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?

 

Textbook Perfect

Scared for their son, Ezra, but trusting in God, Nathan and Jade Metz were stuck between trusting in God and fearing the unknown. With nightmares waking and thoughts of what could be, the journey has not been without its challenges. What would their son be like after his brain surgery? The answer is in the title of this post, but it is also so much more. Read on to learn as Nathan tells how God performed a miracle in little Ezra’s life.

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Photo credit: Nathan and Jade Metz

“Among our children we’ve witnessed optimism and hope that builds such powerful encouragement and strength within us. Prior to the surgery they said things like, ‘Today is the day Ezra will be healed!’ and ‘Ezra just had the final seizure of his life.’ It does Jade and I a lot of good to hear such positive, faith-filled perspective from our children. Jade and I have handled the process in our own ways with ups and downs, highs and lows. This morning I testify.

“God’s promises are full and final. He does not struggle to remain faithful to us. His love is complete. Less than 48 hours after his surgery, Ezra has no bandage on his head, walks around his room with ease, plays games with us, speaks, eats and exceeds nearly every expectation we had for him at this stage. The doctors agree. And so in a few hours, we are going home. Is he fully healed? We won’t be able to make that kind of statement for quite a while. Following the surgery, the doctor said she has every reason to believe that this surgery has cured his epilepsy. Is God faithful? I testify today: God is faithful. God is good. I am a father full of joy and thankfulness. We are parents full of praise and relief. We are a family covered in love, hope, and peace.

“Medically speaking: Ezra’s left hippocampus was removed in a ‘textbook perfect’ surgery called a Left Temporal Lobectomy. He now has a circular scar above his left ear about the size of a baseball with a small line in front of his ear. The incision is not stitched. Instead, they use a special ‘super glue’ with antiseptic in it that will hold the skin in place and fall off on its own once the wound is healed. He will have about two weeks of ‘taking it easy’ at home before returning to school and moderate routine activities. It will be about a month before he is riding his bike or jumping on the trampoline. Three months from now, his brain will be fully healed.

“Jade and I have been so incredibly encouraged by our family, friends, and community. We spent the day of surgery with 15-20 who came to sit with us in the waiting room. As other families came and went we sat in waiting for one of the longest surgeries of the day. I can’t imagine going through such a scenario on our own. Community changes everything. As Ezra moved from his post-op bed to the ICU to his recovery room we enjoyed a steady stream of visiting friends with balloons, Legos, cards and meaningful time. Behind the scenes, there were hundreds and hundreds of you praying from all over the world. We are thankful for those who came, those who prayed and all who stood in support of Ezra and our family. Please join us today and praise our Father for what the doctors are calling a ‘textbook perfect surgery’, a ‘perfect CT scan’ and a ‘perfect recovery’. What an awesome, powerful experience this has been.”

Praise God! How wonderful He is to heal! Yesterday, as my nephew Ezra hugged me in my office for longer than expected, my heart rejoiced. It is so good to have him with us, and I am excited to see how Ezra will grow and change as he heals. I can’t imagine the joy Nathan and Jade must be feeling, but their journey, in some ways, has just begun.

ACT: Will you pray for Ezra’s recovery and for the rest of the Metz family as they work together to support him?

A Dream Come True

The passion burned inside her and she knew what she must do. She was going to become a nurse. People needed her, and she knew she had to do something about it. Do you ever feel that dream, that burning passion pulling you to serve others? Read more to learn about how Christine Stanfield, missionary to Uganda, took her passion to be a nurse and not only achieved it but also let God multiply it and mold it into something bigger than she first imagined.

Jeff and Christine Stanfield

Last week I renewed my nursing license. We drove across the city to the office of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council. On the way I reminisced through my childhood dream, my dream of being a nurse one day. I wanted to help people.

June of 1981 my dream became a reality. I graduated from nursing school. November of the same year I received my official registration (RN) from the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Hooray! I worked as a hospital nurse for nine years in Oregon, learning much and helping many people. Through nursing I connected people to Jesus. I loved my work.

Little did I know that ten years later I would become a KRN; a registered nurse in Kenya. My dream multiplied. I was Christine Stanfield, RN, KRN. My avenue for helping people multiplied as well. Oh, how I loved teaching nursing students, in Tenwek School of Nursing, how to help people. My students helped more people than I ever could as just one nurse. They connected many people to Jesus. I loved my work.

Imagine my surprise when 21 years later God invited Jeff and me to join Him in what He is doing in Uganda. We moved to Kampala, the capital city, in 2012. For the first year I observed and I listened. I learned much. Then my dream multiplied again. I went through the process to be registered as a nurse in Uganda. Now I am Christine Stanfield, RN, KRN, URN (Uganda Registered Nurse). I don’t work in a hospital and I don’t teach in a nursing school. I still help the people God brings my way.

Sometimes they come to my door. Sometimes I go to where they are playing sports. Once in a while I give advice on medication dosages or clarify medical reports for people unpracticed in reading the medical language. I teach community health lessons, helping people know how to help themselves and others. I take blood pressures and pray with pregnant women as I hand out a maternity delivery kit, called a Mama Kit. I have many opportunities to give spiritual care, connecting people to Jesus. I help people. I love my work.

At a sports tournament (Photo credit: Christine Stanfield)

I had a dream and God multiplied it. I am a nurse. I help people, connecting them to Jesus. I love my work.

ACT: Take time today to write down or think about some of the dreams God has for you. Then sit in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you need to do next. Give these dreams to God, and He will multiply them. God is waiting for you to ask Him. Who knows how many people’s lives you will impact if you let Him guide you.

Networking for Sustainable Change

WGM missionaries are working together to promote Community Health Evangelism ministries at the International Wholistic Missions Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They will be networking with other groups involved in CHE in order to learn more and find out how they can continue to provide for and increase their work with communities around the world.

L-R: Sandy Anderson, Mary Hermiz, Terry Hawk, and Robyn Moore (Photo credit: Joy Phillips)

What Is CHE?

According to the Global CHE Network website, “CHE equips communities to identify issues and mobilize resources to achieve positive, sustainable change. Lives and communities are transformed as people come to Christ and work together to address local needs.” CHE strives to connect with each culture on an individual basis. Some programs are church-based, others community-based; some are part of the national government’s health program; some programs are focused on adults, others target children; and some specifically target women.

CHE is different from secular development programs because of this perspective: CHE volunteers view their work as a ministry rather than an occupation. Although CHE has traditionally been used in rural communities, concepts of community empowerment relate to cities as well. “Neighborhood Transformation” is the urban model for CHE.

Rather than focusing on material handouts, CHE wants to enrich the whole person. The approach is participatory and community-driven and can include lessons on economic development, agriculture, leadership, taking care of the environment, biblically-based morals, and social justice—all integrated with spiritual truths.

Partner with CHE

PRAY: Ask God to give those promoting CHE wisdom and strength as they train and mentor and to encourage CHE trainers, committee members, and Community Health Evangelists to put into practice all they have learned. Pray that entire communities will come to know Him and experience Christ-centered community transformation through this process.

SHARE: Download a speaker outline about CHE to share the message of community transformation.