Saturday, June 21, 2014

New brothers & sisters



Just a quick update on how my team is doing! God is so good and is doing amazing things in and through all of us. We just spent 2 weeks in our first village and witnessed almost 30 brothers and sisters come to Christ and 1 baptism. Its was the most beautiful thing I've experienced. God is so good. So far none of us have been too sick. Praise God! Thank you for all of your prayers and love!

-Evan

All 3 Waray teams before heading to their ministry locations

Some days...

Home sweet home... for the summer at least! My team and I have now been in the Barangay (village) of Maibu for a full week. I love it here. We are up in the mountains and the family we are staying with are pretty much the sweetest ever. There is always a pile of flip flops at the door and a house full of laughing, running children any time we are home. It's joyful. My heart is so full with all God is doing. Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers!

Words can't really describe the beauty here, and the beauty of the people. Smiles bright on brown skin and the deepest, most generous hearts beat within these strong people. Laughter and music abound, and we all sit for hours talking and learning from each other.
Each day we go into homes to offer healthcare and talk about life and Jesus. Some days people pull us off the street where we are buying barbequed sagine (bananas) to look at a deep machete wound and we pray and bind up the wound. Some days a bible study is what God uses to bind up heart wounds... in the people and in us. Some days we are simply walking down the street, followed by a crowd of children clinging to our clothes and hands (that's every day, actually- now we understand why Jesus got on a boat to teach), laughing and talking and living love. We have bible studies, share testimonies, play with children and hear about the grace of God in from the lips of believers in Cebuano.


God is moving here, especially among the young people. I am so blessed to be able to come alongside them and help make disciples. God is stirring in the hearts of these people. He is using this broken, unworthy vessel to carry the treasure of the gospel.
I am in love with these people, this country, and more than anything, my JESUS.


-Amanda

Pray for Korean Refugee team today

Remember the Korean Refugee team today... pray for opportunities to develop deeper relationships with students in their classes and that they live with.

The Hard-to-Reach

Let's talk for a second about our comfortable, pleasant trip each week to a different village upriver.
I'm kidding. It's very uncomfortable. We sit on wooden boards with nothing to lean against on a boat for an hour or two or three. Our butts get numb, the engine is deafening, our legs fall asleep. Sometimes it's a bit of a walk from the dock, too, with our unwieldy baggage and the relentless sun beating down on us.
But, you know.. every time I am on the boat, sure that I will never move again from the waist  down, I think isn't this why there are people left unreached? If it takes until there are paved roads or luxury riverboats or until all political and militant forces are favorably disposed toward believers for us to go into all the world, the world will never be reached. The end will never come. Two thoughts: (1) Back home, where the way from my front door to my neighbors'/coworkers'/relative's, etc., is safe and paved and neatly landscaped, why do I not go? I am without excuse. (2) There are places much harder to reach than this. Who will go there? Until all people hear? LORD, send me.

Awesome Partners

A  bit of the children's artwork
God has blessed us with some amazing ministry partners. Several teams will venture to Louisville this summer to partner with us during outreach events. Many times, these teams focus on the children, which is great for us! If the children come, a few of the parents come. When the parents come, we are able to engage in conversation with them. It is that simple! The teams have been intimidated at first, which is expected. But after warming up to the ministry, they have been very instrumental and beneficial in building relationships.

Please pray for the teams that will come this summer.
Pray that they will have a servant's heart and a willing spirit to continue the work.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Answered Prayer... People of Peace

For the past two weeks, we have been praying to find people of peace. We were becoming discouraged about not finding these people, because the summer is short and time is ticking. Anytime we thought we may have found those people, we discovered that circumstances prevented us from befriending them... so the team kept praying, seeking, listening, and searching. This week God has shown us several families to befriend. Prayers have been answered!
One of the things that blew our minds was that all five families are from the same people group! Evidence has shown that God is doing amazing things within these people, and we get to be apart of it! These people are very open to us, and we are excited to begin building relationships with them!
Please pray that as we build these relationships that we would be able to effectively share the Gospel with them and help them assimilate into the American society.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Makiwas in skirts vs. locals in trousers


We ran into another opportunity of some free time this week, which has been our best experience to date. In the morning, we got to visit a home for abandoned babies, which we got to love on and hold. I cannot describe the cuteness! We were touring the home and in the empty living room was a few week old infant who'd been left at a local market. Of course, I had to pick him up for the rest of our journey. I loved on this baby for hours and chose to say a prayer over his mama, who I am certain is heartbroken right now. The kids loved playing and singing and were so intelligent for their young ages. 

Our time here was heart lifting for us all. Of course, we had no idea what would come next in our day. We began with some locals in our sheltered, almost "Americanized" neighborhood and walked the streets of the city that we had no yet ventured in search of some faces we had no intentions of getting to meet in our time here. We found ourselves standing in a huge circle of white girls with some dirty, smelly street boys who began as young as eight and went on to eighteen. These boys automatically welcomed us with huge grins and the "family" handshake known here, not the normal "respect" one. People stopped all around us in confusion and awe at these girls standing amongst boys who were covered in dirt, a few with no shoes, no jackets for this winter here, and some with no underwear or socks. Boys who act so tough during the day and cry at night in the cold of the winter air. The look these boys portrayed was well, appalling but they loved us, and we love them. 

So we played a good game of skirts vs. trousers in an open dirt field. Let me say, it took us about two minutes to realize these boys showed no mercy on the skirts team, so we chose to do the same running, falling, getting kicked and shoved..... we won! Victory for the skirts! 

We ran down the streets with our new family and j-walked our way back to where some of our local friends had gone to gather a meal for these seven boys. We came back to four loaves of white bread and one liter of juice. Each boy was given eight pieces of plain bread and some had bottles in their pockets. What happened next was when our hearts broke... the boys who remained without bottles began searching the ditches and streets for an empty USED dirt filled bottle to drink from. Before eating, they counted their bread together to make sure they all had the same and compared their juice to make sure one didn't have more than the others. They were family. They were mean like brothers and beat and yelled at each other constantly, but family none the less. I hope we get to run into them again soon, hopefully while volunteering some time at the local soup kitchen so we can pour into their plates while they ever so pour back into our hearts.

The African dirt is beginning to stick to my feet, literally.... and the thicker it sticks, the more like "home" it becomes.

-Chelsea

Medical Mission Trip in the Bukid

Some of the gang! :)
This past Saturday we went to the bukid (mountains) on a medical mission trip with First Buhangin Baptist Church. While we were there we took vital signs on the adults as well as the kids. We also were able to provide medications for those who were in need. It was an awesome experience getting to fellowship and serve the lost with other believers!

-Janea

Summer Prayer Calendar

If you attended the Sunday night community service during orientation you were able to pick up a calendar to use in praying for the teams this summer. If you didn't get a copy... go to our website www.nehemiahteams.com & download one now to use daily as you pray for teams. From the home page, click on the "Take a Stand" logo to open the pdf document.

New Place...New People...New Connections

Everything is new for the Louisville team this week! We have been in the sun from 4-7 hours a day working in a new apartment complex. This complex previously was not open to outside help; however, they have opened their doors lovingly. Now, we have many connections with the management, children, and parents in this area. Thank God for answered prayers!
Please pray that as the summer progresses, the management would allow us to continue outreach in the community.

Pics from S Thai ESL team


The Good Way


"What is the meaning of the Bible?" The girl who asked this question point-blank was involved in a cult, so she was only asking for the sake of starting a debate. But still--that's the question, isn't it? The meaning of the Bible. What a wonder. God, in his mercy, speaks. So there is no need to guess. Life and meaning and purpose and hope, all laid out for us in the pages of a single, timeless, living Book. Later at a Bible Study with three elderly people (pictured), we read some stories from the Gospels about Jesus' ministry. They knew of Jesus of course, but when we shared the Gospel with them they were impressed by the display on the Cross of the vastness of God's love for them.


We explained that Jesus lived the perfect life we can't live, and died the death we deserved to die to pay the penalty for our sin, that we might forsake our sin and our vain efforts at righteousness and turn to Him. We asked them what they would do with that news, and they gave their answers to Kuya Luigi who in turn relayed their words to us: "They said, what is good, they wanna follow it."


"Thus says the Lord: 'Stand at the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.' " Jeremiah 6:16

The Bible: the roadmap to the Good Way. Rest for your soul. We don't have to guess. People are waiting to hear.

Rejoice with us over our three new siblings in the Lord! We encouraged them to join us later in the day for housechurch with some other believers in their village, and two of them came. Pray that they would continue to meet together, to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel, to encourage one another and build each other up. Pray that God would now use them to reach their own families, their neighbors, and friends.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I wanted dirt roads

Dirt roads.
I wanted dirt roads.
My heart ached for the villages of Southeast Asia I had come to love.


I found myself missing the dirt roads, the squatter villages, the heat of no air-con, the sardine-packing of vans…as I experienced the past two summers.
 

"Even if it means getting lice that last for two months, God. I miss it."
 
The constant covering of dust and dirt and grime, where make-up is not even thought of and showers are an option. 

Here in Chiang Mai I have the option of air-con. I have a hot shower, sometimes…when it works, and dressing somewhat nice is expected when hanging out on the streets at night. 

"God, I just want a dirt road."

But tonight I hung out in a bar, and my heart began to change. Stepping about a mile and a half out of my comfort zone, and with our translators, Aoy and Gee in tow, I approached a prostitute perched upon her bar stool, applying make-up, getting ready for her “customers” of the evening.
 

I talked with her for a moment about her life, and then I asked her if I could tell her a story. And she seemed a bit more excited than I expected as I shared Creation to Christ with her and my own testimony of how God changed my life. And the biggest victory in all of that is that she listened. 
 

She listened.

I looked on her with hope as she slowly stopped searching for customers with her eyes and began to have my full attention with her heart. I felt as if I had just climbed a mountain.

And something within me changed tonight.

do have dirt roads this summer. Even if they aren’t the kind I expected.


The pathway to these women’s hearts and minds, to their lost souls—they are barren, desert lands, covered in dust and dirt and grime. Underneath the caked-on make-up and the scandalous clothing and the perfect hair something is severely wrong. And to get there, I am going to have to walk these dirt roads, see things even uglier than I have these past summers, trip over a few rocks, climb some built-up walls, and not see anything different in their grime, their dirt.

For I was covered in the dirt of sin before I met the Savior. He walked the dirt road that lead to my heart with patience and understanding. And He is walking with me now, holding me by the hand down this new path. Pray it leads to changed hearts and renewed souls.


I don’t miss dirt roads anymore.


Pray for Oh, the woman Gee, Aoy, and I met in the bar that night. Continue to pray for the nannies at the children’s home we have been hanging out with. Pray that by God’s grace I can learn to teach English.

-Ashley

Getting from here to there





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meet the Kingdom Builders Team

We are finally all "settled in" here in the Philippines. We are enjoying being in the city and getting to meet the people around us. There are some people that I would like you to meet as well.

My name is Reid, i'm from Batesville, MS and attend Mississippi College in Clinton, MS. My favorite verse is Acts 20:24. 

Our fearless team leader, Jordan, is from Carmel, IN. He goes to Ball State University in Muncie, IN. His favorite Bible verse is 1 John 3:16. 

Last, but certainly not least, is our youngest team member Luke. He is from Fredericksburg, VA and goes to Fredericksburg Christian High School. His favorite verse is Psalm 16:8.



We are excited that we have the opportunity to build the Kingdom while we rebuild people's homes and schools that were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. (Locally, it's referred to as Yolanda).

Please pray that our team will stay healthy. 
Also, pray that the Lord would place people in our paths that we can share with, and when the time comes that he would give us a boldness to share.

-The Kingdom Builders

Where We Are ... Ruel Nannies

We officially worked our first full week here at the Ruel Foundation! We all have different shifts - sometimes we work at the orphanage, and sometimes we work at the Malnourished Center (where babies are there because they are malnourished.) The kids can be difficult to handle at times. It's hard to be patient with them, but then they run up and hug us and give us the biggest kisses, laughing with big smiles on their faces, then we remember why we are here and it is all worth it! They all have their unique personalities, and we have gotten to know them better.

We attended a local church this past Sunday. It's amazing to worship with other believers on the other side of the world.  We have never met a group of people so welcoming. We will be trying to get involved with the youth there as well.

On Thursday, the Ruel staff went on a retreat, leaving our team and one other team of 5 in charge. We were all kinda nervous... and scared. The day had its ups and downs, but overall, it went really well and we had so much fun!

Every Thursday, all the staff and volunteers have a devotion. The visiting California team lead the one this past Thursday and they talked about patience. We are excited to lead the one this week!

I know for me (Tonya), I have the worst patience in the world, but I believe that God is working through me on that as well as the other girls on our patience as we are here.  We remember why the kids are here and what some may have gone through, and it helps us to remember why we are here as well. To show love and make them feel wanted.

Something funny - I have never had people ask me what my 'spots' were on my arm. I have never had to explain what freckles were in my life, but it's fun trying to, haha!

Please pray:

  • That we will continue to develop patience with the children.
  • That we will stay healthy so we can do all that we're here to do.
-Katie, Tonya, Tori

Mercy takes a trip

We had the opportunity to go into the bukid (mountains) this week and minister to the village people and offer health care to them. What a blessing it was! I was so humbled by the opportunity to minister and love on these people!   -Hannah
Team members with local healthcare professionals


Team members with local children

Team with supervisor, Brittany, & translator, Vonn.



the Nothing of Nothings

I'm sorry for how long a post has been in coming. This is the first time I've had internet in a while. I've updated our team intro post with pictures, so if you haven't met the riverboat teams yet you can check that post out first, by clicking here.

Three teams of five were sent off last week up each of three rivers in Eastern Samar. We are taking the Good News to a people called the Waray-Waray. Waray means "nothing." Saying it twice makes a bold and underlined pronouncement: the "Nothing of Nothings."
Don't get me wrong--we don't travel up the river to pity these friends. We aren't here to inject positive self-esteem into the water. In fact, I can say with certainty that we will learn a whole lot more from them about life and contentment from them than we might ever presume to teach. But what we do have to give, we carry with a sobering sense of responsibility, with light and joy in our hearts, with humility and fear and trembling at its weight.

Please pray that by God's grace the Waray-Waray, the "Nothing of Nothings," would come to know what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Pray that God would use us to let the Waray-Waray know that He made them in His image, for Himself, and therefore they are of such worth to Him as has already been demonstrated by His perfect Son's susbstitutionary death on the cross.


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  -Philippians 2:5-11

Beginning the Race

We've now been in country exactly ten days and have spent most of them getting to know the little section of the city in which we're staying. There's a lake near our hotel where many local students our age hangout. They love to practice English with foreigners. It provides an open door for us to share the Story with them. Unfortunately most of the students are busy during the weekdays, so our first week was somewhat discouraging. However we were able to meet with D and A, Brothers who are fruit of last summer's team. We met with them and some of their friends who have not yet responded to the Story. Over "egg coffee," we shared our stories with D and A. They seemed very excited and encouraged to be with Brothers and Sisters. D shared with one of his guy friends as we sat there and silently asked the Father to open his heart. Our girls also shared with the female friends of D and A. It's our hope that the Spirit will be working on them. 

On the weekends we've met several English clubs, which are groups of university students who meet regularly to help each other practice English. Our girls set a coffee date with three girls they met this way and shared with them. The response they received was phenomenal. One of the local girls, T, shared that she had been searching for something like the Story and was very interested in hearing more about it. 

E and I, the male members of our team, have been approached by far fewer students. It's been difficult, but we know that it's all in the Father's hands. I set up a meeting time with one guy I met whose English was impeccable, but he didn't show up. However, as E and I sat there, they were approached by a guy and girl who wanted to practice English with them. They were able to share with them and got the guy's phone number. He said that he would talk to his family about making a Decision. The girl was less fluent in English and may not have understood the Story so well, but it's all in the Spirit's hands. We hope to follow up with the guy soon. 

As we enter our second full week in country we've been reminded of Paul's message to run the race with perseverance. It may be hot and discouraging at times, but we know why we're here, we know it's worth it... and we know that the Father is doing great things. We ask for strength, patience, and endurance as we begin this race.

*Due to security, names & pictures will not be shared on this post.

Jesus is my Friend

                A-B-C,  1-2-3
      Jesus, Jesus, is my friend! 

The words to this song resounds in my heart and I have began to sing it everyday. We have met so many families, but one of my favorites consist of 8 children from Sudan. The girls love to sing and the meaning of this song is much more than what you see on the surface. The Word says, 

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.    -John 15:15

These girls have been such a blessing to us. They have taught us that we are not pretty unless we are smiling and that singing to Jesus is always fun. So, today I am thankful that I can call Jesus my friend! 

-Ashley


Light Amidst the Darkness

Soi Red* (Red Road), lunchtime:

Happy, smiling faces. Nice Thai ladies asking if you want a foot massage. The spicy smell of food in the air. Sounds of clanking metal as vendors set up their booths for the Night Market. Streets full of fun and life.

Same road, after dark:

Old men with scantily clad, young Thai girls on their arm heading back to their hotels. Cigarette smoke clouding the air. Thai girls sitting on a barstool applying their makeup for "work" that night. The clinking sound of beer bottles. Buses full of men coming to explore the wonderful "tourists sights" filled with the best girls/lady boys Chiang Mai has to offer.

Soi Red is one of the darkest, most hopeless places I have ever been. The heart of the Red Light District in Chiang Mai. In about 1/2 a mile, there's 75 bars/massage parlors/karaoke bars (almost all just a rouse to cover up prostitution).

Pray for the women that work in these places. Pray for my teammates, that we will be able to not only see the women in Christ's love, but also the men. That we won't allow bitterness to creep in, but to always be mindful that these people, whether they're the men using the women or the women being used, are sinners just like we were--they just don't have Christ yet. Pray my team and I can be a light so bright in such a dark place that people can't help but be drawn to us.
 

In Christ's love, Kristi

Dawn

Marge (a teacher at the Arab American Friendship Center with whom we're working) had warned us that some of the women's husbands might not allow their wives to receive English tutoring. However, after we made it to each home on our first day, I thought that wouldn't be an issue.  The first day of teaching was long, but it was so good.  I was especially encouraged by the first woman we met with, Dawn.  Her English was good and we were able to share the Bible stories on our hands (in henna) and read the story in the Bible so she could practice listening and then she read the story to practice pronunciation. Dawn seemed so open and eager to talk about her faith and listen to us talk about our faith. 
It seemed like Dawn wanted to keep a copy of the book of John, so we left it with her.  Later that evening, we got a phone call from an Arabic woman, but we couldn't understand what she was saying.  While we were still trying to understand her, an Arabic man took the phone from her.  I realized the woman was Dawn and the man was her husband when he said, "I saw the book you gave my wife."  Our hearts sank as Dawn's husband continued to tell us he appreciated what we were trying to do, but he did not wish to continue the program.  He was respectful, but very clear that we weren't welcome back in his home.  


We had felt like Dawn was open and receptive to Jesus.  It is so hard to not be able to see her again.  I have over-analyzed our decision to leave the book of John with her a hundred times.  I am struggling with not resenting her husband.  It is so easy for me to forget that our battle is not against Muslim men, flesh and blood.  The battle being fought is between Jesus and Satan and we know who has the victory.

I will miss meeting with Dawn and talking with her, but I am resting in that we were able to share Jesus with her.  We were able to tell Dawn about the real Jesus, who is Savior and not just another prophet, and we know that the word of God does not return void.  It is the Holy Spirit who changes hearts and draws people to the Lord.  We are called to obey, go, tell, and love, not save.  Our hearts hurt for Dawn, but we are rejoicing in that salvation depends on Jesus, not us, and that the Lord can work any situation for His glory.

Prayer Requests:
-that Dawn's husband's heart would be softened and he would allow us back in his home
-that the Lord would continue to work in Dawn's heart and draw her to Himself
-that Jesus would reveal Himself to Dawn and her husband through dreams and visions
-for wisdom in what we say and do

First Week Finished

We've had an exciting first week in the locations where we have been serving. Our group of 6 has been broken into two teams of 3 plus a national translator. The two teams will be spending 3 weeks in separate villages and then serving in two new villages for another 3 weeks. Both teams have been busy with checking many blood pressures, conducting numerous Bible studies, and playing with the many children! 
Our first Bible study with the children. They are singing the children's song He's Got The Whole World in His Hands. Please be praying that their desire to know God is greater than their desire to know us. Please be praying that they understand, remember, and share our Bible studies with their families.   

Tuesday, we will be going to on a medical mission to the beautiful island called Calaguas for the next several days.

Prayer Requests:
-that our persons of peace may be encouraged
-that the hearts of the people here continue to be open to the Holy Spirit working
-that God would continue to convict people over idol worship
-safety during the upcoming medical mission
-opportunities & boldness to share the Gospel with others during the medical mission

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday in Butuan

This past Sunday, the different healthcare teams took a break from orientation to visit the churches in the city. My team, along with the other island healthcare team had the privilege of going to BOOST for church.
After a time of sharing testimonies, we had the opportunity to take the kids to have Sunday school. This was such a joy! Erin shared a very enthusiastic Creation Story with the children and Gwen translated. It wasn't until we went outside for games that the children really began to come out of their shells. We introduced the game of Duck, Duck, Goose to them. They loved it!
It was so much fun to watch the kids laughing and playing together! 

After about 38 rounds of this game, we went back into the church for worship. It was an amazing time of worshiping the God who had brought us all together! 

Learning to love


We have been in Zimbabwe a little over a week now and have enjoyed exploring a culture foreign to us. We have led kids clubs, visited a home for abandoned babies, and successfully learned to walk across the street, which is surprisingly difficult when cars drive on the left side of the road and pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.

Even though we have not been here long, one orphanage has already impacted my life. Last Saturday we went to an orphanage about 10 minutes from where we are staying. We had been warned of the poor living conditions and the lack of nurturing that these orphans received but i could not fully understand what the meant until we got there and experienced it for ourselves. These children acted as any other children would. They played. They laughed. They sang. However one thing stood out, unlike other schools and orphanages we had visited, these children did not crowd our feet waiting for a visit from the tickle monster, or tug on our clothes just to receive a loving smile from a "Makiwa" (native name for a white person). Here the children had not received much love so they did not know how to accept our attempts to build relationships with them. We would try walking to them and they would quickly respond and then continue speaking Ndebele (their native language) with their friends. 

After this visit I prayed that God would take down any and every barrier that separated us from showing these children the love of God. I prayed that through our visits these children would understand that God loves them and that Jesus died for each on of them so that they could spend eternity with Him. As I hope you all know.. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!

A week later we returned to this orphanage. At first they were hesitant to let us talk and play with them, but after we played a few games with them they began to open up. Unlike last week they were very enthusiastic about singing, receptive toward the scripture we taught and accepted our involvement during crafts. They did not cling to us like we had experienced with other children, but they were much more receptive to our attempts to build relationships with them. I cannot wait to see how God continues to reveal Himself while we are in Zimbabwe.

Please pray that these children will be receptive to the Word of God and understand the sacrifice and love of Christ.

For the Word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.   -Hebrews 4:12

-Lindsay