Lessons from a Lost Backpack

Alliance News Feed – Lessons from a Lost Backpack

Adapted from a report by an Alliance international worker serving in West Africa

We were exhausted after our 24-hour trip returning to West Africa. Neither my wife, Linda*, nor I had slept. Our toddler, Rosy, had thrown up three times during the last couple of take offs and landings.

With Rosy strapped in a carrier to my chest, I lugged two backpacks and carry-ons through the airport customs line. Linda had our newborn and several more bags. At the security scanner, we loaded everything onto the conveyor belt. As we regathered our bags, Rosy vomited again.

Once outside, we met our teammate, whose wife had dinner waiting for us at their home. Rosy and I needed to clean up, so Linda went to grab the diaper bag and my backpack. She returned minutes later, saying, “We can’t find your backpack.”

It Was All Gone

My heart sank. That single bag contained our prized possessions—most importantly, our hard drive with every picture and video we had from our last six years together. It was all gone.

I knew our bag was gone, but we had to try. So I got in a car with our teammate and returned to the airport while Linda and our colleagues prayed. On the drive I wondered: Was God stripping us of what we held dear so we would press into Him in new ways?

At the airport, I was finally allowed to reenter after explaining the situation multiple times. I began retelling my story to a worker stationed near the scanner machine, where I thought I’d last had the bag. And there it was—sitting on top of the machine in plain sight. “That’s my bag!” I screamed, running to retrieve it.

I couldn’t believe that my backpack had simply sat there unnoticed. I grabbed it and quickly hurried to the exit. Once outside, I verified that everything was there.

He Is in This

Our return to West Africa has been a bit like this story. Reorienting and unpacking has been slow, we’ve had unexpected illnesses, a house needing constant repairs—the tasks are increasing in size and number.

But He is in this. We prayed for a miracle when our bag was lost, and He granted one. Please join us in praying for multiple miracles surrounding our health and circumstances; by faith, we believe He’ll grant those too.

*Names changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – Lessons from a Lost Backpack

Indonesia Earthquake: The Alliance Response

Alliance News Feed – Indonesia Earthquake: The Alliance Response

CAMA Services (a.k.a. Compassion and Mercy Associates) is partnering with The Alliance in Indonesia (the GKII) to respond to victims of the devastating 6.9 earthquake that struck off the Indonesian island of Lombok earlier this month. At this writing, the death toll is between 300 and 400. Thousands are displaced, living under tarps, traumatized and frightened. Also, 20,000 people are in need of immediate help. Since the first earthquake, another 6.2 quake was registered in the same area.

Indonesian locals are living under tarps after the devastation of the earthquake.

CAMA has pledged to provide assistance. Those who wish to contribute can give online or mark their gifts “CAMA Relief Funds–Lombok United” and send them to the C&MA National Office.

Yayasan Kemah Peduli Indoneisa (YKPI, the GKII relief and development foundation), together with C&MA, has sent a member to begin assessment of the situation. The local GKII district superintendent is assessing damage to churches and local parishioners′ homes, determining how these fellowships can meet the needs of their communities.

On August 12, CAMA established a distribution base to send relief supplies to those in crisis. Early this week, a team of experienced relief workers will fly to Lombok. They will work with local GKII leaders/pastors and the YKPI volunteers to identify people in need near GKII fellowships, partnering with YKPI colleagues and coaching them in a unified effort to reach their neighbors.

Local relief workers are already on the ground with whom the team may partner. It is the team’s desire to serve well so there can be a long-term presence and solid witness during the current relief/rehabilitation stages and in the years to come.

“God is at work in amazing ways,” writes one CAMA worker. “Thank you for your prayers for help, wholeness, healing, and a harvest for these people.”

Please pray earnestly for needed supplies, efficient transportation of them, daily/hourly wisdom, strong partnerships, team unity, daily rest, health, and lasting Kingdom impact.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Indonesia Earthquake: The Alliance Response

Facing a New Future After the Fire

Alliance News Feed – Facing a New Future After the Fire

The Carr Fire in Shasta County, California, has burned 173, 522 acres, reached 47 percent containment, and destroyed 1, 077 homes since July 23. There have been no more fatalities, and all those who were reported missing have been found.

On August 3–4, Simpson University hosted a donation giveaway in their gym for all those who lost their homes. That same weekend, Neighborhood Church hosted their Ninja Gym for kids, which mimics the American Ninja Warrior course. “We just wanted a place amid the awfulness of what was happening for the kids to smile and laugh,” said Pastor Gordon DeWitt.

Volunteers at Simpson University organize the donations for the giveaway. (Photo courtesy of Simpson University)

Chris Braun, former regional director for Africa who has relocated to Redding, California, writes:

“Redding’s gray smoke-filled atmosphere smells of ashes and cinders; a constant reminder that loss has been suffered. Though Shasta County is past the crisis point of the Carr fires, many people face stark new realities.

“More than 1000 homes were destroyed and six people killed in what is now identified as California’s  sixth most destructive fire. The smoke-filled atmosphere is suffocating. It is intensified by smoke coming out of new fires further south where more loss is being experienced as homes and properties burn.

“The silver lining to all of this is that so many people are doing incredible things. Last week we spent an hour and a half at Simpson University helping them organize mounds of items brought for evacuees. We returned home feeling the effects of smoke and heat but impressed by people working hard to bless others no matter how miserable the atmosphere.

“The Redding community as a whole is committing itself to bless the people who have suffered loss. Churches are raising funds, collecting items, and creating ways of blessing the people who come their way. Across neighborhoods there are signs thanking the different groups who are helping Redding through this crisis.

“Yet the smoke-filled atmosphere dominates our landscape. It demands prayer and care for the people who still have not been able to return to their homes, for the people whose homes were destroyed, for those whose homes suffered partial damage, and for those whose homes were spared in the midst of neighborhoods where homes were burnt down.

“Though the latter should be able to rejoice because their homes were spared, they are instead sobered as they taste the grief of their neighbors. Like the relentless smoke all about us, there are debilitating effects striking most everyone.

“Thank you for continuing to pray for the people of Redding and its out-lying areas. In many ways the saga of the following smoke-filled days will be more difficult than the crises experienced in the drama of the fast fury of the initial ‘firenadoes’. Even more important than stopping the intense forward movement of those winds into Redding, now we need a strong movement of the Holy Spirit bringing Christ’s care and salvation into this new era.”

Source: Alliance News Feed – Facing a New Future After the Fire

Celebrate a New Family Member!

Alliance News Feed – Celebrate a New Family Member!

Adapted from reports by Alliance workers serving in a creative-access country

One of the members here at our center just decided to take the Jesus road!

Rejoice with us as she is the first of our members we are aware of who has accepted Christ since we opened nearly five years ago!

In recent months, we’ve seen a softening toward the gospel at our center, where we provide ESL classes, job-skills training, and biblical teaching as well as show hospitality to more than 200 young people. (An estimated 1 million millennials live in this city; most are unemployed or underemployed and susceptible to delinquency.)

We’ve also witnessed some intense spiritual warfare.

A Steep Cost

Some may think, Just one Jesus follower after five years of outreach? However, following Christ comes at a steep cost in this region, which is bound by the predominant religion.

“. . . Unless you live in this culture, it is hard to truly appreciate the social implications of believing something different,” wrote a West Africa Alliance worker in Alliance Life magazine several years ago.

“Honor and shame figure prominently in any major decision here, and it is common for Jesus followers to be completely ostracized. . . . In an American context this would be akin to risking your family, job, and insurance coverage to publicly take the name of Christ.”

The young woman who accepted Christ is now facing persecution from her birth family. Join us in praising God that she is now a member of God’s family. Please also pray for our staff to provide quality discipleship in her new walk and the Lord’s strength to face challenges to her faith.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Celebrate a New Family Member!

Deadly Quake Strikes Indonesian Island

Alliance News Feed – Deadly Quake Strikes Indonesian Island

Nearly 100 people have perished and hundreds more have been wounded after a powerful earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Lombok. Because of the magnitude of the quake (6.9) and the severity of the damage, the death toll is expected to rise. 10,000 of the island’s residents and tourists have been evacuated. Strong tremors were also felt in the neighboring island of Bali, where scores of people flooded the streets to flee trembling homes and buildings.

There are several GKII (Alliance) churches in Lombok. Despite the extent of the quake’s destruction, no fatalities or injuries have been reported among the GKII family or any workers who were in the area. One worker writes, “The new national church relief and development arm is considering opportunities to assist, and we are hoping that our small churches in Lombok can respond in loving ways to their neighbors. This is a great opportunity to pray, love, and give in this land of 1,000 mosques.”

Source: Alliance News Feed – Deadly Quake Strikes Indonesian Island

Making Disciples of the Nations on Our Doorstep

Alliance News Feed – Making Disciples of the Nations on Our Doorstep

By Zac and Julie Stutler, an Alliance international worker couple serving in the Dominican Republic

We are blessed to live in a world-renowned tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches where many people vacation. But we are here for a different purpose. In His Great Commission, Jesus calls us to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (see Matthew 28:18). That is why we are here. It is why you so faithfully pray for us and give to the Great Commission Fund, which supports us financially. We are so grateful for your partnership in this ministry.

Authentic Relationship with Christ

One of the five believers baptized this summer in the resort community of Punta Cana (Photo courtesy of Julie Stutler)

We moved to Punta Cana in 2009 for the purpose of making disciples. In addition to being a prime vacation spot, this area has a steadily growing population who live and work in this community year round. They have established homes and are raising their families here. Alianza, the church where we minister, was established in 2011 through the prayer and financial support of Alliance people. It was planted to motivate and equip the families of Punta Cana to live in an authentic relationship with Christ and reflect His love to others—in other words, to complete the Great Commission.

This resort community has always been quite international in its composition. And, as increasing numbers of families from around the world are moving here to find work and better opportunities for their families, Alianza has an even greater opportunity to make disciples of the nations. This was especially evident in a baptism celebration earlier this summer.

Transformed through the Power of Jesus

Under the beautifully sunny Punta Cana sky, five people publicly proclaimed their faith in Jesus in a baptism service on the beach. It was quite international in tone. Miguel and Keren Rodriguez, Alliance international workers from Puerto Rico, joined us in leading the service, where people from Venezuela, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic were baptized. There were also Argentines, Cubans, Colombians, and Mexicans as well as Dominicans in the congregation that day.

The new believers embrace being part of the family of God. (Photo courtesy of Julie Stutler)

It was a day of powerful testimonies. A former soccer player shared how a devastating event in his life led him to find meaning in a relationship with Christ. A young woman, who had recently left her home due to a crisis in her country, testified to the security and sense of belonging she now has in Jesus. Another woman said that after the death of her adult son, she found peace through a relationship with her Savior.

One man emphasized his dramatic transformation from someone with a very “disorderly life” who didn’t believe in God to a family man who loves Christ and delights in serving in the children’s ministry. Each testimony contained the common thread of peace, joy, and a sense being part of His family.

God is bringing the nations to our doorstep in Punta Cana. We are blessed to have the opportunity to be here making disciples of many different nationalities.

You are such an important part of this ministry—when you pray for us and give to the Great Commission Fund, you are making disciples of the nations here in Punta Cana. We are eternally grateful.

Please continue to pray for these believers and for the rest of the Alianza church family as we seek to be disciples and make disciples in this diverse community. Pray we will reflect Christ’s love in tangible ways and that many more will follow Him.

Source: Alliance News Feed – Making Disciples of the Nations on Our Doorstep

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