Women on Mission

Missions Field of Many Languages for California Missionary

In his missions field, California missionary Howard Burkhart is often surrounded by people whose language he can’t always understand. That one daunting fact hasn’t stopped him from founding churches among 21 different language groups for the past 3 decades.

In 1984, Burkhart signed on with the North American Mission Board, then called the Home Mission Board, as the state missionary for Deaf people. His wife, a high school teacher for Deaf students in Southern California, taught him sign language. For 16 years, Burkhart worked with hearing-impaired people, all the while learning.

“Deaf people don’t expect everyone to learn their language,” he said. “They do expect to be treated as peers and as equals.”

Further, Burkhart said, hearing-impaired individuals have just as much right to pursue God’s call in their lives as anyone else.

“It has been extremely rewarding to have helped start several Deaf churches and trained Deaf pastors and leaders,” he said. “To see them fulfill God’s calling in their life and to see the impact they have made has been rewarding and fulfilling.”

Respect and Pray for Those in Authority

Entering a room in the intensive care unit, I introduced myself as the hospital chaplain, and the very sick woman in the bed raised her hand as if to physically push me away and boldly proclaimed, “I don’t believe the Bible, and I don’t believe in God.”

Many of our elected officials may feel the same way. They may want to push us away. They may or may not welcome our prayers on their behalf, but it does not change our responsibility to pray for them.

Pause now to read Romans 13:1–8 and then consider these motivations to pray:

Link up with a Nearby CWJC/CMJC Site

Across the nation, more than 200 Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps sites are bringing God’s light to their cities, serving families who find themselves dealing with issues such as homelessness, drug or domestic abuse, imprisonment, or lack of adequate education. Adult missions groups looking for a ministry in which to invest their time, energies, and love will find a myriad of ways to do so by linking with a nearby CWJC/CMJC site.

Would your group commit to spending the next year reaching out to these women and men? What are some crucial needs your members could address? Take these steps to explore an exciting missions adventure:

Investigate

Learn about CWJC/CMJC by visiting wmu.com/jobcorps. Find contact info for a site near you. Invite the site coordinator or a volunteer to present a program for your group. Better yet, take some folks to visit the site during a session.

Minister to Local Officials: Let Your Light Shine in Local Government

In a city where city hall sat in the shadow of no less than 3 church steeples, I often found it odd that local congregations weren’t more involved with their local leaders. As an employee of local government, I would handle dozens of daily correspondence for local officials. Emails and letters from local organizations, schoolchildren, and concerned citizens were often present. Communications from local churches or believers offering encouragement or help—well, those were few and far between.

It would be difficult to pin down an exact explanation as to why more believers weren’t reaching out to their local officials. Perhaps they were too busy with the goings-on of their church’s event calendar or they simply didn’t want to be involved. Then there is the sneaking suspicion that many believed the lie that because of their religious convictions, they wouldn’t be heard. What a tragedy it would be if believers neglected to pray for and encourage local officials.

Celebrating Answered Prayer in Colombia

Brenda and Fernando Larzabal have served with the International Mission Board for 14 years, mobilizing the local church and sharing the gospel with the unreached indigenous people groups of Colombia.

They have been blessed by the prayers of God’s people in the 2 focal points of their ministry:

  • investing in the next generation of indigenous university students
  • training, mentoring, and developing strategy for 4 other teams through a national missionary agency

Brenda, who leads and mentors the all-female indigenous student ministry team, shared how important those prayers have been this past year. “We began this semester feeling that God was about to do something new and something big. We needed to find a new location for the student center much closer to where the students live. That would not be easy.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Travis and Staci Kerns

God is continuing to build His kingdom in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to Send City missionary Travis Kerns.

“We’ve seen God graciously bless us with 2 new church plants so far in 2017 and expect to see more before the end of the year,” Kerns said. This is an answer to prayer.

God also blessed the city with church-planting interns and apprentices. These college students spent the summer serving with the North American Mission Board’s GenSend program and working to see the kingdom expand in the most lost city in the United States.

“We also [had] 3 college students here for the summer [of] their own accord who [worked] directly with church plants in a specific area of ministry,” Kerns said, noting these students raised their own support.

Praying for the Masses: Do I see refugees with Jesus’ eyes?

She came across the border with only the clothes on her back and several small children. Her husband had remained behind to fight ISIS and protect what was left of their home. At least, she hoped he was still there protecting their home, because she had not heard from him in over a year. Now she sat across from me at our English as a second language class looking tired and confused. How could I explain the basics of our lesson without knowing her language? How would I ever reach her with the gospel?

Could this woman have been one of the thousands of refugees crossing into Europe? When I watched them on TV, my thoughts were not so wholesome or Christian. You know the saying “Can’t see the trees for the forest”? Sometimes we can’t see the refugees for the media. Our views and eyes lose focus when we look at things through the lens of this world and not through the eyes of the Spirit.

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Starting Over: Refugees Must Submit to a Thorough Vetting Process prior to Resettlement in the United States

In one country, a family lives in a city under siege. Gunshots and daily explosions rock the neighborhood. Children cannot play outside nor can adults go safely to work. Food and water are scarce. Escape is the only option. In another country, a young woman professes Christ and immediately becomes a target of the local police. It is illegal to profess any religion other than Islam. Her family shuns her, leaving her isolated and unprotected. If she stays, then she will surely be killed. She too must escape to survive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that worldwide, some 21 million people, half of them children, are refugees—individuals driven from their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. A very small number of these individuals (less than 1%) will receive the opportunity to start a new life in a third country after leaving their homeland.

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Refugees in Our Midst: Wars, Natural Disasters, Hunger, and Persecution Produce Refugees

More than 65 million displaced people, including 21 million refugees, fled their home countries in 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States. They came from Syria, the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other places worldwide. Consider the countries where our missionaries are serving. Many of those, such as Ukraine, are flooded with refugees, forcing missionaries to revisit strategies and form new avenues of ministry and evangelism. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. What are citizens of receiving countries supposed to do?

If we flashed back to biblical days, both Old and New Testaments, we would read of refugees from countries such as Egypt, Moab, Babylon, and others. Perhaps one of the greatest movements of refugees in history was Moses’ leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Whether the plights of refugees existed more than 2,000 years ago or today, the Bible has some very specific words for those who find refugees in their midst.

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By All Means Changes Lives

“El Salvador will never be the same,” said one of our church members when she saw who had decided to go. While I can’t say that is true of the country, it is certainly true for those of us preparing to go. As of this writing, a dozen men and women are preparing for our church’s first international missions trip. Six of the 7 women in the group are members of our Martha Robinson Baptist Women, and some have never been outside the United States. As we prepare to step out of our comfort zones to change lives in El Salvador, changes within our lives and the life of our church began months ago.

Personally, I began working with our Wednesday night children’s ministry, at first serving food but soon joining in teaching first- and second-graders. Others joined in as well. Several children have received Christ as Savior and their families are starting to attend on Sunday morning.

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