5 Mission-minded Books to Read

5 Mission-minded Books to Read

Here is a short list of books that focus on mission and other related topics. What mission focused books have you read and recommend? Leave a comment!

 

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

The Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life’s purpose. Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God’s call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God’s call in my life? How do I fit God’s call with my own individuality? How should God’s calling affect my career, my plans for the future, my concepts of success?  According to Guinness, “No idea short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment.” With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

 

Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed. Elisabeth Elliot is also a founding member of SAMS-USA.

 

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good.

But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to himself.

Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

 

Getting Sent: A relational approach to support raising by Pete Sommer

Raising support is one of the most difficult challenges facing Christians in ministry. Fears of rejection, concerns about biblical validity, feelings of not being deserving, anxiety about limited resources can all block us from obtaining the means to fulfill our calling.

Getting Sent both affirms that God uses the Christian community to send us into ministry and demystifies the process. This down-to-earth handbook offers a clear, biblical perspective, gives step-by-step instructions on how to assemble the tools unique to each person’s support-raising task, explains exactly why people do and don’t give, and much more

 

Waterbuffalo Theology

by Kosuke Koyama

Kosuke Koyama was a Japanese theologian and former missionary to northern Thailand. Waterbuffalo Theology gives a very interesting picture of cross-cultural missions with some of the theological and practical issues that arise in regard to contextualization.

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

 (Mark 10: 27)

 

October 2018

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As Maria Isabel and I were praying on Mark 10: 17-31 (The rich Young Man) we re-discovered a brief and marvelous elucidation of the Gospel: If you want to partake of eternal life, you have to risk everything on which you trust for your safety and stability, share those things with the needy… leave everything behind… and then follow Jesus. Later on, He will multiply everything you gave away (not without troubles/persecutions), and in the age to come He will give you the ‘bonus’ of eternal life.

We can tell you from the bottom of our hearts how true is the Gospel. In our long missionary career we have left ‘something’ behind, and God has already abounded in countless blessings at every level of life. However, we are currently going through a temporary trouble*. Our SAMS Missionary Account has become below zero. Nobody expects, and let alone desires that kind of hardship. We invite all of you, dear friends and supporters, to join us in giving thanks for the multiple blessings we have enjoyed in the past, and also to pray to God, so He would send us the generous and sacrificial support we urgently need to make our ends meet. God is great and good all the time. We trust Him from the bottom to the top.

With the advice and blessing of our Bishop, we are now mostly concentrated in three places: Iglesia de la Gracia, a new ministry we started on the day of Pentecost in Oceanside, CA. This is part of Grace Anglican Church. We are learning a lot through the combined efforts of some Hispanics and   ‘Anglos’ (regardless their level of Spanish) with a heart for the Latino people and our culture. We have come to understand how crucial is having a good soil for the seed. The ‘Anglos’ are the good soil for the seed -the newcomers-, who experience God’s love, grace and acceptance from the seasoned believers.

Maria Isabel continues deeply committed in a discipleship path with a bilingual group at St. Stephen’s Anglican in Tustin, CA. Both of us are still connected with Christ the King Church-plant in Ramona. CA We’re praying for opportunities to connect to the Hispanic Community there, starting especially in Advent and Christmas seasons.

*  Our current need is US$15,000.00 to bring our Missionary Account where it needs to be. You can, as always, either send a check to SAMS (with “For the Marentes” in the memo line), or go to the SAMS website. This is the new link:

 

https://give.sams-usa.org/missionary/juan-and-maria-marentes

 

The snail-mail address of SAMS is: PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003.   If you need more details, please contact Denise Cox at DeniseCox@sams-usa.org, Phone (724) 266 0669. She is the SAMS’ Associate Director

We give thanks to the Lord for having you as faithful and tireless supporters over the past years. May God’s richest blessings come on you, your families and ministries.

 

Versión en Español

Al releer una porción del Evangelio de Marcos (10: 17-31) pudimos volver a entender el Evangelio en pocas palabras: “Si quieres tener Vida Eterna, tienes que arriesgar todo lo que significa seguridad y estabilidad para ti… compartir esas cosas con los necesitados… dejar todo atrás y seguir a Jesús. La promesa firme es que El multiplicará todo lo que abandonaste -aún en esta vida- y luego te dará como ‘bonificación’ la Vida Eterna.” El complemento de la promesa es que, no por ello desaparecerán mientras tanto todos los problemas y dificultades.

Hasta el día de hoy podemos dar testimonio de la certeza de la promesa de Jesús, el Señor. Lo poco que hemos dejado atrás se ha tornado en ricas bendiciones a todo nivel. Sin embargo no faltan ni faltarán las dificultades. En estos días, por primera vez en 24 años, nuestros fondos para la Misión están bajo cero. Les pedimos el favor de unirse en oración con nosotros para que el Señor, dueño de todos los recursos en el mundo, mueva a corazones generosos que puedan apoyarnos como siempre en el pasado.

Tenemos ministerio interesante en tres lugares, vinculados a Iglesias Anglicanas locales: 1) Grupo de discipulado bilingüe en Irvine, CA., 2) Iglesia de la Gracia, ministerio Hispano, en Oceanside, CA., 3) Exploración de posibilidades de acercamiento a la comunidad Hispana en Ramona, CA.

Hemos agregado arriba los enlaces para donaciones a través de SAMS, nuestra agencia misionera.

Oramos también por ustedes, amigos y socios en la Misión de llevar el Evangelio hasta los confines de la tierra.

The Rev. Juan B & Maria I Marentes

 

 

10-Year Celebration Story # 3: Looking Back to See Ahead: The Gift of Presence

10-Year Celebration Story # 3: Looking Back to See Ahead: The Gift of Presence

Looking back to see ahead:

The Gift of Presence

by Ron McKeon

This is the Third story in our Celebrating 10-Years of Ministry in Brazil. It is often said that when we look back into our past history, even back to the beginning in the Old Testament of the Bible we can better see with confidence why it is so important to trust God enthusiastically with our future. I agree and that’s why we are writing this series.

When we first heard God’s call to be missionaries in Brazil we were in the midst of our theological seminary education at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. It has been more than 10-years now and we are still learning why God called us here to a community in the upper Northeast corner of Brazil. Learning to speak Portuguese was the farthest thing from our minds as we pondered this calling to Brazil.

In my opinion Portuguese is a language with far more rules for pronunciation and grammar than our native English and perhaps even a few more than the Hebrew and Greek we studied in seminary. Now that we have become permanent residents in Brazil for the past two and one half years, learning and using exclusively this beautifully sounding Romance language has become one of our top priorities.

Bringing hope to cancer patients

However even in a place where Portuguese is the national language there is a growing number of Brazilians more interested in practicing their English with us than helping and occasionally correcting our conversational Portuguese. There are many occasions when I will be conducting my end of the conversation in Portuguese while my Brazilian friend will be conducting their end of the conversation in English!

Our first “Cell Group” where the purpose was to foster a sense of belonging (I hate this photo of the back of my head…but…Debby insisted it tells a story).

As we look back at our ministry in Brazil to see what might be waiting for us in the future it is critical that we ask the question, “Where has our ministry impacted life change in Brazilian children and adults?”

This question has added significance when you factor in that our five adult daughters, son-in-laws, and eight grandchildren reside thousands of miles away on a different continent in the United States.

As we did our analysis there was one common denominator that emerged. It was not our ideas, programs, preaching or teaching that most impacted life change for the better. It was our mere presence and the building of personal relationships that provided the catalyst for change.

God invests in us with His presence. Our living God, creator of all things, made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in the presence of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for eternity. In return God asks only that we return to God the first fruits of our time, energy, labor and our wealth.

Debby investing time in building relationships making soup twice a month for the neighborhood.

Debby and I in reflecting on our rearing of five daughters, for example, have learned the importance of simply being present in the lives of our children was the greatest gift. The culture of this world talks about the importance of accumulating money and making investments with it for the future.

We have learned that the best return on investment occurs when one person invests their life in the life of another person. If time is a gift from God, as many say it is, then isn’t reasonable to conclude that we should return the first fruit of this gift by paying it forward by investing our life in the life of another? We submit the answer is yes!

Let me recount one of many examples of a return on investment as a result of investing our lives in the life of another. Each week our church meets in small “cell” groups to foster in each person a sense of belonging and to discuss the life application of the sermon we heard on Sunday.

Our current cell group meets in the church. During one such meeting, one of our members from the neighborhood, Amanda, a mother of four children, made reference to a sign hanging in our church that referenced the growth that takes place in cell groups and personal discipleship. Amanda then said she now feels like she and her family belong and she wants to be discipled. Turning to Debby, Amanda asked Debby to disciple her. The look of surprise and joy on Debby’s face and Amanda’s face when Debby said yes, says it all.  

Celebration Story # 2: Encouraging Local Community Involvement in Mission

Celebration Story # 2: Encouraging Local Community Involvement in Mission

The Blessings of Involving the Local Community in Mission

by Debby McKeon

During several of our early return trips to Brazil we brought handmade rugs to distribute to families and churches. Here is that story:

I enjoyed my time as a member of the local Curves fitness center in Ambridge, PA, , owned by Whitney Gresham. The camaraderie, health benefits, and community involvement was very appealing. Twice a year food drives have been held to bring donations to local food donation centers.

Some years ago, a knitting class was held at Curves to teach how to make knitted yarn squares for a patchwork afghan blanket. The blankets were raffled off to raise funds for Relay for Life, a cancer fundraising event.

Then after a devastating hurricane in Haiti, a class was held at curves to learn how to make “plarn” which is yarn made from plastic grocery bags, and then crocheted into large mats. The mats were shipped to Haiti and used as sleeping mats for children orphaned by the hurricane.

Handmade small bedside plarn mats continue being made today as an ongoing project for American service men and women serving overseas. Recipients of these foot mats have written to express their gratitude for having a mat to scruff the sand off their feet before getting into their bunk.

Debby with kids on handmade story time mat

This Ambridge, PA community outreach benefitted our ministry in Brazil as well. Some of the large mats were not the specified size needed for sleeping mats, but were perfect for use in Brazil. These large colorful plarn rugs were stuffed into our suitcases and brought to Brazil. The plarn rugs were distributed to various churches and used as floor coverings in classrooms for children’s story time during Christian Education classes, and in individual homes in neighborhoods where churches had outreach ministries. Many of these homes had a combination of dirt and rough concrete floors.

This was a Compassion Ministry neighborhood in Cabedelo, Paraiba, Brazil. A Ministry founded by Bishop Marcio Meira and his wife Pastor Linda.

Then Pastor, now Diocesan Bishop, Marcio Meira and his wife, now a Pastor, Linda receiving Plarn Rugs for the families of their Compassion Ministry in Cabedelo, Paraiba, Brazil.

Currently, I now have plans here in Brazil to involve the wider local community in the teaching of how to make plarn from plastic grocery bags for a variety of items, from story mats to women’s purses. I will write more about this in future newsletters as this aspect of our mission in Brazil unfolds.


Story # 1 – Celebrating Ron & Debby’s 10-Year Brazil Anniversary

Story # 1 – Celebrating Ron & Debby’s 10-Year Brazil Anniversary

Developing Curriculum for the Spiritual Growth of Children, by Debby McKeon

I had been involved in Christian education for children for a number of years. While I was attending seminary classes I was introduced to the writings of Sofia Cavalletti and her belief of building on the capacity for faith already present in each child. The foundation of Christian education has already been initiated by God, and the teacher then provides the environment to build on faith that already exists. I believed I was to bring this curriculum to Brazil. But how was this to be accomplished? Here is that story:

Like building blocks laying the foundation for the next level, each step led to the next. First I attended a seminary level Christian Education course which led to a 3 day Christian Education seminar on a Story telling method using simple manipulatives. In 2008, I was then invited to present an overview of this curriculum during a Christian Education Seminar for the Diocese of Recife, Brazil.

Those in attendance were eager to use the story telling method in their parishes, but it was not available in Portuguese. While preparing for that first overview presentation in Brazil the husband of our host family suggested I use Google Translate first and then have it reviewed by someone who spoke both Portuguese and English well. We knew just the person; a SAMS-UK missionary in Joao Pessoa had the skill and the time to help me.

The next step began in the USA, translating the actual curriculum. With the help of two dedicated woman who knew English and Portuguese and many Saturdays, myself, Ivy Lacerda, and Debora Wortham, worked out a plan and set to work. We would prepare a 6 to 8 story curriculum that I would present in a Saturday workshop in Brazil. First the Advent/Christmas stories were presented, then the Lent/Easter stories, then Old Testament desert stories and New Testament stories, then Liturgical Action stories. It was a 2 ½ year project.

Upon arriving in Brazil for each three week mission trip the next step of preparation was the fabrication of story materials using local resources. A “Kit” was made for each workshop participant to use in their individual parish. During the workshop each participant learned the stories and how to present the materials with voice and action skills to engage the child’s imagination. Sometimes Ron would comment “I just come along to carry the luggage, Debby is the rock star”.

The Challenges: Each story needed to be rewritten to translate for a different culture, void of any Northern Hemisphere references. Time is not measured by seasons in Brazil, idioms do not translate well, and the many ways people approach daily life vary by culture and sometimes neighborhoods. There were no “Big Box” craft stores, so shopping for materials was a time consuming adventure and labor of love.

The Blessings: I learned that reading ability did not determine who could be a good story teller. The workshop participants with lower reading skills had excellent memory skills, and told the stories well from memory, not needing to glance at the printed story. Upon presenting the stories in their church, one seminar participant said, “I was delightfully amazed how the story I told with simply made manipulatives held captive the hearts and the imaginations of the children for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Progress Report

Progress Report

Dear Friends – I arrived safely as scheduled in the evening of 29 July.  Passport control was interminable, but I breezed through customs with no questions.   I was met by Sam Vu, son of my sponser (who was out of town conducting a funeral) and was taken to my hotel.  I am on the 6th floor overlooking a busy little park/playground abutting a large pond.  On Monday my host picked me up on his motorcycle such as hundreds here ride and we went off to the school.  The first week was getting me settled, learning the ropes and becoming familiar with the setup.

I came prepared with my own set of teaching materials which will not be of much use.  The curriculum here is vastly different than the one I was prepared to use, but I am making progress in learning the new one.  It takes about ten minutes to walk from the hotel to the school and for thr most part when needed  my little collapsible umbrella has been sufficient  to stave off the almost daily rain.

We had a staff retreat last Wednesday which was really just an outdoor excursion and excuse for fellowship and getting to know one another.  I am acclimating to the food, not hard to do, and the hotel generously provides all the bottled water I can use.  My room is quite comfortable, if basic, with a queen bed, big bathroom and a nice shower the water of which nearly scalded me the first time I turned it on. The hotel provides a decent breakfast buffet and the school provides lunch.

We will have just under fifty students and nine teachers.  Last night was a parent orientation and Monday is the opening session for students.  I am prepped and ready get started.

At home I usually jog a couple of miles in the early morning, and I brought my shorts and running shoes, but have only used the shoes for the trek to the school.  Things get started early and, unlike cooler mornings at home, the humidity and heat are already oppressive by 7:00a.m.

Stay tuned for updates