A friend wept as he recounted the horror of last Friday’s massacre in Christchurch, a colleague fought back tears as she welcomed students to class, a city volunteer’s voice broke as she welcomed parents to a kids’ program and asked for a moment of silence.
The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) held a series of events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of what happened at a place called Hopevale, a remote valley located in the center of Panay Island. It was there that 11 American Baptist missionaries, one of their children, and four other American citizens hid for 18 months until they were found and executed by Japanese troops on December 20, 1943 at the height of World War II.
Have you ever stood under a hot shower after a long day and just experienced the sheer joy of it? That’s how we felt during our recent ministry trip to the Philippines. Only it was a shower of blessings as God kept bringing together the right people at the right time. Here is what our Filipino sisters and brothers said about our time there.
A friend recently asked us: “What do you do as missionaries?” Great question! Since you may be wondering the same thing, here’s our quick answer: Right now, you are partners with us in equipping young Bible school students at a refugee camp, providing more accessible theological education to oral learners through brand new initiatives in two countries, helping Christian workers use business tools to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to pressing social problems, and mentoring the next generation of cross-cultural mission workers.
“We have no hope, no house, no land, no job - how can we go home?” the young man said with quiet intensity as we sat on the bamboo floor of the Bible school after the worship service. He is only one of the 2 million refugees who fled Myanmar due to fighting in their homeland. Over 150,000 have been confined to refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border over the last 30 years – imagine a whole generation for whom ‘home’ looks like a bamboo prison! These are the forgotten ones – you hardly ever hear about their plight in the news.
A young Christian woman who now lives as a refugee in another country shared her story with me. She and her family fled for their lives after her mother refused the demands of some soldiers to open her shop on a Sunday. Shortly after, her village was burned to the ground. Her new home is only slightly better. Recently when she got into a taxi, the driver saw she was an illegal immigrant and threatened to take her directly to the police station unless she paid him the equivalent of $48, or nearly a week’s wages. She begged him to take her to her parents’ apartment, and they scraped together every penny they had so she wouldn’t be sent to a detention camp. Yet, incredibly, our sisters and brothers remain strong in their diaspora, faithfully testifying to God’s goodness. They wait and pray for justice and compassion in their homeland as well as where they now live. The young women and men that Ann taught at a Bible school in a refugee camp minister in remote communities on the weekends. Some refugee churches have started drug and alcohol recovery programs. They bring healing and hope to broken lives … in their own brokenness.
Please remember to pray for these dear ones - for safety, comfort, and for hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)
This is the season of Matariki in New Zealand, the Maori celebration of the new year. Similar to the western New Year holiday in January, it is a time to reflect on the year past and prepare for the year to come. Looking back over the last month or two, we praise God for the opportunities we have had to encourage God’s people. Looking ahead, we see that God is preparing new opportunities for service and learning.
Short Course in Social Entrepreneurship
Teaching social entrepreneurship in Vietnam turned out to be a pan-ASEAN affair! Students from Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia came to Hu? University in central Vietnam to learn, share, and be inspired. Two of the participants were university professors who came to learn how to develop a curriculum in social entrepreneurship for their schools. The highlight of the course was the class visit to an organic vegetable market called Susu Xanh, a social enterprise set up by a non-profit organization to support farmers shifting from “marinating their vegetables in pesticides” to organic agricultural methods.
The Old has Gone, the New Has Come in Vietnam and Cambodia
After the social entrepreneurship course, we met with pastors in 3 cities in central Vietnam and then in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In each case, we heard testimonies of God’s faithfulness and protection in the midst of challenging circumstances. Both countries are undergoing rapid and profound social and economic change; these pastors put their hope in the Lord as they find new ways to “be the church”, train up leaders, and share the good news. We were honored to receive invitations from both Baptist conventions to return and provide trainings in holistic ministry and servant leadership.
Here’s What’s Coming
Have USB-Drive Will Travel!
Pray that God would give us wisdom as we work with Cambodian and Vietnamese Baptist leaders to design a video-based theological training program for pastors and leaders in remote parts of their countries.
Vietnam? Indonesia? Thailand
Our next series of trips is in August, and it promises to be whirlwind. Pray for the Holistic Evangelism training we will offer through the Baptist Convention of Vietnam in early August, the week before the BCV’s national convention in Ho Chi Minh City. Pray for our meetings with the leadership of the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches and our part in a UIBC mission conference. Finally, pray for the region-wide gathering of IM missionaries that will take place in Bangkok, Thailand. We will gather to meet IM’s new Exec. Dir. Sharon Koh and review the new strategic plan called “Responding to the Call.”
Building and Rebuilding, Together
Pray for wisdom as Ann prepares to teach several courses at the Kawthoolei Karén Baptist Bible School at the Mae La refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border in August and September.
Faith Based Social Entrepreneurship... in Practice
Bruce continues to offer counsel to students from the course we taught in Vietnam. One student is managing an organic vegetable market, and another plans to develop a church-based senior center in the Karén community in Thailand. Pray that God will grant him “tenacity and guts” (as a former friend used to say) as he prepares his doctoral research proposal for presentation toward the end of the year.
How do you say …?
We will begin Indonesian and Maori language classes in July. (Maori is an official language of New Zealand). Pray that our 6th decade brains would embrace the new sounds and grammar.
Whakawhetai koe (we are grateful to you, in Maori) for walking with us on this journey
Have you noticed? God often surprises us with the unexpected encounter, the unforeseen call. If only we have “eyes to see” – to recognise when God introduces us to a new person, or a new journey, or a new understanding.
We ‘bumped’ into many New Zealand Baptist colleagues during a recent visit to their national headquarters, and were inspired to learn about the range of ministries they have both at home and in SE Asia. On the same trip, we visited a community housing project for “single women over 65” sponsored by a local Baptist church. This came about because Bruce ‘bumped’ into one of the trustees at a social entrepreneurship conference.
It is encouraging to see how God is putting the pieces in place for us to serve in Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and Vietnam in the coming 4 months through a whole series of divinely inspired ‘bumps’. We’ll keep you posted as the opportunities take shape.
Have you seen God at work in a recent ‘bump’ in your life? If so, we’d love to hear from you.
This is probably one of the most audacious things I (Bruce) have ever attempted. I knew that starting a PhD program at the beginning of my sixth decade would be the adventure for which I’ve been preparing for years … and these first two months certainly haven’t disappointed! My doctoral research focuses on faith-based social entrepreneurship. What is that? It is when individuals or organisations motivated by religious faith develop holistic and economically viable ways to deal with social problems. (One of my early stabs at a definition!) Ann and I train and consult with churches that want to make a difference in their communities, and they often struggle with the problems created by the traditional charity model of social action – but what’s the alternative? I am convinced that faith-based organisations can be more effective in their ministries by using the principles and tools of social entrepreneurship. By God’s grace, I now have an opportunity to contribute to the field by researching its application to and by faith-based organisations. This will also be one of our focus areas as we serve partner Baptist conventions in SE Asia.
It’s hard to believe how much has happened since we moved here to New Zealand in mid-December. We found a wonderful place to live and got our home set up with household items from the excellent second hand shops here in Wellington. We’ve been busy arranging our travel and training schedule with five Baptist convention partners in SE Asia. Ann is hard at work on a new edition of a short-term mission team training guide for International Ministries, and on preparing to speak at a pastors’ gathering in the US in April.
We are so grateful that you are with us on this new mission journey in New Zealand and SE Asia! Our cultural adaptation continues to be full of laughter, and we experience answers to your prayers every day. Speaking of language, here are the answers to the Kiwi English quiz we challenged you with last month:
Do you remember the last time you moved to a new home or went on a long trip? Imagine our delight to have finally “landed” after sleeping in 46 different beds since we left our beloved Brazil 6 months ago. It is so satisfying to put those suitcases in the closet and call Aotearoa (New Zealand) home! Burmese language classes are next on the list, even as Bruce dives in to doctoral research on “faith-based social entrepreneurship.”
We are also adjusting to “Kiwi culture & customs”. Here’s a few basic phrases in Kiwi English. See if you can interpret them - we’ll give you a translation in our next update.
- It’s so good to have our Internet access sorted.
- That presentation was sweet as - good on ya, mate!
- We miss you heaps.
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Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Brazil are experiencing soaring inflation that makes it extremely difficult to maintain support for cross cultural missionaries serving in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe.
Praise God with us! We are settling in to our “house of grace” (grace - unmerited favour of God …and the bestowal of blessings).
Thank you for your prayers and your financial gifts - we are overwhelmed by your generosity and faithfulness.
It seems hard to believe, but we are now in the “goodbye” phase of the familiar “hello-goodbye-hello” pattern that is a common thread in the life of every cross-cultural missionary. As part of this process, we looked back over the last 9 months and were amazed at God’s graciousness in the fruit produced just since October of last year. We want to share some of that blessing with you, since this is your fruit, too! As co-coordinators of the national Secretariat for the Development of Leadership and Ministries (SEDELIM) for the National Baptist Convention of Brazil (CBN), we:
- offered 3 weekend trainings in “Servant Leadership” for various CBN state conventions;
- led weekend workshops for the national and state leaders of the National Baptist Youth department (JUBAN) (see our January prayer letter);
- helped facilitate the strategic planning of the National Baptist Women’s department (UEFBN) at an annual gathering of national and state leaders;
- organized and led the first-ever “National Retreat for Servant Leadership in the Power of the Holy Spirit,” with main speaker Dr. John Piippo of Redeemer Fellowship Church of Detroit, MI (see our January prayer letter);
- facilitated a 9-month appreciative inquiry strategic planning process that created a plan to revive the National Baptist Men’s department (UEMBN) (see our February prayer letter);
- led a team that developed a plan to restructure the Convention’s Secretariat for National Ministries (SENAM);
- facilitated the first-ever gathering of CBN state convention executive ministers, and used an appreciative inquiry process to develop a plan to improve communication and administrative systems that would better serve local churches.
As co-coordinators of the national Integral Mission Network (REDEMI) for the National Baptist Convention of Brazil, we:
- led a weekend retreat in Integral Evangelism for a CBN state convention in NE Brazil;
- presented a paper and led a workshop at a national congress on Integral Mission sponsored by Missão ALEF;
- supported Providence Baptist Church of Sobradinho, Federal District in its initiative to plant a church in Worcester, MA (USA). We trained its cross-cultural short-term mission team and coordinated with ABC of Mass. (TABCOM) (see our Oct. 2014 prayer letter);
- facilitated the CBN’s meetings with Canadian Baptist Mission representatives.
As professors for the cross-cultural missionary training program at JAMI, the Convention’s global cross-cultural mission agency, we:
- taught an intensive 36-hr. module in “the Principles and Practices of Integral Mission”;
- taught an intensive 36-hr. module in “the Missionary Life” (see our Dec 2014 prayer letter);
- provided technical support and pastoral counseling as requested by CBN missionaries.
As members of the pastoral staff of 2 local churches, we:
- consulted with Revival Baptist Church (Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais) on its integral mission programs in a remote rural community and with children in its neighborhood;
- coordinated the English language worship service for 1st Baptist Church of Brasília, and preached and taught classes as requested.
As global consultants for International Ministries in leadership development, integral mission, and social entrepreneurship, we:
- participated in the Quinquennial Congress of the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches in Surabaya, Indonesia (see our April prayer letter);
- taught an intensive 36-hr course in Social Entrepreneurship for church and NGO leaders at Satya Wacana Christian University in Salatiga, Indonesia at the request of Payap University (Chiang Mai, Thailand) (see our April prayer letter);
- opened a new dialog with the Baptist Churches of New Zealand as IM representatives, in light of our re-assignment as regional missionaries to partner conventions in Southeast Asia starting in December 2015.
We praise God for your partnership with us in all of these ministries! If you have any recommendations, resources or questions in any of these areas, we’d love to hear from you!
Bom dia, Selamat pagi, Mingala Ba (Good morning in Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and Burmese) Do you ever wonder about the next journey God is preparing for you? About 6 months ago the picture slowly began coming into focus for us, and the final piece fell into place just a couple of weeks ago when we were in Indonesia (more on that in our next update!). We are scheduled to
leave Brazil to begin our US/PR Assignment in August, so this was an important answer to prayer. Here’s what has come together.
After 4 months in the US, we will begin a new journey as regional missionaries in Southeast Asia. This is a major change for us, as you can imagine. Leaving our friends, family, and ministry in Brazil after 11 years here will be heart wrenching. At the same time, we praise God for the opportunity to work with IM partners in Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines to provide training in servant leadership, integral mission, cross cultural mission skills, and economic development. The piece that just fell into place is that Bruce was accepted into a PhD program at Massey University in New Zealand, where he’ll study social entrepreneurship in faith-based organizations in Asia.
In the meantime, we are feeling both excited and a bit overwhelmed by all the events on the horizon here in Brazil. This weekend we’ll facilitate a strategic planning retreat for national Baptist Women leaders .Then we have two trips to Mato Grosso and Rondônia states to conduct servant leadership training for Baptist men, women, and young adult leaders. In between those trainings, we’ll lead an Integral Mission empowerment workshop for pastors and leaders in Rio Grande do Norte state.
Friends, we just received word of IM’s Spring Matching Gift Opportunity - a program that doubles any new or increased gifts toward support of any IM missionary between April 15 and June 15. So if you give $100, it automatically becomes $200. Your gifts make a huge difference to us! Be sure to mark your gift “Matching Gift for Borquist support.” You can give online, by phone (800-ABC-3USA) or by mail if postmarked no later than June 15, 2015. To give online, follow this link.
How can you put the puzzle pieces of your life together so that they make sense and reveal how God has been active in your life? How can you discover God’s will for your next journey? Why is it so hard to be patient while waiting for “the next thing?” What role do my friends play in my journey? How can I pray for others and myself according to my journey themes?
We addressed these and many other questions during the module we recently taught at the National Baptist Convention’s cross-cultural missionary training center here in Brazil. Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer's book on the Spiritual Journey Paradigm (SJP), Endless Possibilities, provided the core content for discussion and reflection.
And our students loved it!
Danielly spoke for the whole class when she said: “Your material was so helpful for our whole team [of missionaries in training]. Now we can better understand our spiritual journeys. Thank you so much!”
The students are especially grateful for Pr. Lee’s generous contribution of study materials for the class.
ABCNJ is playing an important role in equipping a whole new generation of Brazilian missionaries that are serving literally around the world!