Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thank you Wright Brothers

Thirty-four years ago in 1981 I made my first trip to Kenya as a summer volunteer while still in college.  It's honestly a wonder I actually got on the plane with the 4 other volunteers.  Not because of international travel jitters or anything like that.  No, it was because after our time of orientation at WGM's Headquarters in Marion, Indiana the flight tickets for all 5 of us venturing to Kenya were given to THE GUY.  There were 4 of us women and one guy and all 5 tickets were handed to the guy.  Can you imagine?! I don't remember very much from that orientation but I do remember that that move didn't go over too well with me.  I'm pretty independent now and I was independent then!

Somehow God's spirit got ahold of me and told me to be patient - He must have whispered to me that I'd get to hold my own ticket soon enough and lots of them!  If He did whisper that in my ear He has abundantly fulfilled my desire as I have had the rich opportunity to travel a lot and I love it - paper ticket, E-ticket, and / or digital ticket!  I did get on that PamAm flight from JFK direct to Nairobi - something like 20 hours of travel - with a few stops in the airports of several West African capital cities.

What a trip!  I'd like to take a moment and thank Orville and Wilbur Wright for their fantastic invention of the airplane.  What would we do without airplanes in missions today?  That's not to say that God can't draw people to himself even without those of us who call ourselves missionaries or if we had to travel by camel or ship.  But air travel has certainly made things a lot easier and for that I'm thankful. 

But back to my summer missions trip in college.  While spending 6 weeks at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya God spoke into my heart a desire to contribute to a cause that was much greater and bigger than anything I had imagined up to that point.  He challenged me to join a movement of declaring His Lordship to the people's of southwestern Kenya through medical missions at Tenwek Hospital.

So it was that almost 30 years ago, in October of 1985 that I returned to JFK airport.   This time with 12 pieces of luggage, ready to serve at Tenwek for two years.

Joy at JFK airport - year unknown

For many years JFK airport in New York City was the airport I flew in and out of.  How did we ever survive without cell phones? I'll tell you it wasn't always convenient.  One time my sister and I got our meeting point confused. JFK is a BIG airport!!  We both walked around for several hours looking for the other - and I was pushing 150 pounds of luggage! Remember the days when each piece of luggage could weigh up to 70 pounds?!

These days it's a quick trip up to Philly from South Jersey.  A drop-off almost always ends with sitting on the floor in the International Terminal (no chairs this side of security!) enjoying a Wawa hoagie with family one last time!  

Modern aviation allows much more frequent travel than our predecessors could have ever imagined.  I was able to fly back to the US from Kenya for meetings in June and July held at World Gospel Mission's HQ.  

One really fun event was organizing WGM's first Compassionate Ministries Workshop held the day before WGM's Celebration of Missions started.  Dr. Phil Renfroe MC'd the day and WGM missionaries David Hawk, John Muehleisen, and Billy Coppedge all shared about their personal experiences in transformational ministry.  Stan Rowland, Joyce Chiles and the Lengacher's also shared from their experiences.   

It was a great day of learning and challenge! And a good time to catch up with many in WGM who are on the front lines of Transformational Ministry.  

The workshop led into WGM's 105th International Celebration of Missions.  What a great time catching up with retired missionaries (like Mariam Joseph pictured below - she was the first one to introduce me to great Indian cuisine in Kenya - thank you Mariam!!), volunteers, fellow missionaries working in other parts of the world, champions, and so many more.  

I was given the opportunity to share during this special event.  A big honor!  I shared about the fast changing landscape of missions and touched on these four topics:  globalization, the diaspora movement, personal brokenness leading to a Biblical Worldview, and lastly looking at when helping actually hurts rather than helps.  It was a great experience and I love sharing and dialoguing about what God is teaching me. 

Speaking of Globalization, medical missions is not just about taking trips overseas.  This summer I visited my friends and former colleagues from Kenya, Dr. Michael and Kay Johnson. They have started a medical ministry called Miriam Medical Clinics in Philadelphia.  

Jackie, Kay, Dr. Neil, Dr. Michael and Joy at Miriam Medical Clinics, Phila.

Did you know that a few years ago the world's population changed from being dominated by rural dwellers to over 50% city dwellers?  That should have a few implications on how we do missions. 

A few years ago Michael accompanied me on a trip to South Sudan.  Whether he's treating patients who live in a villeage on the Nile River or in a big city on the Schukill River in Philadelphia, one thing is evident.  

His love for people!  He wrote this recently, "I spent an hour with homeless addicts yesterday, just a few blocks from the clinic.  As I sat in the middle of the room I noticed the smell became a fragrance.  Odd."  Isn't it odd how, when we are in the absolute middle of God's will and do the hard stuff, the smells of this broken world become a sweet smelling aroma.  

My colleague, Adhanom, has been doing the hard stuff in South Sudan.  He's been pouring his life into pastors and community leaders in neglected parts of this broken country.  But again, when we do the hard stuff Jesus blesses us with sweet smelling rewards.  Pastor Joseph, pictured on the right, has been mentored by Adhanom for the past several years.  This is what he said to Adhanom last week. 

"When Joy came here, we met under the mango tree; she asked me if I had attended any trainings in the past. I said, 'yes, many." Then she asked me which one I liked most. I was not sure which one I liked most. But if you ask me the same question today I know which ones I like most. There is none that I like more than CHE and STS. And there is none which is reflected in my life and the life of my family like these two trainings. My family members are more healthy, and I am better economically mainly due to the insight I got from CHE. My interaction with the word of God and the spiritual situation of our diocese is improved due to STS. Now you don't find a diocese in this area which is empowered like ours. Let other pastors say what they think, but for me I know I became different because of Mango Ministries....."  That's sweet, isn't it!?

Pastor Joseph teaching a lesson

Our ministry in South Sudan has benefitted from the airplane.  Getting in and out of South Sudan would be very hard, if not impossible during the rainy season.  The Tenwek Eye Team has made 8 trips to South Sudan over the past 5 years.  

Tenwek Eye team's first clinic to South Sudan in 2010

Their last trip in August was the most productive yet with 401 people receiving sight from cataract surgery!  Here is the tired team after a week of doing the hard stuff.  Tired but fulfilled!

Over the past 30 years I've spent a considerable amount of time in airports or just waiting on the tarmac or on a dirt airstrip of a remote airfield in South Sudan.  

Where God will take me in the coming months and years I'm eager to find out!  The miracle of air travel has indeed made this a small world after all.  I'm thankful for the ability it gives us to get to know our neighbors around the world.  As I continue making the transition from working in South Sudan to my responsibilities as WGM's Compassionate Ministries Coordinator you will see the focus of my blog becoming more global.  Thanks for flying with me on Joy's Journey all these years.  Pray with me for wisdom and boldness as I continue facilitating transformation of individuals, families, communities and churches, not only in East Africa, but around the world!

PS - this Airbus A380 is the largest plane I've flown on ~ imagine, 3 jetways for 1 plane!  Wouldn't Orville and Wilbur be amazed if they could fly this baby.   How are you using your God-given creativity?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Growing my job description

Three down and three to go.  In my last post I shared 3 activities (Networking, Training and Sharing Resources) that I'm involved with as WGM's Compassionate Ministries Coordinator.  Today I'll talk about three more activities with examples from what I've been doing the past month or so.

Coaching is . . . .
 . . . . supporting a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal.  This is something I'm dabbling in and that I hope to learn more about.

Meet Mary Hermiz.  She went to Tenwek in 1986 and I was her very first housemate and we have been friends ever since.  In this picture she is serving cake to Tenwek leaders along with a Tenwek Community Health Staff member who graduated from the Tenwek School of Nursing.

She is older (by a bit) and wiser than me and she was an excellent role model to me and many others.

She retired as Principal of the Tenwek School of Nursing a few years ago and in retirement she's looking for a new challenge.  Before going to Tenwek she worked in Papua New Guinea and I think you leave your heart wherever God first sends you.  She has been back several times and God is showing her opportunities.  Opportunities for the medical work that she was involved in many years ago, opportunities for the body of believers, and opportunities for the WGM'ers.  Mary wants to champion these opportunities!  She is getting more training - remember the CoramDeo online training I talked about in my last post - she's doing it. She's even doing the extra credit exercises!  CHE training - she just attended her 2nd training and took the PNG Field Director with her.

By now you may be saying, "So what do you have to do with any of this.  Sounds like Mary is a pretty sharp tack."  She is sharp!  But transformational development is slightly outside the realm that Mary has worked in.  So she's coming to me and asking questions.  We talk on the phone, we skype, we email and we met in person with the PNG team back in February. I don't know all the answers to her questions but I am figuring out what it means to be a coach while Mary is figuring out what it means to champion a people group and ministry.  

The WGM Papua New Guinea team with Mary during our February meeting

Earlier this year I was asked to join former Tenwek staff, Dr. Mark and Kim Freije, and another couple on a trip to Asia.  We visited a variety of people and organizations and my goal was to assess whether there were opportunities for WGM.

Although I'm a picky eater, when it comes to foods I can't identify, I agreed to go and see how WGM could be involved.  Not normally a fan of fast food I found myself at the door to McDonald's more that week than during a 6 month Homeland Assignment!

Food aside, my meetings with the local people have led me to believe that there are opportunities for WGM!  And people, everywhere.  All in one place.  The cities are HUGE!

Although I saw very modern cities and of course modern restaurants (does it get more modern than McDonalds?) the people are enslaved by lies their culture is teaching them.  What opportunities to share truth and dispel the lies. (That actually is true for every country out there.) Hopefully you'll be hearing more on this in the months to come.

A bonus of this trip was to get to visit with WGM MK's Nick and Denise & Josh and their 3 adorable girls who are working in this part of the world.

Hooray for WGM family around the world!


Enablers get a bad rap in today's world but not all enabling is bad, right?  For instance, enabling people to fulfill their call to serve the needy.  Almost 3 years ago I met Jen and Todd via email before they traveled to Tenwek Hospital where they were going to spend 2 years.  Jen, an educator, is not medical and was looking for how to get involved.  She has a heart for the South Sudanese so she was introduced to me.  Within a month of their arrival in Kenya Jen and I were off to South Sudan and I introduced her to several of our partners.  She immediately connected with the team in Nyinbule and had the gifts to meet a training need they had.

Over the past 2 years Jen has made 7 trips to Nyinbule and has used Community Health Empowerment and other tools to train children, teachers and teens.  The unstable security situation prevented her from making even more trips.

Todd, a general surgeon, learned how to do cataract surgery and volunteered on one of our Cataract Clinics as well as led a Surgery Clinic in South Sudan.

I'm happy to enable people who come to serve with WGM to reach out and use their gifts.  In March I said goodbye to Jen and Todd as they left Kenya but I hope our paths continue to cross and mingle in the future as we continue reaching out to the needy.

So . . . this is what I've been up to.  In order to see people, communities and Nations transformed into all that God has for them I will be connecting with WGM missionarys and volunteers in order to coach, consult, enable, facilitate training, share resources and network.  Pray for me please!  This is certainly a God-sized task.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Taking shape

I remember learning about amoeba's in school.  An amoeba is "indefinite in shape and perpetually moving."  They're intriguing to watch as their shape keeps changing and their pseudo arms/legs form and disappear.  Amoeba's are fascinating as a science lesson, not so much when they're multiplying like crazy in your GI tract causing severe cramping and, shall we say, other symptoms!  I've had too much experience with that but hope to mimic the amoeba's flexibility in my role as WGM's Compassionate Ministries Coordinator.  

In my last blog post I told you that I'd answer some of the most asked questions I've been getting but on sitting down to write I realize I have too much to share so I'm going to limit what I'm writing about today to part of the Q: What will you actually be doing?  I've been pondering what to write to you about my new role at WGM for some time.  And I've pondered some more, which is why there has been a bit of a lag in communication.  Although I've been keeping busy I'm still pondering what this role will look like . . . because I think it's going to look like an amoeba.  

The 'arms and legs' of ministry may change but I've come up with a list of 7 activities that I've been involved in or that I hope to get involved with.

Networking:  When it comes to Compassionate Ministry or Transformational Development WGM has aligned itself with other organizations who believe what we believe and who are doing what we are doing.  Getting to know the people in these organizations better is one aspect of networking.  In early March I attended the Disciple Nations Alliance Global Forum in London.   I was one of about 100 people who came together from around the globe to be inspired by testimonies of what God is doing through the DNA.  

Can you see me?  Pink jacket - center/right

The DNA's mission is: To help the Church rise to her full potential as God's principal agent in restoring, healing and blessing broken nations. It is such an encouragement to be a part of this movement.  In future blogs I'll share more of the DNA teaching and what God is doing in some of our  WGM ministries as they embrace this truth.  

This saying was repeated multiple times during the Conference.  "The DNA teaching is like a virus and it's looking for a host!" Let's pray for more hosts who are willing to receive Biblical truth and then watch it multiply.  

I was joined at the conference by Pr. Walter Ruto and Sophie Nykobi from the Kenya Africa Gospel Church.  Walter heads Compassionate Ministries in the Church.   It was good to spend time with fellow WGM missionaries, David and Debbie Hawk, field leaders in Honduras and one of the Honduran Pastors they miniser with, Pr. Luis Garcia.  David has embraced the DNA training and is anxious to see the teaching spread throughout Latin America.  I'm eager to learn from him and his experiences. 

In 1948 Richard Weaver wrote a book called, "Ideas have Consequences." I'm reminded of some Africans I've talked with who believe that malaria is caused by eating too much sugar cane.  The consequence of that idea is fever, really bad sickness and possibly death from malaria.  Mosquito's are feasting on the blood of families who have the wrong idea of what causes malaria.  Instead of protecting themselves from mosquito bites they're taking the path of moderation when it comes to eating sugar cane.  Ideas have consequences!

So in order to help people realize their full God-given potential we believe that helping people see truth instead of lies is foundational.  Training is foundational to transforming individuals, families, communities, Churches and nations. 

Using the model of multiplication I want to continue identifying people with a passion about transforming individuals, families, communities, Churches and nations and help them become trainers who will train others who will train others.  Kind of like the pebble in the pond idea.  This isn't to say that WGM isn't already doing this.  They are!  But there's always room for growth.  

Here's an example of training-of-trainers in action from my ministry experiences in South Sudan. WGM missionaries John and Beth Muehleisen and Billy and Joanna Coppedge, who were all based in Uganda have come alongside Adhanom, our missionary in South Sudan.  They have trained in South Sudan and while training they have mentored Adhanom.  Now Adhanom is holding trainings himself.  And not just that, he's training trainers who are helping him train!

John and Beth are the Africa Regional Transformation Training Coordinators.  I'll be visiting with them next week and am anxious to hear about how they are using CHE in Uganda and what they are learning along the way so that we can share best practices with others.  

Adhanom, kneeling on far right with sunglasses, with the latest class of Community Health Evangelism graduates in Lakes State.

Here is Joseph, 3rd generation WGM South Sudan trainer, teaching a lesson.  Joseph has been mentored closely by Adhanom.  

Sharing Resources: 
If you've known me long at all you will know that I love books.  Kindles and electronic readers are great but I still feel better if I have a few old-fashioned paper books by my bedside.  I love sharing the title of a good read as well as actually handing out a book that has changed my life.  So I feel that part of my new role is to officially share great resources.  

Resources come in all shapes and sizes.  Of course books come to mind first when talking about resources and here are a few of my fav's when it comes to Transformational Development.  

There are also dvd's, websites, and even trainings.  Here's a free online course that will change your world.  Or at least this teaching changed mine! Coram Deo is the material developed by the Disciple Nations Alliance that I talked about under Networking.   This course has been designed for a Western digital audience.  Take a peek here:

Better yet - do the course!  Let me know if you'd like to start a group or individual study.  Two hours a week - 12 weeks.  You can even get a certificate of completion.

In February I attended Orientation Camp at WGM HQ for the newbie missionaries soon headed to their countries of ministry.  I was able to share with them lots of resources including my favorite books, and talk about tools such as Biblical Orality and Community Health Evangelism.

The new WGM missionaries are the 7 younger adults in this picture, 
not to be confused with the 6 kids in front or the 12 WGM leaders fighting for the back row

I know this has gotten long so I'll pause here . . . . to be continued in a week or two.  Some days my activities shape up clearly and quickly.  Other days I feel like an formless amoeba and can't quite find my shape.  Regardless of how I feel on any given day as I send out my pseudopodia and embrace new opportunities I am confident that God has great things in store for WGM as we commit ourselves to wholistic transformation.

If you're interested in learning more about WGM and missions join me and others at WGM's International Celebration of Missions from the evening of June 25th through noon on the 28th at Huntington University, Indiana.  I'll be sharing on Friday morning, June 26th.

If you're interested in Compassionate Ministries / Transformational Development on Thursday, June 25th we will be having a Pre-Conference Compassionate Ministries Workshop.  Come hear WGM missionaries talk about how the tools of DNA and CHE are transforming communities.  Catch a glimpse of how Biblical Storytelling can be used in all types of situations.  Learn a practical skill to help others make their own body lotion and deodorant! And hear the Father of CHE - Stan Rowland talk about Neighborhood Transformation - reaching out to people in the cities.  There will be time for lots of networking over tea time and lunch. Register to attend today at the links above and join me for a great time of learning, fellowship and networking.  I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Got Fruit?

Are you up for a long, wordy update on Mango Ministry activities from last year?   I didn't think so:) This is a really long post only because it's mostly all pictures.  Even though I can't introduce you to the people in these pictures I hope you will spare a few minutes, get compfy in your favorite chair and travel to South Sudan with me to see what God has been doing and witness the fruit of your partnership in my ministry.

Adhanom (in the middle) continues to live with and mentor the leaders of the area where he lives.    Peter and Joseph are pastors and have been instrumental in the use of Bible Storytelling within their Church. The pastors of this church district have a hunger to learn more of God's word and now pastors from other districts want to be trained in the approach known as Simply the Story!  How cool is that?

This group of Community Health Evangelism trainees finished their third week of training in November.  They have one more week to go to finish.  That's scheduled for March.  Pray that the security situation will allow the training to take place.  Despite the insecurity these folks are changing the way they think and live.  Less illness in the home is being reported - yeah!  

Adhanom is a farmer at heart.  Here he is teaching about growing moringa trees.  Moringa is called The Miracle Tree and has so many uses.  The leaves are even a complete protein!  Pray for real fruit from agricultural training:  use of Farming God's Way to increase yield, planting moringa and mango trees, and lemon grass.

During the course of our CHE training over the past three years some really sharp people have been identified and we've been mentoring them to be Trainers.  In November a two-day Training-of-Trainers was held for seven of these up and coming trainers.  Seven men who can continue teaching what they've been learning and being role models in their villages!

It's not good enough to hear about building a safe fireplace.  You've got to see it and hopefully even get your hands dirty.  

This mud stove is an improvement over the traditional 3 stone stove, pictured below.  A fireplace like this means many tangible benefits for families - less time for the women to collect firefood each day and fewer burns by falling into the open fire to name two. 

Cooking for the participants during CHE training.  Maybe at the next training we should build an improved mud stove for the cooks! ;/

This is another class of CHE participants who finished their 4 weeks of training in November.  John and Beth Muehleisen, WGM missionaries, have been leading this training for the In Deed and Truth Ministry.  These men and women are changing the way their villages look at health and God. 

Active participation increases understanding.

Please pray for Mary and the 100+ men and women who have had their world enlarged and challenged through Community Health Evangelism training.  It's not easy to change the way you live, even when it's for the best.  (think of American's and their New Years resolutions!) Especially with pervasive insecurity that South Sudan is experiencing.

Dr. Carol Spears and I posed with the Tenwek Surgery team after a time of orientation and prayer before they headed to His House of Hope Hospital in Yei (spoken like yeah!) in November. 

The team operated during the day, and sometimes at night, relieving the staff while one of their Doctors was away.  The Tenwek surgical resident, Dr. John Kanyi, sure got practice with C-Sections.  Seventeen babies delivered during 15 surgeries.  

Here is one set of twins delivered!  Surgical facilities are few and far between in South Sudan.  We love the chance to bring new life into the world and share about new life in Jesus.  

Welcome to morning rounds after a day of cataract surgery! You've never witnessed a more joyful group of people than these South Sudanese when the patches are removed and they can see for the first time in quite awhile.  

Joyce (on the left), one of the Tenwek team, gets lots of hugs and kisses as she removes the bandages.      The staff and chaplains give praise to Jesus for this miracle and 'halleluia' is heard from many a patient.  253 patients received sight during a week of clinic.  

To be honest, it's a lot of work to arrange the logistics that go into sending the Tenwek eye team to South Sudan.  Seeing the smile on this woman's face I relent and exclaim, "It's all worth it!!"

Dr. Ben Roberts and one of his patients say, "Thank You" for giving and praying.  Your participation with Mango Ministries is making a difference in South Sudan.  Although insecurity in South Sudan curtailed much of what we had planned at the beginning of the year we are thankful for the opportunity to do what we did.  Our prayer is that all that was said and done will bring hope, the hope that only Jesus gives, to the people of South Sudan.  

2014 was a transition year for me.  Transitions can be good!  During my Homeland Ministry Assignment I had a welcome chance to take some slow deep breaths while being relieved of my responsibilities of overseeing the ministry in South Sudan.  

As always it was good to visit with all of you who support me through your prayers, finances, and encouragement.  A favorite event of mine - we again had a great time at the Kountry Kitchen last March.  

Sensing that God was about to do something new in my ministry I had the amazing opportunity to explore several aspects of WGM's ministry outside of Africa.  Like visiting this missionary training school in Argentina for Latin American's. 

I was also able to spend a few months in Nairobi this year helping to facilitate our ministries in South Sudan. 

With this New Year I am transitioning into a new role that is very exciting.  I'm now WGM's Compassionate Ministries Coordinator and I'm thrilled! 

As I make this transition the top 3 questions I'm asked are:
  • What will happen to Mango Ministries?
  • What will you actually be doing?
  • Where will you live?
This is plenty long enough so stay tuned for my next blog update when I'll answer those questions and more!