Culture shock for students in the Philippines

The Harper family

The Harper family

Dr. George and Dr. Anne Harper are missionaries in the Philippines where they teach at Asia Graduate School of Theology – Philippines (AGST). George teaches church history and historical theology. Anne teaches courses on missions and spiritual formation.

George writes, “Culture shock is not just for missionaries anymore. In fact, if you have ever spent a few weeks in an unfamiliar part of the United States, you have probably had that experience yourself. That is a milder version of what our students from other Asian nations go through when they first get to Manila. Even in moving from one Asian nation to another, there are major cultural differences to be dealt with. For example, our students from Myanmar have never experienced life in a major urban center. They all comment on the dense crowds, the clogged streets, the constant cacophony, the dirt and grime, and the high prices.

“There is quite a large group of Burmese students in Manila studying at local theological institutions. Burmese culture is very tight-knit, so perhaps it is to be expected that these young people so far from home would do what they could to fill the void left by distant family and friends. The result is an urban variation on the life they have left behind, the close proximity allowing them to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2). They also share the little they have in order to help newcomers weather the initial impact of culture shock. The AGST staff do their best to provide our students with an additional measure of support, offering a weekly Bible study and prayer time and regular parties to help build a sense of community.

“But one thing these students ultimately have to face on their own is researching, writing, and defending their thesis or dissertation. Even with that we do as much as we can to facilitate their work. We have recruited United States-based copy editors to help those whose written English is a little shaky. But in the end, their thesis or dissertation is theirs and theirs alone. At the defense that concludes the process, their readers will hold them responsible for every word on every page. This is unlike anything they have experienced before, and most of them find it quite daunting.

“I am working with several students who feel the pressure of the impending dissertation defense. A couple of them will graduate in March, I am pleased to report, but others have concluded that they need more time, anywhere from a month or two to half a year. One whose thesis seems especially promising has experienced a crisis of confidence and will be petitioning my committee for an extension of his program.

“I am looking forward to my Historical Theology 2 class, when I will help the students come to terms with a big chunk of material by Martin Luther. I appreciate Luther’s reminder that we work, not in order to earn God’s grace, but because that grace has empowered us for service.”

Building youth leaders in Zambia

Champs cheer!

Champs cheer!

Kelly and Tricia Huckaby serve churches, pastors, families and children at Ciyanjano, a camping, retreat, and conference ministry outside Lusaka. They are excited about a new ministry beginning this month:

“For this coming year’s building project, Camp Ciyanjano will not be needing to lay slab foundations, finish brickwork, or purchase roofing sheets. This year we will be building youth leaders on the solid foundation of the Gospel. Ciyanjano Champs is a new youth mentoring program for 2015.

“One of the difficulties of running our own evangelistic outreach camps is a lack of cabin leaders. For a variety of cultural reasons, it is difficult to recruit and have confidence in youth leaders. Here in Zambia it is not possible to do a police background check and because of a high rate of physical and sexual abuse of children and a lack of biblical teaching in local churches, we are wary about bringing anybody in to work with kids without getting to know them very well first.

“We will be discipling and training 12 to 15 Zambian young men and women who have a passion and desire to lead children and other youth to Christ. We have almost completed the interview process and then will begin using Navigators 2:7 materials at weekly meetings at Ciyanjano. This study will give us a chance to know them and to make sure they have a solid foundation in the Gospel. They will also be taking part in our Ciyanjano Bible Club so we can observe how they interact with children. Through this program we hope to meet our first objective: recruiting about a dozen youth that will be safe and effective cabin leaders.

“Local churches lack training for youth leaders interested in evangelizing and discipling children. This year we will also host three short-term teams that will assist us in training these young people and other youth from some of ACTION Zambia’s church partners. This will help us meet our second objective: to train, encourage, and empower our Champs and other youth from around Lusaka to lead Bible clubs and children’s programs in their own churches and communities.

“The cost for this project will be much less than a building with plumbing and electricity. But the finished product has the potential to last much longer and have a greater reach into local churches. But it is a big messy project since it is all about people. Please pray for these youth, for us and our new missionary Holly Moir who will arrive in February to work in the program, and for Juma our new national children’s staff worker. Pray for unity for all of us and that the youth will be committed to the program. We pray that this will be something that will outlast anything we have done so far!”

Evangelistic Christmas party in Uganda

Children at Christmas party

Children at Christmas party

An evangelistic Christmas party was recently held at Jesus is the Truth Nursery and Primary School in Uganda. The children played games, ate healthy snacks, received a small gift, and best of all heard about the love of Jesus. The team intentionally included at least 10 special needs children (not including the ACTION sponsored children who were also in attendance) this year. Please pray for the seeds planted in the hearts of the children who attended the party!

Christmas parties in the Philippines

Children at a Christmas party

Children at a Christmas party

Jeff Anderson, missionary in the Philippines, writes, “Street Impact Team’s Christmas parties for Manila’s street kids and very poor families continue rain or shine. Typhoon Hagupit caused the evacuation of many families. We’re reaching out to people living along Manila Bay so we’ll party hearty with them after we assess their situation. Our parties are loaded with fun, food and faith in partnership with very loving hard-working Christ followers. Let’s party!”

If you’d like to know more about ACTION’s Christmas parties going on worldwide, please click here.

Sharing God’s love with children in Colombia

Colombian children

Colombian children

Mariela Legal writes, “Anna is eight years old and she has a sister, Paula, who is nine. They have been regulars in our children’s outreach for the past 18 months. These sisters always come early, even before we open the doors. Taking advantage of this extra time, I have taken these special girls under my wing, personally discipling them.

“Anna has some learning and physical issues. She has a permanent limp and her motor skills are lacking. Phil has been helping her learn to read. But nothing has stopped her from knowing the Lord. Both sisters, in fact, just want to follow Jesus.

“A few weeks ago, when Anna and Paula were talking to me, they told me that their parents are separating. Anna will remain with her mother, but Paula will now be living with her father in another town. When I heard this, my heart broke. The following week Anna returned and I tried to comfort her. But regardless of her pain, she was still open to hearing about the love of Jesus. During the last month, however, she has not returned to the club. Oh, how we miss her and her sister. Please pray that these sisters will continue to seek Jesus.”

Early graduation for ACTION Pastors’ College student

Pastor Francis Ng'andwe

Pastor Francis Ng’andwe

12 men recently graduated from ACTION Pastors’ College in Zambia. The final award presentation at the ceremony was emotional. Several weeks prior, the APC staff selected one student, a local pastor named Francis Ng’andwe, to receive the Faithful Pastor award. Shortly after this decision he was involved in a serious vehicle accident and later died during surgery, leaving behind his wife, Sylvia, and four children. Both the award and his diploma were granted posthumously.

Tracy Singleton wrote that Pastor Ng’andwe’s death had come as a shock to the entire community, and “while we are rejoicing as much as we can that he is with the Lord, we are mourning as well. The loss of a spouse is devastating in any culture, but in Zambia it can also have serious economic ramifications. Please pray for his family and church as they mourn the death of their husband, father, brother, and pastor. Pray for the remaining APC students as well as for the ACTION Zambia staff. We are sorrowing over our loss, yet rejoicing that he has been promoted.”

Former child factory worker now teaches children at risk

Jodi and Sophy

Jodi and Sophy

“I cried every day when I saw my siblings go to school and I had to work at the garment factory.”

A young Cambodian woman named Sophy remembers her own childhood as she now teaches her classroom full of at-risk children. As a child, she loved studying, but her family’s financial difficulties forced her to quit school and work to support them. In 7th grade, she lied about her age and took the identification card of an older girl so that she could enter a garment factory at age 13. At first she hated it, but she found respect among her peers because she was one of the few girls who knew how to read. Every day after the factory workers ate lunch, they would ask Sophy to read storybooks out loud to them. After working for nearly five years, she was in a very bad living situation and that’s when ACTION missionaries Daren and Jodi Beck met her through Shalom Mission Cambodia.

Jodi writes, “Sophy quit her job at the factory, moved in with us, and began to train as a house cleaner. Around the same time, her sister, who also lived with us, became a Christian and invited Sophy to go to church. God’s grace was at work. Sophy found herself compelled to rip off her Buddhist bracelet during one sermon, deciding that she wanted a new life in Jesus.

“Being a school teacher has always been a dream of Sophy’s. We encouraged her to go back to school to get her high school diploma. The summer she graduated, she was invited to join Asian Hope’s Teacher Training Program in 2012. That year, she trained with me in my 4th grade classroom. She recently finished her second school year as a Khmer language and math teacher at Logos International School and as an afternoon teacher at a remedial program in our neighborhood for Cambodian students. She has found great joy in introducing kids to Jesus as she teaches them to read for the first time!

“We feel so privileged to be a part of Sophy’s life as God’s grace is working mightily through her. Please pray for Sophy as she shares the love of Jesus with her students and strives to live a life worthy of the Lord in this country that is so dark. Praise God for Cambodian Christians, just like Sophy, whose greatest desire is to reach their own people with the Gospel!”

Four-year-old girl comes to know Jesus in Colombia

Girl praying

Girl praying

Raquel de Jesús writes, “We praise and thank the Lord we can serve Him in providing spiritual and physical feeding for 100 children and young people.

“Linda started coming to our ministry center when she was four years old. She likes attending Bible classes and learning about Jesus. At her young age, she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and acknowledged that without Jesus, things won’t go well in her life and in her family. She is praying that someday her father will come to church also and believe in Jesus. She said, ‘Jesus is helping me behave well and be obedient to my parents, do my homework, and not fight with my brother and sister.’”

ACTION Pastors’ College graduation

Graduating class

Graduating class

12 men graduated from ACTION Pastors’ College in Zambia on November 15. Tracy Singleton writes, “Our pastor, Emile Mazabarakiza, admonished the students from Acts 19, Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders. Peter Mung’omba, the class spokesman, expressed appreciation and thanks to the lecturers and staff. Each graduate received a parcel of five books .

“Family and friends gathered on our lawn afterwards for some refreshments. Over 150 people joined us for cookies and juice. After the reception at our house, a four-course meal was served to the students and their guests.

“We praise God for this graduation ceremony; it was the culmination of three years of study. This accomplishment was achieved at great cost to these men as they often had to give up employment in order to study.”

We Need a Little Christmas Now!

Children at a Christmas party in Zambia

Children at a Christmas party in Zambia

Dear Friends of ACTION,

In a Broadway musical, Auntie Mame, after the stock market crash of ’29, told her household, “We need a little Christmas now!” We have the same situation right now, so I am writing to you about ACTION’s annual Christmas Outreach way before you have even turned your calendar to December!

Each year we take the opportunity to evangelize those who have not heard the Gospel and provide a venue for celebration to those who could never have a Christmas party otherwise. Let me share with you just a few of the reports we received from our outreach last year.

In Jinja, Uganda, (the source of the Nile), the Lord brought out 1200 kids and adults, mostly non-Christians, who heard the Gospel and were blessed with gifts, a good meal and some goodies to take home. The children also memorized Bible verses during the party.

In a barrio of Bogotá, Colombia, 154 kids, most the children of prisoners, were accompanied by some of their relatives in one outreach and 322 children attended at another ministry center in the same district. The pastor clearly presented Jesus as the reason for the Christmas celebration and the one who died for our sins. The children prayed with him, dedicating their lives to Jesus.

Missionaries in Metro Manila, Philippines, packed gift bags for nearly 100 men in a maximum security penitentiary. In the Philippines there were a total of 25 parties attended by 2908 children, 295 youth and 663 adults. The number of attendees indicating their turn from sin and trusting in Christ as Savior was a whopping 3589!

As friends of ACTION, you know that our hallmark as a mission is to reach out to the very lowest strata of society in the worst corners of the world’s megacities. Thanks to Christ, our Christmas outreaches have accomplished so much over the years in terms of individual conversions, building up churches, and giving hope to the down and out.

To meet the requests of our fields, our worldwide budget this year is $57,500. Your contribution sent before the holiday season allows us to transmit funds overseas in a timely way, enabling our missionaries to plan their outreaches.

Thank you so much for your part in underwriting ACTION’s Christmas 2014 around the world. May you and yours have a very blessed Christmas.

Celebrating with you,

Rex Lee Carlaw
USA Director

To read more or to donate, please click here.