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“And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19 (NAS)

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 These young men are slaves to the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana, West Africa. Some children are as young as 3 years old. They work 14-hour days paddling fishing canoes and casting nets. Many of the children have ringworm and parasites. They do not know their last name or age. Rescuing and providing for abandoned, enslaved children in that country is the goal of Johnbull and Stacy Omorefe of Sioux Falls, S.D., through their City of Refuge Ministries.


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Missions: City of Refuge Ministries aids victims of slave trafficking

Rescuing and providing for abandoned, enslaved children of Ghana, West Africa, is the goal of Johnbull and Stacy Omorefe of Sioux Falls, S.D., through their City of Refuge Ministries.
By Tim Schaeffer, For Living Stones News

According to Kevin Bales, author of “Disposable People,” there are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide.

There are more slaves alive today than all of the people stolen from Africa during the time of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Johnbull Omorefe embraces the three children he and his wife, Stacy, helped rescue from slavery in Ghana, West Africa in December. They are (from left): Audua, Mauwle and Sara.
There is a vast difference between the slaves of the past and the modern-day slaves. In the past, color of skin, nationality and religion played a big part in an individual’s slavery. Today, the common denominators in slavery are poverty and weakness.

Trafficking in persons is a heinous crime and human rights violation. The most vulnerable members of the global community, those who have limited access to social services and protections, are targeted by traffickers for exploitation. No country is immune from human trafficking. Victims are forced into prostitution or to work in quarries and sweatshops, on farms, as domestics, as child soldiers

and in many forms of involuntary servitude. Traffickers often

target children and young women. They routinely trick victims with promises of employment, educational opportunities, marriage and a better life.

Human trafficking is the third most profitable criminal activity, following only drug and arms trafficking. An estimated $9.5 billion is generated in annual revenue from all trafficking activities, with at least $4 billion attributed to the worldwide brothel industry.

(U.S. Department of State. 2004. Trafficking in Persons Report.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State.)

Thankfully, there are people in the world who want these numbers to

change and are working to make that change happen. Johnbull and

Stacy Omorefe of Sioux Falls, S.D., have a calling from God to help alleviate the worldwide tragedy of human trafficking. To that end, they established the City of Refuge Ministries in 2006.

The goal of the City of Refuge is to bring Jesus Christ’s love to the disadvantaged children, youth and single mothers of Ghana, West Africa, and to provide a safe place for rescued individuals to live.

The liberated people would be given medical attention, food, clean water, clothing, (many of the things we take for granted) education and spiritual guidance.

A lofty goal? Perhaps, but the Omorefes believe in a God of the impossible.

Johnbull Omorefe grew up in a small village in Nigeria. He was abandoned by his parents and then raised by his very elderly grandmother. He wasn’t able to go to school because he had to work.

As he grew older, he spent nights on the street wondering where to turn next.

Then God sent some people into his life to love and care for him. A couple from England sponsored him to go to Youth With a Mission’s Discipleship Training School in Ghana. He met his wife, Stacy, in Ghana.

“God took me from hopelessness and gave me...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, April 15 @ 00:20:00 CDT (4489 reads)
(Read More... | 7180 bytes more | Missions | Score: 5)

Missions: BURNNIE the Bunnie: Tails from the LIGHT Side

TREGGULLSIONS is under production for a 30-minute, weekly television program featuring the puppet Burnnie, who teaches children how to live a Christian life.
By Kandy Bauder, Living Stones News Writer

Steve and Faith Treague have a love for children.

That is why both of them became teachers, which allowed them to develop a summer ministry of Reaching the Children or RTC. (See Living Stones News — September 2006).

In 1990, BURNNIE the Bunnie made his debut.

BURNNIE the Bunnie is ready to hit TV screens and teach children how to live a Christian life, which they learn after watching his many mistakes.

“His personality grew as we presented him before live audiences and received feedback from children,” Steve said. “They loved him. He’s a friendly kind of guy with a bit of an edge. He just says it like it is; or at least how he thinks it is.”

That is what gives BURNNIE a life-like and realistic personality. He teaches others as he learns from his own mistakes.

BURNNIE has received two media awards. The Treagues were awarded a CINDY (Cinema in Industry) Award for “Burnnie Goes To The Hospital,”
a video to help relieve a child’s fear of the hospital. For their radio program of BURNNIE, they received the Covenant Award in 1997, which is a national award given for excellence in Christian media.
Also winning the award that same year were James Dobson and “VeggieTales.”

“After the first TV show in 1990, we went into radio,” Steve said.
“Many listeners thought the radio show would make a great TV series, but with teaching and live performance opportunities, we never even gave going back into television production another thought.”

When Steve left the teaching profession, the Treagues were left wondering what God had in store for them. It didn’t take long to realize that God had a plan for the Treagues — one that would require them to let God take the reigns and work out many of the details that seemed overwhelming. This road led Steve Treague into full-time ministry.

“We felt God’s leading to produce what is now known as ‘BURNNIE:
Tails from the LIGHT Side.’ After a year of discussion and raising financial support, we had the ingredients needed to begin the series,” Steve said. “We now have the first program completed and are moving forward to being on the air in September. God is leading the project in a big way!”

The Treagues needed $50,000 to start production on the show. This money was used to purchase high definition cameras, sound, lighting and other necessary elements for producing a television show.

Each show is 30 minutes in length and is planned to be aired as a weekly series. There are many tentative options in development to air the show. However, the Treagues are awaiting the final editing of the pilot before it can be sent out for review. There needs to be 10 completed programs for a network to begin weekly broadcasts. Those should be finished by September.

The Treagues are targeting children ages 5 years to fifth grade with each episode. Steve said the purpose is to help these children to know the Savior and make Him known to others.

This is where BURNNIE steps in and comes to life on the screen.

“BURNNIE tries his best to live his life pleasing to the Lord, but he makes mistakes along the way,” Steve said. “Each program focuses on a specific Christian character concept, which children are encouraged to develop in their own lives.

“In addition to each story’s plot, conflict and ultimate conclusion, we have another very unique component to reach children with God’s message. The character of BURNNIE the Bunnie works at the TREGGLLUSIONS Shop where interesting puzzles, games, toys and tricks are demonstrated and sold. Each of these colorful and visual object lessons is presented with a Gospel message.

“Live actors are used, with BURNNIE the Bunnie being the only puppet character in the entire series. Having only one puppet, along with Burnnie’s mischievous...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 18 @ 00:15:00 CDT (3238 reads)
(Read More... | 8063 bytes more | Missions | Score: 4.83)

Missions: Twelve-year-old called to preach God’s Word

Joshua Smith experienced God’s call on his life at a very early age. He preaches, has a passion for worship and is on his way to Africa to minister to children there.
By Karen Franczyk, Living Stones News Writer

When 12-year-old Joshua Smith of Superior, Wis., travels to churches with his parents, John and Colleen, he doesn’t just sit in the pew. He preaches.

Since Joshua was between 4 and 5 years old, two different people – traveling evangelists Helen Velonis and John Kold -- said he would be preaching at a very young age and later become a minister.

Joshua Smith of Superior does more than tag along with his missionary parents in Africa. He helps minister to the people there — particulary to the children — and his messages have been heard in 28 churches.

Those prophesies have spurred Joshua on, as his messages already have been heard in 28 churches. With a move to Malawi, Africa, approaching, the Smiths have been sharing their vision to combat poverty and illiteracy there. They hope to build a medical clinic. Colleen Smith is a licensed minister and the personal assistant to the crowned prince of Malawi, James Nyondo.

“I believe when we get to Africa there will be people Josh will reach that we would not be able to reach,” John Smith said. “People don’t feel intimidated by a young person.”

“He is a vital part of our ministry,” Colleen said.

Joshua is helping raise money for a children’s book written specifically for African readers that spans the Bible stories of creation through Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. He also wants to give the children school supplies, which the Smiths say are very lacking.

“When I go, I want to be a minister to the kids,” Joshua said. “I was told I’m going to be a peacemaker. I’ll be going into the villages and playing with the kids, ministering to them.”

Beginning with an outline, he writes all his own sermons. Although Colleen says he doesn’t look nervous when he is behind the pulpit, Joshua admits he is.

“Every time I ask the Holy Spirit to help me, and He does,” he said.

The youngest of the Smiths’ four children, Joshua was born with severe kidney problems and endured four major surgeries by the time he was 3. Colleen said the doctors had no hope for him. Each year he went through invasive tests and major complications. John and Colleen told Joshua that he could trust God for healing. That was a major turning point for him. On his way for a test at age 11, Joshua kept praying, “Thank you for healing me.” During the procedure, he watched the screen and could see the results. He knew he was healed, and the doctors were amazed. Since then Joshua has trusted God on a deeper level for himself and others.

Joshua was in kindergarten when he gave his life to the Lord. He said a Good News Club (Child Evangelism Fellowship) teacher was very influential in his early spiritual growth. Another important figure and mentor is his grandfather, Paul Tucker, a minister of 50 years.

Joshua attended Maranatha Christian Academy in Superior until third grade, but he switched to home schooling because that type of education was a better fit for his family’s missionary life. He has had a lot of street ministry experience on the mission fields of Vietnam, South Africa, Thailand, Botswana, Malawi and Canada.

“Joshua has laid hands on people and prayed for them,” Colleen said. “We go into homes to be a blessing and minister to families. Joshua personally takes it on in his prayer life to pray for these and intercede on their behalf. He put pictures of missionaries in the wiring of his bunk bed so he could look up and pray for them. These are his own ideas.”

When the Smiths leave for Africa, Joshua will leave behind two brothers, a sister and other loved ones, but he believes God has a purpose and will help him through homesickness.

Sometimes missionary life is dangerous. While they were in South Africa, the Smiths had to contend with spiders in the guesthouse. Colleen used hair spray on a huge spider, but it escaped into a crack in the wall. The next day they saw a little black spider under the chair Joshua was sitting on. He had been swinging his legs, unaware it was there. Once again, they tried spray, but it got away. The next day they found it dead and identified it as a poisonous black widow spider.

Just like any other 12-year-old boy, Joshua enjoys things like computer games, hanging out with friends, building snow forts and playing basketball. He also has a passion for worship and can play piano, guitar and drums. For two years, he’s been part of the worship ministry at New Beginnings Church.

“He’s an absolute blessing,” said Pastor Steven Kelleher. “He’s definitely got the call and anointing of God in his life.”

A favorite verse that links Joshua to his ministry is Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

He also has a message to his generation: “Don’t stop trusting God. I know He has a purpose for you. Do not think you’re too young. You still have a ministry and purpose.”

Posted by admin on Monday, February 11 @ 23:20:00 CST (2151 reads)
(Read More... | Missions | Score: 5)

Missions: Duluth man develops friendship with Kachin people

Bob Gilmore’s love and interest in the Kachin people in the Rae Na refugee camp in northern Thailand prompts visit to this pod of committed Christians.
By Bob Gilmore, For Living Stones News

Editor’s note: Bob Gilmore spends a month or two each year serving in overseas short-term missions. He has returned to Thailand five times to teach English at the Santisuk English School in northeastern Bangkok. His students have included leaders from the Buddhist and Muslim communities of Bangkok and the Thai government. Gilmore’s latest trip took him to the northern Thailand border area, where he surveyed the possibility of additional mission work. Gilmore is a retired photolithographer and is an active member of Lakeside Baptist Church in Duluth, Minn.

Duluth’s Bob Gilmore (right) has visited Thailand five times and has ministered to a group of refugees living in a camp in the northern part of that country.

In the early hours just before daylight, a village of Christian people woke to the sound of gunfire and the sound of bullets snapping through the thin walls of their bamboo houses. The village was under attack by soldiers.

Maung La was not quite 3 days old when his mother scooped him up into her arms and ran to the jungle with his father to escape the shooting. Those from the village, who were able, ran with them. The young mother and little Maung lay on the damp ground hiding from the soldiers that came at first light searching for survivors. Later that day, the villagers abandoned the new family out of fear that baby Maung would cry and reveal their position to the soldiers.

Now a family man, Maung and his wife and three children live in the Rae Na refugee camp in northern Thailand. Maung’s youngest child was born in the camp, which is one of a half dozen built by the Thai government to accommodate the many refugees crossing the Burma (Myanmar) border into Thailand.

As of November, the camp was home to 125 Kachin people and most of them are Christians. The Kachins were the focus of my visit, but they were only a tiny group in a total population of 50,000 refugees at Rae Na. By Jan. 1, the Kachin population had grown to more than 200 people, and the general camp population had increased proportionately.

A Kachin man attends Santisuk English School

October of 2006 was an unusual month at Santisuk English School in Bangkok, Thailand, because there was a Christian student in my afternoon class. Previously, all of my students were Buddhists or Muslims. The Christian student, Mr. Sam, is a man in his 60s, as I am. We share the similar experiences of being family men with grown children, business know-how and community and church leadership skills. Mr. Sam serves several churches in the Bangkok area. With so much in common, a friendship soon developed.

Mr. Sam is very enthusiastic about his work with the churches, and when he invited me to preach on a Sunday morning, I couldn’t refuse. Aside from wanting to encourage the newfound friendship, I was interested in meeting Christians in a predominantly non-Christian country. I preached at two churches, each with a congregation of 75 to 100 people.

These churches that Mr. Sam serves are comprised of Kachin immigrants and refugees. And so began my relationship with the Kachin people and my awareness of the persecution of Christians in Burma, which is now referred to as Myanmar.

In the recent past, the Kachin people could count 95 percent of their population as active, engaged Christians. (See www.livingstonesnews.com, Tid-Bits, February 2007) This is not true today. The percentage today is quoted as 65 percent but may be lower. The decreasing numbers are a direct result of the persecution taking place in Burma.

Trip to northern Thailand and Nae Ra camp

I returned to Thailand in November and traveled north to the mountain jungles to visit with more of Mr. Sam’s Kachin people. My travels took me to two villages and the Rae Na refugee camp. The trip was dedicated to photography, interviews and the possibilities of supporting a mission to the Kachins.

It was in the camp that Maung La told the story of his first few days of life. Maung is an educated man who graduated from the Burmese university with an advanced degree. He is fluent in several languages. He and his immediate family have lived in the camp for three years. He is a leader of the camp’s Kachin community and also has established a camp school where he teaches English.

When asked why he left Burma, he replied that as a Kachin family, he could not wear Kachin traditional clothing, speak the Kachin language, celebrate Kachin holidays or do anything related to the Kachin people, including practice Christianity. He could not continue to raise his family in those circumstances. As difficult as he knew it would be, he chose to leave his native land and take his family to the relative security and freedom of the Rae Na camp. After three years behind the barbed wire of the camp, he has hope of leaving. Through United Nations support and cooperation, Canada, Australia, Sweden and the United States have agreed to recognize the Kachin people as political refugees.

Life in Rae Na camp is not easy. People arrive with few possessions and often with only what they are wearing. The winter months can be quite cool. Clothing and blankets are always in short supply. Warmer weather brings a plague of mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever. Many people are affected by these diseases and malaria is particularly hard on children.

Thanks to folks at Lakeside Baptist Church and St. Mary’s Duluth Clinic Nurse-on-Line staff, I was prepared with 50 pounds of clothing and gifts of money to buy more clothing after arriving in Thailand. Additional funding provided 100 blankets and 30 mosquito nets.

As I left the camp, I saw young men carrying sacks of gravel from the river. The gravel was being used in forming the floor of a church they were building in the camp. The Kachin internees meet each day for prayer, hymn singing and worship.

I promised that their American brothers and sisters in Christ would remember them in prayer. Please join me in remembering the Kachins.

Posted by admin on Monday, February 11 @ 23:15:00 CST (2371 reads)
(Read More... | Missions | Score: 0)

Missions: Called to God’s cause in Cambodia

By Naomi Musch, Living Stones News Writer

“It’s open-heart surgery without the anesthesia.”

Pastor Darrell Grant laughs and his eyes sparkle as he describes what a missions trip is like. He says that you think you’re going to help someone, but God will use the time to do a work on you.

“God,” says the pastor of Superior’s Christian Missionary Alliance Church, “doesn’t rearrange your house. He digs out the footings.”

Grant’s recent return from a heart-wrenching, short-term trip to Cambodia has left him no less affected.

Pastor Darrell Grant of Superior’s Christian Missionary Alliance Church says God works on both the missionary and the spiritually lost during a missions trip.

In October, he and a group of CMA pastors from the Wisconsin Western Great Lakes District embarked on a “vision planting / prayer planting” mission trip to Cambodia where CMA missionaries have had a presence since 1923. The pastors’ goal was to pray, encourage and get a vision from God on how to best come alongside and assist the missionaries who live there.

“Usually when you go on a trip like this you have an agenda,” Grant said, but this time the trip was for the purpose of “observation, collecting data and to see what God would do.”

Grant’s personal goal was “to learn and pray, to be very sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit,” and it seems to have worked. He returned from Cambodia passionate about the spiritual and felt needs of the people there, and now he desires to translate those emotions into the hearts of the people back home.

Arriving in Bangkok, Thailand, the CMA group drove across the border to Poipet, Cambodia.

“Boy, did we enter reality there,” said Grant.

His photographs tell the story of squalor, where semi-modern houses intermingle with tin huts, cows wander the muddy streets, trash litters the rutted roadsides and yards, and oppression hits hard.

“The spiritual oppression was immediate,” he said. Yet, Grant was encouraged by sharing his testimony with the very first national he met based on their common backgrounds.

Of the places Grant visited, Poipet, Battambang, and the Cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh, Grant was most stricken by the plight of the Vietnamese refugee boat people, especially the young girls.

“There is a lot of prejudice there toward the Vietnamese,” said Grant. They are charged a docking fee just to be able to walk on land, and most often it is a fee that the families cannot afford.

They are unable to return to Vietnam since most of them do not have papers proving they are citizens. Some are fleeing the government, and some are considered criminals. They are limited to the fishing trade, and, unfortunately, to selling their children in the sex trade.

“We men felt dirty because of the sex trade,” said Grant as he described how families would push their young daughters, some as young as 12, forward for the men to see. “Westerners are known for the perverse things they come there to do.”

Grant said families there will “lease” out their daughters for two or three months at a time. Chinese businessmen will pay top dollar for a young virgin because they believe that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. Unfortunately, all this does is pass the virus on to the girls, thus spreading the disease and destroying any chance that they might someday have a better life. They return to their homes on the polluted river and are sold again, except at a smaller price.

Kim Bui, a native Vietnamese woman who has dedicated her life as a missionary to these refugees, shared her vision with Pastor Grant and the others. She dreams of someday opening restaurants that could employ these girls, enabling them to break free of the sex trade.

Bui has nurtured eight churches and five schools. Because the Vietnamese are considered almost subhuman and are denied access to education and employment, Bui is their only chance to receive an education. She is able to assist them up through fifth grade.

It broke the hearts of Grant and the others to know that some of the beautiful young children they saw singing about Jesus in Kim Bui’s school would soon be sold as sex slaves just as their older sisters had been.

“How do they cope with who they’ve become in Christ with what they are going to be forced to do?” Grant asked Kim Bui.

She replied, “It’s a hopeless situation ... except for God.”

Grant believes every Christian should take a short-term missions trip, especially pastors.

“It gets rid of tunnel vision,” he said.

He believes that pastors are prone to getting so locked into the work of their churches that their focus becomes too narrowed.

“We’re called to the whole world,” he said. “(Going) refreshes you, pulls you out of that...

Posted by admin on Monday, January 07 @ 23:25:00 CST (2856 reads)
(Read More... | 6745 bytes more | Missions | Score: 0)

Missions: Medic awed by agents of mercy in Haiti

Jon Lacore hopes to pattern his future mission trips after the selfless giving and abundant mercy he witnessed missionaries bestow on Haiti’s neediest.
By Ed Newman, For Living Stones News

In June, Jon Lacore of Duluth, Minn., returned safely from the war in Iraq after 16 months of service as a medic stationed at a trauma center in the region of Fallujah and Ramadi in the Al Anbar Province.

In November, Lacore flew to Haiti for nine days on a different kind of mission. This time as a servant of Christ assisting at The Haiti Orphans Project in a shantytown on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

Jon Lacore said his mission work in Haiti opened his eyes to both the innumerable poor and the selfless missionaries who serve them.

The desire to travel overseas for short-term mission work is nothing new for the 25-year-old Lacore. His first overseas adventure was a summer mission trip to Pakistan at 13. While still in his teens, he later went to Nicaragua and Trinidad on short-term mission trips.

“I absolutely love traveling and experiencing new cultures as well as trying to help the ‘least of these’ in those different cultures,”
Lacore said. His penchant for travel and for helping others led him into the army where he did medical work for nine months in Bosnia, and later in Iraq.

None of these experiences, however, fully prepared the Duluth Central High School grad for what he encountered in Haiti.

Lacore first became interested in Haiti through a friend at an adoption agency who gave him the contact information for Maryanne Dus — trip leader and founder of The Haiti Orphans Project.

“I e-mailed her and learned that a trip to Haiti was coming up. I wanted to be a part of it,” Lacore said. “I was anxious to get back overseas and do some kind of medical mission trip again. After seeing Haiti, I have decided to focus much more of my attention on that country due to its extreme poverty, unlike anything I have seen before.”

Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere. With nearly half the nation’s population being illiterate, and great portions of the country lacking any kind of basic infrastructure, prospects for Haiti’s future remain tragically pessimistic. Nearly one in four infants doesn’t live long enough to experience a fifth birthday.

The Haiti Orphans Project was founded to improve the lives of orphaned children by providing medical care, education and equal access to basic services. It is a small outpost of compassion in the midst of great need.

Sister Marcella is in charge of the clinic at Warf Jeremy, the section of Cite Soleil where the Project is established. It is a pediatric clinic where she sees all types of patients with needs ranging from malnutrition to scabies. This is where Lacore spent the majority of his time, assisting her in this endless task.

Lacore’s most memorable moment in Haiti was far from his most enjoyable. On a Thursday he and Chris, a volunteer from Vermont, joined Father Rick on his weekly trip to the morgue.

“I’d seen dead bodies in Iraq,” said Lacore, “and you learn to distance yourself emotionally.” But the morgue in Cite Soleil was so inhumane that he and Chris were stunned. More stunning still was the selfless service of Father Rick and his staff.

“Every week the nun and priest that we worked with go to the morgue to collect the bodies of babies and adults that have been found on the side of the streets,” Lacore said. “They bring paper mache coffins to bury them in. They fill these coffins with about 10-15 babies in each one. When there are no more babies they put adults in the remaining coffins.

“We filled 20 coffins. About half were babies, and half were adults.”

Lacore said that he and Chris talked rather casually while driving to the morgue, but after seeing the piles of bodies and carrying them to the coffins, returning to the orphanage was another story. They were silent and reflective afterward.

“We took the coffins out to a...

Posted by admin on Monday, January 07 @ 23:20:00 CST (1117 reads)
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Missions: God’s wonderful mystery

Duluth man recently found out just how mysterious God’s ways are, and the true power of prayer.
By Sue DeLoach, Living Stones News

On the other side of the world, an African Maasai warrior lays prostrate in his 5-foot-by-9-foot dung/mud hut.

He has been praying intently for two days, and unceasingly lifts his burden to the Sovereign God he has come to love. He beckons his church and the neighboring seven churches to join in his burden.

Duluth’s Pat Plys helped build a school in Kenya, but his newfound friends returned the favor through their vigilant prayers from across the world concerning his health.

Meanwhile, a Duluth businessman, given over to Christ, hugs his family goodbye and heads out to his routine obligations at his Twin Cities office. Finishing the day’s business, he eats and exercises at the Mall of America, hops into his van and heads down the freeway at 75 mph. Reaching his hotel, he walks 12 steps, and then, as if observing himself hovering 15 feet above, becomes paralyzed.

He cannot talk, he cannot walk, he cannot move. But his spirit can communicate, and he cries out to God for help.

He then finds himself inside the hotel lobby, again frozen. He hears Ernie, the desk clerk, urgently repeating “Mr. Plys, what’s the matter, Mr. Plys. ...”

Patrick Plys cannot move or talk, but his spirit cries out to God for help and he is able to coherently speak two sentences: “Call my wife Laura … call an ambulance.”

Two days later as Plys was heading home from the University of Minnesota Hospitals in Minneapolis, he received this cell phone call: “Brother Patrick, I have been burdened to pray with you. Is there something going on that I have felt God asking me to pray for you?”

Ten thousand miles away, Pastor Simon Siatoti of the Uiti Church of the Great Rift Valley of Maasai in Kenya, Africa, urgently checks in with his new American friend. They had formed a strong bond during Plys’ 2005 mission trip in which Patrick orchestrated the building of a Maasai school. Saitoti’s timing was perfect. Plys needed prayer.

During the interview for this story, over a giant cup of coffee at a glossy wooden table big enough for the explosive activities of Patrick Plys’ family of five children, I listened as a gentle flow of activity seamlessly interrupted our conversation … a child home sick, a son packing for a flight to Scotland, answering machines softly beckoning Plys’ independent home-based food brokerage company, or wife Laura’s growing support group for Down syndrome families called Updownup. I was drawn in by the loving disciplined cadences of daily living, and got a sense that the Plys ordered their home for the glory of God.

In his young years, Plys grew up rooted in the West Duluth community, one of 11 children of Catholic tradition. His large family of moderate means provided extreme opportunity to learn social, sharing and serving skills.

“Kevin Harrington, the youth director at my church,” says Plys, “took me under his wings and sent me to Silver Cliff Ranch in Colorado for a 10-day Young Life Camp. There I began my spiritual journey as I literally leapt to my feet during an invitation to receive Christ — it was the conversion of my life from Pat Plys as me to Pat Plys, Christ-follower.”

Plys learned to say “Yes” to God in a thousand different ways: a summer of washing dishes and devouring God’s Word at Young Life camp, growing in service at a local church and reaching out to the Twin Port’s poor in the name of Jesus, accepting pain as opportunity for spiritual growth.

Plys was culturally stretched through...

Posted by admin on Monday, January 07 @ 23:15:00 CST (3141 reads)
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Missions: Local pastor fights sex slave trafficking at home and abroad

By Veronica Stoneall, Living Stones Writer

Susan Omanson has a heart for oppressed and needy people. In November, she traveled to Thailand to minister to women who have been forced into prostitution

Having grown up in the conservative Midwest town of Sioux Falls, S.D., Pastor Susan Omanson never dreamed she would be going to Thailand to be a missionary, let alone to minister to women who have been forced into the sex slave business of prostitution and servitude. God is at work even in these dire situations.

Susan Omanson befriends a woman and her baby while on a January 2007 trip to the tribal lands of northeast India along the border with Burma. Young girls like her disappear from villages all over southeast Asia when they are promised jobs and end up in Bangkok or are trafficked to other parts of the world.

“Last year I was on a sabbatical for two months in Thailand. I will be back in Bangkok this November through January,” Omonson said. “While in Bangkok, a team of us will go out into the streets twice a day. I do not speak Thai, but am called to pray for deliverance. These women on the streets go through satanic rituals before they go out. They worship a board with aborted fetuses on it.

“Trying to change the lives of these women is a very exciting thing. When I was in Bangkok in January 2007, I baptized 11 women. It is a huge decision for these women to turn from Hinduism and Buddhism. They can find any deity to worship, as there are hundreds of deities. It is a very demonic and sex-oriented worship.” Omanson said. “After being in Bangkok and seeing God work, I can believe Him for anything. Really!”

In Thailand, as well as other countries, these women do not have a choice. Parents often sell their young girls into prostitution. They become Go, Go Girls. Many victims are exploited for the purpose of commercial sex including prostitution, stripping, pornography and live sex shows. Some women are locked up during the day and trafficked at night. They have been taught to believe there is no way out. The girls cry every night. They do not want to do this. They may be raped, beaten and confined to be controlled so they will do as they are told. Unfortunately, many of these women are HIV positive.

“I will be working in this ministry in Bangkok.” Omanson said. “When I talk to others and ask why men come to Bangkok for sex, all of them say it started with pornography.”

There is a light of hope for some of these women. Annie Diesleburg is the founder of “Nightlight.” Omanson is working with her in Bangkok. Diesleburg was overcome with the plight of these young women. She wanted to do something to show them there is hope. Diesleburg started “Nightlight” with one girl who said, “If I die and go to hell, it would be better than this.” Diesleburg showed her the way to make jewelry by using beautiful, semi-precious stones and sterling silver. This was very therapeutic for the woman. Soon there were two women coming to make jewelry. Then 11 women came, and now 85 women come during the day to make jewelry. They punch in and are paid a wage for their work. It does make a difference. Many find hope and some make a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

You can help these women by purchasing their jewelry on line. The money does not support the ministry, but goes directly to the women. The e-mail address is: www.nightlightbangkok.com. If you would like to read a book about this subject, Omanson recommends “Not for Sale” by David Batstone.

“We have issues in our own state. There are men, women and children who are and have been exploited in South Dakota,” Omonson said. “There are a minimum of 17,000 women trafficked into the United States each year. We have women trafficked here for the hunting season as well as to the Bike Rally in Sturgis, S.D. We need to do something about this. We have two adult stores -- one in Tea, S.D., one in north Sioux Falls. These stores deal in porn. You name it. It is here.”

There are a couple things you can do right here in the Sioux Falls area. One would be to support Elizabeth House which helps single women. Sign up for the free, underground “e-zine” to get weekly insight from leaders in the fight against modern-day slavery. Sign up for “The Xit,” a free, online magazine that connects people who are doing something to stop human trafficking and slavery. Omanson also warns to be careful with your children on line. Children are exploited daily on the internet.

Omanson grew up in Sioux Falls,S.D. She graduated from Washington High School, and in l969 graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. She received a degree in education and became a substance-abuse prevention specialist where she went into schools to educate young people. She felt a call to help others who were at risk. At this time, she worked in Newton, Iowa.

Later Omonson entered seminary to become a counselor, but was encouraged by pastors and teachers to become an ordained pastor and work in the church. She graduated in l993 from North American Baptist Seminary. She continues to do post-graduate work toward her master’s of divinity and master’s in counseling.

For the past 14 years, Omanson has been the associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls. She is involved in adult ministries.

“The real focus and passion of my life has been to work with marginealized, oppressed, needy people. I was very interested in work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I went on mission trips to various places which increased my desire to do something globally. I visited Cuba, Thailand -- three times, India, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. I also worked in New Orleans in the North Ward where the worst damage was done and the poorest people live. I became aware of needs in other communities, not just our small world of Sioux Falls. While I was in Prague, Czech Republic, we would go out in the streets and work with gypsy women who had been trafficked for forced prostitution. They were not there on their own,” Omanson said.

Omanson is married to Darrell, who owns Omanson Tour and Travel here in Sioux Falls. They have two children. Their daughter, Charity, works with trafficking and exploitation here in the United States. She lives in Los Angeles, Calif. Their son, Micah, is a project manager in Sioux Falls.

“Find your peace. Buy a piece of jewelry. It might be praying for the work in Bangkok. Read the book, “Not for Sale” by David Batstone. It is part of the movement to help. Together we can make a difference,” Omanson said. “We need to put the pieces together. I know the power of bringing it all together. God, people, community and government working together can bring about change. I have seen it before. It can be done again. We have a great guide book, the Bible, and a great leader, Jesus Christ.”

Pastor Omanson left for Bangkok on Nov. 4. May God give her safety and fruitfulness in her work, and may it make a difference in the lives of the enslaved women of Thailand.

Posted by admin on Monday, December 10 @ 23:10:00 CST (5057 reads)
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Missions: Being Jesus’ feet and hands in Senegal, West Africa

Chris and Kathy Javner, were missionaries to Senegal, West Africa, for 4 years. Chris Javner, assistant pastor at Darrow Road Wesleyan Church in Superior, Wis., has revisited Senegal twice and is scheduled to go back in February 2008.
By Kathy Javner, For Living Stones News

Jesus Christ said, “When you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.”

These words have compelled our family to be involved in what the Western world defines as “missions,” yet Christ defines as life. From
2001 to 2005 our family lived in Senegal, West Africa, among the Wolof people. We learned their language, ate their food (with our hands!), wore their clothes, laughed with them in celebration and mourned with them in their losses.

Assistant pastor at Darrow Road Wesleyan Church in Superior, Wis., Chris Javner, took his 5-year-old son, Katahdin, to Senegal, West Africa, in January 2007. When Javner returns in February 2008, he will take his 11-year-old son, Christopher.

Since returning to the States in the fall of 2005, our hearts have not forgotten these friends. My husband, Chris, has revisited Senegal twice, reviving friendships with those who have decided to follow Christ in an Islamic country. In February of 2007, he returned with our youngest son, Katahdin (5), to participate in a short-term dental and medical trip. The response was beyond their expectations.

Working alongside our very good friend, Saidou Ba, they were able to attend to physical needs as well as spiritual needs of the Senegalese people. It has often been said that if you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day -- if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Yet, what we have come to deeply believe is that you must still feed the man while teaching him to fish or you will bury him from hunger.

There are approximately 3.5 million Wolof people living in Senegal.
They are considered to be an unreached people group. This means that there is not a Senegalese church with the capabilities of reproducing itself on its own.

Among the population of Wolof in Senegal, there are only an estimated 70 mature believers. These believers’ stories are beautiful and yet tragic. A man who has turned to Christ is faced with having to determine which of his three or four wives is his true wife. There are young women who have not been allowed to see their children in years because they turned from Islam. There are young men who long to be married yet cannot find a Christian wife as God commands in His word. Believers are faced with dilemmas such as whether to feed their families or travel to the next Christian gathering. They are constantly questioning how much of their culture should be forsaken for this newly embraced faith.

On Feb. 15, 2008, Chris will again be putting stamps in his passport and returning to a village in Senegal to participate in another dental outreach team. This time, our oldest son, Christopher (11), will be his traveling companion. Volunteers from Washington and Maine, including at least one dentist and hygienist, will be completing the team. They will be assisted by Senegalese dentists and hygienists as well.

This trip has a three-fold purpose. The first and most apparent objective is to meet the dental needs of the villagers. The average annual income in Senegal is about $500. The people in this region struggle every day to feed and clothe their families and cannot afford a costly trip to a costly dentist. We have seen families with nothing more than rice and a few spices to eat, and nursing women writhing in pain on their thin mattresses in the desert heat with no other option but to walk miles to seek dental help. We keep asking ourselves, “What would Jesus, the Savior of the world, do? What is He asking us to do?”

Secondly, the team of missionaries will be educating the villagers on preventative measures, such as how and why to brush their teeth.
This is a basic principle we take for granted. The Senegalese use wooden sticks made from various sizes of tree branches to keep their teeth clean. Chris prefers the larger round ones!

The main dentist traveling with this team, John Paul from Washington, has a dream to be able to train an exodentist -- a person who can pull out teeth. This will be a huge task for him to complete, and he asks for everyone’s prayers in seeing this accomplished.

And most importantly, the team will be sharing the Gospel message with the villagers. This will be accomplished through their testimonies, their worship and their lives. It is this aspect of the trip that offers hope to a people who are bound by superstition and fear. The Wolof people are thirsty for the truth. We continue to seek God for opportunities to share our lives with “the least of these.”

Posted by admin on Monday, December 10 @ 23:05:00 CST (2131 reads)
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Missions: Cleaning bathrooms for Jesus

During a recent mission trip, Duluth teenager learns that witnessing for Jesus Christ takes many different forms.
By Dara Fillmore, Living Stones News Writer

Armed with disinfectant spray and a scrub brush, Amy Norgren peers at the job before her.


She starts to wonder why she came. Why’d she get stuck cleaning the men’s bathroom?

Eight young people from Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Duluth, Minn., volunteered from June 17-24, as a mission team at the Dream Center in St. Louis. (Back row from left) Chris Parsons, youth pastor Jonas Dean, Sam Cox. (Front row from left) Rae Anne Esala, Erin Stein, Amy Norgren, Valerie Broman, Anna Mourin.

Yes, the 17-year-old Duluthian had volunteered to go on the mission trip, but cleaning a bathroom just wasn’t the same as telling people about Jesus, was it?

With seven others from Glad Tidings Church in Duluth, Minn., Norgren spent June 17-24 in St. Louis, Mo. They volunteered as a team at the St. Louis Dream Center.

At the first urinal, Norgren grasps the mat in the base with two gloved fingertips and lifts it up. Her screeching triggers echoes from the girls behind her. Wildly spraying disinfectant at the base and backing up, all the girls giggle and scream. Their fun (or fear) is silenced when the cleaning lady with them strolls over and stomps on the giant water bug.

During the week at the Center, Norgren had cleaning duty on numerous occasions. After awhile, her opinion of the chore changed.

“In my mind … some things (were) more important than others. Like the pastor would be more important than the cleaning lady. But that’s totally wrong,” Norgren said. “By the end of the week, I felt blessed to be cleaning bathrooms for the homeless guys.”

Norgren also helped with the Kidz Jam, which was a moving van with a side that opened as a stage and had a built-in sound system. During the week, the team took the vehicle and went to an area youth hangout. After giving out a free lunch, they told a Bible story, led games and gave out prizes. Norgren remembers one little boy who was so starved for attention that once she picked him up she found herself carrying him around for nearly an hour.

There was a place called “The Tunnel” where Norgren and others were taken in a van. The area was deemed one of the most impoverished places in St. Louis.

“We got to go to the Tunnel, where most of the homeless lived,”
Norgren said. “We would roll down the windows and call out, ‘Dream Center, we have food!’ No one was coming. Then all of a sudden, a couple people started walking toward us. It was really sad because there was nothing there. You could see scattered shoes, a mattress.
You could barely tell that people were living there. One of the guys got out of the van and handed them food and Powerade. Then more people started to come.”

Young and old alike, people of many nationalities came to the van.
Norgren thought it was strange that those people...

Posted by admin on Monday, December 10 @ 23:00:00 CST (781 reads)
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Missions: ‘Best Friends Forever’ store supports missions

Over three years ago, three third-grade girls at Maranatha Christian Academy formed the ‘BFF’ store to earn money to for mission projects. It’s still going strong.
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News Publisher
Every weekday at noon, except on Thursdays when a hot lunch is served, a lopsided cart known as the BFF Store is rolled into the Maranatha Christian Academy lunchroom and is opened for business.

Students at Maranatha Academy in Superior, Wis., sell items at school to raise money for an orphanage in the Ukraine.  They are (from left) Morgan Kubarek, 12; Katie Johnson, 11; Rebecca Mack, 12; and Laura Sahlberg, 11.

Students check out the BFF cart to see what they might buy: folders, pencils, puzzles, stuffed animals, little gifts, toys, knickknacks.
Some of the items are new; others are slightly used, but still in good condition. Many of the items cost 25 cents or 50 cents. On a good day, the BFF takes in $2-$5, which goes into the BFF coffers to be dispersed by its budding entrepreneurs to selected mission projects.
About three years ago, Rebecca Mack (Becca) was inspired to do something more for other people. She talked to Morgan Kubarek about it and they agreed they would start a store. Renee King also became part of the store’s management. The girls, then in third grade, called their store “BFF” — which stands for Best Friends Forever, because, Becca said, “Me, Morgan and Renee were three-peas-in-a-pod type.”
Morgan had a little pouch that said, “BFF only” and they started using that for their money pouch.
Their store’s mission was “to raise enough money to buy stuff to send to people.”
The inspiration for the store came about in Connie Carlson’s third- grade Bible class at Maranatha Christian Academy, located on Wisconsin Highway 35 south of Superior, Wis. Carlson said that the store was totally the girls’ own idea.
“We were writing to some servicemen, and we started talking about the needs of other people around the world,” Carlson said. “In Bible curriculum in third grade, we learn about the life of Jesus, and we start thinking outside of our own little community and our own family and our own self. They just came up with the idea that they were going to raise money somehow, and they decided to start selling their toys. They actually went to their houses and collected a bunch of good stuff because I told them that they really needed to have nice things, not just things you throw away, but things other kids might like. They just have huge hearts. They give up their own toys to sell.”
Items for sale on the BFF cart come from the girls’ own possessions, from parents who donated unwanted items and from other 
children and adults. Renee — one of the original “three peas in a pod” — and her family moved to Duluth this fall, and she started attending Lakeview Christian Academy. The King family brought in a huge, black garbage bag full of items that Renee had collected during the summer for the BFF store to sell.
The BFF team will always accept donations and maybe even “a new cart because our wheel just broke, so it’s kind of lopsided,” Becca said.
The first year when the three girls were in third grade, the BFF store raised about ...

Posted by admin on Monday, November 12 @ 23:40:00 CST (1297 reads)
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Missions: Missions - (October, 2007)

Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Address: 5202 Colorado St., Duluth, Minn., 55804
Contact: Kris Sauter, (218) 525-3462
Who: A team of 24 high school students collaborated with 126 other students from six other Vineyard churches.
Where: Mazatlan, Mexico
When: June 14-22, 2007
Purpose: The team was involved in the Mobile Kitchen ministry. They collaborated with the local churches and helped distribute hot meals and cold drinks to the poor in remote locations. The primary ministry was to build relationships and to empower and strengthen the existing church plants.

Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Address: 1105 E. Superior St., Duluth, Minn., 55802
Contact: Kathe Peterson, (218) 724-4424
Who: Twelve-person medical team from Northeastern Minnesota
Where: Tegucigulpa, Honduras
When: Sept. 1-9, 2007
Purpose: They collaborated with local medical leaders to provide medical care for the poor. This is the third medical team that they have sent to this area. They were able to care for approximately 900 people during the week, even though there was the threat of Hurricane Felix. The hurricane stalled out and never caused the damage that was anticipated. The synod wants to establish medical teams that will travel to Honduras every three to four months. This ministry is in need of over-the-counter medications and vitamins. If you feel led to donate, more information is available on their Web site at www.nemnsynod.org.

Elim Lutheran Church
Address: 6101 Cody St., Duluth, Minn., 55807
Contact: Deb Westerberg, (218) 624-2690
Who: Four junior high girls and two adult leaders from Elim Lutheran Church.
Where: Alamosa, Colo., which is located in the San Luis Valley and is about four hours south of Denver.
When: July 6-13, 2007
Purpose: They worked with an organization called YouthWorks, which has mission sites across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. At each of these sites, they have four staff members who live, work and serve in that community throughout the summer. Each week, youth from different churches come together to serve and work under the leadership of the YouthWorks staff. While they were there, they served by leading activities at a Kid’s Club (similar to Vacation Bible School), visited residents at a nursing home and worked at a thrift store. By participating in this mission trip, the kids realized that the gifts and skills God has blessed them with could be used to share His love with others. They were given the chance to share Christ with others, and their own faith was deepened in the process.

Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Address: 1105 E. Superior St., Duluth, Minn., 55802
Contact: Kathe Peterson, (218) 724-4424
Who: Eleven-person theological training team from Northeastern Minnesota. This team will be led by Pastor David Mesner from Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd in Duluth.
Where: Honduras
When: Nov. 5-13, 2007
Purpose: They will be leading a theological training retreat for 40 students, who are all lay pastors. Participating on this team will be musicians, small-group leaders, Bible study leaders and youth leaders. During this retreat, they will be teaching the Bible, liturgy and song. These students have no access to Bibles or hymnals, so they are looking for donations. If you would like to support this ministry, visit the Web site at www.nemnsynod.org.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 09 @ 00:00:00 CDT (767 reads)
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Missions: Canoe paddles offer hope to African nation

Goats and canoe paddles seem an unlikely duo in Zambia, Africa, but for a businessman with 40 years of experience, they are the means of bringing life to orphans.
By Karen Franczyk, Living Stones News Writer

Jim Burmeister of Hayward, Wis., received a firsthand account of the suffering in that country during his March 2006 visit to Livingstone, Zambia, where his son-in-law and daughter, Robert and Jody Hayton, are missionaries. And an idea that simmered in Burmeister’s mind for several years erupted into a creative way to combat starvation after some canoe paddles on his son’s wall sparked his imagination.

Jim Burmeister’s son-in-law, missionary Robert Hayton, presents a goat to a widow, Jenepher Kowana, while native Pastor Nathaniel Phineas observes

“I’d look at the paddles and think, ‘There must be something I can do with them,’” Burmeister said.

He credits God for giving him the idea of engraving messages on 30 smoothly polished birch canoe paddles, manufactured by Voyageur Unlimited of Ashland, Wis. The profits are channeled to The Dorcas Fund, which then supplies goats and their milk to Zambia. Since the Haytons set up this fund, there is no middleman to incur extra expenses.

Zambia has been ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and when infected parents die, grandmothers are unable to feed the orphans. Poverty is so severe that some people try to live on grass soup. Many children don’t live to age 5.

“Cows’ milk can’t be digested by the babies; however, goats’ milk will keep the babies alive. The goat can bear other goats, which can be bred, eaten or sold to obtain other things needed by the widow or orphans,” said Robert Hayton.

It isn’t just physical hunger that compels Burmeister to sell canoe paddles. The spiritual condition in Zambia concerns him as well. Since he was asked, “Are you a Christian?” and given a tract in February 1969, it has been his mission to lead others to Jesus. That June while waiting in his car for his favorite tavern to open, he heard a Christian radio message that changed his life.

“That tract and that message made all the difference, like a boom,” he said. “The only way I can say it -- it’s like getting a hold of a team of wild horses. I was 33 years old, and I’m still holding on.”

Wherever Burmeister goes, he hands out a tract with an added personal message, so it was natural for him to preach in five churches in Zambia. These buildings are often constructed with just mud and sticks. He said many people there are influenced by fear and witchcraft, but respond to the Gospel because it gives them hope.

“After that trip I came back with a burden,” he said. “Tragedy is all around. It was so overwhelming, the reception of the Scriptures. Over there you got light and darkness, no gray. Many people are coming to the Lord.”

The price of a paddle equals the cost of a goat through The Dorcas Fund. Burmeister said Bible camps have purchased paddles with their logos prominently engraved. They are popular as a family reunion souvenir, and Burmeister says they make great get-well cards for men. One best-selling model reads “Up a Creek without a paddle? Seek me, God.” Burmeister has paddles displayed at East End Hardware Store in Superior and Gordy’s Gift and Garden in Hermantown. He is offering Living Stones News readers a discounted price of $20, which includes shipping, if you go to the dorcasfund.wordpress.com Web site to order a paddle. Look for the canoe paddle advertisement in this issue of LSN for more information.

Whether it’s ministering to alcoholics, listening to the brokenhearted or helping The Dorcas Fund raise money to support widows, grandmas and orphans, Burmeister serves the Lord with great compassion. Widowed after 47 years of marriage to his wife, Grace, he often quotes their favorite verse of Romans 8:28 to prove the Lord’s plan for his life: “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

When considering a canoe paddle as a gift, or to display one in your home or office, reflect upon the link between the destitute in Zambia and Robert Hayton’s words from Livingstone.

“Jim’s canoe paddle project is one way to show mercy.”

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 09 @ 00:15:00 CDT (1036 reads)
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Missions: Taking the Gospel to the darkest corners of the world

David Pierce of Steiger International goes into the deep, dark recesses of the world to reach unchurched youth about the hope they can have in Jesus Christ.
By Laura Rupp, Living Stones News writer

David Pierce is a man called by God to bring the light of Jesus Christ to the dark places of Satanic clubs, closed Islamic countries and everywhere in between.

David Pierce of Steiger International speaks at the 2007 LifeLight Music Festival in Sioux Falls over Labor Day. Pierce believes people need to have a fresh revelation of the cross and to tell the truth of Jesus Christ to those who do not know.

Pierce, 53, was born in Brooklyn Center, Minn. He grew up in a Baptist church and knew the fundamentals of religion, but they were not real to him.

Pierce attended the University of Minnesota and, while there, met an individual involved with the occult. He said the friendship eventually made him realize the reality of the spiritual world.

“I cried out to God for the first time and began to read the Bible and pray,” Pierce said.

At UM, Pierce began a ministry called “Everybody’s House.” They held parties for students -- without the alcohol and drugs. The ministry also offered Bible studies to the young adults.

God later led Pierce to Amsterdam, Holland, with the group Youth With a Mission. There he met Jodi, who happened to be from his home church on the same mission. God made it clear that he wanted them together, he said. They married after a short courtship.

After spending a time in the United States, the Pierces returned to Amsterdam and started a ministry called Steiger International. Steiger means “pier” in Dutch and comes from the address of the barge where the Pierces started a Bible study during the 1980s for punks and the nonchurched.

Steiger International is dedicated to going to secular young people, leading them into a relationship with Jesus Christ and helping them fulfill God’s calling for their lives. The global youth culture is the largest unreached group of people in the world, Pierce says. They are found in every major urban area in the world and are part of the MTV culture.

In 1985, Pierce created No Longer Music, a band with the sole purpose of delivering people the Gospel using the global youth culture’s language of music and art. “I never got into this for the music,” said Pierce, who added that God led him to start a band to reach people. “We made a decision from the beginning that we were going to be very clear about who we believe in and what we stood for.”

Pierce believes that young people all over the world are hungering for the strong, straight, radical truth of Jesus Christ. The first performances were for people on the street and in underground punk clubs. People came back, not for the musical talent, but for the message of Truth.

No Longer Music continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing culture with an unchanging, uncompromising message of faith and hope in Christ, Pierce said. It is an effective tool to bring Jesus to places where conventional missionary teams cannot go.

“God miraculously opens doors for us,” said Pierce, whose band recently returned from a tour of Kyrgystan, Turkey, Iceland and Germany. “God stirred in my mind a tour to Muslim countries.”

The challenge was presented and Pierce responded. Pierce’s wife, two sons and a daughter-in-law were called to go as well. This required Pierce to deepen his trust in God to protect not only himself, but also his family.

The band played many venues during the tour. The one-hour show combines music and theatrical elements. Fire, video, fake blood and costumes create special effects to draw in the crowds of unbelievers. The story depicts man’s desperate need for Jesus and concludes with a Crucifixion and Resurrection scene. It tells of a Savior who is compassionate and cares for the people, yet is angry at the injustices and sins of the world.

“We show them the real Jesus,” Pierce said.

Pierce believes that “bringing Jesus into...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 09 @ 00:10:00 CDT (1063 reads)
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Missions: Kami’s Kids: Reaching out to the lost children

Christian leaders hope that sponsorship program can help feed, clothe and educate the impoverished children of the Philippines.
By Dara Fillmore, Living Stones News Writer

Publisher’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part series about Living Stones News columnist Kami Scott’s experiences in the Philippines. Last month’s article focused on Scott’s return visit to the Dump City and the many children living in awful conditions there.

Kami Scott, a columnist for Living Stones News, says that sponsoring a Filipino child for $30 a month helps meet their basic needs of food, clothing and schooling.

At the church compound near where Jered and Evangeline Ramada live, Kami Scott was thrilled to see the children singing praise and worship songs.

Many of them come from the streets and are trained to fight for themselves, so Jered and Evangeline have their hands full keeping the children in line.

The Ramadas are trying to set up their household to operate as orphanage so that they can keep better track of the kids, Scott said.
That means a lot of paperwork to keep track of ages, names, where they came from and who their parents are. Once set up, they want to be able to have sponsors for the kids so they can go to school.

“The sponsorship of a child would be $30 per month, which would help with feeding, clothing and school tuition,” Scott said. “A one-time gift of $25 would help with getting the kids ready for school with shoes, clothing and school supplies. Each child is going to need $30 per month in order to stay in school.”

All of the gifts the Ramadas receive for their ministry go to keeping their motorcycle running, fuel, food for travel and rent.
Their only mode of travel to other villages is with the motorcycle.
Sometimes Jered leaves home, trusting God to provide for him as he rides the motorcycle to a faraway village with no money for a return trip.

The Ramadas are doing pioneering work in some of the remote areas they visit, Scott said. There are few churches, teachers and leaders.
Many of the Christian leaders in the villages need a lot of encouragement in their work with villagers.

One little girl wanted to sit in Scott’s lap while she was visiting one village. The girl started rubbing Scott’s arm with her finger to see if the color of her skin was real. Everywhere Scott went, the girl followed her to listen and watch.

“I don’t think she’d ever seen a white...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, September 11 @ 00:45:00 CDT (936 reads)
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Missions: Farms International helps fight poverty

By Sue DeLoach, Living Stones News Writer

Poverty is a tamable monster.

Pat and Joe Richter have learned this over decades of first-hand global experience – coupled with honest, loving hearts, cultural sensitivity and tenacious, gritty hard work. Through the organizational vehicle of FARMS International, they have tested and proven God’s Word in multiple cultural situations, and seen remarkable affirmation and hope for the poor.

Theirs is a fascinating journey of a couple who have ardently chosen to “Do good that is good.”


Joe Richter stands among some children who have been blessed by the FARMS International program.

The Richters had just been accepted as U.S. Peace Corps fisheries volunteers to the Philippines. Armed with two suitcases, youthful zeal and college degrees, the young couple opened their first real door into the journey of abject poverty.

Initially, the marriage of Peace Corps and couple was a somewhat romantic interlude, combining the beauty of sultry starlit canopies in grass huts, emerald terrain and colorful marketplaces with a desire to make a difference for humanity.

However, a growing familiarity with the pervasive nature of the poverty monster began to undermine the Richters’ best of intentions.

Although Joe had successfully initiated a fish program and Pat was seeing her educational efforts edge newborn and toddler weights to healthier levels, the honeymoon was over as chronic illness, cholera, parasites and the constant stench of poverty invaded their lives, dampening their zealous aspirations.


Fleeing their typhoon-flooded, snake- and rodent-infested apartment literally brought the Richters to “Higher Ground.”

Through a desolately painful emptiness and a total disgust of abject poverty, Joe and Pat began to see the “Light.” Reckoning came through an early Christmas gift of oranges (very rare and costly) from a squatter family who symbolized the poverty the Richters had grown to disdain, slicing open the depravity of their souls. The miracle of rebirth occurred that night as both Joe and Pat bowed to the Savior, who became poor for our cleansing, and were given new hearts of love.

In the months that followed their conversion, the Richters began to move in a brand-new spirit of compassion, learning from fellow Christians and from the Bible a foundation from which their future calling would stem. Before leaving the Philippines, both Joe and Pat had received powerful confirmations that they would return to the mountains, not only as alleviators of physical poverty, but also of that greater poverty which is of the soul. They were being called as missionaries.


An interim decade of growing in God’s way prepared the Richters for the inevitable desire of...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, September 11 @ 00:40:00 CDT (1589 reads)
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Missions: Surgeon helping build hospital in homeland

Duluth doctor wants to provide quality health care for town in Nigeria.
By Robert Vokes, Living Stones News Writer

“Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So they put their hands to the good work.”
— Nehemiah 2:18b

Dr. Vincent Ojahu, a surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, is leading an effort to build a medical center in the town where he grew up – Ihitte, Nigeria.

It is said that, with God, all thing are possible. Dr. Vincent Ohaju, who has experienced God’s hand in many parts of his life, has a vision: With God’s help, build a hospital in Nigeria, where there is currently no running water, no electricity, and where only the wealthy have access to health care and often travel overseas to receive it.

Originally from the town of Ihitte, Nigeria, Ohaju witnessed the effects of a lack of available medical care on friends and family, including the loss of his father. Vincent Obioma Ohaju died in 1983 at the age of 56 due to complications from the aspiration of a piece of meat, something that could be corrected with a simple procedure in even the smallest hospital in the United States. It was a close and personal reminder to Ohaju that most Nigerians live without essential medical services and those in a position to change that situation have an obligation to try.

There are only a handful of hospitals in Nigeria – some that are church-related – but there is no health care system. Families currently bring food and clothing to a hospital for their loved ones who are patients. The challenge is how to create quality health care that is self-sustaining in Ihitte, a community of fewer than 1,000 residents. Current plans include not only a hospital, but also a school of nursing and eventually a medical school to provide trained, educated staff.

“I love the Lord,” said Ohaju. “I want young people to know that they can dream, and that, with God, their dreams can come true.”

Ohaju grew up in Nigeria, one of six children in a family of modest means. He became a Christian in Nigeria on July 29, 1977, when he was saved at a Christian crusade called Scriptural Reunion that evangelizes in West Africa.

After high school, Ojahu worked as a junior clerk at a bank. He was able to study in America (He earned a bachelor’s degree at St.
Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.) only because he met a nurse at the church he was attending who gave Ohaju her retirement income to study here. He completed medical school at the University of North Texas in Fort Worth, and did his surgical residency in Houston and Fort Worth.

Ohaju has worked as a trauma surgeon for five years at St. Mary’s Medical Center, SMDC Health System in Duluth. He met his wife, Ann, a registered nurse at Interim Health Care, at St. Edward’s, and they have two boys and six girls. The family attends Living Faith Fellowship in Duluth.

Ohaju sees God’s active involvement in many parts of his life.

“God helped me get through high school. He sent me to Duluth. God introduced me to my wife, whom I would not have met in Nigeria,” said Ohaju. “He enables me to send a monthly income to both my mother and the nurse who enabled me to attend college in the U.S. He has given me the means to help my family in Nigeria.”

Gary Meller, a chaplain at St. Mary’s Medical Center, said, “I am impressed by Ohaju’s desire to serve the Lord and build this hospital. He does not seek the spotlight, himself, and would work to accomplish his vision even if he were not given any credit.

“Ohaju’s faithfulness to God and his compassion are also very evident as he works with trauma patients and their loved ones.”

Ohaju established The Vincent Obioma Ohaju Memorial Foundation in 2004 as a 501c nonprofit organization based in Duluth. The foundation has a mission of bringing Nigerians and Americans together to bring world class medical care to Nigeria with a medical center located in Ihitte. It will serve community health care needs as well as those throughout the country.

For additional information, visit the foundation’s Web site: www.voomfoundation.org.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, September 11 @ 00:35:00 CDT (1796 reads)
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Missions: Kami’s kids: return to Dump City

By Dara Fillmore, Living Stones News Writer

During Kami Scott’s recent missions trip to the Philippines, she opened her heart to the people, fell in love with the kids and carried their burdens back to the U.S.

Publisher’s note: This is the second installment of a three-part series about Living Stones News columnist Kami Scott’s experiences in the Phillippines. Last month’s article focused Scott’s visit to the Dump City and the many children living in awful conditions there.

Kami Scott, a columnist for Living Stones News, looks at two photos showing several of the new friends that she made during her mission trip to the Philippines.

With all that had happened at the Dump City during her visit there, Kami Scott felt led by God to return, even though it was not on her itinerary.

Earlier, she had read 1 Samuel 2:8, “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. . . .”

“I just knew I had to go back there,” Scott exclaimed.

When she did, kids appeared from all directions, excited to see the woman who had taught them “Simon Says” and had told them Bible stories.

This time, Scott came with presents — 200 assorted shorts and T- shirts. Eagerly accepting the seasonable clothing handed to them, the children smiled their thanks to Scott. Some of the children wear winter clothing in the summer heat because they have no other clothes.

The adults in the Dump City are often filled with shame because of their rags and poverty. Though they want so badly to earn money and find work, there is almost no work to be found. Some turn to alcohol.

Once, a woman came running up to Scott, talking excitedly in her own language.

“She came running toward me, arms flailing. She was screaming, but I couldn’t understand her,” Scott said.

She grabbed Scott and gave her a bear hug as she chattered. Scott
could smell the alcohol on her breath, but could not understand a word she said. Hugging the woman, Scott waited for an interpreter to help calm the woman before Scott told the children a story about a little drummer boy who met Jesus in the stable after He was born.

“The children were crying because, although the story of the drummer boy is not a Biblical story, it was putting them at a place they understood,” Scott said. “(They understood) that he didn’t think he had anything to bring Jesus. But, he gave what he had. And many of the children got that and accepted Christ on the spot.”

The drunken woman who Scott had...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 14 @ 00:25:00 CDT (775 reads)
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Missions: A missionary journey to the Dominican Republic

By Stella Sorbo, For Living Stones News

Rachel and Gene Antonio ministered to the people of India and Hungary before God led them to the Caribbean Sea.

When Rebecca Antonio was about 10 years old, a missionary showed a movie in which African missionaries were martyred.

“It scared me to death,” she said. “I said I’d never be a missionary, although I had accepted the Lord at 5 or 6 years of age.”

Marriage and family seminars are a big part of the ministry Rebecca and Gene Antonio (back row, second and third from left) bring to the people of the Dominican Republic, and their eight children also are active in the Lord’s work.

So how does a small-town Christian girl answer the call of God on her heart to become a full-time missionary in the Dominican Republic?
And how does caring for a large family fit within this calling?

For Antonio, the long journey began by being raised in a Christian home, for which she is very thankful. Born in Duluth to Allen and Mary Michaelson and raised in Two Harbors, Minn., she has always been active in the Gospel Tabernacle Church (now Living Waters Fellowship) — especially in its music. In Two Harbors High School, she was involved with music, playing in band and jazz band, and singing in choir and triple trio. She also sang in a Christian singing group called SONshine.

“We always prayed for missionaries during family devotions,” she said. “My parents were very faithful to support missionaries and this had a positive influence on my life.”

Her attitude toward becoming a missionary changed. While attending North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minn., following graduation from Two Harbors in 1979, she attended a program and at that time said to the Lord, “I’ll do whatever You want, even if it is being a missionary.”

She served a music internship in the summer of 1981 in Hawaii, a part of her preparation for her life’s work. She then met her husband, Gene Antonio, in 1982 on the telephone while at work at a financial institution. He lived in Texas at the time, so they spent a lot of time getting acquainted on the phone.

Then he came to Minnesota to meet her and her family, and she met his family from New York. He wanted to be a missionary; they married in November 1982. They lived and worked in Texas for about 10 years, during which time she got her degree and they went on three short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic.

Then Gene attended a conference where an Indian pastor invited them to ...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 14 @ 00:20:00 CDT (2647 reads)
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JAARS and Wycliffe personnel will bring hands-on opportunities to missions enthusiasts

A Missions at the Airport event will be held at the Richard I. Bong Airport (4804 Hammond Ave.) in Superior, Wis., on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 9, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. This program is designed for the entire family and will show how aviation, computing, modern media methods and other technologies speed the work of Bible translation.

The Missions at the Airport program will be presented by JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), a North Carolina-based ministry that provides technical services for the related Wycliffe Bible Translators and others. Wycliffe’s goal is to help provide Scripture in the heart language for all of the world’s peoples.

The public is invited to watch a short takeoff and landing demonstration of a Helio Courier airplane. Or, for a donation of $15, visitors can ride in a JAARS airplane. The “Helio” can fly as slow as 30 mph, safely bringing up to six passengers to short jungle airstrips.

In addition, visitors can see how computers are used in Bible translation, explore other technologies at working displays, talk with Wycliffe missionaries and browse literature. Refreshments will be available.

Missions at the Airport program director Glen Ferguson, with his wife, Beverly, joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1984. As a pilot in Brazil, he brought Bible translators to isolated villages and provided other services such as emergency medical flying. He recalled a special time when he went to a remote Bible translation center in an Amazonian jungle area and flew from there to a Pamauri village with the mission’s short takeoff and landing airplane. His precious cargo was New Testaments in the Paumari language that the Wycliffe translators had translated.

“It was a thrill to see them open their Bible for the first time with tears in their eyes, touching pages, reading portions and hugging it to their bodies,” he said. “There were other wonderful opportunities to serve in Brazil, but this was my greatest moment — I could see the fruit of all the effort!”

Wycliffe leaders estimate that more than 2,000 language groups that need translations do not yet have a Bible translation program begun in their language. Currently, Wycliffe translators work in more than 1,200 languages, representing 93 countries.

Wycliffe’s primary focus within the U.S. is to work in cooperation with local churches in providing people, prayer and financial resources for Bible translation. JAARS, staffed by Wycliffe members and other volunteers, provides training and worldwide coordination for the technical services provided for Wycliffe and national translators. Log on to www.jaars.org and www.wycliffe.org for more information about these two related organizations.

For more information on this missions event, call Bob Johnson at (715) 374-2199 or Pete Betz at (715) 364-2334.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 14 @ 00:05:00 CDT (832 reads)
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Missions: Missions - (August, 2007)

Mount of Olives Baptist Church
Address: 1500 Swan Lake Road, Duluth, Minn., 55811
Contact: Youth director Eric Reinertsen, (218) 727-3749
Who: A team of 32 adults and teenagers
Where: Grand Portage, Minn.
When: July 29-Aug. 4, 2007
Purpose: An outreach to help Mount Rose Community Church in Grand Portage. They conducted Vacation Bible School and performed service projects for the church, individuals and the community center. The primary ministry was building relationships to ensure a long-term connection with Mount Rose.

Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church
Address: 1902 E. Fourth St.,
Duluth, Minn., 55812
Contact: Youth pastor Jonas Dean, (218) 428-4630
Who: A team of three adults and five teenagers, all from Glad Tidings
Where: St. Louis, Mo.
When: June 17-24, 2007
Purpose: Partnered with The Dream Center, which ministers to the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics and prostitutes. They helped fulfill the needs of these people with food, clothing, shelter and prayer. They did street evangelism, where they would go into bars and brothels and pray with the patrons. The Dream Center is well-known
and accepted in that culture. They handed out bag lunches, which
included food, drink, Scripture and The Dream Center information.
Many lives are dramatically changed by this outreach.

Fredenberg Community Chapel
Address: 5069 Fish Lake Road
Duluth, Minn., 55803
Contact: Glenn Johnson, (218) 721-3927
Who: A team of 15 people went in July and a team of 12 people went in August. The teams are from Fredenberg Chapel and Phillips, Wis.
Where: An American Indian reservation in Osnaburgh, Ontario
When: July 7-14 and
Aug. 4-11, 2007
Purpose: This is the seventh year Fredenberg Community Chapel has sent a team to the same reservation. At first, they were not welcomed by the American Indians, but now the people there look forward to each year’s visit. They do a lot of evangelism with the young people.
They conduct Vacation Bible School at the youth center and hold backyard clubs, which include interacting with the children and playing games with them. On the reservation, alcoholism, drug use, abuse and suicide are very prevalent. The teams help minister to these people.

Duluth Gospel Tabernacle
Address: 1515 W. Superior St., Duluth, Minn., 55806
Contact: Associate pastor Dean Bjorlin, (218) 722-1928
Who: A team of five adults from Duluth Gospel Tabernacle and one from Grand Rapids. This was the first missions trip the church has taken in a long time. The members hope to make it an annual journey.
Where: Dominican Republic
When: April 20-28, 2007
Purpose: They partnered with Every Day Ministries to help reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They helped clean and paint a house that is used for ministry. Team members were involved in a basketball ministry, in which they would share the Gospel at halftime. There were approximately 15 men who accepted the Lord during this time. A touching moment was when an 11-year-old boy accepted Christ, witnessed by about 200 people. One night after a basketball game, they showed the Spanish version of “The Cross and the Switchblade.”

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 14 @ 00:00:00 CDT (720 reads)
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Missions: Missions - (July, 2007)

If your church or organization is involved in sending individuals or groups on mission trips overseas or within the United States, we’d love to share your information through Living Stones News. Please e- mail your information to Missions Column Editor Barb Johnson at barbj57@gmail.com or call (218) 728-5406.

Anchor Point
Community Church
Address: 3294 Strand Road, Duluth, Minn. 55803

Contact: Alicia Sittring,
(218) 341-2456
Who: East European Missions Network – Pastor Bill Moberly, Alicia Sittring and Laurel Sittring traveled with a team of 36 people mostly from the Midwest
Where: Petrozavodsk, Russia
When: May 28 to June 20
Purpose: They taught English in the schools using Bible-based curriculum. They were invited by the school officials to come and teach the Bible in a public school setting. Before leaving the school, officials thanked them for talking about God and said that some of them had changed their opinions about God.

Anchor Point
Community Church

Contact: Jeff Sorvik,
(218) 625-6200
Who: International Messengers Mission – Marnie Kasinskas (third year going), Amy Addington and her children: Alex, Josie, Daniel and Becca. This was the second trip for Amy, Alex and Josie. They are going with a team of 30 people.
Where: Szklarska Poreba, Poland
When: July 5-16
Purpose: To teach at an English language family camp. They will be teaching English and how Jesus can make a difference in their lives.

Central Assembly of God
Address: 2000 Hammond Ave., Superior, Wis. 54880

Contact: Sean Sislo,
(715) 341-3404
Who: Dove International Missions-Glenwood, Minn. – A team of 28 people from various churches; Sean Sislo, team captain
Where: Saltillo, Mexico
When: June 11-21
Purpose: Door-to-door ministry included prayer, sharing the Gospel and giving Bibles to those who didn’t have one, which was about 90 percent of the people. Vacation Bible Schools were held.
Approximately 300 children were involved, and over the four days about 80 children committed their lives to Jesus. There were open-air services, which included worship music, dramas, testimonies and prayer. Over five days, about 80 people came to accept Jesus Christ in their lives.

Central Assembly of God
Location: Superior, Wis.

Contact: Corrine Anton, (715) 394-5567
Who: Team of 13 people, including nine from Central Assembly. This is the second trip for five of the team members. Team captain is Anton.
Where: Tanzania, Africa
When: July 22 to Aug. 4
Purpose: To work with the New Life Foundation, President Glorious Shor, helping with the following ministries: Fountain of Hope – elementary boarding school; Fountain of Zoe – baby orphanage; Fountain of Joy – ministry of unwed mothers. The team will be ministering, sharing testimonies and sharing worship music. Anton will speak at a church service, and they will be involved in six crusades. Three of the team members are nurses and they will be helping at an infirmary for children.

Lakeview Covenant Church
Address: 1001 Jean Duluth Road, Duluth, Minn., 55804

Contact: Sue Jansen,
(218) 525-6834
Who: Praying Pelican Missions – A team of 19 people from Lakeview Covenant Church.
Where: Belize, a country in Central America
When: June 22 to July 2
Purpose: This was the fourth year Lakeview Covenant sent a team to the same village. They continued with the ministry they started, which included in-depth Bible studies, Vacation Bible School and a sports ministry. They also helped build a bridge that was washed away in a hurricane. They taught Sunday School and held several church services. Over the years, they have helped build a church and the number of members has been growing every year.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 10 @ 09:53:26 CDT (927 reads)
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Missions: Kami’s kids

Kami Scott’s recent mission trip to the Philippines opened her eyes to the importance of world missions. While there, she opened her heart to the people and fell in love with the kids. She carried their burdens back to the United States.
By Dara Fillmore, Living Stones News Writer

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a three-part series about Kami Scott’s experiences in the Philippines.

Kami Scott, a columnist for Living Stones News, holds two photos showing several of the new friends that she made during her mission trip to the Philippines.

Kami Scott stands with 60 excited children in an open area. They surround her, all smiling and laughing. Because the kids flock to her, Scott decides to teach them the game “Simon Says.”

“Simon says, ‘Laugh out loud. Ha, ha, ha!’” Scott instructs them.

“Ha, ha, ha!” they answer back, and then truly laugh at the silliness of it.

While the children smile and giggle, Scott turns her gaze beyond the group of youngsters. She sees rows of ramshackle houses, all made of trash. They stand in the middle of a dump. The awful smell of the garbage is hard to breathe into her lungs.

“I’m overwhelmed at the sight, smells and filth of this place,”
Scott later wrote in her journal. “The children are filthy, but laugh easily.”

At the “Dump City” near Valencia City in the Philippines where she played with the children, Scott found that they live with a constantly burning dump as their playground.

“The smell of the dump was horrific. The kids are unhealthy with colds, eye and ear infections and aren’t able to bathe regularly,”
Scott said.

They do not have changes of clothing. In the 90-degree spring weather, some sport winter clothes because that is all they have to wear.

Scott said both kids and adults sort through the garbage in the dump to find outdated food to eat, broken things to fix and sell and junk to recycle.

“The bags that rice come in are very large and are plastic. That’s their roofing and walls,” Scott said. “There is hardly any water to find there.”

Few, if any, of the children in the dump can afford to attend school. Beside a tuition fee, the kids need shoes and uniforms along with school books. Yet, so many of those starving kids want to go to school. Scott was told that the children want to become teachers, doctors, engineers, anything so they can help their families. These children were eager to please the light-skinned missionary who came to visit them. That day when Scott went to the Dump City, many of the adults stayed away from her, assuming her to be just another politician passing their way.

Instead of political speech, however, she brought the hope-filled message of Jesus Christ.

When Jered and Evangeline Ramada, who started Jesus for All Missions, invited Scott to help them tell others in the Philippines about Jesus Christ, she had no idea what it would be like if she went. When she felt that she was called by God to go, she packed her bags and prayed.

The Ramadas found out about Living Stones News from finding a copy of the newspaper sitting on a table in the Philippines. After reading the paper, Jered Ramada contacted the publisher to ask more about it.
After many e-mails and some phone calls, the Ramadas invited anyone from the Living Stones News board of directors to come and meet them and help with their ministry to the Filipino people.

The Ramadas invited Scott to...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 10 @ 08:14:16 CDT (974 reads)
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Missions: Missionary builders headed to Thailand

The Troy Scott family is just an ordinary family called by God to become a specialized mission’s team to create and restore buildings to be used for His glory in Thailand.
By Corinne Scott, Publisher

In early fall, Troy and Cheryl Scott and their three children – Nathaniel (13), Naomi (9) and Natalie (4 months) -- plan to leave the United States to become construction missionaries in Thailand, creating and restoring buildings that will be used for God’s glory. Being sent out from the Forest Lake Maranatha Assembly of God Church, Troy Scott acknowledges that “we are not just going to build buildings, but to build God’s kingdom.”

The Scott family (clockwise from top:) Troy, Cheryl, Naomi (9 years old), Natalie (4 months) and Nathaniel (13) plan to travel to Thailand this fall and begin a ministry that includes constructing and restoring buildings for the people there.

The Scott family will be going to ChiangMai in northern Thailand and will come alongside national churches previously established by the Assembly of God. Their role will be to manage construction projects and to manage short-term missionary teams that come to Thailand.

Scott, who has been on three short-term mission trips, said that he couldn’t think of a better job description and that there is nothing better he’d like to do.

“Our heart is to see the burden taken off the missionaries on the field and to work with the short-term mission teams,” Scott said. “Most missionaries have little or no construction background. I know the names of the materials. I will make contacts and learn where to find the materials so that when short-term teams come, everything will be ready to go.”

Cheryl Scott will be at their home based in ChiangMai with the family. She will be active in the communication and organization of the construction projects and teams which will be a big help to Troy. Troy is assigned to all of Thailand, but he said that he will try to balance the work so he’s not gone so much.

“We are doing this together as a family,” Scott said. “We had asked the kids how they felt about going to Thailand and they’d said, ‘Absolutely! Let’s go!’ This was another confirmation that God was calling us. The kids will attend an international school while in Thailand, a Christian school called Grace International.”

Troy Scott is well acquainted with life on a mission field. He was born and raised in Fridley, Minn., until he was 4 years old. Scott’s parents then served the Lutheran organization, World Mission Prayer League, in Bangladesh until he was 15. While in Bangladesh, Scott attended boarding school in Pakistan. His parents returned to the states so that he and his older twin brothers could graduate from high school here.

After graduating from high school in Hopkins, Minn., in 1988, Scott attended a six month’s discipleship training school in southern California sponsored by YWAM (Youth With A Mission), a program focused on growing in your faith and taking Christ to the nations. .

Scott said that at the YWAM training it became very clear to him that a relationship with Jesus Christ is what Christianity is really about, not religion.

While at the YWAM training, Scott also met Cheryl, his wife to be. Although Cheryl was not raised on a mission field, she had a heart for missions almost immediately after becoming a Christian at 18. They were married on July 7, 1990.

Scott’s father was in...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 10 @ 00:20:00 CDT (1468 reads)
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Missions: Local church team assists Hurricane Katrina victims, challenges others to go

A six-man team spent a week in Biloxi, Miss., helping rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. They returned with a passion for others to help – much remains to be done.
By Lee Swenson, For Living Stones News

In early April, six men from Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hermantown, Minn., spent a week volunteering in Biloxi, Miss., to help rebuild damaged homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Paul Fleckenstein, the trip organizer, stands on the “Stilt House” belonging to SonVan “John” Nguyen and his family. The Hermantown team started working on the house in mid-April when they were there. The house has since been completed and was dedicated in mid June.

The storm hit the Gulf Coast in late August 2005. In addition to the very high winds of the hurricane, a devastating sea surge – a 23-foot- tall wall of water – slammed inland causing massive flooding and damage. Hurricane Katrina destroyed a stretch of the Gulf Coast 71 miles long; the storm surge washed inland anywhere from one to four miles. The waters remained on land for about six hours. The winds were wild. Damage was swift and deadly.

Damage struck countless homes, businesses and miles of the Gulf Coast. Rich and poor, homes and businesses, churches and parks, bridges and roads were washed away or left in a ragged pile of rubble.

Thousands of lives were impacted, and 85 percent of Biloxi was destroyed. All of the 100 churches right on the Gulf suffered loss; some were damaged beyond any hope of rebuilding the structures. Only one church of those 100 did not miss a worship service in the aftermath of the storm and that was the church we stayed at during our week of work in Biloxi. An estimated 2,200 people along the Gulf lost their lives in the hurricane.

How does one measure a life lost? A pet washed away? What can replace a lost wedding photo album or a tree fort out in the backyard?

Our group of six volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia. The Thrivent Builds Worldwide, a program of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, covered much of our expenses. Our six men worked on three homes in Biloxi. We worked with other church groups from across the nation, but spent most of that time with volunteers from a Lutheran church in Indianapolis.

The hard work of rebuilding the Gulf Coast continues even now, 20 months after Hurricane Katrina passed through.

What can you do? Pray for the people the Gulf. Pray for the people of Biloxi. Pray for peace, pray for rebuilding, pray for volunteers to come and work and pray for hope. Donate funds for the Gulf Coast rebuilding projects. Donate your time. Go and rebuild Biloxi (or any other part of the Gulf that lies in ruins in the storm’s wake). Burn up your vacation time and go build. If you are retired and can spend extended periods of time down there, then do so. Go build. Go and do.

Volunteer. There is an ongoing need for...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 10 @ 00:15:00 CDT (804 reads)
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