Benny and Ester Fehr and their four children left for Bolivia in late January to begin ministry with EMC Missions. They arrived safely.
They have been assigned to lead the radio ministry for the MEM in the San Jose/Hacienda Verde area. A secondary assignment is to work alongside the youth in the Hacienda Verde church. The Fehrs are members in the Mount Salem Community Church (EMC) near Alymer, Ont., where they have served in the Pastor of Care position.
We are very excited about our new school at Haciende Verde. Even though enrolment is down a bit from last year, we love that we now have four students in grade nine.
In need of more teachers, we have hired two young adults from Hacienda to fill in for Kindergarten, Plautdietsch classes, and Bible classes, and they are doing excellent work. This gives them an income and helps the families to realize that there are other ways to make a living besides milking cows.
My passion is still books and our bookstore at the Casa and I’m not giving up even though we have had very minimal Mennonite customers. We are excited that we have found a store in Santa Cruz that is willing to sell newly printed Low German material.
This distributor is in an area of Santa Cruz called Seis Agosto where Mennonites from all colonies congregate and shop. Author Irene Marsch has written a book called My Body is a Gift from God (Mien Kjarpa een Jeschenkj von Gott) that is a great tool to educate parents on how to teach their children about God’s design and purpose for the human body. It is so well done and we wanted to supply it, but we were unsure of the best way to advertise it and get it into Mennonite peoples’ hands.
Slowly, word was getting out and our pastors were using it in their marriage classes. Then something happened that only God could do. I was going to a women’s retreat where the theme of the event was I’m a Worthwhile Rose (Ekj – Wietvolle Roos).
I had ordered more copies of this book from Canada, and, without knowing if they would arrive on time for the weekend, I asked the organizers if I could possibly advertise these books at the retreat and they agreed. I had only five books on hand that I brought with me.
Well, miracle of miracles, the guest speaker was nurse Carla Wiens from Paraguay, and she was speaking on exactly the theme of this book. I got goosebumps all over when I heard her topics.
Two boxes of books came at the end of the retreat. The retreaters, Mennonite women from many different colonies in Bolivia, wanted them so badly that they waited almost an hour for them to arrive, and all 88 copies were taken. One pastor’s wife even asked if she could order 50 more copies to distribute at their Bible studies.
We praise God for answered prayer. Our prayer is that this book will be an instrument to educate families and protect girls at risk persons in many of our colonies.
Caroline and Henry Krahn (Picture Butte) serve in ministries of hospitality and literature.
Editor’s Note: This article has been republished due to some corrections being made.
By Phil Hamm
Leaving the cold north of Canada behind, the prayer team of nine led by Ward and Janine Parkinson flew to Paraguay on March 6 and 7. Chris and Revita Kroeker were our country hosts. Gilbert and Margaret Penner, Ward and Janine, Jake Peters, Phil and Lydia Hamm, and Abe and Mary Hiebert made up the prayer team.
After the long overnight flight finished off a day and a half of travelling, we stepped out into the 75% humidity and 35+C temperatures in Asunción. This heat wave became the norm for the two weeks we travelled to many places to pray. At Primavera, a hotel donated to the Alto Refugio HIV/AIDS ministry, we tried to catch up on our sleep in a new country. Thursday morning we awoke to new sounds and some unique tastes for breakfast. Our taste buds were tantalized throughout our trip, taking in many new delicious local foods in Paraguay.
Our first stop of the day was Alto Refugio, an HIV/AIDS support centre across from the hospital which treats HIV/AIDS patients. The centre was started by EMC missionaries Dave and Judy Schmidt and is now run by Bertram and Elsa Hein and its board of directors. The centre provides counselling, a children’s daycare, daily noon meals, and distributes donated milk and medicine to HIV/AIDS patients.
After a wonderful lunch and praying for the couple running this oasis of hope we travelled three hours east to the Caaguazu Book Store, one of the ministries of Good News Ministries (Ministerio Buenas Nuevas, MBN). We saw the bookstore and purchased souvenirs. We prayed over Richard and his wife Zuny who direct the ministry and also Cristina, the receptionist and clerk for the store. They cut down a beautiful bunch of fresh bananas for us.
By nightfall we finally reached Minga Guazú, two hours farther east, where EMC is planting a church with Chris and Revita Kroeker, Joanne Martens (who is retiring in the fall), and Travis and Rosie Zacharias with Zippy and Moi. They were amazing hosts to our team. After five years of ministry here, the missionaries are known to people. People are open to the gospel, but it has taken time to connect with them and win their trust.
As a team we came to pray for and with these missionaries as they shared from their heart, to support and encourage them as they give so much of themselves to serve people in the community. The team met and prayed with many people who have connected with this fledgling church.
Donations are welcome for three projects:
Santa Teresa church building construction project $5,000
Alto Refugio project for milk, medicine, and diapers $8,000
MBN Radio Mensajero daily program costs $2,500
Please send to EMC Board of Missions, designating the project. Thank you.
On Sunday morning the team went on a prayer walk through the area where the missionaries live and prayed that God would tear down the walls in this community like He tore down the walls of Jericho. Revita and a couple other ladies went to a family that was struggling with some issues to pray for them. Shortly after they arrived, one man told Revita that he needed to become a Christian. She led him to the Lord as the other ladies prayed.
The church had a fundraiser for a family who lost part of their house in a wind and rain storm several months before. They had never been to the church before, but knew the church people. After the service, the husband of this family committed his life to Christ. We were rejoicing at the moving of the Holy Spirit that day.
After being in Minga Guazú, we travelled extensively to see other ministries the EMC has been involved in. Just north of Campo 9, a prosperous Paraguayan town, we met with the director and counsellor at Centro Vital (Vital Centre), an addiction rehabilitation and counselling centre that is getting started. The Mennonite community, both German and Paraguayan, is funding this much needed ministry in this area of Paraguay.
The rain came down almost horizontally with the fierce winds as we learned how the Centro Vital plans to minister in the area. The rain made travelling on the red dirt roads even more treacherous as potholes filled with water and the slippery clay became slick.
In Tres Palmas we stayed at Camp Lucero, a ministry of the Tres Palmas church missions committee (Miśon Viva). Camps for both the German and Paraguayan communities provide nourishment for many people each year. Miśon Viva also does ministry in Santa Teresa, an Indian settlement located a short distance from Tres Palmas. We were able to see and hear about the work in Santa Teresa and the concern for the Guarani Indians in the area. Recently two of the 12 shamen in Sainta Teresa area have become strong believers in Jesus.
Miśon Viva has just dedicated a church building in Santa Teresa, and the government is expanding the school where about 220 children, attending kindergarten through grade nine, are taught by Paraguayan teachers. This church grew by 25 percent last year with 24 people being baptized and added to the church. It looks like there could be another 24 people added this year.
We also enjoyed sharing with Benny and Esther Goertzen, serving as EMC associate missionaries with Action International in radio ministries, and Erna Plett, an EMC missionary who has retired in Paraguay. Each one assists the church work through vision and prayer.
There is so much more we experienced that words cannot describe. For all of us this was a deeply spiritual journey for which we are truly grateful. Will you be next to experience this awesome journey of prayer and see God at work?
Phil and Lydia Hamm are a ministerial couple with Leamington EMC, and Phil is a member of the EMC Board of Missions. They previously served as cross-cultural workers in Japan.
by Ken Zacharias, Foreign Secretary, EMC Board of Missions
Nancy Friesen (Picture Butte) completed her studies at the Rio Grande Bible institute in December 2017. She will be leaving for Bolivia on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, to begin her service with ministries that the EMC is involved with among Low German Mennonites. Her initial involvement will be teaching English in the Pailin school. She will also serve in administration as the MEM legal representative in Bolivia as it pertains to government reporting and helping missionaries with visa documentation work. Pray for Nancy as she begins her ministry and as she continues to become more fluent in the Spanish language.
BRAZIL – Recently we were challenged that 2018 would be a year of firsts, a year of new things. As we approach our 10-year anniversary of Quest’s ministry this coming March, this is exactly what we are anticipating in Brazil.
These firsts will be starting now in January when Quest will be holding the largest camps thus far. God has been building our Christian Camping ministry into what has become a model for the Christian Camping world around Brazil. It includes our eight-day intense volunteer staff training, healthy home-made menus, cooperative (instead of competitive) programing, and physical/emotional/spiritual safety all which support this evangelistic ministry.
Each year we also have an increase in invites for our itinerant ministry. Quest Brazil is regularly sought by churches to come run retreats for various focus groups. We prepare and run customized programing for each of these events built on the expectations and desired outcomes set by the groups’ leaders. Though churches account for the majority of our itinerant ministry events, we also provide this for schools and businesses.
As a ministry, we have also expanded our own events to include retreats for women, men, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and couples. We are looking at increasing this list to include events for young adults, families, and others.
Another huge thing we are looking forward to in 2018 is the completion of the first building of our ministry facility. The building process has been going the past two and a half years, with visioning and engineering work starting a number of years before that. Dependent on God providing the funding, the Panapaná building will be completed before the end of the year.
As a part of that process, the whole building, except the dining hall, will be tiled this January. And this fall plans are in works for a Canadian work team to work on the completion of this project.
With all this happening in 2018, a major milestone for our ministry and team is taking place in March. March 27 marks 10 years of Quest being a registered Not-For-Profit organization in Brazil. The weekend of March 23-25 we will be celebrating 10 years of God’s goodness and blessing poured out on Quest.
Dwayne and Shannon Klassen (CBF, Swan River) serve in Brazil under Quest.
BRAZIL/CANADA–On a recent five-week trip to Brazil to assist our field missionaries with the construction of the first building on our camp, God spoke to me during one of our team’s weekly Bible study. As we sat in our rented office space we read through and discussed a chapter of Beth Moore’s study entitled A Wo(Man)’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place. We came across the following passage:
The scenario had changed significantly from the time of Adam and Eve. They had been surrounded by purity and splendor. They had been set for spiritual success and “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). Yet, in the midst of all the right circumstances, they made the wrong choices.
Enter Noah who lived is a society of rampant wickedness. Sin ruled. Perversion prevailed. Righteousness was as rare as a perfect gem. People followed every evil inclination without restraint. The only absolute was absolute depravity.
In the midst of all the wrong circumstances, Noah made right choices. How? Noah walked with God. Surrounded by a perverse generation, Noah knew that righteousness could not be attained and could not persist on the basis of a one-time commitment. Scripture does not even say that Noah religiously renewed his commitment every Sunday. He walked with God. He was in a constant state of habitual fellowship—day by day, hour by hour (Italics added).
As I sat there listening to these words being read, I looked out of the front window and saw an image God burned into my mind. What I saw was a typical rough looking brick wall of which the portion visible to the street had been covered with concrete, smoothed out and painted to look appealing to passers-by.
What God showed me was how this is how many churchgoers present themselves. From the outside, they appear to be spiritually beautiful, saying the right things, singing the right songs and looking the right way. Their relationship with Jesus Christ appears to be on track, living out His commands and their obedience to His call on their lives all appear to be well.
However, the appearance they portray is only a thin layer of deceit, “smoothed out and painted,” covering up lives devoted to status and self. People create an appealing facade to hide their true selves and show a false reality they believe will be appealing to others.
Then God impressed this on my heart. To live free and as God created and desires us to, we must have a constant and continuous, living relationship with Him. It must be our life, not only a part of our lives. It must be decided concretely and not an option in life. It must be who we are and not something we do.
Just as Adam and Eve who were surrounded by purity and splendor and still made a choice to disobey or Noah living in a time or rampant wickedness and perversion made a choice to obey, our choices are our responsibility. We cannot put the blame of our choices and consequences of them, on our circumstances. Our choices are a direct reflection of our true heart and relationship with Jesus Christ. Our walk with God.
We need to free ourselves from the facades we hide behind and instead live out God’s vision for our lives.
Dwayne and Shannon Klassen (CBF, Swan River) serve in camp ministry in Brazil with Teach Beyond.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference