The Business of Mission

 

Joann Adebisi was born into a Muslim family in Nigeria. Her father had six wives, and Joann had a difficult time because of the jealousy of her father’s other wives, especially when she did something well and the other wives came down hard on her. But her father  showed special attention to the bright, energetic daughter who often sacrificed for him, to show how much she loved him.  He was especially proud of the way the girl grew in her commitment to Islam, getting to the mosque early in the morning, the only child among the adults.  But, as an adult, she had a change of heart. 

Struggling with a serious illness, unable to find peace in the faith into which she was born, Joann looked to Jesus. She saw a contentment in her Christian co-workers she wanted for herself.  Breaking with her family, she found the consolation she needed in the Christian God. The power she received in worship propelled her to tell people where she worked, Lufthansa Airlines, about her new found joy, worshipping a God she knew loved her. She did not always receive a positive response.

Joann’s husband was the mayor of their town in Nigeria, but the political situation in Nigeria deteriorated; political attacks forced him to send Joann and their children away – finally finding safety in the United States.   

Back at her former job with Lufthansa, but now in America, Joann made friends with an older co-worker, a Muslim man from Pakistan. They became good friends, until she revealed she had been a Muslim but had converted to Christianity. Joann says the Pakistani man was stunned into silence. When he did find his words, he glared at her through threatening eyes and said: “You know, I should kill you.”  But there were more positive responses. Joann takes her message to the marketplace, to her business, and to immigrant children in her neighborhood. The young ones are often confused while trying to find their place in a new culture. They get into trouble at home and in school. She has a way with “troubled” children, having been one. Her neighbors, Christian and Muslim, see this and love her for it.

It is interesting and important to note that Jesus spent much of his ministry in the marketplace, with business people. Jesus Himself was taught a trade and was known not only as “the carpenter’s son” but also as, “the Carpenter.”  We see Him only a few times teaching in a synagogue or the Temple. That is true as well for the earliest Christian missionaries. They brought Christ into the everyday lives of people. In my opinion, many Christians in America have lost this kind of focus at their places of business.  “Do not talk about politics or religion.”

Luke shows us that Paul’s co-workers, Priscilla and Aquila,  were tentmakers,” as was Paul.(Acts 18:3).  This put them in contact with people who would never have come into a synagogue or entered the Temple.  It seems they did most of their mission work outside the formal religious areas. Priscilla and Aquila took their tent making business with Paul to Ephesus, and then to Rome – scattering the love of Jesus wherever they went.

The business of mission is to make disciples, more and more mature disciples of Jesus. Mission is done best when individual Christians are taking their witness to their places of business, to their neighborhoods, to their families. More will be won for Christ in that way than from all the sermons preached in all the churches.  

To see an short clip of the video interview with Joann Adebisi, click here.

To see the full video interview with Joann Adebisi, click here.

 

 

¿Cuántos milagros son necesarios para traer a un niño del sureste de Asia a Minnesota para que sea misionero?

 

Missionary to America, Rev. Vue Lee, King of Kings, Roseville, Mn.

Piense en lo siguiente: un niño nacido de padres animistas en un campo de refugiados en el sudeste de Asia termina siendo misionero en los Estados Unidos, en St. Paul, Minnesota.

Al quedar sola y temiendo por su supervivencia, la madre se dedicó a coser. Pero lo que ganaba no era suficiente para alimentar al pequeño Vue y sus tres hermanos, por lo que tuvieron que pedir asistencia social y vales para comida, y vivir en viviendas subvencionadas por el gobierno. Aun así, la familia Lee devolvió cada centavo del préstamo de $1500 con que habían comprado los pasajes para venir a los EE.UU.

Vue terminó la secundaria, pero no pudo ir a la universidad porque la familia necesitaba más ingresos. Para ayudar a su familia trabajó en tres lugares a la vez, hasta que McDonalds le ofreció el puesto de gerente en el restaurante en que estaba trabajando. 

A los dieciséis años, Vue se casó con una chica Hmong cristiana. Pero el acuerdo fue que ella debía seguir las tradiciones animistas de los Hmong. Se mudaron a San José y tuvieron hijos. Al comenzar a trabajar en una compañía telefónica, sus finanzas mejoraron. Pero surgió otro problema.

La esposa de Vue no podía cumplir su promesa de renunciar a la fe cristiana, por lo que regresó a su fe y quiso que sus hijos y esposo también lo hicieran. Esto causó conmoción en la familia. Al principio, Vue sospechó. Después de todo, como buen Hmong tradicional había aprendido a temer a los “espíritus” que infectaban al mundo, espíritus que siempre estaban buscando de engañar y arruinar a las personas.

Espíritus en los árboles, lagos y ríos, espíritus en el aire y en los animales. ¿Cómo podía permitir que su familia se uniera a una iglesia cristiana?

Por otro lado, respetaba a los cristianos. Le habían dicho que los cristianos tenían buenos valores morales, y sabía que sus hijos necesitaban una buena base moral. Además, cerca de su casa había una congregación cristiana Hmong. Así fue como llegó a probar la fe cristiana, comenzando a aprender lo que significa ser cristiano. Al principio se sentaba en el último banco de la iglesia, hasta que tomó en serio el Catecismo Menor de Lutero y su fe maduró. Luego se lanzó de lleno, siendo bautizado a los 23 años. La Biblia le hablaba a sus necesidades, y entre los cristianos encontró paz. Pasó a ser un diácono en su iglesia y pronto, junto con su familia, se sentaban ya en el primer banco. De niño había escapado de la guerra en Asia y ahora, de adulto, había escapado del mundo de esos espíritus celosos y demandantes.

En los años que siguieron, Vue Lee prosperó financieramente. Su esposa comenzó un pequeño negocio, compraron un auto nuevo y una casa grande. Todo iba bien, hasta que un día Vue sintió un dolor muy fuerte en la espalda. Pensó que quizás había hecho un mal movimiento o levantado algo demasiado pesado. O quizás los espíritus estaban enojados con él. No sabía qué le causaba ese dolor, aunque a veces suceden cosas que uno no puede explicar. Pero el dolor era tan debilitante, que no podía salir de su casa. Una operación mal hecha lo dejó inválido e incapaz de trabajar. Al no contar con el sueldo regular de Vue, la familia perdió todo: el auto, la casa, su orgullo. “Señor, ¿por qué?”

Después de seis meses de pelear con Dios en un desierto espiritual, Vue recordó una promesa que le había hecho a Dios. Algunos años antes había sentido el llamado a ser pastor, pero lo descartó. Aun así, siguió apareciendo. Todavía recordaba la oración que había hecho para alejarse de ese llamado: “Señor, si de alguna manera encuentras la forma de pagar todas mis deudas, iré al seminario.” En ese entonces parecía algo imposible. Pero ahora la casa y el auto se habían ido, ¡y con ellos las deudas! No era la estrategia que él tenía en mente, pero ciertamente ya no tenía excusa. ¿Qué iba a pensar su familia?

Primero lo habló con su esposa. Le dijo que su corazón ardía por convertirse en pastor. Su respuesta fue: “Pero yo no sirvo para esposa de pastor.” Estuvieron de acuerdo en orar sobre ello. Dos semanas más tarde, ella le dijo a Vue: “Esta mañana escuché una voz muy clara que me dijo con tanta claridad como el día: ‘Vende tu negocio y sigue a tu esposo.’” La respuesta de Vue fue: “Quizás no debas decirle esto a muchas personas; van a creer que estamos locos.”

Cuanto más oraron, más paz sintieron con respecto al llamado que Vue había recibido. En ningún momento dudaron, ni siquiera con respecto a mudarse tan lejos para que Vue fuera a la universidad en St. Paul, Minnesota. Estaban en paz, sabiendo que el Señor iba con ellos. Y así era.

La iglesia en California juntó $2400 para ayudarlos a mudarse a la Universidad Concordia en St. Paul. Iban a tener que hacer sacrificios, pero el apoyo de amigos y familiares, y especialmente el apoyo de Concordia, hizo posible que Vue comenzara a estudiar. La Universidad está ubicada en una comunidad multiétnica, y en St. Paul hay una población Hmong muy grande que iba a servir de apoyo a la familia. Luego de pagar por la mudanza, la familia Lee llegó a St. Paul con $400.

Vivieron en un apartamento en la universidad y un familiar Hmong les proveyó alimentos hasta que la Sra. Lee pudiera encontrar trabajo. Pero ¿quién la iba a emplear? Al poco tiempo de llegar, recibió una llamada sorpresa de una persona con una oferta de trabajo. “¿Cómo supo que necesitaba trabajo?” La persona le dijo que había visto su aplicación en Monster.com. “¡Pero eso lo hice haces dos años! Ya me había olvidado.”

Junto con otros dos estudiantes Hmong, Vue Lee comenzó una iglesia Hmong en el sótano de su apartamento, pero pronto ya no cabían más. Hoy adoran como parte de la Iglesia Luterana King of Kings. Luego de cuatro años de estudio, Vue se graduó de Concordia y continuó sus estudios en el EIIT (Instituto de Teología para Inmigrantes Étnicos), para ser ordenado. En la actualidad, sirve como misionero y pastor en la iglesia King of Kings.

No contentos con tener que estar todo el tiempo calmando los espíritus demandantes, dos chamanes se unieron a la iglesia cristiana de Vue. Los chamanes son “llamados” por los espíritus; uno no puede decidir ser chamán. Y cada chamán sirve un espíritu determinado. Estos espíritus deben ser aplacados constantemente para mantenerlos a favor de uno, porque si no pueden causar daño. Pero cada vez demandan más y más; nada es nunca suficiente. Estos dos chamanes se habían cansado de tratar de aplacar sus espíritus.

Los cristianos Hmong saben que la única manera de liberarse de la esclavitud espiritual es volviéndose cristianos. Y eso fue los que los chamanes hicieron al unirse a King of Kings. Querían servir a un Dios de misericordia cuyo poder es mayor que el de los espíritus de este mundo; un Dios que les diera paz. Algunos dirán que esto fue un milagro, pero sólo fue uno de los muchos milagros que el misionero Hmong Vue Lee ha experimentado.

¿Cuántos milagros son necesarios para traer a un niño del sureste de Asia a Minnesota para que sea misionero? Sólo uno: el amor de Dios. Un Dios que amó tanto al mundo, que eligió para su ministerio a un niño desalojado por la guerra, asustado por los espíritus de este mundo, tentado por las riquezas y temeroso de alejarse de lo conocido.

Hoy, el Rev. Vue Lee dedica su vida a llevar el amor de Dios a los demás, en especial a quienes buscan liberarse de espíritus opresivos, presentándoles a Jesús, quien les trae paz eterna.

Tr. B. Hoppe

Para ver el video con el Rev. Lee, haz click aquí.

Para ver una breve entrevista con el misionero Lee, haz click aquí

Dr. Robert Scudieri, President

Mission Nation Publishing

How Many Miracles Does It Take…

How Many Miracles Does It Take…

Missionary to America, Rev. Vue Lee, King of Kings, Roseville, Mn.

Think about this : a baby, born in a refugee camp in Southeast Asia, of animist parents, becomes a missionary to America, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Is this a miracle? Actually, along the way there were several miracles. 

Rev. Vue Lee was born in a refugee camp on an Army base in Thailand. A member of the Hmong , members of his family fought and died for America during the Vietnam war. As thanks for their loyalty, the Lees were lent $1500 by the US government to relocate in Sparta, Wisconsin; sometime after they arrived, Mr. Lee moved his family to Winton, a small town in California. Then, the father passed away.

Left alone, afraid of how they would survive,  the only way his mother could earn a living was to take in sewing.  Not able to earn enough to feed young Vue and his three siblings, the family went on welfare, and food stamps, living “across the tracks” in subsidized housing. Even so, the Lees paid back every cent of the $1500 loan for their airfare to America.

Vue graduated from high school – but he could not go to college because the family needed more income. He worked three jobs to help the family, until McDonalds offered him a position as a  manager of the restaurant where he had been working.

At sixteen, Vue married a  Christian Hmong girl. Their agreement was she had to  follow the animist traditions of the Hmong. He and his wife moved to San Jose and began a family. After he began working for the telephone company in San Jose, their finances improved. But there was other trouble.

Vue’s wife could not give up her Christian beliefs as she had agreed before the marriage. She returned to her faith and wanted to bring her children and husband with her. There was stress in the family. Vue was suspicious at first, after all, as a traditional Hmong, he had been brought up to fear the “spirits” that infested the world, spirits who were always looking to trick someone and bring them to ruin. 

Image result for image spirits in trees and lakes haunting

Spirits in the trees, in the lakes and rivers, spirits in the air and in animals. How could he let his family join a Christian church?

On the other hand, he respected Christians – he had been told Christians had good morals, and his children needed moral grounding. Plus, there was a Christian Hmong congregation nearby. He put a toe in the Christian water. He began classes to learn what it meant to be a Christian. In the beginning he sat in the back of the church, until he took Luther’s Small Catechism seriously, and his faith matured. Then he jumped in fully – Vue was baptized at 23. The Bible spoke to His needs and he found peace among the Christians. He became a deacon in the church, and he and his family moved to the front pew. As a child he had escaped from war in SE Asia, and now, as an adult, he escaped the world of those old, jealous, demanding spirits.

In the next few years Vue Lee  became materially successful. Mrs. Lee began a small business. They had the new car, the big house. All was well, until one day Vue experienced a severe pain in his back; maybe he had turned the wrong way, or picked up something that was too heavy. Maybe those old spirits were angry with him.  He didn’t know what caused the pain; sometimes things happen you can’t explain. The pain was debilitating and kept him at home. A botched operation left him an invalid, unable to work. With no regular paycheck from Vue, the family lost everything – the car, the house, their pride. “Lord, why?” 

After six months wrestling with God in a spiritual desert, Vue remembered a promise, a promise he had made to God. Some years before he had felt a calling to become a pastor, but shook off the idea. No matter, it kept coming back. He recalled the prayer he prayed to distance himself from that calling: “Lord, if, somehow, you find a way to pay off all my bills, then I will go to seminary.” Back then, it seemed it seemed impossible.  Well, now everything – the house, the car, all were gone, and with them the bills! It was not the strategy he had in mind, but now he had no excuse. What would the family think?

He approached his wife first. He told her there was a heat burning in his heart to become a pastor. Her response was, “But I am not pastor’s wife material.” They agreed to pray about it. Two weeks later she came to Vue and said, “This morning I heard a very distinct voice say to me, clear as day, “Sell your business and follow your husband.” Vue’s response was, “Maybe you shouldn’t tell to many people about this – they might think you are crazy.” 

The more they prayed,  the more at peace they became with the calling Vue had received.  They had no second thoughts, not even about moving halfway across the country for Vue to attend college in St. Paul, Minnesota. They were at peace, knowing the Lord would be with them. And He was.

The church in California raised $2400 to help them move to  Concordia University in St. Paul. It would require sacrifice, but support from friends and relatives and especially the support of Concordia made it a possibility for Vue to enter college. The university is located in a multi-ethnic community, and there is a large Hmong population in St. Paul where relatives could be a support base for the family. After paying for the move, the Lees arrived in St. Paul with only $400.

They lived in a dormitory at Concordia, and a Hmong relative fed the family until Mrs. Lee could find work.  But who would hire her? Then, soon after they arrived, Mrs. Lee received a surprise phone call: a man with a job offer. “How did you know I needed a job?” The caller told her he had found her application on Monster.com. “But I put that up two years ago! I forgot all about it.” 

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With two other Hmong students Vue Lee began a Hmong church in the basement of their dormitory. The “church” outgrew the basement and worships today as a part of King of Kings Lutheran. After four years of study, Vue graduated from Concordia. He then went through  EIIT (the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology) in order to be ordained. He now serves as the missionary-co-pastor of King of Kings.

Discontented with having to appease demanding spirits all the time, two shamans joined Vue’s Christian church. Shamans have to be “called” by the Spirits; you cannot decide to be a Shaman. And each shaman serves particular spirits. These spirits must always be placated, kept on your good side or they will harm you. The Spirits demand more and more from you; you can never give them enough. These two shamans had grown tired of trying to placate the spirits.

Hmong Christians know that the only way out of spiritual slavery is to become a Christian. This is what the shamans did when they joined King of Kings. They wanted to serve a God of mercy whose power is stronger than the spirits of this world; a God who would bring them peace. Some would say this was a miracle, but it would be only one of many miracles the Hmong missionary Vue Lee has experienced.

How many miracles does it take to bring a child from Southeast Asia to Minnesota to be a missionary? Only one: the love of God, a God who loved the world so much that he selected for his ministry a  boy displaced by war, afraid of the spirits of this world, tempted by riches, and fearful of leaving familiar surroundings. 

Today Rev. Vue Lee  spends his life bringing the love of God to others, in particular, those looking for freedom from oppressive spirits. He introduces them to Jesus, the One Who brings eternal peace. 

To see the full video with Rev. Lee, click here.

To see a short interview with Missionary Lee, Click here

YOU RUN TOWARDS THE GUN

YOU RUN TOWARDS THE GUN

Missionary to America Julie Aftab

“You run towards the gun.”  The missionary shocked the audience at a recent conference I attended, by telling us, ” We are taught as children, ‘If an attacker enters your church, do not run away. Run towards the gun. That way you may die, but others will live.'”  When I heard that, I sat upright in my chair, remembering something another missionary had said. 

Rev. Tambatua Naibaho, a missionary sent to America by the Indonesian Batak Lutheran Church, says in the interview we did with him  a while ago that one of the jobs of the ushers at Easter and Christmas is to be the first to go into the church, to look under the pews to see if any bombs had been planted.

It is different in America: we are not required to take such risks.  We have a mostly complacent Christianity. Our children are not taught to run towards the gun. It costs to be a Christian in Indonesia and Pakistan. Julie Aftab found that out when she was sixteen years old. In a recent interview she tells us about that cost.

Julie is a missionary to Muslims in Houston, Texas, but she grew up in Pakistan. For many years her father was a truck driver, navigating the mountainous and many times unpaved roads in Pakistan. When his back gave out and he could no longer work, Julie’s mother earned an income sewing clothing. Unable to afford to go to a Christian school, Julie had to make due with public education. As a Christian she was a despised minority,  and was shunned by the children and teachers at her grade school. Once her teacher, disciplining the little girl, broke the knuckles of her hand. Unable to tolerate the abuse, she left school after fifth grade to help her mother sew.

In her early teenage years, when American children are beginning high school, Julie got a job sweeping floors in a factory. At sixteen, she was working behind the desk of a telephone call center when a middle age male customer came in. He made mention of the cross she was wearing. “Are you a Christian?” he asked. “Yes,” she answered. That is when the trouble began.

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “If you convert to Islam you can have this money – even more if you wish.” The teenager declined the offer, but the man wasn’t listening and put more money on the counter. Another refusal. The man persisted, and Julie insisted he leave. “I will go, but we will see if your Jesus can save you.”

Thirty minutes later the man returned with a friend. the first man approached Julie at the counter. That is when he threw acid in her face. The other man dragged her down and held her while the first man poured acid down her throat. She ran outside – a kind Muslim woman wrapped her hijab around the girl, and brought her into her house to protect her.

It was difficult to find a hospital to treat her, since the man had claimed he had done this because the girl had insulted Islam. A mob threatened the burn down the first hospital she was taken to if they treated the Christian girl. Only at a fourth hospital was Julie’s mother’s pleas heard to give her aid to save her life. Her attachers went free. It took the Christian community to raise funds to send Julie to be treated in America for her to get well. The treatment has taken years.

Despite all the pain she has suffered, Julie has grown spiritually. It took time, but she has learned to forgive. Today she is a young mother, with a loving husband, searching out Muslims to tell them God who loves them. She is a living testimony to Who Jesus is – Jesus “ran towards the gun.” As the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us:

 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The Letter to the Hebrews, 12:1-3.(biblehub.com/hebrews/12-2.htm)

If you love God and want to serve Him, that service will involve risk. (See Matthew 25: 14 ff).  The Christians in Indonesia and in Pakistan know they are not alone – our Lord has given His word to be with us. (Matthew 28:20).

Maybe, as God winnows His flock in America, the time will come and some of us will be given the opportunity to “run towards some gun.” Even now we see formidable needs around us that require a faith-filled response. At those times, times of risk, face whatever the “gun” is knowing we are not alone.

To see our full thirty minute interview with Julie Aftab, click here.

To see a three minute clip from the thirty minute video, click here.

 

 

 

 

Se podía oír caer un alfiler

Se podía oír caer un alfiler

Dr. William Utech – Misionero en los Estados Unidos

El Dr. William Utech, Asistente para Misiones del Distrito Sur de Minnesota, tiene una visión especial con respecto a las misiones. Usualmente, creemos que la gran comisión significa ir a los confines de la tierra; pero Bill cree que los confines de la tierra están viniendo a Minnesota, “el único lugar donde hay más somalíes que en Somalia”. De acuerdo con un misionero de Minneapolis, dos tercios de la población de Minneapolis no son anglos.

¿Cómo se puede ayudar a las congregaciones mayormente anglas que quieren alcanzar y recibir a estos nuevos ciudadanos? ¿Cómo se les alienta a que se involucren y compartan el amor de Cristo en comunidades de inmigrantes? ¿Cómo se les instila pasión por la obra misional?

Bill Utech, junto con el Distrito Sur de Minnesota, ha encontrado una manera.

Bill se enfoca en la creación de nuevas misiones. Una de las funciones principales de un ejecutivo de misión, es cultivar una visión por la misión. En el Distrito de Bill, los líderes misionales entienden que su función principal es ayudar a las iglesias establecidas a comenzar nuevas iglesias. ¿Pero cómo se ayuda a iglesias que existen desde 1935, como Trinity en Medford, la iglesia de Bill, a enfilar su “visión por la misión”?

La iglesia Trinity Lutheran de Medford, está a 55 millas al sur de Minneapolis. Pero los refugiados e inmigrantes que llegaron primero a Minneapolis se están mudando ahora a ciudades más pequeñas. Dado su cargo como ejecutivo de misión, el Rev. Utech no quiso pedir a otros que hicieran lo que él no estaba dispuesto a hacer. Por lo tanto, junto con Mark Biebighauser, el pastor de Trinity, organizaron un viaje misional a Guatemala. Bill fue en el primer viaje exploratorio. Ayudar a una congregación a pensar más allá de sí misma es algo imprescindible si se quiere abrir la puerta del corazón a la misión.

Utech sabía algo acerca de CALMS (Central American Lutheran Mission Society), una organización que ayuda a las iglesias a tener éxito en sus viajes misionales. CALMS provee un asesor que ayuda a las iglesias a comprender la cultura de los pueblos de América Central y un traductor. Antes de hacer el viaje, la congregación tuvo que comprometerse a trabajar en conjunto durante cinco años; ir sólo una vez no permite establecer relaciones.

El 15 de enero de 2016, el pastor Biebighauser y siete miembros de Trinity partieron hacia Taguyny, Guatemala, donde compartieron el amor de Jesús, realizaron un campamento de deportes y establecieron relaciones con las personas de allí. El domingo después de regresar, el pastor Biebighauser invitó al grupo a que presentaran un informe al resto de la congregación. Bill dice: “Se podía oír caer un alfiler”.

Hablarle a una congregación acerca de la misión es un primer paso. Compartir fotos e historias acerca de las necesidades de otras personas también ayuda. Pero cuando Dios abre una puerta para la misión y su pueblo se encuentra y establece relaciones con quienes necesitan nuestro amor, nuestras oraciones y el amor de Jesús en su comunidad, el Espíritu de Dios nos abre los ojos, los oídos y el corazón para que “oigamos caer un alfiler”.

Dr. Robert Scudieri, President, Mission Nation Publishing

Tr. B. Hoppe

To see a fourteen minute interview with Dr. Utech, click here.

To see a short two minute introductory video, click here.

 

 

You Could Hear A Pin Drop

You Could Hear A Pin Drop

Missionary to America Dr. William Utech

William Utech has an unusual view of missions. He is the Assistant for Missions in the Minnesota South District. We usually think of the Great Commission as going to the ends of the earth, but Bill sees the ends of the earth coming to Minnesota. “The only place there are more Somalis is Somalia.”  According to a missionary in Minneapolis, two thirds of the population of Minneapolis are other than White English speaking people.

How do you help congregations that are primarily White and English speaking want to reach out and welcome these new citizens? How do you encourage them to get involved in immigrant communities and share the love of Christ? How do you make them passionate about mission work?

Bill Utech and the Minnesota South District have found a way. 

Bill focuses on new mission starts in Minnesota South.  One of the primary roles of a mission executive is to nurture a vision for mission. In Bill’s District district mission leaders see their primary role as helping existing churches start new churches. But how do you help churches that have been around since 1935, like Bill’s home church, Trinity, Medford, gain sharper “mission eyes”?

Trinity Lutheran Church in Medford is fifty five miles south of Minneapolis, but those refugees and immigrants who first arrived in Minneapolis are moving to small towns all over the State. As mission executive, Rev. Utech did not want to ask others to do what he was not willing to do himself. He worked with the Pastor of Trinity, Mark Biebighauser, to organize a mission trip to Guatemala. Bill himself went on the first, exploratory trip. Helping a congregation to think outside of itself is a must for opening a door to a heart for missions. 

Utech knew about CALMS, the Central American Lutheran Mission Society, an organization that helps churches be successful on mission trips. CALMS provides a consultant that helps churches understand the culture of people in Central America, and a translator. Before they went on the trip the congregation had to agree to a five year partnership; just going one time does not allow for building relationships.

On January 15, 2016, Pr. Biebighauser and seven Trinity members  left for Taguayni, Guatemala.  Of course they shared their love for Jesus, and, they ran a sports camp, establishing relationships with the local people. When they returned, Pr. Biebighauser made time on Sunday morning for the team to report back to the church members. Bill says, “You could hear a pin drop.” 

Just talking about the mission to a congregation is a first step. Sharing pictures and stories about the needs of others is helpful. But when God opens a door for mission, and the people of God meet and form relationships with those who need our love, need our prayers, need the love of Jesus in their community, the Spirit of God opens our eyes, our ears, and our hearts, so that “you could hear a pin drop.”

 

To see a fourteen minute interview with Dr. Utech, click here.

To see a short two minute introductory video, click here.

 

¿Qué tienes para perder?

¿Qué tienes para perder?

Andrew Mezilus renunció a muchas cosas. Durante su infancia en Haití, aprendió a ser sastre y misionero. Luego se convirtió en diácono en su iglesia y estudió durante cuatro años en un Instituto Bíblico. Su meta era comenzar una iglesia nueva. En 1987 se fue en bicicleta hasta Balaban, una pequeña ciudad a dieciocho millas de su casa. Allí predicó a las personas que pasaban por la calle, diciéndoles que Dios amó tanto al mundo, que envió a su único Hijo a morir en nuestro lugar. Sólo una mujer respondió. Sin embargo, esa primera conversión produjo cincuenta más. A medida que la iglesia fue creciendo, se hizo evidente que lo que ganaba como sastre y las donaciones de los miembros de la iglesia no iba a ser suficiente para llevar adelante la misión y mantener a su familia. Así es que, en 1988, entregó el liderazgo de la iglesia a uno de sus líderes y, aunque no tenía visa, llegó a los Estados Unidos a trabajar.

Durante seis años estuvo separado de su esposa e hijos, haciendo lo que tenía que hacer para mantenerlos a ellos y a la misión que había comenzado en Haití. La vida frugal que llevaba hacía que extrañara aún más a su familia. En esta nueva tierra, viviendo constantemente con el temor de ser deportado, buscó maneras de legalizar su estatus. Mientras tanto, consiguió empleo en un hospital, manejó un taxi, trabajó como sastre, hizo cualquier cosa que le generara los fondos que necesitaba para enviar a la misión y a su familia en Haití. Para poder darles una vida mejor, perdió años de la vida de su esposa e hijos. Se sacrificó para que la misión que había comenzado tuviera los recursos necesarios para crecer y expandirse a otras áreas.

Eso es lo que hacen los misioneros: dejan atrás las cosas que más atesoran, para seguir a su Señor. Así fue como los apóstoles respondieron al llamado del Señor: Santiago y Juan dejaron su casa y su negocio inmediatamente; Pablo tuvo que ser quitado de su misión de perseguir y encarcelar a los cristianos, y cuando deja su posición privilegiada es odiado por sus amigos y colegas. Durante años Pablo ministró al margen de la iglesia, porque muchos creían que era un fraude, un espía.

En 1994, con ayuda de la Iglesia Alianza Misionera y la Iglesia Luterana del Sínodo de Missouri (LCMS), el pastor Mezilus logró legalizar su estatus. Para ese entonces, la iglesia en Balaban, con el apoyo financiero y espiritual de Andrew Mezilus, había crecido en cinco iglesias. Pero eso no era todo.

Trabajando con el grupo Amigos en Cristo en Immokalee, Florida, Mezilus continuó estudiando en el “Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology” (EIIT) de la LCMS, y fue ordenado en la LCMS. En conjunto con Amigos de Cristo, el Pastor Mezilus comenzó una iglesia en Immokalee.

Actualmente, Mezilus y su familia viven en la Florida, pero sus corazones y apoyo financiero permanecen con las cinco iglesias en Haití. Mezilus lleva grupos de líderes de iglesias americanas al Cabo Haitiano y a Balaban, con el fin de obtener más apoyo para los hermanos en Cristo que tienen muchísimo menos que nosotros. Como resultado, esas cinco iglesias han sido bendecidas con crecimiento espiritual y financiero. Y todo gracias a que un hombre no tuvo miedo de perder su vida, con tal de ser fiel al llamado de su Señor.

¿Qué tienes para perder si permaneces fiel?

Como profetizó Jesús: “El que ama su vida, la perderá; pero el que aborrece su vida en este mundo, la guardará para vida eterna.” Evangelio de Juan, capítulo 12: versículo 25.

Tr. B. Hoppe

To see a one minute video introduction of the interview with Pr. Mezilus, click here.

To see the full eighteen minute video interview, click here.

What Have You Got To Lose?

 WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?

Missionary to America Andrew Mezilus

What have you got to lose?

Andrew Mezilus gave up a lot.  As a child growing up in Haiti he trained to be a tailor, and a missionary. He became a deacon in his church, and went four years to Bible School. His goal was to begin a new church. In 1987 he rode his bicycle to a small city eighteen miles away called Balaban. There he stood in the street and preached to anyone passing by how God loved the world, and sent His only child to die in our place. One woman responded.  However, that first conversion turned into fifty.  As the church grew, it became apparent that income from his vocation as a tailor and donations from the church members would not be enough to fund the mission and support his family. In 1988 he handed the church leadership over to an elder, and even though he had no legal status, he made his way to the United States to work.

For six years he was separated from his wife and children, doing what he had to do to work to support them and the mission he had begun in Haiti.  Living frugally, he missed his wife and children terribly. In this new land, living in fear he would be deported, he sought ways to  gain legal status. In the meantime, he trained as a  hospital worker, drove a taxi, did tailoring – whatever would give him the funds needed to send back to Haiti, to the mission and his family. He missed years of his wife’s and his children’s lives to give them a better life. He sacrificed so that the mission he had begun would have the money it needed to grow and expand to other areas.

That’s what missionaries do. They leave behind the things most dear to them, to follow their Lord. That is how the Apostles responded when they heard the Lord’s call – James and John leave their home and business immediately; Paul has to be pried away from his mission to put Christians in prison, and leaves his privileged position to be hated by friends and colleagues. For years Paul ministered on the edges of the church because many believed he was a fraud, a spy.

In 1994 Pr. Mezilus, with help from the Missionary Alliance Church and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, was given legal status. By then, the one church in Balaban, with the financial and spiritual support of Andrew Mezilus, had grown into five churches. But that was  not all.

Working with the group Amigos en Cristo  in Immokalee, Florida. He went back to school through the Lutheran Church’s “Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology,” and was ordained in the LCMS.” Working with Amigos, Pr. Mezilus began a church in Immokalee.

He and his family live in SW Florida today, but their hearts and their financial support remain with the five Haitian churches. Pr. Mezilus leads regular trips for American church leaders to Cape Haitian and Balaban, to gain broader support for brothers and sisters in Christ who have significantly less than they do. As a result, the churches have been blessed with spiritual and financial growth. All this because one man was not afraid to lose his life to be faithful to the Lord’s call.

What do you have to lose to remain faithful?

As Jesus prophesied, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who lose their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” Gospel of John, chapter 12: verse 25.

To see a one minute video introduction of the interview with Pr. Mezilus, click here.

To see the full eighteen minute video interview, click here.

¿Por qué deberías conocer a Bennego Kangar?

 

¿Por qué deberías conocer a Bennego Kangar?

(This is a translation into Spanish of last week’s blog. Please let us know if the Spanish is helpful and whether we should do this on a regular basis)

Imagine que le han dado una visión convincente: ha descubierto una oportunidad única para compartir el increíble amor de Dios con miles y miles de personas, NO solo en su propio país, sino en todo el mundo. Pero, también sabe que NO tiene el dinero para hacer frente a la oportunidad. ¿Qué hace?

Conozca al reverendo Bennego Kangar.

EL Rev. Kangar es miembro de The Alley, un nuevo ministerio en Minnesota. En noviembre pasado, él y otros miembros del ministerio tuvieron el llamado para equipar a mil líderes de la iglesia en Liberia. Uno nunca hubieras esperado eso de los primeros años del reverendo Kangar.
Bennego creció como miembro de la tribu Bassa, en Liberia, un campo misionero cristiano. Pero en los primeros quince años de su vida no le fue bien. Salía con la gente equivocada y se metía en problemas. Entonces, su madre lo arrastró a una escuela cristiana. Ahí es donde Cristo lo encontró enojado, temeroso, solo, y lo animó con su amor. Desde entonces, ha dedicado su vida a compartir el amor de su Salvador.
A diferencia de la iglesia en América, los cristianos en Liberia saben que están en un campo de misión. El ministerio se hace de manera diferente en un campo de misión. Pregúntese: “Si mi iglesia fuera repentinamente trasladada a la India, ¿qué tan diferente sería?”. Supongo que podría enumerar cientos de diferencias. Hay algunos cambios importantes que quizás le interese considerar.

Por ejemplo, quizás podrías aprender el idioma de las personas que te rodean; probablemente podrías descubrir qué cosas afectan a la comunidad y diseñar ministerios para satisfacer las necesidades de las personas, es decir, mostrar visiblemente el amor de Dios a la gente. Tratarías de encontrar líderes locales confiables y discipularlos, para poder avanzar al próximo campo misionero. Algo así como lo que hizo San Pablo. La emoción de saber que Dios es amor y que Él me ama, no es algo fácil de callar.

En un campo misionero, casi todos los cristianos sienten pasión por compartir su fe. Desde sus últimos años de adolescencia, al Rev. Kangar se le enseñó la importancia de que los cristianos no escatimen esfuerzos para llevar a Cristo a los vecinos, a los amigos y a sus compañeros de trabajo. No sólo eso, sino que también le enseñaron cómo hacerlo. Bennego participó de seminarios con otros jóvenes cristianos donde aprendió a compartir su fe.
Eventualmente, a Bennego se le enseñó a enseñar a otros. Uno sabe que se encuentra en un campo misional, cuando los líderes locales son discipulados rutinariamente para poder enseñar a otros. Lo realmente importante es que a Bennego y a otros jóvenes se les enseñó a hacerlo sin depender de fondos externos. Es por eso que dirigió un esfuerzo para enseñar a las iglesias de las zonas rurales a cultivar arroz y usar las ganancias para financiar la misión.

Utilizó lo que tenía a mano localmente para hacer crecer la iglesia. El aula que utilizó en Malawi fue el espacio debajo de un árbol Baobab. Cuando trabajaba con líderes de misión en los Estados Unidos, me preguntaba:   “¿A dónde va la iglesia cuando el dinero es lo que impulsa la misión?” La respuesta, por supuesto, es a las personas ricas.

Debemos encontrar formas de apoyar la misión de Cristo utilizando recursos dentro del contexto del campo misionero local. Entonces el amor de Dios puede llegar a todas las personas.

En un campo misionero, el dinero NO limita las iniciativas de evangelización. Las personas siempre encuentras un camino. Bennego Kangar trajo esa idea al campo misional en Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Para apoyar su ministerio mundial de formar líderes para construir ministerios sostenibles en un campo misional, Bennego Kangar se convirtió en un “fabricante de tiendas de campaña”. No literalmente; al igual que San Pablo, él financia su trabajo con los ingresos de su negocio. Bennego tiene seis hijos; dado que él y su esposa creen que su primer ministerio es para sus hijos, los han involucrado en su nuevo negocio: “Tapicería de Ben e Hijos”. Durante nueve meses, la familia Kangar trabaja creando y reparando tapicería en Minnesota; los otros tres meses viaja a Liberia, Nigeria, Malawi y otros países donde el evangelio necesita ser plantado. Benego y su familia no trabajan sólo para vivir, o viven sólo para trabajar: ellos trabajan para ministrar. Esto significa que la familia depende menos del dinero externo para llevar a cabo su ministerio.

Una visión convincente para un nuevo campo misional puede llevarle lejos. Aprender el idioma y las costumbres locales, satisfacer las necesidades de sus vecinos, discipular a líderes nuevos, equipar discípulos para que compartan su fe, todos estos son puntos muy importantes en el campo misional. También lo son las finanzas.

El apoyo financiero desde fuera del contexto ministerial sólo puede durar algún tiempo y siempre corre el riesgo de evaporarse. El misionero sabio encontrará formas de usar lo que está a su alcance para ayudar a financiar su ministerio.

Por todo eso, sería bueno conocer a Bennego Kangar.
“Después de estas cosas, Pablo salió de Atenas y fue a Corinto. Y halló a un judío llamado Aquila, natural del Ponto, recién venido de Italia con Priscila su mujer, por cuanto Claudio había mandado que todos los judíos saliesen de Roma. Fue a ellos, y como era del mismo oficio, se quedó con ellos, y trabajaban juntos, pues el oficio de ellos era hacer tiendas. Y discutía en la sinagoga todos los días de reposo, y persuadía a judíos y a griegos…” (Hechos 18:1-4)

Un árbol “baobab” en Malawi, como aquel bajo el cual Bennego enseñó a los misioneros.

Many thanks to Beatrice Hoppe for translating the story of Bennego Kangar into Spanish!

Thanks you to Pr. Jose Flores and Ms. Beatrice Hoppe for the translation from English to Spanish.

Why You Should Get to Know Bennego Kangar

Why You Should Get to Know Bennego Kangar

Missionary to America Bennego Kangar

Imagine you’ve been given a compelling vision: you’ve discovered a unique opportunity to share God’s incredible love with thousands and thousands of people – not just in your own country, but around the world.  You also know you don’t have the money to meet the opportunity. What do you do?

Get to know Rev. Bennego Kangar.

Rev. Kangar is  a member of The Alley, a new ministry in Minnesota. Last November he and others from the ministry had the call to equip a thousand church leaders in Liberia.  You would never have expected this from Rev. Kanga’s early years.

Bennego grew up as a member of the Bassa tribe, in Liberia, a Christian mission field. He was a ne’er do well  in the first fifteen years of his life. He hung out with the wrong people, and got into trouble. Then, his mother dragged him into a Christian school. That is where Christ found him, angry, afraid, alone – and warmed him with His love. Since then his life has been devoted to sharing his Savior’s love.

Unlike the church in America, Christians in Liberia know they are on a mission field. Ministry is done differently on a mission field. Ask yourself: “If my church were suddenly picked up and put down in India, how would our ministry be different?” I guess you could list a hundred ways. There are a few very important changes you might like to consider.

You would  want to learn the language of the people around you; you probably would find out where the community was hurting, and design ministries to meet the needs of people, ie, visibly show the love of God to the people. You would want to find local leaders you could trust, and disciple them, so you could go on to the next mission field. Something like what St. Paul did. The excitement of knowing God is love, and that He loves me, is not something easily held onto.

On a mission field, just about every Christian is passionate about giving their faith away. From his late teenage years Rev. Kangar was taught the importance of Christians going out of their way to bring Christ to neighbors, to friends and people at work. Not just that, they were given instruction in how to do it.  Bennego attended seminars with other young Christians to learn how to share their faith.

Eventually, Bennego was taught to teach others.  You know you are on a  mission field when local leaders are routinely being discipled in order teach others. What is really important is that Bennego and other young people were taught to do this without depending on funding from outside.  that is why he led an effort to teach churches in rural areas how to farm rice, and use the proceeds to fund the mission.

He used whatever was at hand locally to grow the church. The classroom he used in Malawi was the space under a Baobab Tree. When I worked with mission leaders in the United States I would ask, “Where is the church going when money drives the mission?”  The answer of course is: to affluent people.

Ways must be found to support the mission of Christ using resources from within the context of the local mission field. Then the love of God can reach all people.

A “baobab” tree in Malawi, like the one                                                                  under which Bennego taught missionaries.

On a mission field, money does not limit the initiatives for evangelizing. People find a way. Bennego Kangar brought that idea to the mission field of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

To support his world wide ministry of training leaders to build sustainable ministries on a mission field, Bennego Kangar became a “tentmaker.”  Not literally; he supports his work, like St. Paul, through an income producing business. Bennego has six sons; because he and his wife believe their first ministry is to their children, they have involved their boys in the new business: “Ben and Sons Upholstery.” For nine months the Kangar family works creating and repairing upholstery in Minnesota; the other three months see them in Liberia, Nigeria, Malawi and other countries where the gospel needs to be planted.  Benego and his family do not work just to live or live to work: the Kangars work to minister. This means the family depends less on outside money to carry on their far reaching ministry.

A compelling vision for a new mission field can bring you so far. Learning the local language and customs, meeting the felt needs of your neighbors, discipling new leaders, equipping disciples to give away their faith, these are all important on a mission field. So are finances.

Financial support from outside the ministry context can only last so long, and is always in danger of evaporating. The wise missionary will find ways to use what is at hand to help fund their ministry.

That is why it would be good to get to  know Bennego Kangar.

“After this Paul[a] left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.”




To see the full interview, click here.

Below is a longer short version of our interview