MissionAry Letters

Below are several missionary letters that we have received in the past month.

Please pray for them as they are in all parts of the world dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

Tim and Amy Moline

Thank you for your gospel partnership!

 

A quick look: God is currently teaching us many things; Tim and Amy share one thing they're learning.  Our ministry on Converge's Impact Team requires travel to sub-Saharan Africa and we believe that establishing a travel base in Spain is wise. While we pursue a visa to get to Spain, we are still very involved in ministry. We have a number of ministry trips slated for 2021. This week, Tim jumps into virtual teaching. 

What God is teaching us

  1. Keep our eyes on Jesus – it was easy to distracted by busyness and consumerism before COVID but now the disruptions of COVID threaten our sense of wellbeing too.  In Christ, we have much to be thankful for and no reason to be anxious.  We want to and need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Amy listens to "The Next Right Thing" podcast as a way to stay the course. 
  2. Language of lament – Lament is capable of carrying great pain, confusion, disappointment, etc. to God, in faith, for his glory. Psalm 13 opens with the question – How long, O Lord…?  There is so much we can bring to the Lord Jesus with just this one question. But we are not left in trouble, Psalm 13 ends with hope, recognizing all that we have in Christ, with these words “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  Biblical lament leads to joy and hope. 

Opportunities & Prayer Requests

 

1.  Amy is writing an audio bible study on the book of Ruth and helping to produce the audio recording of the Ephesians bible study in French.   Pray for Sylvia, Dan and Amy as they record; spiritual warfare increases during the writing and recording phases. Also pray that these resources will change and strengthen women's lives. 

 

2. Tim is advising four faculty members of the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary as they finish their Doctor of Ministry projects. Pray for the students in this discipleship process, to finish their projects, to strengthen the church and to reach the 17 least reached people groups of Cameroon.  Praise God for four additional faculty members who graduated in May!

 

3. Pray for three trips that are planned in 2021.  Praise God for an anonymous partner who contributed $3,000 toward Amy's travel expenses.  Give - Click on the button below if you'd like to make a special donation towards travel. We are still focused on going and making disciples of Jesus Christ, so we plan to travel to: 

  • Cameroon – April 5-30, 2021 – Tim will work with the DMin students and to disciple pastors and church leaders using biblical lament.  Amy will train and lead audio Bible studies with materials from Gospel Joy International.
  • Ethiopia – 2-3 weeks in June – A vision trip to evaluate a theological education opportunity.
  • Cameroon – 4 weeks in Sept/Oct. – Tim will work with the DMin students and to disciple pastors and church leaders on biblical lament. 

4. We continue to explore establishing a travel base in Spain. We believe moving to Spain can facilitate travel and ministry in sub-Saharan Africa.   Will you join us as we pray for a way to get a visa into Spain? Normal channels are closed due to covid. 


Thank you for partnering with us. Thank you for your continued support prayerfully and financially. We are blessed to have this great team of "rope holders" walking through such unique times with us. 

Serving together for God’s glory, Tim and Amy
 

 

Joel shaffer

Highlights from the ‘Hood- Urban Transformation Ministries

 

"UTM's mission is to break the fatherless cycle in urban communities through the transformative gospel of Christ”

 

UTM Continues to Disciple Fatherless Students and Pivots to Create Online Learning Pod Center

 

As we continue ministry amid Covid19, I am reminded by the Proverb in Scripture that "You can make many plans, But the Lord's purpose wil prevail." (Prov. 19:21 NLT). When we pivoted our ministry to respond to the anticipated Covid19 spiritual, social, and economic needs of UTM students, families, and neighbors, there were many unknowns that we were dealing with, especially regarding issues of employment. Therefore, some of the initial goals that we set in our Covid19 response have not panned out the way we thought they would, particularly with our Hustle City program. However, the discipleship that we are doing among neighborhood teens continues to move forward. Several of our mentors and parents took advantage of the D.A. Horton video-based discipleship tools from the Urban Youth Workers Institute as a resource to help our students learn more about Jesus, including how to grow in and live out one's faith in Christ. Several teen UTM students have also joined a small group Bible study in our neighborhood facilitated by Jim and Jodi Bartels, missionaries with Navigators I:58 who are close ministry partners with UTM.

 

At the same time, God opened the doors to help disadvantaged neighborhood teens with their online education during the COVID crises. During the last two months of the 2019-2020 school year, UTM volunteers prevented three UTM students that attend Northpointe Christian from failing their online schooling classes with tutoring and accountability. Little did we know that our initial experience facilitating online learning would prepare us for other tutoring opportunities in the future.

When the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) announced they were doing complete online schooling for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year, it overwhelmed many hard-working single parents in our neighborhood. In partnership with New City Church, UTM responded by starting an online learning pod center (OLPC) three days a week for disadvantaged teens attending Riverside Middle School, Union High School, and elementary school kids from Palmer. At this moment, we have a waiting list of fourteen disadvantaged students that would like to join the OLPC. We need many more volunteers that are willing to donate two hours a week tutoring students to help complete their assignments either on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursday afternoons from 3 to 5. If you are interested, please contact UTM staf member Davien Fizer for more information at 616-466-9140.

 

UTM Staff Teaching the Church

Throughout 2020, God has enabled UTM staff to teach Christians on current issues such as race, poverty, social justice, and the gospel. Right before COVID hit in March, I led two workshops at a statewide church ministries conference. In the first workshop, "Social Justice, Secular Sociological Ideologies, and the Gospel," thirty people learned about Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality. We evaluated them from a biblical worldview while promoting a biblical social justice that does not distract the church from its mission to make disciples. The second workshop was taught by myself and Rev. David Drake, the lead pastor of Crosswinds Church in Godwin Heights and serves as a UTM board member. Another thirty people took part in a discussion on applying the gospel to different social problems to make a difference in broken communities through discipleship fueled by loving your neighbor.

 

In August, UTM staff member Davien Fizer, volunteer staff member Percy Hammons and myself were invited to participate in a panel discussion on race in the Sunday morning service of North Park Baptist Church. Not only did Davien and Percy share personal accounts of how they've experienced racism, including stories of racial profiling during police stops. but we also covered topics such as Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, how the Bible informs our conversations about racial issues, and how to pursue gospel-centered justice and reconciliation.

 

Over the past several months, I provided several consultations with ministry leaders, either in person or through zoom, that wanted advice addressing social issues of race, poverty, and justice in their ministry context. This included Woodside Bible Church and their Christian Community Development efforts in Pontiac, Michigan, where they run a similar ministry as UTM's ManUP program.

 

Becoming the Outreach Deacon at New City Church

In November, I will transition at New City Church (NCC) from one of its Elders to outreach Deacon. For the past 9 years, I've served NCC on its council of elders, helping lead pastor JT Richards oversee the vision, implement its mission to make disciples, and care for the congregation's spiritual needs. However, for the past several years, NCC has needed someone more on the ground level to facilitate its outreach efforts and equip its people to share the gospel and make disciples within its urban, multi-ethnic context. The move to outreach deacon better utilizes my spiritual gifts and will strengthen UTM's connections to NCC and other churches in the community. As UTM has evaluated its own discipling efforts, we are concerned at the recent lack of church involvement with several of whom we disciple. UTM must not replace the local church but rather be a strong, vital outreach arm that brings people into the assembly of faith. Pray that this transition will bring even more gospel fruit in the lives of the fatherless youth and adults we serve.

 

UTM Needs Your Help!

Since UTM is gradually returning to a ministry rhythm in its discipleship of fatherless youth and adults and since the number of COVID cases has spiked as we move towards winter. we need to make sure to take all necessary precautions to keep our students, volunteers and staff safe. We are looking to raise an extra twentyfive hundred ($2,500) dollars for UTM’s online learning pod center to purchase plexiglass shield desk dividers and clear face shields for our volunteers as they interact with students. If you are interested, you can donate either online through UTM's webpage by clicking the Network For Good donate button at utmgr.org/home or write a check to UTM sent to our mailing address at 214 Spencer St. NE Grand Rapids, MI. 49505 with a note designating the gift to the OLPC.

John & Susie Briggs - Togo, Africa

Two sweet girls, Rokiatou and Febarine are both amputees and have suffered much.  They face a very altered future. Having been treated for cancer here at HoH for seven months, they are now done with their chemo and ready to go home for awhile. 

During their stay, Susie has tried to keep these bright, young ladies from boredom by providing them with books, games, drawing activities and showing them how to make rubber band bracelets, etc.  They love watching the “Jesus” film, and can read well. 

There is some openness to the Gospel among them and their sweet moms.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will clarify the truth to them!

Last Saturday, Susie had the fun of accompanying Rokiatou and Febarine, along with their pediatrician, Dr. Kelly, to a Catholic center that makes prostheses.  (We are so thankful for this place which is just an hour away)  Sadly, we do many amputations due to the high volume of accident victims and patients with advanced infections that come to us.  

Though Rokiatou and Febarine need to wait four months for their leg wounds to heal, they were able to get registered and learn what is involved in getting and using an artificial limb.  The cost for their prostheses, about $900 each, is daunting for each of them.  Please pray for these two young ladies as they face their new future,  especially asking that they (and their families) will see their need to embrace the lasting hope that only Jesus offers them.

 

We currently have 5 young girls with cancer and one young man at HoH, ranging in age from 3-21.  Four have needed amputations. One, Sadiya, is the girl with quite advanced cancer (whom some of you know about), and is quite resistant to the Gospel.  We’re thrilled that she’s doing much better physically at the moment—was discharged from the hospital to the cuisine—and has even been smiling! Please pray that God will reveal the Truth and hope of Jesus to Sadiya soon!

*Update:  HUGE PRAISE!   Sadiya  is much stronger physically AND has agreed to do a Bible study with a colleague and I...beginning this week!!

 

“Mama of the Cuisine” – Susie’s affectionate name for this mom of another long-term patient of John’s. Though from a city known for its dark M stronghold, Mama was drawn to the Gospel message, and has embraced it personally!  She joins the Bible discussions at the cuisine when she can, and recently expounded on how Jesus forgave the men crucifying Him, so we should forgive others!  Pray for Christian community for her as she returns home in a month, and also that her son, Malik, will be drawn to the Gospel.

 

John continues to have four Bible studies with different Togolese men each week, in addition to his surgery responsibilities at the hospital.  (A third surgeon recently arrived, easing his schedule some, for which we’re thankful!) 

On the family front – God blessed our family with two new granddaughters in 2020!  Logan McKenzie (February- Ryan and Jenna), and Eliza Riley (July-JT and Kelly.)  They join cousins Emma (3 1/2, Bruce and Bekah) and Maddie (3 ½) and Oliver (16 months- Ben and Candice.)  Our quiver of grandbabies is joyously growing, and how thankful we are for each of their little lives!


There is much physical suffering here at HoH. Great poverty. Not much future hope, humanly speaking. Yet we, who have it so very good, are privileged to show Jesus’ love to these wonderful people here at HoH, in tangible ways. And best of all, we can share the hope Jesus brings, that anchors and outlasts this temporary life! 

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support, that enable us to have these front-row seats to the beauty and power of the Gospel!  It’s a joy to be your representatives.

AnnA Barnett - Converge

In October 2019, I had the opportunity to attend a training for a program that Converge has adopted and is using as a tool to serve U.S. churches in their global engagement. During this three-day training, I met a new Converge IM global worker, Brian Lusky. Little did I know I would be video chatting with him a year later about Converge’s Japan Initiative that he is leading.

 

In my recent video chat with Brian, he shared a powerful story. During a visit to Japan last year, he met Pastor Fujiyabu who has an incredible ministry serving those who are struggling with thoughts of depression and suicide. His church is located near a cliff (pictured below) that is commonly used as a place where those who are wanting to end their lives go and jump. Knowing this, Pastor Fujiyabu and his church have a sign at the cliff telling those who read it that God loves them. The sign has the personal number of Pastor Fujiyabu on it for struggling individuals to call and seek help. For those that do make the call, they are housed, receive care, and are told the gospel. Brian recalled during his visit with Pastor Fujiyabu: “When we met, he looked me in the eyes and asked me to come soon and to find new workers to come and help him minister to the hurting and the broken.”

 

Japan is the second largest unreached people group in the world. This may come as a shock—it did to me—but despite Japan being a developed country, it is spiritually poor. Many Japanese experience high levels of depression due to deep levels of shame and pressure. Such widespread depression has resulted in Japan having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The country of Japan needs the saving hope of Jesus Christ!

 

Brian Lusky, along with his family, will be moving to Japan in 2021 to serve as the leader for the Japan Initiative. The Initiative will be focusing on multiplicative church planting, raising up disciples who can make disciples, and training indigenous leaders among the Japanese. Brian is currently working on recruiting a new team of cross-cultural workers that will live and minister in Japan. Along with building a solid team, he has been connecting with organizations and Japanese churches that are already ministering in Japan.

 

By now you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Anna’s role in the U.S.? What’s the connection?” Both of those are great questions! Individuals like Brian and other Japan Initiative team members are driven by the vision of God starting a Gospel movement among the Japanese people group in this lifetime. But in order for the Gospel to be spread across the country, there must be other people and churches who are committed to this ministry and will partner with the Japan Initiative. Such people and churches are not confined to the country of Japan. People from all over who have a desire to see unreached people groups come to know Jesus Christ can take part! As a Church Mobilizer, I will get to serve U.S. churches and connect them with global opportunities like the Japan Initiative.

 

Ministry partners like you who donate their prayers and resources to my role as a Church Mobilizer play a significant role in bringing the Gospel to the least-reached people groups around the world. Thank you for the time you have spent in prayer, the financial donations you have made, and the encouraging words you have shared. I am blessed and thankful to serve alongside such faithful ministry partners!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  •          Praise God for the team He is forming to live in minister in Japan
  •          Praise God that my monthly support is at 18%
  •          Please pray for those in Japan that have yet to commit their lives to Jesus Christ,
  •          Please pray for God to provide more ministry partners
  •          Please pray for all Converge IM global workers, especially during this COVID season.