The North Carolina Baptist LITERACY MISSIONS NEWSLETTER Special Edition English as a Foreign Language November 2017

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1 The North Carolina Baptist LITERACY MISSIONS NEWSLETTER Special Edition English as a Foreign Language November 2017 Barbara Martin, Literacy Missions Coordinator The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina WITNESSING UNTO THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE WORLD! This past summer some of our North Carolina Literacy Missions volunteers were privileged to share God s love in a number of different countries, sometimes using their English as a Foreign Language training and sometimes witnessing in other ways as led by the Holy Spirit. This newsletter will feature the overseas service of Tom and Carla Pless, Krystal Weeks, Jeanette Walters, and Becky Wuerzer. As we receive the stories of others who served overseas in 2017, we will publish more special editions.

2 Page 2 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter November 2017 SHARING GOD S LOVE IN A REFUGEE CAMP Earlier this year, Tom and Carla Pless were invited to represent North Carolina Baptists in a pilot program that the International Mission Board was implementing to reach out to refugees from the Middle East through teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The ten-week program, running from April through June, involved pairs of English teachers from five different states in the Southern Baptist Convention. Each pair of teachers spent two weeks on location with missionaries who work with refugees in a country where evangelism ( proselytizing ) is against the law. Here is the report from Tom and Carla. We worked in a country where refugee re-location is a big issue. We were in an area of the world where there are laws against mission work. We had to watch our speech, assuming someone might be listening. The Mission Board was the company and missionaries were employees. Baptisms were dunking services. We were there as tourists, not teachers.

3 November 2017 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter Page 3 We worked tag-team, with one pair of teachers arriving as the previous one was leaving. We used the same textbook for continuity and to ensure steady progress. We taught at a center for food distribution organized by local IMB missionaries. While it was not without its challenges, we felt used by God to continue His work there. Did I say challenges? Yes, if you consider a city-wide bus strike for 5 weeks during the Pilot a challenge! It made transportation difficult for several participants to get to training regularly. Oh, there was a garbage strike, too, but, thankfully, that didn t last as long! Was God at work there? Absolutely! We saw: People developing trust with the teachers and the missionary staff involved with the refugees. People kept coming back for more English classes, more visiting and socializing with whoever else was there in the center. People approaching us on the street and in the market, smiles and honest hearts wanting to connect. People inviting us into their home to have dinner with them. Though teaching English was our assigned task for this trip, ultimately, the most important thing that happened was showing them the love of Christ. Most of these people have not been around Christians to see the love of Christ. The food distribution program brought in more people. Many people would come to the English classes after picking up their food allotment. Many sat in the den of the Center and just talked to whoever was there, in their native language, in English, just to hang out. We sought to love on the people and, looking back, feel successful, based on the open arms of response from these beautiful people. Also, as their English skills continue to improve, we know they will encounter better job opportunities as they relocate to their final new country and begin working. Due to the limited English skills, it was difficult to share the gospel like we could with English speakers. However, some of the IMB missionaries were able to go into deeper conversations with various individuals, as the Spirit led, because they could speak in the native languages of our class participants. They shared with us about baptism services, and often, while we were teaching, they were out around the city meeting with new believers for discipleship meetings. God is truly at work among people from the Middle East! Thank you for your part in sending us to this important mission field. Tom and Carla Pless

4 Page 4 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter November 2017 SPREADING GOD S LOVE IN BRAZIL Sao Paulo is a city teeming with traffic, horns blaring, sirens screaming, and motorcycles swerving back and forth. It has a population of 13 million that are ripe and ready to receive the Good News of Christ s love. Thirteen of us went to work with Brazilian pastors to bring the message of salvation to the lost. Upon arrival in the city, we met the two pastors we d be working with and learned of their zeal for our mission project. Pastor Ennio and his family welcomed us, fed us, and took us to the homes of people who needed the Lord or encouragement. In the bright, white tiled home of a ninety-year old woman, her granddaughters gave their hearts to Jesus after I explained the gospel bracelet to them. We ate cake and visited with the family. Our interpreter asked me about a wound on my neck. I said, It s better. I think a spider bit me before I came to Brazil. He told the girls, She is Spider Woman! Pastor Anderson is in charge of an after school program for at risk students, some of whom live in the slums. The abject poverty we saw there gave us a heart of compassion for the slums of

5 November 2017 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter Page 5 Sao Paulo. So many children, a forty-six day old baby, a three month old baby, other children running, flying kites, and riding makeshift toys. In one home, decorated with blue-draped curtains for walls, our interpreter shouted with his fists in the air, Vinte-cinco de maio, vinte-cinco de maio! (25 th of May) He was telling the family to remember this was the day they had come to know the Lord so they could write it in the Bibles we gave them. The following day at a home overlooking the slums, a middle-aged man told us, I had been in the hospital for twenty-five days, had fluid on my brain, and I couldn t see or walk. He told m his doctor said, Eleven months ago, I thought you didn t have a chance. Now he s driving, walking and talking. You are a living miracle, I said. Do you know if you are going to heaven? He looked up with bright eyes, but said, No. We read and stressed the meaning of John 3:16, and I John 3:15 to him. I asked him again, Do you know you are going to heaven when you die? With a high grin he said, Yes. After hugs and a view of the city from the porch, we left with joyful hearts. I took a picture of the sunset over the trees as we walked back to the church. God shines His love all over the world. Krystal Weeks

6 Page 6 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter November 2017 WALES MISSION 2017 Sharing in Wales again (as I did in 2015) was such a blessing. The opportunity to share with language groups from 4 to 5 different countries is beyond describable. However, God does work in wonderful and mysterious ways and that is part of what I experienced both times. Teaching Bible stories to adult women and men, sharing songs, all of which involves teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language is what I did for 10 days back in July. Adults were eager to learn and here the gospel and through translation many times that is what they experienced too! Many were from Iran, some from Nigeria, Ghana and West Congo, and God just for the fun of it placed two Chinese and one Kurd in the mix. He does have a sense of humor no doubt and yet what a way to stretch our faith in Him. Many friendships were made and many new brothers and sisters in Christ became family to us all. I had the privilege to preach one Sunday and baptize the next Sunday as 16 men and women accepted Jesus and became part of the kingdom. God allowed me and my team the opportunity to again go where he is working and we joined him there. The peoples of His world truly as seeking the truth, as well as freedom and a better life. What a great life they truly will have for all eternity as they become believers in Jesus. Not by our work but by His! Amen. Jeanette Walters

7 November 2017 NC Baptist Literacy Missions Newsletter Page 7 MISSION TO CHINA It is always a journey how the Lord leads one from the comfort of their home to serve Him in a country that one had never gone to in the past. For my journey, it actually began by making plans to return to Ukraine, the place I had been the summer before. A sermon was preached and the single sentence, Sometimes it is hard to hear God s voice when you already have plans changed my direction. When I heard about the opportunity to go to China, I began the by saying, I already have plans, maybe next summer was deleted. Because of the remembrance of the sermon I changed my to, Please tell me about China I thought a mission trip could not get better than going to a foreign country to teach English, share the love the Lord, and use teaching as a means to combine the two. That is until I heard that I could go to China and teach English teachers through conversational English. I realized, Yes, it could get better! What I found were teachers who were eager to learn and improve their English. I also realized they needed to be shown love as an individual. We were able to do that through our lessons and meeting with them outside of class to share meals together. It was during this time they learned about our culture of praying before meals. We would ask questions of each other and often times shared the gift of laughter! When I return back to the States a common question is, How many accepted the Lord? This trip was no exception. My answer was, None that I was aware of. But I do know, there were many seeds that were planted. I am quite content in planting seeds. As I sit in the comfort of my home in the USA, I can talk to teachers in China through technology. I believe my mission is continuing because I m able to water those seeds that were planted. Maybe I ll see the harvest, maybe I won t; that decision is not up to me but our Heavenly Father. He calls us to be obedient and sometimes that is going and planting seeds. Becky Wuerzer

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