Taking the Word to the World

Posts tagged ‘Short-term Missions’

Who Will Farm the Land? – Guest Post by Kelley Dibble

I will never forget her face.  En route to the Manila airport, from a billboard high in the smog-bloated sky, a Filipina squinted down at me.  Deep lines etched her dry, sun-weathered face.  She stood in front of the lush Banaue Rice Terraces that Philippine Islanders call the Eighth Wonder of the World.  The billboard’s caption read something like, “The average age of the Filipino farmer is 57.  In 10 years, who will farm the land?”

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Reading the inflight magazine aboard the plane, my eyes fell upon yet another picture of the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Mountains.  This caption read, “While rice and vegetables are still planted there [like they have been for 2,000 years], the growing disinterest among young Ifugaos means the terrace steppes are facing increasing neglect, leading to its gradual erosion” (Hemispheres).  In my heart the question stirred,  “In 10 years, who will farm the land?”

Do today’s apostolic youths mirror the attitude of young Ifugaos?  In our forties, when we began our overseas service, my husband and I were the youngest appointed missionaries in the Pacific Region.  Fast-forward fifteen years.  The Lee Sherrys, Richard Carvers, Chester Terrys, Bennie Blunts, John Cogans, Rodger Whites and David Brotts have retired from their work in the fields of Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.  Who will fill the voids left by at least seven retired missionary units?

The Pacific Region-appointed career missionaries currently on the field are on average in their mid-50s as well.  Indeed, “In 10 years, who will farm the land?” Following their first deputations, the Jonathan Parkers will replace the John Cogans in the South Philippines, and Brandon Borders will take up the torch for New Zealand that his paternal grandfather, veteran missionary Floyd Borders, carried two generations ago.  Two couples in their late-twenties willingly declared like the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Others are stepping forward going on AIM and making application for missionary appointment. The future is bright.

What, then, of a “disinterested young” generation?  The ideal scenario portrays an older farmer teaching a younger farmer, an aged missionary training a new missionary, side by side, asking and answering questions, explaining how-to, when, where and why.  Jesus said in Luke 10:2, “…The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”  In 10 years, who will farm the land?

AIMing Long – Guest Post by Mike Long

AIM – France

Friends tell me I have the dubious distinction of possessing more than one green thumb. I love to cultivate things and am intrigued with the process of growth. Allow me to use two examples from the garden to describe the process by which we came to be in France as AIMers.

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Growth beneath the surface – White Roots

I have a huge calla lily growing in a pot and recently the largest leaves yellowed and died. Out of concern that my 10.00€ purchase was lost, I lifted the root ball only to see scores of fresh, white, healthy roots. Growth was happening below the surface although that growth wasn’t immediately visible on the surface.

Similarly, we’d been sensitive to missions for a long time. Indeed, that’s how my wife and I met in the mid-1990s. By 2006 I was on staff at the church where we’d come into Pentecost and I got to interact with visiting missionaries regularly. In 2008 I met John & Anne Nowacki, veteran missionaries to France, who invited me to teach in their Bible School for three weeks the following summer. With my pastor’s blessing, I accepted their invitation and went to France in 2009, returning again in 2010 and 2012. 

Life was good. I had a stable position in the city I’d grown up in and I got to go to France for a couple of weeks on a somewhat regular basis. Who wouldn’t like that?

In 2012, our church went through a rough pastoral transition and, being part of the leadership team, I was exposed to various facets of the dilemma. Like my calla lily, the largest leaves were dying and I was tempted to run for it would’ve been easier than staying. Little did I know, however, that white roots were growing beneath the surface. I decided to stay, convinced that, to do otherwise, aside from a clear call of God, would be to run straight out of His will. 

Within weeks of that decision, and while teaching in France, God made his call to clear. We were to come back and be more involved in the work.

I’m convinced that God needed to see my resolve in one situation before he would release the call to another. Over the following two years between His call (late 2012) and our arrival (January 2015), those roots continued to grow as our family applied for and was accepted to the AIM program. We would be furlough replacements for Paul & Darla Brochu.

Allow me to go a bit deeper into those two years of preparation by drawing on a second gardening metaphor: Layering.

Life Transplanted – New Roots

The process of propagating plants via cuttings or layering amazes me. You take a more or less mature portion of a plant or tree, remove bark down to the cambium layer and surround the exposed area with an appropriate rooting medium. That wound will develop scar tissue from which, thanks to photosynthesis, roots will develop. You then transplant the cutting or cut the layer from the mother plant and in either case, you have a new autonomous plant, able to survive on its own. That image gives us a good illustration of those two years of preparation.

Stripping away the bark

Here are five areas where the process of stripping something away caused us to produce new roots and to grow.

Stability: For seventeen years we lived in the same neighborhood, shopped at the same two grocery stores and never changed phone numbers. Stability brought the comfort of predictability, but as that was stripped away, we grew more rooted in our dependence on Him.

House & Home: Long before we sold our home, in order to limit storage requirements while away, we stripped away seventeen years’ worth of accumulation (involving a two-ton bin), and a new root grew. God provided a furnished house and home in France through the kindness of an unsaved landlord and our missionaries. 

School: We’d always homeschooled, but we moved to the Abeka Academy curriculum in 2013. DVD based and boasting great social proof, starting early meant it would be familiar territory when everything else for our kids had changed. French school would’ve helped them linguistically but we stripped that possibility away and saw another root form: an even closer bond between them as siblings.

Friends: In 2014 we travelled frequently, raising support both within and outside of the Atlantic District. Exciting at first, we did eventually hear: “Can we just be home with friends for a Sunday?” Social media aside, that support group has been largely stripped away, but a white root; their faith is rooted in the Lord and not simply their peer group.

Ready-made church: We came from a large vibrant church where it was easy to arrive and simply ‘consume’. That has been stripped away and in this home-missions setting, the kids are our music team, Liz leads worship, helps with Sunday School and does finances. I pastor and drive people to church as well as look after the grounds. Setting down those roots has undeniably caused us to grow, as individuals and as a ministry family.

Our family is like a layered plant. We were accustomed to being a side sprout in a much larger plant but some things have been stripped away, we grew new roots and were transplanted to the nation of France. While that process may sounds easy and inspiring, even glamorous, remember that roots only grow from scar tissue. The process did involve stretching and stretching is not always easy, but we focus on the resulting growth.

The extent to which my calla lily will continue to grow and multiply remains to be seen, but isn’t that the process of growth?  Constant evolution. Constant change. And if it is truly growth then that change or evolution is toward something bigger and better. Seeing personal development in our lives and in the lives of our children, as a result of our AIM experience, and seeing ushering lives into the Kingdom of God, certainly constitute “bigger and better”.   

Though still intimidated by the unknown from time to time, we are in the hands of a trustworthy God who, like a skilled gardener, is growing us and growing the work in France. We are privileged to be part of the work here and covet your prayers.

Guest Post – My Missions Journey by Jennifer Short

As a teen, I wanted little to do with God. Responding to a call on my life? That would never happen. I had plans. I had goals. I thought I knew the direction of my future. God was writing my story even though I hadn’t relinquished control of the pen.

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Missionaries always fascinated me, but taking on their burden was never a priority. That concept was nonexistent. When I released control to God in 2006, He began cultivating a burden deep within me. I vividly remember standing in the arena during NAYC 2011, listening to a presentation about Apostolic Youth Corps. As I heard testimony after testimony, I caught a glimpse of God’s plan for my future. In that moment, I knew an AYC trip was on my horizon.

You can say I officially started walking this missions path in 2012. Having never been outside of the United States, I decided to jump in with both feet and head to Africa–the place that stole my heart. I will never forget the sight of Mt. Kilimanjaro as we flew into Tanzania. Catching a glimpse of a fellow AYCer making a return trip, I couldn’t understand the silent tears flowing down her cheeks. She saw a country in desperate need of the gospel.  It only took ten days to grip my heart. As we taxied off the runway headed back “home,” I was the one with tears streaming down my face, the thought of leaving too much to bear. Home had taken on a new meaning in those ten days.

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As deeply as the African people touched me, God led me to the Dominican in 2013. There I learned some of the toughest lessons of my life. Through unimaginable tragedy, God taught me strength. He instilled courage like I had never known. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to have peace that passes all understanding.

Over the next year, I continued seeking God’s will. Even though my heart was firmly planted in foreign soil, I continued making myself available in my local church. After much prayer and counsel, Next Steps felt like the perfect opportunity to further my missions journey. I questioned how I would fare being gone from my family for an extended period of time. The two month Next Step trip seemed to be the perfect proving ground.

On May 31, 2015, I stepped onto a plane and deeper into the will of God. Headed for Guam, our team of young adults eagerly anticipated what God had in store. Those two months profoundly affected my soul and my future.

The first three weeks of training felt like a Bible school crash-course. The information was priceless. Every session was jam-packed with tidbits of knowledge and wisdom we stored in our brains and notes for future reference. I gleaned invaluable understanding about missions, and about ministry as a whole. And what a privilege to sit with real-life heroes of the faith, being taught and discipled while on the mission field!

Opportunities arose each day to minister alongside the local churches. Putting our learning into action allowed God to birth a deeper desire in me to see souls born into His kingdom. He renewed the burden in my heart and confirmed His will in my life.

Through all three short-term trips, I’ve come to realize how amazing this call of missions is. He has entrusted me with this burden and daily equips me with the necessary tools. When we sacrifice our comfort, allowing God to take us outside our self-imposed security, He shows us things we would never see on our own. In that place of vulnerability, God equips us with the necessary tools to carry the burden He has placed within us.

In August 2016, I will once again plant my feet on foreign soil for a six month AIM term in Ghana, West Africa. Because I have given God complete control over the navigation of this journey, He continues to lead me to places beyond my wildest dreams.

No Money, No Income, But Great Faith – Guest Post

A Guest Post by Brier Scott

The dream began at fourteen years of age when I started to feel the burden for missions tugging at my heart. I remember receiving an AYC flyer and wanting to go so bad on a missions trip, but I was two years too young at the time. I still remember how hard it was for me to wait those two years until I could apply. After what seemed like an eternity, I turned sixteen and was finally old enough. I was technically still too young to go on an international trip since the age restriction was seventeen or up. But, I was determined to go overseas so I went ahead and applied for an international trip anyway. I thought “it’s worth a shot.” I am so glad I did because I indeed was accepted to go to on the AYC Switzerland/Lichtenstein trip.

I applied for this trip with no money saved, no source of income, but with great faith! I just knew God would provide somehow. And He did. I sent out letters, I sang with my guitar at Pikes Place market (in Seattle), and began to make connections with different people through my fundraising efforts. All these things provided some income, but not nearly enough for the amount I needed to raise.  I had never had a job before, but I knew in reality I would need to get one. While I trusted God to provide, I knew I would need to do everything I could to raise the funds for my trip.  So, after applying for a few jobs, it was only about two or three weeks until I got a call back for an interview. I went in for the meeting and started working at Taco Time NW three days later. With that job I was able to raise most all the funds I needed. It was a sacrifice and stressful at times since I worked full-time while trying to stay caught up with full-time online high school and having to miss out on many church-related events. But, I knew that job was a God-given opportunity for me so I was thankful for it nonetheless.

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However in the midst of God’s blessings and provision, things weren’t always easy. Working at this job was difficult because I was constantly surrounded by poor, worldly influences that began to wear at me. During that time I learned that even though I was taking these God-given opportunities so I could do His work it didn’t exempt me from having to experience trials and trying times. Yes, God provided, but it was up to me to continue to do my best to live righteously and according to His word.

So I went to Switzerland and got to experience the mission field there and I was hooked. I was already anticipating applying for my second trip because I felt the burden so strongly. I think I would have applied for Next Steps if I would have known about it since I felt a burden so heavily for missions, But, then I wouldn’t have had the wonderful opportunity to experience all that I did while in El Salvador. I am so thankful I did.

I had quit my job upon the return from my first mission’s trip so I once again had no money saved, no source of income, but great faith when I applied for my second trip to El Salvador.

Since this trip was not as costly as my first, I raised the majority of my funds through letters and other fundraising methods. But I still didn’t have enough for my third payment. So I did what any reasonable seventeen year old full-time college student would do, I sold my car praying and believing that somehow God would provide other means of transportation for me. I was willing to take the bus to college if I had to (long commute). But God came through for me once again and provided me a new car shortly after and enough funds to get me to El Salvador.

After my second AYC trip, I knew that my missions work was just beginning. I was ready for more, and I felt the call stronger than ever on my life. I didn’t want to settle for another ten day trip, but something more long term to give me a deeper glimpse of what being a missionary is really like. So I went on the AIM website and stumbled upon Next Steps.

I do not think it was by coincidence that I came across this program, but I believe it was by God’s hand and after much prayer and godly council, I made the decision to apply for this trip.

And for the third time (and probably not the last), I had no money saved, no source of income, but great faith knowing that God WOULD provide the financial means for me to go and continue on my journey of fulfilling Gods greater purpose in my life.

God once again, like I knew He would because He did it before, provided me with an excellent job that allowed me to have the time off I needed and that was God’s blessing of meeting my financial means so I could go on Next Steps 2014 in Togo.

photo credit: danielmoyle via photopin cc

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Where Are The Men?