Celebration Rallies Support Mission Work here, Abroad

Greenfieldreporter.com recently highlighted some missions work that happened last weekend. Did you know a dummy named Lazarus is part of a strategic plan to help inform kids as well as adults about missions work in Uganda that is changing lives?

Story by Anne Durham Smith

GREENFIELD — Sometime during her junior year at Ball State University, Jen Robbins realized it: Her favorite part of the week was the Bible study she was leading for freshmen women.

Robbins, a 2009 Greenfield-Central graduate, had never contemplated being a minister, so she had never expected ministry to be a career. But she points to that moment as one that began to shift her thinking.

Now she is a staff member with Cru at Ball State University, raising support so she can spend time with students. She works to reach out to those with questions about spirituality, as well as help Christian students grow in their faith, learning how to live it in everyday life and share it with others.

Robbins will meet with junior high and high school students during Youth Missions Night on Sept. 24 at Trinity Park United Methodist Church. It’s part of the church’s annual two-day Mission Celebration that begins Sept. 23 at the church, 207 W. Park Ave., Greenfield.

The annual celebration is a peek into different kinds of outreach happening both around the world and close to home. Organizer Nancy Grimes has said anyone is welcome to come simply to hear these stories and be encouraged.

For Trinity Park members considering their Faith Promise giving commitments for the year ahead, the celebration also informs them about ways their contributions are being used. Faith Promise is an offering beyond regular giving to the local church.

“We give in faith, knowing that the kinds of support we can give to missionaries … will have a tremendous impact,” said the Rev. Larry Van Camp, senior pastor of the church.

Nearly $50,000 is pledged annually at this event, and those funds support more than 60 projects locally and globally. They range from bringing monthly birthday parties to students at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility to supporting New Palestine High School graduate Ashley Malloy’s work as a nurse practitioner in Uganda. The church also joined with Hagerstown United Methodist Church in a March mission work camp to help rebuild Louisiana homes flooded in August 2016.

A recent addition to the list of supported work, Van Camp said, is a Nigerian man who focuses on reconciliation between the Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.

Van Camp, who came to the church in July after the Rev. Michael Manning’s retirement, is familiar with the concept of Faith Promise giving and has been to similar mission gatherings at other churches he’s served over the past 36 years. He served at Cumberland United Methodist Church in the early 1990s and has also led churches in Clarksville, Bloomington, Rockport and Jasper.

Van Camp has been part of various mission work camps through the years. They began with a trip to Haiti when he was a high school freshman, helping dig the foundation for a hospital expansion in Port-au-Prince with picks and shovels in sweltering heat.

He said he’s heard about a rich history of mission involvement at Trinity Park and is looking forward to experiencing Mission Celebration firsthand.

Keynote speaker for the weekend is the Rev. John Muehleisen. His wife, Beth, is a nurse. They have served in Africa for 32 years, the last 10 of those in Uganda.

They have visited Indiana before, not only because World Gospel Mission’s headquarters is in Marion but also because they’ve visited previous Mission Celebrations at Trinity Park. He was the main speaker at the 2002 and 2013 celebrations. He’s a ventriloquist, and his dummy, Lazarus, will also be part of the weekend.

John and Beth Muelheisen

John Muehleisen said mission work has changed over the years, from a mission field to a mission force of people working alongside each other. He’s impressed by his Ugandan ministry partners.

“They’re fearless,” he said. “They have incredible faith.”

Together, they train people to share public health information, such as the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net or washing hands after using the bathroom. They gather five or six churches, each represented by three to four people, and conduct workshops on community health, women’s issues or agriculture methods. The hope is that this information is carried back to communities and used to save lives.

The sessions are offered through local churches so they can develop relationships with their communities. Throughout the work, they try to balance the practical and the spiritual, he said, believing good deeds alone will point to themselves but deeds coupled with a message of faith will point people toward God.

“It’s our goal that God would get glory,” he said, “and people’s lives would be changed.”

Will you join the Muehleisens as they play a vital part in changed lives in Uganda?


WGM Welcomes James Ballard as New Director

James Ballard recently joined the WGM staff as the new director of WGM’s Asbury University Student Involvement Center. WGM is excited to have James on the team and Asbury is as well. Theasburycollegian.com recently published an article highlighting the most recent member of the Asbury/WGM team.

Story by Sarah Browning, Contributing Writer

On July 17, World Gospel Mission (WGM) welcomed Asbury Alum James Ballard as the new director of the Asbury campus’ center. Ballard came with his wife, Rachel, and his son, Josh, and is thrilled to be back in Wilmore.

Ballard’s goal as WGM director is to “partner with students, staff and faculty at Asbury University in walking out God’s call for all of us to make disciples in our communities, our workplace, our nation and throughout the world.” He also wants to make the WGM center “the place to hang out.”

When asked if anything would change with the new director, Brianna Boggs, president of the WGM student center, said, “One thing that will never change is the heart and purpose of [the center] on Asbury’s campus…. [Ballard] has been intentional to maintain the passion of WGM.” Ballard’s goal is simply to make WGM the best it can be.

WGM is famous on campus for its Global Café, which meets every Sunday at 6 p.m. for coffee and conversation. Global Café is here to stay under Ballard’s leadership. “Coffee is a diverse and inclusive melding of flavors, and it brings the world together,” he said.

Victoria Watson, Asbury Student Congress representative and WGM barista, said, “James Ballard has an infectious personality. His heart is to encourage and equip students in what God called them to do.”

Ballard understands the stress undergraduate students face when deciding on their future careers. “I got so hung up on what I was going to do after college, it consumed and defined my success or failure,” he said. He now follows the philosophy of “what fills you, forms you,” having faith that the Holy Spirit will guide.

“What we do does not define us, who we are in Jesus defines us. Your profession could change several times. Be expectant of Jesus’ voice and leading. The most important thing is that Jesus leads, we follow.”

According to the WGM Student Cabinet, Ballard is the joyful, God-filled leader the student center needs right now.

Be the Light

Houses, cars, pictures, keepsakes—all gone—destroyed in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For so many, this is the case. There are so many in need of support. They need support not just to rebuild but to take care of immediate needs like clean drinking water, food, and clothes. WGM is partnering with World Hope International to provide hurricane relief.


Here’s an update from World Hope International President John Lyon:

“World Hope is organizing an emergency water supply project in St Maarten right now. The Water and Sanitation Director is flying over and taking water filters, chlorination kit and desalination kits to support the effort.

“In Florida, we are monitoring, but we have many Wesleyan churches in Florida, so there will be no shortage of places to base camp from and send supplies too.

“We just posted a new video of the work in Texas.  See https://www.facebook.com/worldhopeorg/videos/10155149308572979/

WGM will be a staging area where local volunteers and partners can bring supplies that will then be distributed to the affected areas.

Pennsylvania Army National Guard Sends Helicopters, Crew To Texas

Supplies needed:

  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Water
  • Nonperishable food items (also crackers, cookies, and  granola bars)
  • New blankets
  • New towels
  • New undergarments for children (including socks)
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Hygiene products
  • Heavy-duty large trash bags
  • Duct tape

ACT: You can help by donating at wgm.org/hurricane-irma or by dropping off any of the needed supplies at World Gospel Mission on Friday, September 15, from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday, September 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please feel free to pass this on.  We would like to fill a semitruck from Marion and the surrounding communities to help the victims in Texas.

Busy but Thankful!

Traveling hundreds of miles; preaching and speaking at different venues; visiting family, friends, and ministry partners; getting training; and building new relationships are just some of the many things missionaries tackle while on homeland ministry assignment (HMA). Andy and Stephanie Abrams, missionaries to Kenya, give an update on their ministry and share how God is working to do awesome things while they are in the USA.

“It seems that we have been caught up in a whirlwind since our last update; so much has happened in such a short amount of time.

“In May we had the privilege of hosting our first team of college students from Ohio Christian University for two weeks. We may be a bit biased, but this team was an amazing group of people! Each of them were so willing to try new things, give impromptu speeches, travel throughout Kenya, and lavish love on our children. To say our family was blessed would be an understatement. This team was a vision team, so we traveled throughout Kenya to different WGM ministries. They were a blessing everywhere they went! It was a true joy to watch them interact with each ministry and see God work through them.



The vision team from Ohio with our GCM boys and staff. Photo credit: Andy and Stephanie Abrams

“As June came around, it was time to start packing up our home and saying some difficult goodbyes. Kenya has truly become home to our family, and although we were excited to be heading to the States for a time, it was hard to say goodbye to our friends and family in Kenya. We were given several very special farewells from the AGC Mission Centre, GCM, our local church, and the WGM Nakuru station. We mentioned in our last update that there were changes in store for our ministry in Kenya. Well the biggest one will be our location once we return. We won’t be going back to Nakuru (at least to live), so saying goodbye to a place that is home and where all of our closest friends live was difficult. But God in His ever faithfulness was so good in giving us special times with each place that is near to our hearts.


Our farewell at the AGC Mission Staging Centre. Photo credit: Andy and Stephanie Abrams

“So where are we going when we return to Kenya? We plan to move to Olderkesi Development Project, our remote AGC mission station in the Maasai bush. Andy will still be working in agriculture and community development, finding ways to make Olderkesi more self-sustaining. I will most likely be taking over the running of the guesthouse that we have there, as well as continuing homeschooling our four children. Our entire family, especially our children, are looking forward to living out there. It is a place that feels like home and a perfect fit for our rural-inclined family. That is a brief glimpse of what we are feeling God is calling our family back to.”

To read the rest of the Abrams’ update, go to Abram Family Update. (http://mailchi.mp/07eb37d6834c/abrams-update)

ACT: Pray for the Abrams’ ministry and family, using these prayer points:

  • Pray for peace for Kenya during and after this election period.
  • Lift up our Kenyan colleagues who are spreading God’s love.
  • Pray for the current drought issues.
  • Ask that God will use our family to bring encouragement and be a light while in the U.S.