Monday, October 16, 2017

Safe at Home



by Brad Koenig (guest blogger)

I love baseball. One of the most exciting plays in the game is when a base runner tries to slide under the tag of the catcher at home plate and score a run for his team. If he succeeds, the umpire signals with his arms outstretched and the broadcaster announces, “He’s safe at home!”

Being a Christian in our home country is safe. There we attend church freely. We carry and read our Bibles without fear. We declare our faith openly. We have easy access to healthcare. Law enforcement officials are committed to our protection. We have many comforts and conveniences. We are safe at home.

When the Lord called me into missions, a veteran missionary challenged me and others in a chapel service to count the cost. Was I willing to risk my health, my safety, my comfort—and even my life—for the sake of spreading the gospel in a foreign country? In a time of private, solemn prayer, I told the Lord yes, I was willing to risk it all to obey him and follow him to the mission field.

It has not been easy. In fact, it has been very challenging for my wife and me, and for our children while they were growing up in Cameroon. We have had to deal with malaria and other health problems, living and homeschooling in a remote village, the hassles of bone-jarring roads, etc. We made the decision to return to the States for our children’s education. After our kids grew up and left the nest, we returned to the field last year. Since then our degree of risk has increased due to civil unrest in our region and the city where we live now. This has caused us to reevaluate our presence here. But our heavenly Father has reassured us to press on in the ministry that he has given us with the Esimbi people as they translate his Word into their own language. God is blessing our work in wonderful ways, which gives us extra encouragement. We have already come through many dangers, toils, and snares, and with John Newton we testify: it is God’s grace that has brought us safe thus far, and his grace will lead us to our heavenly home, where we will be fully safe forever.

Some people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. But I don’t believe that anymore. For sure the best place to be is in the center of God’s will. Jesus, who followed his Father’s will perfectly, was kept safe in a number of risky situations, but even he was susceptible to the dangers of this fallen world. The same is true of the apostle Paul and the other apostles. We follow the legacy of generations of saints who have presented themselves as a living sacrifice in worship unto the Lord (Romans 12:1).

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for. We are safe at home, but that’s not what missionaries are called to.


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Brad and his wife, Kathy, spent 5 years working on the Esimbi Bible translation project in Cameroon, West Africa. They came back to Colorado for their children’s education. After 13 years they returned to Cameroon last year to see their project through. They serve in linguistic support for the Esimbi Bible translators. Their two children are now grown and living in Taiwan and Hawaii.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The New Testament is Finished and You Can Help!

by Dave


One day, the title of this blog will be about Kwakum. But for now, we are rejoicing with our co-workers that have spent the last 20 years working on the Oroko New Testament in Southwest Cameroon. Check out the letter below from our Field Director:

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World Team Cameroon is approaching a new milestone. Our first New Testament translation is about to be published! Rejoice with us that the 140,000+ Oroko people will soon have God’s Word in their language!

World Team Cameroon’s Oroko Team, Dan and Lisa Friesen and Mike and Becky Scott, have been working alongside the Oroko people since 1998 to translate God’s Word into their language. We are excited to announce that the New Testament plus the book of Genesis will be sent to the publishers before the end of this year!

Please pray with the Oroko Team as they complete the final stages in preparing for publication and as they raise funds needed for publication. Would you also consider giving towards the cost of publication to help bring God’s Word to the Oroko? If you would like to give, please see the instructions below.

And even if you cannot give, please do pray! Pray for the successful publication of the Oroko New Testament and that it will be received well. Pray that the Oroko will read it and understand the gospel. Pray that churches will begin to use the Scriptures to evangelize, disciple, and multiply.

Working Together to Reach the People of Cameroon for Christ,






Dan Friesen
World Team Cameroon Field Director
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If you would like to contribute to the publication of the Oroko New Testament (with Genesis), here is how you can:


If you wish to give online, you can do so at https://us.worldteam.org/give/projects

Or if you prefer to send a check, make it out to World Team and send it to the address below:

    World Team
    1431 Stuckert Road
    Warrington, PA 18976

Please include a note indicating that the gift is for Account #042030.

If you would like to know more about the WT Cameroon Oroko team, the expenses related to translation, and the project timeline, see the Friesen's most recent newsletter: https://goo.gl/VtH3mW


Monday, September 18, 2017

If We Fail, May We Fail While Daring Greatly




by Stacey

My father-in-law recently mailed us a book called From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions. As I have been reading this book, I have at times been inspired, encouraged and renewed in my missionary zeal. But, honestly, more often than not, I have been a little scandalized by the failures of those who have gone before me in missions. In a sense, I feel like this book is throwing mud on my heroes. Here are a couple of examples:

William Carey
William Carey, a famous missionary to India in the 1800s labored for 7 years before seeing anyone convert to Christ. Finally, a man named Krishna Pal believed and was being baptized by Carey in the Ganges river. But then the author interrupts this beautiful scene with the following....
…This sublime scene is only part of the picture. Carey’s wife, who had gone to India against her will, was now deemed 'wholly deranged,' and John Thomas, Carey’s partner who had delayed the mission due to his credit problems, had also gone mad. A missionary observer to this momentous occasion filled in the details that we would rather not include in our stories of missionary heroes: 'When Carey led Krishna and his own son Felix down into the water of baptism, the ravings of Thomas in the schoolhouse on the one side, and of Mrs. Carey on the other, mingled with the strains of the Bengali hymn of praise.' (122)
Yes, someone had come to Christ but it was at the expense of Carey’s wife and missionary partner going mad. In fact, his wife actually worked against him and his ministry as writes James Beck:
[Carey] attempted to argue for the moral superiority of Christianity and how Christ could liberate Hindus and Moslems from the tragedies of paganism…But how could he evangelize if his wife following him through the streets accusing him in the vilest language of adultery? (125)
And yet, despite his wife's loud accusations, the Lord used William Carey greatly in his work in India in the areas of evangelism, the translation of the Bible, education, and fighting against widow burning and infanticide. How can these two realities be reconciled?

William Shepard
Later in the same century, in 1890, William Shepard, a black American, volunteered to go to the Congo as a missionary through the Southern Presbyterians. He was loved by the Africans and even won the hearing of African kings. When colonial rubber plunderers moved into his region, he witnessed how cruelly the Africans were being treated as “the dead and the dying were everywhere” (166). In response to these atrocities, he wrote up reports of his findings that “shattered the complacency of Americans and Europeans” (166). He got the world's attention as the headlines read:
AMERICAN NEGRO HERO OF CONGO AND FIRST TO INFORM WORLD OF CONGO ABUSES, the Boston Herald wrote, 'Dr Sheppard has not only stood before kings, but he has also stood against them. In pursuit of his mission of serving his race in its native land, this son of a slave…has dared to withstand all the power of Leopold.' (167)
This man is clearly a hero. He was an American that was a friend of Africans who exposed a great evil against them. But then I read a quiet closing paragraph about his life:
For all his fame and celebrity, Sheppard’s life was not without controversy and scandal…He was forced to step down as a missionary and return to American because of adulterous affairs with African women, one resulting in the birth of a son. (167)
Sheppard was a married man who was unfaithful to his wife while on the mission field. He may have had some great successes but woven within these successes was great, great failure.

George Grenfell
Another missionary to Africa was George Grenfell who was a British citizen that had been inspired by the writings of a missionary to Africa, David Livingstone. He went overseas and then was later visited by a young Presbyterian missionary, Sam Lapsley who wrote of Grenfell:
Grenfell hated the natives, and they hated him. They have even threatened him with murder…Was this what it meant to be a missionary? Hiding in your fancy house, terrified that the people you’d pledged to help might shoot you in the head? (164)
He hated the nationals?! He went all the way overseas…to hate them? I am sure that Grenfell did not go to Africa with the intention of hating the nationals, but he was just in over his head. And yet, despite major tension between he and the nationals,
Grenfell continued on in his missionary work, supervising the Baptist missions in the Congo for twenty years – with surprising success in later years. In 1902 he wrote: 'You will be glad to know that here at Bolobo, shorthanded as we are, we are not without evidence of progress and blessing. People are more willing to hear, and give heed to the message they have so long slighted. In fact, many are professing to have given their hearts to the Lord Jesus, and there are sings of good times coming.' Growth did continue, and soon there was a need for a larger chapel. He told of how twenty years before he had been driven off by spears, but now he was greeted with the singing of 'All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.' (164-165)
The Lord used a man who was said to have a loveless ministry, at least at a point in time, to bring his Kingdom into this people group so that these people will be singing praises to Jesus forever.

How should we respond?
There is no question that the history of the church at home, and abroad, is a tangled web of perseverance, moral failure, sacrifice, love, and even hate. No local church will intentionally send out someone who is racist or sexually immoral or characterized by hatred. Yet with the stress and pressures of overseas living, sometimes these things creep into the lives of missionaries. I think in light of this, we should respond in three ways:

Awe
We should respond in awe because it is Jesus who builds his church and the failures of missionaries, the injustices of colonialism and even the very gates of Hell will not be able to keep her down. Jesus is the one who is growing the church through the seeds of the Gospel that are sown through the mouths of stumbling missionaries. And, in God’s mysterious wisdom, he has chosen to weave into his plan for the redemption of humanity much sin and much failure, knowing that it is not just for the “national” that Christ died but also for the missionary. Much praise belongs to Jesus for growing his church against such odds.

Humility
I think we can be quick to throw stones at the failures of other missionaries, but what I think we should really be doing is praying to the Lord for his mercy to keep us from falling into the same sins. We should be praying that the Lord would be showing us our blind spots and filling us with wisdom every day. In the words of David,
“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.” Psalm 69:6
Fail while daring greatly
William Carey said, "I'm not afraid of failure; I am afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter." Even in light of missionary careers that have been filled with serious blemishes, what they have left behind in dark nations is light. People are in Heaven worshipping Jesus, churches were planted, and injustices fought because they kept charging ahead with the Gospel, failures in all. Had they remained in their home countries worried about their potential failures, Bibles would never have been translated and widows would still be throwing themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres. The correct response to missionary failure should not be inactivity, but instead should be a resolve to jump in the arena and fight with them. In the apt words of Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Monday, September 11, 2017

3 Things "They" Told Me About Adoption

by Dave

As we were thinking through the possibility of adoption, we sought counsel from many people. During this time, I was at an adoption conference where the presenters said:
"The two main reasons that people do not adopt are: 1) the cost of adoption, and 2) they are afraid that they could not love an adopted child like they would a biological child." 
This same presenter told us that the first one is not a problem. As it turns out, there are A LOT of financial resources for those adopting. Our adoptions ended up costing around $70,000 in total, and every dime was provided by the Lord. If you are considering adoption and are worried about the finances, let me know, I would love to help you find grants/aid/etc.

But of course, this leaves a big second: "Can I love an adopted child enough?" This was only one of the fears that arose as we were thinking about adoption. In talking with others, concerns were raised. People rightfully called us to count the cost, not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. I am hoping in this post to address some of these concerns, and letting you know ahead of time, I think it was all worth it. So here they are:

1. They told me I could never love an adopted child like I would love a biological child.

This is an issue that is very difficult. And it seems that among many of our friends, there is a particular tie between parents and their biological child that is different than the tie with their adopted child. To be honest, this is an issue that I cannot speak to, being that we do not have any biological children. However, I would say that I cannot imagine loving any child more than I love Kaden, Makyra, Elias and Zoey.

We had a crisis when we were in Cameroon. Zoey had hurt herself, was bleeding, and we were 13 hours away from a hospital that could help her. It was a crazy time, and is somewhat of a blur. But I remember one moment, where Zoey was laying on the cement floor of our house bleeding. I had already spent an hour trying to stop the flow of blood and was just not making progress. I went to pick her up to hold her and as I did I saw the blood pooling around her. Now, in Cameroon I have seen a lot of hurt and sick kids. I have seen children near death, and looked upon the graves of many children. And for them, I felt pity. I felt love. But it was nothing like what I felt there with Zoey. She was not just some hurt kid. She was my daughter, and I loved her as a father. You can tell me that my love for her would have been stronger in that moment, had she born my DNA, but I will have to agree to disagree.

But it is not always easy. We have talked on this blog before about the fact that all of our children are difficult to love at times, and one more than the others. But the truth is that love is a choice. And the world will always be full of people that are harder to love than others. And what did Jesus say?
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32).
God has actually commanded that we love those who are not easy to love (enemies!). He has commanded that we love even when it does not benefit us. And when we do, Jesus said that we are like God. How? Loving the unlovely reflects God's love for us. He did not choose to adopt us (Christians) because we were easy to love. The Bible instead characterizes us as ungrateful and evil. Yet he chose to love us, and not only love us, adopt us.

My children have done nothing to earn my love, in fact, they sin against me every day. But I have found that I am able to love much because I have been forgiven much.

2. They told me I would regret not seeing myself in my children.

The idea with this one is that when you have a child that is 50% mom and 50% dad genetically, you can see it. You can see it in their hair, or eyes, or facial expressions. In retrospect, I think this one has actually been a little bit funny. Why? Because I do see myself in my children. No, my children do not look anything like me. But in (sometimes really silly ways) they are just like Stacey and me. I will look over some times and see Elias crossing his legs, or trying to put a pen behind his ear like I do. One time, I walked in on Kaden who was in a state of sheer panic. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "I can't find my list!" If you know anything about Stacey, you know that, in that moment, he was Stacey.

The children have all adopted a passionate love of animals from Stacey. When we are in Cameroon, Makyra is rarely seen without a kitten in her hands. She dresses them up in doll clothes. The kids love to play in the rain, something utterly foreign to Bakoum (and Dave) culture. Where does that come from? Yep, Stacey. Splashing in puddles and getting all dirty and whatnot. And when I see these things I delight. Not because Stacey or I have passed on any X or Y chromosomes, but because it is so evident that they are our children.

But even if it were not so evident, should that change anything? Stacey was talking to a family that had adopted older children. She asked how it was going. The mother responded that if they had adopted for themselves, they would have been very disappointed. The transition had been difficult, behavior issues complex, and the truth is that it is hard for an older child to adopt parents. But, she said, they adopted for the children, not for themselves. And in that, it has been worth it.

There are people who do have children solely for their own personal joy. And the result is that we have tons of broken marriages. There are so many ways in which children are a joy. The Bible even says that they are a blessing (Psalm 127:3). But just like all blessings, we err if we try to live for the gift and not the Giver.

If you are having or adopting children for the purpose of fulfillment or happiness, you will be disappointed. The times of happiness exist, but they do not outweigh the pain when your teenager tells you they hate you. They don't outweigh the heartbreak of seeing them look you in the eyes and boldly lie. Parenting is more sacrifice than it is happy times. But, if you have/adopt children for the Lord, you find that you can have joy even in those hard times.

3. They told me it would be hard for black children to be raised by white parents.

I grew up with a family where the husband was black and the mom was white. And I talked to them from time to time and heard that sometimes people were mean to them because of this. Being in Cameroon, our kids are seen as different. They are called "the whites" by the neighborhood kids. And they are still young, and to be honest, I am not sure how this will affect them as they grow older.

However, I want to consider just for a second what we adopted them out of. All of our kids were in an orphanage when we adopted them. When we went to pick up Kaden and Makyra the orphanage consisted of a three-room house with around 30 infants. 30 infants! And there were only a few women who worked there taking care of all of these babies. This orphanage relied on donations from the West, as well as the salary of an Ethiopian Christian family just to operate. The workers genuinely loved the children and cared for them as best as they could, but it was hard. When we adopted Elias and Zoey, the orphanage had moved to a larger building, but also had more children. Zoey had scabies so bad that she constantly rubbed her little feet together because they itched. In fact, when we were in the US and had killed all of the little bugs, she would still rub her feet together because she had developed a habit.

Both Makyra and Kaden were near death because of abandonment when just after birth. Most of our children were developmentally behind because of the restrictions of orphanage life. And further, had they remained in the orphanage, studies show that 60% of girls that age out of orphanages world-wide end up in prostitution. 70% of boys that age out end up as hardened criminals.

So, is it harder for our kids than it is for kids whose skin matches that of their parents? Yes, I am sure that it is. But is this life harder than a life as an orphan? There is no question, the answer is: No!

We had a particularly hard day with Elias, not long ago. Sometimes we just get to our wit's end. We have tried everything we can think of to encourage him to do what is right. On this day, Stacey was working with him and finding it difficult to discipline in love. And after an entire day of this, Elias came up to her and said, "Thank you Mommy for adopting me. I know you love me." These times happen rarely, but they sure are a blessing. We do love them, more than I ever would have imagined. And I am thankful that we did not let the fears stop us. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

America through the Eyes of our Children



by Stacey

One of the main questions we get from our friends and family now that we are in the States is, “How are the kids adjusting?” so we thought we’d take a minute to type up a fairly detailed response.

In a word, they are doing great. I suppose it’s kind of hard not to be doing great coming from a poorer nation to a nation of toys and shiny things. In the words of Dave, “Moving our children to America is kind of like moving them inside of Toys-R-Us.” It’s pretty hard for them to not be excited about everything.

Here are a couple examples:

The Airplane Ride. On the airplane over here, the main flight across the ocean was having technical difficulties so there were no DVDs available, but that didn’t stop our kids of 12+ hours of non-stop excitement. One of our sons got on the airplane and looked at the in-flight magazines in front of him and shouts out across the aisle, “Mom, it’s duty-free!!” (Does he even know what that means?). Not only were the free blankets and the “duty-free” magazines out-of-this world exciting, but so was the food. The kids devoured everything that was given them, and I mean everything (which includes eating those little packets of butter…plain). Just tonight one of our daughters told me that she “couldn’t wait” to go back to Cameroon so she could fly on the plane again.

Fast Food. In Cameroon, food is anything but fast. You walk to the market, you look at the beans to see if there are any holes in them, you haul them home and soak them, and then you let them cook for hours the next day. Living over there takes about 3 times as long as it does over here. So…one time we went through a drive-through and our kids saw us order our food and then voila, it just appeared. I heard them talking about how it was possible to get our food so fast, and they theorized that restaurants store it up by the windows so that can give it away quickly.

Not politically correct enough.
In Cameroon, saying that someone is “black” or “white” is about as inoffensive as saying that someone is “blond” or “brunette” over here. And so, even though we have talked to our children about how it is not super polite to point out someone’s race here in America, they simply think like someone born in Africa (because they were….).

One day, our children were taking a placement test in the hallway of a high school to see what grade they would be put in. An African American teacher walked by and our children stopped him and asked him if he was African American. He responded, “Yes I am.” They then proceeded to say that they were born in Ethiopia and now they are living in America and that is why they could be called “African-American.” They then asked him where he was born. When he responded that he was born in Washington DC, they questioned him, “How can you call yourself an African-American if you weren’t born in Africa?” This teacher later found me and told me about the conversation and was (thankfully) so excited that they had such inquisitive minds. I thanked him for being such a gracious man.

No category for introverted people. The most striking thing about our children here in this culture is how wildly extroverted they are. I think it’s because there is no language barrier for them to converse with others that they do nothing but converse, converse, converse. They seem to see life as a village where everyone who is out is available for social interaction.

What this means is that we have regular conversations about how they cannot stop our neighbor’s cars in order to talk to them, but instead they need for them to wait to get out of their cars to greet them. One of our sons and the mailman are on a first-name basis and when I walk around, our neighbors say things like, “Oh, I heard your mother-in-law’s coming to town?” I have seen our sons walk into a public bathroom and come out having a conversation with a complete stranger and then wrap it up with, “OK, see you later”. Cute, but also can be a little overwhelming for the general population.

There are many, many, many other stories that could be told.

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I am beyond pleased that our children are so happy here and yet I feel as if they have so quickly forgotten the less-privileged that we have left behind. I suppose it is a gift that children can be 100% where they are and yet if that does not change with age, there will be people groups that will be left forgotten. My prayer for them is that they will both praise the Lord who has given us all things to enjoy while also remembering the poor, praying for those in prison as if they were in prison with them, and choosing to forgo comforts so that others can know the comforts of the Gospel.

Monday, August 28, 2017

[Video] Missions: The Rewards are Greater than the Sacrifices

Just before we left Cameroon for our first home assignment we sat down with the World Team missionaries and asked them some real life questions. We asked them:
  • What is missions?
  • What is the hardest part?
  • So, is it even worth it?
  • What are your dreams for Cameroon?
  • What do you need to see these dreams realized?
All of us have experienced difficulties and sacrifices. But I hope you will be encouraged to see that there is no question in our minds: the rewards are greater than the sacrifices.

And I invite you to be challenged as well. The greatest need that most of us see in our ministries is the need for more workers. Will you join us?


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mobilizing Missionaries: Whose Job is it Anyway?



by Stacey

Imagine moving into a new house. After getting your stuff situated you go about organizing, cleaning, and landscaping the yard. As time progresses the grass is looking good, you have flowers in planters, and even a swing set for the kids. But casting a shadow on all of it is the neighbor's fence. It's old, leaning heavily into your yard and in desperate need of paint. A month passes, then a couple more. After a year the fence is only looking worse. You see your neighbor from time to time and struggle with angry thoughts. Your neighbor never mentions it, never even acknowledges it, and to your chagrin never does anything about it. Finally one day you're fed up. A board falls out of the fence and lands on your petunia. So you march over to your neighbor and let him have it. When your done, your somewhat bewildered neighbor replies: "That's your fence bud. Completely on your property. It has nothing to do with me. It's your job."

I have recently felt the shock that such a homeowner must experience. But not with my house. With missions. In talking with mobilizers at our agency I have seen the difficult and diligent efforts that they put out to seek out, train up, equip, and send off new missionaries. But I have now realized, with the help of a book I have recently read, that all of their efforts are in a sense to do a job that is not theirs. Mobilization and equipping of missionaries is actually not the job of missions agencies. It is the job of the local church.

It is the Job of the Local Church to Mobilize Missionaries
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry…” Ephesians 4:11-1. 
It is not the job of the church leadership to do all the ministry, nor to have their hands in all the comings-and-goings in the local church. It is the job of the church leadership to train up the congregation to do the work themselves. It is the job of the evangelist to train the congregants how to evangelize. It is the job of the teacher to train church members how to teach. It is the job of the shepherds to teach church members how to become shepherds themselves, in whatever capacity God has them in. With this “equipper” mentality, the congregation will then be able to go out themselves, independent of the church, to do the work of the ministry.

I think this idea can be illustrated through parenting. The parents who clean up after their children will not have children who know how to be responsible and care for themselves. However, the parents who teach and train their children how to clean up after themselves will, theoretically, have children who are responsible. The parents who pour their time into equipping and training will have children who are ready to leave the home.

It is the same way with the church. If it is always the church leadership doing everything for the congregation, the congregation will never be ready to leave the church to go out and make disciples of all nations. I propose that church leaders see themselves as “equippers” or “trainers” as opposed to those who do all the work of the ministry themselves.

As mentioned above, I recently read a book called Senders by Paul Seger, who is a director of a missions agency called Biblical Ministries Worldwide. In this book, he says that their agency has identified 16 skills that each missionary should possess. They are:
  • Discipleship 
  • Communication 
  • Evangelism 
  • Time management 
  • Exegetical skills 
  • Finances (personal and church) 
  • People skills 
  • Language aptitude 
  • Counseling 
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity 
  • Administration 
  • Computer skills 
  • Strategic planning 
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Writing skills 
  • Teamwork 
He recommends that potential missionaries be trained within the context of the local church in these domains and then come to the agency with this skill-set (this can be done by “outsourcing” to various schools, etc). Within the context of the local church, there are certainly people who could help train potential missionaries how to improve in time management skills, how to grow in their writing or speaking ability, and even how to drive a stick-shift. By combining forces within the local church, we could send out missionaries that are set up to thrive on the field. Just as a good parent wants to see their child with a certain skill-set before they leave the home, so a local body should want to see their missionaries equipped with these skills before they leave for the field.

Seger shares the story of when he was talking to a pastor who voiced some hesitancy to let missionaries fill his pulpit. The pastor said that he felt like they were not equipped to speak to large audiences. The author says that he asked the pastor, “Who is to blame for the fact that missionaries are often not good preachers?” The pastor just started at him blankly. Seger went on to say that it could be the fault of the sending church that the missionary can’t preach. It is the job of the local church to equip and if a sent one is poorly equipped the blame is shared. Ill-equipped missionaries may have some growing to do, but so do their sending churches.

Seger says it well when he says:
The accountability and family life of a local church provide custom-built opportunities for advancing sanctification. The church provides life-on-life relationships, struggling through situations together in real time. It must be a deliberate and planned part of the whole training process. No one can do the heart and hands like a local church (91).
A Call for the Local Church to Sacrifice
I was at a missions conference in San Diego where someone asked a former missionary, now missionary trainer, how the local church could support missions. He responded by saying that he wanted to see the senders make as great a sacrifice for the cause as the goers. The sacrifice of those who go is expected: snakes, bugs, heat, selling all they own, taking on discomfort for the sake of the gospel. 

He then said that this principle of sacrifice should apply to the local sending church. For instance, a local church could ask itself how much of their money is being spent on themselves vs how much of it is going overseas. Are congregants willing to turn down the AC a little and sweat like their missionary counterparts in order to use those funds to keep them on the field? Are church members willing to forgo hiring that staff family pastor in order to hire the missions pastor who would be designated to equip and deploy missionaries? Missionaries do not want to be applauded for their sacrifice, they want their senders to feel the sacrifice with them.

What Now?
I suggest the following to local churches all across the nation in order to do the job of mobilizing missionaries:
  • Put it on the table. In elders meetings, in seminaries, in small groups, at pastors conferences, ask the question, “How can we as the local church do a better job mobilizing missionaries?” “What steps does our church need to take in order to give people a passion for missions?” “Who among our congregation do you think would make a good missionary?” "How can we get the youth and children thinking about missions?" 
  • Talk to churches who identify, train and deploy well. There are churches who do an excellent job of engraving into the hearts of their people the importance of missions. The result is that they send out missionaries and unreached people groups are hearing of Christ. Talk to their leaders and ask them what they are doing to get their people there (we can provide contacts in these churches like these upon request). 
  • Read Senders: How your Church Can Identify, Train and Deploy Missionaries by Paul Seger. This book is very practical and is a good introduction in how to mobilize missionaries from your church body. In it, he lists specific ways to pray for missionaries, how to view the financial side of sending missionaries, the role of theological institutions, the role of the mission agency, and he gives a defense for why the church should “bother” at all with the task of winning the nations. This book is easy to read and would be an asset to any church. 
  • Do the Ask. Church leaders and lay people alike should be looking across the living room in small groups and asking themselves “Would that brother/sister be a good missionary?” If the answer is yes, then approach him or her and do the ask, “Would you consider serving overseas as a missionary?” Find the high school teacher and ask if they would consider teaching missionary kids overseas. Chat with the engineer or mathematician and see if they would consider analyzing an unwritten language for the purpose of Bible translation. See if your doctor friend would be willing to serve the undeserved overseas. Approach your pastoral staff and see if one out of the five elders would consider planting a church overseas. Most people will not consider missions unless someone places the idea right in their lap. 
All pastors want to see their people grow in godliness and I propose that how one grows in godliness is not by focusing within but instead without. Regular times of prayer in churches for those who do not know Christ in our neighborhoods and overseas are what grow our people. Sending our missionaries from within the congregation and seeing their faithfulness and the fruit of their labors will cause the body to rejoice in what Christ rejoices in. Giving sacrificially for the cause means that our congregation will not be lovers of money. Working to deploy missionaries from within is not in conflict with the health of the local churches, it is a fuel that the local church needs to grow in passion for the Lord and for the lost.

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* This is a subtitle to the book Senders: How your Church can Identify, Train and Deploy Missionaries by Paul Seger.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 2017 Newsletter Online!


Check out our August 2017 Newsletter to discover the following:

  • Summer American Tour
  • Plans for the next year
  • Do we miss Cameroon?
  • Prayer Requests and Praises


Hare Translation Newsletter:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

America is Better, Right?

by Dave

If you were to come to live in my village, you would know that there is something wrong. It takes time, of course, to sort through all of the cultural differences. Some things feel wrong, but when you take the time to think about it, they do not have a moral component at all. For example, in Cameroon (following France) light switches go down for ON and up for OFF. Sitting talking to our neighbors, you would watch them prepare grasshoppers or rats for dinner. And you would think, “That does not seem right.” But, in reality, “right and wrong” do not have a place in discussing these issues. There is a missionary mantra we are all taught: “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different.” And, at the end of the day, no matter how wrong things can feel, a switch is just a switch and grasshoppers are a good source of protein.

But the wrongness you would sense in my village goes deeper, beyond mere cultural quirks. Women are worked like horses, day and night, while their husbands often are off drinking with their friends. Baby forest animals, brought to the village by hunters, will be tortured and killed by the children for fun. And so much fighting. Mothers will call out to their children when they see them offended, “Take your revenge!” And they do; not just the kids, everyone, all the time. And the more that you saw it, the more you would know that this is not just different, this is wrong.

Now, if you were to come with us as we are touring around the US, you would be astounded by the contrast. People are kind to one another! My brothers and sisters in Christ are constantly asking me how I am doing and providing housing and food as we travel. Random people in the grocery store will beam at my kids and ask us our adoption stories. On Sunday we went to our sending church (IBC) and were surrounded by friends that told us that they have been praying for us for years. And together we sang worship to God so loudly that I could not even hear my own voice.

And sure, the switches go up for ON and down for OFF. The meals people are preparing involve tortillas and ground beef and cheese. And these things would feel right to many of you for the same reason that they feel right to me: it is what we are used to. But there is a different kind of rightness in the American experience. Kindness is better than harshness. Joy is better than despair. Patience is better than impatience. Gentleness is better than cruelty.

And so, the obvious conclusion is that America is better than Cameroon, right? Actually, I think that is the wrong conclusion.

A Counter Example

The pastor of our village church is not Bakoum. Boris came from a wealthy family in Cameroon, in fact in the line of the chief. He lived most of his life not too much differently than my neighbors. He did not treat women well and defended his own pride by yelling at others. But one day he heard the Gospel: that Jesus Christ came, lived a perfect life, died for Boris's sins, and then rose from the dead. And, though still imperfect, Boris is a now new creature. Boris loves his wife and is faithful to her. Boris teaches his children to be kind to animals. And Boris pours his life out as a servant to the church in our village. Boris speaks up for the weak and helpless. He preaches against abuse of women and children. And I am so happy to know him. He is kind, he serves me and my family, he works hard, and I learn a lot from him.

So what is the difference? Is it a different culture? No, the difference is Christ. Boris has been changed by the Gospel. He reflects those values that I mentioned above not because he is more American, but because he is more like Jesus.

Is America More Christian?

But, you may have noticed, I am claiming that I see more of these characteristics here in America than I do living among the Bakoum. And, you might say, "America is not a Christian nation." And you are right. In fact, America is drifting further and further from Christ in many ways. But one reality that I believe we often neglect to mention is how much our culture has been impacted by the Bible. So, as Americans we value justice and do not stand for corruption in our police departments. Why? Because we have been taught to value justice by the Bible. We put people in prison who abuse animals. Why? Because the Bible has taught us to take care of animals (Proverbs 20:12, Deuteronomy 25:4, Proverbs 27:23, etc.).

In a nation where the majority do not have a personal relationship with Christ, we still have many of the fringe benefits. So, even those who hate God in America, will usually be kind to your face. Though lying might be rampant in personal relationships, it is illegal in court. And when we ask the question: "Is America more Christian?", we have to acknowledge that there actually are more Christians in America. When God calls us to be the "salt of the earth" I believe there is a preservation aspect to that. And there have been Christians in America for a very long time. The Bakoum have not benefited from this preservation. Heaven and Hell are not even concepts in the minds of the Bakoum. In America, you might have someone say that they do not believe in Heaven and Hell, but in doing so they are denying a concept that already exists in their mind. The Bakoum do not have those categories.

I have found that there are certain moral issues that almost all Americans accept. These are issues that I would never have imagined having to defend. So, it has been shocking when I have encountered other cultures that do not condemn rape (at least in certain situations). Why is it that rape is condemned in American culture, but not all others? Is it because America is better? No, rape is wrong not because Americans say it is wrong, but because God hates rape. As those who have benefited from over 600 years of the English Bible, it is impossible to overestimate the impact of the influence of the Bible on the way that we think. 

Only Missions Brings About Real Change


When people think of missionaries, I think they often have the stereotype of white people seeking to spread their culture around the world. And in some ways, missionaries have done this. At nearly any church in Cameroon, the pastor will wear a suit and tie. Having spent some significant time there, I am very convinced that this practice did not originate in a Bakoum village. Ties are imported from colder climates, trust me. However, the true task of Christian missions is not to export culture, but to export Christ. And that is why cultures get objectively better after the arrival of missionaries. I know that is a strong statement, but it is true (if you do not believe me, read THIS ARTICLE). There is a reason that widow burning (Sati) is no longer practiced in India and foot binding is now forbidden in China. The arrival of the Gospel changes culture. In fact, the Gospel is the only thing that can bring real change for the better.

Because of God’s common grace, there are aspects of the Bakoum culture that reflect Him. For instance, the Bakoum culture promotes the belief that children are a treasure, something to be desired. Though they do not know it, this is a way that the Bakoum culture reflects God’s heart (Ps 127:3) better than American culture. But to be honest, these graces are few among the Bakoum, whereas they abound in America. Does this mean that America is better? No, it is Christ who is better. But the graces of Christians, churches, and Bibles are so much more prevalent in America. So, certainly, the better-ness of Christ is reflected more in America. But coming to this understanding has helped me to see more clearly that what the Bakoum need is not more of America, but more of Christ.

*photo from patheos.com

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why I’m in the Middle of the Rain Forest


by Guest Author: Reda Anderton, DO

The young mother came screaming up to my porch at 2 am. “My child! My child!” she cried. As I jerked awake, adrenalin streaming through my body. I heard a high-pitched abnormal cry from the baby mixing with the mother’s screams.

Quickly throwing a robe over my night clothes, I grabbed a solar lantern and headed out to unlock the screen door, letting the hysterical mother and her convulsing baby into my screened-in porch. The baby had been okay when he fell asleep earlier, but later awakened having convulsions and a high fever. A quick exam told me I needed to get out to the medical office to get a malaria blood test. I decided to keep them on the porch since there was electricity to be able to see what was happening.

By the time I arrived back on my porch with a malaria test kit and injectable medications to stop the seizures, our team nurse was on the porch as well, having been similarly awakened by the mother’s screams. She was praying aloud with the mother, as I was simultaneously crying out to God for help in managing this critical situation.



Is this a common occurrence in my practice as a physician among the Baka people in Cameroon? No, praise God! But when it happens there is no time to spare. If our team was not in the rain forest, this child would have died, having no way to get to a clinic in the next town in the middle of the night. Of course, we cannot report amazing results in every emergency. But the times we have prayed with distraught family members, started medications immediately to address a health crisis, explained to the parents in their own language what appears to be happening to their child, wept with those whose loved ones’ lives on earth have ended, and rejoiced to see healing occur have enabled us to demonstrate God’s care for the Baka people.

Many days the frustrations of living in the rain forest and the limitations of medical facilities and equipment seem to outweigh the positives. Yet when I remember our initial meeting with Baka people in 1992, when there was no local group of believers, children were suffering from easily treatable medical problems, and no one had hope for the future, I know that our family’s presence has been used by God. As part of a holistic church planting team, my role as a physician has been to meet physical needs. My late husband’s role was to address nutritional, agricultural, & development needs. Together we initially built trust relationships among a people who were used to being exploited by outsiders.

Many times in the past 25 years I’ve been asked why I don’t work in a hospital setting. There would surely be opportunities in a hospital to bring help that is beyond my means in the rain forest. I could work in English or French instead of struggling for the right words in a newly written language. However, I know that it is very difficult to build relationships in a hospital setting- especially as a physician. My desire to live alongside the Baka people would not be feasible, “along the way” discipleship opportunities would be extremely rare, and while meeting medical needs of many in a hospital setting would be satisfying to my self-esteem, the impact for the Kingdom of God among the Baka would be lessened.

The days when the kerosene fridge refuses to cool down enough to keep meat frozen, or the clouds keep the solar pump from drawing enough water, or the army ants invade the house forcing us to vacate can cause me to wonder why I’m still here. But remembering the grandmother who trusts our medicine for her grandson now because we treated her daughter 15 years ago, or seeing the woman whose life we saved after her husband stabbed her now standing in line to be baptized brings me joy in knowing that I have had a part in God’s plan for reaching the Baka.



48 hours after the 2 am emergency treatment on my front porch, the baby was calmly recovering from cerebral malaria. He is healthy and happy today with no signs of residual brain damage. His mother and father love Jesus and are raising their 2 sons to love Him too.

That’s why I’m still in the middle of the rain forest.