Jesus’ sake. Each of our congregations will have some way of showing Christian love to those who are hurting. But each congregation is also to focus on evangelism—sharing the gospel with those who do not know Jesus, and discipleship—helping Christians grow in their faith in Jesus and the trustworthiness of the written Scriptures.
As the AFLC, we want our missionary endeavors to show Christian love and mercy. But also to help with getting God’s Word in the language of the people, to begin new free and living Lutheran congregations where people will be built up in Word and sacrament ministry, and training for pastors, teachers, and those who will bring the good news of Jesus to those who are needing to hear it. Pray for and support those already sent. Pray that God would raise up more to be sent. Until the Lord’s return, the Church’s task is an unfinished one. May the Lord continue to empower His Church to finish her task of making disciples of all the ethnic groups of the world.
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
How would you describe missions?
We have missions in several countries, so it can be a location. People go on mission trips, so it describes something that we do. There are a growing number of missionaries, so it describes people and their occupation.
Recently, I have been reminded that mission is a description of surrender and a position of dependence. The missionary surrenders goals, dreams or desires to follow the Lord and His plan for their life. Missionaries seem like strong people, yet they are dependent on the Lord to work in lives of people.
In Psalm 62:7-8, David describes his dependence: My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.
This newsletter is not available online yet, but you can click here next week. (Click here to see the Inquiry Newsletter)
One hundred people attended a disciple-making convention in Chirala, India in August. The goal of that training was to create disciples who plant churches, the Ambassador Institute teaches pastors and leaders within churches so they understand God’s Word fully; both are needed to build God’s kingdom.
Pastor Del and Karen Palmer, John and Heidi Nelson, Glenn and Marge Espe and Pastor Kent Sperry have been in India recently. One facet of their trip was to prepare for the Ambassador Institute work this fall.
There are some aspects of ministry that do not happen in short 1-2 week mission trips. A lasting deep impact requires time. The next three months, Pastor Kevin and Pam will be dependent on the Lord during their time in India. Pastor Kevin will be teaching the teachers, setting up a structure for the Ambassador Institute, adding classes and working along side of those in India to apply God’s Word to the biblical role of pastors.
Pam will be working with the Bible Women, sharing her testimony with them, and helping with St. Paul’s School as a teaching assistant.
They will also depend on the Lord to use them and on others for translation and transportation.
Pastors Anil, Puneeth and Devasahayam
Pastors Devasahayam Dunna, Puneeth Kumar, Santhi Babu, Katti Anil Kumar and T Emmanuel continue to teach at Chirala, Karlapalem and Chituroo. These men are now completing the two-year curriculum with these three classes who hope to be finished by November. Some of the classes have fallen behind and there is a need to ensure that the classes meet regularly.
Devasahayam has been leading the training from the beginning. Anil recently joined the AFLC India. He comes with Bible School training and is strong in his English. Puneeth graduated at the top of the first class to be taught in India. Emmanuel is a short animated young man that has a heart for evangelism and speaks English well, and Santi Babu is a quite man whose father is also an AFLC pastor.
The work in Uganda continues to expand with new classes starting as other classes finish. Three classes of the third generation have completed their two-year study. The students depend on the Lord to keep up with the rigorous memorization and the passing of the tests. The Ambassador Institute is dependent on faithful students who in turn are willing to train future classes.
One of the new classes started near Kenya because of a student that returned to his home area and invited his community to learn the Word of God. There were 40 students at the first meeting! Pray that the Lord will continue to give these students strength as they invest in the Word of God.
With the expanding work, we are dependent on the ministry team to work with the teachers and to keep the classes learning together. The ministry team needs faithful teachers who will disciple the classes they have been given.
Micah Berger and Katelyn Gudim are both dependent on receiving support so that they can return to Uganda and continue developing the training. They are missed because all the short-term assistants have returned to the U.S.
Nate and Rhoda are also dependent on prayer for their work permits to be approved. The ministry in Uganda is difficult enough without these extra disturbances.
Pray for the ongoing work with the third year Romans curriculum. The seven students that are taking this class are about half way through the book and have memorized seven chapters. After the first fourteen lessons, we gave tests to these students who are also teachers for other oral classes. Two of them did quite well, but five of them struggled.
In the past, these seven were all at the top of their class, so that means that we need to consider how this training is being done or if changes need to be made to the process. There is not another oral study on the book of Romans, so this is new territory for those preparing the lessons as well as those taking the classes.
A NEW HOUSE
Musasizi Wilson and his wife have been living in a mud and stick house. He is a humble man and has often traveled to teach classes when his help may have been needed at home as well.
This past spring, the leadership team decided that they wanted to see him move into a cement block home. A church in the U.S. donated $2000 to purchase the supplies and the team worked together to construct the building for his family.
This was a large statement to the community. Sometimes the spiritual work needs to have a tangible aspect associated with it. Praise the Lord with them for this new home.
Prayer starts with God. It is made possible because God sent His Son to atone for our sin. The sin-obstacle has been removed. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace.”
He has also given us His Holy Spirit who enables us to pray. We are helpless in terms of spiritual strength and we are ignorant in terms of spiritual insight. We desperately need the Holy Spirit’s help as we pray.
Prayer centers in God. More than merely seeking things from God, true prayer seeks God Himself, for when we have Him we have all that we need. Prayer at its best reveals a soul made thirsty for God, just God alone. We need a realization of God’s glory and then of God’s grace.
Prayer asks of God. Our Lord used the word ask when encouraging His disciples to pray. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the son. Do you and I really ask God for things when we pray? Too many of us are perhaps only window shopping when we pray. May God enable us to ask in prayer.
Prayer is work for God. Perhaps we are prone to consider prayer somewhat incidental in our Christian life. We know that we should pray but we have not come to value prayer as a highly effective means of advancing Christ’s kingdom. The interest and attention so often is placed upon those “up front” who are really doing something.
May God help us to see that without Him we can do nothing. But with Him, abiding in Him in prayerful dependence, He promises to bring forth fruit, even much fruit.
This excerpt was taken from Dr. Monseth’s writing on prayer for the Lutheran Ambassador.
LIFE OF DEPENDENCE
The ministry of the Ambassador Institute is a dependent ministry. It is dependent on the Father to open doors, for Jesus to transform lives and the Holy Spirit to teach people God’s Word. It is dependent on your prayers, your support, and international partners who join us in this same vision.
Being dependent on the Lord is good, it is the best place to be, but it can be uncomfortable. It means surrendering control and trusting in God. That is how we feel as Pam and I go to India. He gets to determine when things move and what defines success. It is easy to trust God for the things that we understand, however, growing in trust happens when the only possible solution is in the Lord.
Within this state of dependence, we have seen the Lord open the door for the AI curriculum in seven languages in 7 years. He has provided translators and leaders in each country that we have worked in. He has multiplied the number of classes and the number of students. We have also seen doors for countries close, thriving classes drop in attendance and teachers that needed to be removed from leadership.
This ministry, in a position of dependence, has not always gone forward in a way that makes sense from a human perspective, but looking back it is obvious that the Lord is the One that has made it possible.
We cannot control what the Lord will do, but we can have confidence that He is in control and that He has good things in store for those that wait and depend on Him.
Serving Our Savior, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastor Kevin Olson www.ambassadorinstitute.org
The Prayer Requests and Inquiry Newsletter should be online next week. The website is under some changes.
3110 E. Medicine Lake Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55441
Ambassador Institute Department Head 763-412-2029
Volumes could be written about the last four months. Lots of people, lots of activity, lots of ministry, lots of fun. I suppose I could write a chapter a day (at least) but I know most people have difficulty in even getting through a newsletter. Besides I really don't have the time and energy to put into it. (Aren't you glad?) I have decided to highlight a few of the great things that have happened and let the photos give you a peek into our lives.
Short term missionaries came to have a missionary experience with us. Quincy Koll from Nebraska spent June through mid-August. His highlight was spending time at the Miriam Infant Home in Campo Mourão (pictured below). Sarah Larson is still with us on a 3-month internship experience until mid-October. Besides helping us she has been a great help at Lighthouse (Joanna's school) and has made a great friendship with a Brazilian family (pictured below at the annual Festival of Nations that the school puts on.
July and August were great months. It was wonderful to have the AFLC Student Missions team with us for 16 days. The 23 young people and their fearless leader Jon Nelson were a tremendous blessing! It's fun to see young people who love the Lord and are willing to serve Him with a whole heart. These kids did a great job at making friends with the Brazilians. We had Bible Camp the first weekend they were here and then we got busy on work projects. Mafu and Paul kept busy organizing jobs for everyone. We did lots of interesting things, including travels to Campo Mourão and Iguaçu Falls. They formed a beautiful choir and blessed us with their voices and testimonies.
Two days after they left a group of 40 from Concordia University in Irvine, CA, joined us for another two weeks of non-stop action. Adam Lee, son of Bob and Gloria Lee, is one of the teachers leading this group as they visit 10 countries around the world until Christmas time. Brazil was their first stop. We kept them busy interacting with Brazilians and doing work projects. They were a success at Language House (our daughter Christina's school). We even had an English camp at the ARCA while the group was with us.
With groups that visit us we have a motto: "Work hard! Pray hard! Play hard!" We did all three and made lots of special memories. Try to imagine keeping clothes washed and tummies fed for upwards of 40 people for 30 days and you can imagine that we were pretty exhausted by the time it was over. To add to the excitement, we had an unfortunate accident with our faithful bus. Thankfully no one was hurt badly, and we are looking into the possibility of fixing the bus. Also, Matthew's car was stolen one night so we had a few losses, but many more blessings!
One of those blessings is the engagement of our son Matthew to Ednay! So many miracles happened since July! In mid-July we mentioned the idea of Ednay going to AFLBS to help her learn English and get to know some of Matthew's American reality. God provided for everything in the midst of our crazy schedule and she was accepted at AFLBS, applied for a visa and was granted one, found a ticket with frequent flyer miles, and now is an official student at AFLBS. Matthew also decided to return to the U.S. to work and consider the possibility of being an AFLC missionary. To add to all the excitement he decided to cut his long locks after so many years of enjoying long hair!
Whew! After all the commotion in July and August we decided to TAKE A BREAK! Our sons and son-in-laws surprised Paul with a special trip to Alaska in September to celebrate his 60th birthday (October 18). These busy guys had a fantasic time enjoying the wonders of God's creation and the unforgettable privilege of spending time together. My cousin, Dr. Tom Elton, and his wife Molli welcomed them graciously and helped them make the most of their 10 days in this gorgeous part of the world! Since they were going to be gone I also planned a trip to visit my parents and take our oldest granddaughter Deborah on a trip to visit her great grandparents. We had a special two weeks. I helped Ednay get settled at AFLBS and was also able to have special moments with 13 nieces and nephews, plus time with my sister and sister-in-law. God was so gracious in giving us this special time away.
Now we are back to work in Brazil. As soon as we arrived we jumped back into ministry roles. Our seminarians are with us again for ten days. We have a wedding in Iguaçu Falls this weekend and a quick trip to Campo Mourão planned. In October we look forward to a visit from Connely Dyrud and Brandon and Ashley Marschner.
Life goes on. Eternity in heaven approaches. How are we investing in lives to prepare them for life with Jesus? "Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:23-24
A big thanks to all of you who take time to pray for us and who faithfully support us financially so that we can work in Brazil. May the Lord bless you and renew your hope in the Lord today!
All the way from Brazil to you, Paul and Becky
Support for our work designated for Paul and Becky Abel can be sent to:
AFLC World Missions 3110 E. Medicine Lake Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55441
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
A lot of time I write you introducing new children in the Miriam Home or letting you know that some of our precious little ones have gone back to their families, but in between those two big events is the day to day of the Miriam Home children. We know that, though the social service staff and juvenile judge have other ideas, each child comes to here because God wants to begin a new thing in their lives.
We have some precious young people who have been with us longer than most - Lucas, Helen and Rosa arrived in January and it is likely that they will be here until the end of the year. They arrived, to begin with, because their mother had abandoned the family, their father had to work and so the children were being left alone all day long (together with Mariana, their two year old sister). Shortly after the children joined the Miriam Home their mother came back. Finding her children gone, she finally realized her drinking was costing her everything. She asked to go in to a long term, very structured recuperation program and she is doing wonderfully! After a month Mariana joined her in the recuperation house and the other three were allowed to visit here two week-ends a month. I has been lovely to see the children coming home week after week, so proud of the mother’s growth. She will be done with the program in November, and we are praying that the healing of their family will continue.
Monday, September 08, 2014
World Relief is the aid and relief organization with which AFLC World Missions partners. Advent Conspiracy is their event to raise awareness, prayer and gifts for the needed around the world during the holiday season. Can your church be involved in Advent Conspiracy?
Welcome to the Advent Conspiracy.
'Tis the season to share. To love. To give ourselves to something bigger than any of us. 'Tis the season to turn our heads, tune our hearts and worship a savior whose birth turned this world upside-down.
We all want our Christmas to be a lot of things: Full of joy. Memories. Happiness. Above all, we want Christmas to be about Jesus. What we don't want is stress. Or debt. Or feeling like we "missed the moment". Advent Conspiracy is a movement designed to help us all slow down and experience a Christmas worth remembering. But doing this means doing things a little differently. A little creatively.
Your church is invited to join World Relief and Advent Conspiracy this Christmas. Together we can stand for the vulnerable as we Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All this Christmas.
World Relief and Advent Conspiracy have created resources—including photos, kids resources, bulletin insert, and more — to help your church grow the conspiracy and experience Christmas like never before. Visit worldrelief.org/advent to access these resources, and for more information!
Interested in joining the conspiracy with World Relief this Christmas? Contact us at email@example.com to begin discussing your church’s participation!
WORLD RELIEF 7 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 | 800.535.5433 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, September 05, 2014
The stave churches of Norway were built in the 12th and 13th centuries, not long after Christianity was first introduced in the country. Some of the churches and their amazing architecture and beautiful woodwork still remain.
On the exterior of the churches crosses can be found. Often a dragon’s head can be found as well. These heads were also found on Viking ships and were part of Norse mythology. The dragon’s heads seem to suggest the builders of the churches weren’t completely sure this Christianity they had recently converted to was the only way. They thought it would be good to put a symbol from mythology up on the church, along with a cross, just in case. They were trying to keep all the “gods” happy.
Those 12th century Norwegian carpenters would have fit in well in the American spiritual landscape of today. Many, when it comes to what they believe, are keeping all their options open. They’ll practice some Buddhist meditation, talk about Hindu karma and admire the Mormons’ family values. They believe 1.6 billion Muslims can’t be all wrong. They’ll baptize their babies and take Communion in a Christian church and think it can all fit together and all these religions basically teach the same thing.
Spiritual beliefs that resemble a religious smorgasbord are not a new thing. The Romans believed in many “gods.” They would not have been so bothered by the early Christians if Jesus had been presented as just another option people could consider. What upset them was when the Christians declared, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The early Christians held on to the cross of Christ alone. They presented Jesus to the world not as something that might work for some people, but as the one hope of salvation for all people. In Acts 17 we read of Paul speaking in Athens to people who had many objects of worship. He told them of the one true Creator God, who was over all other objects of worship and had raised Jesus from the dead.
The builders in Norway who included the dragons on the churches were probably fearful and uncertain that they could trust Jesus as the only hope of salvation. They needed to, and we need to, remember that Jesus is our certain hope of salvation. We can trust Him fully. We don’t need a backup plan. He is our one hope, and He is our solid and sure hope. He will never fail us. We can cast aside other things we used to trust in. Without fear we can go all in, trusting in Christ alone.
~ By Craig Johnson
Rev. Samuel Flores of the Central Mexican Lutheran Church died September 3, 2014, at the age of 93.
Pastor Flores requested fellowship with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in 1977. The AFLC Annual Conference approved this fellowship as a new mission work in 1978. The Central Mexican Lutheran Church (CMLC) was formed in 1980.
The outreach in Mexico began in the city of Leon and was soon extended to Celaya in 1982 and Irapuato in 1983. The CMLC has been a big part of the work of AFLC World Missions in Mexico.
Rev. Flores pastored the church in Leon, and lead the CMLC, until his death.
Pastor Flores in the Sanctuary
of the Church in Leon.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Dear family and friends,
It feels like we have been “on our feet” a lot these past
few months with travel to, from, and throughout the
US. It was such a blessing to see many of you and to
be able to share about the work the Lord is doing here
in Ecuador. We are so thankful for children who are
good travelers and for the many people who graciously
opened their hearts and homes to us while we were on
Click here to read the whole newsletter
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Dear Prayer Team,
We are back in Ukraine and have enjoyed the beautiful August weather here in our home. It has been very nice to get back into the rhythm of life. The past few months have been a whirlwind for our family. We really enjoyed our time in the States seeing friends and family, pulpit filling, participating in a family camp, and most of all welcoming our new son into the world. Levi Michael was born June 18, and his first two months of life have been filled with lots of excitement and travel. He never lacks love from his siblings either. Most of all, we are so thankful to our Lord who upheld, provided, and ministered to us through all the changes and challenges. God has been good.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Hello Friends and Family!
I am happy to announce good news to the world! Usually that means the Gospel, but today there is another piece of news - I am engaged! I asked my lovely girlfriend, Ednay Fernanda Rodrigues de Andrade, if she would marry me and she answered "Yes!" (Actually she said "Yes, a thousand times yes!" but that seems a bit too cheesy to put in an e-mail.)
Yes, I know you all want to tell me how wrong I was when I thought I never wanted to get married. The truth is that I actually never did think of getting married, but now I do. #peoplechange #neversaynever
Now that the breaking news is out of the way, let me tell you of some of the challenges, plans and changes in the past month. Part of the challenge is that we (the Arca family) have been hosting large groups of students from the USA, and that modifies our "routine" quite a bit. Organizing and equipping 25-40 young people to be a blessing and have a great mission experience is no small task. I helped with organizing the work projects and translating. We also had camps to organize during each group visit.
Another unexpected challenge is that the ARCA bus rolled over and got wrecked. Then on August 16 my car (that I had just fixed up for sale) was stolen. In the middle of July my mom came up with a random idea that perhaps Ednay could study at AFLBS in the fall. In a miraculous hurry God caused everything to fall into place. My mom travelled with Ednay to the U.S. yesterday to get her settled in for a time of learning and growing. My brother Andrew and I and our brothers-in-law, Silvio and Daniel, surprised my Dad (Paul Abel) by planning a trip to Alaska to celebrate his 60th birthday, so we are looking forward to a great "guy time" for the next 10 days, flying to AK on Thursday, Aug. 28.
My plan for this semester is to stay in the USA as my fiancé is attending AFLBS. We do not yet know about 2015. I will be driving truck in Stephen, MN, during beet harvest in October and am still looking for work for the rest of the year.
In September I will be meeting with the AFLC mission board to discuss some options for my future. Both Ednay and I are looking forward to serving God and the Church in Missions, yet we do not have a specific vision and/or destination yet.
Please contact me via Facebook or e-mail if you would like a visit (either personally or at your church) for me to share about missions (Brazil, Panamá, the world). I'll be glad to see what I can do in the time I have near you.
I also need to find a place to stay, more job opportunities, and a car to drive. Your friendship, your prayers and your suggestions are much appreciated. Thank you for participating with me in the life of the Kingdom. May God Bless you. Mafú
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Acts 20:2
Saturday, August 09, 2014
WE MADE IT! After three planes, four countries, and many instances of God’s hand of protection and leading, we’ve arrived safely in Chicagoland! My favorite example was when we stood at immigration on our way out of Sierra Leone. The man said Isaiah (3wks old) couldn’t leave Sierra Leone because there was no visa in his emergency passport (remember: the passport that came in one day instead of three weeks!). With some timely Isaiah screams and nudging from his coworkers (and maybe from the Lord?), the immigration officer grudgingly signed the passport and mercifully growled us on our way.
NOW WHAT? We’re back from Sierra Leone temporarily as we wait for the Ebola epidemic to be controlled in West Africa. Discussions for what we’ll do in the meantime with LBT are underway. In the midst of crazy packing and goodbyes, Josh was able to meet with the Themne translation coordinator, install Skype on his computer, and teach him how to use it. Having already received two calls from him since we left, we feel hopeful to keep in close contact with our team and get firsthand updates on the situation there! Please pray for all these details, for the translation work to continue, and for the epidemic to end quickly!
HUGS. Though many have expressed relief that we’re back in the USA, our hearts are very much tied to our work and life in Sierra Leone. As a precaution we couldn't even shake hands or hug our closest friends. We’ve left almost everything for our return. We are thankful that we didn't have exposure to any Ebola victims, but we ask you to pray for those in Sierra Leone who are helping and those who cannot leave.
Thank you, Team, for standing with us. ((Hug))
Many have asked how to help cover costs of evacuation (significant!) and unexpected living costs for this year. You can send a check made out to LBT and designated “Wagner Ministry.” Or even easier… hit the “Contribute Now” here: http://us.lbt.org/project/josh-ruthie-wagner/
Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (2yrs), & Isaiah (4wks)
Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone
Thursday, August 07, 2014
In the last month we have had the joy of saying good-bye. That is notable because saying good-bye isn’t always (or often) easy. But this month we saw baby Nicolas return to his parents, and from all we can see, we are hopeful! The sweet little guy came to us because his parents had made some bad decisions, but losing him for nearly two months shook them to their roots. It honestly appears that they have made life style changes and understand that the most precious thing in their lives is this little boy.
Our second farewell came when Gabriel left to join his new adoptive parents! The relationship was love a first sight on all sides - Gabriel’s new parents came to visit him twice, and by the end of the second visit Gabriel was calling them mom and dad. He only went for one visit to their home before all three knew they belonged together. It is the happy ending we are always praying for.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
July 30, 2014
DOUBLE PRAISE! We were told yesterday at the embassy that it would take weeks to get an emergency passport for Isaiah (3 wks old tomorrow). We heard, “I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do." We pleaded with them. I cried. We prayed. You prayed. Today... we walked out of the embassy with an emergency passport in hand. BAM! That's the way our God works. Praise #2 is that LBT was able to book tickets on a same flight Joshua's sis and bro-in-law (Brian) are taking on Tuesday, August 5th. “Thank you, Lord." And, my mom leaves this Sunday. So, we'll be busy arranging details for our time away from sweet Salone... hopefully short time. Leaving sure is the pits, but God is working everything out for us.
Thanks, praying Team. You are warriors.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
WHY: The Ebola virus has begun infecting people in our city and civil unrest is a growing concern. Up until this week, we'd been planning to stay and were taking appropriate safety precautions. Unfortunately the outbreak has reached a point where our work and family activities are significantly restricted. It appears that things are likely to get worse before they improve.
WHERE & HOW LONG: We are initially going to LBT's home office in Aurora, IL for debriefing and discussion of plans while we wait to return to Sierra Leone. We are evacuating with essentials and valuables and saving everything else in Sierra Leone for our return.
HOW WE FEEL: Heartbroken. We write this with tears and deep disappointment. We were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of cultural stress and adjustment, a difficult pregnancy, and much sickness. We were seeing a way forward. Now we have to leave. While we know God’s ways are greater than ours, our emotions are raw. It’s especially difficult to leave our local partners, the work, our neighbors and friends. Most people don’t believe that Ebola is real or that it’s as bad as it is. We feel burdened to plead to God for their physical lives but also their spiritual lives. We plan to return. We plan to see the Word going forth and touching lives… in Themne.
FINANCIAL SITUATION: As evacuation plans continue to develop, we don’t know what our situation will be for the next several months. We know we have unexpected travel costs and living expenses as we keep our home in Sierra Leone and live in the USA for a short time.
URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray…
- we can obtain an emergency passport for Isaiah (2.5 weeks old).
- we would be able to get tickets to travel with family visiting—Ruthie's mom and Josh’s sister and brother-in-law. (Praise God they’re here to help us!!!)
- for the epidemic to be controlled and that people would believe!
- for encouragement, strength, and protection for the Themne translation team.
Thanks, Team, for standing with us,
Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (2yo), & Isaiah (2.5wks)
Thursday, July 17, 2014
As I (Monica) have been reviewing our photos from our time here so far, I echo the Psalmist's words from Psalm 23:5, "my cup overflows." Surely, His mercies to our family in these past two months have been more than seems possible. We are rejoicing in the safe arrival of our little Levi. We have been encouraged and strengthened during our time with our family. And we have been so humbled by the care of prayers of this amazing team God has built up for this ministry in Petrodolina, Ukraine.
Friday, July 11, 2014
I read this passage this morning in my devotions, and it reminded me of how faithful God has been and will continue to be. A lot has happened in the last month. The students graduated from the Bible school in June. It was a special day, especially since it was the completion of the first year of the Bible school in Ecuador.
Since then, the school has moved and we are looking for a new location before the beginning of the new school year in September. We have 4 students enrolled so far, with more possibilities. I will be teaching an English Bible class 4 days a week for the whole school year starting in September. I'm excited for the opportunity, but a little nervous as well. I have been working on preparing my lessons and curriculum.
This week was the first week of our summer kids club. We still have 2 weeks left. We have around 50 kids and the students that graduated from the Bible school are teachers. I helped prepare the lessons and crafts for the different classes. I am also teaching English and piano. I think I'm learning more Spanish than they are English in preparing for my classes-ha.
Right now I am living with the pastor and his family until we find a new location for the school. Today we visited a place that has potential, but ultimately it's in God's hands.
I was sick for a little while, but am feeling much better now, praise the Lord.
Thank you all for your prayers, support, and encouraging notes.
For a new school location
For potential students
For my English class, preparing and teaching, that God would be glorified
For the Summer Kids' Club
Thank you again. In Christ, Amanda Bellefy
Thursday, July 10, 2014
July 9th at 5:00 am, this precious bundle arrived. We are grateful to the Lord for a safe delivery in our home here in Sierra Leone. Ruthie's Mom (Margaret Lee) arrived evening of July 6th, in time for Isaiah's arrival--2 weeks early. Thank you for standing with us in prayer through this difficult pregnancy. Ruthie and Isaiah are doing very well!
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose,and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11
Josh & Ruthie (Elijah & Isaiah)
Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
And the Newbies Continue
Last month I introduced you to Nicolas and Amanda, and they were the only new arrivals for a good while! The Miriam Home population dipped a bit and even with our new arrivals we only had 13 children in the house. Down right quiet next to last year!
Well, you probably know, nothing stays the same for long! Just days after I wrote you, Raysa arrived. This sweet 9 year old came to us because of violence in her home (she lives with her mother and step-father). It is likely that she will be with us a short while, because her father has already gone to family court, requesting custody of his daughter, while Raysa’s mom hasn’t even called to make sure she is o.k. So we are packing all the love we can in the days we have with her.
After Raysa’s arrival we had a big surprise. Five brothers and sisters arrived! Samuel (8) and Jonas (5) arrived first. They came with a member of social services and two school teachers. That is because the teachers had been very concerned that the boys had been coming to school every day hungry, dirty - it was pretty obvious they were getting themselves ready for school every day, so when winter vacation started they decided to visit the boys at home and see what was happening. They found the two brothers alone in the house. There was no food, the boys were dirty, Jonas was wearing just a pair of shorts (it was a cold morning) the he reeked of urine. The teachers called social services and it took a while for them to arrive, still the children’s mom had not arrived, and the boys came to us. Pretty soon the social assistant arrived with the younger brother Miguel (2) and sister Vitoria (4) who had been at a free day care center, and finally, in the afternoon Nadia (11) arrived to fill out the picture.