The Harsh Realities

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On and off over the years, I’ve pondered the problem of poverty. I mean, I’ve seen people who were abundantly rich, and were not at all happy. I’ve also seen the utterly destitute who were incredibly happy, not to mention generous! And I’ve wondered if the poor weren’t better off. But it’s individual stories that have made the problem of poverty real to me.

Larry in Thailand sent in a recent list of prayer requests for people that he’s living amongst, who are struggling with the daily reality of poverty. In many cases they can’t pay for the most basic needs. Let’s take a closer look at one man’s case.

Khamcort (above in blue) is the head of the only Christian family in his village. He has been to Bible school, and has exhibited an eagerness to participate in ministry. Currently his biggest setback is that he has diabetes. In Canada diabetes isn’t a big deal — insulin is readily available and testing equipment is commonplace to ensure accurate dosages. In this man’s case there is none of that. He was forced to go to a private hospital after he blacked out recently, and that single hospital visit has wiped out him out financially. In fact, he can’t even afford transportation to retrieve the remainder of his belongings from Bangkok.

Many of those in the village are attracted to working in the city to earn a living, but the problem is they are removed from their family support system, and likely, from positive Christian influence as well. (For most people, ‘the city’ means Bangkok, and from all reports that’s a pretty faith-endangering place.) This is also challenging from the perspective of the village churches — it’s very difficult to maintain ministry momentum when the people are either working long days every day just to pay for survival, or are forced to leave for extended periods.

There are no easy answers to poverty. Just giving away money is a very short-term solution, and builds unhealthy dependency. What is needed is a sustainable way for villagers to make a living. This takes wisdom, vision and follow-through. But of course, that in itself is a challenge when all one’s energy is already invested solely in survival. Please pray for God to provide for his people, to sustain them and bless them in the ways that He would choose.

Hey, perhaps you have an ideas to help a Thai village make a sustainable living. Or maybe you have the means to provide Khamcort with some diabetic equipment and supplies. Drop us a line and let us know!

Easter Vigil in Bolivia

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This comes from Jackie (and Warren) working in Bolivia:

It has become tradition here in Bolivia in many evangelical churches to hold a all night vigil the eve of Easter Sunday. Being youth sponsors for a Spanish congregation here in the city of Santa Cruz, my husband Warren and I were responsible for activities, snacks and devotionals from 8 pm until 4 am the next morning. For one section of time we decided to show the Narnia movie (we have a Spanish-dubbed copy). Thinking that our youth were similar to those in Canada, we presumed that many had already seen the film, heard about the story (there are Spanish translations available) and were familiar with the message. We were wrong.

The group of about 25 youth ages 14-25 were completely mesmerised. I was actually blessed watching many of these new, struggling believers be taken in by the creative representation of the story of Christ’s sacrifice. One particular example was that of Zoiban. He is a 25 year old, married believer who we have just been getting to know. For the 2-something hours he was on the edge of his seat. When Edmund returned to be king in Narnia and the sacrifice was demanded by the White witch, he turned to me and asked anxiously, “Jackie, what’s the sacrifice? What’s the sacrifice?!?” I told him, “Just watch, Zoiban, wait and watch.” For the next half an hour he watched intently, studying every line as Aslan presented himself as the offering, was slain and returned to life.

A while later, as the closing credits rolled by, he wiped his sweaty palms on the legs of his pants, breathed a deep relaxing sigh, looked at me. “I get it, I get it,” he said. “That lion was Jesus.”

Congrats DBI!

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Dnepro Bible Institute celebrated its 13th graduating class this month. Congratulations to all the grads! Also, a deep “thank you” goes out to all of their teachers, mentors and supporters who got them to this moment. This is the culmination of a lot of challenge, determination and inspiration, and is an exciting way to start!

In a very real sense, DBI has been the cornerstone of the EFCCM’s presence in Ukraine. It’s hard to get a clear picture of how much of an impact DBI has had on Ukraine unless you visit. There are so many ways and places that DBI students are living out the calling God has placed on their lives. From pastoral ministry, to addressing practical needs and counseling, there are lots of untold stories of how God is using training obtained at DBI to reach out to Ukraine.

We’re eager to see what’s next for these new grads!

On the Subject of Tributes

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Martha Goertzen’s life on Earth ended quietly and calmly earlier this month. Her memorial service was held on Friday, April 11th, and was a wonderful reflection of a woman who committed herself to missions in Germany for 38 years.

Martha lived an amazing testimony. Her years of service established deep connections with the German people she served beside. In fact some would go as far as to say that Germany is home to her ‘real’ family.

In her later years, she was a regular volunteer at the EFCCM Home Office, and impressed all of us with the efficiency, nimbleness and dedication she applied to each task she took on.

The memorial of a woman like Martha is an honour to witness. She had so much strength of character and force of will, and balanced it with a quirky sense of humour. We miss her — but we look forward to seeing her again.

Couldn’t Be Better (Updated for Accuracy)

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Is there a better way to pay tribute to a person? Dale Enarson was involved with the EFCCM until recently when he died suddenly. The idea emerged to honour his memory by assembing and shipping a MEMO container to Latin America. We are celebrating that the Dale Enarson Memorial Container from Edmonton was filled last week and is on its way. It contains among other things two washing machines needed badly in Caibarien and Remedios and a much needed xray machine for Remedios.

We tell the Cubans when they ask for things they need that we will pray and ask God for it. So when these things are supplied it is a wonderful testimony to the love and power of our God. Pray the containers contents may arrive safely at the intended destination, and like all the equipment that has gone before, that it would be put to really good use there.

Dale had a positive influence in the Earth, which continues on even after he as left it. May we each strive to live like that!