Mission Stories

Missionary Spotlight Update: Bart and Jane Anne Gibbs

drummers

During this very hot season in West Africa when daily temperatures can soar to more than 100°F, Bart and Jane Anne Gibbs need your prayers. “The heat and humidity sap one’s strength, resilience, and patience,” Jane Anne said. Disruptions to electricity and water service don’t help. “Cuts in service interfere with everyday life to the degree that it is a challenge sometimes to maintain a positive outlook,” Bart said.

Traveling around the region to mentor and supervise other missionaries is rewarding work, but during this season, trips are long, hot, and fatiguing.

Another source of frustration is Internet access. Burkina Faso’s Internet service has been described as “the world’s slowest and most expensive,” Bart said. “In this world of ‘connectedness,’ everyone is expected to easily access the Internet. We also must report about our work and finances regularly using Internet that is sporadic, slow, and frustrating. Waiting on downloads or uploads can seem like such a waste of time when we would much rather be with people, but part of our job requires that we communicate electronically. It can be a struggle to find a balance.”

Spiritual Change Can Start at Home

city lights of Salt Lake City

Seven years ago, Adam and Paige Madden moved to the Salt Lake City metro after growing up and serving churches in the Midwest. It was a definite change in scenery. While the mountains of Utah are beautiful, the dismal spiritual landscape is where these North American Mission Board church planters are hoping to see change.

Much of the area is steeped in Mormonism, and less than 3% of the population of northern Utah claims to believe the gospel. The Maddens are part of a church-planting effort called Christ Fellowship, and as the executive director of the Golden Spike Baptist Network, Adam is seeking to see more churches planted.

In church planting, changes don’t happen quickly, but the same isn’t true of the Maddens’ family life.

“A couple years ago, our family experienced a pretty significant transition. We went from a family of 7 to 11 in 1 year,” Paige said.

Share Who You Are by What You Share

sharing over coffee

When people ask you to share a little about yourself, are you inclined to begin by describing the different hats you wear: mentor, mother, teacher, or the like? Some titles indicate relationships we have formed, while others describe a status. For Ross and Shirley Mackin, sharing who they are means living out their Christian faith in their relationships. The Mackins, International Mission Board church planters in Thailand, are active in sharing who they are by what they share with the people around them.

On one occasion, the couple went to see a woman named Rose* at her chicken and rice stand on the main road where Ross had once distributed tracts. But Rose was not there. She had pointed out to Ross the direction where she lived, so Ross and Shirley decided to drive that way, hoping they might spot Rose outside her house. As the couple were driving, they saw Rose in her garden. God had led them to her, and they were able to follow up with some good conversations.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Cynthia Martin

Cynthia teaching English

Cynthia Martin and her husband, Tom, feel as if every refugee who comes their way in Las Vegas is sent there on purpose by God, and over the past year, that has included a number of Afghani families.

“The men speak English because they were translators for our US military in Afghanistan, and because of that, their families were threatened and then had to flee Afghanistan for safety,” Cynthia said.

They may speak English well, but their wives don’t, and so they approached Cynthia to ask if she would be willing to teach their wives.

“I was already teaching 2 classes per day, but they could not attend those classes,” she said. “After praying for wisdom, I knew that God had brought these women to Safely Home [Refugee Ministry] and I needed to engage with them.”

So she started a new class just for them so they could bring their children with them.

“That meant that at the end of an already full day, I had 2 more hours of teaching approximately 8 Afghani mothers with about 15 preschoolers running around,” she said.

An Inside Peek into MK Schooling

I zipped up my backpack and stepped outside into the dark night. To arrive at school on time, my dad woke me at 5:30 each morning. Faith Academy was over an hour away, but I was used to the commute. Outside, the street was quiet. My next-door neighbor was a senator, and I imagined he and his family were still snug in their beds. Sometimes I climbed onto our roof after school and peeked into their stately property. They had the nicest private pool I had ever seen in the Philippines!

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.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Week of Prayer for North American Missions missionaries

It’s in our DNA as Southern Baptists to pull together as a community of believers and spread the gospel.

In the 1880s, Annie Armstrong pioneered the Maryland Mission Rooms, a missions literature library that detailed and circulated information regarding vital needs on the missions field. Armstrong called for women’s groups throughout the United States to pool their “egg money” and prayers for missions. Women knew that by combining their efforts, they could make an impact.

It might be 2018, but the goal remains the same. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering enables North American missionaries to plant new churches, care for those in the community, and reach the lost all across the United States, Canada, and their territories. It is one of the most unique cooperative offerings in that 100% of the gifts go to support and equip missionaries.

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.

Communicating the Gospel to Women in Mill City

Missionary Sarah Landry has been serving for 6 years in Mill City, better known by most as Lowell, Massachusetts. The city’s nickname comes from its influential place in Industrial Revolution history. Landry works among the city’s college students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and with women of all ages through Mill City Church.

Discipleship is the central part of Landry’s work. “I spend much of my time meeting one-on-one or in small groups, sharing the gospel, and mentoring college students and young women in the local church,” she explained. This requires building relationships with women who might be very different from her. It also requires time. “These relationships are a long-term investment, especially in New England, where it can take time to gain a foothold for the gospel to be heard,” she said.

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