About six years ago, when Josiah and I were in language school full time, we hired Aicha* to come to our home to help with cleaning and child care. Our family connected with her right away. She and I talked, using the little Arabic that I had and the little French that she knew. She was great with our kids, playing with them and teaching them new songs. She would often put our daughter to bed or pretend to put her doll to sleep by singing Frere Jaque (Brother John). From early on we had a lot of conversations about faith and what we each believe. I would talk to her about Jesus and she would share with me some of the beliefs of Islam, and as we talked it was clear that she was cool towards followers of Jesus, especially those who had once been Muslims. She had an aunt who was a follower of Jesus and it was difficult for her to accept that reality.
*Last name omitted for security reasons
Rob and Doris Swartz and their family of four children (Larissa, Kevin, Danae, and Bryce) moved into Amherst Meadows subdivision in London, Ohio about 10 years ago. Rob, a self-described “country boy” never would have imagined himself in such a place but as they outgrew their former home, they felt God calling them to live in a neighborhood with close neighbors. From the beginning, they felt called to share Jesus with those neighbors. Rob said it took a lot of initiative on their part to start forming relationships. As introverts who enjoy family life, they had to challenge themselves to approach their neighbors. They don’t see evangelism as a natural gifting for either of them and learned they had to make an intentional place in their life for relationship building. They took walks around the neighborhood in the evenings, took cookies to the neighbors, and eventually, even began hosting an annual block party. These initial friendly encounters often lead to deeper, growing friendships.
Nate Olmstead began his new part-time position as Church Planting Team Coordinator with RMM on October 1. Nate and his wife, Denise and their six children Abigail (8), Isaiah (7), Clay (5), Cassia (4), Trenton (2) and Jeremiah (5 months) live in Croghan, New York. They enjoy hiking, picnics, playing baseball, kickball, or anything that involves a ball!
Nate’s role involves assisting the Conservative Mennonite Conference in achieving its newly-adopted goal of seeing ten percent of our 105 churches plant a church within the next three years. He will be putting together a team of specialists who will help to foster and facilitate church planting initiatives across CMC.
The World at Your Table, Christmas 2013 special price: $10!
Starting early with your Christmas shopping this year? We have a great way to avoid crowded stores and give a thoughtful and useful gift, while simultaneously supporting the cause of missions! For anyone on your list who loves travel, cooking, or eating foods from other cultures, The World at Your Table: An RMM Cookbook (compiled by Susannah Fath Cotman), is a perfect gift. This cookbook is packed with simple, affordable, and flavorful recipes from around the globe. Sometimes international cooking can feel intimidating, but these easy recipes make ethnic foods accessible and easy to make at home. If you already own the cookbook, tell us some of your favorite recipes in comments below!
To purchase, you can pick one up at the RIC or the Rosedale office or order online at cookbook.rmmweb.org
"You did WHAT for four days?!"
Nearly every time I’ve told someone what I did a couple weeks ago, I’ve gotten a response like “Wow!” or “Are you serious?” The activity that I’ve just described to them is a four-day Bible study that about 25 of us did together at the Rosedale International Center at the end of September. We mostly ignored our phones, our email, and our Facebook friends and dove headfirst into the book of Acts. Many of us were a little apprehensive as we got started. Could we actually sit through a Bible study that lasts that long?
Here’s how it worked. Each one of us had a copy of the book of Acts in manuscript form in a small binder. It was about 70 pages of text, and instead of having chapters and verses (a relatively recent addition to our Bibles), we had line numbers. Dan Byler, who was facilitating our study, suggested that we use colored pencils or markers to highlight, underline, circle, or otherwise mark the text. (He didn’t specifically mention doodling, but I noticed that my wife took some liberties with that ☺) Dan encouraged us to ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to what he wanted us to see, and then look for words, ideas, principles—anything that stood out to us.
RMM workers around the world will celebrate Thanksgiving in culturally diverse places. Some will eat turkey, others live in places like Thailand where a single Butterball can cost a whopping ninety dollars. Many will gather with friends that have become like family. In Spain, workers gather with Spanish friends who might be a bit underwhelmed by a turkey dinner with all the fixings. In spite of how the holiday may look different in each host culture, our workers are a thankful group. They are aware every day that God’s faithfulness is what is carrying them through. They see his hand at work in each of the countries where they live and experience the abundance of his provision every day. Many express gratitude for the host cultures and the local people that have embraced, welcomed, and cared for them. This year at Thanksgiving time, as an RMM family, we want to remember all that our God is doing around the world and in our own hearts and to celebrate together.
We asked some of our workers to share their gratitude for God’s work and blessings, and their appreciation for the cultures in the places he has taken them. Here are their responses, in their own words…
Our last play depicting the parable of Lazarus and the rich man went really well. We received a lot of feedback on it and once again I was very proud of the actors. Our next play for Youth for Christ will deal with the issue of how easily people leave the church. I was asked by the leaders of Youth for Christ to write a play specifically on the topic of church. This is a shame-based culture and people are easily offended. Their response is to immediately cut themselves off instead of trying to resolve the problem. In the play we show that just as even loving marriages require work and commitment, so does being part of the Body of Christ.
Some reflections from a REACH practicum in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania
I’m sitting in a hammock, the breeze gently pushing me back and forth. It’s cold up here on the mountain, so I decided to bundle up with my hat and warm jacket. I close my eyes and rely on my remaining senses to paint the picture that I’m seeing before me. I open my ears and hear a chipmunk squeaking; perhaps he’s angry that I’ve invaded his territory. A cricket is singing just a few yards away and a small spring is trickling down the rocky path to the ravine. A few birds are singing their sweet song that could easily put me to sleep, but the cold has sent most of them away already. I breathe in deep, taking in the fresh air. A slight tinge of smoke from a campfire finds its way out of the woven layers of my jacket; I can almost feel its warming glow.
During my recent visit to Thailand, one of the highlights was spending an entire day with members of the RMM team and several of the Thai and Lao leaders studying the Bible, talking about church planting principles, and discussing life and ministry in their specific contexts. Dan Byler shared from his experiences years ago in Nicaragua, telling us how his work with some unlikely young men led to the birth of many churches in a remote area. He told of how the gospel spread from village to village and the way in which uneducated, marginalized people were instrumental to that growth. We can see the same potential now—both in the villages in Laos and even in the sprawling city of Bangkok. Faith in Jesus can spread naturally along relationship lines and in ways that are often unexpected. Another highlight that day was reading together the account of Paul’s work in Ephesus and discussing the importance that he placed on leadership development. We recognized that it is crucial to make disciples who will in turn make disciples. It’s the only way that the gospel will take root and spread among their people.