Using Prayers of the Bible as models for your Prayers (Part 3)

Using Prayers of the Bible as models for your Prayers (Part 3)

Part 3

In this third part, we continue with the premise from Part I, that much of the content of our prayers can wisely be modeled after the prayers we read in Scripture, and in this particular example, from Paul’s prayers in Colossians Chapter 1. (For a bit more context please see the previous blog post of Part 1 of this series as well as Part 2 of the series.) Note: this excerpt is directed toward the Sender who is seeking guidance in the prayer support of a missionary.

“That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing…” (Colossians 1:10)

Phillips ‘ translation puts it, “That your outward lives which men see may bring credit to your Master’s name.” Watchman Nee said, “If you want to be a missionary in China, plan on wearing a ‘learner’s permit’ around your neck for the first ten years!” Due to diverse cultural distinctives and your cross cultural worker’s lack of ability to communicate deeply, it is often the love of Christ working through his lifestyle that gives the Gospel message.

Another perspective, of course, is that “What you are doing speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying!” When your worker’s actions differ from his words, it will be his actions that the people among whom he ministers will believe.

The enemies of the cross gave the name ‘Christian’ (little Christ) to the believers in Antioch (Acts 11:26). It was a dirty word then, but since the followers of the Way were living epistles, known and read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:2), they were easily identifiable. Are we so easy to identify?

A team of college students walked into a remote village in Central America where there were no Christians. Their job was to paint a school building a previous team had built. They were excited to share the Lord, so the weight of their luggage and equipment seemed light.

As they entered the square, they were met by the village captain. He told them that his people had heard all they needed to about this man, Jesus, from the last team. “We don’t want to hear another word you might have to say. Just paint our school building as you said you would. We will watch you. When you have finished, we will let you know if we want your Jesus.”

The team knew that their outward lives would be living epistles, ‘the Word written on the fleshly tablets of our hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). All that they believed about the Word was put to the test in that village. Those students “walked worthy of the Lord”; when they were ready to leave, ten people including the village captain trusted in Christ as their Savior!

 

Shared with permission from Emmaus Road Int’l, Neal Pirolo, Serving as Senders Today, 2023.

 

A Good Shepherd-Ordained Encounter

A Good Shepherd-Ordained Encounter

by Heidi Smith

Sometimes God brings people together in amazing ways for His purposes. I had the privilege of witnessing one such encounter during a week-long visit of two of our short-term mission teams here in Chol-Chol, Chile, the birthplace of the Anglican Church in Chile.

That Sunday morning two teams from Knoxville-area Anglican churches (Apostles and Old North Abbey) had been divided into four groups to visit four different churches in the rural areas outside of Chol-Chol. I served as translator at the church we visited in the community called Laurel Huacho, for team members Greg and Pryor Baird. Near the end of the service during prayers, Gladys, the wife of the lay leader in charge, stood to ask for prayer for her complicated situation of mastitis, a breast-feeding condition that can, when infected, spread. In Glady’s case it had led to very painful and swollen legs. Everyone prayed fervently for her, and after service, we proceeded to the abundant “almuerzo” (Sunday dinner) prepared for us by church members.

After lunch, when poor Gladys finally got to put her legs up, Pryor took me aside and asked some more details about Gladys. “I don’t know if you know this,” she said, “but I am a nurse and I work specifically with women who have complications due to mastitis. Do you think I could ask Gladys some questions?” Well, of course she could ask Gladys some questions! I stared in amazement. No, I had NOT known that Pryor’s work was in that specific area. And no, I had not known that Gladys was suffering with something directly in line with Pryor’s specialty.

I had no idea, but God did. And on that warm late summer morning the Lord had chosen to bring His daughters together, from one continent to another. Pryor gently sat down with Gladys, carefully touching one of her badly swollen legs and was able to explain to Gladys, with me serving as translator, why the mastitis had led to her legs swelling. It was obvious to Pryor that the untreated breast infection had reached Gladys’ bloodstream and had been carried to her legs.  It was now being treated, but it was a slow process. Pryor’s suggestions and quiet words of reassurance seemed to calm Gladys’ heart. Pryor took pictures on her phone of Gladys’ medical reports and prescriptions, and by the time we gathered to pray together for Gladys, we could all sense God’s peace.

I did not know this fact when I began writing this article, but my husband, Russ, told me that the name of Gladys’ church is El Buen Pastor, “The Good Shepherd.” How fitting! Our Good Shepherd knows His sheep and cares deeply for each one. He knew exactly what His precious lamb, Gladys, needed at that moment. He chose to bring another of His lambs from a part of His sheepfold a continent away to minister to His own that morning — Pryor from Knoxville, TN, to Gladys in a remote rural area in southern Chile. His extravagant love was made tangible that day.

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Heidi Smith is a SAMS Missionary serving in Chol-Chol, Chile with her husband Russ.

Meet Anne Schaffer, SAMS New Language & Culture Coach

Meet Anne Schaffer, SAMS New Language & Culture Coach

Athletes at every level have coaches who train and encourage. Voice coaches help singers increase range and match pitch. Missionaries make use of coaches too, and they can be of great benefit.

Anne Schaffer is SAMS newest coach, specializing in language and culture coaching. Anne has a broad range of experience to draw from, having served as a missionary herself and having taught languages at different levels for many years in many different countries and contexts. Her priority is squarely on SAMS missionary personnel, though she coaches others outside of SAMS as well. Yet, when she introduces herself as a language and culture coach, she is sometimes met with blank stares.

She recently explained more about her role to supporters. “I’m passionate about helping those missionaries who are moving to a new country to learn that language and culture so that they can be successful and remain in the field. I mean, moving to a new country is a major event!  And if it’s a location that speaks a different language, basic skills like speaking and listening are no longer possible – let’s pause to let that sink in. Basically, every area of life is going to be impacted and hindered, not just practically, but socially and relationally.”

Missionaries are only human. Some people look at them as spiritual heroes, but in truth they are normal people with normal flaws seeking to earnestly serve God in a fallen world. Yet, they experience major transitions that require extra resources to survive. “But ultimately,” says Anne, “they are relational people that have left behind family, friends and all that is familiar for the sake of new relationships. And in this new culture, they want to introduce people to the relationship that is the most important of all – the Lord himself – so language acquisition is crucial.”

Once in the field, missionaries can discover that there is not a structure or adequate support to advance in language learning. Sometimes there aren’t available resources such as books in their new language. Rarely is there a language school nearby, and if there is one, it doesn’t always provide instruction that meets the learner’s needs. The lack of a “cultural informant” early on doesn’t help either. Finally, expectations of the missionary, either real or perceived, to focus on ministry right away and not devote adequate time to learn the language and culture can be counter-productive and actually exacerbate the already stressful situation of living in a new, unknown environment.

Anne has received consistent feedback from missionaries she has coached, even ones with some formal training, that they don’t know what they don’t know. And she emphasizes that cross-cultural training on the front end doesn’t necessarily eradicate the stress or challenges of living cross-culturally; but it does provide a lens to begin to think differently and to begin knowing which questions to ask.

“Most people are not aware of and do not adjust for the added, underlying stress of cross-cultural living or feel permission to take the needed steps, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and cause them to be less effective than they could be,”  says Anne. “Language-learning is a very large, time-consuming undertaking and can get overwhelming very quickly. Having a coach can help provide the professional and emotional support needed to set realistic goals based on actual language needs. It breaks the process down into small, doable goals rather than living under the weight of undefined goals that can never be reached, which only adds more stress.”

No matter whether the missionary candidates are in the field or are preparing to go, Anne says that her main focus is to help missionaries thrive in their new context by helping them to identify and navigate the cultural issues and practically address their language needs. As the process evolves she finds that missionaries better understand and are better received by those in the host culture. And she adds, “I see reduced stress and an emotional stability being established as the learner develops a sense of control and ownership of the learning process. This all leads to increased motivation to serve the Lord and thrive in the place to which they’ve been called, enabling them to carry out their ministry more effectively and more confidently.”

You can contact Anne via her email AnneSchaffer@sams-usa.org

Anne is a wonderful new resource for SAMS Missionaries and for the Society as a whole. Her tenure as a Missionary with SAMS and another ministry has provided her with the experience and empathy to come alongside others in this critical phase of their transition into the field. She is available to meet with any SAMS Missionary to be a listening ear or for ongoing, structured language and cultural support. We give thanks to God for her new role. Please pray for new Senders to come alongside and support Anne financially and in other key ways as she works alongside our Missionaries.
Abiding in the Father

Abiding in the Father

 

It’s been awhile since our family shared an update about where we are in life and ministry. In a crazy but good series of events, we are back in the US six months earlier than we anticipated! We were presented with a scenario that allowed us to step away from teaching in December (which is a lot sooner than we anticipated) and through much prayer and confirmation, we felt the Lord was giving us this opportunity to step into our new season of partner raising, ministry, and adjusting to the US after not being back for nearly four years. We arrived in the US on January 28th and it’s been a truly wild ride of transition, first time meetings, and old & new friendships, homeschooling, etc. But even though everything is new and exciting (and somewhat exhausting), the Lord and others have put this word on my mind: Abide. 

 

To abide in something means to dwell in it. Even though our lives are made up of many seasons and they usually change and look different every time, we are called to one constant and unchanging season. A season of abiding in the Father who loves us. I’ve found a great peace in this as John wrote ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.’ -John 15:4 Amidst all of the goals we have set, the meetings, speaking at churches, sharing our vision for ministry, etc etc, God still calls us to abide in his presence. And there’s a great peace in knowing that no matter what lies ahead, certain or uncertain, the Father of all creation invites us to dwell with him always. 

 

Please join with us in prayer over our season of living in the US and raising up partners in ministry. We were recently given the opportunity to write a comprehensive article about our ministry in Cambodia for the website The Anglican Compass. If you would like to read that, you can click here.

 

If you would like to partner with us in ministry, you can click this button

High Impact in Honduras

High Impact in Honduras

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Honduras has suffered immeasurably in the last 12 years, during which the country has endured two devastating hurricanes and the slowest economic recovery from the pandemic of any Central American country. As recently as July of 2021, the government estimates that 73 percent of Hondurans live in poverty with 53 percent living in extreme poverty which, among many other things, impacts children immensely.

In the midst of all this, Debbie and Steve Buckner, missionaries at the LAMB Institute, have made ministry to children their full-time focus since 2014. They serve at the Children’s Home, one of several LAMB ministries around Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Spend just a minute with the Buckners and you will not only hear the stories of these kids of various age ranges, but you’ll also hear firsthand the love the they have for these children. “Steve is basically a human jungle-gym for the younger ones,” says Debbie. “And the teenage girls with all their moodiness tend to come to me.”

Kids who have been shunned, orphaned, or impacted by grinding poverty now live in a Christ-centered environment. Showing Christ’s love personally is the Buckner’s trademark. For instance, every year, every child, is given a personal birthday party. “We give each child a personal gift from us, a gift from the Children’s Home, and a cake. All the other kids in their cabin, and any siblings, are invited. We try to be creative with each one and all the kids so look forward to having their own party,” Debbie says.

Steve assists with things like parties, but his main focus is a carpentry ministry. In 2018 a shop was built for him to build pieces that the kids could sell, but with the pandemic Steve had to adapt. “I was already making bookshelves for the school, but then with the new shop I starting making tables, desks, stools, anything that was needed really. But now that we have mission groups returning, the kids are once again selling the items we make and they earn some decent money. Plus, the kids come to me with their ideas of something creative to make.”

Steve adds, “In addition to school, they are learning to run a business. We now have a store and I buy the wood and they make the piece and then they pay me back with the proceeds from their sales. I teach them how to price things and also that raw materials aren’t free – everything counts – the wood, the glue, the screws, the nails, the stain. All of that stuff adds up and has to be accounted for in the price of the item. And they also learn to tithe and give ten percent to the church.”

Debbie is the money person. She has a bank set up and the money is there as the children need it, but the children are counseled by the Buckners on how to manage money and make wise saving and spending decisions. They are taught to save for things they need and they are held accountable to ensure the money doesn’t burn a whole in their pocket, spending it on snack food and sodas.

Money management is central to Debbie because she runs a clothing bodega (thrift shop) and sewing ministry. The kids help run the shop comprised of donated clothing, hats, jewelry, and items that are handmade. The kids share in the profits from the items they sell in which half goes to the kids and the other half goes to buy more material, thread, or whatever is needed.

The role that the Buckners play is evident in the kids themselves. Alex is one such child. “Alex was one kid that was due to be leaving. He was angry all the time and aggressive and never listened, “says Debbie. “He bit Steve. He even fought physically with the pastor.”

Yet they began to see a change. “Since the woodshop opened, he’s a different kid. He started coming to work, and giving him a place to release his energy and creativity was key. Soon his creativity spilled over to a garden at his cabin. He built, by himself, a fence for the garden. He began to farm and grow vegetables. The catalyst was encouragement and really just having a safe place where he could find an outlet for his talents. He’s now a joy to be around, plus he’s good at it and he’s proud of his work. Just recently he’s been confirmed and now he serves the church on the altar guild. He does it with reverence and now knows how to serve on a team with other kids, being a crucifer, and helping the others. Seeing the likeness of Christ in kids like Alex is what energizes us every day.”

My dear friends and supporters,

I have not written a prayer letter in a long time! I have not ceased to be a missionary, but I had ceased to be completely dependent on financial support. However, prayer letters are not just about financial support but also about mutual encouragement and prayer. I repent and I apologize, especially since I do consider many of you as friends and certainly brothers and sisters in Christ.

Life gets in the way! That is certainly what the enemy uses to distract us. Fortunately, in spite of my self-reliance, God has kept me busy doing missionary work. I continue to be an associate missionary with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS). I continue to be President of Osman Hope, Inc. and we continue to help the children and families of Honduras.

As an update on Osman Hope, I will tell you that the last couple years have been a period of adaptation as it has in everybody’s lives due to the pandemic. During the pandemic we had to switch to closing shelters and feeding families by providing baskets of goods every couple weeks. Starting in 2022, we officially opened all the shelters and with the necessary measures are receiving the children and going back to feeding them, helping them with school work and encouraging them with their walk with the Lord and with their life goals. Of great encouragement is that we have several of our high school graduates attending university and have just celebrated the graduation from university of a young lady with an Electrical Engineering degree. Others did not choose the university route but are gainfully employed! Thank you for your encouragement and support as I have walked through this call.

On a personal front, three years ago I decided to move to Florida. The empty nest and the cold weather of Pennsylvania influenced me to move to a very active retirement community. I thank the Lord every day for the move, but I also have to watch my priorities as there is a lot of pull into worldly activities that can zap my energy and take away from God’s work. Although just being the light is good! I am still very close to my Lord and sometimes I am surprised that people notice and react/ respond to the light that is in me because of Christ being in me. I am constantly reminded that it is about “being” not “doing”, but I do believe that doing is good for many reasons.

A new call! Another call? Last September I went to Kenya and Tanzania to fulfill one of my life’s desires, to go on Safari! I had a wonderful time! I loved the people, the animals, the land… I came back resolved that I would go back. Five days after my return from Africa I attended the New Wineskins missionary conference in Ashville, North Carolina. It was there that I discovered that my trip to Africa had a greater purpose than I realized.

SAMS had a missionary gathering/conference prior to New Wineskins. It is a great event of meeting as a society, meeting with the other missionaries, worshipping, spending time with the Lord, etc. As part of this conference, we were broken into small groups to share with each other and encourage each other, be of support. Well, lo and behold, my small group was composed of women who either were or have been missionaries in Africa. By day 2, I had these women laying hands on me and praying for me to discern a call to Africa!

In all of the activities that we did for self-reflection, Africa was on my mind. So, I met with SAMS about this stirring and was given a list of people I should talk to while at the conference since many were there. It was amazing how God orchestrated me running into the very same people I needed to talk to! If I told you how all of that happened, it would take many pages but believe me God was doing His thing!

In summary, I left the conference knowing that God was calling me to do work in Africa. But what about Honduras? Was my question. The answer was and is “You can do both”. In prayer I was given the word that there would be synergy between Africa and Honduras and that one would benefit from the other! Wow! How exciting!

I am in conversation with two different teams of SAMS missionaries in Africa. First, Richard and Martha Menees will soon be arriving in Uganda to work on a project of the Diocese there. They will be working on renovating a site in an island to convert it into a prayer retreat center. They would love for me to join their team to do some project planning, marketing plans and general business planning. As you may remember I have a business background and they do not!

The second SAMS missionary is Lucy Chavez. Her ministry in Kenya helps youth with scholarship, mentorship and very much the same that we do at Osman Hope. During holiday, they do vacation bible school. It is possible that I can help with that.

Where do we go from here? ”But I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord” What I hear is to go to Africa in the Spring/Summer of 2023 to help the Menees kick start their project. There will be a need for canvassing the competition, assessing the realities of the resources and do a reality check of what is possible. Of course, the Lord oversees that!

I will take advantage and visit Missionary Lucy Chavez’s ministry and see how and where I fit in their plans. I believe their holiday time is later in the summer so there would probably be a second trip in the summer. Only God knows. I will probably go to Africa at least twice next year for a period of two to four weeks in between trips to Honduras.

I am excited about the work in Uganda as we plan to work with the locals providing employment as well as forming relationships. We want to involve them in the project creating opportunities to share the gospel while gaining access to their knowledge of the land and culture. I am equally excited about the ministry in Kenya as it is very similar to what we do in Honduras. I love finding fun ways to share the gospel with the youth.

Would you be interested in helping to send me on this mission financially and with your prayers?  Airfare to Africa is on average $1,500- $2,000 per trip. I am not sure at this point what the cost of room and board will be or the local transportation. All in all, I am foreseeing that I will need an additional $5,000-7,000 to be able to go twice and stay 2-4 weeks on each trip.

All I know is that the Lord has put the burden on my heart to go to Africa to make disciples of all nations!

So, I humbly come to you to ask you to partner with me in this mission to Africa while still helping in Honduras. You can help in prayer, encouragement and financial support. And I promise, I will keep you informed of God’s miracles on this journey because you know there will be many!

For His glory,

Margarita

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

As I have delighted in Him, He has placed the desire to go to Africa in my heart!