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To Finish The Work: A Few More Stories of Praying, Giving, and Going

Guatemala Construction trip 2014

Guatemala 2014

As we highlighted during Missions Week, finishing the work God called us to involves praying, giving, and going. Here are a few more stories.

Pray:

“I have prayed for missionaries through the years. I don’t know that I have ever followed any kind of a routine, but have always prayed as they came to my mind. Also, if I knew of a specific need that a missionary had, I took that to God on a regular basis.” ~ Melody Fred

“I am not very systematic about my praying for missions or missionaries. I often pray when I receive a communication from a missionary (letter, email, Facebook, text, etc.). We have pictures of some of our missionary friends on our refrigerator and so that reminds me to pray.” ~ Bob Elsheimer

“How often do I pray for missions? Not as often as I should. I usually gather the monthly prayer letters that we get from our friends who are missionaries and I prayfor them. I also use the newspaper to pray for countries and world leaders, asking God to open doors for the gospel and open the hearts of the people.” ~ Marianne Elsheimer

El Salvador 2014

El Salvador 2014

Give:

“We started giving to missions in about 2007 and write a check each month. Reading emails and articles of how the missionaries are doing and how they are changing lives is very fulfilling to be part of what they are doing.” ~ Anonymous

“I don’t remember when I started giving specifically to missions. I usually budget some money for an offering, something related to missions as the need arises. I often give to my friends’ mission trips as a way to show my support to them.” ~ Anonymous

“I have never been on full time support as a missionary. However, for short term trips I have sent out letters and made presentations in order to raise support. It was an adventure to see how God would raise the money. I have always believed that if God wants something to happen then He will provide the resources to make it happen.” ~ Bob Elsheimer

Peru 2014

Peru 2014

Go: Bob Elsheimer

From Bob – My parents were heavily involved in world missions and in service through the church. We often had missionaries stay at our home overnight and I remember being caught up in their stories and the excitement of their lives. As a teen I read books by Nicky Cruz, Bruce Olson, or Don Richardson. In college, I began to work regularly with kids in the Chicago housing projects, was discipled by on-campus ministry staff, and attended a missions conference which challenged me to be involved in missions even while working at a secular career.

I went on my first short term missions trip overseas in my sophomore year of college and was part of a team sent to a remote area of Honduras to rebuild houses destroyed in a tropical storm and the resulting flooding. Since college, I have continued to seek opportunities to serve (primarily with children) and support missions.  My wife and I have served on a missions committee at a church in California and have many friends who are missionaries.

Any time I have gone on a missions trip, my interest has come from multiple sources.  One large factor is a personal tie to others going on the trip or the missionaries that we will be working with. Another factor is whether the type of ministry matches up to my passions and skills (working with kids for example). Yet, on all of the trips, God has taught me lessons and my perspectives about people and the world changed. Outside of the United States, I am always amazed at the openness of people to Jesus and the simple things that can be done to minister to people. When working with kids in the United States it is often challenging and I often learn lessons in how to reach their hearts or love them.

Hillcrest 2014

Hillcrest 2014

Go: Marianne Elsheimer

From Marianne – In the summer of 1979, during college, I had the opportunity to spend the summer in the Philippines. God used several verses to lead me in making the decision to go, but the ones that stood out the most were Matthew 9:36-38 about the harvest being plentiful, but the workers being few. I knew that God was calling me to be involved in missions. I knew a lot of people who were missionaries and I loved hearing stories about how God was changing peoples’ lives through the gospel.

It wasn’t really hard to take that first step in going to the Philippines but I do remember my parents being disappointed with that decision and also my decision to come on staff with Cru. I had to trust God and the more I took steps towards missions, the more I saw God open doors. There was a peace in knowing I was doing what God had called me to do.

Some of the high school kids at church have told me that they are thinking about taking a short term or  summer missions trip but that it costs too much and their parents would never pay for it. I encourage them to trust God and raise the money instead of asking their parents for the money. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. The problem has never been lack of money but lack of people going. To anyone who is even thinking about taking a missions trip, I would encourage them to go and to be ready for an adventure that will change their life.

Uganda 2014

Uganda 2014

Go: Melody Fred

From Melody – What sparked my interest in missions? I first met Gwen Kovac when I was 13. She spoke of various missions assignments she had been on and I found those conversations very interesting. Gwen spoke Spanish fluently, just like my cousin Doug who had traveled to several Spanish speaking countries. Because of their influence, I also studied Spanish and eventually went on several short-term missions assignments.

I have been on two different teams from Timberline Church. In fact, these were the first two missions trip Timberline was a part of back in the days before we had a Missions Pastor. I went on those trips to help translate. On one of them, I was the one who became the interpreter for the Church Service. Since that was my first time, I was very thankful for people’s prayers.

I also went on three short-term missions assignments, the first two as a single woman and the last with my husband. I spent a year in Paraguay from 1984 to 1985, six months in Mexico in 1988, and then a year in Argentina in 1991 to 1992. On these assignments, people’s prayers meant a lot to me. When you are in another country for an extended period of time, you never know what you will face: spiritual issues, political issues, health issues,  or financial issues. We knew when we sent out our monthly letters that there were people praying for us and the needs that we shared.

To Finish The Work: More Stories of Praying, Giving, and Going

claire in action

As we are highlighting during Missions Week (going on right now!), finishing the work God called us to involves praying, giving, and going. Here are a few more stories.

Pray:

“I pray for missionaries or missions as it comes to mind, and it is usually pretty short. I do have a poster in my room that sometimes reminds me to pray for persecuted nations (but that is only once in a while). When I can, I prefer praying with other people for missionaries. When people send their blog or I read the monthly list, I pray as I read.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

“It makes a huge difference to know people are praying for me! I think that revival starts with prayer. Also, it helped me feel supported, like when I was prayed for multiple times before going to Guatemala. One specific example was when a pastor as he prayed said ‘Hannah is obeying God, going where He wants her to go.’ When there were times of insecurity and I doubted myself, that prayer reminded me that what I was doing was good.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

hannah guatemala

Give:

“When I was a young single mother of two boys, special friends of mine took their young family to Kenya. I was so impressed by their willingness to go that I felt called to support them financially even though it would be a hardship for me. I was so blessed to receive their monthly newsletter. They reminded me often that even a small contribution can bring joy to so many. My call to those what don’t have much money is to give what you can. Every little bit helps!” ~ Anonymous

“I first started giving to Missions as a young adult and have made faith promises in the past. Today I give to various local and foreign missions organizations. I give online at Timberline and directly to other specific ministries. While have never specifically asked where the money was used, we receive newsletters from individuals we have sponsored or hear from them when they are home.” ~ Anonymous

“When people gave to me, it showed so much support, no matter how much it was. I accepted each gift as a miracle, thanking God for what He was doing and His provision. At times people have blessed me financially in unexpected ways by giving money for my ‘ministry with kids’ including once after I got back from Guatemala. I’m holding on to that money, knowing that God has plans down the road that I don’t even know about yet.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

Hannah 2

Go: Hannah Mullaney (former and current Timberline Ambassador)

From Hannah – I have been so blessed to have experienced missions in a couple of different contexts. Ever since I was little, missions has been important to me. I remember in 5th grade at my Christian school, we spent a long time talking about the 10-40 window. It shocked me how many people didn’t know Jesus. My parents have always been supportive of missions as well. Growing up, I have served at Timberline Church in a variety of ways, especially among the children as a JOY Team captain and Sports Week coach. My first mission trip was as a freshman in high school in Peru.

Then, from January to May 2013, during a gap year between high school and college, I lived in Guatemala with other Timberline Ambassadors and worked with orphans. I had questioned what I should do during that gap year, but God made it clear through His Word and then so many doors opened WIDE. Taking the actual step was not too difficult, even though some of the logistics weren’t figured out until a week before my departure. I had few expectations or fears before going, simply because I had no idea what to expect. Being an 18-year-old super willing to try new things, I was up for the experience. During the process and preparation, I learned a lot about receiving. While I was there, I started to learn how to die to myself because I just couldn’t love people the way Jesus did with my own strength and power. (I’m still learning what it means to abide in Jesus, trust in Him, and just let things go!) Even though I was there for a short time, I tried to make the most of the relationships I built, got to experience amazing examples of true love and gratefulness, and saw God’s hand at work.

hannah intervarsity Southside

Now I am doing real live missions right here in Fort Collins! I am a student leader with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, reaching students at Colorado State University. It was during an outreach event that it really clicked for me. I only have four years here. There are friends right around me who have not experienced the joy and love and life-change of the Gospel. What better way to spend my time as a student? I need to be intentional. In particular, I want to reach Latino students here so that we can experience the power of the Gospel for ourselves and apply it among our family and friends.

What would I say to someone thinking about going? Let God love you through this experience, and as you experience His love (no matter how qualified or under qualified you feel), share that love and hope with others. Tell others your story. In a more concrete way, be open to letting God to speak to you through His Word, other people, worship music, circumstances, and other ways. If you think God is leading you to do something, pray about it, talk to others, and then take steps of faith. It is okay to ask God questions! When we are open and give God space to work in our lives, He will. Stay obedient, stay open, and enjoy the ride.

phyllis kovac

Go: Phyllis Kovac

(Note: Phyllis is missionary Gwen Kovac’s mother. Phyllis was 87 years old in this picture taken during her last trip to the jungle where Gwen worked in 2007.)

From Phyllis – Many years ago I had the privilege to go on some Mission Trips with Timberline Church. The first few times we went to Guatemala. We were taken to the airport from the church. There is no feeling like going with a group of people to a foreign country where you have never been before. You are so happy to be doing something you knew was for God. When you arrived in Guatemala, where the people all spoke a language you knew nothing about, and everything was so different, but you were there in service to the Lord. How exciting! We ate different foods, the water we drank was different, but you soon learned what to do and what not to do. And you became acquainted with those dear people that you loved so dearly and just did everything you could do to help.

My specific part was fitting glasses for people who needed them. We just all worked together to make life better for those who were so in need. When they had church services and everyone sang those beautiful songs, it just sent shivers up your backbone! I don’t think you could ever put aside wanting to help missionaries so they can stay on the field to win these dear people to the Lord.

claire and phil

Go: Claire Smith (and her husband Phil have been on many medical missions trips with Timberline Church)

From Claire – I first became interested in missions as a child when missionaries came to my little country church in Illinois.  I thought they were so brave and dreamed of being a nurse in a foreign country when I grew up. Fast forward to 2004 and my husband and I were part of a medical team going to serve the people of China. I was a short term missionary going into the unknown to serve where God leads. Scared? Yes, yet excited, because I was living out a childhood dream of being a missionary in a foreign country.

Over the last 14 years, God has called my husband and me to serve in Africa, Cambodia, Peru, Guatemala and many more trips to China. To those who are hesitant about joining a mission team, God calls each of us to share His heart through our smiles and helping hands. Don’t worry about having the necessary skill set, just pray, give and go as you feel the Lord call you. He will provide.

When You Give During Missions Week

giving1

With Missions Week just around the corner, Love Reaches is excited to celebrate what God has done in the last year as well as plan ahead for another year of ministry. During the weekend and mid-week services, there will be two different opportunities to give toward missions.

First, like in past years, there will be a special offering to fund specific global and local projects in 2015. These include:

  • Restoring a church in Santiago, Chile after a fire. (Timberline Church sent a team many years ago to help missionaries Jim and Ester Mazurek with the initial construction.)
  • Assisting with a Bible distribution center in Eastern Europe.
  • Supporting the Timberline Youth’s project in El Salvador.
  • Funding the Hillcrest Children’s Home trip project.
  • The Murphy Center (local outreach).
  • A Community Wide Benevolence project. (Another local outreach.)

Second, there will be a continued opportunity to make an ongoing faith promise or pledge toward the general missions budget and the ongoing support of our missionaries and Timberline Ambassadors.

Know that when you give during Missions Week, you are making a difference in the world. To finish the work, let’s pray, give, and go.

To Finish The Work: Gwen Kovac’s Story

gwen Kovac 2010

Gwen Kovac is a retired missionary who calls Timberline Church home. The following is part of her story about a lifetime of service … and the faithful supporters whose giving and prayers made her ministry possible. (Yes, we know this post is longer than our usual blogs, but Gwen’s story is huge and amazing! It’s worth reading to the end as a challenge to all of us about what God can do through obedient hearts.)

Missions has been part of Gwen’s life for as long as she can remember. Her parents strongly supported missions and often hosted missionaries in their home. Even as a child, Gwen felt drawn to Spanish-speaking people. At the age of 16 or 17, a visiting missionary talked about unreached tribal groups in Alaska and being obedient to God’s call. Gwen remembers her heart breaking for the unreached in a greater way, surrendering to God’s lead, and even giving her month’s paycheck in the offering.

Gwen-069

On her 21st birthday in 1966, Gwen headed to Matagalpa, Nicaragua where she would teach choir, music, typewriting, and English to community members at the Bible school. The following year, she worked with John and Lois Bueno in San Salvador, El Salvador. While she returned to the United States to continue her studies and later taught in Loveland, she still made multiple trips to Central America, Mexico, and even worked for a month at a coffee house ministry in Spain.

In 1989, she sensed God’s leading to go to Guatemala first as a missionary associate and then as a fully appointed missionary in 1993. From her base in Guatemala City, Gwen worked with 18 schools across the nation to develop curriculum and train teachers before branching out to develop a dental program and open a counseling center. In 1999, Gwen transferred to Lima, Peru to help establish a Christian educational program but her responsibilities expanded to include serving as a youth pastor, teaching in the Iquitos Bible school, conducting seminars in churches across Peru, and hosting evangelism and medical teams from the United States.

Gwen-044

However, she became increasingly burdened for the isolated pastors, congregations, and unreached tribes in the Amazon jungles around Pucallpa in the eastern Ucayali province, a 24-hour bus ride from Lima. So, in 2002, Gwen moved to Pucallpa and over the next eight years, she planted the first Assemblies of God church among the Shipibo tribe and worked with leaders to organize and maintain an extension Bible school. (By the time she left, there were at least four new churches and over 40 Bible school graduates.) She also established relationships with the local people while assisting with construction efforts in primitive areas, digging water wells, church planting, developing feeding programs and ministries for children, organized compassion outreaches for teams from the United States, mentored pastors, trained teachers, and twice even pastored problematic churches to restore unity.

For security reasons, Gwen moved to southeastern Peru in 2009. With the help of nationals, she planted the first Assemblies of God church among the Uros. In June 2010, God opened the door for her to return to the Ucayali province. She retired from full-time missions in June 2011 and returned home to Fort Collins.

Peru Team 2014 Uro ladies cooking trout from Lake Titicaca

While Gwen witnessed many physical healings during her years of ministry, her greatest joys came as people experienced reconciliation with God and each other. She also led nationals in taking the gospel to five neighboring tribes. Others have called her a trailblazer in education, pioneer missions, church planting, and evangelism with her dedication to God and love for people as a living illustration of Christ’s love and sacrifice.

But in Gwen’s eyes, she couldn’t have done any of it without the prayer and financial support of others. As she said, “I have been the blessed upon blessed as a beneficiary of mission’s giving by my home church Timberline, many wonderful friends and relatives, plus supporting  churches throughout Rocky Mountain District, New Mexico, Idaho, etc.   It is such an honor to know that people believe in God’s call upon your life. Many people gave an upfront one time offering, and many gave faithful monthly pledges for years. Over these many, many years, people have said that they were praying and God impressed upon them that I needed help financially.”

Gwen recalled one time when she ran out of money and didn’t even know it because she hadn’t had time to read the financial report that came by snail mail to the jungle.  “It was a shock to my system to be below -0- in funds.  I had been using my own savings to finish constructing the beautiful structure of  La Esmirna. Well, God knew our needs before I even asked.  A pastor in Colorado Springs wrote telling me how that we were going to raise these ‘matching funds.’ What’s that?  Needless to say … his church and Timberline made the matching funds, and this frightened missionary knew again … God supplies our needs.”

Gwen Kovac La Esmirna

“I might add that the La Esmirna prayer team and I had spent many different moments in fasting and prayer plus one all night vigil praying about this problem before the incredible Colorado Springs pastor and Timberline solved the financial problem.  I had never realized how important it is to the people to have a decent church building until then. The community looked with more respect and trust upon the church people.  The water well that we dug helped bring water into the community and that was a source of the River of Life, the healing to a conflictive area of Pucallpa.”

Gwen also discovered there were benefits to being a full time Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) missionary. For instance, the Rocky Mountain District Women’s Ministries helped with offerings to buy appliances. Gwen said, “During the majority of my mission years, I traveled. Of course, I was super grateful for the material blessing of a dryer, refrigerator, and a propane stove, but a washer was always my favorite appliance. Maybe I was weird but I would hug the washer and pray a prayer of blessing on those wonderful women for thinking of my needs. ”

Gwen-012

One other tremendous material blessing as an approved missionary of AGWM was the provision of a vehicle provided through a commitment by the youth of the churches of each district.  Gwen said, “The Rocky Mountain District provided the 1999 Mitsubishi that served me well in Peru from 1999 to 2011.  It was my one and only Speed-The-Light car.  This ‘misionero’ (what the Peruvians called her car) was kept in top condition and used mostly for ministry reasons in the jungle, the big city of Lima, and the high mountains of Puno.  Thank you, Timberline youth, for your part in providing this car that was an identification for me.  No matter where I lived, the people always knew where I was and my car became a statement of what we did. Before I left in 2011, I asked if we could sell it to Pastor Daniel.  And in 2014 when we went back to the highlands (read the trip report here), we were honored to ride in my former car.”

Gwen Kovac car

Seeing financial and material provision was an incredible faith builder for someone who was uncomfortable mentioning her required monthly budget, usually set by AGWM. While it was Gwen’s responsibility to raise those funds, the money belonged to the mission to be used with good stewardship.  “It wasn’t always easy making out the financial reports, but if one has finances, then one can train pastors and leaders in the Word, build and roof churches, dig wells, buy boats, give Bibles, etc. I always tried to live as safely as possible but use extra funds left over from housing or other expenses to supply the Bible school funds  and so on.”

Gwen sometimes received letters from supporters saying that they weren’t able to continue giving.  “I remember the first letter.  I was devastated and cried. Then, I got up and wrote a letter of thanks for all that they had already done and blessed them. Sometimes the donor had miracles and could continue to help out, and sometimes I never heard from them again. But, the sure fact was that when one donor would leave, God would bring miracles from people that I had never met or even heard of.”

Gwen-030

Gwen sees giving to missions in four different ways:

  1. Instantaneous. Like as a teenager when she gave to help the unreached tribal groups, she gave without thinking about it. People without Christ who had nothing compared to what she had? An instant decision to help.
  2. Fun. Like a spurt that makes her heart burst with the desire to just bless someone and may be an answer to that person’s prayer. Gwen recalled times when someone in a visiting group would say, “I just want to bless so-and-so. Is that okay?” Usually Gwen already knew the person’s need and was blessed to see God at work through the generosity of others.
  3. Serious giving in response to an appeal or need. Gwen recalled a time in February 2011 when the Ucayali River region was inundated with flood waters and many folks lost everything. Using funds from Timberline and supporters, Gwen bought disaster food supplies and sent people up the dangerous rivers and passable roads. But when she brought the need to the attention of others in the regional church, she was soon inundated with finances and bags of clothing.
  4. Commitment giving. This might be in response to an appeal, but usually involves giving on a regular basis with a pledge to or through an organization that requires stewardship and accountability with the funds.

Beyond financial giving, Gwen was blessed by the commitment of others to pray. “One lady told me that she prayed for me three times a day.  When Mom and I visited her home, she showed us my pictures and how she kept me lifted up to the Lord all of those many years. Traveling during the different itineration times was difficult and tiring but it was so exciting to meet supporters who not only gave offerings, but they were praying for Guatemala, for Peru, for me, for my Mom, and so on.”

Gwen Kovac’s lifetime of service was made possible by her obedience to go … and the faithful support of others to pray and give so that she could stay.

One Day to Feed The World

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One Day to Feed the World

In our world 1.02 billion people are hungry.  That’s one in seven that do not get enough to eat and of these, half are children.  For the poorest among us, food has become unaffordable.  Although most of the world’s hungry live in developing nations, hunger is a huge problem in this country also.  With our continuing recession, more all the time are struggling with this.  Consider these statistics:

  • Every 3.6 seconds a person dies from hunger-related causes
  • 16 million children die of hunger each year
  • Every 6 seconds a child dies from lack of pure drinking water
  • Hunger kills more people annually than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined
  • In the United States, 17.2 million children do not get enough healthy food to eat

 But there is good news:  in just one day, you can make a difference.

 What is One Day to Feed the World?

This is our opportunity to give one day of your annual wages to help the international organization Convoy of Hope feed hungry people.  Because of Convoy of Hope’s generous corporate partners, every dollar given becomes $7 worth of food, water and supplies. These products are then placed into the hands of impoverished people throughout the world who are in desperate need.  Taking part in One Day to Feed the World will:

  • Help save the lives of poor and disadvantaged people throughout the world
  • Feed hungry children and their families
  • Provide comfort to disaster victims

 Please consider supporting One Day to Feed the World during weekend services at Timberline on June 23rd and 24th when a special offering will be taken to support this mission.  100 percent of monies collected will remain in our community to help alleviate hunger in Northern Colorado.

 It takes is one day’s worth of wages to make that kind of difference.  One day just like any other. 

One day of compassion.  One day of sharing.  One Day to Feed the World!

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.  Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.   Isaiah 58:10

 For more information see One Day to Feed the World.

Submitted by: Ron Hedrick, Local Missions:  rhedrick777@gmail.com