GO Blog

Missionary Highlight: Dave and Karen

Today's Missionary Highlight: dave and karen

Serving with pact

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     Karen and I have been on the staff with an international ministry for 35 and 40 years respectively.  We have three children, Michael, Sarah and Joanna.  Michael and Sarah were born in Istanbul, Turkey and Joanna in Paris, France. Michael married Lauren in March 2016 and Joanna and Colin in April 2016.  Sarah finishes her MA in Disaster Management from the U. of HI in December.  She is preparing for a career  providing Humanitarian Aid in the event of natural disasters. Dave started in ministry at the U. of Nebraska and Karen at Ohio State.  We served in Turkey, Cyprus and France between 1980-1992.  We were then involved in Muslim international student ministry at Iowa State and across the USA from 1993 until 2011 when Dave joined the PACT team while Karen remains involved with the international student ministry at Iowa State.  Karen is from Marshalltown and is an Iowa State grad.  Dave is from the Chicago area.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    Dave serves as the Chief of Staff for the PACT (Persia, Armenia, Central Asia and Turkey) Area team.  He is also Director of Development which primarily involves training staff to raise funds for their personal ministries as well as projects.  Dave served as interim leader of the ministry in Turkey for three years ending in August 2016.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

  Dave enjoys backpacking, swimming and watching sports.  Karen likes any activity which involves family.  Her mother was one of 11 and her father of 8.  I think about half of central Iowa is related to her in some way.

4. how you have seen God work recently?       

  On a recent trip, I (Dave) was returning from Kyrgyzstan but it had been snowing for 3 days.  I was dropped off at the airport in Bishkek by the staff I was there working with.  The flight was delayed and finally they closed the airport before I could get out.  I didn't have a phone to make contact with the local staff and only had a little bit of cash.  I don't speak any Russian or the Kyrgyz language and I hadn't had anything to eat.  As the flight was delayed the airline first brought hot drinks for the waiting passengers and as the delay continued brought sandwiches.  Then when the flight was cancelled the airline organized transportation back to the city and provided a hotel and meals until I was able to leave 24 hours later.  Consider what the airlines do in the USA when there are delays or cancellations due to weather- maybe say sorry?  I felt God caring for me and providing the whole time.

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

 -  Pray for our national staff in Central Asia as they have huge challenges in finding the funding for their ministries.  Pray God shows us how we can help them so that all He has called to vocational Christian ministry have the funding to care for their families and carry out their ministries.

- Pray for our staff to carry out their ministries under difficult circumstances because of the challenges of the primary religion of the area- Islam.  Pray for God's protection.

- Pray for two refugee ministries in Turkey.  One is to those who have been displaced from Iraq and Syria because of ISIS.  Their numbers are well over 2 million.  The other is to Iranians who have fled their country looking for freedom- spiritually, economically, and freedom of thought/speech.  The Iranians are very open to the Gospel.  The estimate is there are 10,000 Iranian believers in Turkey, double the number of Turkish believers (5,000) in the entire country of 80 million people.

-  Karen and I will travel together to Turkey the end of January for a staff conference for the 150 staff serving in Turkey, which includes 40 Turkish nationals.  The others come from 19 other countries to work with the same ministry in Turkey.  This conference will be the official start for the new country director, David Eaves, from New Zealand.  Pray for him, his wife Ros and high school age children Sarah and Nathan, that God would protect and provide for them and give him wisdom in this enormous role.

Thanks so much to Dave and Karen for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. 

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Friday, December 16, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Kirk and Lou Ann Johnson

Today's Missionary Highlight: kirk and lou ann

Serving with cru

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     Lou Ann and I live in Eden Prairie, MN and work with the Upper Midwest regional team of the Cru campus ministry. All three of our sons also currently live in the Minneapolis area as well. In 2012 we moved from Des Moines up to MN to take on a new role with Cru.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    As part of the Leadership Development team and Global teams, the goal of our contribution has been to help foster growing staff on healthy teams leading vibrant spiritual movements making global kingdom impact. Practically speaking that entails training, coaching and shepherding individual staff and teams.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

  Kirk enjoys anything outdoors (feeding and watching the birds, yard work, photography, and hiking) and ESPN during the not so nice outdoor weather. Lou Ann loves walking outdoors, antique browsing, finding unique coffee shops, gardening and indoor plant cultivation.

4. how you have seen God work recently?       

   Because of longevity, we find great satisfaction in seeing students come to Christ, grow in their faith and going on to serve the Lord in whatever venue God calls them into, ie: seeing the Lord raise up lifetime laborers including some who worship and serve at Valley Church. As we were thinking about this not long ago, we realized that three staff came from the same small community college we worked on in SE Iowa and went on to live and serve in France, East Asia, and on our regional team. 

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

   Some praises: Lou Ann and I have the privilege to be part of three different training opportunities this fall mostly with younger Cru staff and students serving in the Upper Midwest and around the country. Some of them will eventually be serving long-term globally. We truly love to come alongside our staff in a shepherding/coaching capacity pointing them to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

   Prayer requests: Pray for wisdom and discernment as we will be traveling to five different local movements in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota in the months of November and December for training, coaching and team building. Also, thanks for praying for our annual region wide winter conference in Minneapolis Dec 28-Jan 1...1400 students from around our region normally attend for spiritual challenge and growth. 

Thanks so much to Kirk and Lou Ann for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Friday, December 2, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Craig and Allesandra Weyandt

Today's Missionary Highlight: Craig and allesandra weyandt

Serving with reach global in brazil

 

 
1. How would you summarize your ministry?

    We make Disciples of Jesus in community, life on life, learning and doing together.   We work with fishermen, surfers, church planters, poor and rich communities as we partner with the Brazilian church creating a network of high-impact ministries empowering them to become models of gospel transformation in their contexts.

2. PRAYER REQUESTS

   -  Praise God for safe travels and blessed meetings with many churches and individuals in the U.S.

   -  God to provide the $1000 a month that we need to return to the field by January.  
 
   -  God to raise up the human resources that we need through American Churches sending teams and individuals to work along-side of us with our Brazilian partners on the field
 
Thanks so much to Craig and Allesandra for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!
Posted by Nikki Twedt at Saturday, November 19, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Brian and Marla Cole

Today's Missionary Highlight: brian and marla cole

Serving with the efca

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     Marla and I have been married 37 years. Doug is our oldest son who is married to Mirinda. Their children are Jonny, age 7-1/2 and Andrew 3-1/2. Doug is finishing his PhD in Linguistics and Mirinda works for Bethany Christian Services. They live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Daniel is engaged to CJ Koozer. Dan and CJ live in Minneapolis and are both first year residents. Dan works at Hennepin County Medical Center and specializes in Internal Medicine while CJ works at Children’s Hospitals and specializes in Pediatrics. Danae is married to Steve June. Danae is a home health nurse in mother/baby with Allina Hospitals and Steve is a Chemist at 3M. They also live in the Twin Cities and are expecting their first baby in early March.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    Brian is in senior leadership serving on the President’s Council of the EFCA, the ReachGlobal Directional Team, directs the Global Equipping, International Camping, Crisis Response, Missionary Care, and Connect teams within ReachGlobal and serves on many other committees within the EFCA.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

  Marla and I enjoy riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle. In August we spent a week doing the Circle Tour riding around Lake Superior and camping. Being able to enjoy God’s creation on the bike with the wind in our faces (and occasionally a little rain) is a favorite. The riding season is short in Minnesota but we ride every chance we get.

4. how you have seen God work recently?       

   This last spring Marla and I spent time in the Middle East with Syrian refugees.  We were able to visit several homes to understand their lives better.  During one visit a sister-in-law also came to share with us. After hearing their stories we were able to pray for the sister-in-law and her family. The woman was visibly moved to tears as we encouraged her through prayer of the love of God our Father. Our local partners were able to give her a Bible during a follow up visit and provide resources for her family.

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

   We praise God daily because we are so grateful to have a job that we absolutely love and seek your prayers to continue to minister wisely and faithfully. We ask that you pray for each of our children: Doug, as he finishes his dissertation and his family during this process; Dan and CJ as they work long hours daily to remain healthy and alert; Danae throughout her pregnancy and our developing grandbaby. Thank you so much for Valley Church’s faithful support and the many years we spent serving together while in Des Moines.

Thanks so much to Brian and Marla for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Sunday, November 6, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Brian and Diane Harris

Today's Missionary Highlight: brian and diane Harris

Serving with Reach global

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     Of course we think our family is fabulous.  Our family began with three daughters and now includes their husbands and children. Inga is married to Darren and they are parents to our oldest grandchild, Chara, and our youngest grandchild, Tucker. An is husband to Britta. Their family is complete with Asher and Penelope. Our youngest daughter Anna is married to Dan. The grace of spending time together is sweet for us. We love hearing our grandchildren laugh!

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    After pastoring in the local church for 38 years we have now been part of the Member Care Team with ReachGlobal for 2 years. We provide pastoral care for missionaries primarily in eastern Europe and Middle East North Africa, traveling to spend time with them individually through four or five trips a year. Additionally, we provide care with our Member Care Team through missionary debriefings at the National Office in Bloomington and through pre-field trainings for missionaries going to the field for the first time. Our days hold a lot of variety as we also attend and speak at conferences; engage in mentoring, Skype calls, and email correspondence; and fit in writing and studying.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

  When not involved in ministry or family, Brian loves to be outdoors kayaking, hunting, fishing, or walking; and, I, Diane, enjoy using and developing my amateur photography skills. I might even be persuaded to enjoy the outdoors if I can take my camera along!

4. how you have seen God work recently?       

   As we come alongside missionaries, we have the opportunity to see God work in multiple ways through their individual ministries and families. But, we also see God using us to encourage and uphold them and their ministry partners. Our favorite stories center on God using our presence to fulfill his purposes. As pastors to missionaries, we have been present for missionary kids’ concerts, worship services, celebration parties, Bible studies, meals, visits, desserts, hikes, and so much more. But, one of the sweetest times was also a time of sorrow.

   A few months ago we were visiting ReachGlobal missionaries in Prague. While there we had a precious opportunity to spend time with Renee McLean and her girls. Renee is a ReachGlobal missionary who has adopted two beautiful Roma (Gypsy) girls. As you may or may not know, most Europeans do not like Roma – at all. This became very evident the day we were spending time with this lovely family and the oldest daughter was confronted by a grandmother who thought the child should not even be in public. The complete story is told in our blog at:https://shelteringhaven.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/honey-the-butterfly-a-story-of-sweetness-and-sorrow/. This story holds rich meaning for us as we contemplate the fact that God has called the two of us to walk with missionaries through life. The care God was able to provide through us that day confirmed our roles in his kingdom as care-givers for his workers.  

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

Praises:

  • God has met our every need!
  • We have known strength and health in our travels
  • God has provided wisdom and discernment
  • Our partners are awesome!

 

Prayer requests:

  • Our next Pastors to Missionaries trip is September 19-October 15.
  • In the coming weeks we will be visiting a limited access country which has experienced terrorist activity. Pray for our travel and ministry safety.
  • Diane will be attending two women’s missionary events: A retreat for those serving in the Balkans, October 6-9; and a ReachGlobal women’s conference in Barcelona, Spain November 1-9. Pray that she will love well and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  • Our travel fund budget is dangerously low, pray that our Lord would provide the needed funds.

Thanks so much to Brian and Diane for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Sunday, October 9, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Ben and Sandy Taber

Today's Missionary Highlight: Ben and sandy taber

Serving with one mission as a videographer

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     I (Ben) have been married to my wonderful wife, Sandy, for 13 years. We have four wonderful children. Patrick is 12 and only a couple inches shorter than I am (which he loves reminding me of) and loves playing soccer. Amelia is 9 and the only girl and unfortunately one of only two girls her age amongst the missionary families who live on campus. She loves gymnastics and dance and is apart of American Heritage Girls. Elliott is 6 and our firecracker. He is constantly keeping us on our toes and besides deciding that he has to be the constant entertainment for our newborn he has decided this fall to join his brother in playing soccer. He is also involved in a TrailLife troop through a local church. And then there is he newest addition to our family. Donovan is our red headed 4.5 months old and has been a precious addition to our family, especially after we lost a pregnancy 2 years ago.  

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    I am the lead videographer (which is easy to be when you are the only videographer) and av manager for One Mission Society. I and my family are based out of the OMS USA/World headquarters in Greenwood, Indiana. Whenever I describe what I do as a ministry, I always come back to the idea that I am a story teller. My ministry gives me the opportunity to visit One Mission Societies fields of ministry (any of 77 countries) with a camera in my hand capturing video and still images of the work that God is doing around the world through the work of our missionaries. I then have the opportunity of sharing those stories with individuals and churches who are interested in how God is moving around the world, or even more importantly, with people who don't know what God is doing and are discovering the harvest fields for the first time.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

   When we are not running from soccer games and scouting activities, our family enjoys hiking in our local state parks as well as camping. 

4. how you have seen God work recently?       

   In February I had the opportunity to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit some of our African brothers in Christ who are planting churches in the area of Bukavu in the eastern DRC. Ministry for One Mission Society in Africa is unique because nearly all of it is done, not by western missionaries, but rather by the sons and daughters of Africa. We provide training, encouragement, and guidance, but the feet on the ground are African feet taking the Gospel to their own people. 

   Hermann, who is a regional coordinator in the Bukavu area, was one of our hosts. He has nine churches who meet on Sunday (traditional). Each of the nine churches have at least six cell churches associated with each traditional church and each cell church has, on average, eight home groups that meet on a regular basis.  While we were there, Hermann took us around to several of his churches in the area, some who met under trees for lack of a physical building or the means to build one. We also visited a literacy program that these brothers are using as an evangelism and community outreach tool.  Our African brothers in Christ have ambitious goals and Hermann is one of the nearly 50 regional coordinators using Village Church Planting to plant churches in 30 African nations.  

  Two events stand out to me from this trip. The first was a visit to a meeting under a tree in the late afternoon African heat. This wasn't a regular church meeting, but rather, it was a group of African youth from several surrounding churches who gather together weekly to practice music so they can help lead worship in their own churches. Worship through music has always been close to my heart and this was reminiscent of my youth group when I was younger and sitting around with a bunch of friends singing and playing music late into the night. It wasn't about being good, it was about fellowship and spending time together worshipping our Lord. I had a similar experience around a campfire on the shore of a lake in Estonia many years ago. 

   The second event happened on one of the last days I was in the DRC. We had gone to church on Sunday morning and were traveling to a neighboring village in the afternoon to meet with a group of church planting workers. To get anywhere as a group (there were 4 of us traveling that day) required that we rent a Land Cruiser to navigate the poorly maintained roads. The village we were going to couldn't have been more than 30-40 km away but it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get there. When we did finally arrive we had the opportunity to interview Kikuru. Kikuru is a church planting worker and a former Muslim who learned about Jesus Christ through the teaching of one of our pastors. But not only is he a former Muslim, but he was an Imam who oversaw a number of mosques in that area before he put his faith in Jesus Christ. It was amazing to hear his testimony and his heart to take the Gospel of Christ back to the Muslim community in the DRC. 

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

Pray for:

 - Praise God for the blessing of our new son, Donovan, born May 4, our move to a bigger home, and God’s provision of a needed vehicle.

 - Pray for Ben as he is in Ecuador September 18-25: pray for creativity to know what shots will best tell the story of what God is doing and for Sandy and the kids while he is away.

 - Pray for Sandy home-schooling Patrick (6th), Amelia (4th) and Elliott (1st) along with the responsibilities of care for a newborn.

 - Pray for Michael, a videographer, who has been accepted to join our team. He has around 60% of his monthly support raised. We really need him here full time.

Thanks so much to Ben and Sandy for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Tuesday, September 20, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: A.P.

Today's Missionary Highlight: A.P.

Serving with People International in East Asia

 

PRAYER REQUESTS

Pray for:

-   Unity for various groups of believers in my city, and wisdom to know what role I should play.

-  Training church leaders who desire to serve but have little training. There is a huge need for this practical help.

-  Refreshment, strength and encouragement during a season of isolation. Having a plan for fellowship and meeting her own spiritual needs – perhaps traveling more often to a nearby city.

- Pray for teammates. A local pastor is searching for a local believer to live with me and be a ministry partner. Part of this will be each learning to adjust to the other’s culture.

- I also have a heart for reaching the ‘least reached.’ Please ask for relationships to be built.

Praise

 - God provided better visa option. I am currently teaching at a local college. It is a small teaching load, but provides some structure in my schedule and fills in the loss of income from my previous bi-vocational option, with far less stress.

Thanks so much to A.P. for sharing. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Tuesday, September 20, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: David and Rita Blake

Today's Missionary Highlight: david and rita blake

Serving in indonesia

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     We are David and Rita Blake, and with our daughters Anna (17), Ruby (15), Laura (13) and Mary (11) we now live in Minnesota after many years in Asia.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

   David still serves full-time in leadership for Bible translation work in Indonesia, making several trips there each year and doing a lot ‘behind the scenes.’  His area of responsibility is an island about the size of Iowa that has over 100 languages.  Not all of those language communities need their own Bible translation, but there is a lot of work to be done to sort that out and to find the people needed to do the work.  Exciting things are happening there, especially as Indonesian Christians – although a minority in their country – get more and more involved in Bible translation and other ministries. 

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

Our family has done a LOT of traveling over the years and is VERY familiar with airports and flying.  However, if you ask the girls what they like to do for fun, they’re likely to say “Travel!”  We recently visited Mt Rushmore and drove to the top of Pikes Peak.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see the beauty of God’s creation, and we were amazed (after living in developing countries) at how the road could be paved so smoothly at those elevations. 

4. praises and prayer requests

   We want to give a big thanks to the VEFC family for your faithful financial support for so many years.  Please pray for God’s provision of additional support needed due to the much higher cost of living here in the USA.

Please pray also for wisdom as we make plans and set goals for our ministry involvement in the coming years.  We came home last year after losing our visa to live in Indonesia, and now it appears that staying here long-term is the best situation for our family.  We hope to continue to serve the Bibleless peoples of Indonesia for as long as we can, from wherever we are and in whatever way is best.

Thanks so much to David and Rita for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Monday, September 5, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Tony and Clare Friedrichsen

Today's Missionary Highlight: Tony and clare Friedrichsen

Serving with CRU at ISU

 

1. Tell us about your family.

     We have been married for almost 16 years, have five kids, and we have been in full time College ministry with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) for 15 years. Clare and I are high school sweethearts, she and her family helped lead me to the Lord along with Cru staff when I went to college. We also have a long history with Valley Church. Quintin counseled us when we were dating and it helped to guide us into marriage and ministry. Our ministry has called us to live in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the past and we have had several different positions within Cru. Our children are involved with Valley youth ministry and love it. Our oldest is Ellie -12, then Isaiah - 11, Hazel - 9, Lola - 6, Silas is our youngest at age 4.  They have been enrolled at Des Moines Christian school for the past several years and this year will be homeschooling. 

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    I, Tony, am currently the Area Director for Cru in Central Iowa. I oversee the efforts of Cru to build spiritual movements on every college campus in Iowa. We could summarize our ministry by saying that we we make disciples out of the future leaders of the world. People who are in college today will be the leaders of the world tomorrow and we get the chance to introduce them to Christ, train them up in the faith, and send them out into the world to make more disciples. We major in multiplication and mobilization. We share the Gospel with lost people and teach them how to share it with others and mobilize them to build God's Kingdom after they graduate. Most of our effort is invested at Iowa State University currently but we look forward to start things on other campuses as we have opportunity and capacity.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

    As a family we love spending time together visiting the Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha, watching movies, going to museums (especially Living History Farms), playing games, going to the Iowa State Fair, history and anything artsy - drawing, writing and reading...our whole family LOVES reading! We spend a lot of our free time with our extended family! And, working on the farm!

4. how you have seen God work recently?

     One of the events we try to hold every year is an outreach opportunity is called The Executive and Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum. We invite successful business leaders to come to campus and tell the story of how faith in Christ has influenced their business life and in the process, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, we invite the top 1% of all student leaders on campus to attend. Several years ago, a stand-out freshman leader named Dan attended the event. He was challenged by the speakers and met with one of them the following day to continue their conversation about Christ. Dan made a decision about Christ and was discipled by Cru staff. He went on to become President of the Student Body at Iowa State University. Last spring, while finishing his term as president, Dan was pleased to be able to MC the same event that lead him to Christ and give that opportunity to a whole new group of student leaders.

5. praises and prayer requests   

Praise: 

We are so thankful that we have some very loyal supporters who have been with us for a long time on this journey! We are also thankful that we have students who graduate and join our support team to help us continue the work God is doing at Iowa State!

Praise for the students we have involved that are aligned and ready to lead this year! We have had amazing interns, staff and volunteers who have been a joy to work with and helped us to build up the movement in central Iowa. We are so thankful for Andy, Becky and Lauren who are working hard to lead the movement while we are currently support raising. They are amazing!

We praise God for that every year Tony has been a director we have sent 9 years worth of full time labor into the mission field!!

Prayer requests: 

We are currently in support raising mode. We have a significant amount of money we need to raise in order to move to Ames to be closer to staff and students. Please pray that God will bring in a significant amount of money very quickly so we can return to campus! We still have a ways to go.

We have had a lot of difficulty with our vehicles. Please pray that we can figure out how we can pay to fix Tony's car and Clare's van. 

Spiritual Warfare - this is been a long and hard summer for us. We have felt bogged down with spiritual attack from all angles. Please pray that we can clearly see what God's direction is for us, feel his presence through the difficult times and have a renewed mind, spirit and energy to continue to follow the Lord.

Thanks so much to Tony and Clare for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Monday, August 22, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Adam and Alicia Penning

Today's Missionary Highlight: Adam and Alicia Penning 

Serving in New York City

 

Adam serves as the Manhattan Metro Campus Field Director for Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru)

Prayer Requests:

Students/colleges

For college students to be open and receptive to the Gospel and for our staff to be courageous and compassionate as they share the good news. 

We are trusting God to reach freshmen on each of our campuses this fall. Pray for 60 freshmen to get involved throughout the city and for 1/2 of those to be at NYU. 

Security in the city is tight and there is a lot of red tape to cut in order to become a student club on private universities. Pray for new and continued access to college campuses in the city. 

Team

We are leading through a lot of organizational change. Pray for a heart, shared vision and strategy for our team.  Pray for Adam as he leads through this season. 

For our team as we continue to add people. This fall another 8 staff will join us in the city, brining the total staff up to 23. Last fall we started with 5! This is so exciting and yet chalenging as we build team dynamics and culture. Pray for the staff who are new to the city, to adapt, learn and grow through their transition.  

Pray for the new launch of 2 new teams in Brooklyn and Queens.

Family

Pray for us as we continue to adapt to urban life in New York. We love it so far!

Pray for our family as we navigate 3 children in New York Public School.

Pray that we can bring the light of the gospel to the diverse and international families of our children’s classmates.

Pray for rich friendships and a deep walk with Jesus. 

 

Thanks so much to Adam and Alicia for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Wednesday, August 10, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Brian and Sarah Bennetch

Today's Missionary Highlight: Brian and sarah bennetch

Serving in Rome

 

1. Tell us about your family.

      Sarah and I have spent close to half of our lives in Europe. We marked our 25th anniversary of ministry in Belgium and Italy in April.  We praise God for the wonderful adventure it has been…and we ain’t done yet!  We moved to Belgium in April 1991 to reach out to immigrant Muslims in the ghettos of Brussels.  As soon as we got there we plunged into a life of diversity, as we help a small church plant to grow into a dynamic French-speaking international church. During our 16 years in Brussels we continued to work simultaneously with the French-speaking church and in Muslim outreach, culminating in the planting of the Iranian Church of Brussels toward the end of our time there.  We raised our 3 kids in Brussels where they attended French-speaking local schools for most of their education.  I think they would say that they had a happy and very multi-cultural upbringing.  We share that bond, and Brussels still seems like “home” in a lot of ways, even now that none of us live there.  Four out of the five of us have been granted Belgian citizenship too!  All three kids decided to do their university studies in the US, and we think that was a good choice for them.  Sarah Grace studied nursing at Kent State and worked several years in Cleveland, OH (our home base in the US) as a nurse before starting a family with Daniel. They are involved in the ministries of an urban church in Cleveland and Daniel works as an engineer while Sarah Grace raises our two grandsons, Noah and Caleb. Paul married Emily almost six years ago.  We adore our daughter-in-love!  Paul did all of his high school in local schools in Brussels, graduating at the top of his class. He went on to study Classics at Cornell and married Emily in a vineyard in California midway through college. After teaching English composition to underprivileged middle-schoolers in Denver for two years, he started studying law at Stanford Law School, from which he will graduate in June 2017. Philip graduated from Ohio State in 2014 with a degree in city and regional planning. He worked temp jobs till recently landing a professional planning job in Delaware County, Ohio. Phil is very involved with his church in Columbus where he leads a community group and seeks to reach out to local ethnic minorities. 

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    Looking at the first paragraph above, you may not think I know how to summarize at all! Sarah and I are on the same team, but we have two different and complementary roles.  Sarah leads the Rome City Team. She is responsible for her own local ministry as well caring for and building up the ReachGlobal City Team here.  Sarah oversees one current 2-year intern, another returning long-term member of the team, and 3 more 2-year interns arriving in October, 2016. She seeks to develop these team members in their ministry potential. We take seriously our ReachGlobal mission to Multiply Transformational Churches among all peoples.  Locally, our vision is “A thousand points of Gospel Light in the city.”  Besides building the team, Sarah and I are both involved in developing young leaders in the 4-year-old San Lorenzo church plant in the student district of Rome.  We also coach the cell group leaders.  Sarah has helped to launch a local anti-trafficking ministry here in Rome and a national alliance of like-minded evangelical organizations in Italy.  I am privileged to serve on the Board for the Refugee Friendship center, where I volunteer weekly. When not involved in ministry in Rome, I (Brian) supervise five other city teams in our Europe Division.  I serve on the Europe Division Leadership team with ten other leaders.  There is never a dull moment.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

   Brian likes to sit on his very urban balcony and read books, listening to his playlists of instrumental music that play as a background to sirens and barking dogs.  On the occasional evening without meetings, mindless films usher him to bed.  Sarah cannot get enough of inviting an amazing variety of old and new friends over for an amazing variety of cuisines that she has mastered. If not inviting, she is a passionate reader of historical fiction and a passionate visitor of historical sites in Rome. A real history buff. Together we love to explore old places and stroll the town.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

       (Sarah) As Brian mentioned, he often sits on our balcony reading with headphones on, and follows the impulse to “air conduct” the symphony. When we organized an Intensive English Course, Brian went to our neighbors who have college-age daughters to invite them to the course. Their Dad said, “So, you’re an Orchestra Conductor AND you’re giving English lessons??” He really thought so! That broke the ice. The daughter came to our class and we formed a friendship with that family. But the Dad is still perplexed: “So, you used to be a NASA engineer designing for the Space Station, and NOW you teach the Bible??” “Sarah, you’re a church worker but you also go and talk to prostitutes??” They had NEVER heard of evangelicals, but they have now heard the Gospel and we keep them curious. 

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Praise God for 3 2-Year Interns preparing to deploy to our Rome City Team this Fall!

2. Praise God for the nearly-full support for Heather: our former Intern who will return soon as long-term staff on our team.

3. PRAY for the 3 Interns: for God’s provision and for all the necessary preparations for missionary service with us.

4. Praise for the 8 people recently baptized in our church-plant.

5. PRAY for the men whom Brian is discipling and the women whom Sarah is discipling. For spiritual victory and growth as they learn to trust and obey Christ; for wisdom and discernment for us as we minister the Word to them.

Thanks so much to Brian and Sarah for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Monday, July 18, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Brussels Team

Today's Missionary Highlight: Olivier and Karin Jonkers 

and the Valley team Serving in brussels

The Jonkers are a missionary family serving full time in Brussels.  They are getting all geared up to join forces with many from the States to shower the area with the Good News of Jesus.  We will learn more about theh Jonkers in the future but for today we want to share some prayer requests for the team heading to Brussels to work alongside the Jonkers and the Ritzman's (see previous blog post).  

  • Please pray for the Serve the Church team that will be in Brussels July 6-15.  There are 14 from the Des Moines area, 9 from California and 3 from New Mexico.  In addition, 13 from Tennessee will be joining the team for the last week. 
  • The city is unsettled as recent violent activities have left them fearful in some cases, yet searching for answers in other cases.  Those brothers and sisters in Christ who live in the city are aware of this uncertainty much more than those of us who live in the states.  Opportunities abound for sharing Good News, for light tends to get more attention as darkness increases.
  •  Pray for the discouragement a group of believers in Catalpa are experiencing as they have lost their lease on a facility they rented.  They have not been allowed, under the lease agreement, to sing or serve the Lord’s supper in the facility.  A tentative agreement had been reached to rent another facility where they would be allowed to function as a church.  That agreement was withdrawn just a few days ago, and now they need to find another facility.  There is a very anti-church sentiment that believers deal with in the city.
  •  Pray for revival in Brussels.  The world is represented there as their immigration policy has resulted in many nationalities residing there. 
  • Pray for favor for the believers who are finding many opportunities for sharing their faith, as those with no faith foundation, are shaken with all the recent turmoil.
  • Pray for the Serve the Church team to be used mightily by God to strengthen and encourage the ongoing Kingdom work that is taking place.
Thanks so much for joining the Brussels team in prayer!
Posted by Nikki Twedt at Saturday, July 2, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Dan and Carrie Ritzman

Today's Missionary Highlight: Dan and carrie Ritzman

Serving in brussels

 

1. Tell us about your family.

      We are Dan and Carrie Ritzman, and we have two boys, Jeremie (21) and Nathaniel (19).  Both are studying at John Brown University in Arkansas.  Carrie is originally from Nebraska, and Dan is originally from Washington State.  We met in Brussels and have been serving here for many years (25 for Dan and 32 for Carrie).   

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    We are church planting an Iranian Church and Dan is also the Brussels City Team Leader for the EFCA-ReachGlobal. 

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

   Taking walks and visiting places we haven’t seen yet. 

4. how you have seen God work recently?

    After church a few weeks ago, I noticed one of our leaders occupied with a young man who comes in from a distant refugee center.  They were in deep discussion and were taking a long time…and this wasn’t the first time.  Often our leaders are inundated with people wanting to talk with them.   Afterwards, our leader said to me…oh that was fun!  Each week, X reads his Bible and notes all of his questions, then he comes and asks me.  He is growing like a weed!  For me, it was beautiful to see the thirst of this young man, and to witness the passion of our leader to help him grow.  We are all about the transformation of the Gospel in people’s lives and God is indeed at work!     

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

     Praises

1)      Praise God for the new leadership team in our church.  They seem to be a good combination of gifts and abilities for ministry.  

2)      Praise God that our boys found summer jobs!   

      Prayer Requests:

1)      Pray for the numerous ministries of Serve the Church, July 6-16.  At this point we have 26 US team members and 13 others who will be joining to serve in 8-10 ministry sights. 

2)      Pray for an upcoming combined baptism service (4 churches) near the end of June.  There will be around 22 baptized that day…4 from our church.  Pray that these new believers would be rooted and grounded in their faith.      

3)      Pray for our first church retreat in mid-August.  Pray that many would be deeply touched by this time away. 

Thanks so much to Dan and Carrie for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: RJ and Steffanie Sumrall

Today's Missionary Highlight: RJ and STEFFanie Sumrall

Serving with Fca in Central iowa

1. Tell us about your family.

      I (RJ) was born in Honolulu HI, but raised in Orlando FL.  I am an Army brat. I was awarded an athletic scholarship to play football and run track for Iowa State U. I had a really good career which landed me on the all-time leaders board in school history for football. I also received a Drake Relays Championship. The best thing I received in college was Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior during my junior season of football through FCA. When I was done with college and football I had a choice to make, either live in Florida by myself, or live in Iowa with my now wife. I have now lived in Iowa for almost 12 years counting my college football report date of August 5, 2004. My wife works for MetLife as a Business Consultant. We have a son, Jackson, who turns 4 on June 19. We also are expecting twin boys in late August early September. We are currently residing in Urbandale, but moving to Ankeny mid-June. We have 2 Yorkiepooh’s who are 6 years old named Teddy and Zoey.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

    We are a sports ministry that focus on Connecting with Coaches. Training Coaches to coach for Jesus Christ. Sending Coaches to use their platform to advance the Gospel.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:
  • Playing with my son
  • Watching movies
  • Hanging with my family
  • Cooking
  • Riding my bike
  • Going outside
  • Playing Sand Volleyball
4. how you have seen God work recently?

     During this past basketball season FCA was providing Domino’s pizza to the Varsity North Boys Basketball team for a Chapel message after each home game. Well, one of the days the schedule was changed and I was not informed. I received a call from Domino’s asking where was everyone at? I rushed over to the school and realized there wasn’t a game at North. So I took all 18 large pizzas and went over to Hoover high hoping I could catch their basketball team. They were gone as well, so I gave found 3 random students and gave them 2 boxes each of pizza. When I brought 12 boxes of pizza home my wife said, “I like pizza, but not that much.” The next morning I took the rest of the pizza to Bethel Missions on 6th ave.

5. PRAYER REQUESTS

     I would love prayer toward leading my family and Urban FCA according to Gods Will. Also, the ability to manage my time appropriately this fall with having twins, growing the Urban FCA ministry, and being the ISU Football Chaplain.

Thanks so much to RJ for sharing this brief look into your life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Wednesday, June 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Dave and Kathy Turnball

Today's Missionary Highlight: dave and Kathy Turnball

Serving with Fca in Central iowa

1. Tell us about your family.

      My wife (Kathy) and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this summer. We have two adult daughters (Sarah and Megan) and four grandchildren (Caden-12, Gracee-9, Brody & Kash-6)

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

     FCA's (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) Vision is to "Impact the world for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes."  Dave is the FCA state director for Iowa.  

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

     Spending time with my grandkids / Golf / Attending sporting events                  

4. how you have seen God work recently?

     Two athletes (one college and one high school) who met while both were on their respective Leadership Teams, are in the process of establishing a partnership to do mission work in Haiti over the next two years. It is so exciting to see these two young people whose faith lives have been significantly impacted by FCA now committing to serve the Lord together in a place that is desperate for the love of Christ.

5. PRAYER REQUESTS
 
  • Praise for continued growth of our FCA "footprint" across our area (Iowa and several counties in western Illinois)
  • Praise for the impact we have begun to have in the urban area of Des Moines.
  • Praise for a tremendous group of Area Leadership Board members who are playing a huge role in our successes.
  • Prayer for the Lord's guidance in growing our staff and in setting ministry priorities/plans for the next 3-5 years.
  • Prayer for new ministry opportunities with coaches and athletes at Iowa State University.
  • Prayer for a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit at our annual FCA Sports Camp in Pella during the week of July 11-15.

Thanks so much to Dave and Kathy for sharing this brief look into your lives on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Tuesday, June 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Tom and Jill Clark

Today's Missionary Highlight: Tom and Jill Clark

Serving in ROMANIA

1. Tell us about your family.

Jill and I have been married for 35 years. We have two great sons Levi and Raymond. They both currently live in the Des Moines area. Both graduated from high school  in Romania. Levi our oldest spent 1 ½ years here from 2000-2002. He is married to Emily and they have two sons, Caleb (4) and Andrew (2). Raymond our younger son was in Romania from 2000-2007. He is married to Elizabeth and they have an 8 month old daughter, Jubilee. We praise God that both families are actively involved in serving with their church families. We are thankful for wonderful sons, daughter in laws and grandchildren! We miss our family and are thankful for Skype!

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

We have been in Bucharest Romania for 16 years and have seen many changes during that time. Good changes in ourselves, changes in the country we live in (Romania) and changes in the country we left (USA). I say that because what we do here has changed many times over the years as well. But God has a plan!

          Tom:  Currently I’m working on the distribution of “Focus on the Family’s” “The Truth Project”. We have subtitled it in Romanian and it is being used by churches and Christian organization to help teach a Biblical Christian World view. I also mentor a Christian publisher with his business. For 4 years we have organized an Outreach Family English Camp where God has used the opportunity of teaching English conversationally using the Bible to transform lives for the Kingdom. Those are three of the current ministries I’m involved in. But I would say it all comes down to taking an interest in people’s lives, seeking the Holy Spirits leading, and asking God to show me what to do.

          Jill: 18 months ago God prompted me to begin anew praying the prayer of Jabez. "Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain. And God granted what he asked." 1 Chronicles 4:10

This is what I have seen God do since I have been praying this:

Making disciples, declaring the gospel. Recently I have begun a new Community Bible Study group in our home. It is a joy to see how God has re-opened this door and the women He has brought and now trained as leaders to be transformed by the study of God’s word.

Life Coaching continues to be transformational in the lives of the women I coach. I describe it as “facilitating discovery * inspiring potential * celebrating process”.

I meet one on one with women in Romania and across the world in this process. Recently I received my certification as a Coach with the International Coaching Federation.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

               Tom  -   reading –news and fiction, American baseball

               Jill  - connecting with family : ), reading, kayaking, exercising

4. how you have seen God work recently?

 Last summer’s Outreach Family English Camp was particularly encouraging to us. God put together a great team of people from the US and here in Romania. The love and unity of this team was exceptional. We are confident that each person who attended left  knowing they were loved and we continue to see evidence that lives were transformed into the Kingdom. There is nothing greater than seeing lives changed! If you are interested in being part of an outreach like this please contact us.  tom@tjcmission.org or jill@tjcmission.org

A praise from last summer’s camp:  Cornelia and Raul, a mother and her 7 year old son came to English camp for the first time last summer. Making a last moment 5 hour trip to arrive. Raul had been very sick but was healthy enough to come. Cornelia was a joy to have in the class I (Jill) taught. She was thrilled to be at camp and to learn more about a relationship with Jesus as she also improved her English. Our last lesson was about the sower and the seed. As we read and discussed the parable each woman identified which soil  described themselves.  Cornelia described herself as fertile soil where the seed had been sown while at camp. She chose to place her faith in Christ for salvation. Months later her husband described Cornelia as a transformed woman. Raul also was transformed through the camp children’s program. Praying and asking his mother to read the bible to him before they went to bed at camp. Glory to God for His powerful word that draws individuals to Himself.

Community Bible Study –“Everyone in the world in the word”. God brought together a diverse group of women interested in studying the bible. In a culture where churches rarely meet with different churches this was unique for these women. A love and respect for one another grew amidst the churches represented. Agreeing to focus on the word of God rather than our differences I was excited as the women weekly came with their lessons complete. The women not only shared their wonderful insights into the bible lesson but also could be seen writing down the insights of other women, thrilling to watch! Cristiana, a teachable mother of 4 daughters traveled across the city to come with her 12 year old daughter. Challenging for her to find care for her 3 other daughters, she weekly persevered and participated. As we visited weekly she expressed time and again how much she benefited and needed the bible study and fellowship of the group. The women learned God is at work in other churches and other women in Bucharest! We can love one another. Glory to God for His word.          

5. PRAYER REQUESTS
  • Praise to God for always, always hearing our prayers. Blessing us, His hand being with us, enlarging our territory … 1 Chronicles 4:10
  •  We would love to have one or two more team members, especially children's workers for this year’s camp July 14-25,2016. Training and materials are provided before you arrive at camp!
  •  A continuation of Community Bible Study group for Fall 2016
  •  More Fertile soil on which to sow the gospel daily with those we meet.
  • A strong connection with family though far geographically from family.
  • More Truth Project groups to form and learn of God’s truth.

Thanks so much to Tom and Jill for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Nikki Twedt at Tuesday, May 31, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Stefanos and Manon Mihalios

Today's Missionary Highlight: Stefanos and Manon Mihalios

Serving in Athens, Greece

1. Tell us about your family.

While born in different countries (Stefanos in USA; Manon in Indonesia), we are both Greek by descent and were raised in Athens, Greece. Our relationship began during our studies at the Greek Bible College, and we have now been married for 17 years. These years have been a blend of serving the Lord in Greece, continuing studies for Stefanos at TEDS and Wheaton College (PhD), and helping start the Greek Community Church in Chicago. We currently have no children, but our lives are enriched by our many nieces and nephews. 

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

Our main focus in Greece is the development of well-trained national leaders. We have joined the faculty/staff at the Greek Bible College where we serve through teaching, administration, and spiritual formation. The Greek Bible College is the only Bible institution in Greece and has served the evangelical churches in a substantial way. In addition, we hope to see new healthy churches being established. In partnership with the First Greek Evangelical Church, we currently oversee the planting of a new church in Kypseli, the most densely populated area in Athens.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

A common favorite activity is playing board games together and with friends. Also, Stefanos enjoys reading books and watching movies; Manon finds listening to music and playing with dogs relaxing and fun!

4. how you have seen God work recently?

One day at the Greek Bible College, four of our students shared a story of how God led them in a ministry visit to a rural area of Greece. The visit occurred right after our college had traveled through this area to encourage scattered believers in small rural churches. The students described how the Lord opened doors to preach the gospel and display the love of Christ; their faces were beaming. We felt like we were living a New Testament moment. Since then, the students have consistently visited that area, and now a gospel ministry among Roma has sprouted. One of the students later remarked: “The trip to the Peloponnese has radically changed my direction in life!” We rejoice in students who are co-workers in the making!  

“Melissa” is an 11-year-old girl from the Kypseli neighborhood. She has only been attending our Sunday school classes for the past couple of months and with great joy welcomed the New Testament we gave her (with her mother’s approval). When back in class after receiving it, she pointed to her book marker stating: “Look how much I’ve read already! I’ve been reading a little every night!” Then, during the lesson, she points to the cover where she had written: “Christ is my treasure!”

5. Prayer Requests

We praise God with you:

  • For an increased number of our graduates entering full-time ministry, especially in a country with only a couple handfuls of full-time pastors.
  • For our upcoming first baptism service in the Kypseli church plant and for getting ready to launch the church this coming fall.
  • For friends and family that love us and encourage us.  

We ask your prayers:

  • For a much needed time of personal rest and renewal.
  • For scholarships to help cover Greek students’ tuition who struggle to find work due to the economic crisis.
  • For the spiritual revival of Greece and the Greek people

Thanks so much to Stefanos and Manon for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Saturday, May 21, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: David and Connie Stilley

Today's Missionary Highlight: David and Connie Stilley

Serving ReachGlobal

1. Tell us about your family.

Connie and David Stilley have been married 39 years. We have four adult children and six grandchildren. Our daughter, Cara Blum, and her family live in Waukee, and her husband Scott Blum serves on the Valley Church Servant Team. Their children are Ethan (14), Taylor (6), and Carson (3). Our son, Luke, also lives in Waukee and remains single. Two other kids live in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Jordan Stilley and his wife Shawna just welcomed Kian James Stilley to the world in March as their first child. Joshua and Julie Stilley have Addy (3) and Ben (6 months). It is a real blessing that all our kids are within a two-hour drive of home!

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

Connie and I are honored and blessed to be sought out by ReachGlobal, the missions movement of EFCA churches, to serve at the Chief Medical Officer for World Missions. Our primary responsibility is overseeing the medical care and health of over 500 missionaries and their families worldwide on an as-needed basis. I also screen every applicant for both short-term and long-term missionary service for any medical conditions that may adversely affect their success and safety overseas. We have also committed to making sure every one of the 3500 EFCA Global Fingerprints-sponsored children worldwide get a screening exam at least once by a medical team. We also hope to connect American medical persons from all EFCA churches with an opportunity to take a short term-medical missions trip to broaden their world view!

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

Playing with our grandchildren, of course! We also manage several businesses outside of medicine.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

While attending Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville in November 2015, I prayed the final morning during devotions for at least one more person to volunteer to join our team going to India in January 2016. Less than two hours later, a young woman walked up to the EFCA booth and said, “I am traveling to India in January. Do you know anyone taking a medical team to India in January that I could join?” And she did! Talk about a quick answer!

5. Prayer Requests

God has done amazing things to free up Dave’s schedule from his practice to be able to travel. While God has provided wonderful partners to help with the expenses of travel and the supplies we take with us, we are in need some additional financial support to cover these expenses. This financial support will not be used as salary support, as we are funding this from Dave’s practice of medicine. Pray also for God to raise up medical volunteers to see Global Fingerprints kids and to respond to other short-term missions opportunities.


Thanks so much to Dave and Connie for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Thursday, May 5, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Katie N.

Today's Missionary Highlight: Katie N.

Serving in Spain

1. Tell us about your family.

I'm single, so no family over here. My parents and siblings and their families attend Valley Church.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

I collaborate with the national-led church federation (the Spanish Evangelical Free Church) primarily through technological projects. I work in two areas: the federation's leadership network (local church leadership) and their online theological school.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

My favorite non-ministry activity is reading. Currently enjoying the topic of behavioral economics.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

Outside of my primary ministry, I've made relationships through attending Catalan (regional language) classes. After a few months of our course, I was walking with a small group of classmates and they were asking me questions about myself. I shared that I was collaborating with evangelical churches in Spain. They were each startled and said they had never met an evangelical before, nor knew they even existed in Spain. Evangelicals are thought of as members of a strange cult, and I didn't fit that mold in their eyes. I was pleased to tell them there are Spanish evangelical Christians and even a church in town. God certainly opened up the door in that conversation and many since!

5. Prayer Requests

Pray for the Spanish Church to have a heart for the world. It is widely accepted here that the church doesn't have a passion to reach others in their communities, much less in other countries. Pray that God would light the Church here on fire with a passion and desire to see others saved for the glory of God. Please pray for me also especially in my relationships with others from my Catalan class who are not believers. Pray for wisdom in our conversations and that God would give them eyes to see and ears to hear. 

Thanks so much to Katie for sharing this brief look into her life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Friday, April 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Al and Edie Lewis

Today's Missionary Highlight: Al and Edie Lewis

Serving with ReachGlobal

1. Tell us about your family.

We have four grown children and 14 grandchildren. Our youngest daughter moved last year from Fort Dodge to Louisville, Kentucky where her husband pastors an EFCA church. In her absence we decided to move this fall to Loveland, Colorado where our son is planting an EFCA church. Our other two daughters live near Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids. We are so thankful that all of our children are faithfully following Christ.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

We often comment that we have the best jobs in the world. We love what we do, and God is using us to make big differences in many peoples’ lives. We train pastors and ministry wives in developing countries how to study and teach the Bible and then how to train others to do so, as well. Al has recruited and leads a team of four other men, and together we are training in 17 countries. So far about 5,000 pastors have taken part in our training. We also train US pastors and women who then are mobilized to train with us. We have four teams of Central District pastors who are beginning training in three locations in India and Nepal this April. Al has also written a Bible study book called Pathways Bible Study Method, which is being used to train lay people in the US how to effectively study the Bible.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

We love being outdoors, seeing new places, and visiting with family and friends in our home. We are looking forward to hunting and fishing in Colorado.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

While working through the book of Philippians, Edie was teaching a group of women in India when the Lord led her to have them list aspects of the gospel that they had seen in the book. She then asked them to create a typical scenario that they might face with other women who might come to them for help. They then did a role-playing exercise about how to share the gospel from Philippians with such a woman. It was a new experience for the women, but they enjoyed it and learned a lot. The next morning one woman shared how a woman in desperate need who she did not know had come to her in the night, and she had used the model they had learned and had led the woman to Christ. The group was so amazed and we all had a great celebration of God’s goodness.

Al commonly has pastors who enter our training, which takes place in nine workshops over three years, go from not knowing how to study or preach the Bible at all to presenting outstanding sermons at the end. The impact in their churches is amazing. One pastor told the story that his church was being apposed by a group of radicals. They had protested in the street to have the church run out of its building. The congregation was afraid until they remembered that the pastor had just preached through Habakkuk, one of the books we study in our training. There they had learned that we can trust God in any situation. They decided to trust God in this situation. Later the police came and arrested the protesters for something unrelated. 


Thanks so much to Al and Edie for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Seth Johnson

Today's Missionary Highlight: Seth Johnson

Serving in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a part of Cru

1. Tell us about your family.

My name is Seth Johnson. I am a converted Minnesotan living in an Iowan’s body. I was born and raised in Iowa City, moved to Des Moines when I was 12, and went back to Iowa City when I attended the University of Iowa from 2007-2011. I have lived in Minnesota for the past three and a half years working for Marriott Hotels and Resorts while I paid off students loans. Valley Church holds a special place in my heart, as it is where I grew more in love with Jesus in the most pivotal years of growing into an adult. Through Valley Church’s youth group, Pastor Quintin’s sermons and leadership, and parents who encouraged me to invest in eternal things, I was molded and shaped in significant ways that have clearly impacted who the Lord has molded me to become today.

I have two brothers, Trevor and Luke, of whom I fall smack dab in between. My parents, Kirk and Lou Ann, as well as Trevor and Luke, all live in the Twin Cities. We all have migrated north to get a bit of the colder weather! Trevor works in the banking world, Tradition Capital Financial, where he has been for over 7 years. Luke is a tech guru working at a company called Echidna, specializing in marketing and web design for the business. My parents both work in the Upper Midwest Regional Office of Cru, where they are Global Ops. 

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

My ministry is geared toward reaching the hearts and minds of high school and college students for Christ. I help lead movements of students who desire to follow Jesus and grow in their faith at various locations in the Twin Cities Metro. The bulk of my ministry is discipling, mentoring, and evangelizing to college students at University of St Thomas. I also help with the Minnetonka High School Cru movement and provide leadership at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. The goal of our ministry is to help make disciples who will in turn make many more.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

My favorite non-ministry activity is playing basketball with friends. I am in a rec league with some friends and also try to play at my church here in Minneapolis whenever I can.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

God used myself and David, another Cru staff member, to have a great evangelistic conversation with a student at St Thomas named Jeremy. He showed great interest in sharing his faith and beliefs. He expressed how he had grown up in the church and had been raised to believe in the trinity and deity of Christ, but he doesn’t feel he has a personal relationship with the Creator. It was a very encouraging time and reminded me of the reality that many students know all the right answers to give, but if they have not been affected at a heart level and surrendered control of their life to Christ, they are still essentially spiritually lost. This is exactly why I feel called to full-time missions: to be able to share the Good News and invite others to accept the free gift of salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus. It was neat to see Jeremy’s wheels turning mentally and how he is beginning to think in light of eternity in ways he never has. Pray that he would fully surrender his life to Jesus!

 

Seth and his roommate Obang

5. Praises and prayer requests

Praises:
•  I have recently reported to my ministry assignment (mid-January) with the Twin Cities Metro Cru Team and saw the Lord provide in profound ways through so many people in my support raising process.
•  I found a great place to live with a friend and successfully moved in at the end of January. I am now much closer to the places in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro where my ministry is taking place. 

Prayer:
•  Please pray for wisdom and insight as I process student applications for the Paris Mission I am helping co-lead this summer. I’m learning it is tough to really know well if a student is fit to go on an international, month-long mission trip, even after talking to them on the phone. Pray that I would continue more and more to seek wise counsel, both from those with more experience than me and from the Lord, and then to trust the Lord with the rest.
•  Pray for a continued smooth transition into full-time ministry. I have known four years of the corporate working world and am finding that full-time ministry is filled with vastly different daily schedules and structures. 

Thank you for your partnership and support of my ministry!


Thanks so much to Seth for sharing this brief look into his life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Tuesday, March 22, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: Aleena Korell

Today's Missionary Highlight: Aleena Korell

Serving in London, England

1. Tell us about your family.

I have a wonderful family back in the States who are also involved in ministry in various ways and extremely supportive of mine. I was blessed to spend Christmas with them here in London and show them around my city. However, in London, it's just me and my cactus! My team members, Matt and Kimberly and their children, are wonderful and have treated me like another member of their family.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

My ministry is difficult to summarize--I do so many different things in different arenas. But there are three main areas I serve: I work within the Co-Mission church network to serve Grace Church by leading music and worship; I mentor four girls regularly; and I assist a London City Mission cafe and creative space in reaching out to the artists who live in the surrounding area. I've also been receiving weekly training from the Co-Mission workshop program in the areas of music, expository teaching, theology, and studying the Bible.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

I love to write-- I'm working on a standalone Young Adult novel at the moment, and have a fantasy trilogy on the back-burner. But I also love to explore the city-- London has been very inspirational.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

I was really sad to leave the high school girls' small group that I co-led back at Valley Church, but have been blessed to be able to mentor four amazing teen girls here. When I first met each of them, there was one girl in particular that I was worried I wouldn't connect with well. She was very quiet and didn't seem to want to open up or talk. But over the months, she's turned out to be one of the girls who has opened up the most, and we have great discussions where she contributes her thoughts and asks amazing questions. I'm very thankful to have built up fun relationships with all four of these girls!

5. Praises and prayer requests

•  Praise God for my wonderful church family! They have been beyond what I ever expected. I don't live particularly close to the school we meet in, and I get multiple offers for rides home after every church event. I have wonderful friends who invite me for dinner and game nights, and I have a small group with women who love to pray for each other. I'm blessed!
•  Pray for the girls I meet with, that we'll continue to have wonderful discussions about the Lord! One in particular is searching, unsure of what she believes. Pray that God will reveal himself to her as truth!
•  Pray for me as I navigate the few months before moving back to the US. I want to focus on my ministry even as I prepare for life in the States. Pray for God's guidance in my next step, but that it won't distract me from continuing to keep the ministry's momentum here all the way to the end.


Thanks so much to Aleena for sharing this brief look into her life on the mission field. More missionary highlights are coming soon!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Saturday, March 19, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: The Holmertz Family

Today's Missionary Highlight: The Holmertz Family

Serving in Kenya

1. Tell us about your family.

Our family is originally from the Des Moines area. PJ grew up in Johnston and Emily in West Des Moines (attending Valley Church!). We have two children, Sarah (9) and Aiden (7). We have been living in Nairobi, Kenya just over four years.

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

We are involved in many areas of ministry. Each member of the family is a critical piece of the team, and we strive together to be a part of the work God is doing in Africa. PJ’s original role with AIM was in overseeing the Short-Term Program for Kenya and Tanzania. In this role he has facilitated ministry placements for over 250 short-termers. Recently, PJ has been asked to oversee the entire Short-Term Program for AIM. In this role he coordinates the working relationships between all of our short-term offices globally and gives vision, guidance and continuity to the global short-term program to send people into unreached people group locations for up to one year. PJ has also created an exciting new short-term opportunity called “GO” that combines personal spiritual development, methodological foundations and practical application for people who are seriously interested in exploring full-time cross-cultural work. 

Emily has been primarily focused on homeschooling our kids, discipling our short-term ladies, relationship building, and reaching out to women in the community. Next year, it is our hope to have our children attend a local international school, at which point Emily will pursue her passion of working with women that come from unreached people groups and helping those in the local church to do the same.

While our kids are still growing, they are an important part of our ministry. Whether they are helping to host short-termers and guests, giving solid advice on living in Africa to new people, or building relationships with our neighbor kids, they always are looking for ways to share the hope that they have in Jesus Christ and help others to feel comfortable in their surroundings.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

We have been blessed with lots of opportunities to travel and see parts of the world we never thought we’d see! We love exploring and learning together! When we have a bit of down time, we really enjoy just spending time together at home, playing in the yard, relishing the Kenyan sunshine, or cuddling on the couch and watching a movie.  We also really enjoy it when we can get up to Kijabe, Kenya to spend time with our good friends serving at RVA.

4. how you have seen God work recently?

Recently we were reminded of the power of short-term ministry by a couple that hosted two of our short-term interns. This couple serves in one of the most remote locations in Kenya. Their ministry is to the unreached, nomadic people group called the Gabbra. These workers have, after four years, just begun to see fruit in their ministry, with people turning to Christ and even churches being planted. However, being so isolated has been a challenge for this family.

Just over a year ago we began to talk with them about sending short-term help to them. Their tears of joy said it all! They were so pleased for the opportunity to share their lives and ministry with these young people, who in turn could help support and strengthen the work happening among the Gabbra. They hosted our short-termers this last summer and everyone was blessed. They were even able to witness two additional Gabbra men give their lives to Christ.

The couple was so grateful for the help, community, and encouragement, and the short-termers were grateful for the exposure to work among the unreached. Both left with a renewed passion for ministry and, we believe that we will see at least one of those short-termers back on the field full-time in the near future. Until then, the couple is begging us to send more short-term workers to come and help them reach the Gabbra for Christ!

5. Praises and prayer requests

Praise:
We are praising God for the opportunity to give guidance to the International Short-Term Program for AIM. We have had an amazing, fruitful (and always busy) year of ministry. 

Prayer Requests:
We need to raise approximately $1,500 a month before August to continue our ministry in Kenya. Please pray that God will provide what we need to continue our ministry.


Thanks so much to the Holmertz family for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. Watch for more missionary highlights!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Tuesday, March 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Missionary Highlight: The Carey Family

Today's Missionary Highlight: The Carey Family

Serving in Kenya

1. Tell us about your family.

Corey and Tiffany Carey were raised in the mountains of Colorado. We met in college, were married in 2001, and Corey began working in youth ministry shortly thereafter. It was a youth pastor position which brought us to Iowa in 2004. Corey worked at Valley Church from 2009-2012 in Children’s Ministry as the 5th-8th grade youth pastor. We have two children, Dane and Finley, who were two and four years old when we left America. God called our family to a different ministry at Rift Valley Academy in 2012. We have been amazed at the seemingly random mishmash of skills and experiences that God used to equip us for being dorm parents. 

2. How would you summarize your ministry?

Our family serves at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, East Africa. RVA is a boarding school primarily for children of missionaries serving on the continent of Africa. RVA serves about 500 students, and 24 of them live with our family in Nyati Dorm. Our dorm houses boys in their junior and senior years of high school. As dorm parents it is our job to offer support, encouragement, and guidance to the boys in our dorm. We act as pseudo-parents while their parents work to advance the gospel among African peoples. The boys are in our home nine months out of every year and become surrogate members of our family. Our job is mainly relational. As we live day-to-day with these young men, we hope to prepare them for life after graduation and encourage their faith. We hold weekly dorm meetings for a focused time of devotion and fellowship, and the rest of the week we just live as one big happy family. We cheer them on at sporting events, concerts, and dramas; we offer advice about relationships, give hair cuts and band-aids; and we remind them to finish their homework or clean their rooms. This kind of discipleship-based ministry is our passion, and we are always grateful that God has called us into these unique roles. Over the past four years we have been asked to serve in multiple secondary jobs at RVA. These ever-changing titles have included Student Chaplain, Bible Teacher, Coach, Preschool Teacher, Student Supporter, and Kindergarten Teacher.

3. Favorite non-ministry activity:

Corey - weekly basketball games with the staff, mountain bike riding, bird watching, hiking
Tiffany - playing games, crafting
Dane – reading, riding his bike
Finley – art, writing

4. how you have seen God work recently?

One of the most exciting aspects of our ministry in the dorm is the impact these boys will make on eternity. When they graduate from RVA and leave our home, many go on to study in fields such as medicine, engineering, aviation, and politics--priming their future for world altering ministry. Because of their unique upbringing as missionary kids, they are used to living counter-cultural lifestyles and shining light into the darkness. So far we have had the privilege of discipling 48 boys in our home, many of those 48 will choose to spend their lives working to advance the kingdom of heaven. It is this multiplication that makes our work significant. In our lifetime, we will probably not save a dying child, or translate the bible into a tribal language, or start an underground church, but they will. The ministry that we are doing in Nyati Dorm has impact far beyond RVA and reaches people we will never meet.

5. Praises and prayer requests

We praise God for every day we get to spend in this wonderful place. Praise God for our supporters whose prayers and sacrificial giving enables us to continue our work here. 
Pray for our son Dane who has had some ongoing health problems related to tick bites. Pray that our relationships with the boys in our dorm would be authentic and life giving. Pray that God would sustain us and give us energy to accomplish His will; we cannot do it in our own strength.


Thanks so much to the Carey family for sharing this brief look into their life on the mission field. Watch for more missionary highlights in coming weeks!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Monday, February 15, 2016 | 0 comments