More Jesus . . . Less Busy

This past year, our Ministry Awareness leadership team spent time discussing and reading a book together about “soul care.”  Taking care of our soul can be extremely challenging with the many demands for our time.  One of the main facets of soul care involves silence and solitude, which fills our soul and allows God to speak to us.

As we enter the holiday season, it can become even more difficult to have silence and solitude with Jesus as we attend and prepare for parties, plan holiday meals, shop for gifts, wrap those gifts, watch Hallmark Christmas movies, decorate gingerbread houses, drive around to see the best Christmas lights, go caroling, the list goes on and on and on . . . Our stress levels begin to rise as we look over the calendar for December.

This year will you say “no” to busyness so you can say “yes” to Jesus?

Slow down and savor the true gifts of the Christmas season.  Unpack the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love Jesus has promised and given to you!  Be intentional about staying focused on what’s most important during this busy season.

Praying for a deeper, more meaningful Christmas for each of you this year!

– Mike

 

Indonesian Adventure

On September 11, 2019 I read the following in an email from Mike Snodgrass:

 Team,

Anyone want to jump on a plane?  If you’re interested, please let me know.  Thanks.

– Mike

The trip was to Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia to deliver parts for two Kodiaks. I answered Mike’s email with, “Hey Mike, depending on when, I would go!” I thought that there would be a bunch of people jumping at the chance. So, imagine my surprise when a few days later I received an email telling me I was leaving that Saturday, September 14! I left a day later to ensure I received the parts in time.

HQ forwarded the parts to my home, arriving in plenty of time. To my chagrin, our giant red/pink suitcase I often tease my wife about proved to be exactly the right size to fit the Kodiak parts. So Big Red and I headed out off to Tarakan.

This was a long a flight…I a very long flight. As I tried to get comfortable in the too-small seats on the various legs, I thought of the MAF missionary families traveling around the globe who not only fly the miles but do so with small children… Wow!

I arrived at Juwata Airport in Tarakan on Tuesday morning (Monday night back home). It was overcast, smoky, and quite warm. Isaac Rogers (I think) picked me up from the airport, but honestly, I was so jet-lagged, it could have been President Joko Widodo! I grabbed the big red suitcase, which had made the trip unnoticed and unharmed, and brought it to the waiting A & P team where they unpacked the box of parts and went right to work repairing the Kodiaks.

My time in Tarakan, although brief, was such a blessing. I toured the town and school with Isaac, had dinners with the missionary pilots/mechanics and their families and one day flew with Ian Rojas to a remote village… where he left me! But the villagers accepted this tall Dutchman, fed me, gave me a cool vest made from plants, and invited me to a wedding. Ian did return after his runs, picked me up and we flew back to base.

Would you like to take a trip like this sometime? If so, let your RM know and next time an email comes asking for a volunteer to go someplace amazing, maybe you can be the one to go!

By Craig Talsma, Regional Manager Northeast US

 

AmazonSmile: Making Your Purchases Matter More

One of my favorite internet memes shows a mat with the words asking the delivery driver to “please hide the packages from husband.” The picture in the meme shows a welcome mat with a not very well-hidden package under it. Well-hidden packages notwithstanding, Amazon is a popular way to enjoy easy shopping!

A very cool thing about Amazon that is often over-looked is AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), which offers the same benefits of its sister website, Amazon.com, but with one distinct difference. When users shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation contributes .05 percent of eligible purchase to the charity of your choice. Especially for frequent Amazon users, this addition perk is a great way to give to MAF effortlessly.

Granted, .05 percent is not a ton. My 20 purchases on AmazonSmile have only generated $2.68 for MAF. But, the AmazonSmile Foundation, through people choosing MAF as their designated charity, has to date donated $14,224.19. That’s a good amount generated by just a few clicks!

AmazonSmile is a great way to supplement your regular giving to MAF painlessly while you shop. The website is the same and you can even use your Amazon Prime for free shipping. You pay no extra on your purchases, it is a win-win! So, use AmazonSmile whenever you shop online and encourage your friends and family to do so, too.

You can look up more information on AmazonSmile. I checked out, ”thebalancesmb.com” for info for this article.

By Craig Talsma, Advocate Wing Manager

Northern Region

A Tale of Two Villages by Nathan & Becky Fagerlie in Papua, Indonesia

What difference does the Gospel make? Journey with me to two villages that MAF serves in Papua, Indonesia. These villages are home to two different tribes and host two different cultures. The people speak two completely different languages and currently have two different understandings of God.

Turumo

The sun stretches across the horizon on Sunday morning in the lowlands of Turumo; the air is heavy with heat and humidity. Soon, the rain rolls in providing some relief from the heat. Church will start late because of the weather. To be cleansed of your sin, you have to bathe before church starts and nobody bathes in the rain.

Finally church starts with rhythmic chanting. Nobody knows what the chants mean, but they believe they are pleasing to God so they recite them every week. Singing is followed up by prayer. Prayers work better if you pay the pastor, so offerings are given to him.

Today’s message is about curses. Those who are good Christians should not be cursing others, but those who are bad Christians should be cursed so that their gardens don’t produce food. Those who are sick have been cursed, and we need to figure out who cursed them.

After church, the village chief meets with the MAF pilot. He apologizes to him for the state of the airstrip, but blames it on the people who live upriver who won’t come help maintain it. He also believes they cursed his son, causing his sickness and death. He asks that the pilots not to fly the people who live upriver because they refuse to help on the airstrip and because they caused his son’s death. The village chief offers land for the MAF family to build a house so that they can visit more often.

The Turu people have had missionaries for five years. They have been learning language and culture, but have not yet presented the Gospel. They desire to have a full understanding of the Turu language and culture so that they can present the Gospel in a way that will make sense to them, rather than further confusing them about who God is.

Mokendoma

The sun peeks over the mountaintops on Sunday morning in the highlands of Mokendoma; the air is cool and crisp. Soon, the rain rolls in, cooling the air even more. Church will start late because of the weather. Many people make long hikes through the jungle to hear about God.

Finally, church starts with songs in the tribal language that the people have written themselves, giving thanks and praising their Savior. Singing is followed by prayer. Genuine prayers lifted to the God who hears.

Today’s sermon is from Acts 3, the story of the lame man outside the temple who is healed by Jesus. Just as the man was lame from birth and could only be healed by the power of Jesus, so are we separated from God by our sin from birth. And only by the power of Christ’s death on the cross can we be saved.

After church, the church leaders meet with the MAF pilot. They share their testimonies of receiving the Gospel for the first time. They thank him for helping them spread the Gospel by flying them to places too far away to walk. They express their gratitude to God for giving us all a job to do for his Kingdom.

The Wano people have had missionaries for fourteen years. After several years of language and culture study, the missionaries presented the Gospel and now have a growing and thriving church. The Wano are becoming missionaries themselves, reaching out to other Wano villages throughout Papua.

30% of the New Testament translation is complete, and they hope to have another 30% completed this fall.

Bible translators in both Turumo and Mokendoma rely on MAF to carry out their work. It is our joy and privilege to play a part in bringing the Good News to these isolated villages. Join me in praying for these translation projects.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV

 

By Nathan and Becky Fagerlie serving with MAF in Papua

First Day at MAF

First Day is a day set aside at the beginning of each month where the MAF family, guided by the principles of Sabbath, stops its normal work routine to enter into a time of rest as we seek to delight in God and contemplate on all He has done for us. We accomplish this through times (individually and corporately) of worship, prayer, recreation, and fellowship. We do not seek to be legalistic, but to be intentional. As an organization desiring to walk with Jesus, we believe First Day can serve as a spiritual discipline for us leading to better discernment, wiser decisions, greater unity, and increasing awareness of all God has in store for us. It stands in subversive rebellion to the spirit of the age which seeks to distract us with a never-ending flow of information and tasks while distorting our identity by saying what we do is more important than Who we are loved by. It is our belief First Day will strengthen the soul of MAF.

We’ve adopted the Four Elements of First Day from The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team and the World.

The Four Elements of First Day

  • Stop.  First and foremost, we cease all work – paid and unpaid. On First Day we embrace our limits. We let go of the illusion we are indispensable to the running of the world. We recognize we will never finish all our goals and projects and that God is on the throne, managing quite well in ruling the universe without our help.
  • Rest. Once we stop, we accept God’s invitation to rest. God rested after His work of creation. We engage in activities that restore and replenish us. The key is to rest from both paid and unpaid work.
  • Delight. God invites us to join in the celebration, to enjoy and delight in His creation and all the gifts He offers us in it. The innumerable gifts come to us in many forms, including people, places and things.
  • Contemplate. Pondering the love of God is the central focus of our First Day. We are not taking time from God; we are drawing closer to Him. It is an invitation to see the invisible in the visible – to recognize the hidden ways God’s goodness is at work in our lives. In contemplation, we are acutely focused on those aspects of God’s love that come to us through so many gifts from His hand.

For many of us who grew up in a Christian home, Sunday was a day different than the other days of the week. It typically included going to Sunday school and church, followed by a family dinner, and family activities we did together.

While your Sunday may have looked different, it is likely the common element was that this was a day where work was set aside. While there were always chores to be done, we were quite intentional about limiting the work outside to what was necessary. This was a day to focus more intentionally on God and to step back from the hard work that characterized our normal routine. First Day is not intended to replace your personal Sabbath.

For First Day we’ve been watching a series of videos from John Mark Comer, the pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. During our October First Day we watched the Sabbath: Rest for Your Soul video. In November, we watched Sabbath: Sabbath as a Rhythm. In December, we plan to watch Sabbath as Resistance.

To give you an idea of how First Day at MAF HQ looks, here is the schedule we’ve followed:

8:00 to 8:30         Worship Music

8:30 to 8:45          David Holsten shares

8:45 to 9:00          Break – to turn off your cell phone, answer any pressing emails, set your “out of office” message.

9:00 to 10:00       Sabbath video

10:00  to 12:30    Rest and Delight

12:30  to 1:30       Feast

1:30 to 1:45           Worship Music

1:45 to 1:51            MAF International Day of Prayer Video (Click to watch)

1:51 to 2:15            Contemplate and Prayer Time

2:15 to 3:45          Individual Prayer Time

3:45 to 4:10          Group/table prayer

4:10 to 4:30          Executive Leadership Team closes in prayer (prays over their team members present)

We launched First Day at HQ first to work out any possible kinks before rolling it out to the MAF Field Programs in February 2020. Our field staff needs a margin. Their commute to work is much different than those of us living in the US. Oftentimes, our field staff arrives at the hangar already stressed by navigating the roads, traffic, motorcycles, and protesters.  We would like to provide them with time to focus on the Lord.

We invite you to pray alongside us for our staff as we participate in First Day. We also invite you to join in First Day by creating margin in your life. Is God asking you to stop, rest, delight and contemplate Him? If you feel called to participate in your own Sabbath or First Day, let us know! We would love to pray for you.

 

Building Your Prayer Team

All MAF missionaries in the field have great training, a home base, supporting churches and a number of people regularly pray for them and their ministry. As Advocates, we are missionaries in our own sphere of influence. Our base is our home and we have been through some great training as well. All we are missing is the most important part of our ministry – PRAYER PARTNERS!

Before I go any further, I must give credit to our Southern Regional Manager, Dina Parris for the idea of building a prayer team.  She encouraged me to build a personal prayer team. The size and composition of your team may vary based on several factors and can certainly change over time.  It could include family, friends, or your spouse but most importantly fellow Christian brothers and sisters, strong in the faith, who you respect and whose opinions you value and trust.

It’s important to be very intentional about your prayer team. Don’t just simply ask them to pray for you – meet with them, explain your Advocate ministry to them and the importance of MAF’s part in building God’s kingdom and very literally saving lives. You may want to make sure they get a copy of FlightWatch every quarter to see in action MAF is doing on an ongoing basis. I recommend everyone on your team sign a form you create outlining both their duties and responsibilities, as well as your part in reporting back to them on the events you have coming up.  Also vital is feedback on how the Lord has blessed previous events and answered specific prayers. The accountability between you and your team helps immensely to keep you on track. An added benefit is team members occasionally share a fresh perspective on problems or issues that arise.

My prayer team also helps me stay engaged and more focused on my efforts as an Advocate. The routine of regular communication and periodic updates effectively serves as a continuing review process in the direction and results of my efforts.  It’s also nice to get positive reinforcement from your team after events to keep you motivated as the months go by. As so clearly stated in Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”, that is the goal of a good prayer team.

Click HERE to access a sample Ministry Description for your Prayer Team members!

By Advocate Mark Harris

New Family Center Groundbreaking at HQ

The start of construction on the MAF Family Center has begun!  The official groundbreaking took place on October 29th.  This facility will be a multi-purpose building for our staff and families in training, who may live on campus for up to three months.  It will provide a children’s center, library/study, exercise/fitness room and gathering areas for coffee, meals and fellowship.  The Lord provided all the funding for this new building earlier in the year, but it has taken a few months to get building permits and plan approvals in place.  Thankfully, construction can start now with a completion date in May 2020. 

Letting Go of Control

October has been a disappointing month weather-wise in Kansas.  Fall, specifically October and November, is usually is filled with color and calm days, great for flying and outdoor project wrap up.  This season’s weather has been pocked with several cold snaps that kept us fighting to get things done.  It has almost had a breathless feeling about it.

I am not fond of being “pushed” by the weather or anything else for that matter.  I prefer being led, and endeavor to let the Holy Spirit do so, but even in that, we have an adversary and “the resistance” that fusses with the flow of things seems ever-present.  Time for a mind shift.

That is when I ramp up my focus on the Word, Jesus, and His voice.  One way I do this is by watching MAF videos.  Aside from the excellence in which they are done (and they are), they pull me out of the pressure of the moment into a much wider and bigger place.  A Kingdom place.  A place where lives, families, villages, even countries are being changed.

Countries!  In reading about some of the program changes, I was surprised at the reason: several areas ministered to by MAF have outgrown their need for the ministry we offer.  Wow.

  • Isolated people have come out of isolation.
  • The church is healthy and can continue.
  • Roads have been built.
  • People can read.
  • Medical help is available through other avenues.

And MAF was a part of that.  I know it is not easy letting go.  There is a major disruption to those who have poured heart and soul into these places.  But this transition is healthy.  Kids grow up.  They graduate and move out.  In this case, MAF is the one moving out, but the image is similar.  So, advocates, pray for these transitions:

For wisdom as moves are made

For a fresh vision for those who are moving out

For the indigenous church to thrive

As I let go of the autumn season’s shortfalls, and head into the Holidays, I am grateful to be a part of what the Lord is doing throughout the earth through MAF.  Happy Holidays!

By Nancy Cullen, Advocate in Wichita, Kansas

The Announcement

I find it beyond wonderful that Jesus’ birth announcement went out to the Shepherds. It appears in Luke’s record of Jesus’ birth. The announcement did not go out first to the powerful, to the ruling elite, to the rich, beautiful, or gifted. Instead – it went out to shepherds – the very bottom of the societal ladder. Yet, it is to this rough bunch that the heavenly host appears with an announcement that can hardly be believed. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you’.”

 

Jethro listened to the night as he stood silently on watch. The crickets were singing as usual, and some of the sheep in the flock were grazing with a few calling once in a while to their lambs and the lambs calling back. These were the normal night sounds of a flock, and Jethro knew them well.

Tonight he was not only watching over his flock, but he was also watching over the flocks of the other shepherds gathered around the campfire in the bowl-like depression below him. Jethro was still a young man, but he had earned the responsibility he carried on his shoulders this evening. For seven years he had worked with the men who sat about the fire below, and for seven years he had profited from the patient knowledge of these men. In turn, he had slowly earned their respect as he went about his duties by day and watches at night without complaint. As his flock had increased he had been able to begin selling a small portion of that increase. Without the help of those below him, his start as a shepherd would have taken much longer.  Although they were only shepherds, Jethro owed them much.

Five flocks were gathered together this evening. For two days, they had grazed the hillsides to the south, but tomorrow they would move farther to the eastern hills. There was good grazing there according to Daniel, who had gone to look yesterday. He had only returned late in the evening; and because of the length of the trek, he had not spoken until this morning. Jethro had been on the middle watch that evening and had actually been a little startled by the silent Daniel who had appeared out of the darkness and cast himself down on the ground to fall asleep almost immediately. It had not been until the following morning that he had told the other shepherds and Jethro about the excellent grass he had found on their eastern flank. Tomorrow they would begin their move toward that new ground.

Jethro moved a few yards to the west. The sheep were very quiet tonight. Actually, the sheep were never totally quiet. In a small flock or large, there were always animals that were grazing and calling to one another. But on this night, there were very few on their feet and moving about to feed. It made for an easier watch. Fewer movements to catch your eye meant less walking about to make sure there was no predator. But even as Jethro watched, one by one, the last stragglers knelt down to chew their cud. Jethro could count on one hand the few times he had ever seen a flock totally at rest. It was just not very common, but it was noteworthy when it happened.

The quiet increased as the sheep contentedly lay about him. Then, as if that very quiet had been commanded, a silence fell about the flock. Jethro sharpened his watch, but there was nothing to see. Even the breeze dropped off. The stars overhead seemed to take on a new luster against the night sky, but Jethro noted that the moon had not yet risen. Silence like this almost always was the harbinger of trouble, change, something new on the wind. Yet nowhere in the sea of wool before him did he see or sense trouble, only – the silence. Even the crickets had stopped their chirping. Jethro found himself holding his breath in expectation of – he knew not what!

Then – a glow illuminated the small depression where they camped. At first, Jethro hardly noticed it, but in a mere second, it touched every corner and enveloped them all. Indeed, it seemed to cling to their clothes and outline each person present. Jethro cried out a warning and those by the fire quickly awakened the shepherds already asleep. Great fear and awe swept over them all.

Immediately, a figure appeared in their midst, a tall figure with wings furled, and the radiance that surrounded him set the entire clearing ablaze. It was both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Several of the men cringed and fell on their faces crying out in terror. And then –  then the angel spoke, “Do not be afraid. For I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

And then, a wonder of wonders, suddenly the night sky lit up with the Glory of the Lord. From horizon to horizon it – it just exploded, and a great company of the heavenly host was suddenly revealed, and they filled the sky to bursting with rank upon rank upon rank of angelic beings! And they spoke saying the wonderful message over and over again, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” And their words were the words of men, but their speech held more than music. It was the melody of heaven itself, beyond the mere announcement, beyond beauty, beyond glory. And it echoed and echoed again in Jethro’s heart as it repeated itself over and over. But even as Jethro was swept away by the wonder, that great joy that accompanied the words spoken broke out on each man’s face. It overcame them all so that they could not stop smiling as its very beauty and meaning overcame them and their hearts sang with a joy that was unexplainable.

And then the angels were no more, and the Glory of the Lord that had shone around the shepherds and even through them – it faded. But the presence of heaven that had shown itself before them continued to reverberate in their hearts. That holiness, that righteousness of the heavenly host, the angelic joy that had filled the night sky, it remained – almost physical. As one they stood, still gazing up at the stars overhead for long moments, still totally enthralled.

And then a young shepherd, a boy actually and the youngest son of Jason broke the silence. And in his joyful enthusiasm, he cried out, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.” And immediately voices from around the camp echoed in agreement. Quickly they broke camp and hurried off for each knew that Bethlehem was just a short distance away, just beyond the horizon.

In later years Jethro never lost the wonder of that evening. For as they approached the stable, again he experienced the very presence of heaven in his heart. Its rightness – it touched them all as they gazed at the scene. For it was just as they had been told. The babe lay in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and his mother – Mary – listened in quiet attention as they spoke of the angelic announcement which had drawn them to the stable. And Mary’s husband Joseph, quietly thanked them for their praise of God over the birth of the child.

Jethro had gazed at the child in rapt wonder, such a dark-haired surprise! And even as he looked at the sleeping bundle, the child quietly awakened and Mary gathered him into her arms. Jesus – that was what they were told his name was. And as Jethro watched, the baby looked at him, met his eyes, and Jethro extended his work-roughened little finger. The baby, Jesus, reached out through the swaddling clothes which Mary had loosed and grasped it. Even in later years, Jethro had no words for that moment in time. He seldom re-told it, but on those rare occasions when he did, those who listened were struck with amazement at the glow of joy the shone from his weathered face.

And Jethro remembered how they had told all they encountered that night of what the angels had told them. And all they told were amazed. And slowly, reluctantly even, they had withdrawn from the stable yard and returned to their flocks in the field, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen – for the joy that was almost beyond grasping, for the message that was for all people, “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

 

By Advocate Paul Gibson

In the Wake of Distant Disaster

HOW TO HELP WHEN YOU FEEL HELPLESS

 

My stomach churned as I scrolled through Facebook, watching a video of dark water flowing through streets and destroying buildings and bridges. My friends in Papua, Indonesia posted social media updates on deadly floods that hit after nights of heavy rain. I was deeply saddened and shocked to see photos of a familiar place rendered unfamiliar. So many people—including people I know—lost their homes and loved ones.

This year has been particularly difficult and uneasy for the Indonesian province of Papua. Massive flash floods, earthquakes, landslides, political unrest, rioting, and all the usual issues—sickness, poverty, lack of education—plague the island in a seemingly never-ending wave of hardship.

Meanwhile, I sit in my peaceful dorm room in downtown Chicago, feeling so very distant from Papua, the place where I grew up and called home. I get messages from my friends who still live in Indonesia, I read the latest news reporting on the various dilemmas Papuans faces, and I’m conflicted. I don’t know what to do.

I feel guilty for being in America, in a relatively safe and comfortable setting, gaining a wonderful education while my Papuan community struggles to survive halfway across the world. Helplessness looms over me as I wonder, “What can I even do to help? I’m not physically there; I can’t help with flood relief efforts; I can’t relate to the people who are terrified through all the rioting. I can’t actively serve in the way my friends who work with MAF in Papua can.”

It’s true – I can’t physically be there, but God is teaching me to be present in prayer. Though I’m sometimes tempted to believe prayer isn’t as powerful as it is, God hears. He hears our cries for justice and peace to reign, for physical calamities to cease, for families to be reunited in the chaos.

And so I pray. I pray for my jungle home, for the broken and beautiful place that is Papua. I pray our Lord Jesus will somehow work good through the horridness.

No matter where we are in the world, we must remember to lift up our brothers and sisters around the globe through bold prayer. We may not have the capacity to physically be in the same place as those who are hurting and oppressed, but we can still pray, send financial help, and encourage those seeking to make things right again.

As I go to classes and stroll down the streets of chilly Chicago, my mind drifts back to my friends in Papua and the many tragedies afflicting that rugged, remote island. I could let hopelessness overtake me, but instead I am thankful the same God who hears my prayers in America is the One who moves and comforts in Indonesia. He is the same God who calmed the storms on the Sea of Galilee, the same God who empowers us to serve courageously, the same God who will make all things new and “wipe every tear from their eyes.”

By Grace Holsten