Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Interview with a Missionary: Linda Ables

by Heather Carr |

Stories from the Field

8-27-2009 12-42-30 PMLinda Ables and her husband, Ed, are veteran missionaries with more than 30 years of experience spreading the gospel in Latin America and among the Hispanic community in the United States.  Linda took the time to share some of her experiences and wisdom with us.  Here is what she had to say:

How did you come to the decision to become a missionary?

God called me at age 15 through study of missions in girls’ organizations in church, where my dad was pastor.

In what country / region did you serve?

South America, first, 1 year in Costa Rica for language school, and then in Ecuador (15 years) and Argentina (9 years).

What is God doing there?

In the Andean regions of Ecuador, believers are thriving and churches growing in spite of continued opposition.

What is the social climate like?

There is much poverty and need for education and medical care.

What are some effective ways to evangelize in this culture?

Showing God’s love through ministries to help families, such as clinics to give basic medical advice to mothers, etc.

In what ways has the native culture been integrated into worship services?

The Andean people sing in Quecha, their original language, instead of Spanish, and their typical instruments are used.

Please describe your most memorable experience as a missionary.

We were in Latin America as missionaries for 25 years. There were thousands of memorable experiences. Probably the best was starting a church in a new housing development in the largest city of Ecuador, Guayaquil, with all our family taking part and seeing the work grow from the six of us to a strong church of many hundreds by the time we left.

What is the most difficult hurdle you faced as a missionary?

Our family had difficulties with our two sons from the influence of Argentine culture with easy access to alcohol and drugs, even to young adolescents.

How did you overcome this obstacle?

We left in 1993 after we had been robbed and beaten in our home. We took a leave of absence so that our sons could have a more stable environment and complete their education.  Then we stayed in the U.S. to work in missions with Hispanics in the northeast area of Alabama.

What things should someone considering serving as a missionary consider?

Make sure God has called you, not just that you’d be interested in going to another country for any other reason.

Photo by Engage-toi

Iran:Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

Asia, Iran, Iran, Middle East, Regions

iran.small

FACTS & STATS

Location: Iran is located in the Middle East in Asia. It has the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to its north, Afghanistan to the east, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south, and Iraq to the west

Capital: Tehran.

Climate: Iran has an arid, subtropical climate.

ladiessmall

Photo by N_Creatures

Population: As of July 2009 the population of Iran is estimated to be 66,429, 284. About 18% of the population live under the poverty line, and there is an unemployment rate of about 12%. The Iranian economy is heavily dependant on the oil and petroleum industry. High oil prices have netted Iran nearly $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves. A 2008 estimate pegs the nations GDP at $842 billion.

small bldgEthnic Make-up: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, Others 1%.

Religions: Muslims constitute 98% of the population of which the Shia constitute 89% and the Sunni, about 9%. Other minority religions include Zoroastrian, Judaism, Christian, and Baha’i.

old manLanguage: Persian 58%, Turkic 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, Others 2%.

Government: Islamic Republic

Travel Issues: Travel to Iran calls for a valid passport, Iranian visa, tickets and documents showing return or onward travel. No vaccination is mandatory. Some nationals are eligible to receive a tourist visa for 7 days on arrival at Tehran airport.

Health & Safety: No vaccinations are required as part of travel to Iran. However, it would be advisable to be immunised against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Typhoid, Malaria, and Diphtheria. It would also be a good idea to inquire at the local consulate regarding any attacks of virulent flu that may be prevalent at the time of travel and take precautions accordingly.

hamed2
Photo by Hamed Saber

SOCIETY & CULTURE

The People
The Iranian people are friendly and hospitable but extremely conservative in their ways of interaction. They belong to an ancient culture and hold deep-rooted customs and attitudes that foreigners need to inform themselves about in order to understand and appreciate them better. They are a multicultural society including minorities such as Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds, and Baluchs who have their own unique traditions and customs dating back thousands of years.

n6
Photo by N_Creatures

The Religion
girl in iranThe official religion of Iran as per the Constitution is Islam. Zoroastrian, Judaism, and Christianity are recognised as minority religions and may be practised by adherents. Religions other than those officially recognised, such as the Baha’i, are not allowed freedom of practice and may face persecution. Evangelisation is considered illegal.

carpetRole of Family
Extended family is the norm outside of the big cities of Iran. Nuclear families are still the exception even in the cities. Kinship and family ties are attributed the highest importance. The individual is dependant on the family for identity as well as power, position, and security. There is a definite hierarchy with the oldest male patriarch at the head down to the women and children.

Ancestors
Ancestors are looked upon with a lot of reverence in Iran. Their memory is held sacred and seen as a source of identity and belonging. Often families are able to trace their lineage to historic times.

money1Recreational Activities
Games like chess and similar board games are enjoyed by the older generation. Football is a passion among the younger crowd. Traditional games include camel racing and desert safaris.

Anything else important for this culture
Life in Iran is governed by Islamic law called the Sharia. There are strict codes to follow as far as dress, behaviour, and travel are concerned. Rules are far stricter for women than for men, especially in areas outside the cities. Women should avoid travelling alone and be very discreet when travelling with men who are not their legal husbands. Hotels may demand a marriage certificate before allocating a room for couples.

family
Photo by Hamed Saber

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings
A handshake is an accepted form of greeting between men. Iranians greet each other by hugging three times on alternate shoulders accompanied by kisses on the cheek. Women greet each other similarly. When it comes to the opposite gender, conservative Iranians do not make eye contact or shake hands but keep a discreet distance. A slight bow to each other is then the accepted form of greeting.

ham3
Photo by Hamed Saber

Courtesy
smokerDo not attempt to make eye contact with people, especially of the opposite sex. During the month of Ramadan, it is common courtesy to not indulge in merry making or loud talking as the Muslims will be in a state of prayer and fasting all day long. Even chewing gum in their presence will be considered inappropriate.

Gift Giving
An ideal gift to carry if invited to an Iranian home would be a box of chocolates, or pastry, or flowers. This should be offered discreetly or left behind unobtrusively. Gifts are not opened when given and will be quietly laid aside. On Iranian New Year, Nau Roz, money in the form of new notes and gold coins are handed out by elders to those in their service.

sheepDress Code
The dress code for men in formal situations would be a jacket or coat. Full sleeved shirts and trousers are acceptable in warm temperatures. Women may wear trousers and long skirts that go below knee level and preferably reach the ankles. If visiting religious sites, women are advised to wear the traditional full length clothing known as the chador. A head scarf is advised at all times.

Dining Etiquette
Dining may either be at a table with cutlery and utensils or on a lush carpet amidst cushions with bare hands. Always wait to be seated as there is an order of seating based on a social hierarchy. Iranians are known for their hospitality and this shown by the large servings of a huge array of dishes. The guest is expected to eat a bit of everything and will be offered second and even third helpings. Your refusal will be taken for sheer good manners and so it is best to leave a little food on the plate to show you have had enough.

old manVisiting a home
If invited to an Iranian home always arrive on time. Invitations may not include spouse or partners and this must be confirmed beforehand. Take footwear off at the entrance to the house and enter barefooted unless asked not to. When invited to eat or drink, it is customary to decline politely till the host presses you to accept.

Communication Style
Communicating with Iranians can be tricky because they will not say a direct No even if they have no intention of complying with your request. A direct refusal is considered rude. Similarly they will show a lot of humility and pay compliments which should not be taken at face value as they are just being polite even if they are annoyed. This is known as the taarof and is part of treating guests with honour and kindness.

2 ladies
Photo by N_Creatures

Dos and Don’ts
Travelers who have visited Israel may be denied entry into Iran. Women applying for a visa should be photographed wearing a headscarf in their passport photos. Drug use and trafficking may be punished by execution. Alcohol and pork products are banned absolutely. Public display of affection and even holding hands is frowned upon. Homosexuality, pornography, and adultery are illegal and may entail the death sentence. The thumbs up sign is considered obscene.

ncreat3
Photo by N_Creatures

adobe home, family by carpet, smokers, old man by N_Creatures

iran girl, old man, sheep by babeltravel

Featured Twitter Missionary 8/20/09

by Melissa Chang |

Asia, Missions Twitter, Thailand

thai2

We at MissionsLaunch like to let you know what’s being tweeted about in the world of Twitter surrounding missions. This week our theme is “Tweets from the Field.” We have especially been enjoying the tweets of dahlrfred who is a missionary living in Thailand. Read and enjoy. Also, be sure to follow dahlfred on Twitter. Happy Friday!

——————————————-

dahlfred: communing with nature in Thailand: a foolish toad almost got squished by hiding out in my shoe for the second night in a row

dahlfred: Redland Parish UK short term team headed home tomorrow. Thankful to God for their helpfulness, flexibility, and desire to learn.

dahlfred: forcing myself to sit down and do more Thai language study. Self-discipline doesn’t come easily for me

dahlfred: as we ate, our 3 yr old points to a huge floral display in the restaurant and asks, “Is that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”

dahlfred: RT @martenvissereng: The suffering of missionaries is part of God’s plan to build his Kingdom (see Col.1:24).

dahlfred: Contextualization is not about making people comfortable, but about making the Gospel clear, doing away w/ obstacles that obscure the Gospel

dahlfred: nearly 500 John’s Gospels handed out at market by Thai Christian Students in Lopburi, as part of open air evangelism. Completely Thai run.

dahlfred: @martenvissereng Our message is forgiveness of sins but many in Thailand seem to preach a message of “Our God blesses better than yours”

dahlfred: Rain stopped. Take UK team for kids club in NongDoan then join up with Thai Christian Students in Lopburi for open air evangelism at market

dahlfred: learned that Thai equivalent of “shoot yourself in the foot” is “knock over your own rice pot” (?????????????????)

dahlfred: nothing distictively Christian about guest preacher’s sermon today. Muslim could have easily preached the same thing. Completely moralistic

dahlfred: Thailand grows massive insects. Unwittingly let one in. Almost got me in the face as I tried to drive him out. Monster Cricket: 1, Karl:0

dahlfred: glad for opportunity to preach God’s Word yesterday. Humbled by feedback that my Thai pronunciation was difficult to understand at times

dahlfred: driving out to Nong Doan to teach chronological Bible study then English teaching & Bible story at the elementary school in the afternoon

dahlfred: found a baby snake in Joshua’s room. About 1.5 inches long. Scooped it up in the dustpan and threw it outside.

dahlfred: “I have found there are 3 stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” Hudson Taylor

Photo by zoutedrop

The Need for Missionaries: Video

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Missions Quotes, Should I Go?

I was on Twitter the other day, and saw a post that led me to this very cool video about the needs around the world for missionaries. The video is from Tears of the Saints. I found it on a blog called Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor. It starts out with a short clip from a sermon and then goes into a powerful music video. It has some really beautiful footage from India and around the world. Did you know that there are only 100,000 missionaries in the world?

Famous Missionary: Hudson Taylor

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries

dsonHudson Taylor was an amazing missionary to China. He was what you call an “all or nothing” type of a guy. When he went to China, he wanted to fit in so badly that he adopted Chinese dress, dyed his hair, and even wore a ponytail. Also, to prove his faith in God’s provision, he determined not to take a salary and never to ask for money. He believed that he should just put his trust completely in God. One of his favorite sayings was

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

As a kid, Hudson was raised as a Christian but totally gave up his faith until he was 17. After that, he was all in. Once during church, he got so mad that everyone was singing happily about their salvation while so many were perishing that he walked right out of the service.

By the end of Hudson’s life, he was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the China which directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions.

So… what do you think God might have in store for YOUR future?

To read more visit http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3hudsoneu.htm, or purchase his biography at Amazon.com.

Photo by Bug-a-Lug (“,)

Millions of Muslims Turning to Christ

by Carol Grace |

Facts and Stats

fkiwer

More Muslims have converted to faith in Jesus Christ over the past decade than at any other time in human history. 

In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Al-Jazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. “In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity,” Al Qataani warned. “Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” 

Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. “Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?” Al Qataani repeated his assertion. “Every year,” the cleric confirmed, adding, “a tragedy has happened.”

Chuck Colson says, “It is possible the sheikh was inflating his numbers to incite a reaction against Christianity. But clearly, something is happening.”

One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims — including Shiites in Iran and Iraq — are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus.

Stats

Most of these are from Joel C. Rosenberg’s book Epicenter, quoted by Chuck Colson, and from the website Islam Watch.

Afghanistan: There were only 17 Christians from Islam in Afghanistan in 2001. But there are more than 10,000 believers at present. Every week dozens of baptisms being held there.

Kazakhstan: In 1990, there were only three known Christians in Kazakhstan but now there are more than 15,000..

Uzbekistan: In 1990, there were no known Christians in Uzbekistan, and now there are more then 30,000.

Iraq: More than 5,000 Muslim converts to Christianity have been identified since the end of major combat operations, according to Islam Watch, with 14 new churches opened in Baghdad, and dozens of new churches opened in Kurdistan, some of which have 500 to 800 members. Also, more than one million Bibles shipped into the country since 2003, and pastors report Iraqis are snatching them up so fast they constantly need more Bibles.

Egypt: Around a million believed in Jesus over the past decade in Egypt. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s and now they have sold 600,000.

Iran: There were only 500 Christians in Iran on 1979, but today, interviews with over two dozen Iranian pastors and church leaders reveals that there are at least 100,000 and possibly many many more, most of whom meet in underground house churches. 

Sudan:  More than one million have converted since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s. 

India: More than 10,000 Muslims accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour throughout India during the last year.

Russia: According to the website Islam Watch, in Russia, some two million ethnicMuslims converted to Christianity last year.

Turkey: 35,000 Muslims accepted Jesus.

Algeria:  More than 80,000 Muslims have turned to Christ in recent years.

Morocco: Newspaper articles openly worry that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

France: 10,000 French Muslims have come to accept Jesus.

These countries aren’t necessarily Muslim, but we thought you might find the information equally of interest.

China: Missions researcher David Barrett says the country with the most rapid Christian expansion ever is China where there are 10,000 new Christian converts every day.

North Korea: Open Doors sources in North Korea estimate that there are 40,000-60,000 Christians in the country.

Mongolia: In 1989 there were only 4 known Christians living in Mongolia. Now there are an estimated 10,000

Photo by mmcdonnell

Are you kidding me? Real Life Stats about Missions

by Carol Grace |

Facts and Stats, Strategy

scream2
Photo by maveric2003

This article the direct result of my interaction with a close Christian friend yesterday. Now, what you need to know is that this friend is REALLY into God. Really. She goes to church every Sunday, is totally into Christian concerts and Bible studies and she prays intently. She is totally IN. And, she is quite a delightful person. But we got in this conversation where I happened to throw out a stat about the unreached. 

Her response: “You’re kidding right? I thought everyone’s already heard the gospel haven’t they?”

My mouth must have practically hit the floor. Not only did she have no idea that there were unreached peoples in the world, but I had no idea there were Christians who didn’t know that. AND, she is my friend. I mean, I go on numerous missions trip and am totally into this whole thing.  How could she have not known?  How could I have not mentioned this before?  Anyway, right then and there I knew I had to post a blog about the real stats that are out there. I mean, I have seen, in person, people across the world who looked at me with a blank stare as I first mentioned the name of Jesus, so I know they exist. But I guess not everyone realizes it.

So, here they are, the real life stats. These are from a very reputable organization that researches these types of things and which has members and contributors that are active in leading the Perspectives courses.

(Stats are from the World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett & Todd Johnson. “The summary and analysis of the annual Christian mega-census.”) Thanks to Fellowship of Martyrs for posting these. For more stats and details, check out these links: Status of Global Mission, AD 2006, In Context of 20th and 21st Cent , Looking Forward: An Overview of World Evangelization, 2005-2025

Ok, without further ado…

World Christian Trends: Stats and Facts

Unreached Peoples

  • About 25% of the world is completely unreached and unevangelized: 1.6 Billion people.
  • Despite Christ’s command to evangelize, 67% of all humans from AD 30 to the present day have never even heard of his name.
  • There are thousands of language groups who do not have a SINGLE page of the Bible in their language.
  • 70% of Christians have never been told about world’s 1.6 billion unevangelized individuals.  

Missions and the Church

  • Percent of Christian resources in countries that are already more than 60% Christian – 91%. Percent spent in countries where less than half the people have EVER heard of Jesus – 0.03%.  
  • 40% of the church’s entire global foreign mission resources are being deployed to just 10 countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.
  • 91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target unevangelized countries, but countries that are already 95% evangelized.
  • 818 unevangelized peoples have never been targeted by any Christian agencies ever.

Spending by the Church

  • Less than 1% of Christian revenue is spent on evangelism to the unevengelized peoples.  
  • Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($810 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world.
  • Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide.  Embezzling from the Church –   $16 Billion per year.
  • Total Christian spending on foreign missions – $15 Billion.

Persecution of the Church

  • More than 70% of all Christians now live in countries where they are experiencing persecution. In some cases, extreme persecution.
  • 14 million converted Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims have opted to remain within those religions in order to witness for Christ as active believers in Jesus as Lord.

Martyrdom

  • Over the last 20 centuries, and in all 238 countries, more than 70 million Christians have been martyred – killed, executed, murdered – for Christ.  
  • More Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than all years since AD 30 combined.

 

To bring home the facts even more, here are a couple of graphs from the Joshua Project and Operation World.

 

graph1

The first image shows the lack of missionaries in the world where they are most unreached and unevangelized.

graph3

The second image also shows the disproportionate amount of missionary activity to Christians versus the unevangelized.

 

Romans 10:14-15
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

 

We would love to hear your comments…

Susana’s Story-Finding Christ in the Amazon: Part 3

by Heather Carr |

Peru, South America, Stories from the Field

amazon river view

Larry Garman and his wife, Addie served in the Amazon jungle of Peru for 45 years. They ministered to the Aguaruna Indians by providing for their medical needs and teaching them about the love of Christ. Larry’s time was also spent training missionaries.

One day, as a new class of missionaries gathered for their first session, Larry asked his students to introduce themselves. One of his new missionaries was a young Aguaruna man from a village near the medical clinic where Larry had ministered for many years.  That day, God shared with Larry a glimpse of the masterpiece he had been helping to paint in the Amazon for so long. Larry’s pupil was Susana’s son, a young man who wanted to be trained as a minister.

God had spared Susana’s life in Larry’s clinic. His mercy was evident in Susana’s recovery and his provision for her family. Susana recovered and raised her children with a strong faith in Jesus. In turn, her son grew into a man with a heart for spreading the gospel.

As a missionary, only God knows the extent of the impact your faith will have on the world. But, you will almost certainly catch a glimpse of God in action.

Photo by mattcameasarat

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 2 Here

——————————————

Larry and Addie Garman retired from the missions field in April, 2009. The couple’s work lives on in Peru through the construction of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center in the country’s second largest city, Arequipa. 

To learn more about the center, visit the Extreme Nazarene Ministry website.  Additional information about the Extreme Peru projects are featured in Engage Magazine.

Susana’s Story-Finding Christ in the Amazon: Part 2

by Heather Carr |

Peru, South America, Stories from the Field

amazon
Photo by zedzap

Though he was trained as a medical doctor, missionary Larry Garman knew his limitations. When ingested, the barbasco root was fatal to humans which, was something the Aguaruna Indians of the Amazon had known for a long time. he women of the community chewed the root when they were overwhelmed by sorrow or shame.

Larry had seen the hope in Susana’s eyes when she attended their small church. He had watched her grow from a child into adulthood. Why would a young mother with such promise have done this to herself? Better still, would God be willing to save her?

Larry treated Susana to the best of his ability, then he began to pray. He asked God for a miracle—Susana’s complete restoration. Then, he waited on God.

Larry was accustomed to waiting. His life as a missionary was one of complete dependance on God’s provision. When he first began his small clinic in the jungle of Peru, his faith had been tested. Modern medicine was foreign to the Aguaruna people, and their customs were not particularly friendly to the practitioner.

Larry knew he could help her, but there was a chance the treatment would not work. If it didn’t, she would not be the only one to suffer the consequences. If his patient died, Larry would also die at the hands of her village. Hesitating for a moment, the young missionary thought of his wife and children. Then, after raising a prayer to heaven, he plunged the needle into Susanna’s arm and began the lifesaving IV.

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 3 Here

—————————-

Larry and Addie Garman retired from the missions field in April, 2009. The couple’s work lives on in Peru through the construction of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center in the country’s second largest city, Arequipa. To learn more about the center, visit the Extreme Nazarene Ministry website. Additional information about the Extreme Peru projects are featured in Engage Magazine.

© Missions Launch. All rights reserved.