We Have Arrived!

Greetings from Haiti!

The past few days have been a whirlwind of plane rides, making our way through the airport in Haiti and getting to Grand Goave. There were some unexpected twists when we landed in Haiti which made our ride to Grand Goave an adventure but we made it and everyone was in GREAT spirits when we made it to our new home for the next 10 days.

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On Monday when we arrived, we were greeted by our wonderful hosts, Wade and Marilyn. They made us feel so welcome and we all felt very at home as soon as we arrived. We spent some time walking around Haiti Arise and saw the different buildings, such as the Technical School, clinic and church. Many of us on the team have seen pictures of these things from the Haiti Arise website or through past people that have gone but it was wonderful being able to see it with our own two eyes.

We spent our evening on the roof where we heard Marc Honorat share his story and how God led him and his wife Lisa to start Haiti Arise. That time will be a definite memory for all of us. It was a reminder to us of how BIG a God we serve and how he is doing amazing things in the world. It’s beautiful what he can do when we are obedient to what he asks of us and calls us to do.

Everyone is doing well. Some of us are still a bit tired but that hasn’t stopped us from taking in everything we have seen and experienced so far!

We will continue to keep you all updated on our time here and share some pictures with you soon!

Thank you for all your prayers as we traveled here and thank you for your continued prayers.

Blessings,

Chantelle

We’re on our way!

After months of training and fundraising, our team is headed to Haiti!

Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels and no missed flights.

We are looking forward to sharing about our time in Haiti with you all!

Blessings,

Chantelle, Brad, Michele, Johan, Jude, Dawn and Serena

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Amy* lives in the southern United States, but her personal ministry spans the Middle East. She’s part of a new missions frontier that is opening digital doors to introduce people to Christ in areas where political and ideological doors have long been closed. Amy’s online friends live in Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other places in the region where physical access to the Gospel is severely limited.

We spoke with Amy to learn about her heart, her ministry, and how others can join her in crossing the digital frontier.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Crescent Project: How did God capture your heart for Muslims?

Amy: It began in 2016 when I was invited by a friend to attend the Without Borders women’s conference. I signed up mainly to get away for a fun weekend with my friend, but also thought I’d learn about Muslim women since a close friend was moving to the Middle East. I had never met a Muslim woman, and really didn’t have much interest in meeting one.

God captured my heart the first night when the speaker shared from Ezekiel 34 and John 10, about the sheep from another fold. Jesus wanted to bring them into His fold so there would be one Shepherd and one flock. She said that Muslim women were the lost sheep, just as we all were before He rescued and saved us.

The challenge was that I’m in the fold, He is my shepherd, so I’m safe in my sheep pen. But I had created walls of apathy and fear toward Muslim women. I was shown the truth that the majority of Muslim women are very peaceful and hospitable, and they needed an authentic Christian witness to show them Christ’s love. How are they going to have that if I’m not going to let those walls be torn down?

CP: How did you start to connect with Muslim women after the conference?

A: A year before I attended Without Borders, as I was looking at my daughter’s upcoming college courses, a thought entered my mind—‘if I had to do it all over again, I would like to teach English to immigrant adults.’ I don’t even know why I thought that. I’d never had that thought before. But now I know that was Jesus who placed that little seed of desire to teach English!

I had initially signed up with Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Project when I attended Without Borders. Through this I was connected to two women in a closed country. But I felt the Lord pulling on my heart to have more friends in these closed countries.

I first heard about Embassy (a Crescent Project ministry connecting Christians to Muslims in closed nations through social media) through listening to a Crescent Project podcast. Over a year later at the Crescent Project National conference I attended a breakout session about how to reach Muslims online: by developing friendships first, then praying for open doors to share Jesus.

Some of my [Muslim] friends share how they’ve had dreams of speaking English to native English speakers. One of my local friends even prayed during Ramadan for God to send her an English conversation partner; she shared that I was the answer. Another—an online friend—waited an entire year, she told me, to finally find me.

God took my desire to teach English conversation, and their desire to learn it with a native English speaker, then connected us on a free social media app. It amazes me how He’s using English and technology to reach into closed countries for His purposes, so unreached people will have that authentic Christian witness that’s so needed.

CP: Without compromising anyone’s identity, can you share a bit about your friends?

A: The majority of the women are under age 30. Many are university students needing to improve their English skills for job opportunities or for migrating to English speaking countries. They’re very intelligent women with interests in engineering, chemistry, computer science, pharmacy and dentistry, just to name a few.

We’ve talked about our cultures, Islam, families, love and marriage, friendships, forgiveness, fears and struggles, prayer and fasting, and what it looks like for me to be a follower of Jesus.

For many of these younger women I’ve been like an older sister, or a second mother. They feel safe with me. It really has been easy for us to get to know one another. They’ve been so warm and kind to me, and I love getting to know them and their culture.

CP: Did you have any fears or hesitations about meeting people on social media from areas many consider dangerous or “hostile?” How did you move past them?

A: The only hesitancy or insecurity is that I don’t speak English well myself, with my thick southern accent!

I can honestly say that Without Borders helped tremendously. When I returned home after that weekend I was definitely ready to meet my first friend. My hesitations and fears have never returned since that conference, because God really did capture my heart. He gets all the credit.

CP: How have you started conversations about faith and Christianity?

A: I’ll listen first, then share some of my faith. It’s always been respectful. I’ve found that it’s much easier to discuss my faith with Muslims compared to non-Muslims.

Many of my friends are cultural Muslims so they don’t even know why they believe, or they haven’t read the Quran. But they’re open with sharing their beliefs. They’re also very open to prayer and discussions of prayer, especially during Ramadan.

Another way to start conversations toward faith and Christianity is when they share their struggles and fears. I’ve sent verses to them on text here and there. And I’ve prayed with several and shared the Magdalena film.

CP: Can you share a story or two of how God has used your conversations in the women’s lives?

A: My friend who I’ve known the longest has no sisters, and she’s said I’m her best friend. I feel like God has helped build that friendship and trust first, and she is probably closest to coming to the Lord. For the past year she’s questioned Islam and changed some of her beliefs. I challenged her last August, “If you really are searching, ask God to show you the right path.” She’s trusted me in that advice and has been praying. A couple of times I’ve felt like she’s finally going to come into the fold. One of my friends read through John’s Gospel. I had asked her, and she respected me and wanted to know more about my faith. She told me, “I told my sister that some of these things we’ve heard about Christians aren’t true.”

CP: How has God transformed you through this ministry?

A: I’ve never had this great a passion for any other ministry I’ve been a part of. There’s no doubt that He planted that desire to teach immigrants the year before, and had me at Without Borders to capture my heart for Muslim women.

He has also greatly increased my prayer life. Not just prayers alone, but praying with other sisters in Christ who share the same heart to reach Muslim women. Also fasting with prayer. I rarely fasted before this ministry, and now I fast several or more days a month.

I’ve also gained a much deeper awareness and reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide my conversations and give me ideas or topics or verses to discuss.

CP: How much time each week do you spend in conversation with your friends?

A: It varies from week to week and friend to friend. Usually about 45 minutes to one hour a week per friend in phone conversations, and some texts in between phone calls. With some friends I’ll have conversations twice a month, or once a month.

CP: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in trying to communicate Christ with Muslims, and what have you learned from it?

A: I would say it is a mistake, and I have made this several times, to ever think that I share Christ on my own. It has to be supported by my fervent prayers, and the prayers of a few prayer partners he has greatly blessed me with. I need to pause and pray before each conversation: “Lord, guide me, use me.”

CP: How would you encourage other Christians to join you in reaching unreached Muslims online?

A: I would like to encourage readers to pray first about setting aside one hour a week that you normally would use on social media, and dedicate it to the Lord to reach one unreached Muslim. God has made it so easy for us to reach them: English and social media. They need an authentic Christian witness to share the hope only found in Jesus. Will you be the one to reach one?

*Name changed for security purposes

This article appeared on Crescent Project’s Facebook page and is written by them. 

 

October 3, 2018

Our time in Uganda has been an amazing experience. We have seen so much hope and joy in such difficult times for so many. We have met so many friendly, caring people.

One of the reasons we came to Uganda was to visit our sponsored child that we have come to know through many letters, pictures and updates through International Needs for the past 8 years. It was such a blessing to finally meet Specioza. She is a beautiful girl who does well in Secondary school, so happy, thankful for all she has and best of all, she loves Jesus. We had the privilege of joining her along with her classmates for their Sunday worship. They sang, danced, prayed and shared the message with such joy and passion.

One of our highlights during out time in Uganda has been visiting a few schools. We have been greeted with such excitement from the students. We will never forget all those smiling faces. We shared stories about Canada, they shared about Uganda; there was the singing of their national anthem with such pride. They were excited to receive a few gifts from Canada, but the big hit was the stickers! It was great fun going into the classrooms.

We also toured the Vocational School where students were taught welding, mechanics, sewing, and hair dressing. We learnt about the Disability Inclusion program. The importance of finding ways to include students with disabilities with other students or finding new activities from them.

We met several teachers and staff and we quickly could see that these students were taught well by every caring and compassionate people. Two of the teachers we met were sponsored children themselves and are now teaching other sponsored children. That is indeed progress!

We saw at one of the schools how two good meals were prepared for the students every day.  So important for these children. We have seen how life can change in such a positive way for these sponsored children.

It has also been such a joy for us to watch our friends – our team meet their sponsored children and visit their families. These families were so very grateful. We have had many emotional but joyful moments.

This visit to Uganda has been such a blessing to us and the people of Uganda will be forever in our hearts.

Blessing from Uganda!

Brenda and Gord

Hello CrossRoads from Buikwe Uganda

We have just finished our third day on the ground in Uganda.  What we have done so far can never be adequately described in a blog – it can only be experienced.

The main purpose of this mission trip was to check out our support of the International Needs child sponsorship program where so many from Crossroads are involved. We are visiting schools, interacting with our sponsored children and visiting some of the families in their homes.  Everything we have done so far has been so rewarding.

On Saturday the experience of driving through Kampala and then on to Buikwe cannot be described in words.  Thank you Lord for getting us safely here.

Sunday Church in the Secondary School Church Service was so special.  Worshipping God with 200 plus students from Senior High who worship, preach and pray with their entire hearts was awesome.  We experienced the presence of the Lord in a new fresh way.  We have so much can learn from them.

Monday included our first visits to the schools and such fun for us. They were so happy and excited to interact with us. The visits to some of their family homes was both heart wrenching and rewarding.

The dust and dirt, the roads and travel conditions, the smells, the mosquitos and everything else that is new to us was overwhelmed by the joy of the relationships that were developed by the end of the day.

We have more days in Uganda and we are looking forward with eager anticipation to what God has planned for us.

When the great Missionary David Livingston died in England he requested that his heart be buried in Africa.  By then end of the week when it is time to return each one of us will say that we will leave a part of our hearts in Uganda.

PERSONAL NOTE;

Harv & I always felt it a privilege to sponsor children through IN but it was so far away logistically… that it never got up close and personal… until yesterday.   We have supported a 13 year old young boy for 8 years now but this spring lost touch, thinking he had moved from his school & village.  We spoke of him with the IN contact here yesterday morning and she told us he is back in school and well.  Our hearts were so full and we recognized God’s blessing in reuniting us.  To meet him and be able to love on him after all these years was an emotional moment.  We also went to his home to meet his mother and bless her with a basic food package which wouldn’t make much difference in our culture but would make a significant impact in her world. Our hearts were so full last night and we cherish these memories.  To see the difference in the life of a child, home, community and country that a sponsorship can make was an eye opener

Please continue to pray for us.

The 2018 Uganda Team.

Harv & Lois,   Gord & Brenda, Lawrence & Vickie

Our time in Greece has come to an end.  We have many stories to tell, and many memories that we will carry with us.  There are also many stories that we can not tell and many pictures we can not share.  We would have liked to stay in touch with some of the people we met – but that would be risking safety.

What did we see?  We saw hope, we saw courage, we saw joy, we witnessed decisions that will change lives for eternity.   We wish we could tell you.

We know that in addition to the decisions that were made many more seeds were planted.  Questions were asked, discussions were had and many guests left still wrestling.  Our team will not know in this lifetime what will happen to these people.

We are confident in this though – the Holy Spirit is at work.  The good news has been shared and heard.  Now comes the piece of the equation called time.   Could it be days, could it be years before what was heard is accepted and taken to heart?  Maybe there will be other messengers who will share the news again and water the soil where the  seed lies waiting.  Maybe an act of kindness or a tragic incident in the future will be the catalyst for accepting the seed as truth.   This part of the equation is not ours to see or be a part of for the people we met here.    We must leave it in the care and control of a loving Father who is not willing that any should perish but have eternal life.

We leave knowing that we have been part of God’s plan in drawing people to Himself and we are in awe that he would use us, broken as we are, to accomplish a piece of His story in other’s lives.

We return knowing that the gospel + time can equal more than we could ever ask or imagine.   To God be the glory.

Laurie

Ending Well

Hello from Athens, Greece!!!!

We have arrived here safely from Porto Astro last evening, hot, tired, relieved, yet somehow a touch sad. What an amazing and humbling experience this past week has been. We ended the camp with the ultimately beautiful experience of seeing the baptism of several of the guests in addition to 3 of our own STO crew from Crossroads being baptized later in the afternoon, Kelly O’Shea, Bernie Walker and yours truly… Brenda Dahl. There are no words… or too many words to describe the experience. The entire service team and Porto Astro staff witnessed the baptisms and welcomed us into the family of Christ as we exited the waters.

We then pitched in to un-pitch tents and help get the camp ready to move for the upcoming Operation Joshua, where HM distributes bibles to different areas in Greece. We had long good-byes with many of the service teams, what a privilege to work alongside so many Spirit filled people!

Now that we are in Athens we have the opportunity to take in some sights and enjoy amazing food. We are still appreciating everyone’s prayers for our safe return, for Kelvin who has ventured to Turkey, he has requested prayer for the people there as they have an election tomorrow. As well as prayers for Tanya who has continued on to England to visit family.

Now that our group has gone from 9 to 7, we will have another full day of adventure in Athens. We hope to be in an English speaking church service at 11 Sunday, take in a few more sights, and get some rest for our long journey home.

This has been an experience our team will never forget!!!

God bless!

 

Hello from the beautiful mountainous sea shore at Porto Astro, Greece!

Today is our last full day at the camp before we head back to Athens tomorrow so there is a lot of experience processing happening here.  And in true Greek style, we’re leaving at a yet to be determined time and in a fashion that may or may not involve hiking, a barge, a boat, a van, a bus and/or the train!

Our time here has been one of constantly changing new adventures. When we first arrived here, we set up camp, enjoyed some peaceful contemplation with the Lord before participating in planning and information meetings that frequently derailed into story telling about all the amazing things that God has done here.  That quickly changed to the more mundane, scorching hot and tiresome work of setting up and taking down dozen of tents to check their structural integrity, then again to the widespread excitement of the camper’s arrival and finally to the daily busy work of looking after the constant needs of nearly 200 people. There has been great food, a raging chef, rain, wind, and sun, pain and sweat, loud cicadas, funny plug-ins, spiritual enlightenment, singing, laughter, tears and many more stories and prayers while working and sharing with the teams here.  And all of this interspersed with the almost daily swims in the salty ocean followed by freshwater shore side showers to remove the salt and serve double duty as hygiene time!

My formal camp assignments have included toilet and dish duty (I’m sure you’ll be thankful I won’t be expounding on either of these!) and child care in the nursery.  The latter assignment has brought me many opportunities to cuddle with dozens of cute children while attempting to communicate with their parents: them speaking Farsi and me replying in English! Nursery times have been somewhat flexible (really everything in Greece requires flexibility!) as program time seems to end when the ladies run out of questions or the babies run out of patience with their caregiver’s creativity!

Several of the children I’ve had the opportunity to look belong to a beautiful mother who, unfortunately, doesn’t speak very much English.  I met her when I was assigned to be her camp tour guide on her first day. Through my interpreter Solomon (not his real name), I’ve learned that some of the children are hers and some are her nieces, but she’s the only adult here responsible for a group of 7 children between about 6 months and 12 years old! I’ve had the privilege of supporting her and cheering her on as she reached the top of the climbing wall, participated in archery, mastered ocean kayaking, engaged in group discussions and gracefully looked after all her kids in the sometimes trying and always public camp situations. It’s easy to see that she’s an amazing and courageous woman even though I don’t know the story of how she arrived here in Greece.  With the huge language barrier, I’m limited to smiling, looking after her children and praying for her, but I’ll never forget meeting her. I wish I could share some of the photos I’ve taken, but for her personal safety, we have been given some serious and understandable limitations on what we can post publically.

Meeting this woman has been one small, but impactful story in the amazing short term outreach experience I’ve had with a large group of remarkable people here in Greece. Whether my time was spent cleaning toilets or dishes (different rubber gloves!), rocking babies or floating in salt water, my personal challenge has been to have a servant spirit through it all because I may never know how God will use my life to impact someone else’s.

And so far (thank-you for all your prayer support), we have not been involved in a foreign country’s medical system and we have not been a part of an international incident….  but there are still a few more days Laurie!              Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone is here and the atmosphere is incredible. The only thing I can attribute that to is God. With all the different nationalities and different cultures here, it’s an unbelievable unity that we all have.

As the families arrived yesterday many of us went down to the dock to welcome and help them come up to the dining area. We were told the families were very conservative and not to do this and not to do that, so I was nervous about greeting them as I didn’t want to offend them, especially on the first day. To see the smiling faces, waves, and hugs being exchanged was an answer to prayer. I think I was more afraid than they were.

I’m currently sitting here listening to the drumming encouragement as the woman climb to new heights on the climbing tower. What an incredible group that we get to serve. Also a great reminder to not put anyone into a box. It seems they are blowing away all my beliefs of these families.

It is a delight to see how open each of them are. They will gladly sit and tell us their life story not guarding their heart for us. They want real relationship and aren’t afraid of it. A great reminder of how God wants our relationship to be. How we can bring anything to him and he longs to connect with us. May He continue to show each of us more of who He is as we serve here.

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We have finished our first full day at Porto Astro’s. We arrived yesterday afternoon in haze after being awake for more than 30 hours and after a good swim we hit the hay. Today was a day of breath taking moments. From waking up to a beautiful view to swimming in a glowing sea. Go on you say?.. ok I will.

This camp is amazing to experience. Everywhere you look there is so many accents and beautiful hand made pathways and walls. The camp has been literally been carved out of the hillside. Pathways and cabins and little spots everywhere to pray and enjoy nature. Everything here has a story of generosity and faith, that is , the whole place has been a journey of walking with God. We spent the day preparing for a camp that starts next week to bring families together to learn more about Jesus. Since early 2000 this camp has been providing a safe place for many people to learn more about God’s truth and love for us.

It is monument to humanity and community that is apparent with every step. Walking in on a mountain path from the beach a quarter way down the bay and by boat is the only way to get here. The path itself spoke to me of my journey to get here. A hard and rocky trail that you don’t realize until you arrive to the camp that it’s worth the journey. Many laughs today have left my belly sore. It’s a different pace here and the focus is more on relationship than being busy. We spend so much of our lives being “busy” that this is reboot for me.

A chance to focus on faith and relationships with the many people here. That has been something I needed to find again. A space to be selfless and learn to have no expectation of what’s coming next. Only to be present and feel God’s plan, there are many moments today my heart was filled joy and tears filled my eyes. Sharing stories of faith and feeling the comradeship with everyone as I hear their story and share my own. I am so blessed to be here and the growth is showing me what is actually important. We ended the night with a late night swim.  There is a gift even in the water at night it sparkles with phosphorus during a late night swim. It was magical to see the water light up as I moved my hand in the dark water. I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime. The glow with each movement that can only be seen in the still dark night.  The fun thing is I found it only worked well as I slowly moved my hand through the water.  Gentleness and patience worked better than brute force and speed.   Another lesson learned and Another bucket list item on this trip. Blessings everywhere on this journey.  Thank you God for all the gifts you have given us on this journey.   looking for the blessings  ~Kelly O’Shea