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Helping those who help the world

Mission Trip Impossible: Dumb Excuse #4-Pride

by Lori McCarthy |

Planning to Go, Should I Go?

Goldfish“I don’t have anyone to babysit my pet goldfish while I’m gone.”

Translation: “I don’t feel like asking anyone for help.”

Most of us have someone or something that we are responsible for taking care of, whether it is a job, a ministry, pets or children. The problem then lies not in the fact that we are caretakers of some sort, but rather when we use our role as manager, pet owner or leader as an excuse to get out of doing something that God is calling us to do.

If this is the case, then we need to remind ourselves that God always equips the called. He knows all of the things you are responsible for, and He will provide for those things as well. So let’s just admit it. If we really wanted to, we could probably easily find someone to watch over things for us while we are away, whether it be our pets or our ministry. The bottom line is that we may not WANT to. Sometimes, asking others to help out means giving up our own control over things, or admitting we need other people. Basically, not wanting to let go of control of the things we are in charge of to ask for help is really a form of pride. Come on now, don’t you think God could find someone else to take over things while you are away doing the new things He has called you to?

So, go on, trust that God will cover things in your absence, pick up the phone to ask for some help, and follow the path you know God is calling you to.

Your goldfish will be just fine.


Peru: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Cultural Sensitivity, Facts and Stats, Peru, South America, Travel, Travel Health & Safety

snow mountain peru
Photo by Rick McCharles


map of peruLocation: South America, bounded on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil and Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Capital: Lima.

Climate: Tropical in the east to dry desert weather in the west and temperate to frigid in the Andes.

Population: 29,180,900 as per July 2008 estimates. About 44.5% of the population live below poverty line according to 2006 estimates. A 2007 statistic puts the rate of unemployment in Lima at 6.9% while the rest of the country faces widespread underemployment. Peru’s economy is affected by a lack of modern infrastructure to support investment leading to overdependence on traditional avenues of income such as metals and minerals. However, the period between 2002-06 saw some stability with a growth spurt in 2007. Other than metals and minerals, Peru’s economy depends on exports in agriculture, textiles and newly developed natural gas projects.

peru manEthnic Make-up: Amerindian 45%, Mestizo 37%, White 15%, Others including Black, Japanese, and Chinese 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, Other Christian denominations 2.2%, Others including Judaism, Baha’i, Islam, and Hinduism 16%. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and citizens may practise their faiths unrestricted. Evangelisation ministries and charity works are carried out by various Christian denominations all over the country.

Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, other Amazonian languages.

Government: Constitutional Republic

peruvian marketTravel Issues: You require a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity to enter Peru. North and South American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and most West European nationals can obtain a visit visa on arrival for up to 90 days stay. You will be given a tourist card which has to be kept safe and returned when you leave the country. It is very important to not lose or misplace this card as it can cause quite a lot of grief if you do so. For a period longer than 90 days for a tourist visa you need to exit the country for at least 2 days, possibly to a neighbouring country such as Chile or Ecuador, and obtain another 90 days validity. You may also renew at the Department of Immigration in Lima or Cusco for a period of 30 days and a maximum of 3 renewals.

Health & Safety: Visitors to Peru need to watch out for and be immunized against high risk of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A, cholera, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, Oroya fever and yellow fever. An International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is required if you are arriving from an infected region.

machu picchu in fog
photo by kudumomo


girls with lamas peruThe People
There is a distinct difference between the various cultures, none more so pronounced as the one between the white creoles of Spanish descent who inhabit the cities and the local indigenous people of the mountains. Cities such as Lima have most modern conveniences suited to a western lifestyle while the rural areas continue a more traditional life. Most families are dependent on farming for sustenance.

dancers in peruThe Religion
The population of Peru is predominantly Roman Catholic due to their Spanish colonial history. Other religions such as Buddhism and Baha’I have established themselves due to the influx of migrants from the East. Modern day missionary works have resulted in various Christian denominations such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Lutherans, and others taking root in Peru society.

lima slumsRole of Family
Family structure is distinct in the indigenous culture and the European people of Peru. Among the Inca people, for instance, social duties such as work, marriage, and property ownership are focussed within the members of a large extended family. They perform as a unit with the onus being on interdependence rather than individuality. Among the European Creole culture, the values are more along the lines of the modern nuclear family living in the cities.

Ancestors are revered and worshipped by all indigenous people. Burial grounds are held as sacred grounds and elaborate rituals are held in remembrance of ancestors. Respect for the dead and all of life is an integral part of their beliefs that are based on the need to assure enqa, or the eternal life force, that ensures fertility and harmony.

ancient peru maskRecreational Activities
Football (Soccer) is a national passion enjoyed by all ages. The dramatic landscape of Peru naturally encourages outdoor sports such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, white water rafting, surfing, paragliding, and sandboarding.

Anything else important for this culture
The culture of Peru dates back 10,000 years and is still rooted in it to a large extent. This is a vibrant society that celebrates about 3000 festivals a year and has a huge variety of indigenous arts, crafts, music, and dance. Spanish colonisation and Asian immigrants have added elements to this ancient culture that give it a universal appeal. It is wise to avoid discussing ancestry with people, especially with indigenous Indians.

 schoolgirl in peru
photo by tinou bao


Meetings & Greetings
Handshakes are an acceptable form of greeting; however, there is a difference when greeting an Amerindian and a Peruvian. The former are less extroverted and may not actually shake hands but rather brush hands with minimum of contact. Peruvians are more exuberant in their greetings and shake hands on meeting and taking leave. The common form of greeting is a cheerful Buenos dias (good day), buenas tardes (good afternoon) or buenas noches (good night) depending on time of day. Conversation on first meeting should hover around light, non-controversial topics such as health of family, the sights you’ve enjoyed seeing, or food you liked particularly.

smiling woman in peruCourtesy
In a country that has various cultures there are many local names for the different cultural groups that may have connotations not obvious to the outsider. For instance, the word indios refers to Amerindians but is not considered as polite as indigenas which is the acceptable form. Gringos denote any foreigner and need not be considered an insult. Cholos refers to Peruvians of colour but is racist. To be on the safe side refrain from using any of this sort of descriptions to address people or refer to anyone.

Gift Giving
Peruvians are very friendly hospitable people and have no qualms inviting friends to their homes. If you receive such an invitation, it is acceptable to arrive with a gift. This gift should not be too expensive or flashy. Rather than going for local fare it would be a better idea to gift some souvenir or packaged goodies from your own country.

Dress Code
Dress code hovers around neat casual for business and formal occasions. Show of skin is considered unclassy, especially when visiting churches, museums, and other sacred or historical places.

peruvian train
photo by  exfordy

Dining Etiquette
If you’re invited to dinner, it’s wise to remember that this could be rather late. Have a little snack to prevent hunger pangs till meal time gets underway. If you initiate an invitation to dinner, it is your turn to pick up tabs. If on the other hand you have been invited by a Peruvian friend, you could offer to pay your share but this would inevitably be turned down.

Visiting a home
When visiting a home it is proper to arrive with a suitable gift. This could be a box of chocolates or a good bottle of wine. Punctuality is not a virtue in Peru and people may be late by a better part of an hour. So be prepared to dine late.

 peru town square
photo by 00dann

Communication Style
Spanish is widely spoken and so it would be helpful to learn a bit of useful phrases to get you through. Use greetings to break the ice an start conversations. Peruvians are very friendly and helpful and any effort you make at conversing will be appreciated and encouraged.

Dos and Don’ts
Do not discuss politics, drugs, or indigenous groups unless you have developed close relationships or understand the culture. You are bound to cause offense without even realizing it if not. Amerindians do not make eye contact when communicating unlike the less reserved Peruvians. Do not use your index finger to motion to people, rather use your palm facing downwards and beckon with all fingers sweeping down. Do not discuss money, wages, financial prowess or status with locals. If faced with such questions deflect them diplomatically and talk in general terms.

kids with lamas by Phillie Casablanca
slums by James Preston
map by  thejourney1972
dancers by  Miguel Vera
smiling woman by quinet
market girls tinou bao
mask by

Dance: A Language of Worship and Love in Bali

by Heather Carr |

Asia, Bali, Contextualization in Missions, Indonesia, Oceania

bali dancers

Trace the roots of dance in worship and you will find some of the most beloved characters of the bible. David danced in the streets at the recovery of the ark of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14-16). Miriam, after narrowly escaping Pharaoh’s wrath, rejoiced at the freedom of her people with song and dance (Exodus 15:20). Today God’s people still rejoice through dance at his mighty power and love.

The people of Bali have found new ways to interpret the traditional dance that permeates their culture. Balinese dance is not just an art of graceful movement, but also a means of communicating a rich message. Gestures of the body convey ideas and emotions. The Christian community of Bali has transformed these age-old methods into an expression of devotion to God. Each part of the body is symbolic of a different thought or idea. The thumb, which traditionally stood for wisdom, is now a symbol of God’s wisdom and providence. The ring finger, once understood as beauty, is now interpreted as God’s grace. The pinkie, historically symbolic of trust, now represents God’s faithfulness and eternal life.

Body parts are not the only means of interpreting Balinese dance. The movements themselves also hold meaning. Symmetrical movements once stood for the balance between good and evil. Now when the Christian Balinese move in graceful symmetry, it is understood as God’s justice and mercy, judgment and grace. Psalm 150 bids us to praise him with tambourine and dancing.

Click the video below to see one of the many traditional Balinese dances.

William Carey – More than just a Shoemaker

by Stephanie Colman |

Famous Missionaries

william carey shoemakerWould you believe it possible for a shoemaker to become a missionary and Bible translator? God has a plan for each of His children, and once we give over our lives to Him miraculous things can happen in His name.

William Carey was born in England in 1761 to a weaver’s family. He became a shoemaker’s apprentice, then a schoolmaster, and then a Baptist pastor. By age 21 he had mastered the languages of Latin, Italian, Hebrew, and Greek all the while practicing his trade of shoemaker and also pastor.

William Carey believed that “If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel … then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations.” William Carey surrendered to missions with the cry of, “Here am I; send me!” One of the biggest problems that he faced was getting to the missions field as there were no missionary societies or even much interest in missions at all at the time.

The Enquiry Into the Obligations of the Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen was written by William Carey and is considered to by many to be a masterpiece on missions. In 1792 he and a group of fellow missions minded people were successful in beginning a missionary society – the Baptist Missionary Society. This society then allowed William Carey to begin his foreign missionary career to India in 1793.

William Carey spent 41 years on the mission field in India where he saw many conversions for Christ. He ended up translating the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages and dialects, and he is known as the “father of modern missions.” His most famous quote by far is:

“Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”

If we all had but a fraction of the desire to reach the lost that William Carey had, then imagine the difference that could be made towards reaching the lost!

Photo by  jjpv2000

Mission Trip Impossible: Dumb Excuse #3-Comfort

by Lori McCarthy |

Should I Go?

confessions of a shopaholic“No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to fit my 99 pairs of shoes in my suitcase.”

Translation: “I can’t leave behind all of the comforts of home.”

Did you know that those of us that earn an average of at least $25,000 a year fall into the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world? You just have to hit $47,000 to be in the top 1%. Yet as wealthy of a nation as we are, we still find plenty of reasons to gripe about our economy. Could it be that we’ve lived so comfortably for so long now that we’ve actually grown quite spoiled?

We’ve also become quite the experts at coming up with excuses for why we’re not able to venture out of our own comfort zones. This is especially true when it comes to making up excuses for why we can’t venture away from the comforts of our own home in order to go on a mission trip. Take these common excuses, for example:

“I can’t live without my blow dryer.”

“I couldn’t go that long without watching television.”

“I like taking hot baths too much.”

The very nature of being a true Christian means that we must be willing to pick up our cross daily and follow him. Isn’t that exactly what we’ve been called to do in order to fulfill the Great Commission?

Jesus was willing to give up everything just to save one lost soul. Are you?

If so, then congratulations! You’ve just conquered lame excuse #3.


Photo by  SassyPanda!

Mission Trip Impossible: Dumb Excuse #2-Inadequacy

by Lori McCarthy |

Planning to Go, Should I Go?, Spiritual Issues

Dunce Cap“Like Moses, I’m afraid I might stutter.”

Translation: “I’m a bumbling idiot! I’m shy, I’m incompetent, I’m afraid to talk to people, and I’m afraid I might embarrass you.”

Just like Moses, we can try all we want to convince God that we aren’t the best candidate for the job, but let’s face it. God knows better. If God already knows everything about us, then it’s not like he’s surprised by any personal weaknesses or limitations we might have. In essence, what we’re really trying to do is talk God out of sending us, isn’t it? It’s as if we’re saying, “You’ve got it all wrong, God. I’m much too (fill in the blank). Are you sure you don’t want to send someone else more qualified for the job?”

Fortunately, that didn’t work back in Moses’ day, and it won’t work for you or me today either.

Can’t you hear Moses now?

“But God, I’m not an eloquent speaker! I’m much too slow of speech and tongue. Please send someone else to do it.”

And what was God’s response?

“Go, and take your brother, Aaron, with you, and he will do all of the speaking for you.”

It’s pretty clear. God already knows in advance whether we’re equipped to handle the job or not. Otherwise he wouldn’t ask us. Besides, whatever areas we might be lacking in, God is more than able to fill in the gaps for us. Hence we must conclude that excuse #2 is ultimately irrelevant.


Photo by  Elizabeth Welsh

Mission Trip Impossible: Dumb Excuse #1-Flaws

by Lori McCarthy |

Planning to Go, Should I Go?, Spiritual Issues

mirror reflectionExcuse #1: “I’m afraid I might miss out on my monthly auto-shipment of Proactive.”

Translation: “I have flaws. Therefore, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be considered perfect enough to become an ambassador for Christ.”

So what’s your excuse? Instead of acne, yours might be, “I’m too short,” “I’m too fat,” “I’m too old,” “I’m too young,” or “I just don’t fit in.”

Most of us can relate to having feelings of inadequacy about certain real or perceived flaws and imperfections which we see in ourselves. So whether it’s the battle of the bulge or our battle is with blemishes, we’re all essentially fighting the same battle. If we allow ourselves to give in to an inferiority complex we begin to believe the lie that we aren’t meant to be Christ’s ambassadors.

However, Isaiah 53:2-3 tells us, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (NIV)

Yet in verse 5 it says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (NIV)

The truth is that even Jesus didn’t look the part of an ambassador, and certainly not a Savior! If God didn’t expect Jesus to look perfect, then he doesn’t expect us to appear perfect either. Hence we have just exposed excuse #1 as an untruth which means it no longer has any control over our lives.


Photo by notsogoodphotography

Mission Trip Impossible: Top 10 Dumbest Excuses Not to Go

by Lori McCarthy |

Planning to Go, Should I Go?

Top Ten SymbolI’ve been a Christian for almost 34 years now, so at one time or another I think I’ve made up every dumb excuse in the book why I couldn’t possibly go on a mission trip. Today I’m hoping to give up the struggle, to finally lay down all of my excuses and completely surrender to His will.

Perhaps like me you’ve been struggling to make up your own mind about whether to join the mission field. If you’re still sitting on the fence about going on a particular mission trip, you’ll definitely want to read over my list of “Top 10 of the Dumbest Excuses Ever Not To Go on a Mission Trip.” Your mission then, should you decide to accept it, is to see whether you recognize yourself somewhere in the mix and discover the real reason behind your unwillingness to “Go!” Ready?

  1. I might miss my monthly auto-shipment of Proactive.
  2. Like Moses, I’m afraid I might stutter.
  3. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to fit my 99 pairs of shoes in my suitcase.
  4. I don’t have anyone to babysit my pet goldfish while I’m gone.
  5. I can’t give up the 4 packs of cigarettes I smoke every day.
  6. I spent all of my money on the latest pyramid scheme.
  7. I can’t take my pregnant teenager with me.
  8. My BFF won’t have anyone to watch the Bachelorette with.
  9. I’m afraid that I might wake up with a witch’s crossbone in my nose.
  10. I’m a loser, and no one would want me to go anyways.

Tune in for more on each excuse starting later this week…

Photo by psd

Rwanda: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Africa, Cultural Sensitivity, Rwanda


Beautiful African Road
Photo by d_proffer

Location: Central Africa; bordered by Burundi in the South, Uganda in the North, Tanzania in the East, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West.

Map of RwandaCapital: Kigali

 Climate: Surprisingly cool due to the high altitude. Hot in summer, with two rainy seasons

Population: 9,907,509 according to 2007 estimates. The economy of the land is mainly agriculture based, but the ethnic massacre of 1994 took a massive toll. Lately extraction of natural gas and other industry have given a boost to the flagging economy. With generous amounts of international aid and privatization programs there is a 6% annual growth which bodes well for the future of the country.

Boys in RwandaEthnic Make-up: Hutu 85%, Tutsi 14%, Twa 1% Religions: Christians (Roman Catholic) 70%, Muslim minority 5%, Indigenous 25%

Language: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili used for trade and commerce

Government: Republic

Travel Issues: A valid visa is required for travel to Rwanda by all visitors except nationals of Tanzania, Uganda, and the U.S. for up to 3 months stay. A completed application form, along with a valid passport, 2 passport-sized photos, statement of reason for visit, and visa fee is to be submitted to the Consulate in your country. You can extend your visa at the Immigration office in Kigali.

Skulls in RwandaHealth & Safety: Immunization against Yellow fever is mandatory. Cholera, Typhoid, Polio, Malaria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B vaccinations are strongly recommended. If you plan to visit rural and forest areas and may come into contact with wildlife, a rabies shot is advised. Clean water is scarce and water for all use from brushing teeth to drinking should be boiled or bottled. Avoid swimming in fresh water to prevent Bilharzia, which is the case of miniscule worms entering your body through the skin. Other risks include Trypanosomisasis (sleeping sickness), onchocerciasis (river blindness), and meningococcal meningitis. Be warned that in the event of an emergency, medical facilities are limited. Border areas, especially the one with the Democratic Republic of Congo, are said to be dangerous and any travel outside of the capital, Kigali, is best avoided.

smoke on the mountains africa 
Photo by d_proffer


boys in rwandaThe People: The Hutus are the majority population and are mostly an agrarian community. Each family cultivates its own land and live on it. They do not form communities but live apart. Rwandans are known for their soft-spoken nature and polite mannerisms.

The Religion: Christianity is the major religion in Rwanda, with a large Roman Catholic following. Their worship is however tinged with their traditional beliefs and rituals. About a quarter of the population are animist, in that they do not worship any deity, but believe that there is a soul in all things, including animals, plants and other entities.

Rwanda Gorilla ParkRole of Family: Traditionally, the families are patrilineal. There is a great degree of reverential fear for the older generation who take control of the whole extended family. The oldest male has the last word and is seen as closest to the ancestors. Children belong to the whole family and are brought up as such. Paternal uncles are referred to as “the other fathers.”

Ancestors: Rwandans have great respect for their ancestors and consider them the link between God and the living. They worship their ancestors and propitiate them with sacrifices and prayers.

Recreational Activities: Wildlife safaris are a favorite recreational activity. Next in line of popularity is mountain climbing. In the rural areas youngsters have a passion for athletics and football. Traditional singing and dancing are part of routine life and taken part by all ages with gusto.

 Rwandan Children
Photo by genvessel


Rwanda BicycleMeetings & Greetings: In business circles, a firm handshake is the accepted norm of greeting. When meeting the opposite gender, a slight bow with a courteous Good morning should suffice. Small talk should pave the way for what’s to follow. When in doubt, take your cues from your host. Do not expect Western-style expansiveness and casual body language.

Courtesy: Normal social courtesies should see you through comfortably. Keep your voice levels low and your movements slow and dignified. Eye contact between males is a sign of confidence.

African BusGift Giving: Though there is no gift giving concept, it may be considered courteous to carry a simple gift when visiting a family. If involved in business deals, learn to distinguish between gift and bribe.

Dress Code: If on business, it is advisable to wear a lightweight suit and tie. Appointments should be made well in advance and confirmed closer to the date. Some French may help you get ahead, as most Rwandians do not speak English. Women should preferable be well-covered with shoulders, arms, and legs appropriately covered.

boy in central africaDining Etiquette: In cities like Kigali, dining at restaurants may not involve anything more than normal table manners. For other situations, take your cue from your host. While there are no rigid rules or formalities, you would need to tread with caution if dining with an elder.

Visiting a home: If invited to a home, arrive with a simple gift of chocolates, fruits or some toys for children. Chances are your host will have simple circumstances that he is eager to share with you. Show adequate enthusiasm and appreciation by sharing a meal with the family.

Communication Style: A simple, direct mode of communication should see you safely through. Do not engage in arguments or unnecessary comparisons that will hurt the sentiments of your host. Rwandians can be quite emotional and can easily be agitated by unwarranted condescension. It is best to keep things simple and uncomplicated.

Dos and Don’ts: However close you feel to your host, do not bring up contentious topics such as politics or religion. The society is heavily patriarchal and there is no concept of women being treated anywhere near as equal as men. Therefore, a single woman attempting discussions or meetings will not be taken seriously unless accompanied by a male.

downtown kigali
Photo by d_proffer

Skulls, Gorilla sign, Bicycle, and Bus photos by d_proffer
3 boys by loufi
Two closeup boys by genvessel
Smiling Boy by TKnoxB

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