Join us for Perspectives

post by Bob Honegger

What is Perspectives all about?  When I have been asked this question all, the simplest answer I can give is that it is all about His Glory.  From the first class “The Story of His Glory” I was completely compelled to continue the fifteen week class.  Each week built on the teaching that we were created to bring Him Glory.  It is all about Him and not about us.

 

For years I lived a life of “Cat Theology” (it’s all about me), but since Perspectives I now try to live a “Dog Theology” (it’s all about Him).  Jesus’ last teaching was to go and make disciples.  As He has more disciples He receives more Glory.  All of God’s children are to be involved in the disciple making processes.

 

Through the teachings of Perspectives, you will be exposed to the different areas of how you can be involved.  As missionary advocates, the Perspective class will reinforce the importance of the role you are serving in the ACC missionary lives. 

 

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The Perspectives Class will cost you.  The biggest sacrifice will be your time.  No matter your current life situation (parents with young children, people busy in the working arena as well as other ministries and all of you living an active Christian life).  When I took Perspectives, I thought that I had no free time.  With the reading and doing the work in the study guide, it took 5-6 hours a week.  But each week, the desire to learn more about how we can Glorify God made the sacrifice of time meaningless.  The highlight of my week was attending the Perspectives class and hearing a great speaker expounding on the material we had studied.  Most of the speakers have served on the mission field for many years.  Their personal testimonies and the stories of how God used them to impact His Kingdom were so powerful.

 

It is difficult to summarize what the Perspective Class is all about, but all I can say that it has greatly impacted my Biblical World view and how great a God we serve.

 


 

As the Core Team for Bluffton Missionary Advocates, we would strongly encourage you to consider taking Perspectives this Fall with us! 

 

Caylor-Nickel Foundation Family YMCA

August 27 – December 10, 2017

Sunday evenings, 6:15 – 9:15 pm

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CLASS COSTS:

The cost of the class is $275 for new students and includes 15 different incredible speakers from all over the country, a textbook and workbook. We are an entirely volunteer-based committee, so we’re keeping the costs as low as we can to make it easier for you! (See web link below for details.) We also have the class available for college credit, so homeschoolers and college kids might find this extra helpful!

DISCOUNTS:

Join us the first Night for FREE (August 27) to check out the class!

EARLY BIRD discount of $25 (if you register before August 1)

Couples Discount: $30

BABYSITTING IS PROVIDED:

FREE babysitting is provided and we’d love to discuss what works best for your family (either bringing your child to the YMCA childcare center with our volunteers, or in-home babysitting.) We will do our best to work with you because we believe in young couples being able to take the class together. (Also, please let us know if you can think of anyone who would be interested in volunteering in childcare for the class! Some compensation is available for babysitters.)

 

To learn more, please go to: bit.ly/BlufftonPerspectives2017 and feel free to email or call us with any questions you’ve got. We’d love to talk about this more with you. And please invite someone God lays on your heart to come with you!

Nick and Amber Steffen

ambsteffen1@gmail.com

Bob and Mary Honegger

rahonegger@gmail.com

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Parent of Missionaries Day

by Amber Steffen & the Core Group

Early in February, we were blessed to host the first Parent of Missionaries Support Day in Bluffton. We know these parents face unique circumstances when their kids and grandkids are scattered around the world. These conditions create challenges that are often hard to communicate and our goal was to give them space to talk openly about their experiences. Here are some of their thoughts.

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“The meeting felt like a missing link was put in place.”

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It is powerful to see the body work together.  Weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice!  As I think back on the weekend, I love the love I saw in the parents.  Not once did I see criticism or condemnation, just love and empathy.  Even when they were not understood.  Wow!”

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“It was encouraging and comforting to realize we are not alone in this journey.” 

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The day was an emotional drain but it felt so good to feel what others feel. Some of us had an opportunity to share privately one on one as well. It too was so healthy.” 

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Some of the most powerful group discussions were those happening after the formal talks were over.

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“Don’t just DEAL with your kids’ reality…PARTICIPATE in it. 

Parents are ‘called to be missionary parents’ just as their children had a ‘calling’ to be a missionary. Sometimes this ‘calling’ looks more like ‘a willing submission,’ but this is still a role of significant spiritual responsibility.”

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These mothers are gathered around a map with pinpoints showing where each of their kids are currently living across the world.

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We enjoyed incredible teaching and personal testimonies from several parents of missionaries.

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“I know that the things we learned this weekend will not be wasted and that God will be glorified through our lives. It feels as if the sacrifice of giving up time with our kids and grandkids truly does glorify Him. We are so encouraged.

As you advocate for your missionary families, consider what you can do for the family members still at home too! You never know what kind of powerful connections can be built by offering care to those at home who are themselves deeply affected by the missions process.

Remember to pray for the parents of your missionaries! 

Casting a Vision for 2017

We are thrilled to begin a new year with your advocacy teams – and hope you’re refreshed and thinking up new ways to support your missionaries in 2017 too! Looking ahead to a whole year can often seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve had a hard time connecting in the past. As we begin the new year, we wanted to share three thoughts to remind you why you’re doing this great work of advocacy.

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PRAYER IS VITAL AS YOU CONNECT, ENCOURAGE AND ADVOCATE FOR YOUR MISSIONARY FAMILY. DON’T TRY AND DO THIS WITHOUT PRAYER!

“The greatest work is not the missionary on the field, it’s the prayers in the pews!” 

“The missionary task is a heavenly one.  All that missionaries do is gather up the fruit of prayer.”  Veteran Missionary

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”  – Oswald Chambers

“Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer.”  – Francois Fenelon

WE ALL HAVE A VITAL ROLE TO PLAY IN GOD’S KINGDOM. YOU ARE TAKING AN ACTIVE, PERSONAL ROLE IN HOLDING A LIFELINE OUT TO YOUR MISSIONARY FAMILY.

At a recent Christmas concert that we attended, the lead singers took an extra amount of time to introduce all their backup singers, musicians, and even mentioned support staff and explained how the whole musical production depended not on just a few key singers, but everyone joining together to produce a musical experience that was incredibly beautiful. It reminded me of how we strive to encourage each other in supporting the missionaries in the field. Each person involved plays an important part in bringing glory to God through the outreach to other nations. While the missionary family is our “lead player, ” each of us can be part of a inspirational “production” that works to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the unreached.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.  I Corinthians 12:12

YOUR PERSONAL TOUCHES MATTER.

No matter how much you feel in the dark about how to connect with your missionary family, know that your efforts are making a difference. Each time you share an update with people in church, remember to send a What’sApp or quick message to your family or take time to visit them, you are showing that you are invested in God’s bigger ministry. It may not seem like much, but your efforts are incredibly important. And we believe that even if your best efforts seem to fall flat here, God is pleased with the intentions of your heart.

Thanks for sticking it out. We are so thankful for each of you. If you have questions or want practical tools for ways to can support your missionary family further in 2017, please shoot us an email or comment below. 

Blessings,

The Core Team

Bob & Mary Honegger, Nick & Amber Steffen, Klint & Sarah Fiechter and Joel & Erin Drayer

What Visiting Missionaries Taught Us

Guest post by Adam and Ann Uhler

Greetings from the Uhler family (Adam, Ann, Lane, Elise, Mathias, and Brielle). We are members of the Smithville AC church. A family that we have grown very close to over the years (the Walders) were called into the mission field in 2013. Mike and Susie Walder along with their children: Evan, Grant, Trinity, and Grace are serving in Les Cayes, Haiti in the child sponsorship department.

In March 2015 we felt that God had given an open door to visit the Walders. We went to visit and encourage Mike and Susie and their family and were not a part of a work team. Elise and Grace are close friends so we took our two oldest children (Lane and Elise). We knew that it would be an opportunity for them to experience another culture and bring a 3rd world perspective to their comfortable life in America.

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A Few Highlights from our Trip:

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  • Once we were close to Les Cayes, Jan Gutwein met us and gave us a tour of the Cancer Redemption Project founded and operated by Loving Shephard Ministries. We were able to tour the campus and meet the family that we sponsor. We were very impressed with the LSM campus and the warm smiles and singing that greeted us.

 

  • On Sunday, we went to a Haitian church service were we enjoyed very enthusiastic singing and preaching. Obviously, the language barrier prevented us from understanding anything being said. It was amazing how the people had such bright, clean clothes to wear to church. They had walked there on dirty roads in the blazing sun and they stayed clean and in good cheer. The pastor had been a sponsored child. We met a number of pastors who had developed through child sponsorship.

 

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  • A young man at Rainbow beach was desperate for some money. He worked very hard for a handful of shells. When he was chased away by an older Haitian, we could see his shorts were ripped clear down the back. There were a few stitches holding them together. Such a helpless face!

 

  • On Monday, we visited the child sponsorship office which is on the missionary compound. We toured the facility and met the staff. Our two sponsored children walked some distance to meet with us. We also met a young lady that our Sunday school sponsors.

 

  • We visited a number of villages and homes. The Walders have made a number of connections outside of the child sponsorship work. They are discipling a number of young Haitian men and women to help them grow in their relationship with Christ. As we drove along, Mike and Susie would point out children who were being sponsored by different church people. One boy was walking a goat that a Smithville couple had purchased.

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We had a wonderful time with the Walders. It was a blessing to spend the week with them, an experience that we will not forget. We experienced a taste of life with the Walders in Haiti. There wasn’t a meal when someone didn’t come to the door in need of help. Or, driving through a village and someone would call out to Grant. They have built relationships with young men and women that they are ministering to. The children and communities that are impacted by the child sponsorship are truly a blessing.

The Haitian people were warm and friendly and easy for us to love. The Walders know them on a deeper level and will tell you that the challenges they face are very real. The spiritual battle is closer to the surface and can seem more real. The need and impact of prayer is more evident. There are more people to help than there are time and resources. The people and the culture are very different, but human nature is very much the same. We only tasted what life is like in a foreign culture.

We have a deeper appreciation of the need to pray for wisdom and discernment to know who to help and invest in. As the hurricane passed through Les Cayes in October 2016, we felt like it was hitting a familiar place. Our hearts and prayers were much more connected and personal. It was an experience that deepened our spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father.


If you too are interested in visiting those you are supporting, we have an exciting opportunity for you! 

The Bluffton/Bluffton North ACC core team is happy to announce that there are funds available to cover up to 50% of your costs to visit the missionary family you are representing. The purpose of the fund is to help us better connect with our missionary families and to communicate their story to our local congregations. If you have a conviction to visit your missionary, but would need financial assistance, please consider applying for this grant. These funds are available to both individuals and families. All grant applications will be reviewed by the core team.

Learn more here.

Prayer, the Primary Role

Guest Post from New Bluffton North Workers, Heading to South Asia

For those of us who think a lot about the Great Commission, it is easy to forget about the importance of prayer in missions. This is because the emphasis is on going, giving and, sending and not necessarily on prayer. Consequently, we think a lot about financial needs and personnel needs and we think a lot about whether our time and recourses are being used effectively. This is especially true for those, like myself, who are involved in ministries that are supplemental to evangelism. I’m speaking of ministries like; Bible translation, medical relief, and compassion ministries.

We are so active in the physical arena that we forget how much of missions takes place in the spiritual arena.

Often, it is not until we meet road blocks in this physical arena that we begin to operate in the role that God has given us in the spiritual arena. I used to be involved with a ministry to Muslims teenagers. Personally, I liken evangelism to Muslim teenage boys to hunting squirrels with a bow and arrow. They’re kind of hard to nail down. As evangelists, we put forth a lot of effort and often saw very little fruit. There were a lot of distractions and much of what we would say didn’t seem to land in their hearts. The frustration that we felt from this drove us to our knees. Only then did we begin to see fruit. It was then that circumstances for presenting the gospel seemed to naturally open up before us. We became aware of a supernatural timing to our interactions. The boys we were evangelizing really seemed to be affected by the weight of the Gospel. For this reason, we began to feel like our primary job was to pray for God to work among our Muslim friends and evangelism was sort of the clean-up job.

So, this blog post is a reminder for myself and anyone connected to ministry that prayer is the primary activity in missions.

In order to return to this proper stance, we must acknowledge two vivid truths. First, we must remember that the human problem is spiritual death and all other dysfunctions in our society are a byproduct of this death. We must realize that unless the Holy Spirit does a work in the hearts of lost persons, all of our efforts to serve them will not result in their salvation. We cannot bring their spirits to life with Bible translation. We cannot charm them into salvation with acts of mercy. We cannot convert their souls with fine words. We must go to the Father on their behalf. We must plead the blood of Jesus Christ over them and ask God to quicken them. We cannot expect that our efforts in the physical world are sufficient to fix a problem that is rooted in the spiritual world.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” -Colossians 2:13

Secondly, we must realize that God intends to bring salvation to the nations primarily for the sake of his glory.

He is not interested in seeing our ministry succeed without the element of his supreme power. Secular humanism has affected much of our mission mentality. We think that the planting of churches and the saving of souls is an end unto itself. We are motivated by pride when we think to alleviate human suffering via the application of manpower and money. Consequently, we are surprised when God refuses to bless our plans. We must realize that the salvation of mankind is a problem that only God can handle and he intends to glorify himself in the handling. Therefore, we ought to realize that our greatest participation in this work is to pray. We must begin and end all efforts with prayer. We should expect that God will give supernatural effectiveness to our labors if we bathe them in prayer and perform them for the purpose of giving him glory.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” –Psalm 46:10

I think that there exists a lot of disunity in missions that might be mitigated if parties involved would retreat from the notion that we as Christians are the means by which the nations shall be saved. By this I mean that we as Christians should realize that we’re in a spiritual arena and God is the champion instead of us. If we recognize that it is the power of God that is driving cause of salvation to all nations, we could become unified in the purpose of praying for God’s glory in our work.

I also think that an elevation of the role of prayer in the work of missions would serve to illuminate the segregation of missionaries from the rest of the church.

Sometimes missionaries are seen as super Christians. People think that there exists this rare and super spiritual calling that is missions. They think that there are the missionaries and then there are the rest of us who, thankfully, are not called to sell everything and live in a different culture. There is a lot that could be said on this subject but let it suffice that if prayer was recognized by the church as the primary role in reaching the nations we all would have a stake in the work of missions.

My favorite analogy for prayer in missions is that of an airstrike. Think of the task of the Great Commission in terms of warfare. If the missionaries are the infantry, then the ministry of prayer is the heavy artillery or a cruise missile. Against a fortified enemy, infantry cannot be successful without the help of heavy firepower. In the same way, missionaries will not be successful unless the power of God is unleashed in response to the prayers of the church.

May God bless us with an appetite for prayer in this time of global communication and travel. May we all be motivated to fulfill the Great Commission by going, giving, and sending. But… may we realize that this is a spiritual task that must be accomplished through spiritual means. May we realize that no matter who we are in the church, we all have a stake in this great work. And may we realize that this is God’s show. He wants to glorify himself among the nations. May we see his glory and in response, give him worship.

But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” –Revelations 5:3-4

The Power of Presence

by Nick Steffen

In late June, Amber and I visited a family that has been living and working in southeast Asia for the past decade.

We glided across the local river in a dugout canoe with the dad as we traveled out to a primitive island where their company were marketing its products (water filters) to a population that is still learning the value of clean water.

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We learned more about the local religion, culture and some of the challenges this family faces every day. It’s one thing to hear it in an email, but an entirely different experience to walk alongside them in person. Not only does it build empathy, it really helps when you communicate to others on their behalf later.

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The mom walked us through local markets and introduced us to the local community. What a way to learn about day-to-day life in a different culture!

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We had a blast with their four boys. While they told us stories about the biggest spiders they had seen, their extensive knowledge of dinosaurs, and their new interest in electronics, we were able to share other bits of ephemera from our time in Asia (including, but not limited to, a basic ninja skills class) — providing a little babysitting in the process.

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Although Amber has been on the advocate team for this family for several years, this exciting opportunity offered us both the chance to meet them in their home and to share meals with them. As we got to know them better, they got to know us better too. For a short time, they allowed us to step into their adventure. It was a powerful time for all of us that we won’t soon forget.

If you too are interested in visiting those you are supporting, we have an exciting opportunity for you! 

The Bluffton/Bluffton North ACC core team is happy to announce that there are funds available to cover up to 50% of your costs to visit the missionary family you are representing. The purpose of the fund is to help us better connect with our missionary families and to communicate their story to our local congregations. If you have a conviction to visit your missionary, but would need financial assistance, please consider applying for this grant. These funds are available to both individuals and families. All grant applications will be reviewed by the core team.

Learn more here.

Messy Ministry Missionary

by Kirk Plattner

“Things in the mirror may be closer than they appear.”

We know this warning and can likely explain why it is that the mirror distorts reality.  While the mirror does not change reality, its misrepresentation must be kept in mind to safely navigate a car. For a missionary, there is a different reality that is at risk of getting distorted that must be kept in mind as we think about ministry.

When a missionary writes newsletters, sends emails, and communicates about their ministry, it is easiest and most encouraging to focus on those areas where there is visible fruit. This is generally in the form of troubled child showing the fruit of faith, a broken leg healing, a widow receiving housing, or the hungry being fed. These are each exciting examples of God’s faithfulness in blessing the ministry. In each of these areas where God is at work in visible ways, we give thanks.

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At the same time, we need to acknowledge the risks in only focusing on the happiest stories. 

And such trust have we through Christ to God, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit:for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  2 Cor. 3:4-6

 The risk is two fold.

First, we know that God is sometimes doing greater works in areas that we cannot see than in those areas that are visible.  While it makes sense that we share the stories of fruit, we must commit to the faith of believing in the work of God that is happening in so many ways that are not visible.  This faith in the unseen work of God is often a major aspect to the work of ministry.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  2 Cor. 4:6-7

Second, the work of God in and through the hearts of men is often messy.  We carry our eternal treasure in earthen vessels to a broken world.  This reality often means that along with the stories of fruit are as many stories of pain, struggle, and heartbreak. Again, while it is difficult to share these openly, if they are not acknowledged as reality, a distortion develops.  This distortion has many ramifications.  We can become lackadaisical in our prayers, unreasonable in expectations, and judgmental towards the struggle.  Ministry is a work of God and His ways are above our ways.

As supporters, while we rejoice in reading the stories of faith, healing, and redemption, lets continue to trust the unseen work of God.  Lets continue to join in prayer with the knowledge that the struggle is far greater than what we can see and the ministry is far messier.  With this understanding, we are clearly called to support those serving in these ministries by encouraging them, praying for them, and being understanding of the challenges.  As a church, may we support the work our missionaries, walking faithfully through the messiness of ministering the glorious Gospel of our God.

Connecting & Encouraging

by Joel & Erin Drayer

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” -Ephesians 6:12 

We are at war with a crafty Adversary.  We have noticed that the few hours before we engage with our missionary, we experience an increased attack from the Adversary.  Whether that is sickness, mechanical breakdowns, miscommunications, forgetfulness or just random grumpiness, it can take its toll on our ability to connect and encourage the missionary.  We have needed to ask others to pray protection over us and have increased our own prayer cover on the day that the interactions are planned.  I am amazed how sneaky Satan is.  How I don’t even see him messing with me until I am in a mess.

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Connection – It doesn’t always need to be fancy 🙂 

My desire is for your interactions to be connecting and encouraging for you and your missionary!  If you find that you are struggling to connect with your missionary or if things just fall apart before or after connecting, consider asking others to pray against our enemy on your behalf and increasing your own prayer protection.

“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” – Proverbs 15:29

Also, there will be times when your missionary will be going through some difficult circumstances.  Hard things with no answers.  I love this short clip on empathy and how it is different from sympathy.  The power of connection, through sharing struggle, and being met there is hard to articulate!  Enjoy!

It Will Never Be the Same

Guest Post by Aaron and Bobbie Howley 

“It will never be the same.”

Oh how those words burned me! The it was my life. Two months earlier I had moved to Kampala, Uganda with my husband and three sons in a transition to mission life. When that sentence seared meanly through my brain, I was tired, sick, culture shocked, and quite tempted to abandon all I’d ever worked to do and be. But the truth of the hot whisper in my mind stopped me. Because really, quitting wouldn’t give me back what I wanted—my normal, comfortable, manageable life.

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I had to find a way through to a new normal.

For the next two years I watched guests come and go from the mission guesthouse we ran. Many came fresh off the plane, ready to save Africa, and fulfill their perceived calling. They often stayed with us as housing details were arranged, phones were activated, money was exchanged, and vehicles were purchased. Once all was set, they were off to what most believed was a wonderful experience serving the Lord.

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For many it was wonderful, but it was also agonizing. They came back with stories of God working despite the illness, culture shock, and exhaustion common to missionaries. They struggled through like I had and came to peace with the fact that their lives, the very basis of who they were as people would never, ever be the same. Together we learned to embrace and rejoice in the new people God had formed in us and the actual callings He had beyond the perceived ones we’d brought.

This is the story for missionaries—learn the new normal of who you are in this new place and the work that needs doing while being at peace with what the Father is doing.

DSCN6878But then—depression, abuse, immigration laws, robbery, attacks, car-jacking, vandalism, persecution, anxiety, spiritual warfare, tribal violence, evacuation…

There are moments in mission life which are not standard, not feelings we all must face, and not issues each one addresses. There are moments that qualify as trauma, moments that cause deep, ongoing pain that needs professional intervention.

As we ran the mission house, we saw the need for such intervention to be readily available. Until this year, emotional and spiritual help for missionaries facing crisis in east Africa was hundreds of miles away on difficult roads.

Our prayer and plan is to return to Kampala in June to join a new missions counseling practice which helps people cope with the daily stress of cross-cultural life, as well as the intense, traumatic aspects. We believe God’s workers deserve a chance to find the new normal that comes after extreme circumstances, and our heart is to be with them in that process.

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We are always happy to answer questions about our work and organization. Please email us at howleymission@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to connect personally over a cup of African chai!

Blessings!

Aaron and Bobbie Howley

Prayer Request

We have included specific prayer requests from several of the missionaries on the Updates & Prayer Request page. Please take some time and read those requests from the missionaries themselves! If you know of anything to add, please email: ambsteffen1@gmail.com.

Thanks for praying – and for all of your efforts on behalf of those living and learning abroad. 

And as always, we are here to help. If you are looking for new or different ways to support your missionary family, would like some insight or just need some encouragement, please let us know. As a core team, we are working this year to dive deeper in many ways, but your feedback is a valuable part of that journey.

Thanks!
The Core Advocate Team