Adults

To Refugees, with Love

refugee children registering for school

It looked like a normal apartment complex in the western part of Las Vegas, Nevada. Vickie McDaniel and her husband, Eric, went to check it out, but they weren’t interested in the actual facilities . . . just the occupants—refugees.

It was just supposed to be a time of prayerwalking and asking God’s love to shine. But God had bigger plans! He asked the North American Mission Board church planters to move to this complex and let the refugees experience His love firsthand.

“We prayed daily, spent time in His Word, and allowed the Holy Spirit to show us where God is at work in our community,” Vickie McDaniel explained. “God spoke to Eric and I. He wanted us to move so as to be more accessible. . . . This allowed us to meet, help, love, and build relationships.”

Missionary Spotlight Update: Eric and Julie Maroney

Maroneys

Relationships are everything in Croatia. It takes years of living through the good and bad together to create a certain level of trust. Eric and Julie Maroney are ready to live through some of the good.

Soon after filling out the WMU questionnaire for the story about their family in the April issue of Missions Mosaic, Julie was diagnosed with cancer. It was not a convenient time for the diagnosis—the Maroneys were leaving their eldest child, Nathan, in the United States at college after 19 years of living in Croatia with the International Mission Board (IMB). The diagnosis brought their active lifestyle to a standstill.

After a year of cancer treatments in the States, Julie received the “all-clear” to return home to her neighbors and friends. Eric, Julie, and daughter Kayleigh didn’t just pick up where they left off; they entered Croatia running to keep up.

It’s Worth Your Time: Reach out to Refugees

reaching out to refugees

Have you ever moved to a new place where you didn’t know anyone? It seems as if it takes forever to find your way around and get used to new roads, grocery stores, and schools. Without family or friends nearby, it’s easy to withdraw.

Then it happens. A new colleague at work or person at the church you’re visiting offers some advice or recommends his or her most trusted mechanic. Life gets easier and you settle in. While we can probably all identify with this experience at one time or another, can you imagine doing it without knowing English? The majority of the refugees in our midst encounters this reality daily.

We focus in our churches on the need for refugees to learn English, and that is important. But in the meantime, how do they find housing, enroll their children in school, and understand how to get insurance or a driver’s license? The details of life can be overwhelming for a person who has never had to register his or her child for school or go to the health department for immunizations.

The Impact of a Friend

two women having coffee

As we look at this month’s focus on relationships, I am drawn to think of how our commitment to friendships impacts missions. When Jesus sent out His disciples on their first missionary journey, He sent them out 2 by 2. We need each other. Even in missions, God wants us to have someone to travel with, to share with, and to do missions with.

I remember Michelle, a friend of mine in a past season of missions. We were ministry partners. We prayed before each house we visited and held each other accountable for spiritual goals. One time when my husband was out of town and I was ill, she stayed with me until I had enough strength to take care of my children. God used her in my life for 5 years until He moved us to another place of service.

Loosening Our Grip on Time for the Gospel

young woman holding pocket watch

One of the first differences you learn about when you’re living in a different culture is how people value time.

In the United States, we love schedules and strictly adhere to them. We spend money on agendas and apps that will help us manage our time. We make sure we’re on time for meetings and lunch dates with friends, because being late says we don’t value other people’s time.

South Asia, on the other hand, is completely different. Being late is OK, whether just a few minutes or a few hours. Things don’t always start at the time they’re scheduled. Getting from one place to another on time is a daily challenge due to traffic in some places.

South Asians don’t value their relationships any less because they’re late or because they see time differently. In fact, they might value them more than Americans. For them, spending time with people, no matter the hour or what they have going on later in the day, is important.

As followers of Jesus, spending time with people should be just as important to us. No matter our culture, people whom we’re close with but who are far from a relationship with Jesus should be those we are investing in regularly.

Sacred Space: Margin in Motherhood

mom and daughter playing

When I was in my early 20s, I stayed busy all the time. If I had downtime, then I felt lazy. Each hour of each day was planned and filled accordingly.

The main issue with this is that each hour of each day filled to the brim leaves little room for interruptions. When we are in relationships with people, interruptions happen. When we have children, more and more and more interruptions occur.

After living in a South Asian culture where relationships take priority over everything and then having 2 babies, I have learned that not every hour of every day needs to be planned in such a way that I cannot allow for interruptions.

It’s in these interruptions that I have found some of the deepest relationships, the most treasured memories with my children, and gospel-centered conversations simply because I was able to add a little margin in my schedule and life to welcome a disruption.

When You Just Can’t Seem to Find the Time for Relationships

young woman checking watch

Relationships are one of the greatest gifts God has given us. God has created us to be relational beings—first in a relationship with Him and then in relationship with each other. Relationships bring blessing and joy into our lives and provide us with the love and support we have been designed to need. But often we find ourselves struggling to balance deep friendships and the busyness of life. Consider these 3 practical ways to make time for relationships.

Recommend a reoccurrence.

Relationships deepen as we regularly walk through life together. A great way to do this is to set fixed times so that every week (or month) at this particular time you know you will be meeting. Ask a friend or group of friends to meet regularly with you, even if those meetings are at odd times. The scheduling may be difficult, but the payoff will be great.

Mobilize the mundane.

5 Tips to Strengthen Relationships

young women at park

God established the idea of community in the Garden of Eden, and this theme is woven throughout the Bible. But if relationships are so foundational to Christian life, why do we often struggle with them? There is no easy answer, but we can take some steps to improve and invest in our friendships.

Transform your mind-set. Instead of seeing relationships as time-consuming or difficult, consider how they can enrich your life. Since American culture places such a large emphasis on timeliness and productivity, it is easy to forget to make time for others. To change this mind-set, it is helpful to remember that God sees each person as precious and worthy. When developing relationships, it is essential to embrace this mentality. People are important, and spending time in fellowship with others helps you learn and grow.

Be present. When you spend time with people, remove distractions. Put your phone away, and try to go somewhere without TVs or loud music. Slowing down and unplugging from technology allows you to engage in the current moment and demonstrates respect for your relationship.

“Race” to Reach Your Community with a Missional Scavenger Hunt

In The Amazing Race, competing teams travel around the world to complete challenges in their pursuit of the $1 million grand prize. Plan an Amazing Race–style scavenger hunt to energize your missions group and reach out to your community.

Divide your group into teams (3–5 people is ideal). Give each team a list of challenges to complete within the time frame of the game. Teams should start with the required task and then choose which optional ones they will complete. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner (recognize the winning team at a church service or with a small prize).

Ready, set, go! Blow a whistle to send teams on their way. Play music to create a race day atmosphere.

Mission Scavenger Hunt

Assign 1 person to be the scorekeeper for the game. Instruct each team to select a team member to serve as reporter and send a photo of the team completing each challenge to the scorekeeper. Distribute the scorekeeper’s contact information (mobile number, email, Facebook messenger, etc.) to reporters.

No Longer Alone

“Our work is all about building relationships,” Kandi Ostertag said. She, husband Matt, and children Kaitlyn and Mckenzie have served in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years. They lead a team of International Mission Board (IMB) church planting missionaries in the Bajío (central highlands of Mexico). They also encourage and help Mexican church planters as needed.

The Bajío covers a large area. As a result, many house/simple churches planted by the IMB and national partners over the last several years feel alone. Kandi Ostertag said the church plants often feel like “the ugly duckling and different from everyone else.” Since they differ so much from traditional churches, the house/simple churches’ sense of isolation can grow intense.         

To help overcome such feelings, the Ostertags host retreats and other events for these churches. Those activities allow church members to “get away from everything and have time with the Lord.” They also foster prayer support, encouragement, and friendships.

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