Missionary Mom: Stephie Van Wagenen

Missionary Mom: Stephie Van Wagenen

The recent publication of The Messenger features testimonies about moms on the mission field. This article is an extension of this edition. Read The Messenger here.

My husband Hunter and I are currently Missionary Candidates living in Greensboro, North Carolina, and preparing to move to Spain to serve as missionaries on the Camino de Santiago.  Over 300,000 pilgrims a year walk along the ancient paths of the Camino, many seeking something spiritual to fill the void in their lives, and God has called us to establish a hospitality ministry there where we can care for pilgrims and share with them the love of Christ.

Before Hunter and I were married and called to Spain, I lived in Ethiopia and served with a Christian organization called Water is Life International.  I lived with another missionary family, but spent most of my time traveling and working on my own with a team of Ethiopian colleagues.  I often spent long days in the back of a Land Rover, bumping through the bush of southern Ethiopia, spending time in local communities and working on well drilling projects.  Living and serving on the mission field as a single person was very different from what I anticipate it will be like when Hunter and our son Asher and I move to Spain to serve there.  One of my greatest struggles during my three years in Ethiopia was loneliness and living far away from family and friends.  I felt the pressure of “being on my own” in many ways.  While marriage is not a solution to loneliness, I do expect that it will be a very different experience going to Spain and serving as a family unit.  I anticipate there will be great comfort in that.  

My desire is that our ministry would flow out of our family, and that our children would be an active part of it.  Even now in Greensboro, 7-month-old Asher accompanies Hunter on pastoral visits and helps to bring comfort, joy, and peace to others in our congregation.  While this is a simple thing, it represents what we desire for our future ministry with our family.  Once we are established on the Camino, we dream of our children helping with chores around the hostel and bearing the hope of the Gospel to weary travelers.

I am a new mom and it has been a journey figuring out how to juggle all the roles and relationships I am blessed with in my life, especially while we are in the intense season of partner development and preparing to move to the mission field.  I draw support from God, resting in him and leaning on his strength.  Hunter is an incredible support to me and loves and serves me well.  We are extremely blessed by our families, and by our community at Church of the Redeemer who continue to bless us and be so generous to us.  “It takes a village” is no joke!

We continue to pray for God to raise up new partners to step into ministry with us, especially those who have a heart for Europe and the lost.  If anyone is interested in learning more about our ministry, or joining us through prayer and financial support, they can contact me at stephievanwagenen@gmail.com or visit our support page on the SAMS website here.

Goats and the Gospel

Goats and the Gospel

Greetings from Jack and Mary McDonald!

I [Mary] just returned from an incredible trip with this team (above photo left to right, Jessie Kuniholm, Mary McDonald, Lina Godine and Jack McDonald IV) sharing Christ and giving goats in Uganda. Below is a testimony from vet student Lina:

“Up, up, up we climbed along a dirt path that had been carved into the mountainside by bare, calloused feet that daily trod the red dust.  The rolling green hills perched atop each other and reached magnificently toward heaven.  Our guides, Batwa children who had run down the mountain to greet us, eagerly led the way to their small village on top of the highest hill.  The view was enchanting.  Sunflowers, corn rows, and tea tree fields dotted the hillsides like patchwork.  Banana leaves waved lazily in the wood-smoke scented breeze, as if to acknowledge our arrival.  Next to the hill, densely wooded mountains heralded entrance into the Impenetrable Forest.  Those mountains had once been home to the Batwa pygmy people.  However, they were expelled from the forest in the late 1980s when it was made into a national park in order to preserve the endangered Mountain Gorillas. No longer able to live the nomadic life of their ancestors, the Batwa turned to agriculture, yet they received little aid and training from their new neighbors, who treated them as outcasts.  Our reason for visiting this Batwa village was twofold: 1) to provide animal healthcare training and institute a revolving goat loan program and 2) to provide hope through the message of the Gospel.              

We began the workshop by reading scripture to help frame our discussion about why and how we care for animals.  Every animal belongs to the Lord (Psalm 50) and He has called us to care for His creation (Genesis 1), (to be a steward is to care diligently for something which is not your own).  God Himself is our example of how to care for creation.  He is a faithful and generous Creator, providing shelter, food, and water for the animals so that they are satisfied, not just meagerly sustained (Psalm 104).  Following this, we began a discussion about goat nutrition.  The Batwa joyfully scampered around their hilltop to collect samples of the local forage, and we reviewed which of these plants are nutritious and which are poisonous.  A discussion of the importance of daily access to clean water left many villagers surprised that the addition of soap and salt to the goats’ water is unnecessary and potentially harmful.  We continued the training on shelter and security, characteristics of sick and healthy goats, and goat reproduction.  Yet the real meat of the conversations was not the valuable animal healthcare training, but the presentation of the Gospel after the morning workshop.  After all, how can a person recognize the value of an animal and care for it appropriately until they have first recognized their own worth as a human being created by God, loved by God, and called by God to dwell with Him forever?

 Our team was treated to a woodfire-cooked lunch consisting of goat (meat is a rare delicacy for many poor villagers), rice, beans, posho (water and finely ground maize cooked to the consistency of rubbery dough), and fresh avocados and bananas.  Following the meal, Rev. Dr. Mary McDonald shared the Gospel with a people group much like the ones that Jesus spent time with—the outcasts, the mistreated, the neglected, the marginalized, the people with seemingly no hope, the spiritually lost and thirsty.  Into that darkness Jesus shown, and He still shines today.  What a true joy and privilege it was to share that Hope with a people group that longs to know that they are noticed and cared for and loved!  A holy hush fell over the crowd as the Batwa listened to this Hope and intermittently confirmed its truth with head nods, smiles, and softening countenances.  Although it is impossible to know people’s hearts it was exciting to see so many of the pygmies were eager to ask Christ into their lives. 

As I listened to this presentation of the Gospel—a message that I have heard many, many times—I was reminded again of the profound power of its simple truths.  Friends, let us daily remind ourselves of this joy and hope, and let the knowledge of its power in our lives never become mundane and fade away.”

Thank you for your prayers and support. If you would like to help us as we disciple vet students, minister to internationals, take seminary classes and work in Uganda we really need monthly supporters $25, $50.00 or $100.00 monthly. Would you consider giving?

A Chapter Ends, A New Begins

A Chapter Ends, A New Begins

From SAMS Associate Missionaries Wayne and Nicole Curtis

As you know, we returned to the United States in late February. I will be honest; transitioning back to life in the U.S. has been difficult, much more difficult than I was expecting. It has been a year of ups and downs and mixed emotions, but God has been faithful, seeing us through the rough patches with the love and support of our family, friends, and partners in ministry. For the most part, I think I have struggled more than Wayne. For him, it’s a new country, life, and adventure. For me, it has been a time of emotional and spiritual grappling, trying to redefine what “home” is for me. My old life and home in the U.S. has changed because I have changed, my family has changed, my country has changed. Redefining home has been sad but also joyous. I left as a single person and returned as a wife and mother. My life has never been so full of joy, and I’m beginning to feel more settled as I begin to define home for my family.
 
We do miss our life and ministry in Cape Town, but we keep up as much as possible with the work of Growing the Church. In October, GtC hosted their fourth International Anglicans Ablaze Conference, and it was the largest one to date. The youth track had more than 750 youth, and I think Wayne and my leadership of the 2014 and 2016 youth tracks helped to make the 2018 one a success too. And in so many other ways, our work still exists in the hands of local South Africans, and that is the way it is supposed to be.
 
Thank you for supporting us through prayers and finances through the years. It has been a privilege partnering with you in ministry. We are so grateful that you joined us for this chapter of our lives. We appreciate your prayers as we continue to live into this new chapter of our lives.

SAMS 2018 Annual Report

SAMS 2018 Annual Report

We give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done this year. SAMS has sent 120 missionaries into the field this year, with the help of 2,657 senders like you!

View the SAMS 2018 Annual Report in its entirety here!

SAMS Joins AGMP to Reach Young Adults at Mission Conferences

SAMS Joins AGMP to Reach Young Adults at Mission Conferences

Society for Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS) joins the collaborative effort of Anglican Global Mission Partners at the Urbana Student Missions Conference, St. Louis, December 27-31, 2018

Dedicated to calling whole-life, whole-world disciples, Urbana is an eye-opening global missions conference, a sacred space for college and graduate students, faculty, and church leaders to hear God’s call.  SAMS will once again be at Urbana seeking to connect with young adults who are discerning a call for crossing cultures to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Additionally, the mission network Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP), that SAMS is a part of, will exhibit at the conference and for the first time will coordinate a collaborative exhibit in the Outreach Section that will bring together Anglican Frontier Missions, Global Teams, New Wineskins Missionary Network, and Trinity School for Ministry (in the Seminary Section).  The partners will be ready, eager to guide and pray for participants as they seek what God might be calling them to.  You may discover more at https://urbana.org/.

If you are coming or are sending young adults, please email Jenny Noyes at jenny@newwineskins.org, the AGMP Exhibit Coordinator.

AGMP will also host a Saturday night reception at Urbana.  All who have an interest in mission and how Anglicans are engaging in this mission around the world are welcome to join us at a meet and greet reception with food and drink at 9:30 p.m. on December 29.  We will gather at J.F. Sanfilippo’s Restaurant (in the Drury Inn & Suites just one block from the Dome at 705 N. Broadway) on Saturday immediately following the evening session.  Bring a friend!  Contact Nita at nitadempsey@sams-usa.org if you desire more details.

Urbana is letting students know about mission trips in which they can participate.  If you have upcoming mission trips planned that would welcome the addition of college students, please email Jenny at jenny@newwineskins.org with those details as well.

Following Urbana, SAMS will also be represented at the Cross for the Nations Conference, Louisville, KY, January 2-5.  “Cross exists to see our generation live for the most loving cause in the universe: bringing people from every tribe, tongue, and nation into the everlasting joy of knowing and worshiping Jesus.”

Please pray for the SAMS teams composed of missionaries, missionary Bridgers, and staff that will be representing the Society at these upcoming university student and young adult conferences:  Urbana Student Missions Conference, December 27-31; Cross for the Nations Conference, January 2-5; and Jubilee, February 22-24.  Pray also that many young people will respond to the Lord’s call to the nations.