A God of the Impossible

July 21 2015

For his church’s 60th anniversary celebration this pas weekend, OMS missionary in Asia, Dave Aufrance, shares the testimony of one of their former sisters in Christ from Ethiopia who has now been resettled in Canada. The story is one of those things that only God could arrange. We share the story with her permission. Her name is Ada, and this an amazing thing God did for her.

I baptized Ada in the spring of 2014 at our church anniversary service. She had been baptized as an infant, as was the custom in her country, but she wanted to do it again as an adult, now that she understand what it really meant. Ada was part of our church most of the three years she was in Asia.

Last October, Ada got word from the UN that she was going to be resettled in Calgary, Canada. When I heard that news, I thought …“Ah, two of my former students, Randy and Wendy Lui live there. I wrote to him and told him that Ada would be coming there in November, and I wondered if his family was willing to take Ada under their wings, so to speak, to help her get settled and connected there. I also connected Ada, Randy and Wendy on Facebook so they could communicate beforehand and try to answer any questions. Randy and Wendy were very happy to help her and even take her into their home for Christmas. Everything was arranged, and Ada was happy that she would know someone when she arrived in Calgary.

Two weeks before Ada was to leave, she got word that …no, she was not going to Calgary, but to Halifax, which is more than 5,000 kilometers away! Ada did not know anyone there, and neither did I. So when she came to church that next Sunday, she was disappointed and crying. We did our best to try to comfort her, and we reminded her that God had preserved her life in getting her out of Ethiopia and that he somehow had a plan, even in this seemingly unfortunate situation. Cindy (my wife) prayed that God would give her some good friends in Halifax.

So, Ada got on the plane in mid-November and left for Halifax. Over a week later, I saw she was online on Facebook, so asked her how it was going in Halifax.

She told me that after she had been there for about a week, she was riding in a taxi. She got to talking to the taxi driver and found out he was from Ethiopia. In fact, she said he reminded her a little bit of her dad. As they continued to talk, it turned out that the taxi driver was her uncle …her dad’s brother! Ada and her family did not even know he was alive. Her uncle had also left Ethiopia, and the last they had heard from him was when he was in a refugee camp in Kenya. For all they knew, he had died there! Then, God arranged it so that Ada needed to ride in a taxi, and the driver was her uncle, an uncle she did not even know was alive, who “just happened” to also live in Halifax,Canada!

We serve a God of the impossible. I get teary-eyed when I tell the story. I hope it encourages you as well. Even when we can’t understand what God is doing, we can be assured he is working things out to our benefit.

This is Ada (center), along wither her uncle and his family in Halifax, Canada.

Tags: powerful testimony, god of impossible, asia, canada, ethiopia,

Maos Ajudando or Helping Hands Ministry in Mozambique

July 10 2015

Can you imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t go to school; if you couldn’t work; if every time you left the house you heard people talking about you in a negative way? You had no value in life. This is the reality for thousands of people in Mozambique who live every day with the reality of a disability. What would Jesus do? How would he treat these people? Would he just walk on by or would he reach out to help? In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 2, we read of a man who had a physical disability. Jesus was teaching in a home and there was a great crowd gathering to hear him. That day, some men decided to go to their friend’s house, put him on a stretcher, and take him to Jesus. He could not go by himself. He was completely dependent.

The crowd didn’t show any care for this man who couldn’t walk. They wouldn’t let them through, and so, the friends of the paralytic resorted to going onto the roof, making a hole, and lowering him to the feet of Jesus! Jesus healed him both physically and spiritually. What if on that day the men decided it was easier to just go and hear Jesus themselves and not take their friend? The paralytic’s life would have been very different. These men saw GREAT NEED, exercised GREAT FAITH in the GREAT POWER and AUTHORITY of Jesus! What a GREAT DIFFERENCE it made! As followers of Jesus, we are called to reach out to those who need a helping hand, just like the paralytic in Jesus’ time. We desire to disciple and mobilize believers to be “Helping Hands” in their communities.

One man’s story who received help from the Helping Hands ministry:

As a teenager, I decided with some friends to flee Mozambique in search of a better life in South Africa. We smuggled ourselves across the border and started to look for ways to survive. Time passed until one day, while crossing the road, I tripped and bruised my leg. As an illegal immigrant, I was afraid to go to the hospital. My leg got worse until I thought I was going to die. I then pleaded with my friends to take me to the hospital. They did, but just dropped me at the entrance and fled. A Brazilian nurse found me and paid for my treatment. I then came back to Mozambique. Over time, my legs became worse and in the end, I had to have both legs amputated. Praise God, I am now going to the Chamanculo church where I am learning about God’s love, grace, and acceptance.”

Another story about how Helping Hands ministry is such a blessing:

After traveling 1112km (690 miles) to the north of Mozambique, we (me and several church leaders) were very well received by an AIM missionary, Claire Weddell, in Chimoio, who fed us and shared how she had joined her friend Fatima in praying for God to provide for her friend’s need - a wheelchair! They had no idea how they could get one, but they trusted God for an answer! Some time later, she went to a training event in South Africa and in God’s providence, she made contact with someone who was aware of our Helping Hands ministry. Contact details were passed along, and soon, we were to receive an email from our friend in South Africa. The rest is history! It was great privilege to leave a wheelchair for Fatima - the answer to her prayer! It is humbling that God should use Helping Hands volunteers and donors to become the answer to someone’s prayer, hundreds, even thousands of kilometers away! Be encouraged, God hears and answers our prayers.

By Melvin Kelly, One Mission Society UK Missionary in Mozambique

Click here to donate to Helping Hands in Mozambique.

Tags: ministry to disabled, mozambique, handicapped community,

Honoring Randy and Linda Spacht

July 7 2015

On June 25, One Mission Society surprised longtime OMS missionaries Randy and Linda Spacht with a special celebration to honor their service and contributions to OMS over the past 38 years. Randy, who has served in many capacities over the last four decades, is stepping down from his position of executive director of International Ministries to help OMS grow in new ways. Throughout his time at OMS, Randy has mainly worked in leadership development. Linda has served in several administrative positions and most recently has worked with the Development Department. Several staff members shared about the impact the Spachts have had on them personally.

Christina Santos, executive ministry assistant in the International Ministries Department, spoke first. She explained that Randy and Linda care about the people they work with. When Christina and her husband Jay adopted a child, Randy allowed her a flexible schedule so that she could be home with the baby. Linda provided motherly guidance and care. Christina expressed her gratitude for Linda’s involvement saying, with tears in her eyes, “Linda takes joy in my daughter.” The Spachts were the first to visit the Santos’ when their child came home.

Dean Davis, the International Director of Every Community for Christ, shared about Randy saying, “I can’t remember a time when Randy hasn’t made time for me.” Dean continued explaining that in his numerous positions, Randy has always focused on empowering people by teaching them strategies to study the Bible and showing leaders how to equip, empower, and send out their teams.

OMS’ current President, Bob Fetherlin, shared that when OMS was in need of leadership in Colombia in 1999 Randy put aside his PHD program to fill that position. David Long, former President of OMS, commented, “There’s hardly one part of OMS not touched by this man in the last couple years.”

Jonathan and Lupita Morton have known the Spachts for almost 20 years. Jonathan relayed Randy’s ability to listen with both his heart and his head. Having offices next to each other for seven years, Jonathan said, “It’s easy to plan actions, but reactions speak to a person’s character. In hard times, I’ve seen the person of Christ demonstrated in Randy’s reactions.” Lupita thanked Linda for the kindness and compassion she has shown their family. She said to Linda, “Thank you for loving me, my boys, and for being grandparents to my kids.”

Being described as “torch-bearers,” the Spachts were presented with a firepit and s’mores supplies to enjoy as a gift of appreciation.

After the touching testimonies, Randy went to the front to thank everyone and joked, saying, “I’ve had the privilege of attending my own eulogy.” He then turned to his wife, asking her to stand beside him. Randy told a short anecdote about a young Colombian man who was on the verge of quitting seminary. Linda saw him in distress, gave him a hug, and the man decided to stay in seminary, going on to serve the Lord with his life. Randy attributed his effectiveness in ministry to God and the woman he blessed him with, Linda.

This special honoring ceremony was touching to witness as OMS came together to show appreciation for two very special people. It was an event that one missionary missed his master’s degree graduation ceremony to attend, and one that has solidified the meaning of the term “OMS family.”

You can learn more about the Spachts here.

-Laura Johnson, Summer 2015 Communications Intern

Tags: honor, missionary, spacht

Missionary Stories from Around the World

July 2 2015

On Thursday, June 18, four OMS field leaders spoke in chapel, sharing stories about the way their ministries have affected lives all over the world.

Cindy, who leads the field in the South Pacific with her husband Mark, teaches English at a missionary school and shared about a student named Carrie.* Carrie and her classmates have been struggling with grief and confusion caused by the sudden death of several students. Even so, Carrie participated with her school on a spring break mission trip. Cindy shared that in Carrie’s reflection paper about the experience she wrote, “God met me there. He let me know I am not alone.” Cindy then spoke about a Christian girl whose father is Muslim. When the daughter would ask her father questions about his religion, he’d get angry or frustrated. Cindy had the opportunity to speak truth into the lives of this girl and her mother, who is also a Christian. The small family is moving, but the mother told Cindy that she is determined to find a good church to help her minister to her husband. This missionary school and its teachers are having lasting impacts on their students in the South Pacific.

Randy Marshall, field leader in the Ukraine, shared about a young girl who has been attending the English club he and his wife, Shelley, lead at a local university. This student, Anna,* has participated in the club for two years. The English club, which regularly has spiritual discussions, also has an annual summer camp where the Marshalls are able to show and share what it’s like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At this camp, Anna made a decision for Christ. She then participated in discipleship with Shelly and another younger girl, but she started to doubt and ask questions. Shelley switched to an apologetic focus to help her find answers. Shortly after this, Anna saw a Christian drama on the street and was given the opportunity to accept Christ. Anna prayed and truly accepted Christ. This time, she has stayed firm through searching answers and even persecution from friends and family. The Marshalls testified to the change they have seen in her and reported with joy that she now helps run one of their ministry’s small groups.

Micah, field director in Brazil, opened his talk saying that he often pops into a local technology store and speaks to the men there who want to practice their English. Through starting mini-English classes, Micah got to know one man, Robert,* very well and also had the opportunity to invite the men to a 20-week Bible study. Robert once asked Micah if he’d ever had an affair. Micah replied that he had not, and Robert answered, “I’ve had several. It’s not good.” At Bible study, Micah noticed that Robert had a lot of biblical knowledge, which he came to find out was because he had grown up in a religious family. He lived a “Christian” life and as a virgin married a virgin. He has a daughter the same age as Micah’s daughter. However, a few years ago Robert’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, and he became angry and turned away from God. In Bible study, they would talk about the importance of confessing sins to one another. Robert was always the one to speak up and disagree. One night, a while later, the study group learned through the Psalms about the unconfessed sin in King David’s life. The next Sunday, Robert went to his home church and confessed to them about his affairs. Micah ended his talk praising God for not only changed lives, but also changing lives.

Field leader in the Dominican Republic, Gail Leroy, shared about the effect of OMS’ human trafficking prevention ministry, HOPE61. Gail spoke about a safe house where 10 young girls are being discipled and finding healing. Five of the girls have gone through baptism classes and have been baptized in the local river. Upon seeing this, the other five girls requested to be baptized as well! The five who had already been baptized have each been paired up with one girl who hasn’t. They are helping each other through the baptism classes, and last Saturday, they all had their first communion altogether.

Gail shared how she has seen them change from bitter and distrusting to sweet and sincere. She said, “We’ve seen them grow in faith. We’ve seen them get along together. We’ve seen them start healing from what they’ve been through.” Gail ended by requesting prayer for a new property because, praise God, they now need more space to help even more young girls.

It was overwhelming to hear the things that God is doing all over the world. As an avid traveler, I am invigorated by these stories of redemption from people of such diverse backgrounds. As I listen to these stories of hardship and victory, I feel my sense of curiosity about the world and its people intensify. I love hearing the missionaries speak; from the lilt of the Scottish accent to the achingly familiar African cadence. I want to know them all, learn about our similarities and differences. Just last week, I met an MK from the Ukraine who likes to sing in Russian and listens to the same bands as me. I know that this burden I feel to know and love others stems from our Creator’s desire to know and love us, his people.

*Names changed for security.

-Laura Jouhnson, Summer 2015 Communications Intern

Tags: ukraine, brazil, dominican republic, south pacific, evangelism, missions, missionary stories,