Women on Mission

Meeting Challenges and Opportunities in Ukraine

Linda Gray faces daily challenges as she serves as a single missionary in Kharkov, Ukraine. Whether dealing with vehicle maintenance problems, overcoming preconceived notions about Baptists as a cult, or working with leadership in the churches, Gray knows where to seek help, where to give a strong witness, and where to cooperate for the proclaiming of the gospel message.

Almost 98% of Ukrainians would identify themselves as Christian because they were baptized into the Orthodox church as infants. But only a small percentage of Ukrainians are born-again followers of Jesus. Though Gray has been a missionary for 18 years, she has spent 13 years in Kharkov. In previous years, she worked with church women’s groups, small-group Bible studies, and English as a second language, but now much of her focus is helping to minister to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in her region who have been displaced by war.

The Mission of Listening

Many times I find myself completing my 84 year old Mother’s sentences. Now she is more than capable of being able to speak the words and finish her sentences. But in my rush to move on in the conversation I complete her sentences or interrupt with the answer. It’s become a habit birthed out of my busyness. Justified? No! Rude? Yes! Additionally Scripture warns not to give an answer before one hears (Proverbs 18:13).

Mission opportunities occur everywhere. Around the globe and in my Mother’s home. What is God saying to my missions heart lately? Simply this: It’s time to develop the Ministry of Listening. The ministry of listening reflects patience, love, understanding, my relationship with Christ and the ability to truly hear. In this season of care giving I have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through listening.

No matter the age there is always a new mission which God is calling me to or making me aware of. You are never too old or too young to develop the Ministry of Listening. What about you?

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

 

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

Are You Listening?

My toddler, positioned on my left hip, was jabbering away. Suddenly he realized I wasn’t listening. With his two chubby hands, placing one on each side of my face, he turned my head so it was positioned directly in front of his face. Happy that he now had my full attention, he continued to speak to me as if I understood every word. That scenario happened almost 38 years ago and I still find myself having a problem listening with my full attention.

Listening is something which does not come naturally to us. In our selfishness we talk first and listen lastly. Listening is a skill, an art. It means consciously making the effort to listen with our mind and hearts, being intentional and disciplining ourselves to learn the skill. Listening involves all of you. It is eye to eye contact with full attention devoted to the person who is sharing.

Over the years God has placed women in my life who have listened in that way. Ears attuned to my joys, sorrows, problems, and giving me their undivided attention. They have listened, prayed and invested in my walk with Christ. Are you that kind of listening friend?

Starting Over Again

For Loren and Karen Dickey, the beginning of 2017 brought many challenges as they moved from Veracruz, Mexico, on the Gulf Coast inland to the Bajío. This region is considered the “Heart of Darkness,” the least reached area in Mexico, where only about 2% are Christians. This was the Dickeys’ fourth move in 18 years as International Mission Board missionaries in the Americas (having served in Nicaragua, Chile, Peru, and Mexico), but they sensed that they were “starting over again.”

From the onset, the couple knew this move would be different. Even though they only moved to another state in Mexico, they are learning the culture of the Bajío. They are also “still getting a grasp on Mexican Spanish,” which is different from the Spanish they’ve used before.

Law Enforcement Ministry: Offer “Peace”

Reading the headlines of the newspaper or a news website can fill your mind with fear instead of peace. Over the past week, I’ve seen articles about a mentally challenged man beaten and abused by teenagers, a shooting at an airport, and drug busts. Crimes are being committed every day. How does a society deal with those who go against the laws of the land? It begins with the men and women who take an oath to protect and serve the citizens of this country.

There is a huge need to minister to these dedicated individuals who are on call 24/7 and put their lives in harm’s way. Here are some ways you can show your support:

Pray specifically for law enforcement officers and their need to know Christ. Pray for opportunities to share the good news and build relationships. Obtain a roster and pray specifically for protection, health, officers’ families, wisdom, discernment, and the ability to make quick and rational decisions.

Missionary Spotlight Update: David and Regina White

Missionaries David and Regina White in Guatemala share that the believers in Nearar are making an effort to share the gospel in the Nenoja area, which is about an hour’s mountainous walk away. The Whites share that the citizens of the spiritually dark Nenoja area have been resistant to evangelical efforts thus far but believers from Nearar have been attempting to visit in the area every Saturday. Pray for the family in Christ of Nearar as it leads the effort to reach those in Nenoja and for the lost who need the hope of Christ. Additionally pray for the church in Nearar as it pursues building a facility in which to worship.

The Whites ask for continued prayers for their Sunday Bible studies in Nearar and Thursday gatherings in Muyurco. Additionally they will be participating in and encouraging Bible studies on Sunday evening in Chiquimula and Zacapa for which they covet your prayers. Lastly lift up the Whites as they continue work this spring while transitioning to depart for stateside assignment in July.

Get Plugged In

Arriving in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, NAMB church planter Jay Parks knew building relationships was vital to building New Life Church. When his son got involved in soccer, Jay attended practices and games, looking to “plug in where families already were,” he says. He soon began coaching, and after a year-and-a-half, he has met many families through it.

Jay and his wife April also committed to engage two families a week by inviting them to dinner, hosting over 100 families so far.

“This shifts a focus from just inviting them to church to simply trying to get to know them,” he affirms.

The soccer field and the Parks’ dinner table have brought many into the fledgling congregation. “Building relationships is so important when trying to reach people with the gospel,” Jay emphasizes.

(You can read more about the Parks’ story at www.newlifekona.com.)


By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

Sowing the Seeds

Gina, Bob, and their children recently moved to a new city. To meet the neighbors and begin sowing seeds of kindness and the gospel message, they planned a “dessert on the driveway” event.

On eye-catching postcard-sized invitations, they introduced themselves and invited neighbors to drop by on a certain day and time to enjoy ice cream and cookies. Attaching a ribbon loop to each invitation, they dropped them off on the neighbors’ doorknobs early that week.

Setting up a few chairs and a table with refreshments, name tags, and balloons, Gina and Bob were delighted when a few neighbors stopped by. Children played together as the adults chatted. Soon a few more ventured over, and one neighbor volunteered to grill hot dogs the next weekend.

Friendships were formed. And doors were opened!


By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

 

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