A Genuine Faith Community Transformed Jose’s Life

November 28, 2023 |

Jose and Viva Youth

At five years old, Jose left his home to escape his dad’s beatings. After a season in the streets, he ended up under state care in Bogotá, Colombia’s largest and most populous city. Despite the rough start, Jose emerged as a gentle-mannered, sweet, cheerful young man. A talented soccer player, he once had the chance to play in a European championship, only to be denied by bureaucratic barriers — a frustratingly common tale for many youth in state care.

In 2018, a social worker’s recommendation brought Jose to our doors at Viva Youth, a Christ-centered organization providing crucial support to at-risk youth exiting Colombia’s state care system. With us, they aren’t just individuals; they’re family, referred to as “Primos” or cousins, finding solace and an opportunity to heal emotionally while learning essential life skills.

Jose never finished high school, which was the responsibility of the orphan care institution. His communication and academic skills were deficient. Despite efforts to uncover any potential learning disabilities, no conclusive answers were found. After completing Viva Youth’s main life-skills training program, Jose still found himself on and off the streets. He would get on public transportation with a speaker and dance to hip-hop music for coins.

Over the years, our team at Viva Youth helped Jose find jobs, but only a few weeks later, he would come back, telling us that he was in the streets again. We built a  “Jose Handbook” to prepare for his next visit. In our staff meetings, we discussed new and more creative approaches to getting him off the streets. Jose does not use drugs, does not drink, he is not violent. But stability remained elusive.

Then, in July 2022, a transformative moment arrived — Jose embraced faith and was baptized. The following six months saw both triumphs and challenges, yet a newfound openness to guidance emerged. Jose began seeking advice from Viva Youth, signaling a significant shift.

At another pivotal point in February 2023, bolstered by positive changes, we recommended Jose again to an employer. This time, he not only retained his job but excelled, becoming the gatekeeper at a clinical lab on a 1.5-acre property housing the Viva Youth non-profit. Ten months of steady employment shattered previous records, propelling him from a rented room to his furnished apartment.

Jose’s deep connections with the community of kids who exit state care in Bogota (the ones we call Primos) have made him crucial to our work. When Jose finds out that one of them needs help, he refers them to our Resource Center. When they are homeless, Jose’s apartment becomes transitional housing for them. When they hide from us, Jose keeps us updated on their whereabouts and personal situation.

Viva Youth’s 22-week program, while significant, required five years to witness Jose’s remarkable progress. The recurring lesson was clear—beyond programs, youth like Jose need a genuine community of faith that they can call family. Amidst a revolving door of social workers and psychologists, Viva Youth strives to provide enduring connections.

Pray for Jose as he pursues a high school diploma and technical certifications. His story, a witness to the transformative power of faith, community, and education, stands as a living testament to God’s love and Viva Youth’s unwavering support.


Jose Baptism + Viva Youth



When you give to SAM ministries, SAM missionaries, and/or the Vision Fund, you support outreaches like Viva Youth in Colombia. SAM remains dedicated to our Christ-centered vision of Redeemed Lives, Beautiful Churches, and Transformed Communities. We are on mission together. Would you join us? Your donation is tax-deductible. DONATE TODAY!


Viva Youth and Jose



June 2023 Prayer Focus

June 2, 2023 |


First of All, Pray

The phrase, “First of All, Pray!”, inspired by 1 Timothy 2:1, is the name of our prayer ministry. It reflects the prominence of prayer within our community. It’s been a mark of our Mission for more than 100 years. The mark remains. First of all, pray—deliberately, intentionally, and in faith, with praise and thanksgiving.

As we serve On Mission Together, please join us in praying for these requests in June 2023:

1. Pray for Ministry to Deaf Students in Pucallpa, Peru. Amanda McKinney and Pastor Carlos teach and mentor Deaf students at Refugio de Esperanza. The school hosts primary, preschool, and special needs schools in the mornings and high school in the afternoons. Carlos works with seven students in the mornings. He rotates between the classrooms to work individually with the Deaf students while the classroom teacher works with the rest of the class. In the afternoon they teach 12 Deaf students. These students are not in regular classrooms but are all together in Amanda’s classroom with Carlos as an assistant. It is challenging and a bit crazy planning lessons around the 12 different students’ levels, but they are learning and thriving. Five of the deaf students are seniors this year, so it is bittersweet for Amanda after seven years of knowing them. Please pray that the Lord helps Amanda and Carlos invest well in the five seniors. 

Peru_Refugio de Esperanza_AmandaMcKinney_highschool deaf students

2. Pray for Member Care in Bolivia. Burnout and mental health struggles are not uncommon for Gospel servants. Natalie Suff ministers holistically for the missionary team in Bolivia. Recently she hosted a day-long spiritual retreat for women from SAM and Latin Link as well as breakfast fellowship. Pray for Natalie as she serves the busy missionary team in Bolivia.

3. Pray for Indigenous ministry in northeast Brazil. For the past several years, a Brazilian missionary pastor, Daniel, has been visiting a remote village in northeastern Brazil. After some initial resistance, he has built relationships within the community and several have come to know the Lord. He has been visiting several times a week and assisted with projects for the community, like building a classroom for the children. The community has a deep love and respect for Daniel. Recently, SAM missionary Todd Carroll had the opportunity to drive Pastor Daniel and other Brazilian missionaries from a seminary to visit the village and build a bathroom with the locals. Pray for the flourishing of this village, Pastor Daniel, and more opportunities to partner with them.

4. Pray for Drew Warrick. Drew serves at Rancho El Camino in La Paz, Mexico. The Ranch serves the youth and families of the area through camps and recreational ministries, community development initiatives, leadership training programs, and church-based ministries. In April, the Ranch held a basketball camp in the local neighborhoods, which was followed by a four-day overnight Easter camp at the Ranch the following week. On the last night of the camp, they fellowshipped around a huge bonfire, and one of the youth shared his testimony in front of over forty of his peers. It is incredible to see how God is transforming his life and shaping him into a leader in the community. Many of the youth walked away from the camp with a greater understanding of the importance of following God’s will in their life and in their community. Pray for Drew and the ministry of Rancho El Camino.

The Ranch_Drew Warrick_Easter Camp

5. Pray for SAM Academy in Pucallpa, Peru. Praise God for SAM Academy’s high school ministry trip to the community of Masaray. The students enjoyed the trip on the river and a productive time at the school in Masaray. They helped out with painting projects and held English classes. When the rain came, they played soccer! Pray for the students in Masaray and at SAM Academy. 

Henrique and Corina6. Pray for Henrique and Corina Terena Dias. Henrique and Corina are passionate about the Indigenous Church in South America. They serve as advisors and coordinators of the Trans Amazon Network. Their desire is to grow Indigenous networks creating other training centers across the continent. And increasing the connection between the national church and the Indigenous church. With the Trans Amazon Network, they visited Ecuador to encourage the non-indigenous church leadership to join the indigenous church leaders to create a consortium with missions agencies and local churches. Pray for the formation of a consortium in Ecuador to support the Indigenous church. Pray for the family and ministry of Henrique and Corina.

7. Pray for Kaylee and Nilton Solier. Nilton and Kaylee Solier serve in Guatemala City. They serve kids in Bethania, an underresourced neighborhood by hosting kids programs. From science classes, music classes, and “splash days,” the Soliers are encouraged to see the kids growing and learning. Recently, someone from their local church donated eight huge garbage bags of sample medications to their ministry in Bethania. They organized and sorted about 700 different types of medications! It was a lot of work, but now they can offer these medications to the health center in Bethania, which they have been exploring how to work with. Pray that these medications will be a blessing to the community, and that they can continue to find ways to work together with other organizations to serve Bethania well.

8. Pray for Candidate Orientation. SAM will be hosting our 2023 Candidate Orientation. Orientation is a time of discernment, learning, connection, and worship. Please pray for each of our participants that God would give wisdom and clarity as they take steps to become SAM missionaries. 

9. Pray for Ministerio Impacto in Pucallpa, Peru. Praise God for a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration in May with Ministerio Impacto, a ministry to the senior citizens of Iglesia Divino Redentor in Pucallpa, Peru. Pray that these women would experience and know the love of God.


10. Pray for Ministry in La Paz, Bolivia. Mike Shank, who serves in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, had the opportunity to go to La Paz to visit some SAM ministry partners, SIM missionary friends, and Pastor Brandon Cooper from Cityview Church (one of the Shank family’s sending churches). Pastor Brandon led a Discipleship Workshop for area churches. Pray that this training will bless the 15 churches represented at the workshop. Pray for Pastor Angel who is being evaluated as a church planter with the Acts 29 ministry. Pray for ministry partners who love fixing up trucks and use it as an opportunity to share the Gospel! Overall there is movement in La Paz and the city of El Alto for ministries and pastors to collaborate around the Gospel. Please pray for the cultivation of this movement.

11. Pray for street ministry in Brazil. Tracey Culley, serving in Recife, Brazil, has joined a ministry at her local church called Voz na Esquina (Voice on the Corner). For over 12 years, the church has brought snacks, water, friendship, and prayer to those involved in the sex industry. This is a complex and humbling ministry. Pray for wisdom and perseverance to continue pursuing this particular group with God’s kindness and love.

Smith Family12. Pray for Dave and Katrina Smith. The Smith Family finished language school in Costa Rica and are settling in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Dave is serving with SAMAIR as both an airplane pilot and mechanic. With a heart for holistic discipleship, Katrina plans to partner with a local organization to help minister to victims of crime. Pray for Dave, Katrina, and their three girls.

April 2023 Prayer Focus

April 3, 2023 |

Brazil_2023_Sertao Mission Trip

First of All, Pray

The phrase, “First of All, Pray!”, inspired by 1 Timothy 2:1, is the name of our prayer ministry. It reflects the prominence of prayer within our community. It’s been a mark of our Mission for more than 100 years. The mark remains. First of all, pray—deliberately, intentionally, and in faith, with praise and thanksgiving.

As we serve On Mission Together, please join us in praying for these requests in March 2023:

1. Pray for the Peru team. Last month, the Peru team gathered for their annual conference. Conference is a time of rest, refreshment, and fellowship. John and Shari Thomas from City to City spoke on Luke 15 and the theme, “What is the Gospel?” Pray for SAM’s gospel witness as the Peru team deepen their identity in God and commitment to one another in ministry. 

Peru Teams at Conference 2023

2. Pray for Ammi Training Center. The Great Commission is at the heart of Ammi Training Center as indigenous leaders are trained to take the Gospel into the many tribes of Brazil. Praise the Lord for the first worship service of the school year! This year there are eight different ethnic groups represented in the first-year class.  

3. Pray for Natalie Suff. Natalie lives in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and reaches out to college students through mentoring and English classes. She also hosted an Afternoon Tea with a short presentation on British culture. Please pray for the flourishing of this new ministry. Pray also for strength and wisdom as she cares for the SAM Bolivia missionary team.

4. Pray for Ministerio Impacto. Ministerio Impacto, a ministry of Iglesia Divino Redentor in Pucallpa, Peru, serves senior citizens. This year’s motto is “For Who You Are, We Worship You Lord,” studying the names of God. Pray for fruit in the lives of the senior community of Pucallpa!

Impacto Ministry

5. Pray for the Sertão region of Brazil. The Sertão is a semi-arid region in northeastern Brazil. There are several communities in the Sertão of indigenous peoples and Quilombola: Afro-Brazilians who live in settlements first established by escaped slaves in Brazil. Many of these communities are isolated, experience food and water insecurity, and lack access to resources and opportunities. A team of Brazilians and SAM missionaries traveled to visit a Brazilian missionary couple that the Recife ministry supports. Pray for the Brazilian couple who has been serving in this region for the last ten years, seeking to establish churches and reach these communities with the Gospel.

6. Pray for Larry and Bonnie Secrest. Praise God for the lives and ministry of Larry and Bonnie who will be retiring this summer. Starting in the mid-1970s, Larry and Bonnie have ministered in Peru, Pennsylvania, Florida, and again in Peru. They served with SAM for the past eight years in Lima, Peru. In Lima they invested their time serving several churches, focusing on leadership development and teaching. They also supported VASE (Volunteers in Social Aide and Evangelism). This is a Peruvian not-for-profit organization that provides mercy ministries–especially through foreign and Peruvian medical teams– to serve remote populations. The Secrests will stay involved with the leadership of VASE in their retirement. 

7. Pray for SAM Academy. Once a month the teachers of SAM Academy host a special lunch for the students. Last month they prepared an Asian meal. After lunch they played a swap game. Every five minutes, the bell rang, sending each grade to a different classroom and to experience a new grade level. For example, the 1st and 2nd graders learned about Romeo and Juliet while the high schoolers got to hear the Three Little Ninja Pigs. It was fun to mix things up a little bit and create more community among the staff and students. Please pray for SAM Academy!

SAM Academy Special School Lunch

8. Pray for Board of Directors meetings. SAM’s Board of Directors is on a week-long prayer, care, and oversight trip across Colombia. A lot of ground will be covered, including stops in Bogota, Medellin, and the north coast. Pray that board members will be used by God as they visit indigenous rural ministries as well as churches and training centers in mega-cities. Pray for SAM’s continued obedience to the Lord in Colombia.  

9. Pray for the church in Nicaragua. Pray for pastors in Nicaragua as they try to faithfully communicate truth in an environment where censorship and imprisonment are a part of the national dynamic. SAM missionary Alex C. was able to visit Nicaragua and train pastors through a study of Philippians with special attention to the theme of heavenly citizenship. Pray for faithfulness and growth of the church in one of the most challenging contexts in Latin America. 

10. Pray for Urban church planting in Latin America. Church planting in an urban context can be challenging and lonely. Pray for leaders from across Latin America who were recently trained in Buenos Aires, Argentina to be church-planter coaches. They help provide important support in strategy, gospel communication, and perseverance for many local pastors. 

Agentina City to City Coaching

Creating Space: Casa Wájaro Update

March 23, 2023 |

Casa Wajaro Keys Jan2023

Bogotá, Colombia – In the previous Casa Wájaro Creating Space blog post, we mentioned that part of Wájaro’s mission is to create space for Indigenous voices at the table… any table to which we have access. From its inception, the dream for Casa Wájaro has been to do just that. To create space in the heart of Colombia’s capital for our Indigenous sisters and brothers to have a place of their own when they are away from home. Casa Wájaro is a space for those who want to see the Indigenous church grow. To see Indigenous communities flourish. And to equip Indigenous leaders who are God-breathed agents of change in their communities and throughout Colombia.

More than just a new and bigger office for our team, we dream of equipping Casa Wájaro with dorms, office space, a full kitchen, artisan shop, and plenty of space for collaborating, working, resting comfortably, and building community together. Many of the Christian Indigenous leaders that we work with fill many roles. They are pastors, artisans, advocates, missionaries, translators, legal representatives, directors, teachers, human rights activists, environmentalists, students, mothers, fathers, friends. They often travel like the radical disciples we’re called to be in Luke 9, trusting that God will provide along the way. Casa Wájaro is the “welcoming place, where people can stay until they leave the town.” 

Like many God-sized dreams, the process took far longer than we anticipated. Never in a million years did we think that it would take so uncomfortably long to find the right house after God miraculously provided the money. We were trudging through ever-changing housing regulations, red tape, a pandemic, and countless numbers of professionals telling us contradictory stories about how to do things the right way. We often felt like we were lost or the house was simply hidden from plain sight. Like feeling our way through a dark room– we held on to the promise that God could see what we could not, so we trusted that there was light even when we felt totally blind.

Diligently, we saw every possibility through to the end, sometimes going back to houses six, seven, and eight times with different professionals. Anxiously, we often felt that we were probably wasting our precious time. Though frustrating and disappointing, it was not wasted. His hand was guiding us, His Spirit was teaching… speaking to us along the way. “The road is difficult, but the gift is good.” “Walk. Don’t run.” “Wait on Me.” “I will be faithful to do what I have started.” “Keep surrendering.” 

He led us. He provided. We have the keys to the house he could see all along. We closed on January 27. When we say that Casa Wájaro will offer a seat at the table for Indigenous voices, we mean it very literally. The next day, four of the main leaders of RELIEC (Evangelical Indigenous Leaders of Colombia), who happened to be in Bogotá at the time, came to see the house and their new office! The timing was perfect. Together, we dedicated the house to the Lord and asked for God to continue providing the resources that are necessary for us to complete the vision!

Casa Wájaro

Casa Wajaro

Keys in hand, the Wájaro team quickly got to work: changing locks, installing security systems, replacing broken windows, planning a volunteer work day, and prepping the house for workers and moving in. On February 25, we hosted a volunteer work day, which brought together a beautifully diverse group of enthusiastic workers! Folks from churches, partner organizations, and different communities worked and celebrated with us. Several times I fought back tears as the doorbell rang. “This is really happening! We’re finally opening the door to Casa Wájaro! 

RELIEC purchased flights for two of our dear friends, Alba Jeny and Eeniith (from the Misak and Nasa communities respectively), to work with us that day. They spent ten hours cleaning the kitchen alone. That gives you some idea of the kind of work this house needs. While pausing for lunch, Jeny and Eeniith shared their dreams for Casa Wájaro. They prayed for the space in Namtrik and Nasa Yuwe. In moments like these, it is clear that we are in this together. It was a gift for our Bogotá community to witness the vision of Wájaro and the purpose of Casa Wájaro. We are so thankful for what God is doing and how he’s invited us to participate. We feel so honored to partake in building the kingdom with Indigenous communities. Working, praying, and praising God together in four languages that day is only the beginning… He’s got so much more in store for us. 

The Wájaro team is loving our new office space, working hard with the communities and the projects we have under-way. We’re also painting, cleaning, and improving the house as we have the time, as well as doing our best to search for funding in order to remodel and supply Casa Wájaro with the furniture, office supplies, bedding, kitchen supplies, etc. that it needs. When the dream began, we set out with a carefully calculated financial goal (cost of a property, cost to remodel/supply it, including a normal rate of inflation). We could not foresee the extreme inflation and exponential housing costs that have been felt around the world. Praise God we still had enough to make the purchase, but we’re humbled to be functioning and faithful with a bare-bones bank account. We trust that just like God provided miraculously in 2021 to get us to our matching grant goal, he will see us through to the final touch of Casa Wájaro. Pray with us that we will also have the resources to fund new projects in Indigenous communities this year!   

Thank you for walking with us, for praying, and for giving sacrificially to this project. We are so grateful. Please continue praying for us to steward this gift wisely and that God will provide. We invite you to follow The Wájaro Foundation on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about Casa Wájaro, the communities we work with, and how you can get involved. Wájaro means “Let’s go together” in Eduria, a small Indigenous language, and we mean it. You’re invited!

Set the table with us and get hungry for heaven.


Lauren Jones is co-founder of The Wájaro Foundation with her husband, Jake. They have served as SAM missionaries since 2017. She is also a photographer, women’s health educator, outdoors expert, social worker, and mother of four. Lauren is passionate about living in authentic community with others and caring for populations that mainstream society tends to overlook.

March 2023 Prayer Focus

March 1, 2023 |

March 2023 Prayer Focus

First of All, Pray

The phrase, “First of All, Pray!”, inspired by 1 Timothy 2:1, is the name of our prayer ministry. It reflects the prominence of prayer within our community. It’s been a mark of our Mission for more than 100 years. The mark remains. First of all, pray—deliberately, intentionally, and in faith, with praise and thanksgiving.

As we serve On Mission Together, please join us in praying for these requests in March 2023:

1. Pray for Lima Initiative. Lima Initiative and City to City Latin America hosted a “city lab” in February for church leaders from Lima, Peru. The theme was “How to Communicate the Gospel to a Post-Modern and Secular Culture” led by Victor Cruz. This was a time for leaders to exchange ideas and reflect on ways to share the hope of the gospel. Pray for the flourishing of the gospel in Lima.

2. Pray for Recife Music Ministry. Master’s Touch, a music school ministry in Recife, Brazil, is back in session. They have started a new year and new classes with lots of new students! The music school trains local worship leaders as well as offers classes to kids in the community. Please pray for the teachers and students to grow in skill and ability, the love of music, and as individuals to the praise of God’s glory.

3. Praise for SAMAIR Peru’s new airplane. We have watched in wonder as God provided SAMAIR Peru with a replacement for their floatplane, which was destroyed in a storm on November 8, 2020.  SAMAIR Peru is celebrating one year with the new plane (N9691Z). Watch this video and give praise to God for His provision. Pray for the future fruit of SAMAIR Peru and the ministries they support.

4. Pray for Millers in language school. Daniel and Rebecca are finishing up their last term at language school. In June, they will join the ministry team in Bolivia. Language school is more than learning grammar but includes public speaking classes, learning to share the gospel and testimonies, and skills to communicate with different ages. Pray that the Millers finish this term well and that God will use this preparation to bear fruit in their relationships and ministry in Bolivia.

5. Pray for Casa Wájaro. After years of work, campaigns, and a lot of searching, the Wájaro Foundation bought a house in February to serve as “Casa Wájaro.” After some remodeling, Casa Wájaro will support the indigenous churches and communities of Colombia. Aside from offices for the Foundation, the house will be a place for hospitality, an Airbnb, a cafe, and an artisan shop. Pray for the remodeling work to be done quickly so this space can support the indigenous communities’ goals of peace, justice, and collective well-being.

6. Pray for IBC Bustamante. Happy belated anniversary IBC Bustamante in Peru! In January, Iglesia Biblica Cristiana Bustamante celebrated two years of faithfulness and care of God. Even in the pandemic with severe lockdowns in Peru, this Body of Christ found a way to bloom, grow, and care for each other and the community. Seth and Jessica Malec, serving with TEAM, and Ally Lee, serving with SAM, are a part of the church family. Please pray for the flourishing of this young church and the provision of a Peruvian pastor to shepherd the congregation.

7. Pray for Tracey Culley and Recife youth. In Recife, Brazil a youth Bible study reconnected with a game night to begin the new year. Tracey is leading this group with a desire to point the youth to Jesus and see them mature in their walks with God. Pray that God would help her as she is transitioning to leading the study on her own. Pray that God would use her to disciple and raise up some of the youth to lead alongside her. Also, pray that God would bring youth from the neighborhood to be consistently involved.

8. Pray for Colombian pastors. Pray for these Colombian pastors, their families, and their churches: Julián, José, Ronald, Arturo, Wilson, Andres, Julio, Fredy, and Wilmer. These men meet regularly for study, prayer, mutual encouragement, and spiritual growth. They represent churches in Santa Marta, Ciénaga, Cartagena, Medellín, and Bucaramanga. Pray for their churches to reach their communities with the good news of Jesus.

9. Pray for Chris and Cristi Haylett. Chris and Cristi serve with Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Church in Armenia, Colombia. They desire to see the local community transformed by the Gospel. In January, the church participated in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) training. They will give gift boxes to children and invite them to join a discipleship study about Jesus called “La Gran Aventura (The Great Adventure).” Pray for the children who will hear about Jesus through the OCC gift boxes.

10. Pray for IBC Ayacucho. Praise God that the IBC (Iglesia Biblica Cristina) church in Ayacucho, Peru has a new pastor, César Shupingahua and his family from Lima. Rick and Donna Martin (SAM Missionaries) are excited to partner with Pastor César to reach Ayacucho with the love of Christ. The church recently hosted a kids’ program for families in the neighborhood. Pray for unity in this young church and that God would raise up more lay leadership within the body of Christ.

11. Pray for Serina Arias. Serina and her friend, Elayne, hosted a tea for their teen girls’ book club from their church in Medellín, Colombia. It was the first time the group could get together in person since the pandemic! The teens’ moms also attended and enjoyed fellowship and mutual encouragement. Pray that the Lord would bless the group of girls. Pray that they grow in faith and love for one another, their families, and their church.

12. Pray for Todd and Erika Carroll. Todd and Erika and their kids relocated and launched a new ministry in João Pessoa on the far eastern tip of Brazil. This northeast area has the second highest concentration of Indigenous people, plus three other minority groups considered unreached and underserved in Brazil: the Quilombolas, the Sertanejos, and the Gypsies. This opportunity for witness builds on their past ministry in this geographic area as well as their more recent work at Ammi Training Center. Pray for open doors as Todd and Erika minister in João Pessoa.

13. Pray for Kat Guild. In Barranquilla, Colombia, Kat hosts friends and acquaintances weekly in her home for “English nights.” This diverse group of 20-somethings gathers Wednesday evenings to practice English by discussing different topics around cultures, values, and worldviews. Kat is grateful for the openness of her peers. Please pray that genuine relationships are established within the group. Pray for those who don’t know Jesus. That they would come to see Him a little more clearly through the conversation and the time shared with one another.


February 21, 2023 |


On our recent trip to visit a missionary couple, Craig and Mary, I admired a pyrex dish that contained the breakfast casserole we were about to eat. Mary agreed that it was the perfect size for a meal for the four of us, but there was more; the dish had a story behind it.

Craig and Mary had come to Brazil with their two little girls many years earlier, and they had brought a pyrex dish just like the one I had admired. They used it often, and it was a favorite—just the right size for a meal for the four of them.

The first thing missionaries need to do when they arrive on the field is learn the language. Craig and Mary were diligently studying Portuguese four days a week, and on Fridays helping in a local ministry where their newly learned language skills were put to the test. Their schedule was full and there was little spare time for preparing elaborate meals, so the casserole dish got a lot of use.

Mornings were often stressful as they got themselves ready for class and got the children ready for school. But they persevered, studying and serving, striving to learn this new language and understand this strange-to-them culture.

After living in Brazil for about nine months, they were getting ready on a Friday morning. They had eaten breakfast, gotten the girls ready for school, and were almost ready to leave for the ministry. Mary was finishing getting herself ready when she heard a CRASH from the kitchen. She ran from the bedroom to see her beloved pyrex dish shattered into a million pieces on the tile floor. It had fallen from the dish rack. She cried as she looked at what had been her dish, but they got it cleaned up and kept going.

But as Craig and Mary were going through the garage on their way out, Mary couldn’t hold back the tears. She started sobbing. Craig was at a loss as to how to console her. Finally, she gained enough control of herself to say, “That dish, shattered on the floor—that’s how I feel.”

It’s hard to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. It is perhaps the most difficult thing a missionary has to do. And it does shatter you. Letting go of all those things that made life “normal,” and having to learn a whole new set of rules about what normal means is exhausting—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Brazil 2023 Visit


Mary’s heart was shattered, just like that casserole dish, and Craig and their two little girls wanted to help her feel better. That afternoon, while Mary was with some others from their ministry team, Craig took the girls and went shopping for a replacement for the dish. He found it—but the replacement was only available in a set of three. So instead of one perfect casserole dish, Mary now has three of them.

Mary was disappointed at losing her favorite casserole dish, and at that moment she probably needed a hug more than a lesson. But later she was able to see the lesson in the shattered dish. God shatters us to then remold us into the people he wants us to be, better than before, perfectly formed for the life and ministry he has prepared for us.

Craig and Mary got through language school and have adapted well to their country of service. They have had a thriving ministry there for nearly 20 years. Will you pray for them as they continue to lead and minister? And will you pray for those who are just starting out in their ministries and who are perhaps at the point of feeling shattered?

Craig and Sue Querfeld
Craig and Sue Querfeld empower missionaries in Latin America through their work with South America Mission and TEAM. Craig serves as the International Ministries Director for SAM. Sue serves as the Regional Member Care Coordinator.
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