25 Years in Uganda

 

WGM Uganda is celebrating 25 years! Missionary Jeff Stanfield recently talked to Mission Network News about the celebration in this latest Mission Central blog.

“Uganda (MNN) – Twenty-five years ago, the first World Gospel Mission (WGM) missionaries arrived in Uganda to start a church planting and discipleship outreach. WGM has a long and rich history in Africa. They helped establish the Africa Gospel Church in Kenya back in the 1930’s. This is one of the largest evangelical denominations in Kenya. So, this 25th anniversary in its neighboring country is another poignant reminder of how God has blessed the ministry.

Jeff Stanfield of World Gospel Mission says, “That plays a part of what we’re celebrating this year, is how God has brought us thus far and safely and it’s been through faith, through difficulties, struggles– but yet, he’s got a bigger plan for us, and we’re grateful.

“But we want to just recognize that in this celebration this year as a church and as a mission to celebrate what God has done, and even looking forward to what he wants to do through the church and through WGM.”

Go to mnnonline.org to read more:

 

When Holidays Hurt

For many, the holidays are a time of grief and remembrance. This can be even more difficult when those around are celebrating. In this article, Val Sleeth shares about loss and how she was able to deal with the hurt this Thanksgiving.

Why is it the joy of others makes my hurt ache more acutely?

My mom died 7 months ago.

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Mom with sisters April, Val, and Carla

I remember a deep sadness settling over me around 6 months. At that point, her death was becoming reality. She wasn’t gone on a prolonged vacation. My initial daily impulses to text her pictures of Hannah had waned to weekly occurrences.

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Mom with Hannah, Fall 2016

And though for me time has made her death painfully real, for those who knew her only as “Val’s mom,” these months have eroded the memory of that abrupt event.

If you’ve lost, you’ve experienced this. Your dear friend’s life stopped—it feels like yours with it—while everyone else’s goes on.

Thanksgiving exists in Kenya only insofar as we expats create it.

On Thursday I was visiting with a Kenyan friend—Carol runs one of the small shops by the hospital—when she wished me, “Happy Thanksgiving.” It was 2:00 in the afternoon and the holiday hadn’t occurred to me!

If you’ve lost, you know the power of death to transform holidays into horrible days. My forgetfulness seemed a boon, enabling me to carry on with studying Swahili and making chapatti free from that burden of grief.

Thursday evening the Roberts, another missionary family, hosted a gathering to sing and share thanks. We were encouraged to hear how God has provided this year amid election strife and doctors’ and nurses’ strikes and sickness and confusion.

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Thanksgiving dinner at Tenwek*

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The greatest blessing I received that night was this: pumpkin bars.

(*photo credit: Dean Cowles)

To read the rest of the post, go to Clark and Val Sleeth’s ministry blog.

What If

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family and friends, gathering together for a meal, remembering that we are all so blessed, and thanking God for those blessings. Now, let’s take away the food, the family, the friends, the house, the table, the coats, and the heat. Let’s imagine that we celebrated Thanksgiving under those conditions. Are you still thankful? Would you be willing to give whatever you could to help someone in need? Why?pexels-photo-247880

There is nothing wrong with friends, family, and having heat and a place to live; that is not the point I’m trying to make. In 2012, an article entitled “Income in perspective: America’s poor are among the world’s wealthy” in The Oregonian stated, “If your family income is $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world.” From this we can assume that most of us are very rich and blessed.

Back to the question: if you were poor, why would you be thankful when you have nothing? I think I can answer this question with an example I saw on Netflix called The Kindness Diaries. In The Kindness Diaries, a man travels around the world on motorcycle, depending on nothing more than the kindness of strangers. The thing that stood out most to me about this documentary was how the people who had the least offered him the most. Why is that? What makes them so generous?

NPR interviewed a psychology researcher that did a study on this very topic in a story entitled “Poor Are More Charitable Than The Wealthy”. Here is a quick excerpt and summary of the story:

“Mr. PIFF: Well, we started out by recruiting adults and had them fill out an online questionnaire that essentially asked them to tell us what their socio-economic status was.

“Now, when we brought them into the lab, we said: You’re going to play a game in which you’re given 10 credits, which are going to be equal to cash at the end of the experiment, and we’re interested in knowing how many of those credits you want to give, if any, to a partner that you’ll never meet and who’ll never meet you.

“RAZ: Now, you knew, obviously, the socio-economic backgrounds of all these people. What did you find?

“Mr. PIFF: So interestingly and possibly counter-intuitively, we found that people who were actually ranking themselves as relatively high in their socio-economic status were less inclined to give points away than were people who ranked themselves as relatively lower in social class.

“So essentially, people who have more, or who identify themselves as having more, were or tended to give less in this just very simple task of generosity toward a stranger.

“RAZ: Was it on an order of magnitude? I mean, was it a significant difference?

“Mr. PIFF: It was, absolutely. It was a statistically significant difference, and what we found was that the lower-class people, or the relatively lower-class individuals, were inclined to give away 44 percent more of their points or their credits.

“RAZ: Were you surprised at what you found?

“Mr. PIFF: You know, I had expected this pattern might pan out given the earlier [studies] that we’ve done on the effects of poverty on people’s behavior toward others, but the findings that we had across experiments and across contexts in many ways speak against hundreds of years of economical thinking about how people would behave toward others when they’re in need.”

Wow! Poorer people are 44 percent more likely to give to strangers who will possibly give nothing in return.

Being more blessed than many and knowing that those with less tend to give more, how do we change? Don’t we want to give more and share our blessings more freely? According to Scripture, this is what Christ wants.

Proverbs 11:25 (ESV): “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT): “Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”
Matthew 5:16 (ESV): “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I’ll leave you with these two questions instead of exact instruction on what to do and what it looks like for you to give more. What if all those who were rich, blessed, and celebrating Thanksgiving this year gave like those who have less? How would the world change in just one day?

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ACT: Give more this holiday season—more time, more money, more friendship, more love, more service!

 

 

 

 

Mission Motives

Ever wonder why missionaries choose to go to the unknown? Why they choose to be in another culture? Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum did too. With the help of WGM partner organization Missio Nexus, he was able to research that very topic. Read more to find out what the study showed about why missionaries choose to go.

Mission Motives: Why North Americans Serve and Stay Cross-Culturally

In 2016, a professor of ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado, Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum, sought to discover what motives lie behind Christians who make a decision to serve in foreign lands as missionaries. At the outset of the project, he theorized that many go overseas as a means to escape the decadent North American culture. He asked Missio Nexus to collaborate with him to survey the North American mission community to test his thesis. This report is the result of those findings.

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As you read this brief report, the facts will testify to themselves: God calls and His people respond. With worldly wisdom, this simply is difficult to understand. But under the power of His Holy Spirit, God moves His people to do things that simply don’t make sense humanly speaking. When God calls His people, selfless service is rendered to our King for the advancement of His Kingdom. Through His leading, people seek to be faithful servants who provide cups of cold water and also proclaim Living Water in some of the most forgotten corners of this world.

“The evangelization of the world waits not on the readiness of God but on the obedience of Christians.” —Bill M. Sullivan

The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives can confirm with our spirit that we belong where we are serving. Language may still be elusive, food may still be new, culture may be nuanced and unfamiliar, but God can and will give us peace in our destination. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed felt that they have assimilated into the society where they are serving. Time is the equalizing factor. We cannot rush cultural adaptation. We must give it the time that it takes to see, hear, smell, learn and allow God to transform us so that we can love His people as if they are our people too.

“Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.” —Robert C. Shannon

To read the full report, visit https://missionexus.org/mission-motives/.