Responding to Migrants with Love

Migrant tent city

Migrant tent city

WGM missionaries Mark and Eszti Landerholm are involved in discipleship and orphan ministries in Hungary. However, during the past several weeks, their energy and compassion has been focused on migrants passing through Europe. Read the post below, written by Mark and Eszti specifically for MissionsCentral, to learn how they are partnering with other Christians in spreading God’s love to men, women, children, police officers, and soldiers.

“It was just a few weeks ago that our ‘home’ was the center of all the news cycles—‘Hungary and the Migrant Crisis’ filled the headlines. These headlines have since disappeared, but the migrant crisis remains. Not since the end of World War II has this number of migrants been seen, and these migrants are largely coming from some areas of the globe least reached with the gospel of Jesus. In fact, greater numbers of migrants are crossing through Hungary today than at the height of the news coverage. This being the case, it is our conviction that the European Church’s response to this crisis will either lead to revival or to the Church falling into even greater irrelevance here in Europe.

“It gives us joy to report that there are large segments of the Church here in Hungary and other parts of Europe responding in love, responding as we believe Christ would have us. It is exciting to see the Church of Jesus Christ acting together as one, not as Baptists and Nazarenes and Methodists and Charismatics, but as the one, united body of Jesus Christ. We have had the pleasure of being a part of that response and even ones helping to coordinate it.

Migrant baby washing station

Migrant baby washing station

“Seemingly no one was prepared for this number of people to flood the borders of Europe—not even the governments. That being the case, the governments’ responses to the migrants are ever changing, which changes the way we as the Body of Christ can respond to the needs of these desperate people, many of whom are fleeing for their lives. At times the migrants have practically been in our back yard, while at others we have had to travel to other countries to meet their needs. We have set up baby washing stations; delivered food, clothing, jackets, hats, and other supplies; helped provide clean, safe areas for them to sleep; played games with the kids; and talked to the adults. No matter what we have done, what has been consistent in our response is that it has been done side-by-side with Hungarian Christians and the love of Christ has been forefront.

“We continue to be encouraged by the responses we receive. Mothers have broken down into tears of joy at being able to give their babies a bath after weeks without hot water. Young men who had been walking for days came alongside of us and helped clean up trash so they and others would have a clean place to sleep. People have said thank you in many languages. Additionally, they have been so desperate for some of the things we’ve been able to supply that they have learned the names of these items in Hungarian (a very difficult language). Kids walking in the cold rain barefooted have received shoes; babies sleeping in water puddles have been given warm, dry places to sleep; empty stomachs have been fed; and desperate people have felt loved.

Migrant thank-you note

Migrant thank-you note

“We have been able to talk with some about Jesus, and these have been some of our favorite conversations. Additionally, we have met Christians who are fleeing because ISIS is after them. Because of responding out of love and not fear to those in need, we have been able to share with Hungarian police officers and soldiers about the love of Christ that compels us. Currently, our interactions with migrants are very limited because of how the governments are moving them, but as their needs are being met, they know that Christians are the ones meeting those needs. We strongly believe that the Church’s love through meeting the migrants’ physical needs as they are entering Europe will open the door for them to be receptive to hearing the gospel when they settle.

“You can be a part of this outreach from where you are.

PRAY: Please pray for the migrants. Pray that as they flee they will have safety and their physical needs will be met. Pray also that as they go and experience the love of Christ’s Church it will open their hearts to the gospel and that there will be opportunities for them to hear and respond to it. We need your prayers as well. Pray that we will have wisdom in how to respond and that in any interactions we have, no matter how brief, that we will share the love of Christ.

GIVE: Finally, please consider giving financially towards helping the migrants. Each van load of supplies we take to be distributed to the migrants costs thousands of dollars, and as the cold of winter is approaching, the needs and costs are going to increase. Your giving can help feed and properly clothe these in such desperate need.

“Thank you for your obedience to Christ.”

Choluteca Community Transformation

Overholts

Larry and Angie Overholt, serving as missionaries in Choluteca, Honduras.

Want to see what the down-and-dirty of community transformation looks like? Larry and Angie Overholt sent in some great “tidbits” of what’s going on with the TransCriSur Team (stands for Holistic Transformation of the South in Spanish) in the town of Choluteca, Honduras.

Building the Church

  • The annual Church bazaar raised about 13,000 Lempira ($637), all of which is being used to purchase materials for the construction of the new shed for the Las Cuchillas congregation. The mayor showed up and spent over an hour visiting with everyone. He even brought a refrigerator to donate for the sale. He and his wife also stopped over at the house and visited with us and talked about the aquaponics projects. Quintin expressed interest in having aquaponics projects built all over the city.
  • The Shalom Church was honored to host the regional pastor’s association meeting this month. The ladies of the church fixed a great meal.
  • We are preparing for Day of the Child celebrations this month. We plan to have a street fair in front of the church.
Shalom Church and a team from the US built this house for a needy family.

Shalom Church and a team from the US built this house for a needy family.

Restoring the Community through Community Health Evangelism (CHE)

  • God provided the resources for us to be able to build a second house this year for another very needy family.  We had three men come from the States to spend a week helping us. Discipleship groups from the Shalom Church helped with the noon meals.
  • By next month, we will have revamped the system using the CHE model. We are in the process of teaching and interviewing participants. There will be accountability practices built into the model.
  • Presently, we are working in the villages of La Bonanza, Las Cuchillas, 7 de mayo, las Brisas, and San Jeronimo.
  • We will be going out to the villages on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There will be caution in not overburdening our people and we plan to emphasize the “Sabbath” concept. The Saturday emphasis will be on CHE and Sunday afternoons will consist of worship services and Sunday School.
  • Members of the Shalom Church also did a Saturday house- to-house evangelism campaign in the Las Cuchillas village using the CHE model. There were 8 new converts and 4 reconciliations! It was exciting to arrive for church services the next day and see the unusual sight of people walking in from all different directions to attend. We desperately need to replace the shed that we are using to meet in.
  • As part of our effort of working towards community transformation, we plan to install two aquaponics systems in Las Cuchillas this month. One will be at the new house. We have started a garden project for the family of the new house.

ACT

As you can imagine, Larry and Angie and the whole TransCriSur team have their hands full! The opportunities are immense, and they desperately need their new teammates, Mike and Sharon Garrett, to arrive as soon as possible. Mike and Sharon are working on building their support team, and you can help them get to Honduras faster by donating to their ministry.

Sacrificial Love

Roberts FamilyHere’s a great story from Ben and Jenny Roberts, missionaries at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, from their recent trip to South Sudan Sudan to do an eye clinic with other staff from Tenwek. Ben and the eye team have gone to do these clinics in South Sudan several times, but this trip was special – Jenny and their three boys came along, too!

This was the fourth trip into South Sudan for the Tenwek Eye Team, and the first trip for Jenny and the boys! Despite the frogs, snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes, it was a tremendous experience for everyone. Jenny and Luke (age 10) helped in the operating room while the other boys (ages 8 & 6) entertained the kids.

On the last day of the clinic, a special couple came for help:

They traveled four days, walking and sleeping in the bush to get to our clinic. The wife had bilateral cataracts and the husband was blind in one eye. All of us were awestruck when we saw them with only a mosquito net, a bag of sorghum (a staple food grain), and a dry water canister. The husband did not come for himself, but wanted sight for his wife. After informing the husband that we could help him as well, we proceeded to operate on both him and her.

The next morning after removing the eye patches, the man was elated that he could see again. However, the wife, despite our removing cataracts with uncomplicated surgeries, still could not see. Further examination revealed that she had an irreversible blinding retinitis condition.

This man and his wife were not believers. They came from a village where they had never heard of the truths of Jesus that we spoke about. Wilson, one of our eye team members, recognized the sacrificial love of this husband and used it as a beautiful example to share with him of the sacrificial love that Jesus has for each of us. This couple departed having heard the gospel but not personally receiving it. They stated that they would share these new truths that they heard with their village.

Pray for this couple to be transformed by the renewing life of Jesus and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Just as this man gentle washed his wife with water prior to their journey back home, may it be a good reminder to each of us, that Jesus washes us with the purity of his blood and we are made clean and transformed!

Rescued

Little Tabitha was rescued from a pit latrine in Kenya, and has found a home at the Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre. It’s impossible to look into her big brown eyes and not fall in love!

Staci Keter, director of the Baby Centre, posted this photo on the Center’s Facebook page, adding, “We know that Jesus has good plans for her in Psalm 103 fashion – that He “crowns her with compassion” and will “satisfy her desires with good things”. We are thankful for all of you who are part of Tabitha’s redemption through prayer, giving, encouragement, and other partnership!”

With four new admissions – orphaned or abandoned babies like Tabitha – in the last 24 hours, Staci and the staff at the Centre have their hands full! Some children come with challenges, like little two-week-old Joseph who only weighs 5 1/2 pounds. All are named if they do not already have names, loved, and cared for. The goal is to see them adopted by godly Kenyan parents.

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:17)

ACT

It’s interesting that Isaiah implies that “doing good” is a learned skill. We are born with an innate desire to look out for ourselves. But the Bible shows us another way of living: denying self by sacrificially caring for the poor, the oppressed, the vulnerable.  What can you do today to practice this way of living?

Like the AGC Baby Centre on Facebook, and you’ll see more amazing stories of children like Tabitha being rescued and adopted into loving Christian families.