Colombian children praying for the nations alongside GO team!

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” With the heart of this verse in mind, a team from Kentucky traveled to Columbia from June 17-25, 2016 to share the love of Christ with the children of Bogotá.

 

After taking an overnight flight and getting little sleep, the team set out on their first day sharing the simple story of God’s grace through a book by Max Lucado called Because I Love You. The children eagerly listened to the story and how it related to them, how Jesus had given his life for them, and then practiced telling the story themselves by creating salvation bracelets. The team was then privileged to assist the church of GO Partner Guillermo Parra in serving a meal to these precious children, who were all living in small shacks near a garbage dump. These children were sweet and eager to be loved on, soaking up each hug and kind word as Guillermo’s church offered haircuts, facepainting, and treats. Each morning the team traveled to a different feeding center run by Pastor Guillermo to share grace and love through song, stories, crafts, and food, with each team member, including pastors, teachers/professors, veterinarians, dieticians, and college students, stopping to take time for the least of these.

 

Another important focus of this team was to empower the children of Pastor Guillermo’s church to pray for the nations. Each day the children came to learn the steps of intercessory prayer (based on Jane Mackie’s book Kids Pray!). On the first day, about 120 children came to learn about the chains that sin and unforgiveness try to wrap around our hearts and how we have to repent daily. To illustrate this, children drew or wrote personal sins as well as lies from the enemy on paper chain links, and then in unison broke those chains off, symbolizing the power of forgiveness and grace in our lives. They also made prayer journals as a tool to help them pray for themselves and their families. On day two, the children learned about the power of praise worship. With the help of worship leaders from Guillermo’s church, the team taught nearly 160 children about using worship as a way to focus your whole heart on God as they danced, sang, and praised, lifting up a sweet sound to heaven. Children then used inflatable prayer globes as tool to pray for Nicaragua, specifically praying for another GO partner, Carlos Mayorga, as well as the country of Nicaragua which recently suffered a major earthquake, Venezuela, where food and medical attention is scarce, and for Columbia, their home country. To see the children praying with eyes closed and arms lifted was a special moment to say the least. The third day of our conference our numbers grew to around 180 children who came to pray for all the nations of the world. We took a large world map (26’ x 40’) and set up prayer stations all around the map where children were invited, in small groups, to pray for orphans, child laborers, the homeless, the hungry, and various other needs around the world. Seeing children from ages 2-14 pray for other children’s needs around the world is something powerful yet hard to describe. I know the heart of the Father was moved because our hearts were moved and also challenged to become like these children, whose inheritance is the kingdom of heaven.

 

In Christ,
Jennifer Montgomery

Team gearing up to work at a newly established refugee center in Greece!

Ryan Smith, Nilah MacLean, Selena Herrera, Elizabeth Liechty, Emily Houp, and Sarah Houp are the team members. All of us attended Indiana Wesleyan University.
In March, Ryan and several others felt a burden on their heart for the Syrian refugees and the crisis they were facing. During the following two months of school, a small group of us with the same burden gathered and decided we wanted to help/contribute in some way. After months of researching and emailing different organizations, we got in contact with a man named Andreas through a Facebook page for volunteers in Greece. Ryan had emails and a Skype meeting with him over several weeks, and we finally decided to partner with him at Camp Elaya.
We will be going to Elaionas (Olive Grove), located right outside of Athens, to work at a newly established refugee center that has been approved by the Ministry of Migration. Currently, there are 2100 refugees at this location, and they are expecting hundreds more. About 50% are Syrian, but over 28 nationalities are represented in the camp. Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, and Greek medical services are already in this location, but there were no groups providing nonmedical support, so the new center will be a huge help. Their plan for the center is to have a variety of resources available for the refugees. This includes food distribution, non-food item distribution (clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc.), sports/arts/activities for kids, and a culture center with skills-sharing and English workshops for adults. People are now realizing that the refugees in Greece will be there for a while, so this project is trying to provide more long-term focused relief/support efforts.
When our team arrives to Elaionas at the end of June, there will be 15 other volunteers there to help jumpstart this new center. Although it is a small group to start with, Andreas is hoping to have 50 by July 15 and for more to be added weekly. The six of us will begin our time there by setting up the non-food-item distribution center, because the refugees there have not received new clothes in 3 months, and are currently wearing winter clothes in extremely hot weather.
For prayer:

  • Lift up the hearts of our team as we prepare
  • Pray for unity and favor amongst our team as it is a self-organized group and we will be living/working together for almost a month.
  • Pray for God to give us opportunities to share the gospel and His love through our words as it is seen in our actions. The core purpose of our trip is to serve those in need but we are expectant for the Lord to give us opportunities and want to be sensitive and wise with them.
  • Pray for the organizations that are currently on the ground serving as the need is great and workers are few.
  • Pray for health, safety, receptiveness, provision, and hope in the refugees currently in Greece and other hotspot countries like Turkey and Lebanon. They have been through a lot and are still seeing suffering. Hope in their situation is hard to maintain, especially for a non-Christian.
  • Pray for refugees who are still traveling to Greece and Italy. It is a dangerous and expensive voyage to be smuggled into Greece. Just recently, boats when down and 880 drowned around European seas.
  • Pray for the Greece government (as well as Turkey, Lebanon, Etc.) as the nation has gone bankrupt and has to process this difficult situation. Pray they have continued wisdom and compassion even at their own expense nationally.
  • Pray for other countries, including the US, to renegotiate their quota for refugees and to quicken the process. Those stuck in camps are waiting to be relocated but the process can take years. Pray for political shifts in the minds of governments.
  • Lastly, remember that the reason these refugee camps are overflowing is because of trauma in foreign countries. The refugees and asylum seekers who fled need prayer, but those who stayed need it just as much if not more. Lift up Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan among others. Pray against the oppressions, dictatorships, killing groups, corruption, and wars.

In Christ,
Sarah Houp

Vocational school provides hand up to Nicaraguans!

Women learning to sew at new vocational school

Women learning to sew at new vocational school

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Building picnic tables

“Withhold not good to them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.”  Proverbs 3:27

 

That verse makes me feel uncomfortable, and in fact being around destitute people living in the trash dump near Chinandega, Nicaragua this past month left me puzzling over the question, “Just what can we do?”  Hundreds of folks living in shanty housing, scavenging garbage every day to find something to eat or sell – “what power do we possess to really help these poor people?”

One dream is coming to fruition – the launch of a new vocational school, designed to help some gain a skill like electrical, carpentry and sewing. Last month two GO volunteer teams helped move this vision forward laboring with Nicaraguans to build the new structure, and actually helping with the first week of classes.  We were glad to “give a hand up and not just a hand out.”

I wish you could have seen the faces of those young men and women, when they completed their new dining tables and finished new clothing for their children!  It was pure joy!  They were excited to learn something they could
actually do with their hands to help their families.

Hope is in short supply in places like trash dumps.  The oppressive heat, horrible living conditions, little food and few resources add to their hopelessness every day.

Thank you for your support this month, with what God has given you, we have “the power in our hands to do it.”

During our final days in Limonal (trash dump) we had the privilege to pray with all of our students and many prayed to receive Christ.  New Bibles have been given and new hope has been born. God is good and we are so grateful for your partnership.

In Him,

Larry Cochran

What can Calvin & Hobbes teach us?

Imagination… Creativity… Vision… when I hear these words, I think about Calvin from Bill Watterson’s famous comic strip. Calvin and his tiger friend Hobbes certainly found some creative ways to pass time during snow days, crashing through a town of fake snowmen being one of my favorites.

When we here at GO InterNational are not on foreign mission trips, we’re here in the U.S., working, living, in school, at the grocery store, driving, etc. – but the call remains the same here and abroad: engage the world and engage people with God’s good news, in word and in deed.

So, as Christians, how do we use our imaginations and creatively engage with the world in our local context – where verbal proclamations of the gospel are typically frowned upon in public, where people continuously try to force religion out of the public sphere, where we feel like people don’t want to talk about religion?

We’ve been encouraged by some creative stories recently of people who proclaim the gospel and show the love of Christ on short-term mission trips, and do the same thing in their day-to-day life at home:

  • A man who works at an Amazon warehouse during the day and drives a truck for another delivery service at night. He meets people and identifies their needs during the day, then prays for them while driving in the evening!
  • A young girl who works as a waitress at a restaurant shows love to her coworkers through her genuine joy and forgiveness (even after a co-worker stole money from her!). She also freely tells patrons that she is working as a waitress to get her through Seminary, opening the door to share the reason for the joy she has in Christ!
  • A father of a high school basketball player who develops relationships with other parents, modeling healthy competition and sportsmanship and finding one’s identity in more than sports. You can’t underestimate what showing forgiveness after a loss and genuine humility after a win does to bring glory to God!
  • A mother who hosts community potluck meals at her house, modeling Christian hospitality and identifying people in her neighborhood who need support and prayer!
  • A young couple who opens a coffee shop and sends as much profit as they can into holistic Christian ministries and development efforts in Rwanda and Nicaragua. The husband sits on the city council and the wife on the city beautification chair, using their business expertise as a platform to also have a voice in politics.

These people aren’t often called pastors or missionaries or evangelists, but they are no less living into the values Christ modeled for us in unique ways. The work of the Kingdom of God is not limited to pastors, or short-term mission trips, or physical places like churches… it is our future hope, but it is also here and now in the way the community of believers engages creatively with the world for God’s glory.

If you know someone who is creatively integrating their faith in their workplace, neighborhood, or general sphere of influence we would love to hear their story, or yours!