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Interview with Rosene Yoder

Rosene, welcome to All About Missions and welcome back to Kansas! How did you end up in Thailand and what did you do?

 In 2008 I made a trip to Thailand to visit a friend who I’d been with at New Horizons and who was then serving as a nanny with Chara Ministries under Global Tribes Outreach.  I had some interest in IGo and was planning to visit there as well in hopes of possibly returning as a student.  God had other plans, and a year later I was back in Thailand as a nanny.  I fostered 3 different children during my time in Thailand.  Gan, my first little boy, was almost 2 when he was adopted by a wonderful Christian couple in Vancouver.  He is 4 1/2 years old now, still quite the spunky, fun-loving little guy, and I’m looking forward to visiting him this summer!  Phoenix, my second one, was only with me four months before his birth mother asked to have him back.  He would be 3 1/2 years old now, but I haven’t heard anything from him since a few months after he returned to his mother.  Rakchanok, my beautiful little girl, came to live with me when she was almost 3 weeks old.  Because of some paperwork snags, her adoption took longer than most and she was almost 3 years old before she was adopted in December by a family from Maryland.
Have you heard from Rakchanok since you’re back in the U.S.?
I haven’t heard as much as I would like to, but the reports and pictures I have received have been very positive.  She’s been with her family almost 5 months now and though the initial transition was pretty tough, time does have a way of healing and her family has done very well with allowing her to grieve and talk through the adjustments and changes.
What was one of the most difficult things you experienced? 
One of our babies fell suddenly, quite seriously ill, doctors claimed it was abuse and that child and his twin brother were taken from our care.  Several weeks later we had an infant die of SIDS which, when the two cases were “linked”, resulted in the closing of our program.   It was an incredibly difficult time, full of pain and the fear of what was going to happen next.  That whole thing is yet unresolved, and I still do not understand all the “whys”, but I do see God’s hand through it all and am so thankful for the ways He worked in my life through it.  One of the huge answers to prayer was that our program was not immediately shut down, and the three children remaining in our care at the end were allowed to stay with us until they were adopted.

What was one of the best parts of your life in Thailand?

My kids.  They were my life and added joy to every single day.  Saying good-bye broke my heart every time but loving and being loved by a little person who depends on you for their very being is truly a rewarding thing!  I’d do it all over again.
And Thailand is just an amazing, beautiful place to live, I loved it

So you were the last staff at Chara Ministries. Is there still a need for the services that Chara provided?

Absolutely.   Anywhere you go in the world there are so many many children in need of care–food, clothing, protection, and most of all love.  In an orphanage a child may be clothed and fed, but sadly lacking the bonding and nurture that one primary care giver can provide.

Would it be possible for someone to start a similar organization?

In the future, possibly.  At this point there are some options being explored for starting up a program in another country.

What’s next for you?

That is an excellent question.  One I find myself asking quite frequently.:)  I feel like I am still in a transition/decision making stage and am not yet sure where I’ll be ending up.  Trusting God to guide as He always has

What are some of your favorite books?

I don’t nearly do the reading I would like to, but one book that has really resonated with me is Strong Women Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart.  I would highly recommend it for women in any stage of life

What advice do you have for someone considering ‘child care as ministry’?

Go for it!  But first talk with people who have had experience, get a hold of some resources on issues like reactive attachment disorders, have a support group, and most of all be sure it’s where God wants you!  It’s a real need, it’s an incredibly rewarding work, but it’s not one to be taken lightly or done on your own.

Interview with Undisclosed

Hi folks. Today’s interview is with a great guy who can’t go on the record, so to speak. Here it is!

Welcome to allaboutmissions! What do you do?

I’m a business professional living with my family in urban setting in a Muslim country. My goal is to be a disciple of Christ in the marketplace.

How did you end up there?

It’s a long story! God gave me a desire to be in a place like this and then through a long, twisting path equipped me with skills and training to come.

What do you like best about being a tent-maker?

I love the work I do. I love having the privilege of working alongside colleagues here in a professional setting. And more than anything else I love it when I realize that I am having the opportunity to live Christ here in everyday life. In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell said “When I run I feel His pleasure.” That’s how I feel when I go to work each day.

What do you like the least?

The schedule is tough — it’s hard juggling a full-time job, family, ministry, language learning, and the overhead of life abroad.

Should everybody be a tentmaker?

No. I’m an enthusiastic advocate of tent-making, but it’s not the right thing for everyone. Make sure that the career is really a good fit for you. For example, if you wouldn’t enjoy doing business at home, then it’s probably not the right thing for you abroad.

What do you love about the culture?

It’s an incredibly warm, friendly culture. Their hospitality puts us to shame so many times.

What about the culture do you find wearing?

Jealousy and suspicion are deep-rooted problems here.

What is it like to raise a family in a Muslim country?

It’s a privilege. I don’t know any place I’d rather be. There are aspects that are harder than in the West, but there are others that are easier. We have many friends here and have felt a lot of respect from them for our faith.

Is there a need for more people to be reaching out to Muslims?

Absolutely. So few have had the opportunity to see a true follower of Christ or to hear His message.

What advice do you have for someone considering business as mission?

Pray. Prepare both professionally and spiritually. It will be a tough road — prepare yourself for a long, strenuous marathon of faith. Run with patience and with your eyes on the cross.

Kevin Nisly on Entrepreneurship, Mennonite Missions, and Money

Hi folks. I’m very happy to offer you a great interview today! Leaders, take note.
Welcome to allaboutmissions.com! It seems appropriate to have you on since you encouraged me to get this site going. Who are you? How old are you? Are you married? How did you end up in El Salvador?
Hi! My name is Kevin Nisly. I just recently turned 24, and am single. My parent’s are long time missionaries to El Salvador, Central America. I was born here, and have lived all my life here.
What do you do? Are you a missionary or a business man?
To be honest, I’m often not sure what to call myself. Technically I’m serving in El Salvador with Amish Mennonite Aid, as the General Finance Manager for El Salvador. That basically means I’m responsible for getting everyone’s financial reports together and computerized, as well as distributing money for operating expenses. A big part of my time though, is spent with a Christian literature distribution company. So I guess to answer your question, a missionary with business interests?
Is that ethical to make money selling spiritual information?
I’ll tell you the same thing every Christian publishing house will say. We want to keep a mission emphasis on what we do. We wish we could give more stuff away for free. But if our goal is to distribute Bibles, and there’s no millionaire benefactor wanting to give $100,000 in Bibles each year, we need to find a realistic way to distribute them. (if you’re out there and reading this, contact me!)
 
Back in 2009, when I started this project, we were working out of our garage, open just 3 days a week. We sold things at cost, having no expenses. Now, a few years later, there’s three of us working full time, we have a retail space, where we are open 6 days a week, a cargo van we use to make deliveries anywhere in the country. We’ve had phenomenal growth every year since then.
It wouldn’t have been possible to have the impact we are having now, and distribute the amount of Bibles that we are now distributing, if we were still selling at cost, out of our garage.
Do you think we are seeing a trend towards the merging of business and doing good?
I think so. I’m not sure how big of a trend it is though in Anabaptist circles. I’m all for it!
You seem really switched on with entrepreneurship and leadership. What influenced you to push beyond being just another nonchalant missionary kid?
I guess I always had a bit of entrepreneurship blood in me. I think when I was as young as 10-12 I would be buying nifty hand made toys and gadgets to sell to my friends in the states, and bringing back cell phones and computers to sell here in El Salvador.
Being a entrepreneur is basically doing things before you’re completely sure how to do them. It’s so true! When things are tough, I like to remind myself that the tough decisions and risks are the only thing that keeps me in business. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and if everyone was doing it, I wouldn’t have a job!
What are the best books you’ve read recently?
The very latest books that I’ve recently read and recommend would have to be The Explicit Gospel (Re: Lit) by Matt Chandler, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson, and Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley.
What is your advice to other missionary kids?
Be goal oriented. Think out, and put on paper some specific goals you have for your community, your friends, your youth group, or your church.
 If your goal is to survive boring life on the mission field until you’re 18, when you can go back the states, that’s OK. It’s not easy to make a significant difference in the country you are serving. I don’t recommend you try, because when the going gets tough, it’s often that deep conviction and clear goal that keeps you going. The good news is that God will inevitably use someone else to do some pretty exciting stuff.
If you have a clear goal or feel a calling however, to reach out to a specific group of people, maybe people on your block, maybe students from the university, etc, than be  very intentional about what you do and how you do it. Ask yourself the hard questions, “what’s the best way to actually impact these people”? Don’t do things the way they have always been done if it’s not the best way to accomplish your goal.
What are you passionate about right now?
One of the things I’m passionate about right now is being intentional about what I do. In business, in church, in life.
One of the things I see happening sometimes is when new missionaries come down for 2-4 years the leaving missionaries show them “how to do it”. There’s a huge danger in focusing on what to do instead “why we do it. What if doing something one way 5 years ago was the best way, but no longer is? I don’t blame the new missionaries. It’s overwhelming for a missionary to arrive in new country, new culture and new language. It’s so much easier to manage what others have left.  ”Is this the best way to do it?” is a scary question, because you open up the possibility that it’s NOT the best way to do it
As missionaries, I think it’s especially important that the what we do and how we do it is not defined by the way we’ve always done it, but instead by what what’s the best way to accomplish our goal. So I guess I’m passionate about living with purpose. Donald Miller talks about living a good story. Living out of the “why”. Why am I en El Salvador? Why is my church in San Salvador? Why is my business in El Salvador? What can I do with those things to accomplish the “why”?
What new experiences are you getting ready for?
Sometime this year I would like to go on a mission trip to Asia, with a program like VISION. In the future I would like to intern somewhere to learn more about church planting.
What is your advice to other Mennonite missionaries?
Honestly it would be to have a clear goal of what they would like to accomplish in the people group you are serving, or what call you feel God has placed on your life. I would invite them to not shy away from the tension of what we’ve always done and what’s effective. It’s good to feel that tension. One quick example: Nearly every Mennonite mission I know has church services set up as carbon copies of the home church in the states. That’s fantastic. Not complaining at all, IF it’s the best way to accomplish your goal within the culture you are serving. If you are in a culture that doesn’t have a huge attention span, maybe a 3 hour service isn’t the best option. If you’re trying to serve university kids in a highly relational culture, maybe you should at least consider at the options of smaller more informal meetings with nachos and dip in your living room. If you know that cell groups is leading to the fastest church growth in Asia and Latin America, maybe you should at least sit down and think about it? Don’t be tied down to the method. Be completely dedicated to the goal!

10 Questions with Rachel Yoder

Hey folks, I’ve got a great interview for you with Rachel Yoder. Enjoy!

How long did you work in Romania?

I served there a total of seven years: four years in northern Romania under CAM, and three years teaching Christian Counseling courses at the Baptist Theological Institute in Bucharest.

What were some of the things you did under Christian Aid Ministries?

I helped with projects at Natanael Christian Orphanage befriending the young people, mentoring and encouraging them as well as with the youth from Natanael Church, in their walk with the Lord. I helped in other departments, Jericho Road Ministries for an example: with seed distribution, Bible studies, visitation, and Vacation Bible School with the Roma people (aka the Gypsy population). I provided transportation to court houses for couples living together who wished to legalize their relationship by marriage, a project initiated by JRM. At a Bible School sponsored by the Natanael church and other Mennonite churches in southern Romania, Ukraine, and Moldovia, I served as dean for the girls in attendance. I taught a class for the girls and women at this same Bible School entitled, “Facing the Future with Faith,” using women’s stories from the Bible as examples to live by. I also served as an interim housemother for girls from the Orphanage in Phase II who lived in a group home after they turned eighteen years of age. For a bit of community of involvement, I taught English one to two hours a week to children at a local kindergarten for two school terms.

Were you employed by the Baptist seminary in Bucharest or supported some other way?

The Baptist seminary provided housing for me and helped me get my residence visa to stay legal in the country. My home church and friends supported me with my living expenses. The seminary was not legally allowed to pay me, so as not to take away paid positions from Romanians.

How were your two posts different?

In northern Romania I worked much more in rural settings and humanitarian aid activities and under a Mennonite run organization. In Bucharest my interactions involved a wide cross section of people. I met people from numerous mission organizations, churches, countries. I loved the wide diversity in people and experience that urban living provided. Another difference was in my work. In teaching at the seminary, I was in academia, a role I really enjoyed.

What was one of your worst experiences in Romania?

I can think of unpleasant things such as someone attempting to rob me on a tram once, or poor customer service. Probably one of my hardest experiences in Romania though was living with unfulfilled dreams. I think this phenomenon is not unusual among missionaries. It can be quite common for workers to go forth with much energy and vision, but the reality of one’s life can turn out to be quite a bit different than earlier held expectations.

What was one of your best experiences?

This hardest experience also proved to be one of my best experiences. It is because it drove me to the Lord and in new ways He became my expectation/ hope. Looking back, I can see how God used this time to prepare me for fruitfulness and joy in later ministry.

What do you see as the most effective way to reach Romanians with the Good News?

First of all by becoming a friend. Romanian people are very friendly and hospitable people who love to share their culture and great food with you. I found that to receive and learn from them was a great way to build trust and friendship. By truly enjoying one another it became a great segue to talking about Kingdom principles and God’s ways of living.

What was one of the hardest parts of reentry?

Leaving very meaningful relationships and ministry in Romania and wondering what in my home community could parallel these.

Where are you working now?

I am working as a counselor at New Hope Counseling Services at 400 S. Main in Hutchinson, Kansas.

What is your advice for someone who is considering counseling training in preparation for missions?

Take all the missions courses you can and training for counseling cross culturally to gain an understanding of what to look for and expect. At the same time, work to give up the need to live in comfort. Embrace the learned experience of Paul: in whatever circumstance, with poverty or with much, to be content… because in this he knew he “could do all things through Christ” who strengthened him (Phil 4:11-13). If possible, partner with others on your mission team who have had similar training as you had. Finally, find seasoned missionaries, as I did, who can mentor you in all phases of your mission experience: prior to leaving, during, upon your return from the mission field.  And remember that even after you are no longer in the classroom, you will still be in God’s school continuing to learn what He wants you to.

Eleven Questions with Lyndon Swarey

I got to know Lyndon as a fellow student at Institute for Global Opportunities. I’m very happy to share this interview with you. I hope to continue featuring missionaries and aid workers in the future.

Me: Welcome to allaboutmissions.com. How did you end up in Haiti?

Lyndon: I got there largely because I went to IGo and I met up with Merle Burkholder. He introduced me to the idea of micro finance. I was intrigued by it because you could help people help themselves. I told him that I was interested in the project they were starting. That eventually led me to contact him and that’s why I’m in Haiti.

 Me: What do you do there?

Lyndon: We have some staff that work for us and I provide some oversight for them. I also work on tracking savings and I also did a survey with some individual group members.

Me: What organization do you work for?

Lyndon: I work for Open Hands which is under the umbrella of Anabaptist Financial.

Me: Is there a spiritual side to what you do?

Lyndon: Yes there is a spiritual side to our program. In order to relieve poverty we need to deal with spiritual issues that manifest themselves in broken relationships.We have bible based curriculum that we teach in the savings group because we want them to see the Word of God as a guide for their life and for their business. We also work with churches in hopes that savings groups in the churches will reach out in their communities, exposing people to Christianity through contact with the group. Unchurched Haitians who join a savings group to save money can start attending church as well.

Me: What makes some savings groups successful?

Lyndon: One of the things that makes a group successful is when relationships are built between members of the group. They can assist each other spiritually or monetarily. Another factor is good group leaders who take their responsibility seriously. Like Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

Me: What was one of your worst experiences in Haiti?

Lyndon: My worst experience was the earthquake on January 12, 2010. I was living by myself and I was brand new, having been there only 3 months. My second worst experience was dealing with cross cultural stuff in trying to work with people. There was a lot of tension and conflict that went with that.

Me: What was one of your best experiences?

Lyndon: An ongoing best experience is when I hear about people who have become Christians or started attending church as a result of contact with other Christians in their group. Also when I hear about people who’s lives have been improved through their involvement in their group.

Me: How do the locals see you?

Lyndon: There’s an aspect in which as a foreigner, they see me as the person with the money. I think that has changed as I eat rice and beans and buy food off the street. I intermingle with them a lot, since I live by myself.

Me: Do you have any expansions in the works?

Lyndon: Yes we have. In Haiti our goal is to work in areas with Mennonite churches. In this coming year there is a possibility of expanding in two new areas in Haiti. There’s even the possibility of starting in a new country.

Me: In what kinds of countries do savings groups work best?

Lyndon: In any country where people are willing to work together and make sacrifices to save small amounts of money.

Me: What is your advice for someone who wants to help other people financially?

Lyndon: Make sure that you’re not creating dependents. People need a hand up, not a hand out.

 

To learn more or contribute, visit Anabaptist Financial