Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why respond to events like earthquakes?





In 2007, Chincha, Peru was rocked with an earthquake impacting thousands. We responded, with our partners, the EFC of Peru (ADIEL), with compassion, and a command to love our neighbor.
Four years ago we started serving the community by distributing food, ministering to kids and families, rebuilding homes and lives, and loving people. ADIEL sent out it's first missionary family three years ago to live in the community.

But fours years later, that question, "Why respond?" has a much deeper answer. It was evident last week through the worship, prayer and teaching with a ’seed’ of adults and kids, who are part of a new church plant called "La Semilla", (The Seed). The why behind those years of ministry effort was made clearer through the testimonies of those gathered:

Lucho said, "The teaching I received here has helped me grow. I am an new person, a new creation."

Armando, who came for the first time at Lucho's invitation with his wife and 2 kids, said, "I came here tonight to publicly testify that I have done much damage to my wife and family. I need to change." He's starting a bible study with the church planter, Felix, this week.

Louisa said, "I don't even have a primary education. But I am learning to understand God's word. My neice (attending with her) is using the Bible to teach me to read and write."

Her niece said, "I'm thankful (for this group) because I've found the Truth."

Claudia shared that she'd been coming for a few weeks since seeing such a change in her sister. " I’ve come to learn about my identity in Christ".

Soledad testified that she had been a mean and even evil person. But she's been changed. "Now I am being filled."

Life Transformation...this why we invest in long term relational ministry in the aftermath of crisis.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Responding to Floods in N and S America


While the NE United States was getting deluged, at the opposite side of the hemisphere, the southern part of Brazil was also experiencing torrential flooding. We have been connecting with churches in NY, PA and NJ, but also in Rio Du Sul, Brazil. I'll be flying to Brazil Sunday to help our partners, the EFC of Brazil, in planning their response outreach efforts. Below is a report of this week from Pastor Johnny:

On Monday we returned to a house we worked on the day before, but neither the owner nor his wife could be there because of their work, but they left us alone in their home, cleaning everything, dishes, rooms, etc...lots of stuff. At the end of the afternoon he came back and I asked him: "How was it that you trusted us in leaving us along in your home with all of your things?" He responded: "in that first conversation I perceived that I could trust you". They were quite touched. We prayed with them and gave them Bibles and they asked us about the church and what they could do to help...it was a very special moment.

There are many stories, but one other case....Debora and Arlei....Their home was totally under water and was one of the last in the city to see the water recede. When we arrived we soon discovered that it was the worst of all of the home we'd seen and helped. Immediately the man said that he didn't believe in God nor the devil, he didn't believe in nothing -- that his friend was money...but that neither his friends nor family had come to help... Then someone said: "But we're here and we came to help." We spent 2 VERY arduous days for there was lots of mud. Every last roof tile had to be removed...we weren't able to completely finish the job for there were other commitments but at the end of this second day the man thanked us saying that we did more than they could have in 30 days. Then he said: "Pastor...we want to go to church to thank God"...

And we intend to return to finish the job...
In this way, there have been many opportunities to serve and share the love of God in a practical way and we are so thankful that we haven't had to do this alone, because brothers from many places have prayed, contributed, given and even come to help.

Pray for the local church plant to have great Gospel impact in the lives of those they serve.
To give, click here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Results from our Irene Response


Having just passed the 6th year anniversary of Katrina, we are being drenched by Tropical Storm Lee, with an eye on Hurricane Katia. Meanwhile, our team has been responding for over a week in Greenville, NC alongside Harmony Church (EFCA). Read below of the Lord provision.

9/1 - Today some of us got to cut down trees at Paul and Eileen's house. They were a neat couple, and we got to have some great interaction with them. Miss Eileen couldn't understand why we were helping them like we were, and we were able to tell her it's because we have a God who loves us immensely and invites us to share that love with others. She still was just shaking her head and tearing up. Near the end of the day, one of us was able to tell her that what she experienced today is just a tiny portion of how much God loves her. She was overwhelmed. Her response is a good reminder to us, to really think about the enormity of God's love for us, and let it overwhelm our hearts. Mr. Paul said he thinks they're going to show up at church on Sunday. We're hoping to see them there!

9/2 - We serve a God who answers prayers! Last night some of us were able to go to a home group of Harmony Church folk. Pastor Derek shared that God had been putting it on his heart to pray for the professors and faculty members at the university one day this week. On the same day he was praying he found out that we'd been working at a lot of professors houses. These professors plan to host a dinner for us tomorrow night, and we have invited Pastor Derek with hopes that Harmony will be able to keep reaching out to them.
Today we cut down a 70 ft. pine tree that was partially uprooted and leaning toward Miss Anne's mobile home. Before we cut it we prayed that it would not hit anything--whether that be a house or a person. It was quite an involved process, but when it finally fell the top was just short of a shed and didn't even hit the lights on the side! God kept everyone and everything safe! So thankful for that.
Blessings, Allison

9/3 - Today was the seventh day here in Greenville, NC. Bodies are starting to get a little tired, but God keeps providing the strength that we need and the supplies to keep us going! Today breakfast, lunch, and dinner were provided for us by people that we either served today or other days. It's wonderful to see God's provision in that and be able to interact with them over food. We keep having opportunities to tell people that we're really not that extra ordinary people, we just have an awesome God! The one family we served today had two little girls who pitched in and helped us rake and drag trees. They were fun to work with, and they drew us pictures as a thank you. :)

9/4 - Today one of the homeowners that we worked for on monday, Mr. Michael, came out to work with us. He's been a cool connection to have. He and his wife both work at the university, and we've been able to connect them with some people from Harmony church. Blessings,Allison

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Trinity, Crisis Response, and Orphan Sunday

This is a guest post by Jordan Mogck, blogger at familia Dei and communicator with GlobalFingerprints, the EFCAs child sponsorship program.

Losing lives and property is devastating. Prolonged turmoil, unrest, and economic woe is enough to shatter even the most resilient characters. By far the most vulnerable, however, are the children left without parents after a crisis. In fact, the sheer abundance of orphaned children in the world has garnered for itself the stamp of "crisis".
With 163 million fatherless children around the world, a response from the Church is mandatory.
A devastating metaphor
One could say that the orphan crisis is a devastating metaphor for the gospel itself. For we, vulnerable and isolated children separated from the Father because of our sin, were left for dead.
The Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, describes our sin-laden plight as orphans bluntly, "No eye pitied you...but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born" (16:5).
Orphaned children are specifically targeted for unimaginably horrific lives of sex-trafficking, guerilla warfare, and all that goes with it.
The societal and economic strains that the global orphan crisis entails, only perpetuates the problem. The shame a teenaged orphaned girl feels toward her son born of rape will abhor him and leave him for dead behind a dumpster. Mothers who cannot feed themselves, let alone a child, will leave their newborn in an open field to fend for itself against the elements.
Someone must intervene.
The Trinity in Crisis Response
Likewise, we are as good as dead left to our flesh, away from the Father. However, God is a "Father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). Ezekiel continues, "When I [God] passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!'" (16:6).
The Father responded to our crisis by sending Jesus to bring us into His Family, "he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:5). Adoption was how God responded to our orphan crisis.
The show goes on
There is an enormous, tangible global orphan crisis in our world. As adopted members of the family of God, we are bound to act out that same gospel on the world's stage. We need to engage.
GlobalFingerprints is the EFCA's child sponsorship program located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (where, in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is approximately 1 orphan in every 8 children) and Kolkata, India.
On November 6, churches everywhere will be engaging. November 6 has been dubbed Orphan Sunday. In an effort to equip churches for a response, GlobalFingerprints will be providing resources for churches to begin acting in this drama of the gospel.
If you'd like to partner with GlobalFingerprints in the Global Orphan Crisis, you can start by sponsoring the education, healthcare, and discipleship of a child in need for $25/month.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Minot Flooding

This spring the community of Minot, North Dakota experienced the largest flood in its history. The levies broke and forced eleven thousand people out of their homes. Seventeen families from Trinity EFC are dealing with their homes being submerged, including Pastor Andy.

TouchGlobal Director, Mark Lewis, has met with the pastor along with several other leaders to talk about what is being done to assist the community affected by the flood and how they would like to proceed in the long term.

Currently, Crisis Response is traveling to North Dakota to assess the situation and getting the word out about the need for immediate and also long term giving. Along with that, we are working with Trinity EFC in processing how to continue in the long term.

How can you help?


  • Pray - Praising God for His sovereignty and praying for the specific needs of Trinity EFC and its surrounding community


  • Give - Donations will support the recovery of the 17 families from Trinity Church along with the thousands of other families in Minot who have lost their homes


  • Learn - Visit Trinity's site for more information and updates concerning the flood (http://trinitychurchminot.org/flood2011.htm)


  • Serve - Consider serving in Minot. Help these families get back to their homes! Email crisisresponse@efca.org for more info. Add "minot" in subject line.

God Bless!


"The Lord rules over the floodwaters. The Lord reigns as King forever." Psalm 29:10

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Need in New Orleans

August 29, 2011 marks the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. After six years, it's easy to forget what happened and it's easy for the rest of the world to move on. This week was an undeniable reminder that Hurricane Katrina is still hurting many families across the city of New Orleans. A few of us from the construction staff went out to assess homes this week and the stories we heard touched our hearts.



We talked to Ms. Corin, who lives in the 9th Ward. She has been the victim of fraudulent contractors who came in, said they would fix her house, took her money and left. She has even had thieves come in and steal her plumbing, wiring and A/C unit. Ms. Corin has done what she can to fix up the interior of her house, even hanging drywall by herself. Now she needs someone to come alongside her, love her and transform her house into a home.



We also met with James who is doing what he can to restore his house for his mother and two nieces, Esther Ruth and Emmanuela. He is struggling to balance his job and the work he does on his home. James has done an amazing job with the inside of his house, but when he looks at the outside, he is reminded of the catastrophic damage that Katrina brought to his family, home and city.



The hardest part was realizing that these families have waited almost six years for the rebuilding of their homes. What's worse is telling them they must wait even longer, because we do not have the volunteers and staff needed to serve them. We need volunteers to come serve! After six years, the flow of volunteers has slowed down. The need is still there and the people of this city are still hurting. Yes, our heart breaks for the unfinished homes, but our hearts break even more for the lost souls who need to know the love of Jesus Christ. Crisis Response will continue to live out Matthew 9:38 and "pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest".



If you would like to invest in what the Lord is doing in the city of New Orleans or send teams, please email katrinarelief@efca.org or go to www.efca.org/katrina.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Response Update

It has been a busy quarter for us...and now more tornadoes. This past week i visited our partner hope church, in Madison AL, where the continued clean up from the F5 tornado 3 weeks ago is underway. We are recruiting teams to serve there through the summer...see the video in the previous post. Go to http://www.touchglobal.org/tornadoobal.org/tornado to give or to serve.


Now we are working with Maple Grove EFC and other local EFC's in Minneapolis to respond to the F2 tornado that hit yesterday. If you are located in that area and want to serve, email tgmsptornado@gmail.com. We do not have a local church conection pre-existing in Joplin, so we are evaluating with the District and other EFC's in the region if a response there is appropriate for us.
Meanwhile, we continue with teams in New Orleans this week, and our partnering with several EFC church plants now under way there. We'll be hosting teams there for the long term, as the needs from Katrina are still prevalent and to support ongoing church planting efforts.

Right now, I am in a van, part of a 3 vehicle, 13 person team heading into Ishinomaki, Japan to do a food distribution for several hundred people. Most are back in their flood damaged homes, and all have not had work for that last 2 months since the tsunami. We will also visit potential church plant works in Onogawa and other cities up the coast this week, and to make preparations for teams. Teams are greatly needed for July, August and beyond. For more information go to www.touchglobal.org/japan.

Please consider giving. Please consider serving with us on a team. Please consider serving with us as a longer term staff role.
ml

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Video from Alabama

Crisis Response will be extending the Alabama Tornado Crisis Response until the end of the summer. So far, there have been great efforts to assist the people in the vicinity of the appropriately named Hope Church.

There is a brisk pace of requests for teams to serve there this summer, so get the details to send a team from your church and form your team. Watch this video to be encouraged and inspired!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Nations bring the Gospel to Haiti

While our responses to the recent tragedies in Japan and Alabama continue to unfold, ministry continues in New Orleans, Myanmar, Peru and Haiti. For updates go to touchglobal.org/crisisresponse

Four men gathered. Four prayers offered. Four languages spoken… Lingala, Czech, Creole and English. This was God at work in Haiti last week. I traveled to Haiti last week to connect with Pastor Ibengi, a missionary sent from the Congolese Evangelical Free Church, and a short-term mission team representing several churches from the Czech Republic. When Ibengi, Daniel ( both pictured) from Prague, and I visited Pastor Enoch, of Gressier, Haiti, to share and pray, it was a beautiful expression of God’s Kingdom, and His humor, since we found French, none of our native tongues, to be the most effective language for our conversations.

Pastor Ibengi arrived in the first week of April, and will be in Haiti until early June. He will be joined by Pastor Fidele, also from Congo later this month, also for a two month stay. Ibengi has been received as a ‘star’ of sorts, from another continent, yet seen as brother. They will spend time learning about the Haitian church and culture, which Ibengi described and “just like home”. They will also do some teaching and pastoral training, build relationships and determine if there would be a call from God for them to return to Haiti early next year to serve as long term missionaries.

Daniel was making his second visit to Haiti, and was talking about his 3rd and 4th in the future before he left. His team was an amazing blessing. Here’s a brief summary of all they did:

• They started the work on a new clinic facility near our house in Gressier. It is being constructed by our partner Haiti Health Ministries. HHM has been providing quality medical care in Haiti for over 20 years, but since the earthquake destroyed their facility, they have shared a small space with our neighboring ministry. They built a permanent latrine facility and helped get the building foundations started. Our prior week’s team actually laid the first block for the entire project. We are blessed to be able to help this partner in the long term project. Come and be a part of this work!

• Another ministry we have been serving is Macombre Christian School. The ’quake collapsed all the school structures, except the administration building, and a large concrete water tank. The tank was severely damaged and rendered unusable. So last year, we installed a temporary clean water system for the 800 kids. But we also had a dream to be able to restore and reinforce the tank and be able to supply safe water for the community as well. Through partnership with Valley Church (CA), funds were provided for the materials, yet we lacked the team with the needed skills to complete the work, until the Czechs arrived with several concrete and block tradesmen. More work will be needed, but the Czechs completed the bulk of the repair.

• They also continued to support the ongoing community shelter project. They did some work on the shelters, but did a lot of community relationship building, prayer and house blessings. Wes said we we're now approaching 900 shelters completed, that’s a roof over the heads of 4,500 people. (Pastor Stanislaus pictured.)

• They also had a man on team that came considering adoption through our ministry partner, Operation Love the Child Haiti (Jasmine’s orphanage for those who’ve served with us).

• And, they invested time in ongoing construction work on our house.

May God multiply the ministry in Haiti, and around the world through our international partner relationships.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Amazing Survival- AL Tornadoes



On Wednesday, April 27, the people of Madison, near Huntsville, Alabama, were awoken with the sound of tornado alarms. That day, they suffered not one, but four tornados.

“It was surreal,” said the pastor of Hope Church EFC in Madison, Andy Wulff (pictured below). “You would go out and talk to your neighbors between storms.” Hope Church suffered minor damage. In a congregation of about 200, only two houses suffered significant damage. The rest were missing a few shingles or a downed tree at most.

Nearby Harvest, however, was not so lucky. About noon they were hit by a F4 tornado. Melvin (left), who runs the Harvest Youth Club, said, “We have about 103 homes. Only a dozen are being lived in right now.” Harvest has been described as an urban-type community in a rural setting. The average income is $23-24,000. Ninety-nine% of the community is African American. Maybe 50% of the families have insurance.

“Most of our kids are on free or reduced lunch, if that gives you an idea of our community.” said Melvin. “80% of these houses are single-parent or non-traditional homes. Forty percent of our residents are over 60, yet we only had one fatality and 45 seriously injured.” He later clarified that the one fatality was over on a road outside of the main community.

His survival story is amazing. “We run a pre-school and weren’t able to get the kids home because the parents were locked down at work. At about noon, the tornado came. All the women were screaming and I was just praying, but it seemed very short.”

However short it seemed, the devastation was immeasurable. The ministry’s bus was originally in the parking lot. In the storm it flipped over and landed up right against the trees. Trailer frames were the only thing still intact on many trailers in the community. Trees were down all over. The town was almost completely devastated. Melvin’s house lost its garage and the back sustained some damage, almost untouched compared to some houses.

One witness said, “I was looking outside my window watching the other side of the street get hit.” When you walk through Harvest, you may see one house completely gone and the next almost untouched. Debris is everywhere.
“About 90 to 95% of our homes are devastated,” said Melvin. “The recovery is going to take a while. It’ll be interesting.”

Melvin's ministry is providing free meals all day and trying their best to supply basic needs. When asked what their immediate needs are, Melvin replied, “toiletries, tools, and diapers.”
Even with the devastation, Melvin has a hopeful outlook. “This will draw us as a community closer to God. God allows things to happen with the ultimate outcome that He gets the glory and it prepares us for the Kingdom.”

EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis response and Hope EFC have been sending teams serve this area since Saturday. Partnering with the local ministries to show the love of Christ. Join us!

(Written by Kendra Watterson, age 13, daughter of TG staffer...great job Kendra... ml)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tornado Response

Here's the first report from our team in AL. ml

4/29 - 9:45 pm
We arrived at Hope church in Madison Alabama about 8 pm Tonight. Our trip here was mildly eventful ( as most of our trips have at least a little drama). John Horst drove one truck pulling a chain saw/ tool/ supply trailer, while i drove another truck with my family pulling our skid loader.


Just over the Alabama line, I noticed chunks of rubber being thrown up by our trailer, and thought how weird it was because I didn't remember seeing those on the road as I drove over them. One hit the cab of the truck, and I said to Babette," I hope those aren't from us."

About 2 miles later I caught more of them flying off the trailer tire, and realized they were from us as the vibration from the trailer became apparent. We pulled off on to the shoulder and checked the tire to see a large portion of the tread missing from the tire. We drove cautiously to the next exit and proceeded to change the mangled tire( still inflated praise God) with the spare ( which was also still inflated, praise God).

I had thrown my tools and a floor jack in with us since our track record with trailer tires on trips like this has historically been less than stellar. We had to unload the skid loader from the trailer in order for the jack to pick up the trailer.

45 minutes later we were back on the road. At mile marker 66 on I-59, we saw the first evidence of tornadic activity as we passed the Mercedes Benz assembly plant just south of Tuscaloosa. There was a swath of trees on both sides of the highway that were snapped off and twisted like wet toothpicks about 100 yards wide. There were sheets of tin roofing laying twisted up like ribbon in the median, and small branches and twigs laying on both shoulders.

Every so many miles we would see similar sights sporadically along our route. As we drove farther north and into birmingham, we saw several damages houses, flipped over out buildings and even a motel that was just walls with no roof. We needed to stop for fuel and picked a random exit since many of the signs were blown down. We found a place that was open, but the guy behind the glass enclosure told me," Don't got none. We all out."
We drove north to the next exit and after negotiating the string of traffic, we were finally able to get to a truck stop, where we tried to fill up using our credit cards at the pump, only to find out that we had to pay cash because their processing system was down. We emptied our wallets and came up with enough cash to fill the thirsty monsters with 1/2 a tank each, which would get us to our destination.

We continued our trek north not seeing much more obvious damage until about 10 miles from the church. Police were directing traffic at intersections because the lights weren't operating, we began to see trees down in yards and on roofs, we saw what used to be a mobile home strewn across an open yard, and billboards that were bent backwards or simply just a pole completely missing the top.

Darkness was setting in and it was obvious who were the haves and the have nots in the generator department. A convenience store and a CVS store were the only things lit up along the road.

We turned off the main road onto a side road, and weaved our way around downed branches and through passages cut out of trees which earlier had blocked the road, and met Pastor Andy Wulff at Hope church. The church had been spared major damage, but there was leaf debris in the parking lot and a tree down in the front yard.

Andy's wife a 5 children had left to go and stay with family in Indianapolis after the storm, so he had several beds to offer us. We left the one truck and trailer at the church with the skidloader as well, and drove the 10 minutes from the church to his house through the eerie darkness seeing homes that normally would be bathed in exterior lamps and accent lighting, now only showing dim candlelight through the open windows.

We arrived at his house, unloaded our things by flashlight, all the while being serenaded by a chorus of droning generators. We discussed how the storms and tornados 2 days ago came and went all day long from 6 am till 8 pm all seemingly following the same track and damaging the same areas time and time again throughout the entire day.

We are expecting 20 church folks to show up at Hope tomorrow at 8 am to gather with us and move out into the community to share the love of Christ with those in need by helping them clean up their yards, cut down trees and pray for them however God leads.

We will help the church set up some awnings and prepare for their modified outside Sunday program, stage our equipment and return to New Orleans to meet up with our newly recruited group of 8 or so people from Texas, Montana and Wisconsin Sunday night, then return to Madison again to be Gods hands and feet on Monday for at least A few weeks. Won't you come and join us? If you can't, maybe you could give finically, or at the very least, but most importantly, PRAY!

Kevin

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Touching the Unreached

Here’s the numbers on the Japan Earthquake: * Over 25,000…the number dead and missing * 400,000 people displaced from their homes * 81,000 homes uninhabitable * 8ft, the distance that the island of Japan shifted, and * 40 cm, the elevation that parts of the island sank. * Unknown – the long term effects of ongoing radiation leaks * 19,000 - population of Minamisanriku,Japan on March 11 at 245pm * 50 feet – estimated tsunami height that hit this town * 9,700 - population of minamisanriku. Japan on march 11 at 345pm * ZERO – number of churches in the city of minamisanriku * ZERO – from what we can tell, the number of Christians who have ever resided in this town in recorded history * 2nd and 0.09% - Japan, the second most unreached people in the world, with only 0.09 percent of population being evangelical. * Infinite – the abounding grace and mercy of our God, who according to 2nP 3:9, “is patient…, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. In the city of Minami-Samriku it is hard to recognize what life may have looked like before the tsunami wave struck. I heard about the town at 5am this morning, as a team from a partner church returned to Tokyo from a two day trip, focused on serving a hot meal to 1200 people there, and in Ishinomaki. The coastline in the area had a funneling effect, raising the water to more than 3 stories high, as evidenced by the many broken windows in the 4th floor of the hospital, and by the boat stuck in the 3rd floor of city hall. The force of the water was such that the city hall building was stripped down to just steel girders on the lower floors. As the waters rose, some people said they fled to the hills, others ran to the higher buildings in town, only to end up stranded on the upper floors. The most striking note about the trip was the report that as far as anyone knew, there has never been a church in Minami-Samriku. It is even uncertain if a Believer has ever lived in this town. The team went to great efforts though to represent Christ well, to touch the unreached in this community. They assembled generators, cooking pots, food, water, and other supplies to cook a traditional meal for those people living in shelters here and nearby, all from the back of a truck. A chef from a restaurant in Tokyo came up with the idea, though he’s not yet met Jesus. He mobilized resources and other soon to be seekers to join with the church in this outreach effort. - Pray for the planting of the Gospel in this impacted region. Japan is an unreached country. The evangelical population, which is less than 1/10th of 1% (0.09%) in the entire country, is even lower in the part of the country impacted by this earthquake. - Pray for the outreach of the Tokyo churches to the unbelieving neighbors who are coming to the churches because of their caring for others. - Pray for us as we continue to seek God’s leading to the communities that He has chosen for us to serve, deeply.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anniversaries


Yesterday and today… Japan and Haiti… one month and a year and a quarter…two devastating earthquakes. For the people that hundreds of thousands they have impacted in each country, they are still very real. How about for us…how good is our memory? Do we recall the images of 50ft walls of water, or a million people living under tarps?


In Japan, the news was of officials declaring the nuclear disaster is now at a “7”, yesterday it was still a “5”. “7” is the worst rating of a nuclear disaster. New data has shown things to be much

worse, resulting in many more people being forced to leave their homes, not knowing when, if, they might ever return. Pray for the long road ahead for the Japanese people.


I was in Haiti today, and was struck with reality of so many families still living in some sort of make shift shelter. I seemed to notice more of them in places I had not focused on before. They look more faded and tattered. As I drove through the Champs de Mars, the former park now shanty town of 10,000 in front of the Presidential Palace, there are more signs of permanency; more sheet metal; more furniture; and with the slow pace of the recovery, more of the same for a long time. There is very little new concrete/block construction except for a few church, clinic or school buildings being funded with outside resources.


The striking difference of pre- and post-quake was so starkly seen in my visit yesterday with a pastor near Gressier. He had a relatively nice block home with several bedrooms for he and his extended family of 14. When the quake struck, he and his 2 young boys were in the house. The pastor was stuck in the head with a block, and concrete crashed down on his shoulders. He was dropped to the ground, but providentially was spared from being crushed as he fell aside some furniture in his house that resulted in a void space. As he dug himself out, he told me his thought was only of his boys. He was sure they were dead, then he heard a moan, and began digging, and the Lord spared them all.


Now today, he has been able to build small 2 wooden buildings for the family to cook and eat in, but the slab of the former house is covered with 5 tents, where the family still sleeps each evening. Please don’t forget Haiti. Keep praying. Keep giving. Keep coming to serve.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Aftershock

The 9.2 earthquake is now a 3 week old memory, but reminders of it were very real this week. Several evenings I was awakened by aftershocks, then, last evening, when we were traveling back from Ishinomaki, there was a 7.2 “Aftershock”. The renewed tsunami warnings and the physical shaking, brings afresh feelings of fright and reality for the hundreds of thousands in the recovery process.

The 7.2 Aftershock also undid some of what had been advanced in the recovery efforts. In Tokyo this morning, we got calls from northern areas where utilities had been previously restored, that
they were now cut off again. Some lost water, some electricity, some gas, some lost all. We
heard that food in Mianmi- Suriku was also short. A truck was being deployed today with needed supplies, and additional ReachGlobal staff are flying in Saturday, then, heading north to the affected areas to serve there next week.
Wednesday, I joined up with our ReachGlobal family in Sendai, and we helped with a partner’s distribution effort in Ishinomaki. We had a team of 22 in total, lead by Japanese pastors, missionaries and lay people from our partner churches in the Tokyo region supported by pastor's and missionaries from Korea, S. Africa,
Greece, Britain, Hong Kong and the US. It was a real blessing to see this multi-cultural expression of the Body serving those in need. The team delivered supplies to about 100 families.



One of those participants was Mr. Y. He is an elderly man, who is a part of a fledgling Sendai church plant. He has been a believer for 6 months, and came away from yesterday’s experience of serving others filled with joy. He spoke with me at length afterwards, telling me of the devastation that hit in the village where he grew up.

He asked me to help his village, saying “I am old and can do so little”. But that led to a great discussion of the power of God working in us as believer’s, and I used the mustard seed parable to illustrate the great fruit that can come from such a small thing, as an elderly man with a vision to help his people. Of course, we assured him that if he was called and took the lead, we’d be there to support him. Mr. Y. was just beaming.


PRAY Pray for the continued improvement of people’s living conditions. The Japanese government is very expediently working to restore services build Displaced People’s camps, but the impacted areas are very extensive, with some very isolated, so there are many pockets where relief has been slow in coming.

Pray for workers for the harvest, especially young Japanese men and women. But also, we need non-native Japanese speakers critically, and others “who are willing” (Ex. 36: ) to offer their time and talents for 3 months to two years to step forward to serve in the impacted region.


Pray for the development of really strong, lasting, and missionally aligned partnerships. In the first hours after we landed in Japan, God connected us with a several great churches in the Tokyo region, that umped in right away in reaching out to those affected. Pray that we can solidify and more fully understand how we can serve them, and work together in making disciples and planting churches in the Tohoku Region.

GIVE
Thank you to those that have generously given already, food, clothing, personal hygene kits, and fuel have been distributed. Pray for a continued outpouring of resources to support what we see will be several years of long term recovery and disciple-making efforts. Click to donate.


SERVE We are starting to make plans now for hosting teams to help in the recovery efforts. We have few details now, but expect that by early summer, all logistics will be in place to host teams, perhaps sooner. If you are interested in being one of the ‘pioneering teams’ (that is, can move forward without having all the “t’s crossed”) contact us immediately, (email crisisresponse@efca.org put RE: Japan NOW) or just let us know if you have interest in sending a team in the future (put RE: Japan Summer or Japan Fall).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan - Day 13 Where do i start...


Thursday was surreal. (please read to end)We spent the day in a number of cities/towns along the coast near Sendai that had been hit with the tsunami. Ishinomaki has a seawall 30' above sea level protecting it from tsunami, except this wave was about 40 feet high. It smashed homes near the seawall, and then flooded the rest of the city. Where we were working, the neighborhood had 10,000 people living in it. Every person's home was flooded, and several hundred were killed.
We met one lady on the street, who we conversed with through our interpreter. She said she was in the 4 story school when the tsunmai hit. As she watched out the window, she saw her neighbor driving down the street trying to outrun the wave, and saw the car swalloed by the torrent.
Many people are back living in the undamaged second floor of their homes, with no heat or water (it's still like winter there). As the team was distributing supplies to families who were still living in the community, Carl (RG Asia Lead Team) and I went wandering /praying. We found a lady who was trying to clean a few things in front of her house, and I realized her and her husband we trying to clean out. We had been told that Japanese we're closed and would not let foreigners in their homes, even flooded. But following the Holy Spirit I asked in my best sign language (my poor french and worse spanish were no help) if we could help them. We entered the house and started picking up heavy things, and they got the idea. We spent almost 2 hours with them emptying out the contents of the house. an impossible job for the two of them, but doable with the extra hands. It was a joy to see their energy increase as we worked side by side. In the process of cleaning we, were able to help them save dozens of hand made wooden dolls that were family treasures.
Before we were done, they offered us a drink, and water (very hard to get in town) to wash our hands. We were blessed by their giving as we served them. We were able to get their contact information and then they allowed us to pray a prayer of blessing over them.
We ended the day visiting the school, now a shelter for hundreds of families. They are living communally with 12-24 people to a class room. They have no heat, water or electric. We saw men drawing water from the adjacent swimming pool for cleaning.
Carl and I connected with a house church planter that was organizing a distribution center. (us assessing - pic below). And of course we wonder about the kids.

But most incledible, we found another area later in the day that was hit with a 60' wave. We found debris up on a cliff next to the only 2 habitable homes, all the rest lower in elevation were swamped or totally gone.
Today, we:
- were able to make connections to get 200,000 meals moving to the Sendai region through our partners.
- purchased and loaded a truck with several thousand pieces of new underware....a luxury item now for the people in the shelter and othr areas of Ishinomaki. They have no money, no cars, no fuel, no way to buy replacements.
- Invested hours in partnership devleopment and equipping our partner and a local church on how to do intentional, sustainable, disciple-making ministry leading to church planting in the wake of crisis.
- Purchased a generator and communications equipment for our new base in the Sendai region.
Pray:
- For cold and hungry people now forgotten...since all the coverage focused on the nuclear sitaution.
- For the Church to represent the King well, and for the Lord to build His Church from the Harvest.
- For God to raise up staff (especially Japanese speakers).
- For God to mobilize resources to sustian along term response.
-

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan - Day 10


We faced the reality of the tsunami today, seeing hundreds of miles of devastated coast line today. Our day started after only a few hours of sleep, with a 7 hour drive to Sendai. We accompanied a truck loaded with supplies from a Japanese partner church in the Tokyo region. We passed through numerous check points on the expressway and made frequent stops at rest areas in search of fuel, then waiting in lines as when we found it. We knew we reached Sendai when we saw a massive expanse of debris covering miles of terrain.


Our team unloaded the truck at a local church near the coast in Shiogama. We were able to provide much needed fuel, food and other relief supplies. We sorted and organized the goods, and made plans to go with the local church today to displaced people's centers to get the supplies into the hands of the impacted people.

The church has mobilized many in their congregation and a few other local churches to help. We spent time with the associate pastor talking about the mission field opportunties in the wake of crisis and ideas for turning his relief efforts into longer term outreach. Having been so overwhelmed in the relief efforts, he was grateful for the discussion on longer term ministry impacts.

God continued to open doors for us as the day progressed. We made contact with another team of house church planters from Osaka, who have been serving in the community for a week. We were able to use the ReachGlobal church plant building in Sendai to provide housing for the team (and for us!).


The day ended late, as we shared a meal together with the group of Japanese church leaders and a Korean missionary. We spent several hours debriefing. One shared his visit earlier in the week with a pastor from Fukushima, in the shadow of the nuclear plant. The pastor had a church of 200, of which 40 died. the other 160 are displaced and he has been struggling to find them all. He has found about 40 so far. They had a service on Sunday, and prayed for the future, not knowing if they will ever be able to return to their homes.
We also discussed dreams and long term ministry opportunities. Another pastor shared his dream that many would come to faith. He shared about the deep rooted idolotry, with there being over 8 million God's. We prayed to close the evening that millions of the unreached people in is this region would come to know the One, the Living God.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan - Day 9

We started the day with prayer for the Lord's leading, and especially in providing the means (vehicle, fuel, and driver) and the government permissions for us to go into impacted area. No surprise, He answered that prayer and then some.
We are leaving very very early in the morning to drive to Sendai, stay overnight, then return back by way of Iwake and coastal towns south of Fukushima. We will be carrying in a truck load of supplies, and will meet with local pastors in the region.

We also found a local Japanese church in the Tokyo region, whose leaders met the day after the earthquake, and we're compelled to mobilize to respond to those in need. They have a Kingdom minded approcah to helping churches in the impacted recover and also to see the Kingdom expanded through the planting churches in the region. Shortly after we arrived, a truck showed up with a load of supplies, (pictured) including 1000's of liters of fuel, which will allow for our trip tomorrow morning. The truck that made the delivery was just purchased and the dealer, a non-Christian, when he heard what it was going to used for, said he'd deliver it full of relief supplies. Praise God.

This church is also using their response to connect with lost neighbors. They have dozens of people who have never come to the church, now showing up to play some part in the 'quake response. We were able to spend several hours with some of their leaders

Additionally, tomorrow we'll be making final arrangments to network a load of hygene kits from partners in Hong Kong to get delivered through this local chruch for distribution later in the week in the impacted region.

We had a big aftershock today. There have been 52 aftershocks that have been greater than 6.0.

Pray for safety as we travel, divine leading by God to the place and people He desires us to see and meet, and for hearts to be touched with the tangible expression of God's love that the truckload of supplies represents. I learned today that the Japanese represents the SECOND LARGEST unreached people group in the world. Pray for the mission field that follows crisis. ml

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan Update

- The first member of our assessment team arrived Friday and has been networking with response partners. The rest of our team is in the process of travel to Tokyo today.
- We have been in coordinating the delivery of an initial container of relief supplies via partners in Asia.
- We have evacuated our ReachGlobal church planting team from Sendai until the nuclear plant situation is under control.
- We are carrying in cash to put in the hands of our partners to effect immediate relief for those impacted by the earthquake.
Amidst the transiton of focus of attention by the media to other world events, pray for the need of the victims of this disaster to not be forgotten. ml

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan - Day 3 Crisis Ongoing

This is not day 3 after the event, this is the 3rd day of a still unfloding event. This video speaks to the power of the water, but what are those on lookers thinking? What was their day like today?

The reports from the day via communications from our contacts:

- Another nuclear plant explosion. From one contact..."Because of the explosion of the nuclear plants, all the members (of a local church 5km from Fukushima) were forced to evacuate without taking anything with them and they are now accommodated in a schools, lacking food and heat. They are not allowed to go back to the town. Town is now like a ghost town. Pray the Radiation leak will be stopped".

- Basic Supplies. From a RG staffer in the impacted region... "we just got our electricity back today, but we are still without natural gas, and water. Other smaller areas are probably still without electricity and therefore phone or cell phones may not be working. So the basic necessities still needed are water, food, and heat or blankets since it still gets down to freezing. We also need to wait in line for drinking water although not everyday and hopefully the water and gas will come back soon".

- In Tokyo - From our Rg staff there...With all that’s going on, we’re starting to see some signs of “panic” on the part of people in Tokyo as the reports of possible electrical outages, disruption of water/gas supplies, gasoline shortages, and food shortages circulate. Most of the gas stations I passed by on my bus ride home from church today were “sold out” of gas and the two stations that did have gas had lines that spilled out into the street creating traffic headaches.

-
In the US and Asia - I have been on skype and emailing late every evening (due to 13 hr US/Japan time difference) with ReachGlobal Asia leaders and RG staff in Japan in making arrangements for our assessment team hitting the ground starting later this week and into next week. Pray for God's leading us.

Prayer Update:

-Direct communication has been restored with our RG church planting team in Sendai.

ML




One , and reports from the impacted area continued aftershocks still sending tsumami

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake in Japan

Situation ReportMarch 11, 2011 — A major earthquake struck northern Japan (including Tokyo) with a magnitude of 8.9 on the Richter scale. A significant tsunami was generated as a result, causing further damage along the coast.

March 12 - Reports from our RG staff in Japan today said that significant aftershocks continued throughout the day. In the Sendai area, aftershocks were strong enough to cause more minor tsunami waves. Direct communication with our RG team in Sendai has not as yet been established. We have relationship with two EFC’s and a church plant in Sendai, one of the hardest hit regions, but are waiting for direct contact. One of the EFC pastors in the region has not as yet been heard from.

Initial Response
TouchGlobal Crisis Response is assessing the situation, with our Team focusing on:
1. Establishing reliable communications with our ReachGlobal staff on the ground;

2. Responding to of offers of assistance, and communicating the urgent need for immediate and long term giving to support the response. Give at www.efca.org. A bulletin insert is available at www.touchglobal.org/japan .

3. Planning an assessment trip to Japan for the week of March 20, to allow time for the situation in most affected areas to stabilize.

4. Identifying potential partner ministries in Japan.

5. Coordinating with other international faith based crisis response and NGO’s.


Pray
•Give thanks. The church members communicating with ReachGlobal staff in Japan seem to be safe and sound.
•Ask God for mercy upon the people of Japan, especially where tsunami waters have done great damage.
•Ask the Father to allow contact with one EFC pastor and his wife not yet reached.
•Ask God to give us, as His church, wisdom and sensitivity to know how to move quickly to give aid and comfort.

Please go to www.touchglobal.org/japan for additional information. Email crisisresponse@efca.org or call 985-893-0218 with questions or offers of assistance.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reality


Today's REALITY....Praise God for the chance to help people recover from Katrina...and thanks for helping us make a difference in peoples lives, like GWEN....read on.
It's been cold here in La, much like the rest of the country since the new year began. Certainly not below zero, but below freezing most evenings. Knowing how cold it's been here, made today's visits with home owners all the more real.
Especially our stop at Miss Gwen's. Her home had water up to the cielings over 5 years ago. and she's had a rough road to recovery. This past summer she had finally saved enough to have her electrical work done, only to have thieves break in and steal all the copper this fall. She's been ripped of by several contractor's, including her plumber, also this fall. So now five years later, she's living in a house that looks like this...
A bare slab, no walls, no insulation, no plumbing, no electricity (save an orange cord run in from outside), and especially no heat. She is up at 4am every morning, with an inside temperature barely above freezing, taking a cold sponge bath, before she walks a good ways to work at 5am. Cooking consists of a microwave. A small electric heater is a joke. She showed us her coffee pot with gratefulness.
She has to live in her house in its current state because she doesn't have a choice. She has family who'd welcome her, but she cannot leave her house unattended as she's afriad of thieves breaking in to steal the few things she has saved in the house. Even today, when it was sunny and 60's outside, she was shivering in the cool 50ish degree dampness inside the house.
And after we prayed for her today, she was the one encouraging us, reminding us of God's faithfulness and
Here's reality for us...Tonite at dinner, our family praised God for the blessing of our family, and a home with insulated walls, a roof that doesn't leak, electricity, heat, blankets....but more so for 'Amazing Love, oh what sacrifice, the Son of God has given for me, my debt he paid, and my death He dies, that I might live.' It's why we're committed here for the long term.
What's reality look like for you today....? Be sure to Praise God for His Faithfulness, Mery and Love today... and please Pray for Gwen, and thousands like her here in New Orleans. Would you consider coming and helping to make a difference too?
Serving the King with Grateful Joy.... ml

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chincha Smiles

Though cultures differ greatly, one thing that I consistently notice as I travel is the joy expressed in a child's smile, even amidst difficult circumstances. The earthquake hit Brianna and Stephanie's home town of Chincha, Peru, 3-1/2 years ago. The marks of the quake are very evident in the piles of rock and broken buildings of their poor neighborhood. The girls play amidst the dirt and debris, with a joy and innocence.

I'm grateful the Lord led us to their neighborhood over 3 years ago. I am greatful that HE called the Zavala's, a Peruvian family from Lima to move here, and that HE supplied staff through TouchGlobal Crisis Response to serve along side them. I'm grateful that year's after others have pulled out, we are still there serving. We are there advancing a vision of seeing the Transforming Gospel impact Brianna, Stephanie and their neighbors in such a way, that not only would they be welcomed into heaven, but that their life here on eart would be different.

Our team has experienced the frustrations of pioneering work. Investing into potential leaders only to see them fall away. Yet God is working the hard soil. We have established a presence in the form of a small house serving as a 'church'. It's appropriately named "The Seed". A few new believers faithfully attend several studies through week and a 'service' Sunday evening.

We continue to also make a tangible difference in the lives of people in the community. A team from WI was left just as we arrived, after having conducted a medical clinic, seeing over 900 people in the community. We're almost done with a community center, where another small chruch will meet, and where the community will be able to offer a 'day care' to allow mom's the ability to safley leave their young children as they seek to eak out a living.


And we've also completed several more homes like this one for a single mom with several kids plus her teenage daughter who just had a baby.

Pray for Chincha. In fact, consider organizing a team to come here to pray for God to break the stongholds of darkness here and bring HIS will to this place. Consider organizing a team to come and engage in a ministry of compassion. Can you play with kids, cut or wash hair, speak English and have a willingness to share what you know with others, or bring whatever gift and talent you have to invest in kingdom relationships.
Perhaps the Lord would ask you to give to make Brianna's and Stephanie's neighborhood, just a little better. Thanks for your part in allowing us to serve in the mission field that follow crisis.
Mark

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chile Earthquake

Paula (pictured) said, "I go to bed each night exhausted, wondering how I'm going to get through the next day". I heard Paula's story in a displaced people's camp in Chile last week, being led there by the Lord....

Almost a year ago, the coast of Chile was rocked by a powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake, which thrust an 8 ft high tsunami wave against the coastal areas near Concepcion. The earthquake, though much more powerful than the one that devastated Haiti, did not cause near the mass devastation as in haiti and there was a quick government response. TouchGlobal Crisis Response, in consultaion with Reach Global latin America chose at that time not to respond not to respond to the event, in part because of these above circumstances, but primarily because we did not have missionally aligned partner relationships in the country, missionally aligned to see the great commandment and great commission opportunity that follows crisis.

But God had a better plan. About 30 years ago, he made himself known to a young teen in Talcahuano, Chile, near Concepcion. Over the years God developed a vision in that young man to see a church planting movement in Chile. With the earthquake, that man, Hugo Concha, currently pastor of El Faro Ev Free Church (Lebanon, PA), was compelled to respond to the needs in his hometown. In March, 2010, he took a small team and some relief supplies to do what he could. He left with resolve to come back to make a kingdom difference.

God then connected him with other Ev. Free Churches in PA, and with TouchGlobal Crisis Response and ReachGlobal, to follow the Lord in moving forward with this vision. It was out of that vision anda desire to serve where God is moving, that a small group of us found ourselves in the displaced peoples camp in Chile, listening to Paula. She is the leader of a group of 95 families, amidst several camps with thousands of people who have their homes and most of their posessions. She has 3 kids and cannot leave the camp for work, so she makes and sells empanadas (local dish). She is cold to religion, yet expressed a real hunger, desire for caring relationships. Pray that the Lord would meet Paula's needs, and would bring True Religion, Is 58 style, to Paula and those like her. Pray for caring Christian workers to serve here, and for resources to help Paula and others like her.


That vision also had us meeting with a Chilean couple that is being called to the region to make disciples and plant churches. Pray for Yamil and Mylena, as they seek the Lords direction in multiplying healthy churches among the Chilean people, and for us as we seek to come alongside the doors the Lord is opening.















Yamil and Mylena (on left)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Haiti Blessing

video

A while back we discovered a small orphanage near our base that had been really ovelooked. It is small and well off the main road. to get to it from our house we walk up a dirt road, turn off onto a path along an irrigation ditch, travel through the woods, cross a creek, up the bank and we're there. Our teams have spent time with the kids in the past and were able to build a small school shelter for them. (Pictured).


They couple running it, a pastor and his wife have 3 of their own kids, are expecting their 4th, and have taken in 10 others. The small school thay have is for the 13 kids in the house, plus several other kids from nearby families. They do not charge for the school and have no uniforms or books. They have no money to pay their teachers, so the teachers have gotten other odd jobs to support themselvs and teach the kids as they can.


The young girls showed us some needle work they had been learning. It was so beautiful, and so encouraging to see them learning a craft along with what other things the teachers managed for instruction. We saw many smiles and stayed until dark this evening enjoying our time with the kids.


As I walked home, I was reminded of how fortunate and blessed I am to be a part of this ministry, and to have such worderful supporters and partners in ministry to be able to make such a tangible difference in the lives of these children. Thanks for your partnership with our family and the ministry of TouchGlobal Crisis Response.


Continue to pray for Haiti and the process of choosing a new president. Things have gotten very complicated this week with the arrival/return of former dictator 'baby doc' Duvallier. In the randomness of the world, I happened to be in the hotel where 'baby doc' was staying the mroning after he arrived. lots of security and reporters....and me. No one asked me for an interview though :) I also saw today an announcement that exiled president Aristede was planning to return to Haiti. A bearded lady and 3 rings and the circus will be complete. The country needs hope and a Godly leader....pray. ml


Monday, January 17, 2011

Back in Haiti

A flood of memories and feelings came back to me yesterday as I returned to Haiti for the first time this year. It was almost exactly a year ago when came for the first time days after the 'quake.

As I landed at the airport, I looked out over grass areas around the runway. What used to be a sea of tents for relief agencies is a field that needs cut.I recalled the days roaming around military and UN tents securing food, water, medicine and fuel. Driving to our home in Gressier I passed the place on the street where I saw my last quake victim piled in a heap.

Some small signs of the continued clean up, a damaged building now removed, another even rebuilt. I saw some areas where streets were reopened as families were no longer living in them. And of course throngs of people everywhere trying to eak out a living in the 'new' Haiti.
The new normal is one of rubble amidst brokenness, and the expanding 'suburb' of tin, tarps, tents and trash growing north of PaP. As I looked out over the hills of homeless, a bit overwhelmed, Ps 121 came to mind. "I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from. My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." And it's in converstaions with kids. At a partner's school today (pictured above), child after child told me about loved ones lost in the quake. Dana, 17, lost her mom while Richard, 8, lost his dad, and another boy his brother.

God, thanks for being the best help for those in need. Give me wisdom as to how to help and vision to see all that You desire for this patch of earth you've made. ml