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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.

To Finish The Work: A Father and Daughter Go Together

Phil Sheridan Peru 1

Many thanks to Guest Bloggers: Phil Sheridan and Katie (Sheridan) Lorimer

PHIL: My original interest in doing a mission trip with my daughter was planted many years ago in our former church on Lemay.  After each mission team came home, the next Wednesday evening service was set aside for them to share their experiences and testimonies.  One night, Stan Myers and his daughter, Kelly, shared about their recent trip together.  I was blessed and thought I would love to go on a mission trip with one of my daughters.  Sure enough, God provided that opportunity many years later and I didn’t pass it up.

In the summer of 2008, the Mission’s department planned to take a group of Joy team members to join Gwen Kovac in Peru to present a Vacation Bible School program to churches in the jungles and teach the local staff how to present a children’s program.  I volunteered to be one of the adult sponsors.  Katie helped lead the team and also recruited me to have several parts in the various skits.  I have very little dramatic talent, let alone having to memorize my lines in Spanish!  It was a challenge to say the least.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  I loved the time to travel with Katie.  I enjoyed seeing the unique jungle living environment and discovering the culture of the Peruvian people, both in the city and in the jungle.  I was totally amazed to see that in the 21st century people could live in such poverty, i.e. grass huts with dirt floors and no utilities.  Yet they were very happy and content and loved the Lord with all of their heart.  They were also amazingly friendly and generous.  At the conclusion of each program at the various churches, they would thank us and present us gifts, usually from the fruits of their farms. I was also impressed that all of the children came to the church, walking on dirt paths, many in bare feet, yet they wore nice clean clothes that were obviously their “Sunday best”.

Phil Sheridan Peru hut

I really didn’t go with any special expectations, I was open to whatever God wanted to show me.  It was a very humbling experience.  I saw our young folks do a great job interacting with the locals, laughing, playing soccer, and really taking their roles seriously.  I was blessed to see my daughter’s leadership, compassion, and love for these people expressed in so many wonderful ways.  At times she was our sole interpreter and did an amazing job.  It was a real eye-opener to see the disparity in our wealth vs. these Peruvians.  We take so much for granted and yet we complain and don’t appreciate what we have in comparison.  I did see God’s presence and love through these people and people who sacrifice greatly, like Gwen Kovac, to love on these people and help them understand the love God has for them.  All missionaries are special people.

I would encourage anyone without hesitation to go on a short term mission trip.  They will be blessed beyond belief.

Katie Sheridan Peru 1

KATIE: My story begins long before I actually went on my first mission’s trip. It began as a child when I attended Kids’ Church each week at what was then First Assembly of God. Filling our “Buddy Barrel” penny bank to give to missionaries was a simple way we could learn how to give to missions, but my favorite part was when some of the missionaries who we had saved our coins for would come and tell us stories of the work they did for the Lord. One such missionary was Gwen Kovac who came to tell us about Guatemala.

Fast forward to junior high school, and I started my first Spanish class. I fell in love with the language but for so much more than just words. The words represented connections I could make with Spanish-speaking people. As the earlier missions spark fanned to life, I remembered how Gwen used Spanish as a simple starting point of common ground to ultimately love people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I wanted to do the same!

By the time high school rolled around, I had the opportunity through JOY team to go on a short term mission’s trip to Peru where Gwen was living by that point. I took the leap of faith knowing it would be great practice for my ever-increasing Spanish knowledge to be immersed in the language and would be a wonderful way to love on my other passion—kids—as we trained the Peruvians in children’s ministry. By the end of this trip, I knew I wanted to go back. My flame had truly been lit for the importance of missions, missionaries, and loving those of all cultures and languages even if it meant sacrificing some comforts.

Katie Sheridan Peru jungle path

As I was about to enter college, I chose to spend my summer of transition living with Gwen in Peru. It would be 40 days of truly living the reality of a missionary and taking me from a place of “getting my feet wet” to being submerged in the world of missions. This longer trip required a larger financial commitment, and I was absolutely blown away by the blessing of so many who chose to send me to GO by being the ones to GIVE. In fact, people gave more than I needed, and I was able to leave the country of Peru knowing that their generosity allowed some of my ministry efforts to continue after I returned home for college.

Studying Spanish and education in college allowed me to take my language learning to a whole new level. After studying abroad in Mexico and living there for a semester, I knew I could be used even more for the Lord now that my Spanish was nearly fluent. All of my years of study and passion translated into my dad taking the leap of faith to also GO even though he had been one to GIVE so others could go for years. The summer before my student teaching year of college, I helped lead a team back to Peru for my third trip with my dad by my side.

Katie Sheridan Peru 2

It was such a privilege for me to get to introduce him to such a big piece of my heart and to have him experience firsthand what it means to go. As I led the Vacation Bible School deep in the Peruvian jungle, I got to see my dad participate in his skits, practice his limited Spanish that I’d been working on with him, and to love on Peruvian children together through all of it while sharing the hope of Jesus with them. Although the trip had its challenges, my dad’s eyes were opened, and my heart was blessed by the opportunity to light another flame of loving missions.

Although it has now been several years since I’ve gone, I’ve been able to use the flame in my heart to influence my Spanish students as their teacher to love the world and embrace other cultures with the hope that someday they, too, will go and go with the purpose of loving people into a relationship with Jesus.

To Finish The Work: Go – Stephanie Jhones’ Story

Stephanie Jhones Cherish Kids 7

For 2014’s Mission Celebration, the Love Reaches team recreated the global missions adventure inside the walls of Timberline Church including cultural experiences and a variety of foods. As visitors traveled from country to country they received stamps in their passport and then the completed passports were collected for a drawing. The prize? A fully paid short-term missions trip. The winner? Stephanie Jhones, a first grade teacher in Fort Collins. Here is her story:

Q: What got you interested in going on a missions trip?

I have long been interested in missions work, but the trips for the most part were cost prohibitive. My daughter had gone on a local trip (to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming), but I had never gone on one.

 Q. What was God doing in your life around Missions Celebration last year?

My husband and I have long been supporters of missions and wanted to attend the evening of the Missions Celebration for a more thorough understanding of what Timberline does globally. I was definitely prepared for an adventure as I do not tend to be one to sit back and watch the world pass by – I like to be an active participant. I was eager, had no reservations whatsoever.

Q: How did you feel when your name was drawn?

At first, really not much emotion but happiness as I was not aware what was being given away. Pastor Mark had simply encouraged the attendees that we would want to be sure to participate, but did not say what would be given to the winner. Possibly the website had mentioned the trip prior to that night, but I do not tend to be on the website much and had no idea a trip was being given away. I honestly thought the prize would be something that had been made by a local merchant in one of the countries being served (such as a blanket from El Salvador or a handmade product from the UCOUNT marketplace), but nothing as large as a fully-funded trip to the place of my choosing. Once Pastor Mark announced what I had won, I was shocked and humbled. What an amazing blessing!

Q: Why Uganda of the trips available?

I have had a heart for the people of Africa for as long as I can remember. I did not know if there was a trip to Africa or not, but when I arrived home I went to the Timberline website (yes, that same night!) and looked to see where they had trips planned for that year. When I saw Uganda was one of the choices, I started pursuing that option. I feel God placed me on the Uganda team as my skill set and the timing with my job was a perfect match. I was completely open to God’s will and what he had in store for me and did not have any preconceived ideas of my purpose for this trip to Uganda.

Stephanie Jhones and Rachel Ray

Q: What happened on the trip and what did you learn?

The trip was amazing, (read the team’s trip report here) and as cliché as it sounds, truly life changing. I learned how hard many people in our world must work simply to survive. You hear about it and see it on the news, but to witness the struggle first-hand is very different. I also learned that though they may not have much, they are still happy (many happier than Americans who have more than one could ever hope for). I appreciate that we in America have clean water, access to healthcare, and free time to pursue interests. Those in Africa must work long hours to survive and even then some are still not able to provide the basic needs for themselves or their family (food, clean water, shelter, and clothing).

When I met with the Director of Education at Cherish Uganda, Larissa Rwakasiisi, I felt it was the reason God sent me to Uganda. We met for almost three hours and we were both so invigorated and prayed that, if it is God’s will, I would return to Cherish to assist in implementing some of the suggestions we had discussed. Larissa and I have been in touch since my return to America and I have sent materials to her via email.

Q: What’s next on the horizon?

The trip inspired me to put together a presentation about the struggles in Uganda, which I presented on February 7th and will present again on February 25th. In October, I put together a shoe cutting party for another organization in Uganda called “Sole Hope.” My friends, family, and I provided 50 pairs of shoes, including funding to get them to the people of Uganda, as well as a large amount of medical supplies for helping in the fight against jiggers. I hope to continue to do various activities to make a difference in the lives of those who struggle to survive. My long-term goal is to return to Uganda and possibly assist Larissa in enhancing the phonics program used by Cherish and increase its effectiveness for the students at Hope Academy.

P.S. There will be another drawing for a trip during this year’s Missions Week. Stay tuned for more details because this could be your year to go!

Is This Your Year to Go?

Go into all the world

Have you ever thought about going on a short-term missions trip? Well, 2015 could be your year because Timberline Church is sending out several teams with more trips in the planning stages. (For more detailed information and contact links, see our website at www.timberlinechurch.org/peaks/lovereaches.)

  • June 13-20, 2015: Guatemala Orphan Care (Timberline Windsor)
  • June 17-21, 2015: Wanna Give Away to Ogden, Utah (Genesis Project)
  • June 27-July 3, 2015: Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • July 4-11, 2015: El Salvador (Timberline Student Ministries)
  • Fall 2015: Banderas Bay Women’s Shelter, Mexico
  • 2016: Eastern Europe with Missionary Chris Oakley

If finances are holding you back, stay tuned for more details as Missions Celebration approaches because for the second year in a row, one lucky person will be getting a free trip! This could be your year to go.