In Their Own Words

At the end of our recent Community Health Evangelism training in Asia,  our trainees were given the opportunity to share what impacted them the most from the training.  Here are a few highlights.

I am the only Christian in my family and village. Sometimes I lose hope that they will change. But now I have hope that through CHE I can help my village and family

I learned multiplication. We don’t have to do it ourselves, we can teach others and reach more people

We are rejected in the village when we talk about spiritual things but now I know we can start with the physical and integrate the spiritual

From the River Crossing story I learned that when people have problems, we should not do things for them but teach them do do it themselves

I am a schoolteacher. I will take this new way of teaching back to my school

These are just some of the lessons learned through our Community Health Evangelism training. Please pray that our students will keep their enthusiasm and implement this training in their region so that individuals and communities are transformed.

 

Medical team returns from South Asia

img_1885Our medical team of 8 people just returned from South Asia.  We saw 1429 people and gave general medical care and reading glasses. We worked in conjunction with an indigenous ministry which is reaching out to unreached peoples in their region. In one village they served, there were only a handful of followers whose had come to faith in the last few months as our partners had been working among the people. Another village had a small church begun from a crusade that they had done a couple of years ago.   We saw many people with common medical problems who simply lacked access to care or medicines. Our main impact spiritually was our care and love for the people we served. Open evangelism is much more difficult there now as there have been new government restrictions on believers, so we were mainly just planting seeds. Some accepted prayer, others didn’t. But all were cared for with the love that we have been blessed to be able to share.

 

Celia’s Story

This is the story of a lady I met on our team to Nicaragua in

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

August. Her story reminded me of many lessons I have learned about missions, medicine and wholistic care.

Celia came with multiple medical problems and insomnia. She had also been having pelvic pain for 8 months. However it became quickly clear that something else was going on.  It turns out that her symptoms began when 15 month-old baby died. He had been having diarrhea and she took him to the hospital and he died. She hadn’t been to the doctor for her own symptoms because she felt like they didn’t do anything to help her son.  Several things ran through my mind as we talked.

1. What happened to her son? Was this a preventable death?

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

15,000 children around the world die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea. Had there been a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program in her community, maybe better water and hygiene would have prevented his sickness.  Maybe she would have recognized his illness sooner and begun home treatment or taken him to the hospital sooner, both of which might have prevented this death. Of course I don’t know the details. He may have had some other illness or a surgical emergency like intussuception that the local hospital resources weren’t adequate to treat. Or, he may simply have had some other catastrophic illness that would have resulted in his death no matter what care he received. We simply don’t know, but we do know that many children like her son still die of preventable illness. Are we doing enough?

2.  Physical, emotional and spiritual health are connected. Her symptoms were clearly connected to her son’s death and her resulting grief and depression. God made us as whole persons and when one part is affected, the whole body suffers.  Her illnes could not be treated with a pain pill or by just prescribing an antidepressant. She needed care for her whole person.
3. Jesus is the answer, even when we have no answer.  My first response to her was just to listen and try to avoid platitudes and pat answers that are really of no help to hurting people. I told her I don’t know why her son died. I validated her pain and grief.  She said she was a Christian. I told her I understood that being Christian may cause her to have even more questions. Can God let something this bad happen even to a Christian?  Although I didn’t have answers to her specific situation, I could remind her of some things we know are true an that we can hold on to.
  • God is good. We may not understand. We may not be able to see His perspective. But we can cling to his goodness even in hard times.
  • God loves her son and he loves her. It may not feel like it right now, but she is greatly loved.
  •  God knows how she feels. He too lost a Son. He had to watch his son die a horrible, painful, unjust death. He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) because he too has been brokenhearted. However, because of Jesus death and resurrection we have hope. When we trust in him, we can know that we have a placed prepared in heaven where one day he will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4)
We prayed together through tears. I did address her medical condition as well with some treatment, but I am convinced that our conversation and time of prayer are just as critical to her healing.
I am also motivated to continue to serve those who are medically underserved. I am motivated to bring preventive care and improved health to communities through Community Health Evangelism. And I am motivated to share Christ so that people like Celia can have a hope in times of pain.

The Whole Gospel

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross. Colossians 1:19-20

Cultambo Mission Team June 2016

Cultambo Mission Team June 2016

Which is the most important thing we do on our medical mission trips, caring for the sick or sharing the gospel? This is a trick question. Caring for the sick IS the gospel. Just like feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, caring for those swept up in human trafficking, and all the other things GO InterNational teams do. This verse makes it clear that Jesus died on the cross, not just to save us from sin, but also to restore all of creation to its original state before sin entered the world. That won’t ultimately and completely happen until Jesus’ return, but his purpose for us who follow him now is to bring His kingdom into every area where we have influence. The gospel affects every area of life.

This was made clear once again on our recent trip to Peru. Our team helped construct a roof on the community center our partner Olinda is developing. This center will reach out to poor children with education and a medical clinic, while sharing Jesus love. We also ministered to over 900 people with medical, dental and eye care in three different communities. Many of those people would never come for a church service or to see the Jesus film. But they came because we cared about their needs. And in the process they met Christ. I was able to pray with several people to receive Christ. Our Peruvian doctor,

Dr. Willyams

Dr. Willyams

Willyams, said that one day the Spirit was moving so powerfully that almost every patient he saw prayed to receive Christ. That same day some of our team taught health lessons and showed the Jesus film in the public school. Without any prompting from our team, the children responded to the invitation at the end of the film and over 60 children professed faith in Christ! God was moving powerfully through everything that the team did to bring people to himself. This is the power of what we call wholistic ministry. Thank you for your support and prayers that allow it to happen. Come join us on a team soon and see for yourself!

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

Empowering Presence of the “Three Guys”

HONDURAS

Medical-Evangelical Mission

26 February – 5 March, 2016

A throttling experience…por lo menos! That is “to say the least”, for me personally it was a lot like the throttle on an engine!  I felt and I saw a “control” and an “energizing presence” of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When I took an occasional break from seeing patients, and as I walked along the school rooms without books or window panes, and where screens had rusted away, I looked for some shade and a breeze…someplace to cool off.  It was during these breaks, especially, that I saw and felt the presence of the three men observing everything going on at the site. They were dressed in suits and ties and handsomely shined shoes and they quietly moved around the schoolyard compound…nothing missed their observation.

Ezekiel was taken by the hair and shown… these “Three Guys” had a hand on all of us. It. “throttled” us, controlled us, energized us to be in their hands.

Eleven hundred patients visited the five days of clinics for Spiritual care, dental care, medical care, vision care, hundreds of prescriptions for vitamins, for antibiotics, or anti-parasites usually. And there were the innumerable prayers from our prayer teams here in the U.S. for the patients and mission team there.

I watched two very angry/unhappy people reacting to their very real and potentially life threatening medical conditions as they nearly “stomped out” with a “thanks and goodbye!”.  And, I watched them both make a 180 degree turn towards health and comfort after they were literally covered by dozens of hands of Christians who were praying out loud for them. Whatever each patient felt before the prayers was 100% replaced by a positive, cooperative new attitude and I know the “Three Guys” were there too!

I hope you get to GO-International and see lives and your own changed and enriched through Christ; and sense the THROTTLE on your own life opening your heart and soul to God and His love. I did and I do.

 

Very sincerely,

 

Phillip H. Yunker M. D.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

Getting off the plane in Costa Rica, I expected to be teaching and sharing the love of Christ with others, but who knew I would learn so much about God from a homeless man and a prostitute? First of all, I learned very quickly that God does not call us to be in comfortable situations. Most of the time, the people who need to hear God’s message of hope the most are the ones completely outside of our comfort zones. I experienced this the very first night of the trip as a homeless man sat down right next to me during the church service at Casa Agape. I have never felt more uncomfortable in my entire life. This man smelled bad, he was dirty, he seemed to struggle with some sort of mental illness or addiction, he had no sense of personal space and he was trying to convince me that my friend was the president of the United States! To add onto this unusual situation, there was a drunk man who was getting a little out of hand in the back of the church and was being escorted out during the service. By the way, this church was also right across the street from a brothel. I remember thinking, “wow what have I gotten myself into.” Just as this thought was crossing my mind, the homeless man tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his very last cookie. I saw this small but hugely meaningful gesture as God saying to me, “Rachel, you are okay. You are exactly where I want you.”

 

Apparently, God also wanted me to be outside on a street corner talking to a prostitute at 12:30 in the morning. God works in all places, even in the strange and dangerous ones. He also works in all people! Never in a million years did I expect to gain a deeper understanding about God’s love from a prostitute in Costa Rica. Just two weeks prior to our trip, this woman had given her life to Christ. Already, she had such a deep understanding of the Holy Spirit working in her life and a profound trust in God that not even the fear of death of a close family member could not sway her. She just seemed so confident in God’s love for her. I remember standing there with others on my team and listening to her story and thinking “wow, this woman has known Jesus for 2 weeks of her life and I’ve known Jesus for 12 years! Yet, sometimes I doubt God’s love for me and I doubt his plan for my life.” What a wake up call for me! In that moment I felt so close to God and so loved as I remembered that God loves her just as much as He loves me. I love God’s sense of humor! As I was thinking I was going to Costa Rica to talk to prostitutes about God’s love, He had a prostitute reveal that undeniable truth to me.

 

Blessings,

 

Rachel Poole

The Power of Wholistic Ministry

One of the things I like to do with my teams each evening is have each person share about their favorite moment of the day. I just want to share a couple of stories that our team members currently serving in Honduras shared last night that show the power of wholistic ministry on our teams.

Dr. Kallies at work

Dr. Kallies at work

Dr. Heather Kallies shared about a patient who came in for dental care. As she and the dental team cared for her painful teeth, they also had the opportunity to share the gospel with this lady. She had professed to be a Christian in the past but had fallen away. Because of the love and concern the team showed this lady, she recomitted her life to Christ. Ministering to her physical need led to the opportunity to minister to her physical need.

Dr. Phillip Yunker told of a patient he had seen that day in the medical clinic. Jose had come in with multiple medical problems. However, it was clear that his main problem was his anger over his condition. It was a very tense situation as they tried to minister to him. Dr. Yunker was able to enlist the help of our host partner, Pastor Ivan Gallino Paz to come assist him.

Pastor Ivan and his wife Rosanna counsel and pray with patients during the clinics

Pastor Ivan and his wife Rosanna counsel and pray with patients during the clinics

Together with several other of our medical team members, Ivan led this man in a time of prayer. When it was finished, he was giving hugs to team members all around. He was a changed person. Ministering to his spiritual and emotional need made it possible to care for his medical need.

These stories demonstrate the power of Jesus command in Luke 9:2 to heal the sick AND preach the good news. As we do both, we can make an impact far beyond trying to address these aspects of people’s lives separately.

Please consider using your gifts and talents on a GO InterNational medical team. You will be able to join in each evening with your own stories of seeing God at work through you and your teamates in amazing ways as you minister to the whole person.

God Finds Faithful Followers to Share the Gospel… and Translate

DO NOT FORGET TO SHOW HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS, FOR BY SO DOING SOME PEOPLE HAVE SHOWN HOSPITALITY TO ANGELS WITHOUT KNOWING IT.”

HEBREWS 13:2

On Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, we were invited to participate at an open air evangelistic campaign in Yurimaguas, Peru.  The event took place at a community basketball court with stands surrounding the facility.  I would say about 200 people showed up to the event.  After several worship songs and testimonies and preaching the gospel, many came forward that evening inviting Christ into their hearts.  It was during this event that my focus was not on the event itself but on a home that surrounded the court.  They were playing loud music, laughing and playing cards oblivious to what was going on 200yds next to them.  The Holy Spirit had already nudged me to go to the home and after the invitation with people being prayed for, I went to catch up with my interpreter whose name was Lenny.  When I caught up with him, he was engaged with another team member talking to several people who were on the outside looking in and I knew they were sharing the gospel.  I also knew what the Holy Spirit was asking me to do and since I can’t speak Spanish fluently, I was in a pickle.

As I was standing waiting for him to finish, a young man who I did not know spoke to me in English and asked if we were from the United States.  I, of course, said yes and asked where he had learned English so well.  He said he had studied in the university and watch many movies in English and was self-taught.  It was then he shared how much he appreciated what we were doing there and sharing the gospel.  He said he had always wanted to be used by God to do something and I asked him if he would like to go and help me share the gospel at this house.  He was so excited to do so and we walked over and entered the garage area where they were playing cards.  I introduced myself to the people there and shared with them in the few minutes I had that God had instructed me to come and visit them.  They were gracious and allowed me to speak.  I shared with them about the odds of person coming all the way from Somerset, KY to Yurimaguas, Peru and of all the places and people we could have visited, I was standing in their garage at this very moment to tell you that God knows you and loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you.  I shared with them about my personal encounter with Jesus and asked if any of them had every invited Jesus into their hearts… I’m sure they were somewhat embarrassed but the reality of this question made everyone uncomfortable but one guy had his attention focused solely on me. I asked each one them what would happen if they stood face to face with a holy and righteous God, and each one gave a variety of answers but this one guy knew he would go to hell and he did not want that to happen.  It was then that we led this young man to receive Christ and that adventure was what the Lord had instructed me to do.

Afterwards, the young man was so excited about God using him, that I invited him to meet with the next day and we would go door to door sharing the gospel.  He asked where the church was and I was hoping for another encounter with him but it didn’t happen.  I never knew his name but I did capture his face in this picture and I can’t help but wonder If God placed this man at the right place and at the right time to be used of God in helping win this gentleman to Christ.
– Written by Kevin Hampton of Somerset, KY

Vocational school provides hand up to Nicaraguans!

Women learning to sew at new vocational school

Women learning to sew at new vocational school

DSC03393

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