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Brussels– 2017

This summer The Compass Church sent a team to serve alongside our partners in Brussels Belgium. Renee, one of the team leaders, writes her reflections on the trip in today’s post. You can read more about the work of some of our partners in Brussles here.

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Summer mission trips don’t always go as planned. Our team prepared to spend two weeks in Brussels this summer, working with Serve the Church, a part of ReachGlobal. Dan and I have been a part of this mission trip for several years and we were looking forward to returning and introducing our team to a city and people we have grown to know and love. We had warned them that there would be a lot of walking and in Brussels you need to be prepared for a change in weather, so bring rain gear. The first full day of flier distribution, the project of inviting area residents to English, music, and cooking classes at a local ministry, dawned absolutely beautiful. We, along with two other teams from California and Iowa, took to the streets to stuff mailboxes. By the afternoon, the skies had darkened and it poured! And yes, those who forgot umbrellas and rain gear got soaked. But over 18,000 invitations went out and people were already calling that evening for more information. Even with inclement weather–a change from what we had planned, God used us to help meet a need for this ministry.

Brussel's MarkWe planned to be involved with various projects around the city the following week: some projects required muscles (heavy bags of construction debris carried through the house, out the window, into the dumpster), some worked with kids (VBS in the park on rainy afternoons under a tent), some were cancelled or changed due to weather (rain again), some involved demolition and construction (think sledge hammers and power tools), some finished quickly and others were added (painting and landscaping). Each team member had a place to work where they could use their gifts and talents, but all projects required flexibility and a willingness to serve. Having been on the trip before, I had my idea of where I wanted to participate. Reconnecting with “C” and helping with her home for refugees was important to me.  What I didn’t plan on was having pneumonia. That really limited my involvement—especially since work at “C’s” house was demolishing the lower level to remodel it into her personal apartment. My role quickly changed and I helped with preparing and serving food for the team. My plans changed, but God still had a role for me—in fact, as my health required more rest, I was able to spend more time in prayer for all the teams and all the projects.

One of the highlights of the trip for our team was participating in worship with various congregations. Even though services were conducted in French, and Flemish with some translation into English, we were all worshiping the same God and were united by our faith in Christ. We didn’t always understand everything that was being said or sung, but we knew these people loved God and served Him faithfully.

In a culture with fewer than one percent identifying as a Bible believing Christian, it was a joy and privilege to come alongside Belgian believers to encourage them, to work with them, to help with projects that enable them to continue to minister to those who so desperately need the Lord. Maybe things didn’t always go as we planned, but it definitely went as God planned—and all for His Glory.

 

So, how was your trip….?

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Do you know someone taking a short term missions trip with The Compass Church or another organization this summer? They will probably return home brimming with stories, experiences, and lessons learned. Chances are they want to share all about their trip, and you want to hear. However it  is often hard for people returning from short term trips to sum everything  up and answer the first question most of us ask…”How was your trip?”

TEAM posted a great article on this topic with some easy alternative questions. Not only will these questions help you get a glimpse at all God did during your friend’s trip, but you will bless your friend as you help them sort through and process their experiences!

If you don’t have time to read the article here is a free download from TEAM with 15 great questions to get you started! Oh…and a good cup of tea or coffee is also recommended!

 

Haiti 2017

In July, The Compass Church sent a team to serve along side ReachGlobal in Haiti. Darcy Ruscitti, Executive Director of Central Ministries, was the team leader and shares here some reflections on the trip. 

It is hard even two weeks later to put words to how impactful a trip it was.   We started off as a group of mostly acquaintances, and ended the trip as strongly bonded family.  You always hope for strong relational connections as a team – but this group exceeded expectations.  Our group was fun-loving, flexible, and hard working – all needed for ministry work in Haiti.

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Each of our days was a very different adventure.  We did everything from painting rooms at the local clinic for a new incoming doctor to filling water jugs for locals and walking them to their homes.  Some homes were tarps, some were the shelter of trees, some wood, and others were even made of cinder blocks.

Two days we traveled to the area called Jan Jan.  We drove for almost an hour, which was as far as we could go by truck, and then we walked with our supplies the remaining mile.  One day we ran a VBS type camp with almost 200 kids!  They just kept coming!  It was great to teach them about the shield of faith and do related activities.  The next day we came back to work on a church building construction site in Jan Jan.  The kids came back out in groves singing the songs and looking for more interactions.  While  some of our team did that, I joined working on the construction and learned how to do re-bar!  As I started I am sure they were quite skeptical of what I could contribute, but after some time with an amazing teacher (one of our interpreters named Joe), they weren’t even checking my work anymore and by the end were including me in the process just like one of them!  It was a blessing to me to get to do some actual labor type work and be praying for the people that will be attending that church.

Haiti 2Near the Jan Jan area there was a vast, mostly dried up river bed.  While there was some running water in it, (the team took numerous trips back and forth to bring water up to the construction site for cement making) you couldn’t help but imagine what that river area would look like filled.  What changes would it mean for the people for their living conditions, their food, their livelihood?  You can’t help but carry this analogy over to the people and their need for the love of Jesus.  So much of Haiti is a vast area of spiritual dryness, people in need of Jesus.  There are small streams of strong Christian communities – we pray those continue to grow and spread for Haiti.

We had the complete joy of wrapping up our week by attending a beautiful church service.  It didn’t even matter that we couldn’t understand the parts that were in Creole – we knew we were getting to experience a special moment within a body of fellow believers.  The singing and joy for the Lord was clearly present even though many had walked quite a distance to even get to church.  We had a big rain Saturday night and it was quite muddy Sunday morning.  It would have been easy to skip church that morning – but they weren’t going to be stopped!  The singing was powerful and so was the message!

Thank you for your prayers and support – we couldn’t have had such an amazing trip without you being a part of it!

Headed out!

The Compass Church is headed out this summer. Over the next few weeks we will have teams of youth and adults serving across the country and around the world in Utah, Pennsylvania, Haiti, Belgium, and Moldova. Please be praying for these teams!

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Pray for:

1. Safe travels.

2 That individuals would hear and respond to the Gospel.

3. That God would enable the teams to see the people they are serving through His eyes. That they would love and serve sacrificially.

3. Flexibility when things don’t go “to plan” and for trust in God’s sovereignty.  “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

4. Unity within in the team, that their love for each other may be a witness to Christ. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

5. That the service given would be a blessing to our partnering agencies. That these partners would be refreshed and strengthened in their daily work.

Stay tuned for updates from our summer teams!

Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation

At the beginning of this year, we reflected on some New Year’s Resolutions for the Worldwide Church. One of those was, “a Bible in every person’s heart language.” The Compass Church is contributing to this goal by partnering with people like Jeanne. She is a Bible Translator and has served for 47 years among a tribal people group in Mexico. This past fall, after decades of work,  the New Testament was presented to the people in three of their dialects.

We enjoyed a visit from Jeanne last month. It was inspiring to hear about her work and the ways God is using His Word. We wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to be encouraged by Jeanne’s story, so please check out the video below!

Haiti: Building a Home and Sharing about Jesus

John Flores attends The Compass Church has been on 3 short term mission trips to Haiti. This past April he was part of a small team from The Compass Church that worked alongside the STEP Seminary school in Port au Prince  to build a house for a needy family. He shares about the experience in today’s post.

With Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the abundant need for aid keeps me going back. This year the main focus of my team’s trip was to build a house for a family that had lost their home as a result of the earthquake in 2010. Since then, the family was living in a make shift house of tarps and tin with no water or electricity. Their home was located on the side of a mountain with narrow paths to walk and no roads. When it rained, the water would wash away anything that was left on the ground which usually meant that the family didn’t sleep if it rained at night.

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The STEP Seminary school is located next to where this family lives and building homes is a part of STEP’s community outreach. The program is completely funded by donations so they only build homes when money is raised – it cost about $6,000 for a house. Our team went down to assist in the building process. There were translators on site while we were working and the fellowship during that time was incredibly powerful and impactful to me.

Throughout the day, many curious children and adults would come to the work site to be a part of the experience. Have you ever seen the show “Extreme Makeover”? Our missionary host described the feeling of the local people as getting a live episode of that show. It was an exciting time for their community and most recipients of a new home have endured many many hardships. When a new home is built for a family, it’s common that other relatives will come to stay with them because it is a much better living situation than what either family had before. Just imagine living with 8 people in a 150 square foot house.

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John working on the house

When Americans come into their community the Haitian people are more receptive to hearing the Gospel. So a few seminary students came to the work site with us every day to take advantage of the opportunity to evangelize to the eager onlookers. One seminary student told me that he’s tried going in the community by himself but the people thought he was the police or part of the government and they wouldn’t talk to him.

We brought snacks, balls, bubbles, and other things to play with the local kids. The best place to play, on that part of the mountain, was on top of a concrete roof of the house that was below us. One day a seminary student offered to translate my teams’ testimonies to the people that were gathered around the construction site. He directed all the kids to sit on a dirt mound and the parents filled in around them. Sharing my story with the group that day was one of the most memorable moments of my Christian walk.

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Playing on the roof

Each day I spent in the community I felt like I got to experience a tiny bit of the pain and suffering the Haitians experience each day of their lives – hardships that would mentally cripple most people. This made me so much more excited to share with them about Jesus. Three people accepted Christ while we were there. I pray that one day all of them will experience God’s love, redemption, and peace.

Seeing God’s work in Haiti has increased my faith immensely. I plan on going back to the mountainside community and bringing the guys from my small group to build another home in the spring of 2018.

A Powerhouse of Missionary Sending

For the last few weeks we have looked at ways that the Gospel is being proclaimed in word and deed throughout the Latin America/Caribbean region. Did you know that the Gospel is also going out from this region to the rest of the world in big ways?  For example, according to this article from Christianity Today, Brazil sent out 34,000 missionaries in 2010. This makes it the second highest country for missionary sending in the world!

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Praise God for our brothers and sisters in Brazil that are sending and going in order to take the Hope of the Gospel to the world. Let us pray today that God would bless their lives and work!

For more on how the Gospel is going from everywhere to everywhere check out this post.

 

From new life to bearing fruit

This week’s post comes to us from Mark and Meg Kuzdas who serve in Costa Rica. Prior to moving to Costa Rica, Mark and Meg attended The Compass Church, and were very involved as leaders in the youth group. Mark sent us a testimony written by a young woman named Debra (name changed for privacy). 

Mark writes, “Debra’s home was one of those that we visited very early on as we started the ministry after language school in 2003. We are very proud of her as she has graduated high school and is in her second year of college.”

One day my family and I moved to live in Los Guido. Mark and Meg came to our house and invited us to go to church. My mom took us to church and we continued to go each Sunday. A short time later Mark asked my brother, sister and I if we would like to be a part of a discipleship group and we said yes.

leaves-2146615__340I was 5 years old when I started in my discipleship group and loved it. When I was going through the second book I began to understand that Jesus died and rose again for me. Mark asked if I wanted to accept Christ as my Savior and I said yes and prayed. Some time later I learned to really love teaching others all that I had learned and was learning as I became a teacher in my own discipleship groups. Eventually I became a youth leader in the church.

The Lord provided a huge blessing for me in 2015 when I was able to go to Nicaragua on my first missions trip. It was so exciting! I wanted to go and be part of the team that was teaching the Word of God. I had been taught and learned that Jesus died and rose again for me and I wanted to teach others the same thing and also help in whatever I way could.

Z83758LMGTAfter we returned to Costa Rica, Mark asked those on the team who would like to return to [Nicaragua] on another missions trip. Of course, I said I did and have been back several times! I look forward to going again [this year] to not only share more from God’s Word but also to teach music which is one of the gifts that the Lord has given me.

Today I am one of the teachers every Sunday in Sunday School and part of the worship team where I play the keyboard, flute, and sing. I am a teacher in the discipleship groups and I teach music classes. I work in the kitchen of the …. feeding center every [week]. I continue to help and serve in any way I can.

Praise God for the work He has done in Debra’s life! Pray today for Debra that she would continue to be used by God to share His light in her country and beyond. Pray also for Mark and Meg as the continue to serve faithfully. 

 

Come Alive!

Reading the news these days can be a scary business. Violence, injustice, poverty,  the list goes on and on. In response, many may place their hope in good deeds, scientific advancements, or politics. Yet none of these can truly overcome evil.

As followers of Christ,  we can live with peace even in the darkness, for we know that the battle has already been won. This past weekend we celebrated our salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the true hope of the world.  It is a “a living hope  … an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,” (1 Peter 1: 3-4).

The world is desperate for this Hope.  May we go forth and share it hear, near, and far.

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Our God is Above All

Today’s post is written by Tim Navratil who serves with his wife as the Area Leader for Latin America/Caribbean with ReachGlobal.

Last March I traveled to a remote part of the Peruvian Jungle.  I found out that the jungle there can be described in three ways.  The lowland jungle that most of us think of when we hear “jungle” where the waters flow slowly and the trees are thick and the air is heavy with bugs and humidity.  The highland jungle is high in the mountains where the rivers begin.  The middle jungle is where I traveled.  There the rivers run wide and fast, are bounded by rocks and trees and the air is a bit less humid.  The road to the villages we visited was narrow and mostly gravel with several rivers we had to ford.  One river we drove through for about 100 yards, part of the time running down the middle of the river.  That was a bit exciting.

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The people we visited are called Yanesha.  They are a native people to that part of Peru.  They live on a government reservation comprised of about 48 communities.  I was tagging along with a church team that taught English at a middle/high school in the town of Shiringa.  We spent several days teaching English and playing games with the students.  Each year our ReachGlobal missionaries in this area host mission teams to teach ESL in quite a few schools in the area.

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This year there will also be construction teams coming to minister among the Yanesha.  They are helping to build a ministry and training center to help teach the young pastors and lay leaders in the communities.  The church was planted among the Yanesha by Wycliffe and they even have a New Testament in their language.  Unfortunately, the churches spiritual health has deteriorated over the years and there is a real need for spiritual and theological training.

A few months after I visited Shiringa, I read an article on the internet about a 73-year-old woman who had been accused of witchcraft in this village.  She was thought to have been bringing curses on several villagers and making them sick.  This poor woman was burned alive at the stake.   Over 40 people in this village voted to give her the death penalty for her wrongdoing.

Picture 3One of the church leaders among the Yanesha recently was ill and after receiving prayer from our missionaries went to visit a shaman.  This unfortunately is not uncommon among these tribal people.  There is a great need for training and prayer for understanding the spiritual forces at work among them.  I am excited to be part of another team going back to the Yanesha in the Spring of  2017.  One of the team members is going to be teaching for three days on the topic of Spiritual Warfare to over 40 church leaders.

Would you please be praying for the Yanesha, that their spiritual eyes of understanding would be opened and they would see that there is only One God who heals and that there are many spiritual forces of darkness arrayed against the work of Gospel transformation in their communities.