Missionary Stories

Just Another Mom

Tomoko joined the small group meeting at Miriam Christy’s home mainly as a chance to meet other moms—particularly expatriates who were living in Peru. Tomoko and her husband had moved to Peru from Japan for his job.

Each week, a group of moms gathered at Miriam’s home to hear her teach chronological Bible storying. In the course of the studies, a mom at the local school died of cancer. Miriam decided for her next study she would discuss what the Bible says about suffering and sorrow.

Tomoko later told Miriam that she was raised in a nonreligious home and had had difficulty believing in a god because of suffering in the world.

“Of course there is no God, because how could there be a god if things like this happen,” she would think.

After Miriam’s Bible study, though, Tomoko’s perspective began to change. When Tomoko’s husband lost his job, she said her first thought was, “There is no God!”

“But then she remembered what I had taught her and she said, ‘God is good, so maybe God has a better plan and this is just a part of it,’” Miriam said.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Holly Procita

The scent of buttery popcorn filled the community center as neighbors gathered for a movie night. Southwinds Church in Calgary, Alberta, partnered with the local community association to host the event. Holly Procita, community outreach coordinator for the church, and other church members served popcorn and juice to the 200 people who attended.

“It was the largest event of its type at the community center!” said Procita, who also serves with the North American Mission Board. “Pray that we can continue to provide opportunities for our neighbors to encounter our church family in fun and exciting ways.”

She recently helped train church planters in how to organize and host sports camps. She has hosted similar camps, and now she is helping church planters in Calgary and Edmonton use camps to reach their communities.

“I have learned a lot in the past 5 years and am really enjoying sharing what I’ve learned with these men and women who are reaching other parts of our city with the gospel,” she said.

The Campus Calls

Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, Sarah Martinez had a close-up view of what full-time ministry looks like. Yet she never thought that would be her calling until Christian Challenge recruited her to work at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, as a collegiate missionary.

At first, Martinez felt unworthy and ill equipped for the task God was calling her to do. However, she soon learned the wisdom of Hebrews 13:20–21 (NIV): “Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will.”

The mission and vision of Christian Challenge is to evangelize, disciple, and develop leaders. It shares the gospel and walks with students, equipping them to lead ministry and plug into local churches to utilize the talents and gifts God has given them. Martinez had no training in these areas, but God knew exactly what she needed. The hardest part came when she learned she would have to raise her own support. Her family and friends did not support her quitting her job to go into full-time ministry.

Mie’s Hope for Japan

Mie was born and grew up in Osaka, Japan; attended the University of Findlay in Ohio; and then returned home. She got a full-time job that moved her to Kobe, where she met Mark Busby, an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary. They married in 2001 and in 2003, she became the first Japanese citizen to be appointed to Japan by the IMB.

One way Mie helps Mark lead the IMB team in Tokyo is by helping the other missionaries understand the life and culture of the Japanese people. Since Mie is Japanese, it’s natural for her to talk with the Japanese women and that’s where her ministry focuses. For the past 10 years, God has used her to minister to women who have children the age of her 2 children—John and Michelle. The work moves slowly; only recently did one of the women ask Mie to pray to Jesus for her family. Once when she tried to talk to a close friend about Jesus, she cut Mie out of her life and never spoke to her again.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Hernando Cardenas

Church planter Hernando Cardenas might say while everything changes, in many ways, everything stays the same. Families come to Chandler, Arizona; some are brought into Cardenas’s church; but after a short time, several families leave the area. Although Cardenas is reluctant to see these families leave, he knows this is one way believers take the gospel to other areas. In the meantime, new families join the local Hispanic community and the challenge is renewed.

Cardenas continues his ministry of friendship by helping local Hispanics find jobs and housing. By offering them help with basic needs, he and others show the love of Jesus in the most practical ways.

“We are adjusting to these changes and changing our mentality to see that the church in Chandler is a missionary hub for the Hispanic world. As for me and my family and the leaders I am training, we live to spread the good news of salvation.”

Cardenas continues to have chronic health problems. Pray he is able to continue his vital work among Hispanics in Chandler and Casa Grande. Ask God to encourage him and other believers as they provide a vital ministry to this transient population.

Meeting Challenges and Opportunities in Ukraine

Linda Gray faces daily challenges as she serves as a single missionary in Kharkov, Ukraine. Whether dealing with vehicle maintenance problems, overcoming preconceived notions about Baptists as a cult, or working with leadership in the churches, Gray knows where to seek help, where to give a strong witness, and where to cooperate for the proclaiming of the gospel message.

Almost 98% of Ukrainians would identify themselves as Christian because they were baptized into the Orthodox church as infants. But only a small percentage of Ukrainians are born-again followers of Jesus. Though Gray has been a missionary for 18 years, she has spent 13 years in Kharkov. In previous years, she worked with church women’s groups, small-group Bible studies, and English as a second language, but now much of her focus is helping to minister to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in her region who have been displaced by war.

Starting Over Again

For Loren and Karen Dickey, the beginning of 2017 brought many challenges as they moved from Veracruz, Mexico, on the Gulf Coast inland to the Bajío. This region is considered the “Heart of Darkness,” the least reached area in Mexico, where only about 2% are Christians. This was the Dickeys’ fourth move in 18 years as International Mission Board missionaries in the Americas (having served in Nicaragua, Chile, Peru, and Mexico), but they sensed that they were “starting over again.”

From the onset, the couple knew this move would be different. Even though they only moved to another state in Mexico, they are learning the culture of the Bajío. They are also “still getting a grasp on Mexican Spanish,” which is different from the Spanish they’ve used before.

Missionary Spotlight Update: David and Regina White

Missionaries David and Regina White in Guatemala share that the believers in Nearar are making an effort to share the gospel in the Nenoja area, which is about an hour’s mountainous walk away. The Whites share that the citizens of the spiritually dark Nenoja area have been resistant to evangelical efforts thus far but believers from Nearar have been attempting to visit in the area every Saturday. Pray for the family in Christ of Nearar as it leads the effort to reach those in Nenoja and for the lost who need the hope of Christ. Additionally pray for the church in Nearar as it pursues building a facility in which to worship.

The Whites ask for continued prayers for their Sunday Bible studies in Nearar and Thursday gatherings in Muyurco. Additionally they will be participating in and encouraging Bible studies on Sunday evening in Chiquimula and Zacapa for which they covet your prayers. Lastly lift up the Whites as they continue work this spring while transitioning to depart for stateside assignment in July.

Breaking Down Walls and Building Relationships

A circle of friends surrounds Melissa* and lays hands on her shoulders as they pray for her healing from breast cancer. Deborah squeezes Melissa’s arm in encouragement and to remind Melissa that she’s not alone.

Melissa and her family attend Harvest Church at Anthem, which Deborah Bishop and her husband, Mike, planted in Florence, Arizona. She had not been attending the church for very long before she received the cancer diagnosis.

“Melissa has said more than once how thankful she and her family are that God brought them to our church because of the love and support they have received,” said Deborah, a North American Mission Board church planter. “They love hearing the Word of God preached each week and she says that it always speaks to her and her family.”

Recently Melissa’s cancer went into remission.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Garth and Patty Leno

On February 10, The Gathering Windsor helped some very special members of its community make lifetime memories when the church hosted Night to Shine, a prom night experience for people with special needs.

Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is centered on God’s love, which made it an ideal outreach event for The Gathering, whose mission is to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a Facebook post, Pastor Garth Leno wrote that the church was “praying that God [would] empower our planning team to create an unforgettable event that will make every participant feel like a King or a Queen for the night.”

The event held special meaning for Leno and his wife, Patty, as their 30-year-old daughter, Jamie, attended Night to Shine—her first prom. The event was a significant opportunity for the church as well, Leno said.

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