Missionaries

What is a "Typical Missionary?"

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What do the following people have in common? Two lawyers, an interior designer, a musician, a nurse, a manager, two seminary professors, a couple of information technology consultants, a physiotherapist, and a speech therapist? All of them are cross-cultural mission workers serving with the National Baptist Convention of Brazil! (See photo taken at the closing ceremonies of the missionary training program at JAMI). Is there such a thing as a “typical missionary” in today’s world? [gallery type="slideshow" ids="10546,10545,10544"]

What a pleasure it was to be part of the instructional team that prepared these young women and men who will serve on four continents. We were moved by the pledge they recited at the closing worship service. Here is an excerpt,

God said, “I need someone willing to say no to the status quo, … to leave their families to fly to distant lands, learn a language they've never heard, to travel on crowded buses, … someone who will sleep anywhere, eat anything, tolerate the heat and fight against the cold, with a smile on their face ... just to bring the Gospel to a people that is not theirs … . I need someone who is a radical servant of all.” So God created the missionary.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas full of Jesus’ hope, love, peace, and joy.

 

Obrigado from the missionaries in training

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How do you make sense of life? What lessons have you learned? How is God shaping you into the person you are meant to be? Who has God placed in your circle and where are you heading? These are some of the questions that our students wrestled with in the module on Spiritual Journeys that we taught at the cross cultural missionary training center. What a privilege to be on the journey together with them. Thanks once again to Pr. Lee* for generously providing the Endless Possibilities workbooks to these young missionaries in training.

*In Brazil, referring to someone as "Pastor" is a term of both respect and endearment.  The understanding is that someone may have "Rev." or "Dr." attached to their name (also highly respected) but the "Pastor" is someone who is with the people, on the front lines.

Ann Judson - Courageous with a Capital “C”!

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The first time I “met” Ann Judson was in 1987 when Bruce and I were preparing for service in the Philippines. We participated in the 175th Anniversary of the sailing of Ann and Adoniram, the first American missionaries sent to serve in Asia. After being commissioned in the same church as the Judsons almost two centuries earlier in Salem, MA, we and our two year old daughter Elena boarded a life-sized replica of the Caravan, the ship that Ann and her husband sailed on. Flash Forward: The Caravan I boarded last month was ‘harbored’ in the International Ministries booth at the ABC Mission Summit in Kansas City. I played Ann Judson in character, sharing stories of this remarkable woman with people from the U.S., the Philippines, Myanmar, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

Holding on during the storm!

Ann and Adoniram sailed for India just a few days after their wedding(!) in 1812. Was this crazy? Unquestionably. But they were determined to follow the Lord’s lead no matter what it might cost. Through careful study of Scripture on the journey, they determined that baptism by immersion, not sprinkling, was the Biblical norm. This new theological position required them to radically change their support network and become “Baptists.” After a harrowing trip from India to Burma (present day Myanmar) in which she lost her first child, they finally set foot on Burmese soil in 1813.

An accomplished linguist and translator, Ann mastered the Burmese language quickly and translated the books of Daniel and Jonah after only four years of study (remember: there were no books or language schools in that day!). Two years later, she translated the book of Matthew into the Siamese (Thai) language. When war broke out between the British and the Burmese, Adoniram was imprisoned in unspeakably harsh conditions. Ann saved his life by courageously smuggling in small quantities of food and his precious manuscripts. These sustained both his body and his mind.

I was surprised to learn how crucial Ann’s letters were in opening the eyes of American Christians to peoples of other lands. The story of this committed, compassionate woman should cause us to reflect on our own spiritual journey. What are we willing to “leave behind” to faithfully respond to God’s call to serve others in the way of Jesus?

Com amor em Cristo (with love in Christ)

Bryant Currier (center) served in Burma with his wife Sara Jean until all foreigners were expelled in 1966 at the onset of military rule. 
Photo: Bryant’s son, Andy (left) and Ann

A twin’s promotion during Holy Week…

Mission MapWhen the Spirit moves, it brings His children together… We consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to have met a fine lady and sister like Virginia Hepner. Ever since our first visit to FBC in Bridgeton, we knew that God’s mission was the motor of her life. The first mission society’s world missionary map we saw was in 2004 at Virginia’s church; Virginia had made it… That is part of the inspiration and legacy Virginia leaves us, of a pioneer woman who loved the Lord and served Him passionately till her last breath. In each of our visits (December 2004, February & June 2005, August 2007 at the hospital, September 2009 at church and home, and November 2012 at her home), we enjoyed Virginia’s humor, her joyful spirit, and her determination. Through her, we were blessed to meet many at the congregation where she was a faithful member for many years… Virginia and CarlosLast time we were in town was last November 2012, in the post-Sandy era. We visited Virginia at her home. We had been there the previous time and knew how to get there. Connie Chann, one of her caregivers, was very gracious with us and we were able to stay in touch since for updates on Virginia’s wellbeing. We knew Virginia was ready to go home, and are surely grateful the Lord has given her rest during this Holy Week. That day, Virginia said: “I knew you guys were in the States and last night I was praying you’d stop by and visit before I go home.” It was difficult; we were so connected with Virginia! She was ready; we were not. One special connection was that Virginia and Carlos shared their birthday (July 30th, though 40 years apart). Each year since we met, we would talk to each other to express our love and birthday wishes. As much as we’ll miss Virginia hereafter, we rejoice in God’s promises to His children. We know Virginia is already enjoying what we still can only imagine. She and our dear pastor friend of ABCNJ, Jim Berger, already enjoy the health, peace, and shalom Jesus came to buy on our behalf with His precious blood on a week like we just celebrated.

Virginia Hepner at FBC BridgetonVirginia’s body was laid to rest yesterday, April 1st, but don’t be fooled by the day; Virginia made sure Psalm 14:1 wasn’t describing her! Everybody around her knew God existed because of her life. She invited many others to new life in Him, away from all foolishness. As we celebrate Virginia’s life, we are praying for her siblings at the congregation and the many friends of ABCNJ she had. Virginia will be sorely missed by many, including us! We pray that her example and commitment to God’s mission (locally, nationally, and internationally), will inspire many to continue to do the same as it had been her legacy and the history of the congregation that was her home till her very end.

Our friend Jim Berger has been promoted!

Pastor Jim BergerWhen we began our missionary service in 2000 we could not imagine the twists and turns of the journey we were undertaking. Since our mission society encourages a more relational support system, as a family we fully embraced the new way of being closer to our siblings in Christ and the congregations where they serve. Through our many visits in the Garden State, we were blessed to meet Pastor Jim Berger, his family, and the congregation he pastored. We were very sad to learn of Jim’s unexpected passing earlier this month. Indeed, our friend Jim Berger has been promoted! We were so blessed in each of our visits with Jim in Cape Island Baptist Church (2007, 2009, and 2012) and his sweet spirit was always an encouragement. We would talk about EBTS and Israel, we would talk about the struggles to see the church thrive and the blessings of what was working, we would talk about health and he would shy away not wanting to draw attention to himself. Sitting at the table with Jim and Sarah, Catherine and Dorothy, was always a blessing! On our last visit, we just popped in as it was the after-Sandy era and we just wanted to make sure that our congregations were doing well. It wasn’t a planned visit, so Jim was surprised that we had driven all the way to Cape May just to make sure they were ok. He was the only one from the congregation we saw that morning. He mentioned that it had been a while since he was last ill and he was grateful for that. His constant health challenges were draining and he was grateful for a break from them.

We certainly weren’t expecting that this un-informal visit of ours in Cape Island BC would be the last time we were to see Jim Berger. We’re glad we did and we will continue to pray for his wife Sarah, for their daughters Catherine and Dorothy, and for all in the congregation at this time of grief and mourning. There is hope in Christ for the ultimate reunion, but the physical separation is always painful.

May God’s peace that surpasses all understanding comfort us all as we say farewell together to a friend who has been promoted! As the song keeps playing in the church’s website, “I can only imagine”; Jim already knows and enjoys what the Lord promised him. Jim already enjoys his heavenly mansion. Jim is already pain free. Let us continue serving together, as Jim did, in God’s spirit as we serve the Lord where each of us is (you in ABCNJ and us in Nicaragua and beyond as each of our missionary colleague serves).

Study time at BTS... / A estudiar en STB...

Study time at BTS... / A estudiar en el STB...On March 4th classes began at the Seminario Teológico Bautista de Nicaragua, a ministry of the Convención Bautista de Nicaragua. We are here to serve in their leadership training programs. This year, don Juan Guadamúz (building guard at the Seminary who died on February 17 after a car accident) would have had his 61st birthday the same day the seminary (where he served for 23 years) has its anniversary, on May 4th. His loving memory also permeates the foundation of this ministry. We knew don Juan for barely a month, but it was long enough to appreciate his sensitive spirit, heart of service, and hard working ethics. Thanks for your company and prayers during this difficult yet hopeful time for his family and the seminary body.

The Seminary which began in Masaya and later moved to Managua, serves today in 3 satellite centers: San Rafael del Sur, Ocotal, and Occidente. In 2013 there are plans to open 4 more centers in the Boaco Chontales Region (San Carlos Rio San Juan, Nueva Guinea) and the Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region (Kukra Hill y Bluefields). The Seminary offers the Theology Degree (5 years), the Pastoral Ministries Degree (3 years), the Christian Education Certificate (1 year) and the Hospital Pastoral Care Certificate (5 months).

The Seminario Teológico Bautista de Nicaragua aims for its diamond anniversary in 2016. We will accompany them and share our two cents, so that in future generations, the witness of their service to the Lord will be known in and outside of Nicaragua. Dr. Charles Baxter, who served our neighboring ABC-IN/KY churches and is now with the Lord, used to say “The Bible is our text. Christ is our message.” The STB prepares those who share the message of Christ with the Bible as the text. Therefore, study time…

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El 4 de Marzo comenzamos el año académico en el Seminario Teologico Bautista de Nicaragua, ministerio de la Convención Bautista de Nicaragua. Hemos venido a servir en sus programas de educación popular. Este año, don Juan Guadamúz (cuidador del seminario quien murió el 17 de febrero tras un accidente automovilístico) hubiera cumplido el 4 de mayo sus 61 años el mismo día del aniversario del seminario donde laboró por 23 años. Su recuerdo también permea en el fundamento de este ministerio. Conocimos a don Juan por apenas un mes, pero fue suficiente para apreciar su espíritu sensible, su corazón servicial y su ética de trabajo. Gracias por acompañarnos en oración durante este tiempo tan difícil pero esperanzador para su familia y la comunidad del Seminario.

Aquel Seminario que comenzó sirviendo en Masaya y luego se mudó a Managua, hoy sirve en 3 centros de extensión, a saber: San Rafael del Sur, Ocotal y Occidente. Además, en el 2013 se planifica la apertura de 4 centros de extensión más en la Región Boaco Chontales (San Carlos Rio San Juan, Nueva Guinea) y la Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur (Kukra Hill y Bluefields). El Seminario ofrece la Licenciatura en Teología (5 años), el Bachillerato en Ministerios Pastorales (3 años), el Certificado en Educación Cristiana (1 año) y en Pastoral Clínica Hospitalaria (5 meses).

El Seminario Teológico Bautista de Nicaragua va camino a su aniversario diamante en el 2016. Les acompañaremos y aportaremos nuestro granito de arena, para que en generaciones futuras, el testimonio del servicio al Señor sea reconocido en y fuera de Nicaragua. El Dr. Charles Baxter, quien sirvió en la vida de los vecinos en ABC-IN/KY y hoy está con el Señor, solía decir “La Biblia es nuestro texto. Cristo es nuestro mensaje.” El STB prepara a quienes comparten el mensaje de Cristo con la Biblia como texto. Así que, a estudiar…

Join the 2013 World Day of Prayer

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Friday, March 1st is World Day of Prayer 2013. Services begin at sunrise in the Pacific and follow the sun across the globe. Women, men and children in more than 170 countries and regions will participate in this ecumenical movement of believers from many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer. It is founded on the idea that informed prayer and prayerful action are inseparable in the service of God’s kingdom. ABC International Ministries asked the missionaries for prayer requests from their fields of service. We invite you to share them with your friends and family, and in your communities of faith as you join with believers around the world on March 1st. Or choose another date that works for your community.

The host country for 2013 is France, on the topic, “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me” encouraging welcome for migrant people worldwide. It strives for a Christian response to struggles concerning immigration and for ways to welcome “the stranger” and to identify with “the least of these” in Matthew 25. The focus this year draws on customs of hospitality found in Leviticus to paint a picture of welcoming the stranger, and to help us put ourselves in the shoes of “the stranger”. We will remember our own feeling of being on the outside, and the joy of the blessings of being welcomed.

Dan Buttry – Global Consultant for Peace, Justice and Conflict Transformation

  1. Pray for Kenya to have a peaceful election on March 4 and in the weeks before and after. I’ve been working with Central Baptist Theological Seminary’s Wilson Gathungu and others for the last two years in conflict transformation training. In April we will do follow-up trainings and strategy sessions to continue the work for peace. Pray for all of Africa, me and Wilson Gathungu of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, as we put together a 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers in September that will shape key Christian leaders in Bible-based peacemaking skills. Registrants so far are from Zimbabwe, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. Pray for the members of the IGNITE team who will be in the Republic of Georgia in May and June, exposing emerging Christian leaders from the U.S. and Georgia to the challenges and opportunities of mission. Lauran Bethell – Global Consultant for Anti-Human Trafficking
  2. Pray for those who are walking the streets of Europe, meeting victims of human trafficking/prostitution as they meet together in April in Waterloo, Belgium. Pray that they learn information that strengthens their ministries. Pray for me as I help plan the meeting and also speaks in one of the plenary sessions, that the Holy Spirit will speak words of truth and power through me. Pray for the European Baptist Federation’s Anti-Trafficking Network, as they meet together near Barcelona, Spain in April. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them to know more effective ways of ministering to victims of trafficking from Africa and Eastern Europe. Ingrid Roldán-Román missionary in Panama & Costa Rica:
  3. Pray for students of the School Tutoring Program in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, Panama so they can continue to acquire skills that will help them in their learning process and that through me they will know God. Pray for the membership of the Baptist Church in Sixaola, Costa Rica that can remain faithful to God and sharing the gospel with others. Pray for my return to the mission field after my time at home for Puerto Rico & US visitations.

Dan and Sarah Chetti missionaries in Lebanon:

  1. After 7 years of ministry among imprisoned maids in Lebanon, I (Sarah) am launching INSAAF – an Integrated Center for the Ministry among the Maids. Please pray that the harassed, discriminated, suffering maids from several Asian and African countries will find a safe haven where someone listens to their stories and ministers to their needs. Please pray for people to help me, to convert the building creating counseling and work stations, and for money for the renovation work.
  2. Lebanon right now is over whelmed by more than 200,000 refugees due to conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Families are living in difficult situations including unfinished buildings open to the elements in this cold winter season. Many refugees are Christian minorities, and the students of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (where we work) identify with the refugees and are deeply disturbed by these changes in society. Join us and our students in praying that Lebanese churches will reach out to the refugees and minister among them, and for churches & donors in the US who would like to participate in this ministry.

Kit Ripley missionary in Thailand:

  1. Please pray for the ministry of the New Life Center Foundation. We work with tribal girls who have experienced labor exploitation, domestic violence, sexual abuse or human trafficking, and girls who are "at risk". We are in a period of structural change and staff transitions, and are seeking God's guidance as we consider how we can be best equipped to meet the changing needs of tribal girls in the upcoming years.
  2. Insufficient access to citizenship continues to be a challenge for minority people groups in Thailand. Please pray for the government to open up channels so that minority people can access legal Thai citizenship.

Wendy Bernhard missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

  1. Pray for our seminaries and Bible institutes as they prepare pastors for ministry in today's turbulent world.
  2. Pray for the young people of Congo, that they would learn and follow Christ's way in their lives.

Deb Mulneix – development worker in India and Nepal:

  1. Making strangers into friends is the goal of all of all of our Partners in Ministry in India and Nepal. This week, I received news about the weddings of two new friends. Not long ago, these women were selling alcohol, drugs, and sometimes themselves. Then they were introduced to Christ. Today, they understand the difference between loving someone and using them. Their new husbands show them respect that they have never experienced before. Now that's a Welcome to a Stranger! Please keep these new families in your prayers, as well as the shelter and the women and staff who work there.
  2. Education in India is a very high priority. Our early missionaries were aware of the need and established many schools around the country. Today, Christian schools are well respected, and many non-Christian children are enrolled in them. The residents of a small, remote village approached their Christian neighbors to open a school. Even though they had no funds, no teachers, and no buildings, these believers began a school. The first year there were 75 students, and today, three years later, they number around 350, with less than 10 of these students from Christian homes. Like this one, many of our schools are in remote areas, and funding is not easily available. Please keep the students, faculty, staff, and parents of our Christian schools in your prayers.

Mike Mann – Global Consultant for Rural Development:

  1. Many villagers in China, Burma and Thailand live in extreme poverty and do not have access to clean water, proper sanitation and micro-loans. Pray for the mission projects that will address these challenges giving villagers hope for a healthier life and stronger economic future.

Madeline Flores-López missionary in the Dominican Republic:

  1. Pray for our economy which is directly affecting many families in the DR – a basket of basic supplies has gone up from 16% to 26%. Food and basic needs are now more prohibited and unaffordable for poor families.
  2. Pray for our college students who are the future in the DR. They face expensive transportation, no school supplies, and limited opportunities making an education nearly impossible. Please pray for more opportunities and scholarships for college students.

Chuck and Ruth Fox:

  1. Pray for children all over the world who are in need of education, and particularly for the children who receive STEP funds through IM. We have many Akha children who are receiving educational support because of the generosity of individuals and churches; we pray that others in need will receive the help they need, and that those in the program will see and understand the help they receive as God's provision in their lives.
  2. Pray for the Chiang Rai International Christian School, a school in Chiang Rai, Thailand, created to "serve the servant" families who come to minister in many capacities to the people of northern Thailand. Please pray for the development of the school as it grows, particularly for volunteer teachers who have a heart to serve in a setting like this. The school has served, and is served by, three IM missionary families, as well as 5 full-time IM volunteers this year. Many non-Christian Thai children are also coming to the school now, and we are excited to see them come to an understanding of Jesus and his love for them.
  3. Pray for the Akha people, that they might come to all know the saving power of Jesus Christ, but also discover what His love and the power of the Holy Spirit can mean in practical ways to achieve peace and unity...in their families, in their communities, in the church and in relationship to other Christian groups, as well.
  4. Pray for the projects we are involved with that are helping to provide self-sufficiency for the Akha people, namely the Akha Craft program, coffee production and drug rehabilitation efforts. May these programs be strengthened and may the people involved develop the leadership skills they need to carry these programs forward.

Music to My Ears

You've been busy!!  I have been inspired by the glimpses I have caught of God at work through New Jersey Baptists, and heartily thank God for you!  May the Lord continue to multiply the impact of your witness in work and word, as people continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy! I have prayed for, given to and tried to stay informed about your ministries from afar this last week, as I have been serving among our sisters and brothers in Nicaragua.  Here's a glimpse of what I've been up to:

"I thought I knew these stories in Acts, but I'm amazed at the new things I found." "What I really liked about this study was that the speaker did not come to tell us what to think, but helped us to discover the meaning for ourselves."

It was, as they say, music to my ears. The music was playing in CEPAD's Nehemiah Center in Managua, where I had just spent three days with pastors and congregational leaders (CEPAD is Nicaragua's Council of Evangelical Churches for Denominational Alliance). Gilberto Aguirre, affectionately known to all as El Profe ("the Prof"), was conducting an evaluation session at the end of our inductive study of the Book of Acts.

I appreciate positive feedback as much as anyone. It is a wonderful encouragement to be thanked for our efforts. It is very affirming to be both warmly welcomed and eagerly invited back. Feels great.

But the kind of response I both pray for and work for goes far beyond "getting strokes," as good as that feels. My desire is to be used by God to help people grow, not only in knowledge, but in capacity. I am especially eager to help people expand their capacity to discover the meaning of Scripture by working together as a learning community. I am no Paul of Tarsus, but I share his desire to work in a way that helps us all to grow into maturity in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

There is nothing I can do to force that outcome. Sometimes what I don't do is the most important thing. Waiting. Resisting the urge pour out my own views. Or, at least, resisting that urge long enough to allow others to do some creative thinking.

Of course, not everything is unprompted discovery. I share not only silence, but also the fruit of learning I've had the privilege to do previously. But, if I can couple that prior learning with careful listening to the observations and questions in the room, I can use it less to supplant and more to support the learning that others are doing. If I can affirm and encourage fellow learners to risk sharing their own observations, questions and hypotheses--even, or perhaps especially, when their ideas do not quite seem to me to be "on the mark," it builds confidence in the group and accelerates their rate of discovery. Delightfully, it can accelerate my own rate of discovery, too!

At the end of the evaluation session, Dámaris Albuquerque, CEPAD's executive director, spoke on behalf of the group and the whole organization: "Thank you for coming and for giving yourself to us again this week. Please express our gratitude to International Ministries for enabling you to come!'

I am, indeed, grateful to International Ministries for the opportunity to serve in Nicaragua this week. I am also deeply grateful to New Jersey Baptists for the prayer and financial support that makes this service possible!  It is great to be in the service of God's Reign together.

Only because... / Solo porque...

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Only because...

..leaving Spain meant our being able to attend the ABCNJ's Concentracion Latina and part of the "Hear the Call" World Mission Conference. It also means attending next week the ABWM of Indiana-Summer Conference (June 8-10, Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana). Only because… “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) Therefore we continue to pray and trust for the Lord to show us where and how to serve Him next. Meanwhile and throughout, we hear the call, are available, and grateful “in the Potter’s hands”. For our complete journals, please visit our International Ministries site.

Solo porque...

...salir de España significó poder participar de la Concentración Latina de ABCNJ y de parte de la Conferencia Misionera Mundial “Escucha el Llamado. También significa asistir la próxima semana a la conferencia de verano de ABWM-Indiana (Junio 8-10, Franklin College en Franklin, Indiana). Solo porque… “a los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas les ayudan a bien.” (Romanos 8:28) Por lo tanto seguimos orando y confiando que el Señor nos mostrará dónde y cómo quiere que le sigamos sirviendo. Mientras tanto y en adelante, escuchamos su llamado, estamos disponibles y agradecidos “en las manos del Alfarero”. Para nuestras cartas completas, visítanos en www.internationalministries.org/teams/50-bonilla-giovanetti.

Hear the Call... / Oye el Llamamiento...

May is a month to celebrate! There are events going on throughout the month in our network regions such as in California, Connecticut, Greater Indianapolis, Indiana/Kentucky, New York State, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Southwest/Hawaii, and many others; including our dear ABCNJ's Concentracion Latina on Saturday, May 5… Meanwhile, enthusiasm continues to build up for the World Mission Conference (WMC) week sponsored by our mission society in Green Lake, Wisconsin on May 18–25, 2012. Many of our dear missionary colleagues will be there. Come and hear the Call. Hearing, accepting, and being affirmed in the Call is what gives meaning to our lives. Being in missionary service is the best decision we have made (even when it means being open to unexpected transitions). We pray that you too can hear the Call to serve with love in missional involvement in your community, in pastoral ministry, cross-cultural global mission service, or however the Lord leads you. For information on the Hear the Call WMC.

¡Mayo es un mes para celebrar! Hay eventos durante el mes en las regiones de nuestra red tales como California, Connecticut, Indianapolis, Indiana/Kentucky, Nueva York, Pensilvania, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Suroeste/Hawaii y otras; incluyendo la Concentracion Latina ABCNJ el sabado 5 de mayo… Mientras tanto, sigue creciendo el entusiasmo para la semana de la Conferencia Misionera Mundial auspiciada por nuestra sociedad misionera en Green Lake, Wisconsin del 18 al 25 de Mayo de 2012. Muchos colegas en misión estarán allí. Ve y oye el llamamiento.

Oír, aceptar y ser afirmados en nuestro llamamiento da significado a nuestras vidas. Estar en servicio misionero es la mejor decisión que hemos tomado (aunque implique apertura a transiciones inesperadas). Oramos que oigas el llamamiento a servir con amor en participación misionera en tu comunidad, en ministerio pastoral, en servicio misionero transcultural o como el Señor te dirija. Para información de la conferencia misionera Oye el Llamamiento.

 

Another/Otras Fallas...

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March is Father’s Day in Spain!  It is also the conclusion of the Fallas in Valencia which begin early in February with the exhibition of the Ninots and end on March 19th with the Cremà which is the burning of the Monuments. Go to www.fallasfromvalencia.com for detailed information.

This year we visited the exhibit early to avoid last minute crowds. We noticed the disappointment and discomfort with the current political, financial, and social issues. Most of them were a critique of those who lead the country and European continent at large. One could sense pain and sadness; the sense of feeling impotent to change the circumstances. Will there be hope for the hopeless? Will there be joy for the sad or cure for the pain?

Being as it is that Father’s Day in Spain is in March, we can say, YES, there is an answer to this mess. Our heavenly Father is the answer to the more than 5.3 million of unemployed; to the more than 27 million of slaves of human trafficking around the world (300,000 of which are women being prostituted in Spain); to the more than 45 million without Christ in Spain; and, to each of our needs.  The Bible tells us of our heavenly Father’s love and care. Isaiah 40 talks of His tender care for us in his bosom. Inspired in a woman’s nursing ability, our heavenly Father illustrates how much He loves and cares for you and for us.

The situation in Spain has become so crude that last year 62,610 Spanish men, women, and youth left the country to venture elsewhere. While 417,522 foreigners came to Spain, 445,130 left (so more people are leaving than are arriving). Immigration laws are becoming so strict and the financial options are so limited that many give up and leave while others are rejected and have to leave the country.  Regardless of where we are, circumstances, or trials around us, we know our heavenly Father carries us in His bosom. Even if this year’s Fallas seem odd due to what is going on, we know our heavenly Father promised to be with us ALWAYS and makes us His ambassadors of reconciliation. Be of good cheer! Our heavenly Father is in control.

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¡Marzo es el Día del Padre en España! También la conclusión de las Fallas en Valencia que comienzan en Febrero con la Exhibición de Ninots y termina el 19 de Marzo con la Cremà, la quema de los Monumentos. Ve a www.fallas.com para información más detallada.

Este año visitamos la exhibición temprano para evitar las filas de última hora. Notamos una profunda desilusión e incomodidad en los temas políticos, financieros y sociales. La mayoría de los Ninots eran críticas a quienes dirigen el país y la Unión Europea en general. Podíamos sentir dolor y tristeza; ese sentido de impotencia para cambiar las circunstancias. ¿Habrá esperanza para quien desespera? ¿Habrá gozo para contrarrestar la tristeza y cura para erradicar el dolor?

Siendo que el Día del Padre en España es en Marzo, decimos SÍ, hay una respuesta a este desorden. Nuestro Padre celestial es la respuesta para más de 5.3 millones sin empleo; a más de 27 millones de personas en esclavitud por el tráfico humano alrededor del mundo (300,000 de las cuales son mujeres que son prostituidas en España); a más de 45 millones de personas sin Cristo en España; y, a cada una de nuestras necesidades.  La Biblia nos habla que nuestro Padre celestial nos ama y cuida. Isaías 40 nos habla de la ternura con que nos lleva en su seno. Nuestro Padre celestial nos ilustra con esta habilidad para amamantar cuánto nos ama y cuida de ti y de nosotros.

La situación en España ha recrudecido tanto este último año que 62,610 hombres, mujeres y jóvenes españoles han emigrado buscando un mejor futuro en otro lugar. Aunque han llegado 417,522 inmigrantes, 445,130 han emigrado (son más quienes se van que quienes llegan). Las leyes migratorias se han endurecido tanto y las opciones financieras son tan escasas que quienes se dan por vencidos se van y quienes son rechazados también.  Sin importar dónde estamos, las circunstancias o desafíos que enfrentamos, sabemos que nuestro Padre celestial nos lleva en Su seno. Aunque las Fallas este año sean raras por todo lo que pasa, sabemos que nuestro Padre celestial prometió estar con nosotros SIEMPRE y nos hace Sus embajadores de reconciliación. ¡Ánimo! Nuestro Padre celestial sigue en control.

In 10 days... / En 10 días…

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So much happened this last 10 days… God is good and faithful and we are blessed to be at His service in Spain, alongside our sisters and brothers in this land. We are grateful for your sharing with us this common journey. We spent a weekend in Lorca (visiting their ground zero, El Buen Camino, and sanctuary) and Elche (leadership workshop and church visit) and then continued with our class in Valencia on Monday (EBEVA) and our time at the church in Requena on Wednesday, completing our 10 days today at the church in Carlet. God has been at work. You can find the full testimony here.

EBEVA, another night of learning…

We'd like to point out our trio connection between ABCNJ, Stan Slade and us at EBEVA. Each Monday evening, for the last four months, we’ve been sharing Isaiah and an Introduction to the Prophets with a group of more than 20 faithful participants from different churches in Valencia. Despite the cold winter, and even rain, they have come for our two hours together. We begin with a devotional time where they have learned to understand and use the method of inductive study that Stan Slade shared last October at our annual session but that these participants did not have an opportunity to learn then (which those in Dénia did enjoy). As an extension to what Stan did, we have shared with them this valuable Bible study tool provoking important insights that they have for the rest of their study of the book of Isaiah. The participants are always eager for more; two of them traveled to Elche last Saturday to be at the workshop we held there for the southeastern region. Monday 13th is our last session and with it we complete the commitments we had in Valencia, Dénia, and Xàtiva for this academic cycle that ends in June with other classes and professors. We are grateful for the opportunity to share wisdom, knowledge, and discipleship in each of these places where we have been blessed to learn as we prepare and as we are with these sisters and brothers who thrive to prepare for better service.

Thanks for your faithful and generous support of ministries like the Borquists in Brazil, Stan Slade around the world, and us in Spain. In partnership we have made much more!

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Ha pasado tanto en los últimos 10 días… Dios es bueno y fiel y nos sentimos bendecidos de estar en Su servicio en España, junto a nuestras hermanas y hermanos en esta tierra. Te agradecemos que compartas con nosotros nuestra mutua peregrinación. Estuvimos un fin de semana en Lorca (visitando lo que queda tras los terremotos, El Buen Camino y la iglesia) y Elche (para talleres y visitar la iglesia) y continuamos en Valencia con la clase del lunes (EBEVA) y nuestro miércoles en la iglesia de Requena, completando estos 10 días en la de Carlet. Dios ha estado obrando… Puedes leer todos los datos en www.internationalministries.org/teams/50-bonilla-giovanetti.

EBEVA, otra noche para aprender

Queremos resaltar la conexion del trio ABCNJ, Stan  Slade y nosotros en EBEVA. Cada lunes en la noche en los últimos cuatro meses hemos compartido Isaías e Introducción a los Profetas con un grupo de más de 20 fieles participantes de diferentes iglesias en Valencia. A pesar del crudo invierno, y hasta con lluvia, han llegado para las dos horas que compartimos. Comenzamos con un tiempo devocional donde han aprendido a usar el método de estudio inductivo que Stan Slade compartió en octubre en la asamblea anual pero que estos participantes no tuvieron la oportunidad de disfrutar (como los de Dénia). Como una extensión a lo que Stan hizo, compartimos esta valiosa herramienta de estudio bíblico y han surgido reflexiones importantes útiles para el resto del estudio del libro de Isaías. Los participantes siempre quieren más; dos de ellas viajaron a Elche el sábado anterior para el taller del sureste. El lunes 13 es la última reunión y con ello completamos los compromisos que teníamos en Valencia, Dénia y Xàtiva para este ciclo académico que termina en junio con otras clases y profesores. Damos gracias por la oportunidad de compartir sabiduría, conocimiento y discipulando en cada uno de estos lugares donde hemos sido bendecidos al aprender preparándonos y estando con estas hermanas y hermanos que crecen en su preparación para un mejor servicio.

Gracias por tu apoyo generoso y fiel a los ministerios de los Borquist en Brazil, Stan Slade alrededor del mundo y nosotros en España. En coparticipación hemos logrado mucho más...

We are family... / Somos familia...

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We are family, parents, children, and Trinity…

February is the month of LOVE!  As a family we are grateful for a special opportunity to celebrate how much God loves us. We are grateful to be called to be at His service.

We have lived through missionary service as singles, served as volunteers as a couple, and when we left for Chile in 2000, we began our long-term missionary service with two children born in PA and FL (ages 4 and 1). They are now 15 and 12 plus our third who is already 7.  Yes, there is growth in the mission field!

Alberto is a very inquisitive and clever young man. He loves reading, soccer, and board games. Being in Spain has enabled him to enjoy the best soccer in the world with FC Barçelona and the Spanish team as his favorites. Through homeschooling, his academic needs are being met while also supporting his character building with a solid Christian education. We are blessed to see him mature into a young man of faith, keen spirit, and commitment.

Carolina is a tender and caring young gal. She enjoys arts and crafts, board games, and literature/creative writing. For fun, she loves Cirque du Soleil, a connection she makes with her pantomime ministry. Her love for God’s creation, animals, and nature makes her very caring for the environment. She also loves caring for babies everywhere we go. We are blessed to see her develop into a young woman with possibilities that are blossoming.

Daniela is a free spirited and playful young girl. English and Bible Reading are her favorite subjects in homeschooling. A door opener everywhere we go, she has many girlfriends in many places. Quite aware and proud of her Chilean origins, she is always cheering for Alexis Sánchez when he scores or assists in Barça. Caring and loving with her parents and siblings, she knows her place in the family. We are blessed to see her grow into an energetic young lady.

Family is a ministry in itself and God has entrusted us with these three treasures. Anything we are able to do is thanks to the loving care and guidance He provides us. As we seek to reflect God’s image to them, we are mindful of the responsibility that comes with the blessing of parenthood. We rejoice to see them following Jesus’ footsteps. It takes two to tango; well, it takes 5 to raise children: a father, a mother, and the Trinity!

Not every family these days has this set up, and our prayer is that the Trinity would still be a solid foundation for those whose circumstances are different. We can embrace Ecclesiastes 4:12 in any combination as long as we count on Him to be in our midst. We are especially mindful of families where abuse and human trafficking is thwarting God’s plans for His creatures. May we as a church intercede for these and even get in the gap on their behalf so that God may free them and be providing all they need. We pray with love for you and your families!

Pressing on toward the goal, as individuals and as a family,

the BGsInSpain

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Somos familia, padres, prole y la Trinidad…

¡Febrero es el mes del AMOR! Como familia agradecemos esta oportunidad especial de celebrar cuánto Dios nos ama. Somos agradecidos de ser llamados a estar en Su servicio.

Hemos vivido el servicio misionero de tiempo corto como solteros, el voluntariado como esposos y cuando nos fuimos a Chile en el 2000, comenzamos nuestro servicio misionero con dos hijos nacidos en PA y FL (edades 4 y 1). Ahora tienen 15 y 12 más la tercera que tiene 7… ¡Sí, hay crecimiento en el campo misionero!

Alberto es un joven muy inquisitivo e inteligente. Ama la lectura, el fútbol y los juegos de mesa. Estar en España le ha dado la oportunidad de disfrutar el mejor fútbol del mundo con el FC Barçelona y la Selección Española como sus favoritos. Con sus estudios a distancia, se satisfacen sus necesidades académicas a la par que cuidamos el desarrollo de su carácter con una solida educación cristiana. Somos bendecidos de verle madurar en un joven de fe, espíritu entusiasta y compromiso.

Carolina es una jovencita tierna y humanitaria. Disfruta las manualidades, los juegos de mesa y la lectura y escritura creativa. Por diversión, gusta de Cirque du Soleil, afín a sus intereses del ministerio de pantomima. Su amor por la creación de Dios, los animales y la naturaleza la hacen preocuparse por el medio ambiente. También disfruta cuidar de los bebés doquiera vamos. Somos bendecidos de verla desarrollarse en una mujercita con posibilidades que están floreciendo.

Daniela es una niña fogosa y juguetona. Sus clases favoritas son Inglés y Lectura de Biblia. Nos abre las puertas donde vamos y tiene amiguitas en muchos lugares. Muy consciente y orgullosa de que es Chilena, siempre se anima con los goles y asistencias de Alexis Sánchez en el Barça. Cuida y ama a sus padres y hermanos y conoce bien su lugar en la familia. Somos bendecidos de verla crecer como una jovencita emprendedora.

La familia es un ministerio en sí mismo y Dios nos ha confiado a tres tesoros. Cualquier cosa que logremos es gracias a los cuidados y dirección que El nos provee. Al reflejarles la imagen de Dios, somos conscientes de la responsabilidad que viene con la bendición de la crianza. Nos regocija verles seguir las pisadas de Jesús. Se necesitan dos para el tango; pues bien, hacen falta 5 para criar hijos: ¡un padre, una madre y la Trinidad!

No todas las familias de hoy día tienen esta composición y nuestra oración es que la Trinidad siga siendo el fundamento sólido para quienes viven circunstancias diferentes. Nos aferramos a Eclesiastés 4:12 en cualquier combinación estando siempre El en el centro. En especial en familias donde hay abuso o tráfico humano que intentan frustrar los planes de Dios para Sus creaturas. Como iglesia podemos interceder e incluso ponernos en la brecha para que Dios les libere y provea lo que necesitan. ¡Oramos con amor por ti y tu familia!

Prosiguiendo al blanco, como personas y como familia,

los BGsEnEspaña

7-1...

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Desde que regresamos de la bienal en Puerto Rico a España en junio pasado, seguimos de iglesia en iglesia, de clase en clase y de visita en visita. Nos movemos según es necesario y nos regocijamos que hay otras personas que se mueven también.

“Mi copa está rebosando…”

Este mes de enero en particular la cuenta es de 7-1 (7 iglesias en un  mes): conocimos la congregación bilingüe en Carcaixent, el mejor comienzo del año pues integran magistralmente en el culto tanto el castellano como el valenciano, ofreciéndonos un sabor a cielo y eternidad. En Alginet pudimos encontrar un remanente que es de testimonio para esa comunidad. En ambas pastorea don Leopoldo, pastor jubilado mas no retirado, a la espera de liderato pastoral titular… Nos hemos sentido rebosantes al regresar a Segorbe, La Vall D’Uixó y Puerto de Sagunto y ser testigos de cómo el Señor está usando a Esteban y Rut en este estratégico triángulo. Ver a Joaquín y Sara en Castellón también nos llena de optimismo pues tienen un potencial pastoral de múltiples posibilidades. Como cada fin de mes, estaremos en Requena, donde Ester pastorea y a quien acompañamos también un miércoles del mes en esta congregación multicultural.

Esfuerzo vital

Habiendo tenido la campaña Mi Esperanza en diciembre, es de vital importancia que las iglesias sigan afirmando su discipulado en seguimiento al evangelismo. Nos gozamos al ver que los esfuerzos de preparación de líderes en sus diferentes formatos, facilitan que sean menos las iglesias sin liderato pastoral. Pero, todavía hay camino por andar. Un 28% (iglesias y misiones) sigue sin liderato pastoral titular… La tarea de formación teológica sigue siendo una prioridad que requiere un esfuerzo vital.

Damos gracias porque seguimos en el camino

Tus oraciones, entusiasmo y ofrendas al Go Global 30 Clubs nos permiten seguir caminando con estas iglesias y su liderato. Gracias por facilitarles la formación teológica con nuestra presencia. Gracias por animarles en su evangelismo y discipulado con cada una de nuestras visitas, talleres y predicaciones. Gracias por hacerles sentir acompañados y ofrecerles paz y refugio cuando 5.3 millones de personas están desempleadas en España. En unidad nos encaminamos a un tercer milenio de ministerios internacionales donde llegamos a Cristo, crecemos en El y transformamos el mundo con Su Espíritu y donde nuestra region, ABCNJ, sigue a la altura de las posibilidades tecnológicas que nos actualizan.

Proseguimos con Él y contigo al blanco, tu familia misionera en España, los BGs

Since our return to Spain from the biennial in Puerto Rico last June, we continue from church to church, from class to class, and from visit to visit. We move as needed and rejoice to see others are moving too.

“My cup runs over…”

This month of January our count is 7-1 (7 churches in one month): first visit to the bilingual church in Carcaixent, our best new year’s beginning as they beautifully incorporate the Spanish with the Valencian in the service; a taste of heaven and eternity. In Alginet we found a faithful remnant as a witness in that community. Both of these are pastored by don Leopoldo, a pensioner yet not retired, who waits for new pastoral leadership to rise… We overflow as we returned to Segorbe, La Vall D’Uixó and Puerto de Sagunto to witness how the Lord is using Esteban and Rut in this strategic triangle. Seeing Joaquín and Sara in Castellón fills us with hope as their pastoral potential has multiple possibilities. As every end of the month, we’ll be in Requena, where Ester pastors and whom we also accompany one Wednesday each month in this multicultural congregation.

Vital effort

After the Mi Hope campaign last December, it is vital that the Churches affirm their discipleship to those they have evangelized. We rejoice to see that the efforts in leadership training in its various formats have facilitated that there are less churches without pastoral leadership. Yet, there’s much more to be walked. About 28% (churches and church-plants) is still without a general pastoral leader… The task at hand continues to be a vital effort and a priority.

We give thanks for being on the go

Your prayers, enthusiasm, and gifts to the Go Global 30 Clubs allow us to continue walking with these churches and their leadership. Thanks for facilitating their theological education with our presence. Thanks for encouraging their evangelism and discipleship with each of our visits, workshops, and sermons. Thanks for helping them feel accompanied and offering peace and refuge when 5.3 million in Spain struggle with unemployment. In unity we will walk into this third millennium of international ministries where we come to Christ, grow in Him, and are transforming the world through His spirit, and where our region, ABCNJ, is always ahead in technological options that keep us up-to-date.

Pressing on toward the goal with His and your company, your missionary family in Spain, the BGs

"I like it!"

Group shot of January 2012 intensive course participants, UCNH.

That's what Dr. Monel Jules, Dean of the Theology Faculty at the Christian University of North Haiti (UCNH) had to say at the end of our intensive course in Genesis last week.

Two years after the earthquake, I was grateful for the chance to add a small contribution to the big investment New Jersey Baptists (and other American Baptists) have made in the life of Haiti.  These are wonderful brothers and sisters facing huge challenges.  As so many of you have learned, it is a privilege to walk with them.

Monel was excited about the way students grew in their ability to discover the meaning of Scripture for themselves as we immersed ourselves in the text and threw ourselves into spirited--and Spirit-ed!--dialogue.  Thank you for the prayers and gifts by which you made this week of growth possible!

ABC International Ministries Begins Celebration of 200 Years of Ministry

  IM MissionsStarting this year, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) will begin celebrating 200 years of global mission. “This is a remarkable occasion for IM. Not many mission agencies have been able to reach this milestone. We are indeed grateful for God’s leading and guidance during our 200-year history,” commented Reid Trulson, executive director. “We are honoring the past while moving forward into the future.”

IM’s overarching theme for the next three years is Mission to the Third Power or Mission3. U.S. and Puerto Rico churches, friends, missionaries, donors, ABC regional staff, volunteers and missionary partnership network members will begin seeing this theme on all IM materials starting in 2012. “We’re excited about Mission to the Third Power because it recognizes our missiology rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” commented Trulson. IM’s 3-year bicentennial theme, Mission3, is a short hand way of expressing the following core ideas:

  1. IM’s entrance into its third century of mission
  2. The mission of our triune God
  3. IM’s three-fold understanding of making disciples: helping people come to Christ, grow in Christ and change their worlds with Christ.
  4. Three years of bicentennial celebrations, starting in 2012
  5. Three mission foci: evangelism; health & healing; and anti-human trafficking

IM will kick off the three-year anniversary with a huge 7-day World Mission Conference (WMC) May 18 -25, 2012. After a six-year hiatus, the weeklong WMC is coming back to the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. The 2012 conference, which will include a 3-day call retreat, focuses on discerning God’s call to Christian service and how to make that call a reality. The theme for 2012 is Mission3: Hear the Call. (For more information go to http://www.internationalministries.org/read/38513-may-2012-hear-the-call.)

The “Call Retreat” portion of the WMC will be an experience designed to help individuals consider and discern God’s call to ministry in an international and cross-cultural setting or right here in the U.S. in pastoral leadership of a local church or missional engagement in local church communities. “International Ministries is moving into an era of renewed, proactive efforts to cultivate missionary candidates and match them with the invitations and opportunities from our international partners,” notes IM Director of Recruitment Jim Bell. “We are looking forward to meeting and interacting with persons whom God might be calling to step out into faith into new ventures of service.”

Moving forward into 2013, IM will be providing information about significant celebrations in Myanmar (Burma). Baptists in Myanmar are inviting American Baptists to their country to share in bicentennial celebrations. 200 years ago in 1813, American Baptist missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson arrived in Burma as the first Protestant missionaries from North America. They translated scripture, led people to faith and helped establish churches, schools and medical work in Burma. The Judson’s mission and work inspired many Americans to hear the call to support mission and to become missionaries. Their ministry 200 years ago was an early part of the remarkable movement of people throughout S.E. Asia becoming followers of Jesus.

June 21-23, 2013, American Baptists in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will gather in Overland Park, KS for the ABC Biennial meeting. IM will bring its global missionary focus to the Biennial, celebrating the missionary service of Adoniram and Ann Judson under the theme of Mission3: Embrace the Cause!

The year 2014 will include a grand finale: all the American Baptist missionaries will be brought back to the U.S. for a national bicentennial World Mission Conference to celebrate IM’s founding 200 years earlier in 1814 as the “General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America, for Foreign Missions” and to launch us into our “third century” of global mission. The conference will be held July 19-26 at the Green Lake Conference Center in WI. The theme for 2014 will be: Mission3: Rise to the Challenge!

American Baptist INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES is a Christian mission organization connecting U.S. churches and individuals to holistic missions around the world. Organized in 1814, American Baptist International Ministries is the first Baptist mission agency formed in North America. We serve more than 1,800 short-term and long-term missionaries annually, bringing U.S. and Puerto Rico churches together with partners in over 70 countries to tell the good news of Jesus Christ while meeting human needs.

IM’s mission is to glorify God in all the earth by crossing cultural boundaries to help people come to Christ, grow in Christ and change their worlds with Christ.