SAMS is pleased to introduce you to new Missionary Candidates and Bridgers!
Hunter and Stephie Van Wagenen: Long-term Missionary Candidates to Spain
Hunter and Stephie Van Wagenen are called to minister along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile long pilgrimage that draws over 300,000 spiritual seekers a year. Hunter and Stephie hope to plant a hospitality ministry along the Camino so that they may proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to pilgrims. Hunter and Stephie are currently raising their support. Visit their page here!
Michaela Ray: Bridger to the Dominican Republic
Michaela will serve in the San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic with SAMS Missionary Cathy Donahoe assisting Cathy in her physical therapy ministry. Her home church is Christ Church, Plano Texas. Keep an eye out for posts from Michaela on her missionary page here.
Madeleine Ruch: Bridger to Brazil
Madeleine is from Wheaton, IL where her home church is Church of the Resurrection. She has felt a strong call to mission to Brazil. Madeleine will be serving at the Casa da Esperança in the Diocese of Recife under the authority of Bishop Miguel Uchôa. Visit her page here.
Jessica Tetirick: Bridger to Uganda
Jessica Tetirick will serve with SAMS missionary Mary Chowenhill at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda. Jessica has a background in finance and accounting. She will serve alongside Mary through business ministry. Jessica’s home church is Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Read her recent blog post for more about her calling to mission!
Meet David and Mary Beth Alenskis. They are missionaries in Belize where David is serving in ordained ministry by strengthening local leaders in two Anglican churches as well as in the local Anglican schools. Mary Beth is reaching out to the youth through music in both the churches and the schools. Learn more about their ministry and calling.
The church in Belize needs more thoroughly-trained leaders who are willing to serve inside and outside of the church in pioneering ways, to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to embody his excessive and supernatural love for sinners. As SAMS missionaries, David and Mary Beth are dedicated both to serving as leaders for Anglican churches and schools in Belize and also to training up new leaders who will continue to grow and deepen the Body of Christ.
David has been called to serve as the Priest-in-Charge (Senior Pastor) of St. Andrew’s and St. Hilda’s churches and as chaplain for St. Andrew’s, St. Barnabas’, and St. Hilda’s schools. In addition to providing pastoral ministry on a local level, he has been serving more broadly among the western churches and the nation-wide Anglican diocese. In particular, he has been raising up newly ordained and lay ministers, and the goal is to continue this leadership development to the point where these local communities can disciple new believers, cultivate new ministries, plant new missions, and establish new schools.
Mary Beth will be taking her first steps in this missionary endeavor! Though it’s all a little new, she is excited to join David in his life and ministry in Belize. Mary Beth will be working with the women in the church (possibly through women’s groups and bible studies), as well as using the gifts God gave her in music to accompany for the churches (as they are currently doing all services a cappella), and work with kids in the church or school teaching them music and praising God.
“I have always loved the idea of missions, but never expected to be a missionary myself. That’s not to say I wasn’t prepared to serve God where I am, I just never figured that it would be on the foreign mission field. But, as God brought David and me together to share our lives, he has also been bringing us to share in missions. I have visited Belize now three times, and I am looking forward to beginning life as a missionary next year!
If you are trying to discern God’s will for your own life, pray that the Lord will give you clarity, and then open yourself up to the clarity that he brings. When his direction within your own heart matches up with what “seems good to us and to the Holy Spirit,” I think you will be astounded by the places the Lord will take you!
Missionary life wasn’t my original plan. Missionary life wasn’t even my back-up plan. I knew I wanted to serve God, but I didn’t know what that would look like. But through prayer and discernment, God has brought me to this next step in my life where I get to share the Gospel, serve Him and others, all with my best friend here in Belize. ”
That the Lord would give them health, and heal them when illness occurs.
That the Lord would grant the financial support necessary to continue serving in Belize.
That the Lord would guide their ministerial candidates as they discern God’s will.
That the Lord would daily fill them with his Holy Spirit, his fruit and his gifts.
That the Lord would cultivate their hearts and minds to serve wholeheartedly in Belize.
That the Lord would keep them diligent in meetings, study, prayer, and worship.
That the Lord would facilitate communication between them and their ministry partners.
Welcome to the SAMS-USA blog! Here you will find the latest news about SAMS Missionaries, information and updates from SAMS as an organization, and happenings in the Anglican community. We are kicking off a new blog series, Meet SAMS-USA, where you will learn about us as a missionary sending community and the missionaries we send around the globe.
SAMS sees itself as a missionary sending community supporting the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Ourmission is to raise up, send, and support missionaries to be witnesses and make disciples for Jesus Christ in fellowship with the global Anglican Church. SAMS seeks to fulfill this mission because we are commissioned by Jesus to do so. SAMS exists to be a bridge of support between sending churches here in the U.S. and the Anglican Church internationally. SAMS exists to lift up Anglican Churches and missionaries as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission.
One of the earliest Crossroads Training for long-term missionaries.
In 1844, Allen Gardiner, an English naval officer, felt a call to share the Gospel with the Yagans, an indigenous people group in South America. Gardiner along with six other missionaries died of starvation in the hopes of sharing the Gospel with those who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Gardiner’s death inspired many to continue his mission, and thus the South American Missionary Society was founded. Others committed to the mission reinitiated the work in South America, and when they arrived on the shores of Argentina and began a Eucharist service, all except the ship’s cook were attacked and killed by the Yagans. Six years later, a 17-year-old named Thomas Bridges continued the mission. Bridges was able to bring the love of Christ to the Yagans, and even those who had killed his friends were moved by the forgiveness Bridges embodied. Bridges baptized many of the same people who speared his friends to death, and the Lord transformed these lives.
Missionary Heidi Smith (left) has been a SAMS Missionary for over 30 years.
Jumping ahead to the 20th century, SAMS-USA was founded by Great Commission Episcopalians in 1976 to address the major decline of missionaries being sent around the globe by the church. At a time when many thought missions to be unnecessary, the founders of SAMS-USA wanted to bring awareness to the importance to make disciples of all nations and revive missionary sending to South America.
SAMS-USA is now known a Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. SAMS Missionaries serve around the globe, bringing the Good News to those they serve.
Today, God has called SAMS to branch out globally. Reaching not only South America, SAMS spreads the Gospel to Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceana, and North America. SAMS is now known as the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders with over 90 Missionaries, Bridgers, and Teams of all ages.
Robert is from Quito, Ecuador and Cameron is from Durham, NC. Their sending church is St. Matthew’s Spartanburg, SC. They are serving in Quito, Ecuador.
Cameron serves as the Director of the Short Term Ministry Department at Youth World. On average there are 300 people a year that come through this interdenominational para church organization to serve and to learn. She also teaches youth ministry and short-term mission classes with a youth ministry training and resourcing branch of Youth World.
Roberto serves as the Worship leader at an English speaking church, as well as a music ministry/ band called Gedeon. He also runs a Christian recording studio. Roberto has is degree in Pastrol theology from seminary school at SEMISUD in Ecuador.
They serve, intentionally forming relationships and discipling almost every socio-economic level in Ecuador from the poverty class (where the majority of the short-term teams and individuals minister) to middle class (training and resourcing youth ministries as well as local church bands that want to record worship music) to upper English speaking class (at the English speaking church).
They feel their ministry is to promote empowerment, discipleship, training, leadership development, opportunities to record music and song to further the gospel. They help support fellow NGO’s with video and music production so that they may further their ministries as well.
A special ministry program they have is a scholarship program called Education = Hope, which exists to provide for the education on children in desperate and difficult places.
God started calling me (Cameron) to the mission field in the fall of 1998. I was working as a full-time youth minister in SC and had a very skewed perception of what a missionary was (I thought they were doctors, teachers or Bible beating freaks) and the last thing I would ever want to be was a missionary! I was at a national youth worker’s convention when God, being much bigger and wiser than I am, began to change my perception of missionaries and the reality that someone with my gifts and passion could and perhaps even should go into mission. God opened the door to work with Youth World in Ecuador which exists to address the reality that 95% of the world’s trained youth leaders live in N. America working with roughly 5% of the world’s youth population. Our mission statement reads Youth World exists to identify, train and equip leaders to impact young people and their families to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
So my call was to continue in youth ministry, but in a different context. I was elated when I felt like God was calling me to Ecuador, for about three seconds, and then I was terrified. I did not speak Spanish, or even know where Ecuador was on a map! I spoke with my rector and he help set up a discernment committee, and then began conversations with SAMS about how to work with a multidenominational organization (like Youth World) but still stay linked to my Episcopal church and background.
Cathy is from Grand Junction, Colorado, and has been sent by St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Grand Junction, Colorado. Cathy is serving in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
Cathy’s has been serving our Lord in the Dominican Republic since 2007 using her skills as a physical therapist. Her vision of this ministry has been to be working with the people of the Dominican Republic to help improve the health care offered. Health, in New Testament terms, is the capacity of individuals, families and communities to work together to transform the conditions that develop, in a sustainable way, their well-being, spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, economically and environmentally. As a physical therapist, Cathy has been facilitating this through both treating patients and training people in physical therapy skills. This has been happening at the Asociación Dominicana de Rehabilitación branch in San Pedro de Macorís as well as nationally through the ADR. Cathy has been to Haiti for brief periods as well, teaching in a program training rehabilitation techs, the first class of whom were working on the day of the quake and in its aftermath. Additionally, Cathy is doing her best to model a good Christian life.
Cathy has become involved with ministries at her local Episcopal parish in the barrio of Santa Fe. In addition to participating with the music ministry, she has been an integral part of the newly formed consolation ministry. They visit members of the community in need of assistance sharing scripture, prayer, and fellowship. This could be following the death of someone in their family, an accident or injury, or a variety of needs exacerbated by their material poverty and many times their informational void.
Looking back on her life, Cathy can see God’s handiwork in preparing her for the mission field since an early age, though it took her a long time to get there. Key points along the way include serving in the US Peace Corps after college, meeting the bishop of the Dominican Republic one weekend in Colorado who has a PT clinic in his diocese with needs, hiking with friends on the Corkscrew trail in the Colorado National Monument when I heard of SAMS for the first time, and the first trip to the island of Hispaniola in 2003. That trip combined a month in Haiti and close to a month in the Dominican Republic. In Haiti her role was that of clinical PT teacher and in the DR it was as an aide to the staff at the bishop’s PT clinic. She was blessed getting to know the staff but was sure they could do much more for their patients. Ellen Snow, a missionary who coordinated short term teams and visitors, suggested Cathy return every year for a couple of weeks. Her final morning there, as she walked along the Malecon for the last time, mulling Ellen’s suggestion, her reservations about having any effect on a two-week-at-a-time basis were strong. Suddenly Cathy felt God nudging her with the question, why did it have to only be two weeks?
Being one slow to make important decisions, it took another year and a half before she tested the waters with 6 months as a Bridger with SAMS at that clinic. This confirmed God’s call to long term missions, though it was not clearly in the same location. Resuming communications with SAMS upon return they determined that partnering together in this mission journey was the right plan. After going on her placement trip to Honduras and Haiti, it became clear that San Pedro was to be her destination for now.
Pray for Cathy and the Dominican Republic:
Pray that younger members of the Dominican church will feel called to the ordained ministry, and for the leaders and resources to train and equip them.
Pray for Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin of Iglesia Episcopal Dominicana and other church and government leaders to work together to combat poverty, crime, and violence.
Pray for Cathy as she continues to teach Physical Therapy classes in the area. Pray for her students and that God will move in their lives.
If you are feeling called to support or encourage Cathy, visit her missionary page here.
Looking back on her life, Cathy can see God’s handiwork in preparing her for the mission field since an early age,
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