Not Against Flesh and Blood

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The EFCCM has a handful of staff working in Creative Access Countries (CACs). We give that classification to countries that for either political or religious reasons aren’t welcome to overtly Christian organisations. We need to protect these people by not publishing their names and their countries of service. If discovered, they face immediate ejection from their host country — at the very least. I just had a conversation the other day with one of our couples working in such an area, and what they revealed to me was rather unsettling.

Their area has seen growth of Islamic fundamentalism. For many years, the region was home to moderate, even secular Muslims. This is quickly changing. There are training camps now where Muslims are being trained in weaponry. Even moderate Muslims are starting to feel threatened. They view themselves as Islamic brethren, but the radicals do not share that sentiment. Their prevailing attitude is “If you are not also a radical, then we are not brothers.”

Furthermore there is a contingent of Muslims, apparently centred in Europe, that is scouring the internet. They are looking for Christians working amongst Muslim populations. When found, the Christians are reported to local Muslim authorities so that they can be ‘outed’ by available media channels. Recently a couple was forced out of the country when their identity was given on the front page of a local newspaper. You can imagine how that felt in the context of increased hostility and militarization.

Please pray. Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, and yet it is obvious there are those who want to make it so. Pray for peace and safety among Christians following God’s call. Pray for temperance, and for the Lord’s hand to move strongly among those who don’t know him. The truth of Christ is the only option possible for real healing, even for those who don’t seem to be looking for it.

A Personal Note: Please Pray

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Currently, there is a number of stories in the lives of our missionaries, pastors and even Home Office staff that are just hard: illness, brokenness, circumstance and uncertainty. They run the gamut from sick parents to visa setbacks. I don’t have many details, and even where I do I’m not taking liberties to share them — I have no right to intrude in people’s privacy that way. But I’m feeling the hard realities more now than other times. On behalf of our staff here and around the world, I would just like to request prayer for joy (in the midst of sadness), peace, perspective and strength.

May Christ lift his church as we lift his name.

An Arrival in Ukraine

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That may sound like a birth announcement. Well, it’s not. Garry and Teresa have landed in Ukraine, and are already hard at work setting up their house and making preparations. They even have their very own Lada — you can’t get much more Ukrainian than that! :-) Their teen sons have accompanied them, and their older sons are running the farm back in Canada.

Garry will be working with local farmers, helping with best practices to enable better results. Teresa is hoping to begin ESL teaching, as that fits within her training. And together they’ll be looking for opportunities to share their faith and create lasting relationships.

Pray for them as they get started. Russian is a challenging language to learn, and there are lots of challenges associated with initiating a ministry like this.

You can follow their own personal blog by clicking here.

Transition Home News

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The Transition Home is a project that has been a dream of EFCCM missionaries Vanessa and Jackie, and now they have a place for it in Santa Cruz. I look forward to hearing more about this as it develops, and the facility is readied for its new purpose.

If you’re not sure what it’s all about, recent laws regarding Bolivia so-called orphanages (resident children are there for a variety of reasons including being orphaned) have mandated that children must leave when they reach 18yrs, to make room for new kids. The problem is that 18 year olds — especially girls — aren’t ready for independence. This ruling leaves them in a vulnerable position with no support system. The Transition Home gives young women a place to stay while they’re taking the next steps, whether that’s university education, or job skills training. It’s a way that they can transition from living in a home to living on their own, within a faith-affirming structure.

Almost Completely Unexpected

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Last month, I was asked to make a video clip to be shown at a golf tournament for local business people. The EFCCM was to be highlighted as the nonprofit of choice, and they wanted to feature some projects of ours in Bolivia. I jumped at the chance, but you never know where these things will lead, if anywhere. I started with fairly low expectations. And my expectations were lowered further when I heard that the venue wasn’t really suited to video playback, the audio didn’t carry well during the presentation, and while it was onscreen the attendees were boisterous and distracted. So imagine my surprise when I was handed the report that we just received $12,000 from the event.

$12,000! That’s going to be a big boost to our ongoing projects in Latin America. As I type this, I’m doing a little happy dance inside. :-)