Thursday, April 30, 2015

Serve By Understanding

An excerpt from...

Serve by Understanding

The key to living among those to whom you minister
By Bill Ryan, Missionary, Honduras
April-June 2015

Bill and Beth Ryan serve among the Miskito Indians in La Moskitia, Honduras.
The rain was coming down in sheets. By the time we reached the small hill overlooking the huge mile-wide swamp below, we had been peddling our bikes in the pouring rain for over three hours. We were soaked to the bone. On the other side of the swamp was a small village of 10 to 12 wooden shacks called Tapanlai. It was there, hopefully, a truck would be waiting for me and the group I was traveling with to take us home to Puerto Lempira.

We were about halfway through the swamp when we caught up with a young mother carrying her small baby. Her name was Veronica and she was from Kayo Sirpi, the village where I taught English. Her 3-month-old baby had a high fever, and she was on her way to Puerto Lempira to get medicine. She had been walking for over five hours by the time we met up with her. She had no money for the truck ride. She was counting on the mercy of the driver to take her and her baby to town for free. The layers of rags that covered the baby were completely soaked. We dug through our packs. I had a dirty, but dry, t-shirt; someone else had a small towel; and my friend Jorge had a plastic bag, which we used as a raincoat for the baby.

We were late now, and the truck would not wait much longer, if it was there at all. If we missed the truck, we were faced with another five hours on our bikes, and Veronica and her baby would be in serious trouble. We waded through the swiftly moving river that meandered through the swamp, carrying our bicycles as the water deepened. Veronica held her baby high, as the water was chest deep on her. We pushed our bikes along a slippery muddy path, through the last small creek. Finally we could see the end of the swamp. The truck was there! I thanked the Lord.

We all shivered from the cold, as the half-drunk driver sped down the road. Seven adults and four kids were packed into the back of the small Toyota pickup. At times, the truck fish-tailed on the loose gravel road. We held onto each other and to a big piece of dirty red plastic that kept us somewhat sheltered from the pouring rain.

One and a half hours later, we arrived at Puerto Lempira. Before Veronica left for the hospital, I gave her money to purchase her baby’s medicine and directed her to a skilled nurse I know personally. Fortunately, the baby is fully recovered.
Recently, I ran into Veronica during another visit to Kayo Sirpi. It was an especially humid day in the classroom and I had no water. Veronica noticed how uncomfortable I was feeling and came running over with two cups of water!

These trips to Kayo Sirpi were always an adventure, always different, and always a learning experience. With every trip, my understanding of the lives of the Miskito Indians has grown deeper and clearer.

Mother Teresa, a nun who lived her life within the slums of Calcutta, India, was asked why she lived with such poor people. She responded by saying, “You have to live with the poor to understand them; you have to understand them before you can love them; you have to love them before you can serve them.” Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the biblical principle found in John 1:15: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Jesus left heaven to live among this poor, lost, and broken world. We have tried to incorporate these principles into what we do in La Moskitia: live with the people and serve them by understanding them. It may be Beth teaching English to a people group in Puerto Lempira who, although very wealthy, are spiritually needy. It may be Beth and me teaching biblical truths to neighborhood children each week in our home. Or it may be me, living two weeks a month in the remote village of Kayo Sirpi, listening to the needs of the people, encouraging them to develop projects among themselves, and sharing Christ with each one who comes my way.

PRAY: In La Moskitia, we, our ministry partners, and co-workers struggle with sickness, discouragement, safety concerns, and isolation. Proper medical care and medicine are lacking; and basic needs for formal education such as uniforms, notebooks, pencils, and books are hard to come by. Please pray that we will effectively share the gospel to hearts that have been prepared by acts of understanding, love, and service.

Act!ACT: Are you aware of people who have needs in your community? How can you live out the John 1:15 principle of “living and dwelling among us”? Whether it is through your church, school, or community organization, take a practical step toward loving and serving people who need Jesus.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Prayer Calendar: April 26 - May 2, 2015

This week's mission prayer point has us reflecting on a ministry in Honduras:

PRAY that Bill and Beth Ryan will effectively share the gospel to hearts in La Moskatia, Honduras, that have been prepared by acts of understanding, love, and service.

You can read more about the ministry in La Moskatia in the "Serve by Understanding" article in this issue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Have RV, Will Serve

An excerpt from...

Have RV, Will Serve: SOWERS for the Kingdom

The key to partners in ministry
By Sandy Anderson, Missionary, American Indian Field with Rachel Elwood, Support Staff
April-June 2015

SOWERS: Servants On Wheels Ever Ready to Serve
It’s 8:00 a.m. on a crisp December morning on the Southwest Indian Ministries Center campus in Peoria, Arizona, and Jerry and Tina shut the door to their RV and head to their worksite. Today, they’re tackling a new coat of paint on one of the buildings, and later, they’ll help prep a space for an open house for the local community.
Jerry and Tina are SOWERS—Servants On Wheels Ever Ready to Serve. These men and women are retired or semi-retired and travel around North America in RVs, helping Christian ministries, churches, schools, and camps with various work projects. Jerry is the current president of SOWERS. In the 11 years they have served with the organization, they have worked on approximately 50 projects.

“It blesses our hearts to hear how much money is saved by ministries when volunteers are able to care for much of the repairs and maintenance,” Tina said. “Knowing we’re making a difference makes it all worthwhile.”

SOWERS do a variety of things depending on their skills and the needs of each project. They help with painting, office work, sewing, teaching, tutoring, cooking, and lots and lots of maintenance, repair, and construction projects.

Most projects are a three-week assignment, and SOWERS have set work hours when they volunteer. In return, they are given free RV hook-ups for four weeks, with the last week to allow volunteers to sightsee or to rest and relax. Volunteers choose how many projects per year they do.

SOWERS have been volunteering at SIMC for many years and have greatly helped maintain the campus. We couldn’t reach out to Native Americans as effectively if we didn’t have these wonderful volunteers to help us out.

According to the team who stayed during December 2014, it’s so much better than sitting at home in retirement! One lady shared, “Don’t be afraid to try! Just go ahead and do it. You are able to travel and help out. There is a great need for more people to get involved and many ministries that need the help!”

MORE: Do you like traveling around in your RV? Want to do some good while you’re seeing the country? Go to for more information about how you can join the SOWERS team.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Prayer Calendar: April 19-25, 2015

Your missions prayer point coming from The Call's prayer calendar for this week is:

April 19–25: PRAY for the SOWERS team as they volunteer at Southwest Indian Ministries Center. 

Do you know what SOWERS are? If not you can learn more in the "Have RV, Will Serve" article here. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interview or Intervene?

An excerpt from...

Interview or Intervene?

The key to following the Lord’s leading
By Michael Johnson, Missionary, Out of Nazareth (Pennsylvania)
April-June 2015

Miriam Medical Clinics is Christ’s work in Philadelphia to people in need.
Michael and Kay Johnson followed the Lord’s leading to move from a significant ministry to the least of these in Kenya to the impoverished in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Many may view this change in ministry as risky. Critics and analysts alike will tell you that it is harder for a missionary to raise partners in stateside ministries, but the Johnsons don’t answer to others’ evaluations. They followed the call of the Lord, and this is where their journey is taking them….

He answered without hesitation: “I wash up with a bucket of water that someone brings to our house.”

He looked no older than 9 years of age. He was standing at the clinic door surrounded by his friends and was polite and very clear in his request, “We don’t have water at home. Could I have a bottle of your water, please?”

My wife, Kay, could not believe what she was hearing. “What do you mean, you don’t have any water?” she asked. “What do you drink? How do you wash?”

“I told you,” he repeated, “someone brings water to our house in a bucket. That is how we clean ourselves and get our water to cook.”

As Kay told me this story, we asked ourselves, “Have we left Kenya?”

We have been in Philadelphia for four years since our return from Kenya. We thought we had left the challenges of serving the underdeveloped, impoverished, malnourished, and resource poor. This boy standing at the door and staring at the bottles of water on our shelf tells us a different story.

The distance of 8,000 miles separates us from the culture of a tribal group, but not the culture of poverty.

Why don’t people have access to healthcare? The reasons are many and complex. However, we don’t have the luxury of interviewing. We must intervene. Miriam Medical Clinics is Christ’s work in Philadelphia to people who stare through the glass window separating them from the plenty, while living in poverty. The lack of resources starts with fear and ignorance of an ever-increasingly complex maze of healthcare options or finding help from an overburdened social service safety net.

Poverty looks like this: a mother working two part-time jobs, living in an apartment that has been condemned by the city. She is afraid to alert the city because the rent is so cheap and she doesn’t want to have to live on the streets again with her three children when the city inspectors come. Someone has rigged up electricity and gas for the coming winter and hopefully she can continue to get water from her neighbors. If the illegal faulty wiring and loose-fitting gas pipes hold, they can make it through the winter. If they get caught, they face fines. If they are not careful, they could perish in a fiery explosion.

Mom has already spent time in jail for not paying the truancy fines because of the kids missing school. The kids lived with their grandmother during those six weeks, and the mother thinks her teenage daughter was molested while she was away. The daughter missed even more school and contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

Her son is the child looking for water right now. When she shows up and tells us the whole story, we are certain we are in the right place.

“Just give my son a bottle of water so we can go.”

“Miss, would you care to see our social worker?” Kay asked. “I am sure she can help get your water turned on and deal with the landlord.”

Now she really opens up. “Would you do that for me? I don’t know how to deal with all of these forms and phone calls. I really do know I should get my medicines, and did I tell you about my blood pressure?”

“Yes, we can do that for you. It seems for sure that you are being cheated. This is especially true because you have shown us the inspector’s letter saying the building is condemned.”
I offered to check her blood pressure while I’m at it. It occurred to me that it is difficult to treat asthma for the households where kerosene heaters will be used, and we dare not talk about personal hygiene until we get the water turned back on.

Seeing the doctor is only part of the solution for the people we serve. Our social worker is on hand to help get electricity and gas restored so the kids don’t have to sit around the stove as the weather gets cold. She will deal with the city license and inspection to find safe, affordable housing.

We have determined that it makes as little sense in Kenya as it does here to tell someone to take this medicine on a full stomach, or drink a full glass of water afterward, if neither is available. Our calling is to serve, not determine who is deserving.

At the end of the day, as they say in Kenya, we got her water turned on. Now we can address her health: diabetes, hypertension, and probable electrolyte imbalance caused by her diuretic.

We intervene, then interview. We do so in Christ’s name. We care because He cares. Miriam Medical Clinics is ready to help. We invite you to join with us.

GIVE: Help Miriam Medical Clinics provide patient care in Christ’s name. The clinic needs at least $80,000 for electronic medical records software and retrofitting and outfitting the building. Give online or send a check payable to World Gospel Mission with account #35262 on the memo line, to:

World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Prayer Calendar: April 12-18, 2015

Let's get the week started off right with a new missions prayer point inspired by the "Keys to Missions" issue of The Call. Your request for the week of April 12-18 is:

PRAY for the staff of Miriam Medical Clinics as they reach out to the medically under-served in inner-city Philadelphia. 

Learn more about Miriam Medical Clinics on the World Gospel Mission website here

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Never Truly Retire

An excerpt from...

We Never Truly Retire

The key to keeping active in ministry
By Tracy Dubois, Support Staff
April-June 2015

Carol Trachsel and her Lion Slayers Bible quizzing team at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya.
For many people, retirement looks like an extended vacation. They head south, running from colder temperatures in the winter, and then make the trek back north, running from heat and humidity in the summer. However, as Christians, we never truly retire from ministry. Yes, the types of outreach we are involved in and the locations where we serve might change, but we should never stop doing God’s work.

For Kenya retiree Carol Trachsel, the key to keeping active in ministry has been the Lord blessing her with good health and great ministry partners. Since retiring in August 2007, Carol has delivered Bibles into China eight times, taught English in China on three additional trips, and returned to Tenwek Hospital in Kenya every year.

“Every trip is its own adventure,” Carol shared. “I am always thankful to have many people praying for me as I go, because you never know what is going to happen. When I served as a missionary, I had a lot of pressure to get things done. Now, as a retiree, I do not have any responsibilities or demands on me. It makes serving that much more fun.”
Her housemate and ministry partner for most of the Bible trips to China is her sister, Joy May. Carol took her first trip with Joy in October 2007.

“It was natural for me to go back to China and Kenya, because those two places are both home to me,” Carol began. “My parents were missionaries in China when I was 6 to 7½ years old and then in Taiwan when I was in eighth through eleventh grades. For many Chinese Christians, owning their own Bibles is a dream that seems unlikely to be fulfilled. Our team has been able to bring more Bibles each year, but the need is much greater than we can supply.”

Carol is also active in her local church choir and ladies’ society, and she is looking into a new activity this summer—teaching English in Argentina.

“If a retiree has medical problems, ministering within the United States or going for a shorter period of time are possibilities,” Carol advised. “If they really want to go overseas, they should keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities. There was a time in my life that the Lord was telling me that my ministry was prayer, and I have a lot of people I pray for. Prayer is available for everyone, retiree or not, but retirees often have more time to pray.”

PRAY: WGM offers a variety of prayer ministry options—daily Prayer Calendarweekly Prayer Lifelinemonthly The Best of the Story article, and the quarterly The Call Prayer Calendar on the back of each issue of the magazine. Start making an impact for missions on your knees.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Prayer Calendar: April 5-11, 2015

Your missions prayer point inspired by The Call magazine this week is:

PRAY for a retired person you now who is active in ministry.

Since retiring in August 2007, Carol Trachsel (Kenya) has delivered Bibles into China eight times, taught English in China on three additional trips, and returned to Tenwek Hospital in Kenya every year. 

Want to hear her advice on how she maintains this activity in her retirement years? Read "We Never Truly Retire".

Friday, April 3, 2015

Positive Relationships

Positive Relationships

The key to partnerships in ministry
Larry Overholt, Missionary, Honduras

Partnerships allow us to accomplish more than would be possible if we were working independently of each other. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes gives wise advice on the value of collaborating with others: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor...” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV) and “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12b NIV).
A good partnership improves over time when built on positive relationships. Any successful partnership in missions depends first on our right relationship with God. Most importantly, we must realize that “we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Our primary partnership is when we seek to do God’s will and not our own. All other partnerships depend on our love of God and our willingness to serve Him.
Looking back over our decades of missionary experience, many things have happened due to successful partnerships. Projects were developed, churches built, and relationships healed. All have depended on many people working together, forming lasting partnerships.
Work teams are an invaluable partnership to the ministry on the field. Team members contribute to building relationships in the communities where they come to help. The local nationals feel a deeper relationship with others and an increased partnership in the ministry when they have the opportunity to work alongside those who come on work teams. We have experienced that with church groups, university groups, and individuals who come to work with us.
The most obvious essential partnership is what takes place between missionaries and our support teams. Those partnerships require that both the missionary and donor be obedient to God’s calling for them to serve Him. Missionaries and their support team partnerships involve much more than economic support. Missionaries depend on prayer support. Both missionary and donor share in the joy of the harvest.
Partnerships with co-workers are an important part of working on the mission field. One of the most satisfying accomplishments as a missionary is to arrive at the point where both the missionary and national feel they are equal partners on the team.
Partnerships with universities and university students are necessary if we expect to carry the missionary momentum into the next generation. The university students often provide innovative suggestions and information that help us do our jobs better. They are also our best source for future missionaries.
A partnership that sometimes goes underappreciated is the vital partnership between missionaries on the field and those working in the home office, doing so many things that we are unable to list them all.
As missionaries, we are grateful for each partnership of which we have been a part.

Missions is not a solo job. Larry points out several partnerships you can take part in. Inspired from a few options in this article, pick one of the following ways to partner with Larry and Angie Overholt serving in Choluteca, Honduras:
1.      GO—for a week or two and serve with the Overholts and the nationals in Honduras. Join a team at
2.      GIVE—a financial gift to help fund the ministry of Larry and Angie Overholt. Give online at
3.      PRAY—for the WGM missionary staff and nationals as they work alongside each other. Pray that God will grant them wisdom, clear communication as they work together, and a love for each other that comes from a right relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Prayer Calendar: April 1-4, 2015

It's April! That means a new issue of The Call is here to inspire and challenge our missions prayer points. Join with us as we pray through the "Keys to Missions" edition.

PRAY for the WGM missionary staff and national partners as they work with each other. Pray that God will grant them wisdom, clear communication, and a love for each other.