Introducing :: Gene and Gloria Van Den Bosch

For those of us on staff in ReachGlobal, the names Gene and Gloria are very familiar. For those reading this who may be from a supporting church or just a prayer partner, the Van Den Boschs have been wonderful friends, colleagues and mentors to many of us through the years.  They have recently come on board with ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean as part of the Member Care team.  We call them our “Pastors to Missionaries”, and they will serve a crucial role of supporting those of us on the field. Today, I thought it would be nice for them to share their own story of how they have come to this point. We are so incredibly eager for them to begin their ministry, and I hope you enjoy the read:

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In 1993, we felt called to go on our first short-term missions’ trip to Romania.  We can still remember the Sunday when we felt God’s call to go on that trip.  Missions was not something that we had ever thought we would do or even knew much about.  God took us totally out of our comfort zone (even out knowledge zone).  We spent two weeks in Romania and saw God do things we had never experienced before, we met people who had survived Communism and had such hard lives yet had a joy in the Lord and heart for sharing the Gospel that we had never seen before.

We went on our 2ndshort-term trip to Romania in 1994 and after that trip, we experienced a tug to return.  God took us on baby steps as He called us back to serve Him long term. On December 3, 1995 we flew to Romania.  Our two youngest daughters attended Black Forest Academy in Germany; our two oldest daughters stayed behind in the US.

During out time in Romania, we experienced culture shock, culture fatigue, language learning and building relationships, and learned what it meant to plant a church.  It was in these years that our understanding of who God is and what God can do and our faith in Him grew more than at any other time in our lives.  It was the best of times, the worst of times.

God brought us back from Romania in mid-2001.  We felt God closing the door to us living in Romania but didn’t feel Him closing the door on being with ReachGlobal.  We had developed a heart to care for missionaries because of our experiences in Romania.  We had hoped to care for missionaries on the field, but God also closed that door to us. He had another plan for us; he called us to the EFCA National Office in 2002 and God showed us how we could care for missionaries in our roles there.

We have told countless applicants over the years that we were the poster children for going overseas unprepared and not ready. We believe that God gave us those experiences, so we could build an onboarding process to ensure that those feeling called to go would be prepared and ready.  There are so many ways God met us over these last 16 years, so many ways in which He revealed Himself to us.  He has grown us up in so many ways to understand who we are and who He created us to be and how we can use His gifting of us for His glory and to serve His people.

There are 3 things that we have said we would never do that relate to our life as missionaries.  1. We lived in MN in the 80’s when Gene was with IBM and we said we NEVER wanted to live there again.  2. When we joined the mission, we said that we NEVER wanted to work at the National Office. We currently live in MN and have worked at the National Office for 16 years.  The 3rdis, we said we NEVER wanted to do Ministry Partnership Development (MPD) again to raise up prayer and financial partners.

In August 2018, we went to the Latin America Caribbean area conference and it was there in conversations with our staff, through Bible teaching times, personal Bible reading and prayer that God dealt with our ‘never’ of doing MPD again. We also believe that, while He released us from our roles at the National Office; as in 2001, He hasn’t released us from ReachGlobal.

God is giving us our original desire to care for missionaries.  It is a role called Pastors to Missionaries (PTMs) which is part of our Member Care team. While we won’t be living overseas, we will be caring for missionaries through visits to their locations, through emails and through skype calls.  Some of this care will be reactive as they have difficult circumstances in their lives; some of this care will be proactive as we give them resources to help guard their hearts.

We will be PTMs to the missionary staff in ReachGlobal’s Latin America/Caribbean division and we are very excited about this.  We will be doing this on a part-time basis – we are retiring for a reason! The pull of grandchildren is powerful!

For most PTMs, it takes 1-2 years to build relationships with those on their fields.  We are blessed to know our missionary families already as the majority have come through the onboarding process.  We are so excited to be able to care for these dear colleagues.

During out time at the National Office, we cared for those preparing to go, through processes, details and tasks.  Sometimes, caring for them meant hard conversations in which we needed to speak the truth in love.  Sometimes it meant saying no, sometimes, not yet.  As we look at this new role as PTMs, our focus is to listen and love them. How great is that?!

God is asking us to step out in faith to trust Him to what He has called us to in our repurposing.  It is a faith journey that is not completely new for us; but this is taking us to a place of total reliance on God’s provision for us.

We are excited about raising up a team of people to partner with us in serving and caring for our missionary staff in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.  We believe that anything that is done to expand the Kingdom of God on this earth through our missionaries is counted as heavenly reward to us. but also, to those who partner with us in prayer and finances.

In great anticipation of God will do!

Let’s be praying for and cheering on Gene and Gloria as they make this transition and walk through the MPD process this year!

Educating Pastors is Vital to Church Health :: Prometa

The heart, mission, and even tagline of ReachGlobal is “Develop, Empower, Release”.  We, in whatever ministry we are involved in, have this as our goal in all things.  To develop leaders, to empower them in multiplying and empower them to go forth and disciple, and then to release them.  We want to be disciple makers making disciple makers.

ProMETA is a ministry that lives out this goal so perfectly in all they do.  They are a perfect example of what multiplication could look like in the church and on the mission field.  This ministry, which is an online seminary program, done fully in Spanish, has just recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary.  However, it was a dream for many years before that, and in process even as the internet was just coming of age.

Because of its unique design, these incredibly experienced, wise, and well-educated Bible teachers can get to places where it is impossible to travel at the moment, especially Venezuela and parts of Cuba.  Those who wouldn’t be able to afford a seminary education are given the opportunity through the many scholarships offered, as well as the overall affordable class prices.

Please pray for ProMETA and its ongoing work of training up leaders and pastors in the Latin American church.

For more information on ProMETA, their classes or how to be involved, please email keith.anderson@efca.org or visit their website at http://prometa.info

 

Hi There, I’m Kathryn

 

Hi there, I’m Kathryn, or as I am called here in Costa Rica, Catalina.

I am a photographer, artist, writer, bookworm, and serious coffee snob. I am a bit obsessed with beach cruiser bicycles (always with a basket!), extra large sunhats, fresh pineapple, and Taco Tuesdays.

Most importantly though, I am the new communications/media coordinator for ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean, and will be curating this blog for the next few years, so I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself.

I am a Southern California girl raised in the mountains of Colorado, with an insatiable desire to travel and explore new places. Because of this, I have gotten to see many parts of the world, and live in some interesting places, my favorite being a remote village in the Alaskan bush for two years. My education is in art, with a degree in music first and photography second. My photography degree had an emphasis in photojournalism and documentary work, with the purpose of working in the non-profit world. I had the privilege of working in depth with an inner city Christian school in Denver for several years, helping them with their fundraising and awareness efforts by making short videos and doing expansive photographic stories.

My heart is to tell God’s stories around the world, and I am over the moon that I get to do that here in this region.

I will be based out of Costa Rica for the next few years, making my way around Latin America and the Caribbean, telling the stories of our teams, ministries, and partner churches along the way. You can expect an abundance of photos and videos here on the blog, as well as the grand narrative of how God is building His church in this part of the world. I look forward to learning, sharing, and hearing from you as well!

My other passion is teaching art to people who are walking through trauma or just need a safe space to open up and make beautiful things. Art journaling is my specialty, which is really just “mess making with a purpose” as I like to call it. It has been a wonder and privilege to watch the Lord transform hearts and open up closed off spaces during art classes over the years. If you are interested in learning a bit more about this, you can read my blog post here.

My heart and vision for this blog is to be a space for connection, for stories, and for community. We can all use updates on each other’s ministries, but storytelling is so much more than just reporting the news. We get to all be a part of this Kingdom work, whether we are in Latin American countries or somewhere completely different and participating by prayer and giving. This blog has been, and will continue to be a place where we can go to see the stories that God is writing in His church, and the ways we are connected to one another in the body.

If you are interested in learning more of my story, please visit my personal blog over at www.kathrynbronnblog.com. I can’t wait to walk this journey and see where God leads us as a Division and the Body of Christ over these next few years! ¡Pura vida!

Serving in Rio Azul

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“At the end of 2013, my husband and I were invited to serve as leaders in a Costa Rican church restart in a nearby slum, Rio Azul. We had prayed for years that God would open doors so that we could participate on just such a team and were blown away by God’s goodness to provide such a wonderful opportunity. Since accepting the position, we now regularly teach, serve on the worship team, co-lead the Sunday school, preach, lead a Bible study, teach music and English classes and serve in a variety of other ways.”

Dave and Angie Ziel are ReachGlobal missionaries serving in San José, Costa Rica, since November 2011. Learn more about their life and ministry on their blog, Ziels in LA.

 

Making an Oasis From Grief

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Ministry offers safe place for women suffering abuse

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — At the bottom of the hill that runs through the slum of Guarari stands a two-room building.

Despite its humble appearance, the building is a refuge for many of the women who live in Guarari. The Costa Rican missionaries who come here regularly seek to make it a place of unconditional love.

“Jesus never intimidates women, hurts them, or sexually threatens them,” Shelley Snitko says while teaching a Bible study to some women here.

For many of the 40 women sitting with her, trusting Jesus is difficult because of both his masculine character and the troubled circumstances they believe he allows them to live in.  Snitko, a member of a short-term team from Huntsville, Ala., appeals to these spiritual obstacles by contrasting the character of Jesus with the oppressive men that control many of these women’s lives.

“Jesus is the light in the darkness, hope for the hopeless, peace for the restless,” Snitko says. “He is everything.”

Melanie Wilson, a missionary with ReachGlobal, initially became involved with ministry to the women of Guarari after going there in January 2012 with a short-term team.

“After getting to know the Costa Rican missionaries, I was really excited to join with them because they pretty much are the only people working in Gurari consistently,” Wilson says.

Serving with street-smarts

The ministry, which has been active in Guarari for six years, is led by Costa Rican missionary Hugo Salas. Salas grew up living on the streets and says that experience gave him a heart for others suffering from hardship.

“God gave me the vision to work in a community like this,” Hugo says. “And I began to get involved in this type of community work. I became dedicated to the ministry and the kids.”

The ministry leads Bible studies for the women and children, and also teaches women crafts like jewelry-making and painting to generate more income for their families. Salas says that in the six years the ministry has been working in Guarari, the spiritual state of the community has improved.

“We’ve been teaching the women how to love their children,” Salas says. “But apart from that, we are doing Bible studies and discipleship. Not just for the women, but also for the teens. All this is simply for the reason to tell them about the love of God.”

According to Wilson, one of the main goals of the ministry is to provide a physical place where the women can take refuge.

“It is one place where the women and children can come and it’s safe,” Wilson says. “Many homes have physical abuse, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, drug abuse. Violence is everywhere in some form or fashion, sometimes just one of those things and sometimes all of those things. So it’s a safe place where there’s no violence.”

Redemption on display

Wilson says that one of the most powerful testimonies to the power of God’s word that she’s seen in this community happened this past June when a short-term team from Huntsville came to work with the Guarari ministry for a week. In October, Wilson had sent a prayer request asking the team to pray for a young girl who lived in Gurari and was the leader of a drug-trafficking gang.

“We sent them a prayer request to pray that God would work in the gang leader’s life and that the gospel would transform her life,” Wilson says. “We started praying in October, but then kind of forgot about it.”

To the amazement of the short-term team and the rest of the women in the community, the gang leader came with her mother, sister, and daughter every day to the June Bible studies that the short-term team held.

On the last day of that week, the women and the short-term team were trying to fill time while waiting for a pizza to be delivered. One of the ladies from Huntsville came to the front of the room and gave her testimony about her daughter who’s been heavily addicted to drugs. The woman talked about how she copes with that and how it affects her relationship with God.

As she spoke, the mother of the drug dealer cried uncontrollably. Afterward, the mother and daughter came forward.

“This is what I’ve done to my mom,” the daughter said.

“They really were touched by God’s word so we’re praying that the seed was planted and it will grow,” Wilson says.

Despite these small victories, Wilson says spiritual opposition is strong.

“Spiritually, it’s just hard to break through the hold that Satan has,” Wilson says.

As the ministry establishes itself as a place of refuge for the women and continues trying to drown out the darkness of sin with the light of Jesus, the missionaries say their greatest need is prayer.

“I would say to anybody who reads this, pray for the protection of the missionaries there and that the spiritual light that is there will shine brightly and Satan will be thwarted in all of his efforts,” Wilson says.

© 2013 EFCA. All rights reserved. ReachGlobal News is a division of EFCA-ReachGlobal.

 

Haiti: Welcome to Wellness

A group of Haitian children lines up behind an adult worker at a wellness clinic held recently at Source de la Grace Church in Carrefour, Haiti, right outside Port au Prince.

The clinic was run by Haitian staff of ReachGlobal’s Global Fingerprints child sponsorship program, plus 11 American workers.

Staff at the clinic cared for children who are being sponsored through GlobalFingerprints, as well as many children from the surrounding community.