Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reflections on Mission as Transformation

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Bible School. Irene Mparutsa teaches health outreach to pastors. (Photo by Richard Lord)
By Kennedy O. Cruz

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

The Lord’s Prayer about the coming of God’s Kingdom to earth I believe is the most compelling message that we followers of Christ can share with others. Yet it seems that it is the least understood truth in church mission and evangelism work in Cambodia. If properly understood, I believe this holds the key to the Church’s role in transforming Cambodian society plagued by endemic corruption, poverty, materialism, inequality, hopelessness, social injustices, and environmental degradation.

Still in its growing stages, the Methodist Church in Cambodia is humbly rediscovering the true meaning of preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God through our holistic approach to mission and evangelism. Our journey in recovering the “kingdom mentality” is not without growing pains, bumps, and potholes. But our journey is worth taking. The majority of 160 local Methodist congregations are now actively involved in addressing various social issues with their respective communities.

We have also witnessed so many signs of God’s unfolding Kingdom through our various works in church-based relief and development. Through health programs, sick people have been healed and communities now have increased access to clean water. Our agriculture programs are increasing local food supplies, while our income-generation activities continue to diversify and expand income sources for families. Similarly, our transformational leadership development training significantly improved the collective capacity of churches and communities in addressing social concerns and promoting local initiatives for change.

Our influence extends from the villages all the way up to decision-makers at provincial government agencies. Our network of partners who help us carry out holistic ministries with the poor and the needy come from diverse backgrounds, churches, and nationalities, thus giving everyone a chance to share or use their God-given gifts and talents. Through acts of mercy, kindness, and justice, many Methodist congregations in Cambodia are proclaiming the Kingdom of God that is here and now—not in a distant place or time.

Bearing witness to God’s Kingdom unfolding reminds us that as we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, we can expect God to multiply the impact of our efforts even in our failures!

Read more about our work at Support our work with a donation through The Advance at your local church or Program Support Code: 14916A

Kennedy O. Cruz, Advance #3019583.

Mailing Address:
Kennedy O. Cruz
General Board of Global Ministries
P.O. Box 2493
Phnom Penh 3
Kingdom of Cambodia

Markus' Mission Endeavors

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! (Is. 40:3 NLT)

Elizabethton, May 24, 2012, Volume I, Issue I

Dear Friends,

It is finally happening! After many years of praying and looking for a ministry that I can connect with, I have joined United Methodist Aviation Ministries as one of their pilots. I will serve with them in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Last March I flew there too look at their ministry and meet the people and quickly came to realize that the Lord wanted me there.

Once I got back to the States, the ministry, which is a part of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, sent me to missionary training with 23 other missionaries; they are serving in different ministries all over the world. On Sunday April 29, 2012, I got commissioned with the other missionaries in Tampa, Florida. It was a great service and the training connected me with many new friends and people that have a heart for missions.

During the training, my regional director and I started working on a plan for my transition to the Congo. The official language of the country is French, and while I was visiting the Congo I realized that the school French I had in junior high school would not be sufficient for my work in the Congo. So we decided that the first step would be language school in France, where I can be immersed in the language and hopefully learn the language quickly. The school is located in the city of Chambéry in the Rhône-Alpes region, in the eastern part of France just south of Geneva, Switzerland. In the beginning of June, I will start language study there for six months.

Prayer Requests:

•    Quick learning at language school
•    Safe travel
•    Good connections with people in France
•    Easy adjustment to new environment

How You Can Help:

•    Pray.
•    Write or call (contact information below).
•    Visit.
•    Donate. Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Make your check payable to ADVANCE GCFA. Write my name (Markus Wolfmaier) and my Advance #3021464 on the memo line. Or give online through my website:

Contact Info:

•    Email:
•    Skype: markus.wolfmaier

The second step is for me to build some relationships with Methodist churches in Europe and as well here in the States. From the beginning of January to February I will be traveling, meeting with people and different churches, where I will speak about the needs in the Congo and how the aviation ministry helps meet those needs. Afterward the plan is for me to travel back to the US, where I will be trained specifically for flying on the mission field by JAARS. JAARS is the technical branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Once that training is complete, I will head to the Congo and start serving there.

The city I will be based in for most of my time there is called Kananga and is located in the south central part of the Congo; the region is called Kasai-Occidental. It is just shy of a million inhabitants, but because of its location it is fairly isolated from the capital Kinshasa. The city does not have a reliable electrical grid; while I was there, the family I stayed with got electrical power every second night from about 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

There is no municipal water grid that functions, so you have to bring in water on your own, which also means there is no running water in the house I will be living in. I am blessed, however, that the house is located just across the street from a local water well, and I will not have to carry the water too far to get it home.

In my aviation ministry, I will help the local church by flying missionaries, ministers, and volunteer teams to local villages. I will also fly people from the villages to local hospitals, since medicine and hospitals are hard to get to. The roads in the Congo are in bad shape and make ground transportation a long and hard journey. At the moment, most of the supplies for the city of Kananga are flown in, just to give you an idea. Through flying, I can help the local church by making their travel easier and help them stay connected with other churches and their leadership. This way the gospel can be spread more efficiently, and His word can be spread around the country, without being hindered by the physical obstacles of the jungles and mountains in the country. This means a lot to me, because when I was called into mission, it felt like the Lord spoke to me through Isaiah 40:3-5:

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (NIV)

Back then I did not realize I would fly, but now I believe that the airplane is my tool of clearing a way for the Lord through the jungles of the Congo--by simply flying over it. I am grateful for this opportunity and pray that I can really be an effective workman for the Lord.

I cannot thank all of you enough for your prayers; they mean a lot to me, and I ask that you will continue to pray with me as I continue on this journey. There are many ways you can help me, but prayer is the most important one.


Markus Wolfmaier, Advance #3021464

Friday, June 22, 2012

Letter from John Calhoun in Ukraine

Dear Ministry Partners and Friends,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! And greetings from Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, where there is sense of joy and excitement in the air. After a cool and rainy spring, the summer sun is out and the city parks are filled with flowers and blossoming trees. At long last, the school year has finally ended; after celebrating the last day of school with a party and sladskiy stol (sweets table), the children of our Family Center and across the city have hung up their school uniforms. The kids of Kyiv are now happily playing outdoors during these long summer days, when the sun sets late and the sky remains bright until well past 10:00 pm each evening.

In addition, during the month of June, the eyes of Europe are upon Ukraine, which together with neighboring Poland is hosting the European football (soccer) championship. After the World Cup, this international tournament is the largest and most important in the soccer world; national teams from 16 European countries will be competing throughout the month, with the championship to be decided in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium on July 1. The Ukrainian people are excited to serve as co-host for this important tournament, and to receive their European neighbors in the best tradition of Ukrainian hospitality over the coming weeks.

At the end of June, as the soccer tournament is wrapping up, I’ll be heading to the United States to begin a speaking tour of United Methodist congregations that in recent years have been supportive of my mission service and the ministry of the United Methodist Church in Ukraine. Every few years, Global Ministries missionaries from the United States serving overseas return to the US for a period of “itineration,” speaking to local churches about missions and raising support for specific ministry projects in their areas of service.

During July and early August, I’ll be traveling across the eastern part of the US, visiting churches in urban and rural communities in a number of different states. Some of these congregations are “Covenant Relationship” partner churches; they give a certain amount of money each year to Global Ministries in support of my mission service, and pledge to uphold me and my ministry in prayer throughout the year. Other churches I will visit provide financial support for my ministry project, the St. Luke’s UMC Family Center in Kyiv, or for other Methodist initiatives across Ukraine.

I’m looking forward to visiting these congregations! I’ll spend time with old friends who have lent their prayerful support for my ministry over many years, and I’ll have the chance to meet new partners who have only recently made a commitment to support United Methodist mission work in Ukraine. Please keep me in prayer this summer as I undertake this period of itineration, that God would bless this important time of reconnection with our partners in mission across the US.

Lastly, many of you know that for the last few years I have also been involved with an initiative of the World Council of Churches, serving as convener for World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel. This initiative seeks to encourage and equip congregations, community groups, and people of faith around the world to pray, educate, and advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. In 2012, this week of peace was observed from May 28 through June 3; during these seven days, a wide range of events and activities were held in at least 25 countries around the world. A complete list of activities that took place during the week can be found at the 2012 Events page of the initiative’s website,

So, my friends, many thanks to you for your support and encouragement! I pray God’s blessings upon you and your loved ones in this summer season. And I look forward to seeing some of you during my coming period of itineration.

May the peace of Christ be with you all!



Rev. John Calhoun, Missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, Kyiv, Ukraine

The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church welcomes your US federal tax-deductible donation in support of its officially recognized mission projects:

• Advance # 14054A, Kiev Street Children Ministry (the original name of the St. Luke’s UMC Family Center ministry)
• Advance # 13970Z, Global Ministries missionary John Calhoun
• Learn more about Global Ministries’s Covenant Relationship program

Friday, June 1, 2012

Individual Volunteer Training Reflection

Our most recent Individual Volunteer training event occurred at the Storm Mountain Retreat Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. There were 14 participants. The placement sites where the volunteers will be serving include Fiji, Rwanda, The United States, Guatemala, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, and Costa Rica. One of the volunteer candidates, Nicholas Gibbons, who plans on serving in Guatemala, offered the following reflection:

As we all prepare to travel the road that God has put before us, it is easy to become distracted by the multitude of obstacles and challenges that we will face. It is at these times when it is most important to step back, pray, and reflect on the mission that the Lord has given to us. I feel that one of the most important aspects and challenges of our work as individual volunteers is to maintain our personal relationship with God. The individual volunteer training, sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries, did just that. While covering the logistical aspect of being an individual volunteer, I was constantly reminded of the importance of my personal relationship with Jesus. In lessons about health and safety, boundaries, child protection, and cultural adjustments, I was reminded that through the strength of my own faith I could serve in His name. The individual volunteer training gave me the logistical tools to serve in mission, but more importantly it gave me the confidence of faith to share the love that Jesus has taught us.

Individual Volunteers