Find a Change of Scenery

Trust God for Something New

group of young women holding hands

June is an amazing month. So many celebrations occur—the end of a school year, graduations, weddings, and more. Then, there is the beginning of summer with new plans, opportunities, and routines. June is kind of in between. There is the finishing of one thing, perhaps a deep breath, and the starting to prepare for what’s next. What’s June like for you? What’s next? What has God planned for you this summer?

Many may have the opportunity to try something new, perhaps to find a change of scenery. It helps us to expand our borders, get outside of our own box, meet new people, and experience something new. Many prefer to learn in this active way—by experience.

Deliver VBS to Senior Adults and Shut-ins

man on road with Bible and bag

Reflecting on the summers of my childhood, I always looked forward to Vacation Bible School (VBS). Complete with fruit punch and cookies, VBS was much less about “school” and much more about growing in my relationship with Christ. The weeklong event typically took place within the walls of our local church with familiar faces and dedicated volunteers.

In today’s world, VBS has happily taken on a revised schedule, with many churches choosing to offer an abbreviated VBS at night or on a weekend. But what about stepping beyond the church walls to personally deliver the gospel to an often-overlooked sector of our society? What if we rolled up our sleeves, packed up our resources, and took VBS on the road to a local nursing home or senior center? We just might discover an untapped dimension to fulfilling the Great Commission while experiencing a whole lot of joy in the process!

Spiritual Change Can Start at Home

city lights of Salt Lake City

Seven years ago, Adam and Paige Madden moved to the Salt Lake City metro after growing up and serving churches in the Midwest. It was a definite change in scenery. While the mountains of Utah are beautiful, the dismal spiritual landscape is where these North American Mission Board church planters are hoping to see change.

Much of the area is steeped in Mormonism, and less than 3% of the population of northern Utah claims to believe the gospel. The Maddens are part of a church-planting effort called Christ Fellowship, and as the executive director of the Golden Spike Baptist Network, Adam is seeking to see more churches planted.

In church planting, changes don’t happen quickly, but the same isn’t true of the Maddens’ family life.

“A couple years ago, our family experienced a pretty significant transition. We went from a family of 7 to 11 in 1 year,” Paige said.

Near and Far: Sharing the Gospel in New Places

praying hands

My heart beat wildly as I felt the plane wheels hit the runway on that late October night. After almost a day of traveling, I was anxious to get off the plane and hit the ground running in South Asia again.

I wondered many times if I’d ever get to return to this area after my first summer there, and by God’s provision, I was there again. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving to God and stepped off the plane into what has been one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding seasons of my life.

Before coming to South Asia a second time, I never thought I’d attempt to learn a new language and culture in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I never thought of myself as someone who’d go up to a student I didn’t know on a college campus and share the gospel.

I was fortunate to grow up learning about other religions and the cross-cultural workers who gave their lives to share the gospel with people who followed other gods. But never did I think that I would get to be a cross-cultural worker like the ones I learned about.

Embrace the Nations as Your Neighbors: Help Refugees Dream Again

woman grocery shopping

My favorite grocery store remodeled recently to my frustration. Imagine your first visit to an American grocery store after spending several years in a refugee camp. Add in a language barrier, and a task we take for granted can be overwhelming.

Refugees entering the United States come seeking housing, schools, jobs, and community. Displaced by violence and persecution, most refugees lost belongings and even family members to arrive in crowded camps with limited resources and then wait up to 10 years before resettling in a receiving country. Fear of the unknown often accompanies relocation to the US, increasing stress and often leading to anxiety disorders—including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—may surface within a few months of arrival in their new home. Refugees may have suffered a loss of self-esteem and the ability to dream, and many are living in survival mode.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Bart and Jane Anne Gibbs

drummers

During this very hot season in West Africa when daily temperatures can soar to more than 100°F, Bart and Jane Anne Gibbs need your prayers. “The heat and humidity sap one’s strength, resilience, and patience,” Jane Anne said. Disruptions to electricity and water service don’t help. “Cuts in service interfere with everyday life to the degree that it is a challenge sometimes to maintain a positive outlook,” Bart said.

Traveling around the region to mentor and supervise other missionaries is rewarding work, but during this season, trips are long, hot, and fatiguing.

Another source of frustration is Internet access. Burkina Faso’s Internet service has been described as “the world’s slowest and most expensive,” Bart said. “In this world of ‘connectedness,’ everyone is expected to easily access the Internet. We also must report about our work and finances regularly using Internet that is sporadic, slow, and frustrating. Waiting on downloads or uploads can seem like such a waste of time when we would much rather be with people, but part of our job requires that we communicate electronically. It can be a struggle to find a balance.”

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