Sunday, September 10, 2017

English Language Ministry in Fort Smith

Last November, we hosted a small literacy teacher training workshop in our home (this is the post about it).  It was clear that one of the trainees, Zach, had a strong burden to reach the international community in Fort Smith.  During the literacy training I mentioned ESL ministry as another branch of LEI's ministry.  Zach caught the vision and began to mobilize his church, Northside UPC.

Zach and I met several times over the past 8 months and cultivated a friendship.  It was great to see how the church leadership got behind him and helped to promote this new English Language Ministry with both their English and Spanish speaking congregations.

I led a 3-day training from August 17-19th.  The group of volunteer teachers was absolutely exceptional both in their skill and desire to serve the non-English speaking people in our city.   We also had around 16 students show up to help us have a more realistic training environment....this was way more than what we were expecting and a good sign for things to come.

Yesterday, Sept 7th, was the first day of class.  Zach said that they had a great first session and can't wait for next week.  Praise God for this new outreach.  Let's back them up in prayer for God's love and power to pour out through the teachers and touch the lives of their students.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

COMIBAM's IV Ibero-America Missions Conference

I've been traveling A LOT lately.  So when I found out about COMIBAM's fourth decadal Ibero-America Missions Conference, I was torn.  Because of all the traveling, I was reluctant to go.....but I knew that it would be a great opportunity to network with the missionary community.   Most people don't know about Literacy & Evangelism International, so the first battle we face is to get the word out there.  Our founder, Rev. Bob Rice, always said that literacy is the blindspot in missions.  I talked and prayed about it with Emily and we agreed that I should go to Bogotá, Colombia (she's an amazing woman of faith!).

So, here are some definitions that will help:
COMIBAM - (Cooperación Misionera Iberoamericana) - An international congress to promote the development of the missions movement within Ibero-America

IBERO-AMERICA - Basically this means Spanish and Portuguese speaking Latin America plus Spain, Portugal, and Equatorial Guinea (the only African country where Spanish is the national language)

IV CONGRESO MISIONERO IBEROAMERICANO - This conference is like the "Urbana" of Latin America, but it's wider in scope and occurs less frequently....just once every ten years.

This missions conference was a spectacular experience and a tremendous opportunity to connect with over 400 different mission agencies and 2000 missionary candidates.  I started each day by praying, "Lord, lead me to the people who need to know about literacy and ESL ministry."  That simple prayer produced countless divine appointments that ultimately led to invitations for materials-development and training workshops.  I am also dialoging now with several other agencies and talking about how our two organizations can form a mutually-beneficial alliance.

This brother from Equatorial Guinea has just finished translating the Bible in his mother tongue.  I asked him if he was doing literacy. He said "Not yet, but I want to start & have been looking for someone who could help us develop a primer"

I also got to spend time meeting with LEI Canada's missionary - Carolina Perdomo.  She has been doing great work as a literacy consultant for a number of different groups, including our partner organization in Guatemala, LAMP.

Carolina (red jacket) with leaders from Colombian organizations whom she's trained in literacy ministry.
Carolina's host family - Diva and Alfredo - also hosted me during the conference.  They were extremely kind and generous. 
One of the tasty Colombian breakfasts I had - scrambled eggs w/ corn, arepa, fresh cheese, and perfectly ripened papaya.
In the 15 years I've been in Latin America, I've seen the steady transition of Latin America transforming from a mission field to a missionary force.  Latin missionaries are now in all regions of the world.  They are uniquely equipped for transcultural ministry; their culture, appearance, nationality, and values all make them arguably more suitable and effective than their western missionary counterparts.  It's nothing short of a slow revolution in world missions.

We appreciate your prayers for God's continued guidance as we attempt to work together more effectively to accomplish the mission our Lord gave us - to make disciples in ALL NATIONS.

Every afternoon, there were 3 different rounds of seminars and lectures on pertinent missions topics. 

The director of COMIBAM (and also Carolina's pastor) - David Cardenas

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Guatemala 2017

July 2017 Guatemala trip in photos & captions: 

I had the privilege of traveling with our pastor, Dr. Phillip McClure, and his daughter Elise (far right).  This is their third trip to Guatemala and are always an encouragement to the people and the mission there.  
The first order of business was to visit another missionary from our church (and close friend) Pierce Beachy. He's doing great work with a ministry there called CCCG and we couldn't be more proud of him.  

After seeing Pierce, we went to CECAM in Quetzaltenango.  CECAM is a missionary training center to equip and send out Latinos into the mission field.  We've been partnering with them since 2008.  

At CECAM, Phillip led the missionary candidates in various team building activities (his side business in the U.S.). He is uniquely gifted in facilitating dynamic exercises that help teams learn more about themselves and how to function more effectively.  

Elise teaching English, a skill that they will likely need to work with the missionary community wherever they go. Elise did great and is an example of stepping out in faith as a young adult! 

Learning English is fun! 
Phillip and Elise pictured here with Samuel, the acting director of CECAM.  The director and founder Jesuel is seriously ill and awaiting a liver transplant in Brazil.  Please pray for him and his family.  

With our good friends Adler and Emily Valásquez. 

Phillip and I left Elise at CECAM and headed on to Comitancillo, where our partner organization LAMP is headquartered. Pictured above is the LAMP team - (from left to right) Byron, Herminio, Eliceo, & Maria.
Herminio just started working with LAMP this year and is working with public schools in that area to implement LAMP's literacy materials and methodologies.  This is a huge accomplishment! 

Phillip led team building activities with the LAMP team.
We had several days of meetings and spent time worshipping, praying, and strategizing together.  

I shared with them LEI's global strategic initiatives and we worked on doing a similar type of SWOT analysis for LAMP.

I taught them how to play HORSE and things got crazy. 

Byron and Miriam treated us a nice meal at their house.  Such a lovely family. 

Pastor Samuel and Maria hosted Phillip and me during our stay there as they have so many times.  This year, I discovered one of Samuel's hidden talents.  

I'm here with Byron and Edgar, the owner of "Italian Restaurant" which we frequent during days of long meetings.  Always great food, though it's strangely never Italian or anything close.  

Procession in the street back in Guatemala city where we met up with Yovany & Esmeralda Hernandez. 

Yovany & Esmeralda organized literacy promotional events in Guatemala city to raise awareness among churches.  

This promo event was organized hosted by the church where Yovany preaches - Iglesia Eden. 

Phillip delivered a powerful sermon about the importance of the Bible in a Christian's life

I preached on missions as the purpose for the local church
The second promotional event was held in a church an hour outside of the capital. Esmeralda did a great job presenting the ministry and casting the vision.  

Esmeralda & Yovany giving out a book of Bible stories donated by one of their Guatemalan supporters.  
Our church donated books that we gave out at the promotional events.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

International Literacy Training Institute - ILTI 2017

This June and July, we hosted our annual International Literacy Training Institute in Tulsa Oklahoma. It's always exciting to see who God brings to the training.  We usually accept over 60 participants knowing that only a fraction will be granted a visa to come to America.  This year, we had 11 people from 6 different countries- USA, Ghana, Malawi, Togo, Nigeria, and Myanmar (formerly Burma).  This ILTI marked the 10th year that Emily and I have taught the course called Leading Teacher Training Workshops.  The goal is to prepare each participant to lead their own local literacy ministry when they go back to their respective countries.  The multiplication factor is huge here.    

You can read Bob Biederman's blog to get the full story of this great training event. Photos are below! 
One of our newest missionaries, Dr. Melina Gallo, teaching the "clap the stress" section of our ESL method. 

Teaching "Literacy Overview" section the first day of the training.

Finishing the course on English Language Ministry

Always sweet times of transcultural worship during chapel

Demonstrating how to teach the reading portion a literacy lesson

Demonstrating how to teach the writing portion a literacy lesson

Claire showing off the ILTI song book
(a collection of songs from different regions of the world that our participants have taught us over the years)

Bro Fred teaching a tongue-twister song (I think)
Ian looks forward to the ILTI each year (he loves the people and the unlimited peppermint candies) 

From the July 14th graduation

From the July 14th graduation


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