Friday, October 19, 2018

Let's start with WHY

Several weeks ago I made a trip to Hungary.  I stayed with WGMs Country Director and his family and had a great time seeing the ways WGM is engaged in ministry there.  It was great to talk about 'leadership stuff' too!  Mark and Eszti have 2 active little boys and it was fun to get to know them better.  One of their son's favorite places is also one of my favorite places - the Jersey shore!  Mark's family, from Ohio, have a tradition of vacationing in Ocean City, NJ.  Now that's a tradition I can get behind:)  Someday I hope to be able to make sand castles in O.C. with these 2 little boys.  As I shared life with this family for a few days one question came up again and again.  "But why?"  

Put your coat on. . . buy why?   We're going to get in the car now. . . . but why?  You know the drill.  There are never enough answers for a child's inquisitive mind! 

And as I've been back in Tirana, Albania after my Hungary visit I keep asking myself, "but why?"  I'm working with the Country Directors in my region on their Annual Ministry Plans.  We've talked about knowing our "why".  And as they sit with their teams they're looking at the question, Why is WGM in Hungary, Japan, Papua New Guinea, etc?  

Which leads me to me and the why question.  Why do I do what I do?  Usually this stuff comes fairly easily to me - I love developing mission and vision statements.  I love thinking about what motivates me and what I'm good at and how God is leading in my life.  

But this time it's coming a little slower than it has in the past. So here's my attempt at defining my why, how and what. See Simon Sinek's short summary if you're not already familiar with these!

Why?  I do what I do in order to see individuals experience new life through a relationship with Jesus Christ who then engage their talents and resources throughout all sectors of society and replace the lies of culture with truth which ushers in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.    That's my why and that is why I get up in the morning!  

"How?" is the next question.  How do I address my why?  My hope is that I am challenging WGM missionaries in my region to dream big, pray, and do life and ministry with excellence and accountability.  Measuring our success not on busyness and activity but on the impact being made by God in people's lives due to our availability. 

Which leads to the question, What am I doing?  I direct WGM's ministry in Europe, Asia and Oceania.  I do that by: making field visits, mentoring leaders, promoting and implementing WGMs Strategic Initiatives, looking for new ministry opportunties - especially for medical and community health/development initiatives, holding bi-weekly accountability meetings with those I supervise and enforcing policy.  One thing I love about my role is that every day looks a little bit different. Today I might be visiting a hospital in the hopes of sending doctors to work there and the next week I am sitting at my desk on a video call praying with people throughout our region.  

What follows is a glimpse of my WHAT over the last 5 months.  

After my spring update I made my first trip to Papua New Guinea.   I was reminded of Kenya as there were so many similarities and to be honest I got a little homesick.  One of the visits we made was to a mission hospital - I can't stay away!  During our visit it was confirmed that Kudjip Hospital, which is run by the Nazarene Church, is willing to have WGM Doctors work with them.   Medical Missions is an incredibly effective ministry tool and I'm excited for this opportunity!

Dan and Pam Schafer, WGM's President and his wife, on a tour of Kudjip Hospital, PNG.

This is the crew that hosted me in Mt Hagen while I visited PNG minus Jim whose vehicle broke down while he was towing another vehicle back to the workshop at the Pastor's Training School.  Like I said, so many similarities to Kenya:)  

The Porters live in the highlands of PNG near this spot where you can see one hundred mountain tops.  They are helping Churches recover from the severe earthquake they had in February.  

Coffee usually gets me pretty excited too so I was thrilled to find coffee-to-go in the middle of the PNG highlands.  It wasn't a bad cup of coffee either!  

My next international trip was to Japan where the trains are fast!  We experienced the bullet train as we traveled south from Tokyo to visit one of our missionaries who is married to a Japanese pastor. If you think the WGM missionary is on the right in the photo below, guess again! Brandon and Izumi minister together in the port city of Shimonoseki which is famous for puffer fish.  Although poisonious if not prepared properly we gathered our courage to try a bite and have lived to tell about it!


Our group also met with the leaders of the IGM - a Church denomination that WGM partners with.  According to Japanese tradition gifts were exchanged.  Luckily our Country Director was able to guide us in proper cultural protocol! 

We left with a burden for the Japanese Church.  It's growth is not keeping pace with the aging population as 82% of their churches have less than 50 attendees.  Japan is an easy country to live in - but a difficult place for ministry.  Join me in lifting up our team of four in this modern, yet spiritally dry country.

I was able to attend several meetings at WGM's HQ in Indiana this past summer.  This included an organizational-wide Family Retreat, our week long Orientation Camp where I taught several lessons, and a 2 day seminar where we learned about measuring our ministry impact.

Learning how to assess ministry impact with representatives from our Hungary and Papua New Guinea fields

Then I moved!  I moved to Tirana, Albania where I'll be based half of the year.  One benefit of living in my region is that it makes meeting with people in my region a lot easier.  Rather than a 14 - 15 hour time spread it's only 8 hours between me and my furthest field, in PNG.  

Early August found me at SIBS - a seminary that WGM founded 81 years ago.  Although we don't have full-time personnel at this South-Asian school WGM stays involved. I attended the Annual General Meeting as well as spent time with students and faculty.

Students participated in a World Cafe event led by my WGM colleague, Shelley. 

SIBS plays a key role in preparing leaders for transformational ministry.  I'm excited to be a small part of God's Kingdom work at SIBS whose motto is "Saved to Serve".

At the end of August the Albania field hosted the Hungary team for our first Europe Regional Retreat.  We enjoyed times of learning, worship, prayer and fun together.   

After the marathon of spring and summer I was thrilled for four weeks to spend at home in Tirana getting caught up.  Unfortunately I didn't quite get there before it was time for the next trip on my calendar. 

As September drew to a close, WGM's President, Dan, and his wife, Pam, Schafer made a visit to Albania and Hungary.  I joined them on their visits with our missionaries.  Here my brother, Len Phillips, is giving a tour of GDQ - the International Christian School where he and Betsy are ministering here in Albania.

The Hungary team enjoyed a time of fellowship at a Christian run Ranch where WGM is involved in ministry.  

I'm excited to see and hear expressions of transformed lives in my region but at times the pure scope of my responsibilities overwhelms me.  I look at the statistics and see how many  have never heard about Jesus and who currently have no one to tell them.  I see the spiritual darkness and poverty of others.  And my heart yearns for His Kingdom to come, to come fully to those whose hearts are hardened, who believe cultural lies over truth.  But I realize I'm not responsible to bring about transformation, Jesus is.  As I meet with folks around the world from my computer here in Tirana I was reminded just this week as I looked at my computer screen that this is His work and He is with me!   

To those of you who partner with me through prayer, giving and encouragement I appreciate you much more than I can tell you.  Even when you do not hear from me I am blessed by your support.  In the near future I will be sharing more frequent updates, prayer requests and praises on facebook.  Look for your invitation if we're already friends.  If we're not facebook friends and you'd like an invitation email me.  

In the grip of His grace,


Saturday, May 19, 2018

There have been times over the past year when I've felt like my to-do list looks like this mass of wires seen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The challenges before me have felt hopelessly chaotic with too many loose ends to tie up.  Sometimes.  But in the past two weeks I am beginning to see some light!

One reason is that I now have Country Directors in five of the countries I oversee.  Over half of them are new to the position  and I'm enjoying working with them as they learn their roles and as they take on some of the responsibilities I was caring for.

I'd appreciate prayer as I continue learning my role as WGM's Regional Director of Europe, Asia and Oceania.

My last trip was to Cambodia and I accompanied WGM's President and his wife, Dan and Pam Schafer, along with my boss, the V.P. of International Ministries, Tim Rickel.  We visited a new family who have only been in Phnom Penh for six months.  This country is full of painful history.  Some of you may remember the true story captured in the Oscar award winning film, The Killing Fields.  Two million Cambodians were killed in the late 1970's by the Khmer Rouge.  It was sobering to visit the school turned prison where innocent civilians were tortured and killed.  We were able to meet one of the 12 survivors from this experience who is still alive today.

Joy, Tim Rickel and survivor of Toul Sleng Prison

We then traveled just outside the city to a monument at the killing fields.  It was a grim reminder of the evil of genocide.

We were introduced to both rural and urban life in Cambodia where 83% of the population are Buddhists. We enjoyed the opportunities to share with pastors and visit several outreach projects.  Opportunities abound!   Learn more about this incredible country in this 2 minute video.

Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, on the Mekong River

My last trip also involved visiting friends in another Asian country.
Again, so much to learn.  New foods, experiencing a crowded street like never before (and I've been a few places:) and having our hearts broken from hearing from local brothers and sisters who struggle to make a difference in the lives of others.  We left encouraged and were happy to hear about involvement through counseling, International School education, a baby home, and teaching English.  All these activities are making a huge impact in lives.

And before that I was in Albania where I celebrated Easter.  Although I was there for only a few days it was great to get together with our team including my brother and sister-in-law, Len and Betsy.   Easter Saturday, a blustery day, the Waggoner family took me, a friend from Kenya and a volunteer to the coast.

It was a wonderful time to appreciate God's beautiful creation and get over 18,000 steps in!  Compared to Asia Albania has a lot of similarities to the US.  I even found what looked very close to a hot cross bun at the local bakery!

Before Albania I spent some time in Greece where I attended a continuing education medical conference.  Sessions in the Community Health track were insightful and inspirational.  It was especially fun to see so many of my former colleagues from Tenwek.  One day a friend and I made our way to Athens via public transport.  To be honest, the fact that we maneuvered the bus and metro systems successfully without getting lost was a huge success in and of itself!  In Athens we visited a refugee camp that hosts people who have fled Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa.  Check out their instagram account.  

Our tour guide was a volunteer who is a graduate from my alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan University!  Activities that volunteers help with at the camp include:  arts & crafts, theater & film, sports & games, little school, dance, women's hour, sewing, and green street, etc.  

WGM is hoping to send a team to Project Elea next spring.  Stay tuned for more information.  

And how fun that this view can be seen from just a few metro stops away from the project!

I'm preparing to visit Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Japan in June.  I will also be in Indiana for several meetings.  I've come down with a respiratory bug after 3 out of my last 4 international flights.  Will you pray with me that my immune system will remain strong enough to fight off these bugs that I may come into contact with while traveling?

One project that WGM has been active in for 80 years is the South India Biblical Seminary. (Article at bottom of link is about WGM's history with SIBS)  It was great to be able to celebrate that milestone with them last November.  This ministry includes a Seminary and VBS ministry. 

SIBS was founded by WGM and we are committed to continuing to support its mission of preparing leaders for the Church in India.  Would you consider joining me in partnering with SIBS?  Online gifts can be made here.  Please pray for SIBS's new Principal and the Board as they continue investing in the academic and spiritual life of the school.  Pray that this year's VBS materials will reach tens of thousands of children hungering for truth and love.  To date their materials have reached over 2 million children!

I am grateful and blessed by your partnership in ministry.  I hope I've said it before but in case you haven't heard me say it in a while, "I could not do this without your partnership!" I rely on your prayers.  The challenges ahead of me are God-sized and only with His strength and power will I accomplish what He has for me.  Will you pray for me weekly?  I am starting a private facebook group to share prayer requests and praises.  If you'd like to join me send me a private message on facebook or email me.  Your financial generosity is a double blessing.  Thank you! 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine on us*,


* This scripture from Psalm 67 is beautifully portrayed in this prayercast video, aptly named, Shine.  A great addition to your devotions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I'm a connector.  In my role as WGM's Wholistic Transformation Coordinator I connect people to each other and people to resources.  Here are a few of the connections I've made over the past few months.

Social media can be put to good use.  WGM has a new Facebook page (WGMCompassion) and a blog called Life Between the Trees to connect people with stories and resources about reaching out and sharing Jesus' love with others.  I'm encouraging folks to sign up and I encourage you to join if you're interested in learning, being challenged and inspired.

In April I was able to visit Nathan and Cydil Waggoner and their two children.  They live in Albania.  I had to do a lot of studying about Albania before this trip as I knew almost nothing about it.  What a charming country.  The Waggoners were incredible hosts.  It was great to see how God is at work in their neighborhood.  I loved the chance to share some resources and tools that might be helpful as they reach out to Albanians.

We visited this mountainous village below that reminded me a lot of Kenya.  Especially the part where I needed a helping hand on the steep path!

I'm very excited to return to Albania in November along with Bonnie and Peder Anderson.  Bonnie was one of my Clinical Instructors in Nursing School way back when at Marion College, now Indiana Wesylan University.  More recently Bonnie volunteered with Mango Ministries in South Sudan.

In November she and her husband Peder and I will share about several transformational development tools.  Will you pray for wisdom as we prepare and teach and that the team in Albania will know how best to use what they learn?

In June I was able to spend several days with the WGM Leaders in Africa.  It was really good to connect, share, be challenged and pray together.

Adhanom and Helen's prayers were answered when they received an invitation to Canada this winter.  As refugees living in Kenya and working in South Sudan their lives were restricted in so many ways.  They are excited to be gaining some stability in their lives as they gain a new home country.  Adhanom has found many ways to continue the work he was doing in South Sudan by connecting with refugees from many nations who are also settling in Canada.

It was a lot of fun to invite Helen's family, who are living in Nairobi, to supper one evening along with three WGM summer volunteers.  Helen's Mom enjoyed it when several of us put on a scarf the same way she wears a scarf.

The volunteers were interested in hearing what it's like to be refugees as well as hearing about what people eat in Eritrea.  Our Eritrean friends tried to explain it but I thought it would be so much easier to show them.  So the following night we went out for Ethiopian food as it's very similar to Eritrean food.  We enjoyed our meal!

And while in Indiana this summer attending meetings at our HQ I was able to introduce my cousin and her family to Ethiopian food.  The younger generation loved the food and especially enjoyed eating with their fingers.  The restaurant manager helped us with our pronunciation of "Thank You" in Amharic ~ Ameseganalehu!  If anyone wants an introduction to Ethiopian food I'm always available!

One of the reasons I was in the States this summer was to join WGM's Regional Directors in preparing new recruits before they leave for their places of service.  In case you can't quite make it out I'm in the pink top, middle of the front row!

I also had a neat opportunity to attend the Nazarene Compassion Conference along with several other WGM'ers.  I was priviledged to hear Dr. John Perkins who shared his personal faith journey and his views on the role of churches in serving their urban neighborhoods.  If you don't know who John Perkins is you will be blessed and challenged to learn more about him.  Check out the trailer to this documentary about his life.

I love attending conferences!  I love to network with people, be challenged by new ideas and, especially, I love to be inspired.  Are you missing some inspiration in your life? Grab a cup of coffee or sit down with your lunch and watch one of the plenary sessions from this conference.

What has inspired you as you make connections within the sphere of influence God has given you?

Monday, April 4, 2016

re * ha * bil * i * ta * tion

Rehabilitate - to bring to a condition of health or constructive activity, says Mirriam-Webster.  Or the Latin translation is "to make fit again."

One of my favorite books on transformational development, When Helping Hurts, sandwiches rehabilitation between efforts to alleviate a crisis and development.  Efforts to provide essential elements to sustain life are included in crisis alleviation.  We hear about these efforts whenever there is a weather related catastrophe or disease outbreak or even war.  WGM staff in Hungary responded to the crisis of the migrant movement through Europe precipitated by the fighting in Syria and the surrounding area.  WGM has also recently helped provide food to victims of war in the Middle East.

Development on the other hand is the process of creating something or advancing it.  When it comes to communities it's the process of taking a community where they are at . . .  and if they have suffered a trauma they will have first gone through the crisis stage . . . then rehabilitation to get back to their baseline . . . and then building from there.  

In my last blog post, Down River, I made reference to a hiccup in this continuum.  After the war in Uganda when life had settled down many NGO's and the government continued responding as if the situation were still in crisis mode.  Continued giving after the crisis stage had passed helped create a dependency syndrome.  This is common in areas that have been affected by war.  As we engaged with a community we saw that their expectations to receive hindered them from doing what they could do for themselves and reaching their fullest God-given potentials.

That may or may not make sense to you.  In the past 2 months I've seen it illustrated so well that I wanted to share this personal experience with you.  I bet many of you can relate to this too!

On January 21st while at home in Nairobi I received a text from my sister that my Mom had fallen and broken her hip.  January 22nd saw me on a jet plane to Orlando to be with her and my Dad.  I was already scheduled to return to the US to attend several meetings so this worked out quite well.  Mom had surgery and I was with her 48 hours later.  Not bad!  The combination of anesthesia and pain meds had her a bit loopy.  She was in pain of course and did not want to move much at all.  When her meal trays came I quickly popped her straw out of the wrapper and set everything up so she could get at things easily. You might have thought I was an Ensure saleslady - pushing the highly nutritious drink at all opportunities.  When Mom needed the bedpan I helped the nurse roll her, I took her TED stockings on and off, etc. 

Honestly Mom wasn't doing much of anything during those days in the hospital - and that was OK.  I would equate Mom's hospitalization and her dependency on the staff as a typical crisis period.

Times of crisis require stepping in and doing for people the things they can't do for themselves.  I'm reminded of the time a few years ago when there was tribal fighting in the town where we were working in South Sudan.  Half of the village was burned down and hundreds of families had nowhere to live and nothing left from their homes to take with them as they made makeshift homes in the bush.  We let you, our champions, know about this need and through your kindness we were able to give each family some cooking pots and a tea kettle. Giving food, blankets, and housing are a few examples of what is needed during a crisis.

After 6 days in the hospital Mom was stable enough to be moved to a rehabilitation facility.  Making good progress she soon mastered the one legged twist - aka transferring to a wheelchair while she was non-weight bearing on her affected leg.

Days and weeks of therapy led to partial weight bearing.

 Then 50% weight bearing on her affected leg resulting in - walker time!

As her surgeon has increased her activity Mom has embraced the challenges depsite the pain. 

This has been a fun phase - Mom can do more and more each day.  She has kept busy sunning outside, playing the piano, knitting and keeping up with email! But she still can't do everything and what she can do - well, sometimes it takes her a long time and I can tell moving hurts.  

When she gets into bed from her wheelchair her left leg moves up onto the bed quite easily but that right leg. . . . not so much.  It kind of dangles in mid-air as she overcomes the discomfort and mobilizes her strength to pull it on top of the bed.  But she does it - by herself, slowly, without any help from me.  I could continue lifting her legs up onto the bed like I did in the hospital, it would surely be faster, but as long as she can do it I'm going to let her.  What do you think:  mean daughter or daughter who is interested in making Mom fit again?

The other day I was there when her supper tray was delivered.  The person delivering the tray was new to Mom's wing and didn't really know Mom.  After setting the tray down she took the lid off the plate, unfolded the napkin and opened Mom's milk carton.  Wooa, wait a minute.  I thought to myself, Mom can open her milk carton!   She doesn't need help setting up her tray - she just finished playing the piano!!  As she ate I shared with her the angst I felt seeing someone open her milk carton.  I know the aid was only being helpful but seeing someone do something for Mom that she could do for herself looked like a step backwards.

My hope, prayer and goal is that after rehab Mom will be able to return home and soon do many, if not all, of the things she used to do.  And her time in rehab is to help her regain the skills to do all those things.  If the staff are doing things for her that she can do for herself that will affect her in several ways.  First, she could get used to being waited on - hey, we all like that.  I'm certainly not going to deny that I don't like being waited on!!  Second, she might feel like she can't do things for herself and won't try as hard, seeing herself as a dependent patient.

You might be asking yourself where this is going.  This scenario can be compared to working with disadvantaged communities.  This is sometimes seen during short term trips and/or when someone swoops into a community with 'help' and then swoops out, never really getting to know the people they're there to help.  It's all too easy to assume a community is not able to do for themselves, or can't pay for services, or can't organize for something.  It's so much easier, and faster, for us to just do it.

So easy that yesterday Mom caught me.  Her roommate motioned for me to come over to her bed and she asked me to turn her TV off.  So I turned her TV off.  Mom laughed and told me she thought maybe I should have shown her how to turn it off herself!  Touché!

Although Mom's making great gains with the walker while putting first 50% weight on her affected leg and then later full weight bearing she's not been given permission to walk outside her room. I'm happy to wheel her outside to get a bit of sun, because she can't get outside through her own steam. But for what she can do I'm happy to let her do it - even if it takes 10 minutes to get that sock off! She won't be experiencing God's fullest intentions in her life if she isn't doing all that she is able to do. I don't want to rob her joy of doing it her herself!

This period inbetween a crisis phase and a growth stage is tricky.  Trying to be helpful but not too helpful.  I don't think there can be any hard and fast rules as each situation is different. So here is a reminder to myself after being with my Mom for almost 2 months . . . Assess what stage of need people are in before rushing in with help.  And keep assessing how much help is needed.  Luckily Mom is able to do new things each day.  

Do you have any rehabilitation stories from near and far? I'd love to hear them.  Did the people you were helping reach their God-given potential at that point in time?  

Rehabilitation - the process of making fit again.  I'm trying to keep the end goal in mind!

Shared with permission from Carol Phillips, my Mom, who is doing a remarkable job of rehabilitating!   

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?