Earthquake Relief Efforts in China

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By now I’m sure you’ve seen or heard media reports of the earthquake that hit China. The damage is widespread in the affected area — all the buildings and houses exhibit damage, from major cracks to total collapse. In the hardest hit areas roads and bridges are impassable, and communication lines are down. The need for relief is urgent!

We have workers in China assisting relief efforts. They recently joined a convoy of vehicles taking water, food, medicine and blankets into the disaster zone. As the tremors continue, many people have been evacuated to safer towns, and others to continue to flee the area. But the poorest people have nowhere to go, and no way to leave. They are living in makeshift plastic tents on the roadside or in open fields.

The government has been very active in providing assistance to people. There has been a large-scale deployment (roughly 20,000) of soldiers to rescue survivors from the ruins. Road clearing crews are at work to allow more soldiers and relief workers access to the area.

If you would like to help, here’s what we can tell you. At this moment, the most urgent need is for basic necessities. Donations made now will offer essential supplies to the survivors in the region. We are also fundraising to support medical teams who are heading into the affected area. By visiting this page you can donate directly to support these initiatives — please designate acct. 2-2172 and label it “Earthquake relief”. Alternatively you can contact us in any of the ways listed here to get in touch with us to see if there are other ways you can help.

The next steps will be to help people rebuild their homes, their livelihoods and their families. We want to do all that we can to help. Together, our calling is to provide hope wherever we can, and in the midst of the pain and sorrow of this disaster it is needed now more than ever!

Spiritual Conference in Panama

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The following comes from Steve, our Latin America Area Director:

Panama City, Panama and our Chinese EFC: What a moment of inspiration to walk into the large banquet hall and see the vast numbers of Chinese believers gathered for an Easter Weekend Spiritual Conference! Just a few years ago there was one church serving the large population of 150,000 Chinese in Panama City. One church with few members. Due to a concerted effort of many denominations there are now numerous churches with strong outreach! The weekend event drew at least 700 people!

We are so proud of our missionary couple, Sam & Betty, as they have been key servants during all these years of evangelism and church growth. Sam and Betty are involved in personal evangelism, in radio evangelism, in literature distribution evangelism and hours of time dedicated to the growth of the new believers in the church. They need people to join their Support Team.

If you would like to support the work of Sam and Betty in Panama, you can request more info by e-mailing us, or you can visit this page to donate online.

Closer to There

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Eddie and Bonita are continuing to raise support and make plans to return to Rwanda later this year. Their project called the Peace Centre marks the first partnership between the EFCCM and eMi (Engineering Ministries International).

eMi is an organisation that offers the services of engineers and architects who will go to the field on their own time and on their own ticket. In February of this year ten professionals spent ten days with Eddie in Rwanda. They surveyed the land that was purchased for the centre, questioned Eddie about the nature of the ministry and what functions the centre will serve, and came up with a design. They worked out all the engineering (water, sewage, electricity, etc.) and and the blueprints for the centre should be finished by the time you read this. The designers are finishing a package that will be used to raise funds for the centre.

The Peace Centre will form the centre of Eddie and Bonita’s ministry. They want to offer trauma counseling (as well as family, marriage, and any other counseling, but trauma counseling is the urgent need). They will also offer classes in conflict resolution and mediation, leadership training for pastors, Bible teaching also for pastors, a library of resources for church leaders, and literacy and skills training for women (especially widows) who are struggling to feed their families. All this will happen at the centre as well as casual youth ministries and larger conferences and seminars in the main hall.

Important steps that are ticked off on the checklist:

  • Purchase of the land
  • Design of the buildings
  • Registration of Rwanda Link (critical step for government recognition)
  • Processing of tax-exempt status of Rwanda Link

Contractors have been lined up to tackle the actual construction project. All that is needed for Eddie and Bonita is to secure sufficient funding, both for construction, and to sustain their family while in Rwanda.

And already ministry has been escalating. Eddie and Bonita are privileged to have introduced a number of people to faith in Christ in Rwanda, to give counsel to many, both young and old, to assist with school funds for a number of orphans, and they have distributed 1,400 wheelchairs among Rwanda’s disabled. There is so much more that they want to do, and will be able to do once they are living there. They would like your prayer and support to enable them to begin the Peace Centre in earnest before the end of the year.

"I love serving missionaries!" — Lisa

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Lisa (centre in the above pic) temporarily left her post here at Home Office to help with the recent missionary conference for our Bolivia team. She went down with Steve (Latin America Area Director), his wife Myra, and Rick and Lynn who have served as EFCCM missionaries for several years. I’ll let her share some of those experiences in her own words:

I love serving missionaries!

They are the people that give up so much to be on the “front lines” spreading the gospel of Christ. I love listening to them. I love supporting them financially and through prayer. I love taking care of them when they visit me. I love hearing the excitement in their voices when they share how God is working through their ministries. I love to laugh with them, cry with them, and bless them. And, I especially love helping people become missionaries.

This is the thing, that when doing, makes me feel like I’m using the full potential God has given me; it makes me feel fully alive. I have come to realize this passion through my own experience as a short-term missionary in Brazil (with a drama ministry called DRIME), working closely with career missionaries in Brazil, and more recently, through my role here in the EFCCM Home Office. My daily interactions with our Free Church missionaries have only grown my passion and heart for serving them; I love being able to bless those who have sacrifice so much for the sake of sharing the gospel!

In April, I was given the incredible opportunity of visiting one of our major mission fields: Bolivia. While there, I helped host a conference for our missionaries together with Steve & Myra and Rich & Lynn. I had an amazing time visiting with our missionaries and their children! And, I feel blessed to have been able to spend such quality time in their homes and witnessing them in their varied ministries. That real-life connection with each family has given me more excitement to be a support to them in our Home Office. How great to now know and picture those that I serve! What a wonderful gift to share, from personal experience, the life-changing ministries that are missionaries are involved in with donors and friends who call Home Office!

Thanks, Lisa! It’s great to have you back!

DBI: "We Did Not Fail"

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It’s hard to talk about shrinking, scaling back or even closing down. These things feel like the opposite of progress. And uttering a statement like “We did not fail,” sounds like fluttering a tattered, white flag. Well, it’s time to shatter those assumptions.

Dnepro Bible Institute (DBI) had an enthusiastic start in 1995. It was a time of great spiritual optimism as the rusted, sagging Iron Curtain had finally collapsed. Missionaries armed with the Gospel rushed in to meet throngs of people open-armed with eager curiosity. Bible colleges and churches sprang up and grew quickly. Frenetic energy was put into learning all that is Western, including matters of faith. But the novelty is over.

In the last few years, DBI has been struggling to maintain momentum. The interest and commitment on the part of students has been generally waning which resulted in reduced enrollment. And in the growing economy and changing culture, the school faced stiff external competition for its students’ attention. It became progressively harder and harder to justify running such a large program for such a small student body. Added to that, several of DBI’s key missionary families felt the need to return to Canada for a variety of reasons (none of which was “not wanting to teach anymore”). So we feel that God is changing the course of our Ukraine ministry.

Regular readers may see this announcement as strange timing since I so recently blogged about the 13th graduating class from the school. Actually this takes nothing away from that achievement. We celebrate the commitment and investment of all of the missionaries who were a part of keeping DBI vital for so long. And the graduates who have been installed into leadership are well-launched into God’s adventure! There are four church plants in three of Ukraine’s major cities, each pastored by a DBI graduate, and there is a vision for expanding the Ukrainian church. Also there is now a large number of ministry leaders and counselors within Ukraine, and DBI has promoted a higher degree of spiritual maturity in Ukraine’s congregations. DBI has indeed been the cornerstone of the EFCCM’s presence in Ukraine. It has been the driving force behind the establishment of a strong, connected church community.

Moving forward, the vision of DBI will be extensively overhauled. In discussion between the EFCCM and delegates from the Association of Ukrainian EFC churches, it has been decided that there is a need to maintain a training facility, which will now be called the “Resource Centre”. The EFCCM will continue to offer training and support within Ukraine. And the “Resource Centre” will offer flexibility through night classes and specific modules to meet specific needs. Finally, DBI’s library will be integrated into the new vision of the “Resource Centre” and it will be made widely available for the benefit of the church.

If you have questions about any of this, you can contact either Daryl (Area Director) or Melvin (Country Leader), and they would be glad to share more details about the next phase of the EFCCM’s ministry in Ukraine. We did not fail, and under the Lord’s guidance we will not! We appreciate your continued prayerful support as we follow the Lord’s vision and guidance in Ukraine — and all around the world. Your partnership helps us to proceed with boldness and clarity.