Peru & COVID-19

Peru’s quarantine began on March 16th and many believed it an indefinite lockdown, as the dates for its end have regularly been pushed back, with phases for reopening just announced this week. Much of the panic in Peru is connected to the medical facilities that provide adequate medical care under normal circumstances, but would be stressed and overworked if the pandemic grows too quickly at any time. An example of this is in Pucallpa, a major city on the edge of the Amazon where many SAM missionaries work, which has three major hospitals, two that are currently closed and the remaining one only receiving patients with health insurance.

Still, we see God’s mercy and His providence. The Peruvian church and our missionaries there have hope, and from day one have worked creatively to meet the growing needs in their communities. In Arequipa, a church plant in an under-resourced part of the city created food bags to distribute to neighbors, as pictured above, and the missionaries there have helped to distribute food and resources to church members in need. In Lima, the Iglesia de la Ciudad team distributed food and money to neighbors in Manchay, an under-resourced district Southeast of the city. Like elsewhere in Latin America, most Peruvians rely on day wages to survive and this extended quarantine has been hard on many families.

As the stories flow up from the cities and communities where our missionaries serve, we are privileged to share them and give glory to God. Pray for Peru and the church there as they continue to weather an extended lockdown. Pray for our missionaries as they discern how best to serve those around them and care for themselves well. This month, thanks to the generosity of many, we have equipped our missionaries with extra resources and we ask for your prayers as they support those in need.

Bolivia & COVID-19

santa cruz
[Empty highways in Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz; photo taken by Zayit Clavel]

 

Bolivia’s lockdown and quarantine is currently set to last through April 30th. It began officially on March 31st and individuals have been permitted to leave their home on designated days of the week based on their government ID number. Each household is only permitted one person to leave their home per day, and they must travel on foot or bicycle as all vehicle travel has been banned.

In some ways, Bolivia’s nationwide strike last October and November prepared many for this event. While people could still leave their homes and congregate in the streets, there were blockades on every corner and vehicle traffic was heavily reduced. Even so, the church was united at that time in prayer and worship movements, just as she is united in these days to be generous and support her surrounding communities.

The Association of Evangelical Churches in Eastern Bolivia took up donations and made over 1,000 bread rolls to distribute to families in need. The SAM missionary team was able to send funds out to Bolivian partners in rural Santa Cruz to support team members and friends at the discipleship center. One of our missionaries has built relationships with women in the local prison in Santa Cruz and received donations from individual supporters to help provide food and medical supplies to the women, as these prisoners rely on help from the outside for their daily needs.

The generous spirit of those whose faith is in Christ and whose peace comes from God cannot be contained by fear. Though there is chaos in our world today, God’s people stand firm in His promises and bring light into the darkness. Pray for the church in Bolivia and our missionaries there as they continue under strict quarantine guidelines and seek to meet needs in communities where businesses and livelihood have come to a halt.

Colombia & COVID-19

Guajira
[Photo from the Guajira Desert of Northern Colombia, taken by Lauren Jones]

 

The most recent message from the Colombian government says that mandatory self-isolation will stay through April 26th. Each region or department is enforcing the “stay at home” order in different ways. For many Colombians, crisis began overnight as their daily income from labor work was suddenly inaccessible and unsustainable.

Even so, the church has not remained idle. Missionaries throughout Colombia are sharing stories of generosity and love despite their circumstances. In Bogotá, one missionary team and their house church community is continuing to provide support for young adults who were graduated from Colombian state foster care without adoption. The team had to close their community center to the public but are still using it privately to process food they purchase from a local food bank to distribute care packages within the neighborhood.

Another team in Bogotá which walks alongside communities to engage in peace and justice work has suddenly shifted into relief efforts, despite the ethos of their ministry being concerned with long-term development work. They have already sent available funds up to the Guajira peninsula to aid the Wayuu people in this time of need. As they put it, “Many of these people now live mostly dependent on the monetary system and a daily income from their labor, while often the previous generations of Wayuu did not. Amongst many factors, severe drought in the past 8 years has served to push this marginalized people-group to further dependence on the developed world, and now, as we are seeing throughout the globe, that system is at a pause.”

Pray for the people of Colombia as many face economic crisis within their communities. We know both from their history and from our long-term friendships throughout Colombia that they are a resilient people, but even so we are all in need of God’s mercy and strength in these days.

Good Friday Hope

Each year as we walk through Holy Week and approach Good Friday, there is an irony to it. We annually hold the tension of remembering Christ’s final days before his crucifixion and gruesome death with the foresight of his resurrection. We are inclined to consider it “good” because of what it brings, knowing that in his death and burial the story was not over and a victory had only just begun.

This year even more so we can reflect on what is “good” about this day. In remembering the work of Christ on the cross, in seeing God dwell among men and sacrifice his son for the ransom of many, we do have reason to hope. And it is not a foolish hope—we have a firm hope that God is at work to restore his creation and draw his children near, regardless of the circumstances that surround or overwhelm us. He has declared an eternal victory over sin and death and sent us out in his Spirit to bring his kingdom to Earth.

Today we pray that God’s nearness would bless us with that tangible hope, lifting our eyes above our circumstances to see his beauty. Let us pray for those who are without any measure of security or hope in these days, that they would know the Lord. Let us pray also for our missionaries who are scattered and weathering this storm, that they would be empowered by the Spirit to be ministers of light and bring refuge to those around them.

Creativity and Courage

The featured image in this post is of Venezuelan currency, transformed and crafted into a figurine whose decorative value as a star is worth more than the collective value of the individual paper bills. The strange reality of this valuation is, in many ways, a sign of the times. Globally, our reality has shifted so drastically in a short period of time and what was once reliable, safe and useful has become sporadic or inaccessible in an instant.

Even so, God has called each of us to a specific and unique place today. It is no accident that any of us are “sheltering in place” wherever we are. For South America Mission’s missionary team, we have been urged to not only shelter in place but also to “serve in place”.

In these moments, we have an unprecedented opportunity to tangibly bring peace and hope to others who need it. Whether it’s through virtual encouragement, praying with people who never would have turned to prayer before or being generous with what we have toward those who are in need, we have opportunities everywhere to be the hands and feet of Christ to our world today.

This is the hour for creativity, not fear. While our feelings of uncertainty are valid, we have faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised and as Paul wrote to Timothy “… God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 2:7).

Let us pray in these days that God’s Spirit would guide each of us to think creatively with the resources, influence and time we have available to us. Pray for our missionaries also as many live in full lockdown and have needed to meet needs and love others in new ways. If you are able, prayerfully join us in our Crisis Response to help our missionaries move in new ways this month to love their neighbors and serve those in need.

September Prayer Focus: Organizational Excellence

In all things, we seek to submit our actions, intentions and resources unto the Lord for his glory and the establishment of his kingdom on Earth. This is the focus of our strategic goal of “organizational excellence”; not that we in human efforts can become perfect, but in our submission as we release our human desire for control, as well as our prideful tendencies, Christ meets us in our inadequacies and strengthens us in our weakness.

We continually hope to improve, by God’s grace, our internal communications, leadership, administrative efforts, organizational systems and processes, as well as our partnerships, so that in all things it is Christ who is glorified and his ministry enabled to the fullest. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Pray with us this month, that in our efforts to grow and enhance our organization God would guide us in each change and grant us wisdom in each step. Pray for our leaders, staff members, personnel and partners as we seek to surrender ourselves daily unto the Lord.

ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE PRAYERS

1. Pray for Eric Schultz, who is the newest member to join our Home Office staff. Eric’s arrival completes our Senior Leadership Team and as he steps into the role of International Staff Director, we look forward to seeing his impact on our missionary community. Pray for the Schultz family as they continue their transition to Fort Mill, SC from Arizona. Pray that their children transition well in their new school environments and that the family finds a good church community to support them. Ask God to guide Eric’s integration into the Home Office team and that God would provide full financial support for their family’s needs.

2. Pray for Melissa Weissenberger, our new Mobilization Director. Pray for her transition into this role as she releases her responsibilities in communications and begins to set mobilization goals for the remainder of 2018. Pray that God would grant her wisdom in strategy and that he would use Melissa to continue to mobilize a new mission force for the gospel. Pray also for the Personnel team as Melissa serves with our Member Care and International Staff directors, that God would unite them in their effort to serve our missionary community and cast vision for growth and wellness.

3. Pray for SAM’s goal to see our Vision embraced across our fields. Ask God to continue to provide guidance for strategy and vision in each ministry context. As we gather new missionaries, pray that they would effectively carry our Mission and Vision to God’s glory. Pray also that God would inspire our missionary community and leadership to seek the most effective ways to build towards our Vision.

4. Pray for the sale of a SAM-owned property in Peru. Ask God for his guidance over the division of assets and investment with the proceeds from the sale of this property. Pray that God would guide this sale to its close and that their would be unity amongst our team in how to invest the proceeds.

5. Pray for new opportunities for ministry in Latin America. As we continue to integrate our ministries with TEAM and through partnerships with City to City Latin America, God is taking us to new geographic regions in Latin America, expanding our influence into these places. Pray for the possibility to partner with key ministries and regional leaders in Trinidad & Tobago and in Argentina. Ask God to bless these initiatives and grant wisdom to those overseeing and evaluating ministry integration.

6. Pray for our Proven Leader Partnership program which provides further education for proven leaders through church partnerships. Partnership with key churches allows SAM to invest in further education which enhances our Latin American partners’ effectiveness in ministry. PLP funds help provide grants to key Latin American partners to study and grow in their ministry area. Ask God to provide funding for the training for leaders in the South American church.

7. Pray for financial generosity to ministry throughout the final months of this fiscal year. Ask God to provide for and fully fund our missionaries and ministries. Pray also for SAM’s Vision Fund which enables SAM to invest in new ministry endeavors, mobilization of more missionaries and the shepherding of our team. Pray that God would provide financial resources to the Vision Fund to allow our team to continue to grow and serve our missionary community well.

8. Pray for the upcoming November Leadership Meetings. This year SAM and TEAM will be participating in strategic leadership meetings together once more, collaborating effectively on strategy for Latin America. Pray for our leaders as they plan and prepare for these meetings, that they would have a common vision for their time together. Ask God to bless the partnership of SAM and TEAM as we seek to grow his kingdom in one accord. Pray that this gathering of Latin American missional leadership would be a fruitful time of prayer and vision for God’s glory.

9. Pray for SAM, TEAM, SEND, and Crossworld as they officially form a new association this month. September marks the founding of this association wherein we hope to see more effective strategies developed, leveraging our organizational strengths across our entities to continue to improve systems and visions between our like-minded gospel-centered initiatives. Pray for the wise design of the structure of this association, that it would promote kingdom-mindedness and not just create another entity to maintain. Pray that the communication of this collaboration to supporters would encourage their joy in the gospel and cultivate joy in Jesus and not in individual organizations.

10. Pray for our field administrators and our need for more missionaries gifted with administration. Ask God to provide leadership and gospel-workers gifted in accounting to bring necessary and much-needed support to our fields and the overall integrity of our field finances and strategy. Pray that God would sustain the work of our current field administrators as they balance ministry, administration and their own families.

Download this month’s prayer guide: September Prayer Guide.

August Prayer Focus: Training Godly Leaders

We see transformation in communities across South America when leaders are equipped to meet the needs of their people and to lead their people through spiritual revival and growth. Whether it’s parents tirelessly submitting their homes unto the Lord, pastors diligently preaching and serving their congregation or even young adults looking to create gospel-centered change in their community, we long to see all believers equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to share their faith and disciple others.

This month, we pray over our leadership training programs, educational initiatives and the community leaders whom God continues to raise up. We know that by his grace and power the communities in South America can be transformed to become beacons of hope and places of refuge. It is our prayer that in all of our ministries and partnerships, God would comfort and strengthen these leaders as described in Isaiah:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youth shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

LEADERSHIP TRAINING PRAYERS

1. Pray for the Ashaninka Bible Institute (IBA) in Mazamari, Peru, as this year’s session begins in August. Pray that God prepares the hearts of the men and women who will be studying, that they will be ready to not only receive biblical knowledge, but also be willing to let the Holy Spirit build godly character in their lives. Pray for the teachers who will be instructing during this IBA session, that their teaching will be biblical and they can make it relevant to the Ashaninka people and the Ashaninka Church. Pray for Mesías, the director of IBA, that he will be able to lead well and separate sufficient time for IBA in the midst of his responsibilities as president of the Ashaninka Church Association.

2. Pray for the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The SCCLC begins their new school year this month. Pray for the teachers as they prepare their classrooms and curriculum, that God would guide and sustain them. Pray for Maribel Ayos as she has transitioned to Santa Cruz and starts her first year as the SCCLC’s new director. Ask God to strengthen Maribel as she leads the faculty and staff. Pray also that God would provide for the remaining teaching needs for the 2018-2019 school year.

3. Pray for The Wájaro Foundation as they continue to partner with ASPEWA, the association of Wayuu Evangelical Pastors in the Guajira, Colombia. One of ASPEWA’s main strategies to unify and strengthen the church is to equip their pastors and leaders throughout the Guajira on a wholistic level. Praise God for the successful launch of an alphabetization program amongst 55 isolated rancherías, allowing 200 leaders within these church communities to learn to read and write in Spanish. Thank God for providing some of the funding for the educational program, currently equipping over 300 pastors and leaders, from the most practical courses to seminary classes. Ask God for wisdom and funding to build a Wayuu school for teaching literacy in their own language, as a further branch of the educational program. Pray for additional funding and guidance as the program looks to expand the coming year into Venezuela, and that if He wills, ASPEWA will expand, especially into the more remote regions of the “Alta Guajira” where fewer know the sound of His voice.

4. Pray for the Centro de Capacitación Bíblica (CCB) Leadership Team in Pucallpa, Peru. CCB leaders are visiting many of the students and graduates between cycles of studies, encouraging them and helping them with Bible studies and seminars in the churches and counseling. Continuity of studies is a tough situation for CCB students due to political parties pulling the villages in different directions, travel problems due to the many changes in the political scene in Peru, and other ongoing cultural shifts. Pray for the CCB students who will return to CCB, that God protects and guides them during their break. Ask God to encourage these leaders as they travel, and pray that he uses the relationships formed at CCB to further the gospel in Peru.

5Pray for the Bolivian Evangelical University (Universidad Evangélica Boliviana, UEB). The UEB will celebrate its 38th anniversary and also dedicate their new administration building this year. The UEB was the first private university in Bolivia and the first Evangelical university in South America, and SAM, as one of the founding members, maintains a representative on the board of directors as part of our commitment to preparing God’s people to transform society. Praise God that the first semester of this year, the UEB had 2,403 students! Pray for the recent graduates as they go out to not only do the work of the church, but are involved in government, communications and media, medicine and other walks of life, that God would use them to influence their communities for his glory.

6. Pray for the Shipibo-Conibo Evangelical Church Association (AIESHC). AIESHC leaders are in mid-year meetings and planning sessions with other church associations in July & August. Pray for the leaders as they visit many AIESHC churches that are struggling with the same type of divisions and problems that any church has. Ask God to sustain these leaders and grant them wisdom as they the confront cultural norms that are not Biblical. Pray also that these visits would further the redemptive work of the gospel in these communities, and that God would protect these leaders in their travels.

7. Pray for the discipleship center in Eastern Bolivia. Since breaking ground last year, Raphá and key SAM missionaries continue to build initial structures on the land. Praise God for the many ways he has blessed this project, particularly with the ongoing involvement, sacrifice and service of local Bolivian pastors and church leaders! Ask God to continue to provide the necessary funding and resources to fully equip the discipleship center. Pray for SAM missionaries and Raphá leadership as they continue to make strategic plans for the programs the center will offer once it is fully functional.

8. Pray for Colegio la Esperanza in Santa Marta, Colombia. La Esperanza has begun its second semester for 2018, continuing to strive for academic excellence and to form Christian leaders of integrity who transform the world for God’s glory. Ask God to provide necessary resources for the families of students who struggle academically. Pray for the teachers as they aim daily to live and share truth and love with their students. Pray that the devotional times at the school would be impactful in the lives of the students.

9. Pray for SAM Academy in Pucallpa, Peru. SAM Academy begins their 2018-2019 school year this month, continuing to serve the missionary children of the greater Pucallpa region. Pray for the teachers as they prepare their classrooms and lay the foundations for this school year. Ask God to bless the relationships between teachers and students, as many teachers become close mentors to the students at SAM Academy. Pray that God would provide for remaining teaching needs, that the academy would be fully staffed and able to serve these students well this school year.

10. Pray for the Ammi Training Center in Brazil. Praise God for the production and release of a ministry video that helps Ammi tell the story of God’s incredible work at the center! Ask God to continue to sustain the hard work of the many teachers, mentors and staff members of Ammi who continue to model the grace and truth of the gospel in their daily lives. Pray that God would work mightily in the lives of Ammi students, that each would be transformed by his presence and empowered to spread his love to their villages throughout Brazil.

 

Download the prayer guide as a PDF here: August Prayer Guide

July Prayer Focus: Churches & Church Networks

Redeemed Lives. Beautiful Churches. Transformed Communities.

Why do we long to see “beautiful” churches? Kirk Ogden says the following about the word “beautiful” as a descriptor for churches: “Beautiful offers a richer, more robust vision for the church. We are not discarding words like ‘vibrant’ and ‘dynamic’. They tell us a lot about what we hope for and work towards. But beautiful moves us to consider more than size, quantity or activity. Beautiful beckons us to consider what Jesus desires and is himself creating in his bride, the church.”

Our vision for church planting and for the establishment of church networks goes beyond the physical buildings and the detailed strategic plans. It is not enough for a church building to be constructed and for a church body to gather; we long to see bodies of believers living in God’s magnificent glory here on Earth so that others see these churches and say “let us go with you for we have heard that God is with you.” – Zechariah 8:23

This month we pray over the churches and church networks in South America that are working as one body to offer the hope of Christ to their local communities. We see God’s presence in the gatherings of believers in the lowlands of Bolivia as well as in the growing church plants in Lima and Bogotá. We also grieve for the division and heartache that many churches face in their ministries. In all things, we have hope that these local manifestations of the body of Christ can pursue righteousness and unity as Paul charged the church at Ephesus: “… to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each on of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:22-25

CHURCHES & CHURCH NETWORKS PRAYERS

1. Pray for Iglesia de la Ciudad in Lima, PeruAs the church plant has continued to grow in La Molina, Lima, they are looking to establish a second location. The team has identified 5 key sectors in the city of Lima for church site multiplication: La Molina, San Isidro, Miraflores, San Borja, and Barranco. Pray for Iglesia de la Ciudad, that God would lead them and direct them to the location of their next church site. Ask God for an executive pastor to join their team, as this need is key to enabling their expansion.

Executive Pastor

2. Pray for Ciudad Corazón in Bogotá, Colombia This vibrant group of house churches is a tight-knit community actively working to bring peace and redemption to the city of Bogotá. Ask God for more house church leaders and for the expansion of his church in this city. Pray for the Ciudad Corazon team as they discern new pockets of the city for the movement to grow into.

3. Pray for the body of believers within the Ayoré people group in eastern Bolivia. The gatherings of believers within this community reflects a hunger for God’s word. Pray for the development of a church body within this people group, that they would continue to represent the grace and truth of the gospel to each other as they establish church leadership. Ask God to use their involvement in helping to build the discipleship center (Chochis, Bolivia) to inspire their believers and raise up the right people from their community to participate in theological training once the center is established

4. Pray for the Ayacucho Church Planting Team in Ayacucho, Peru. The Ayacucho team is still in the research and networking stage of church planting. Pray for their outreach efforts, particularly in cooking classes, ESL, and kids’ ministry as they continue to get to know families in the city. Ask God to create the necessary strategic avenues for the team to be introduced to influential people in Ayacucho as they look to establish a church body. Pray also for Club Exploradores, the kids’ outreach effort, as they rent out a meeting space and minister to children in the community each week, that God would bless these efforts and use this ministry to create relationships with the families in the community.

5. Pray for Las Misiones church in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Pastor Felix Pedraza has been a longtime friend and partner with SAM in Santa Cruz. Pray for Pastor Felix’s ministry as he leads the congregation of Las Misiones, and for their ministry of hosting and nurturing a primary school within the church. Las Misiones is a member of the Asociación de las Iglesias Evangélicas del Oriente (AIEO), an association of churches founded by local church leaders and SAM back in the 70s which continues to connect church bodies and pastors in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia.

6. Pray for the Lima Initiative in Lima, Peru. The Lima Initiative participates with City to City Latin America in gathering and training church planters for urban church outreach. Pray for the current pastors participating in Lima in the “Incubator”, a church-planter training program facilitated jointly by City to City and the Lima Initiative, with pastors traveling to Lima from all over the country of Peru. Ask God to raise up new church planters for the next Incubator program beginning in Lima next year.

7. Pray for INDIEWACOL, an association of Wayuu churches in La Guajira, Colombia. Pray for the current group of Wayuu indigenous pastors participating in INDIEWACOL’s pastoral training program. Ask God to raise up the future leaders of the Wayuu church to be trained and equipped through these efforts. Pray also for the current church leaders as they begin to make preparations for the association’s annual worship gathering and business meeting in December.

Wájaro Foundation

8. Pray for the indigenous church leaders trained at Ammi in Brazil. The Ammi Training Center’s vision is for there to be a flourishing church in every tribal group in Brazil. For 2018, Ami has seen 18 enrolled pastoral students representing 8 people groups. Praise God for the new believers who have come to faith during their time at Ammi! Pray for the current students at Ammi, as they train in their second language (Portuguese) and continue to develop pastoral skills. Ask God to protect the recent Ammi graduates who have returned to their villages and begun to share the gospel with their tribes.

9. Pray for the church plant in Gaira, Colombia. Ask God to bless their current process of applying for legal status and registration with the government. Praise God for their recent VBS in La Paz, Colombia and for the participation of so many families! Pray that God would raise up committed servants from within the church to come alongside Frank, Luz, and Fernando who currently lead this body of believers.

10. Pray for City to City Latin America’s Intensive. The first Intensive ever in Latin America will be held in Monterrey, Mexico in September 2018. The “Intensive”, a training program developed by City to City, prepares church planters to establish and multiply churches in urban centers. Pray for the 25 urban church planters from across Latin America invited to attend. Ask God to develop long lasting relationships between the attendees which will enhance church planting strategies across Latin America.

11. Pray for Dalmiro & Laura Ortiz as they have recently returned to Bolivia. Pray for Dalmiro’s service of shepherding pastors in eastern and rural Bolivia, as he continues to develop and implement theology and discipleship programs. Ask God to continue to provide resources and partners to Dalmiro’s ministry, that the churches and pastors would be blessed with an abundance of support for their growth.

12. Pray for Marcelo Robles, a friend of SAM and pastor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a member of City to City Latin America’s network of pastors, Marcelo is a key partner in the plans to start an Incubator church planting training program in Buenos Aires in 2019. Pray for Marcelo and his church, La Mision, as they operate in a key sector of Buenos Aires. Pray that God would sustain Marcelo as he is a bivocational pastor, and that God would use his work at the university to continue to grow the church and draw university students into relationship with Christ.

13. Pray for the church plant, El Camino, in Arequipa, Peru. TEAM missionaries Craig and Sue Querfeld began this church alongside two other couples back in 2001, and for the past four years the church has been run under Peruvian leadership, with Pastor Arcadio Vilchez as their Senior Pastor today. Pray for Craig and Sue as they continue to minister alongside this church body. Pray also for the next two church plants currently at work through El Camino with two other missionary couples: Jason and Sarah Sheets, working to see a church body established in an under-resourced neighborhood, and Seth and Jessica Malec, starting a church plant in a middle class neighborhood alongside their missionary partners Eward and Esme Zarate. Ask God to bless these efforts, that His Word would be proclaimed in Arequipa through these church plants and that the city would be transformed by the redeeming hope of the gospel.

You can download this month’s prayer guide as a PDF: July Prayer Focus

“Be still and know that He is God”. Reflections from an intern.

Every year we have the privilege of hosting interns alongside our missionaries in South America. We see the many ways God challenges and deepens their faith as they step out of their comfort zones and experience new cultures. Even further, we see a correlation between length of service and areas of growth. This year our interns have primarily served for at least three months and we rejoice to hear how God worked in their lives while they served overseas.

It’s estimated that more than two million teenagers from the US participate in short term missions each year. For adults, there’s an average 1.5 million US participants who serve annually and return to the same organization or location. But what happens when someone who has served in short term ministry transitions to a longer length of service?

SAM intern Hallie Dilworth served in Bolivia for three months and reflected on her experience first transitioning to Bolivia after having already served on short term trips before. She said that in short term ministry “it’s easy to feel busy and valuable. But when you’re on a ‘mission trip’ for three months, every day is not like that, especially here in Bolivia where life moves a lot slower than most places I’ve been.”

These words reflect the shift in culture and lifestyle often experienced by new missionaries who transition overseas. It’s not uncommon for new missionaries to feel a “slowing down” of life when they step outside of the US and into a rural or developing country.

Hallie arrived in January to work with Jason and Jenna Weigner, who serve in the countryside of eastern Bolivia and are currently working alongside Fundación Raphá to build a discipleship center for the indigenous church.

Living in the rural South American countryside is challenging, yet beautiful in many ways. As Hallie puts it: “San Jose is a very small town, charming in its own unique way. In the plaza there is a huge, gorgeous church that is the main landmark. Many of the roads are dirt, and the buildings are very rustic. Sometimes you walk into what looks like a shack, but inside it’s a nice restaurant with white tablecloths.”

More importantly, Hallie began to wrestle with her own expectations of serving overseas, as many missionaries do soon after arrival. Her self-awareness and reflection are one of the key steps to longevity in missions:

“I didn’t think I had many expectations going into this experience, but I’m slowly realizing that I actually did. My missions experience thus far has consisted of trips that were no longer than two weeks. On such short trips, every day is typically packed with VBS or feeding the homeless or building houses… This change of pace has been interesting to get used to, but I think it’s a very good thing. “

Likewise, Hallie discovered the difference between an identity rooted in what she does and an identity rooted in who she is in Christ:

“Back home, I fill every single moment with school, work, Bible studies, volunteering, social life, etc. On the rare occasion I have free time, I get stressed because I don’t know what to do with it. I put my identity and value in how productive I can be or how many plans I have, instead of letting God show me how to depend on Him. But now, I’m being forced to change my pace and be still and know that He is God.”

Ultimately, Hallie concluded what we hope for all of our missionaries: when we rest and wait upon the Lord, we hear him more clearly. “It’s easy to miss Him [at home] when I’m constantly filling my schedule so that I can feel good about myself, but here I feel more aware of Him than ever. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things a lot more and to be aware of the blessings God showers all over His creation every day. It’s been a humbling experience so far, doing small tasks as part of a much bigger mission, and trusting God that He will use me as His servant.

If you’ve thought about participating in short term ministry, or have even imagined longer experiences like an internship, consider how God could be calling you deeper into relationship with him through missions. Allowing God to strip away so many of our cultural norms and to reveal his character in surprising ways through new cultures is truly a humbling and faith-growing experience.

*Photos by Hallie Dilworth

June Prayer Focus: SAM Missionary Corps

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the world, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” – Colossians 4:2-4

When called to ministry, we are still first called to love God and love our neighbor. The additional challenges of living in a new culture and operating in a second language can make that command seem daunting at times for cross-cultural servants. This month we continue to pray over our missionary corps, who serve throughout South America, as they face obstacles in their ministries and personal lives. Like Paul asked the church in Colossae to pray over him, we ask that God would open a door to each of our missionaries, that they may be salt and light in their communities.

Whether the trial is medical, interpersonal, financial, logistical or spiritual, we know that in all things God is righteous, just, merciful and the true source of hope to his people. The trials and hardships experienced in ministry are no easier, and often more difficult, with the added stresses of cross-cultural work. We pray over our missionaries this month with the confidence that David had: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” – Psalm 55:22

MISSIONARY CORPS PRAYERS

1. Pray for our missionaries who are on Home Ministry Assignment. Pray for those who have returned to the US for their Home Ministry Assignment (HMA), that their time in the US would be rejuvenating to their souls and a time of blessed fellowship with their friends, family, and network of supporters. Ask God to provide the necessary resources for these missionaries to confidently return to the field. Pray also for our missionaries who are preparing for their upcoming HMA, that God would enable their remaining time on the field to produce opportunities to present the gospel, and that God would comfort them as they say goodbye and prepare to temporarily leave their ministry context.

2. Health concerns can inhibit ministry and are a hard reality for some of our missionaries. Pray for the health of our missionary corps, that God would sustain them in ministry and provide the necessary strength for their service. Ask God to heal the sick and wounded, and to guide the hands of surgeons and doctors who are currently helping some of our missionaries overcome severe health issues. Pray that our missionaries would find God’s presence and voice a true source of comfort and hope within their suffering, and that God would give them the grace to be able to minister to others from their weakness.

3. One of the difficulties in cross-cultural ministry is developing deep fellowship and community, particularly as every cross-cultural servant has left their home country and sacrificed their opportunity to remain close to friends and family back home. Pray for the friendships and partnerships of our missionaries, that God would strengthen these relationships and use them to provide stability and comfort to our missionaries. Ask that God would provide deep friendships to our missionaries who are new to their field and ministry context, or who are experiencing loneliness. Pray that God would bless our missionaries with sincere fellowship with fellow believers who speak truth and bring hope to our missionaries as they continue to serve cross-culturally.

4. Resources and funding are potential areas of discouragement for missionaries and cross-cultural servants. Pray for our missionaries who lack sufficient resources or funding to confidently serve in their current ministry. Ask God to sustain our missionaries physically and financially as they continue in service. Pray that God would provide new ministry partners who will financially invest in our missionaries and ministries. Pray also that even in times of minimal funding or resources, our missionaries would be blessed with confidence in God’s call for their ministry and his unending love for them, his children, similar to the apostle Paul who learned how to be content “in times of need and in times of abundance” (Phil. 4:12).

5. Some of our missionaries have close family members who recently passed away. Pray for those who are currently grieving, that God would be their comfort and hope in this time, especially as they are physically distant from their family and loved ones. Ask God to bless these missionaries with peace and with close friends to support them emotionally and spiritually, and to ease the pain that distance can cause. Pray that even in their grieving, they may know the depth of God’s love and be a light to those around them.

6. This month the Bolivia missionary team says goodbye to some of their missionaries who are completing their service. Pray that God protects their final moments together in ministry and fellowship, that they gain closure and feel prepared for their transitions. Ask God to bless these missionaries with wisdom as they discern their next steps, that he would make their paths straight and show them how he has prepared them for this moment. Pray also for our missionaries who remain in Bolivia this summer, that God would sustain them and bless them with deep fellowship as they continue in ministry.

7. Pray for Natalie Suff who has recently joined the Bolivia field. Thank the Lord for his provision for Natalie as she begins her missionary service. Ask God to provide her the strength and perseverance necessary to adjust to a new culture. Pray also for her initial time at language school, that she learns Spanish effectively and that she focuses on the Lord and His will amidst all of the change and transition in her life.

8. Pray for Jorge & Ginny Enciso who returned to Bogotá, Colombia this month. Early this month they completed the adoption process and welcomed an 8-month old boy into their family. Pray for the Enciso family as they continue to transition and establish themselves in their community once more. Ask God to bless their family while they care for their new son, as their children enter a new school and as they all begin ministry again.

9. Pray for Chris & Cristi Haylett as they transition out of ministry in Riohacha, Colombia, and return to the US for Home Ministry Assignment. Ask God to protect their family as they say goodbye and travel this summer. Pray that in their remaining time in Colombia, they remain healthy and that doors are opened for them to share the gospel in Riohacha. Pray for their 3 youngest children who travel with them, that God would ease their pain as they say goodbye and re-enter the US. Pray also that God would grant clear vision and direction to the Haylett family as they pursue their next ministry context.

10. Pray for Hana Kamiya who has been blessed with a fruitful and exciting experience at language school in Costa Rica. Pray for healing as she continues to seek care for health concerns, which impact her placement for future ministry. Ask God to protect her and provide for her as she transitions back to the US. Pray for clarity and confidence from the Lord as Hana discerns her next ministry context. Ask that God would be her comfort and strength during this time of transition.

You can download this month’s prayer requests as a PDF here: June Prayer Focus

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