Update from Mexico

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The Agua Viva building continues its remarkable progress. The top floor has been poured, and the concrete is finished. There is a team right now working on the plumbing and the interior walls. Another will be arriving shortly to put the Styrofoam walls on the top floor (needed for insulation against the heat). There were some anxious moments spent looking for the electrical junction box. The city was starting to talk about having to run new power lines with poles, run at the church’s expense. That’s an costly proposition! But the existing box was found, and so the job will be much simpler.

While all the work is going on with the building, ministry continues strongly too. The ladies on the team partnered with some people from Agua Viva and visited the General Hospital with 150 handmade sandwiches. Patients and their families often have to travel long distances to the hospital, and then sit and wait when they get there. Along with the food and drink they offered, the team also had a number of tracts to hand out. Not one was refused! It was an encouraging time of practical outreach, sharing that time with people at the hospital.

Update from Thailand

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Larry and Diane in Thailand are earnestly praying for more workers to be raised up within the country, and for there to be a spiritual reawakening there. Oppression is so evident, with many people worshiping false gods and focusing on misplaced priorities. But there is some hope too.

Through on-campus ministries, some are finding hope in Jesus Christ. What better time is there than when youth are making such critical life decisions, and are in a place to be asking such deep questions! Larry requests prayer for more opportunities for conversations to develop with students, and for ways that the Lord would clearly reveal himself to them. There are also some that are expressing a desire to learn more about God and His word, perhaps even at a Bible College. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom, guidance and provision for those potential leaders for the Thai church.

Join us in praying that the Lord would continue to use this couple to make a lasting impact in lives in Thailand, and that their heartfelt yearning for a real revival would be realised!

New PCA Home

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This update comes from John and Naomi, Mission Associates who do a significant chunk of work in Panama. Panama Christian Academy (PCA) is a school that they are working closely with, and it is currently renovating a new building to handle its recent rapid expansion.

There are still numerous legal and physical details to be worked out, but they are strongly hoping that the building will be ready for a March 12th start — a challenge as you can see by the recent picture. The school has been growing steadily and slowly over the last few years, but this year we are seeing enrollment jump from 200 to 300 students. This has required the greater space offered by this building, and bringing on new staff too (another process that is still underway).

Please pray for the transitions here, that teachers would feel settled and comfortable for the start of the year, and that the students’ education would not be adversely affected by the inevitable distractions. Pray also for John and Naomi as they train and work with the school’s teachers and staff, that they would be able to share solid leadership and principles with the school’s various leaders.

The Debt Epidemic

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An update from one of our couples in Ukraine outlines the growing threat of credit abuse. For this particular people group (and for several others around the world), the concept of credit is entirely novel. With this new financial ‘freedom’, people are spending large amounts of money unwisely, and are getting themselves into real trouble. When people get deeply into debt with high interest rates (often as high as 40%), the consequences are severe.

Pray that your missionaries would be able to provide wise counsel to people, and help to prevent the growing problems. Much of the problems stem from unrealistic expectations created in western media which create unnecessary demand for the latest clothes, computers and other commodities. Added to that, there are generally few checks and balances in place to prevent banks from taking advantage of people. So some missionaries are working to get people to assess their needs and match those against their income. We have the opportunity to share the concept of Godly stewardship in places where it’s desperately needed.

Caring for Your International Staff

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I recently received a small publication from Ron and Beryl, a couple involved in missionary care through the EFCCM. It’s worth sharing, so I’ll summarise it here. (If you’d like to see the whole thing, contact us, and we’ll make sure you get it.) They’ve broken down the missions career into four compartments, and prayer is central to each.

1.) Before they leave, missionaries need support and encouragement, and any practical things that you can offer will be welcomed. They may need room for storage of their belongings, or help with the transporting and shipping of what they’re sending. A good send-off can be memorable and meaningful.

2.) When in the host country, life comes at you fast. There’s language and culture study (formal or not), and there is a whole lot of “new”. Even how you buy groceries might be radically different. Added to this bewildering barrage is the actual work — the intent and calling. Tracking along with what’s happening over there, and offering timely support and encouragement is an important way to show that you care.

3.) When on Home Assignment, needs are different. It’s certainly no vacation! There is a lot of pressure to connect personally with all supporters, especially churches, and share what’s happening and where the needs are. But there is also pressure to connect with family and friends too. Then there are practicalities like a vehicle and a place to stay. Assisting with transition can include making preparations with schools in the area where the kids will be, and supplying immediate needs, like groceries and toiletries. Make an effort to connect personally with them, over a shared meal for example.

4.) When missionaries retire, they often feel disconnected from what they used to be so integral in. Recognise that they have wisdom to offer, and look for ways to get them to share it. Styles change, but people are still the same, and retired missionaries can offer significant insights into missions and ministry despite the changing cultures.

By its very nature, mission work requires risk. But your active love and support, at all stages of ministry, can minimise those risks.