Women on Mission

No Longer Alone

“Our work is all about building relationships,” Kandi Ostertag said. She, husband Matt, and children Kaitlyn and Mckenzie have served in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years. They lead a team of International Mission Board (IMB) church planting missionaries in the Bajío (central highlands of Mexico). They also encourage and help Mexican church planters as needed.

The Bajío covers a large area. As a result, many house/simple churches planted by the IMB and national partners over the last several years feel alone. Kandi Ostertag said the church plants often feel like “the ugly duckling and different from everyone else.” Since they differ so much from traditional churches, the house/simple churches’ sense of isolation can grow intense.         

To help overcome such feelings, the Ostertags host retreats and other events for these churches. Those activities allow church members to “get away from everything and have time with the Lord.” They also foster prayer support, encouragement, and friendships.

Refugees Are Here: What Now?

You hear the news—refugees are being sent to your city. Hardly any time passes and it happens. “They” are really here. “They” start appearing in the grocery store, lining up to enroll their children in school, and sitting in the doctor’s waiting room with you.

Your mind races. Is the vetting process enough to protect our citizens? What if “they” are really terrorists? What if “they” have illnesses your children or grandchildren can catch? It’s easy to panic. But what we really need to ask is, who are “they” anyway?

Who are they?

They are people. They are people who’ve been displaced from countries in distress. They are mothers, fathers, widows, widowers, grandparents, and innocent children. While we might carry concerns for what they’re capable of, we need to consider how they are feeling—frightened, alone, bewildered, and sad.

Discover their background.

After refugees arrive, conduct some research to learn where they are coming from. What is their homeland like? What trauma have they been exposed to? What are the cultural norms?

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Share the Gospel in Assisted Living Facilities

“Hey, Bubba, how are you today?” I asked as I leaned over to kiss my husband.

He turned to look at me and nodded his head. A stroke had left him paralyzed on the left side, and he now relied on the assisted living facility’s nursing staff to care for him. Two pairs of socks and fresh fruit lay beneath the small Christmas tree I bought for his table. A Christmas card pinned to the bulletin board offered greetings and reminded us of Christ’s birth.

How wonderful to know that residents who don’t have visitors would not only hear the Christmas story from volunteers but also receive gifts in honor of Christ’s birth.

Have you ever considered volunteering? Here’s how you and your missions group can start sharing the gospel with assisted living residents:

Communicating the Gospel to Women in Mill City

Missionary Sarah Landry has been serving for 6 years in Mill City, better known by most as Lowell, Massachusetts. The city’s nickname comes from its influential place in Industrial Revolution history. Landry works among the city’s college students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and with women of all ages through Mill City Church.

Discipleship is the central part of Landry’s work. “I spend much of my time meeting one-on-one or in small groups, sharing the gospel, and mentoring college students and young women in the local church,” she explained. This requires building relationships with women who might be very different from her. It also requires time. “These relationships are a long-term investment, especially in New England, where it can take time to gain a foothold for the gospel to be heard,” she said.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Bronson and Anna Parker*

“I made one trip to Gate-Town to do a training,” Bronson Parker shared. “All went well, but we received notice that I am not allowed to travel on the river to any of the communities.” Because Marcus*—president of the association in Gate-Town—remains in power, little has changed in the modern-day Wild West atmosphere of the Amazon Basin.

Losing his only source of income, Pedro* was forced to quit his teaching job. “But God is good and is providing for Pedro,” Parker said. “He and his family came to live with us for 3 months. We were able to disciple them further in the faith.”

Since then, Pedro has started 3 weekly ministries: a children’s ministry in Gate-Town; a discipleship group with 2 families in Gate-Town, who are forming into a church; and a ministry with the lost in his home village, Village 7, where he has been sharing Bible stories. “Many are listening, and we believe some will come into the kingdom soon,” Parker reported.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Ryan and Seane’ Rice

Ryan and Seane’ Rice continue to minister and see God doing great things through Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans. Their church is ethnically diverse and they reach out to help many on the fringes of society.

Oak Park Baptist Church, a sister church that had served the community for more than 60 years, fell on some difficult times with declining membership and problems reaching out to the community. The leaders of Connect Church and Oak Park began to talk about the possibility of merging the 2 churches. As the leaders of both congregations talked, they felt the Holy Spirit leading them to come together to better serve their community.

Become a Church Plant Supporter

Planting a new church can be stressful, rewarding, lonely, exhilarating, and exhausting all at once. This is why the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is constantly looking for supporting churches to partner with church planters by praying for them, participating in their work, and providing for their needs. You can help!

Talk to your missions group about supporting a church plant. Here is what your group can do:

Connecting New Orleans with Jesus

Mardi Gras, great food, and the Saints equal New Orleans. It is one big city made up of unique and very diverse neighborhoods. It’s a city where only 11.6% of the population is evangelical Christian, said Ryan Rice, lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers.

Rice, a church planter, spent his childhood in the Algiers neighborhood and in January 2009, returned to the neighborhood with his wife, Seane’. Here they are raising their 4 children: Ryan Jr., Brayden, Reagan, and Bailey. Reaching the residents and meeting their needs has required a “tailored approach.” The vision has been to find ways to proclaim a message of hope, healing, and restoration through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It began with family-centered outreaches such as movie nights, meeting at coffee shops, Easter events, and family nights at the park. Over time, trust has been built, allowing the Rices to work through the layers of beliefs that people have regarding what it means to know Jesus.

“Planting” in the Front Yard

“In all that I do—preaching, teaching, training [church] planters, etc.—I am constantly working to help people understand the gospel,” Noah Oldham said.

As the North American Mission Board’s Send City coordinator in Saint Louis, Missouri, Oldham coordinates planting churches in the greater metropolitan region. This involves working with church planters as well as the church partners who join with them. He is also lead pastor of August Gate Church. This multilocation church plant is a sending church for other church plants.

“But one of the most profound individual situations that happened didn’t happen in either of those contexts.” It happened in his front yard.

Little Sweet Treats: Use Cookies to Open Hearts to the Gospel

Decorations, trees, gifts, and food define Christmas for many, leaving little room for Jesus. Rather they think of Santa Claus and overspending. This year, share the Savior with homemade witnessing tools—cookies—and create a connecting point for future relationship building.

Plan a group cookie party to make, decorate, and share cookies and then use them to open hearts to the gospel. Search recipe websites for decorated cookie recipes, try one of the recipes below, or dig out your grandmother’s favorite cookie recipe. Choose large batch recipes simple for a group to make, or bake a few batches ahead of time and decorate later as a group. Cookies that stay fresh, transport easily, and won’t crumble make for a better presentation.

Prepare an invitation listing December church events as well as Bible study and worship times. Attach a catchy poem like this on one side to use as an icebreaker:

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