KidREACH spells Success

Jasey said, “I finished my first year pursuing a Masters in Social Work at the USC graduate school. Though USC has extremely high standards, through blood, sweat, and tears I was somehow able to meet their expectations.” There was a time when this level of success did not seem obtainable for Jasey.  When she came to KidREACH during high school she was struggling academically. “There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it or was cut out for this. It has taken a lot of patience and hard work. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without the help of KidREACH.”

KidREACH offers free one-on-one tutoring for students in grades K-12 who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Tutors not only support a student academically but have the opportunity to walk alongside and share God’s love with them. Tutors positively impact student’s lives by encouraging and appreciating them, celebrating their progress, supporting them in their struggles, and loving them as Jesus does.  In 2001, a group of BelPres members saw the need to actively serve the community by establishing KidREACH.  In the words of a former director, “In this ministry much more than solving tricky math problems or preparing for a vocabulary quiz takes place. God’s Kingdom comes alive in the energy and joy tutors find by serving the students. The smiles and laughter of the students and the peace experienced by the entire family are rewarding for tutors at the end of their busy days.  Now, after 17 years KidREACH is a thriving supportive community.”

Brandon, a current student, says, “My KidREACH tutor Drew helped me a lot. I started the year with all F’s and C’s, and by the time I hit summer vacation, I already had 4 A’s and three B’s thanks to my tutor.”   Brandon’s mom, Neta adds, “We feel blessed to be a part of the KidREACH family. The day we come for tutoring is our family’s favorite day of the week. We always feel welcomed and cared for. My sons love meeting with their tutors not only for academic support but also for emotional support. They enjoy talking and sharing with their tutors about how their day went and how they feel. The tutors and KidREACH Director, Lisa, are always there for us and continually offer help and support to our family. We are very grateful to them! KidREACH changed our life!”

KidREACH is currently looking for tutors for this school year.  There are students enrolled in most grade levels. KidREACH meets in the Upper Campus of BelPres on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. No experience is needed to become a tutor.  A weekly commitment of one evening and a heart for youth are all that is required.  For more information, please contact belpresserve@belpres.org

A Miracle in Rwanda

God is always moving in Rwanda – so sit down, strap in and hold on!

The 2018 Impact Team kept on the move to learn and share all God wanted to be known. It’s been 6 years since our last visit to Kigali, the capital, it was a visual festival to see Rwanda moving forward in tangible ways; a Convention center, new hotels, tall modern buildings, re-routed traffic for more public spaces. And for the first time, we met tourists: a couple from New York City who had read the NY Times listing the 10 places that were a must to visit in 2018. Rwanda was number 8. This was very telling, as previously, running into humanitarian missionaries or NGO workers was common; running into tourists was not.

Where we saw God most clearly was a ministry started by Gilbert Kubwimana. This faithful young man is following God’s call to help families of disabled children by starting “Love with Actions” ministry. We first met Gilbert in 2006 at his one-man business craft stand (outside of the AEE guest house) earning money for his dowry to marry Esther. He collected craft requests from team members and scoured the markets for these items.  He brought Esther to meet us and celebrate the money realized for their wedding! His Love of God and for Esther along with his intense work ethic has only grown. Over the last two years, Gilbert has used his God-given gifts and skills to build a ministry to come alongside extremely marginalized families, for empowerment, treatment and educational/vocational skills. Here’s the story of Pacifique and her son Aime.

Deep in a grove of Bumbogo – in the hills above Kigali, Gilbert, with the help of the local Anglican Pastor Didas, found Pacifique and her three children living in a dirt hut with a banana leaf roof. Their living conditions were indescribable, bringing two grown men to their knees in tears. Pacifique was caring for three sons: Aime, Eric, and Jado. Eric and Jado greeted both men and then came Aime, dirt and scar-covered boy, pulling himself out of the hut by his only means: his arms. Aime, born with spina bifida (a birth defect that leaves the end of the spine in a sack-like defect outside the body just above the buttocks) had no control of bodily functions nor the use of lower limbs.  In Rwanda, disability is believed to come from the devil, ostracizing and marginalizing the mother and her child. Gilbert raised funds on his visit to the USA, returned to Rwanda and moved Pacifique and her boys to a home in the village. He then took Pacifique and Aime to seek treatment at an orthopedic hospital. After meeting with Dr. Albert, head surgeon, a treatment plan began for Aime’s condition:   corrective surgery for his feet, leg braces, physical therapy needed for his first steps.

Four months into Aime’s treatment, Gilbert asked us to join the first hospital visit with Pacifique since her son was admitted and we eagerly said “Yes!” We all shared the excitement of seeing Aime. Entering the hospital grounds, we heard shouting from the long outdoor hallway. We turned to see Aime joyfully taking his first steps to join us! There were many precious moments in Rwanda – this was different: it was sacredly filled with the joy of a young boy, after long months of treatment, viewing his world at eye level for the first time. God was clearly seen in the face and empowerment of this young boy. Tears of joy flowed from all of us with many hugs as Aime stood before his cheering team. The rest of the young patients gathered around us, some were “Love with Actions” kiddos in treatment and a spontaneous worship began as we sang and praised God for the blessings abundantly given. The kiddos clapped with joy; Julie led songs in Kinyarwanda to their great delight. We learned from Dr. Albert that very few muzungus (“whites”) to visit the hospital, let alone speak the native Kinyarwanda language. Gilbert is a man of great faith with unquestioning obedience to God, and a heart that has an inspiring capacity to love many and the least. This ministry – “Love with Actions” – is flourishing as God promises in scripture through Gilbert’s obedience. The word obedience has a meaning worth understanding: flourishing, joy, and empowerment.

It was tough to leave the hospital after giving hugs, smiles, encouragement, and prayers; loving on too many young faces with complicated medical conditions, each craving love and attention. Travel back to Kigali was a mixture of gratefulness for His blessings and crying out for children needing His tender hand.

Gilbert invited us to accompany Home visits the next day in Bumbogo. And we gladly did. But first, we shopped for sugar, flour, rice and cooking oil for the visit. We were like little kids joyfully filling each bag with much-needed supplies. To our great delight, the first stop was Pacifique’s house. She ran up the path and joyfully embraced us. She had spent much time alone with her two boys Eric and Jado while Aime was away for treatment. The village still shunned her as being possessed by demons as announced by her husband. As we descended the path to her house, we saw many villagers coming to the road curious about the visiting muzungus. She tearfully accepted the bag of supplies and left to put them away. The room filled with happy children from the village touching our skin and our hair; Eric and Jado among them. Julie spoke first, her voice and eyes near tears, thanking Pacifique for the privilege of being part of a tender and sacred moment shared the day before in Rilima. She admired Pacifique’s courage as nothing in this world is fiercer than a mother’s love for her child. Her sacrifices and avocation for Aime are inspiring. We reassured Pacifique that not all fathers are like her former husband. Her faith and Gilbert’s assistance would see her through Aime’s treatment and beyond.

We laid on hands and prayed for Pacifique and her two boys. As we walked out, more villagers gathered on the road above her house. Pacifique’s closest neighbors greeted us and watched the video of Aime walking.  Villagers continued to grow in number. We said our goodbyes to continue our day of home visits. Gilbert shared that our small gesture of a home visit will have a profound impact for Pacifique in the village. White people visiting inside the home of a child with disabilities was big news. It would also help diminish the misguided thought that disability comes from the Mother being possessed by demons. As we entered homes of children with disabilities, villagers gathered outside and watched with great curiosity; emphasizing to us that the ministry of presence in Rwanda is essential and cannot be overstated or diminished.
       

 Visiting mothers of disabled children outside Love with

            Action’s Family Empowerment Center, Bumbog

 

Iman’ishimwe! Ndakunda Love with Actions!

Julie Munezero St. Peter & Frank St. Peter

Jubilee Service Day- Behind Every Door is a Story

Hello Friends,

On August 25, the 14th annual Jubilee Service Day was held with a partnership of 50 churches and various organizations & companies.  Collectively, 3200 volunteers served the Bellevue community, including at 22 public schools assisting more than 450 teachers to prepare the buildings & classrooms for the new year.  Additionally, talented sewing volunteers created 800 chair pockets for elementary classroom chairs.

A quieter and sometimes hidden portion of the service day involves helping homeowners clean their yards, paint their houses or building fences.  This partnership with the city of Bellevue reaches into the community to bring help to those in need, right where they live and has grown to now begin in March and end in September.  This year, 36 homes were served prior to Jubilee Service Day, 8 homes were served on the Jubilee Service Day and 1 very large project will be done in early September.  BelPres volunteers and took this opportunity shared God’s love righter where they live, work and play. Here are some of our neighbors who were supported and encouraged by the volunteers at Jubilee Service Day!

 

Cynthia is a 40 year old widow with a 2 year old son.  Her husband, John, was tragically killed last fall in a bus accident in downtown Seattle.  They had been married 12 years and moved into this home soon after their wedding.  Cynthia is still heavily grieving and trying to make sense of her new normal.  She has returned to work but cannot care for the outside of her house and yard.  She has no family in the area but desperately wants to remain in her home for the stability of her son, as well as to remain close to his grave at Sunset Hills Memorial Park. John applied for the Jubilee Service Day last year, but we were not able to get to them then. this summer, we had teams begin to clean the yard and tear down an old fence.  On Jubilee Service day a team of 25 completed cleaning the yard, rebuilt the fence and painted the house.

 

 

Shapoor and his family escaped from Iran 35 years ago by fleeing across the border on foot with their young son.  They made their way to the US and eventually landed in Bellevue.  They bought their house 25 years ago and live there now with their youngest son.  Shapoor is in his 60’s and was laid off a few years ago.  He returned to school for new training but has been unable to find meaningful employment.  They are low income, trying to make ends meet.  A team of 20 cleaned their yard, split a large pile of wood rounds with a rented splitter and painted the garage.

 

 

Louis and Katharine are both in their upper 70’s and have lived in this house 35 years.  Lou has dementia, so Katharine is his caregiver.  They have two grown children who are struggling through life, with Lou and Katharine supporting them as they can, although they are low-income.  Katharine is sort of caught in the middle.  Their yard has gotten away from them and needed to be trimmed back to a place where they can care for it again, and they can have pride in their yard.  There were many wood-rounds in the backyard which we split with a rented wood-splitter.  We had already hauled away three trailers-full of junk & garbage from the carport and yard to the landfill with another group in June.  A group of 30 worked here on Jubilee Service Day.

Behind every front door is a story.  Through relationships, we meet people right where they are and pour love into their lives, all in the name of Christ.

 

Ken Carpenter

Jubilee Services Coordinator

Crisis Adverted- Hope Restored

Not long ago, a young single woman faced a seemingly insurmountable life crisis. Freshly unemployed, homeless, on the losing end of alcohol consumption and in a toxic relationship, she discovered she was pregnant.

The next steps seemed obvious. This was not a woman ready to become a parent. The only reasonable course of action, they assured her, was to abort. Instead, she scheduled an appointment at a Care Net of Puget Sound pregnancy center. Nine years later, her “crisis pregnancy” became her greatest blessing. He’s a curly-headed third grader with a passion for orphans and a keen interest in presidential trivia.

His mother is the ever-grateful narrator of this story, now gainfully employed by the very organization that ministered life to her nine years ago. It is an unspeakable joy to now help women and families in Puget Sound with life-affirming hope and encouragement that Care Net has so faithfully provided for over 30 years.

Care Net offers hope by providing compassionate practical care, accurate information and life-affirming resources on pregnancy, sexual health, and abortion recovery. We are fiercely committed to the value and dignity of every life and our work starts long before a woman shows up for a pregnancy test. Our Smart Programs faithfully engage young people on sexual health and safety. This past year, Care Net engaged 9,000+ students in 200 schools. Teachers and educators in the region regularly request our presence in their classrooms.

One recent Smart Programs participant, after hearing our staff presenter, reached out and let her know she was pregnant. The staff member meets with this young woman weekly to help her make important life choices preparing her to navigate the road ahead successfully. Her eyes welled up with tears when staff gifted a basket full of clothes and necessary supplies for her baby boy last month. She has now signed up for parenting classes so we can continue pouring love and support into her as she continues her journey.

And while we are overjoyed that 97% of our pregnant clients who have an ultrasound in our centers choose life for their babies, we know that 3% do not. We offer continued support to these women. We make sure they know they are welcomed back in our centers for additional services and resources as they need them.

At Care Net, we realize, for many, the mention of the “a-word” can feel like pushing on a painful bruise. The emotional and spiritual wounds of past abortions are very real. Often, women believe they must shoulder the burden of these wounds alone. Our Healing Tide program provides a safe, confidential and non-judgmental place for women to process and release painful post-abortion emotions so they can begin healing and restoration. A recent participant remarked, “For the first time in decades, I feel restored and healed.”

That’s exactly what we are about at Care Net – extending hearts and services to those needing hope and transformation by the saving love of Jesus Christ so they can freely live out the abundant lives He designed them to enjoy.

My Long Journey- From the Streets to New Life

On August 20th 1994, NSHIMIYIMANA BOSCO was born in Kigali city. He’s an orphan of one parent; his other parent died when he was twelve years old. Having lost his parent who provided support and care including education, Nshimiyimana left home and became a street boy for many years. While wiping tears away during his testimony, Bosco couldn’t believe he survived such an unpleasant situation.

Seeking God, Bosco said “I met Mr. Alexis RUHUMURIZA, the unbelievable man in my life who took me to his home and provided all I was lacking from my family.  For sure, Alexis is the forgotten parent in my life and my future.  May God bless him.  I now have hope for my future and am working hard to bring this same hope for those who need it.  I will always remember all the support I received from Alexis.“

“After leaving my family, I didn’t expect to return to school. Despite the fact that I felt hopeless, Alexis took me to school and provided everything needed including fees to catch me up to high school.  I completed my high school diploma, so I am now hoping to attend the university.”

“I want to thank Mr. Alexis very much for all his support, prayer and encouragement that has changed my entire life   God bless him and his family.”

“I remember the day I met Alexis.  He was preaching that night at SODOMA. It was around 2 am. I was doing my job serving prostitutes condoms to use for sex.  The next day, Alexis came to ‘ Sodom;’ he took us (6 children) from this very bad life to live with him.  I respect him for working so hard to change my behavior and my life.  Imagine the behavior of people who are separated from parents (drugs, alcoholism, prostitution and so many other dangerous behaviors) that threatened my whole life. Thank you so much, Alexis, for now, I know that the future is better. The good news is that I am a good man.  My dream is to bring hope to others by sharing my story, equipping the younger generation and encouraging them through the story of my life.  God bless all who have contributed to Alexis’ boys’ home:  Jean McAllister and Ali Bloom.”

 

If you haven’t had the joy of meeting Pastor Alexis Ruhumuriza, come worship with the New Hope Revival.  Services are  Sundays at 10:00am in UC-105

Fighting Human Slavery

Last week in Ghana, International Justice Mission (IJM) supported the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) and local police to rescue four children – two boys and two girls – enslaved in the fishing industry. The children ranged from 7-15 years old, and three of them are siblings. The 13-year-old boy was terrified and stressed through the rescue operation. The girls rescued are his younger sisters. But after receiving food, a shower, and fresh clothes, he approached the team with a huge smile to say, “God bless you.”

The aftercare team provides crayons and coloring books to the children as an outlet for their feelings, and to help them to feel calm and relaxed in the midst of a very confusing situation. The photo shows the children spellbound while watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. All four children are now safe and being cared for at a shelter home, where they will receive immediate medical care and counseling services.
As we celebrate the good work of police and the AHTU in the second

IJM rescue this year, we are also encouraged by the growing support for ending slavery on Lake Volta that is coming from communities around the lake. This month, Ghana’s Church and Community Relations team led a Justice Conference for pastors, church members, and school teachers to learn about God’s heart for justice in a town not far from some of the villages where children are being enslaved on Lake Volta.

Join us in celebrating the progress made in Ghana, that communities and law enforcement are ready to fight for the end of child slavery in the country.
On Sunday, August 19 at 12:15pm in S-140, Jocelyn White of International Justice Mission will be our featured speaker for the Global Outreach Talk at BelPres.  Join us for light lunch and to hear about the work International Justice Mission is doing to rescue people from slavery and helping local authorities capture suspected slave owners.

Hu Ran’s Story

My name is David and I’m a case manager at World Relief. We, at World Relief, wanted to share the story of one of our participants, Hu Ran.

In September 2017, I met Ran and was immediately puzzled by him. Born in China in 1975, Ran looked and seemed completely ordinary. Nothing besides his Christian affiliation suggested that he was someone who could be targeted for persecution. He worked in IT in Beijing translating Mandarin documents into English. His hobbies included table tennis and photography.

Over time, like many refugees, Ran opened up about his story. He told me that he had been a street photographer and began showing me his photos. I was amazed at the compassion his photos rendered towards their subjects and how boldly his photos challenged the status quo. Ran’s love for the poor drew him into Beijing’s hutongs, narrow lanes in a traditional residential area in China. While he sought to capture how people really lived, his love called him into the opulent city plazas where he composed photographs revealing ironic and bold truths. Because of Ran’s humility, I only learned much later that his photos received an award from Magnum Photos and were published by National Geographic. I also learned the degree of admiration was not shared by the authorities in China – who monitored him at work, stalked, harassed him and threatened his family.

Ran fled China and arrived in the U.S. in October 2016. He spent 11 months in the Northwest Detention Center, fighting for political asylum. After receiving asylum on September 18th, 2017, Ran came to World Relief. Through Bel-Pres’ generous donations, World Relief moved Ran into a fully-furnished apartment with roommates. Our on-site ESL teachers helped his English and our job specialists helped Ran create resumes, apply for jobs and shop for work attire. Ran now works part-time at Sea-Tac and attends a Chinese-American church in Federal Way. He’s searching for another part-time job so he can prepare a place for his family and resume his work as a photographer.

“What do you miss about China?” I asked him in an interview.

Ran told me about his four-year-old son, Hu Huaipu, and his wife, Wang Lei. Her name means “flower bud.” Ran misses the hutongs, the narrow streets, and alleyways that line metropolitan Beijing. He misses his idiosyncratic neighbors and the closeness of life in Beijing. “20 million people packed into one city,” he says, fondly.  Nostalgically, Ran talks about how he misses his DSLR camera, which he sold for fear of losing it on the journey to America.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I ask him.

Ran tells of his dream to bring his family to America. He talks about the refugees still in the Northwest Detention Center who left a deep impression on him. “I want to do a documentary on refugees and immigrants,” he says. He explains to me that refugees are good people looking for a fresh start and how some people are fearful of refugees. “They need someone in the middle,” Ran tells me, “to help them understand each other. I can do it! Just like the project I did with the peasant workers in the hutongs.”

“What does Huaipu’s name mean?” I ask Ran, curious about his son’s name. Ran pauses for a moment to translate it. “Honest heart,” he says.

We, at World Relief, are honored to know refugees like Ran. They remind us that refugees are made in God’s image; that they brim with creativity and offer a fresh voice from which we have much to learn. Thank you for your generous donations to help refugees like Ran find a new home in America.

 

Please click here for the National Geographic gallery of Hu Ran’s photography.

Please click here for World Relief Seattle to learn out more about their work with immigrants and refugees.

Perspective on “Perspectives”

Returning from a short-term mission trip to Rwanda in 2004, I felt a burden for the country and its people. As I prayed, I heard God speak into my heart’s ears, “You could go and live there.” When God speaks, I am utterly changed the moment I respond. By his grace, and if he was the one to send and equip me, I told God “yes.”
One of the first things I did preparing for this new adventure was to talk to Pastor Rich Leatherberry. The first thing he suggested was to take the course “Perspectives.” I knew nothing about it, and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. At age 68, I had had very little to do with “missions.” I was somewhat interested in people’s stories as they returned from various far-flung places but didn’t see what part I might have in such work until I went to Rwanda.
What I want you to know is that Perspectives will blow your ideas about “missions” out of the water. Early 2005, I took the course (offered at Belpres) for preparation to go to live in a third world country. And when I came out the other end—yes, it’s a long course (15 weeks) and a lot of reading—I was radically different. I might say: I was born again.
The thing is, I KNEW my Bible. I was and am a Bible student and teacher. The first thing that happened in the beginning weeks was God did an “unraveling” of all my notions about his plans and activities shown in the Bible. The readings and lectures took everything I knew and pulled it all apart, and – praise God – put it back together for me to see it anew. Suddenly it was apparent: From Genesis to Revelation, the scriptures show that God has a plan – a heart – and a mission to reach and to restore all the nations to a relationship with him. I had not seen this before.
Well, that hooked me. Now I wanted to learn how God has been moving over the centuries to accomplish his plan and what cultural awareness I needed to be a part of this. And finally, what strategies God has (and will show us) to use in this ongoing work to reach all nations for his glory.
This “course” is really a powerful instrument from God’s hands for all believers. It is essential for us to know how we fit into his overall plan to be a part of his mission—whether going, sending, equipping, mobilizing, or praying. Praise God for the vision Perspectives unfolds and inspires. It was an essential part of my preparation for Rwanda, and now that I’m back, I’m a strong advocate for Perspectives. I see it becoming an area-wide movement, supported and hosted by many churches in the greater Seattle area, for God’s glory.

 

PERSPECTIVES course is coming to BelPres on Thursday nights, August 30 – December 13!

For more information or to register, go to:  belpres.org/events/perspectives/

Serving Incarnationally

Incarnational ministry” is a challenging term. I have to ask myself regularly whether I’m serving the Lord with “the same attitude as…Christ Jesus” described in Philippians 2:5-11, or just doing my job, following the Perspectives course.

The day before the Nugunu New Testament dedication in Ombessa, Cameroon on December 3, a young Gunu man, Vitus, was asking the same question about us, outsiders, when we showed up in his world for the dedication. He was just a boy during the time my family and I lived in Ombessa to launch the Bible translation program in their language. He didn’t know my history, so it was understandable that he looked skeptical and wondered what right we had to celebrate now that all the hard work was over. He approached Jaci, asked what brought us and didn’t seem satisfied with her answers.

The next day, all that changed. Vitus sought out Jaci at the reception after the dedication ceremonies were over. The skeptical sneer disappeared from his face and was replaced by a look of respect. He told her he now understood why we were there. What made the difference? Serving incarnationally. During the ceremonies, I had the opportunity to express my appreciation to the crowd for how they welcomed me and my family when we lived among them decades before. The young man heard me speaking his language, sharing what motivated me to be part of their community, to share their vision and to work alongside them to make God’s Word available. He saw evidence of the lasting relationships that were built and what a happy reunion it was for me and my Gunu friends. Despite great cultural differences, he saw I had made the effort to identify with his community, not just to get a job done.

Today, I don’t live among the language communities’ translation teams that I consult. Frequently, when I go to Africa, I work with the translators outside of areas where their language is spoken. Can I still serve incarnationally? And what about the months when I’m here in the U.S. helping African translators from the comfort of my desk? May God give all of us the wisdom and the humility as he sends us into our neighborhoods or more distant places, to go as learners and listeners, to recognize how God is at work in the people around us and to experience the power of his Spirit to connect with what he is doing.

Please join us to hear Keith and Jaci Patman speak at the Global Outreach Talk on Sunday, July 8 to celebrate a Bible translation milestone in the country of Cameroon bringing God’s Word to life in an African context.

URBANA in a Nutshell

When I was a sophomore at Whitworth University (2009), I went to Urbana missions’ conference for the first time. I kept hearing about Urbana: “It will change your life!” I was skeptical, of course, but it definitely intrigued me. I was excited about the thousands of college students from around the world gathering in one place to learn more about missions. And so, I went…and, indeed, it did change my life.  (That’s where I first heard about InnerCHANGE. Immediately, I connected with the Guatemalan team, maintained a friendship over the past 8 years and now, have worked as a missionary with InnerCHANGE for over a year in Los Angeles).  When I got there, I realized that I really didn’t have a paradigm for HOW BIG it would be. It was amazing and also a bit overwhelming but in a good way.

There are SO many connections: so many mission organizations, break-out sessions and specialized tracks for people to focus on, as well as Bible studies, awesome speakers and amazing multi-cultural worship.

Things to know:

  • The focus is definitely on the college-age crowd, but anyone can come – so don’t feel dissuaded if you don’t fit in that group, especially if someone is excited about missions. It’s an AMAZING experience and I highly recommend it.
  • It’s HUGE. Thousands of people gather together; lots of energy and lots of information! It’s really exciting, so take advantage of it…but also take care of yourself.  You actually will be more engaged if you take some time to rest, process and pray, instead of feeling pressured to squeeze everything in (that was helpful for me, at least, as an introvert).
  • Be prayerful as you engage in Urbana, and be open to how God might move or work while you’re there. You never know what will open, or how God will speak to you:  through a speaker, worship, a conversation or a time of prayer.
  • Take notes, journal, have conversations, pray. It could be helpful to take something home to look over again later (notebooks with schedules and speakers are provided, but if you have your own that you prefer, bring it!).
  • Get ready…because, whether in a big or a small way, it WILL change your life if you let it!
  • Also, St. Louis is a fun city with lots of free things to do. There may not be a ton of free time, but you can take advantage of things that the city has to offer. It does get COLD in the winter, so bring winter clothes. My sister has lived in St. Louis for the last 5+ years. If it’s helpful to get a list of fun things to do or places to go, I’m happy to ask her! Urbana also does a good job of letting people know which restaurants to go to and helps direct the traffic so that no place is too flooded during lunch time.
  • Since Urbana is so big, it’s nice to go with a group of people you know. Groups can help people process, engage in conversation, explore, etc. and you can also split up and go to different sessions and share what you learned later!

To sum up Urbana in one sentence:  Thousands of people fired up for missions. Come to experience the joy, energy, and inspiration of Urbana. See how God is inviting YOU to participate in missions in your own backyard or across the world.

 

Bring Jesus’ Healing, Build Community, Transform Lives

In 2005, a small BelPres team gathered in a vanquished old church building to pray and discern the “needs” of Bellevue; needs that would make Jesus weep and pound His fist on the table.  We were led to the principal of neighboring Lake Hills Elementary: Judy Buckmaster, who spoke from her heart.  We took notes, listened and learned.

Judy led us to five more principals, then to a group of school counselors and finally to a team from Bellevue’s Human Services Department.  Our methodology, Love, Listen, Learn, evolved as we became aware of how unaware we were of our city.  Unaware that we live in a “minority majority” community where 62% of our student population is foreign-born and 89 languages are spoken in a school district representing students from 124 countries.  Unaware that 69% of students at neighboring Lake Hills Elementary qualify for Free & Reduced priced lunch, with an annual household income under $30,000.

Jubilee REACH was born out of BelPres’ 50-year Jubilee to emancipate, restore and revive.  The vision was cast: “Bring Jesus’ healing, build community, transform lives.”   REACH became an acronym for Relationships, Education, Assistance, Community, and Hospitality.  

From the long list of needs, we started with one and served it well.  Children were being dropped off at school as early as 6:00 on cold, dark mornings while hardworking parents got to jobs to sustain their families.  Judy selected 20 children.  Jubilee REACH Center opened September 2006 with 32 volunteers from BelPres to love and nourish children before school; then walk them to school.

Jubilee REACH was an answer to my prayers. ‘Thank you’ will never be enough to express my gratitude,” said Christi, a single mom on the jagged edge, working two waitress jobs, trying to complete her radiology degree at Bellevue College and struggling just to pay rent.  “I prayed for love, support and a nurturing place for my second-grade daughter, Taylor.”  Judy (Taylor’s elementary school principal) walked both of them over to Jubilee REACH.  Because of the loving support of Jubilee REACH volunteers and other volunteers who came alongside Christi for years, Taylor thrived and Christi completed her degree.  She became a professional radiologist, homeowner, and a wonderful mother.

That was in 2006.  Today Christi is a successful professional, a happily married wife and loving mother with a second daughter.  She’s also a “joyful giver” and a Jubilee REACH advocate.  Taylor is a beautiful young lady completing her degree at Central Washington University.

Jubilee REACH expanded rapidly from a mustard seed providing Before School care by simply practicing Romans 12 hospitality.   Pastor Henri Nouwen refers to hospitality as the “love of strangers or those who are estranged from country, culture, family, friends, even from God.”  Now over 1,250 neighbors come to the Jubilee REACH Center monthly to love, be loved, belong and be part of over 30 services and activities that evolved from the original list of needs we discovered.

In 2010, JR was invited to replace an After School program in Bellevue’s highest needs middle school.  After prayer, discernment, “loving, listening and learning” from more principals, two young, culturally diverse “fishermen” were selected as Site Coaches to lead us in faith to our first middle school.

Today, Jubilee REACH Site Coaches serve as “shepherds” before, during and after school in 6 elementary, 7 middle and 1 high school.  We’re reaching almost 10,000 students through a simple belief that “every child desires to be known, loved, affirmed, to belong and become part of something greater than self.”   We “build community and kingdom in and around schools” by loving the lost, the least, the last and the lonely; by building relationships and earning trust so we may hear the deeper needs.

For example, there are currently 262 known homeless students within the Bellevue School District.  An elementary school counselor’s heart ached for a homeless family with two daughters: a kindergartner and a 4th grader.  Our Site Coach stepped in the gap, building a relationship with the girls, earning the trust of the parents, hearing their heart, their story and their deeper need.  Jubilee REACH then mobilized an encouraging, accountable community of care around the family to provide essential resources for employment and safe transitional housing.

There is always more to the story: always a catalyst, a past that contributed to the present. God uses these to build positive pathways to productive futures and transformed lives.  The path is often messy, fraught with frustration.  We have found that when we stay long enough and love deeply, we find hope and transformation.  The father is now productively employed, stable housing is in place and the daughters are beginning to thrive in school.  Sure, there is work to do and we know that His love never fails.

We love One at a time…one child, in one school, saving one family from homelessness.  Then God multiplies it to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  Because His love is a game-changer!

Thank you

BelPres for planting and nurturing the mustard seed that is now Jubilee REACH!

Meeting Kids at their Turf

Teenagers need support.  They need an adult in their life pointing them to the only thing that will satisfy them….a relationship with Jesus.  For most teenagers, no one in their life fills that role.  As they face daily pressures from peers, parents, and culture, often nothing encourages them to grow in their faith.  Some simply feel unsatisfied with what the world has to offer.  Many feel hopeless which leads to depression.

Here in Bellevue, there is a group of young adults (and some who act and feel young!) that build friendships with students to point them to Jesus.  They are groups of Young Life leaders at Interlake HS, Bellevue HS, Newport HS, as well as at many of our middle schools.  They go where kids are…to their turf…and build the friendship and trust of teenagers with the hope of introducing them to Jesus.  Whether a kid wants to follow Jesus or isn’t interested, they keep caring for them.

One of those kids recently graduated from Bellevue HS.  Outwardly, you would think Alicia had it all:  a nice home, nice clothes, good grades and even a boyfriend.  On the inside, Alicia was lost.  Her parents were fighting and eventually divorced.  Her boyfriend made her feel pressured and judged.  Her friends were all getting straight A’s.  It seemed impossible to keep up.  She felt like a failure while watching her family fall apart.

Alicia came to Young Life camp after her 8th-grade year.  It was the first time she had heard the gospel shared that made sense to her.  She says now that it was the “bridge” she needed from hearing about Jesus as a small kid in bible stories to making Jesus matter in her life now.  Along the way, she met a Young Life leader who befriended her at camp.  That leader wasn’t just in Alicia’s life for a week in the summer.  They both came home from camp and the leader started to text Alicia, call her and invite Alicia out for coffee or to just hang out.  As their friendship grew, so did Alicia’s understanding of who Jesus really is.  That happened because her leader modeled the love, caring, compassion and pursuit that Jesus offers all of us.

As Alicia went through the challenges of high school, she had a Young Life leader by her side.  Wrestling with anxiety in school and the heartbreak of divorce, there was someone pointing her back to God’s Word and her relationship with Christ.  That long-term friendship of a Young Life leader was the difference between Alicia having a great week at camp, versus having a meaningful relationship with Jesus that sustained her life.

Young Life is a Christian organization that introduces teenagers to Jesus Christ and helps them to develop a Christian way of life through activities that contribute to their academic, physical, social, and spiritual growth. Young Life offers summer camps which are often a teenager’s first experiences hearing the word of God.  Young Life is in need of more volunteer camp leaders due to the popularity of their camps. 

The Final Project

From various churches and denominations, 17-35 year-old Christian leaders study together weekly for the yearlong DOVE’s Onyx leadership program. In December, the Phnom Penh Onyx students presented what they learned in their final graduation requirement from the program using skits and games.
To celebrate their accomplishment, the students from Phnom Penh and Kampong Chhang campuses went on year-end retreat. The retreat was an opportunity for students to reflect on their spiritual and emotional growth, and apply what they learned. The Onyx students faced a real-life “final project” challenge during the retreat.
Ms. Khantey was one of a Phnom Penh student who shared her testimony. Her difficult relationship with her mom made her believe she didn’t love her. The Onyx Five Love Languages program helped her see her mom’s love and care for her. Khantey also learned much from the leadership lessons. Khantey’s teacher who had originally told her she had no ability to lead, later praised her for the great job leading worship music and saw God work through her.

Khantey didn’t get enough sleep so she was tired the next day when we visited a scenic campground 12 miles from the city. We continued to On Long Khiav and hiked the ¾ mile uphill to a waterfall. The others told Khantey that she should rest but she wanted to go with the group. With the help of another Phnom Penh student, she was able to reach the waterfall but felt too weak to swim. Khantey headed back down the trail first with some of the Kampong Chhnang students. She fainted halfway down but they couldn’t revive her. A student and two DOVE staff carried her down as there is no ambulance service in rural Cambodia. They took a motorcycle taxi while a student held her to the nearest doctor 2 miles away. That doctor wasn’t equipped to help her, so we took her to a private hospital 10 miles further where an Onyx student, Mrs. Houng had a relative.

When everyone else got back to the bus, they were worried so they prayed for her. On the way, we stopped at a government health center, where the doctor gave her oxygen, reviving her somewhat and confirmed the need to take her to the hospital. DOVE Kampong Chhnang Coordinator borrowed a truck from the campground owner to take Khantey from the health center to the hospital. Several students also wanted to accompany her. Since it was 5pm on a Saturday, staff had already left the hospital. Fortunately, Mrs. Houng’s relative and two other doctors were still there. We thought Khantey might have to stay overnight. But after we prayed and she received IV electrolytes, she was alert and talking. She rejoined the students at the campground for the evening BBQ.

Through this experience, the students applied the Onyx lessons of love and sacrificial leadership. We were touched by the Kampong Chhnang students’ willingness to serve since they had only met Khantey once before. We praised God for Khantey’s recovery and for the people who helped along the way. In our leadership journey, regardless of good or bad things, we thank God in all circumstances and have learned this is part of God’s reshaping process.

TRAGEDY AND CELEBRATION

This story is a reprint from King County Youth Chaplaincy.

I couldn’t believe the text from one of our youth: Eve got killed last night.  I tried to convince myself that this was not true. I was in shock and denial. How could this be?! God wouldn’t allow this to happen!

Eve* was only 19. She was smart, compassionate, and beautiful. She had been through many trials and difficulties in her young life, yet she held on to her faith.
She was shy and hardly spoke when we met, but after a while, Eve opened up and we shared many smiles and laughs. She was close to another youth I knew from the detention center and would join us when we got together. We shared many meals and talks about life issues. We talked about her upbringing and spiritual journey and she began joining us when we presented our ministry at various churches. Soon after, she became bold enough to publicly share her experiences and perspectives. Eve would often express her appreciation for being in positive settings where she could grow in her relationship with God.
It has been a few weeks and I still can’t believe she’s gone and really miss her. We continue to pray for her family and loved ones.
The day after I got the tragic news, I had the privilege of witnessing a graduation ceremony of one of our young men. It was such a joy to see Gerald* receive his certificate for completing his program at a local technical college.
Gerald’s life hadn’t always been so hopeful. When I first met him in the detention center, he described himself as angry and at rock bottom. “My life was all about bad things: fighting, drinking, smoking, crimes…,” Gerald once explained to me. Things began to change as he got to know Jesus. He started to attend church in juvy and talked with the chaplains as much as he could. Gerald would encourage the guys in his hall to pray and get closer to God. He became known as “The Holy Kid,” a label he wore proudly.
I felt very honored to celebrate with his family at his graduation. When Gerald and I got together for lunch the following week, he expressed his gratitude. “Thank you for always being there for me. You’re helping me change my life,” he stated with sincerity.
Mourning and joy. The two are always parts of life, and once in a while, we experience them simultaneously. Yet through it all, we know from Scripture that God’s comfort and peace is available. According to Psalm 116, in our deepest distress and sorrow, even when we feel “the anguish of the grave,” we can call on God and have our souls comforted, and somehow, we can say, “The Lord has been good.”
We are extremely grateful for your dedication to our mission! We praise God for your support and prayers. Thank you!
*Names of youth sometimes altered.  To help Eve’s family, see their gofundme page.

Praying for Muslims during Ramadan

The evening of May 15 marks the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month for all Muslims.  Every year, Muslims look forward to Ramadan with great excitement.  It’s a time characterized by religious zeal and deeper community with other Muslims.

The word “Ramadan” comes from the Arabic root word for “parched thirst”.  It is expressive of the hunger and thirst Muslims feel while they fast from all food, drink and other physical desires from dawn to sunset for 30 days.  Muslims consider fasting as an act of faith and worship towards Allah and as atonement for sins.

A typical day starts with getting up early and sharing a meal together before the fast begins at dawn. Prayers are offered throughout the day until the fast is finally broken at sunset.  Then, participants will eat together and go to the Mosque, where a part of the Qur’an will be read and a final prayer offered.

The last ten days of Ramadan are particularly significant, especially the 27th night called the ‘Night of Power’ or the ‘Night of Destiny.’ This is when Muslims believe the prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an.

Ramadan is a time for Muslims to purify the soul, refocus attention on God and practice self-discipline and sacrifice. Through fasting, a Muslim sympathizes with those who are hungry and have very little to eat every day. Through increased devotion, Muslims seek to draw closer to their Creator.  Through increased charity, Muslims foster generosity toward others.

For 12 years, Belpres has joined with Christians around the world in praying for Muslims during Ramadan using the “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World” guide.  Each day, the guide introduces you to specific Muslim people and places where they live, like Cairo, Egypt.  You’ll read the stories of Muslims who have encountered Jesus during this holy month and learn specific things to pray.

“We are in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in 14 centuries of Muslim-Christian interaction.  More than 80% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred in the past two to three decades, a time period that coincides with the modern prayer movement for Muslims.  At the heart of this modern prayer movement is 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.” David Garrison, author of ‘A Wind in the House of Islam.’

 

Feel free to pick up a copy of the “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World” on the info-walls around BelPres today or download a PDF version at www.30daysprayer.com.   Join the great movement of Christians who are praying throughout Ramadan. 

Jesus through the Airwaves

Even through trials, great things are happening in Cambodia. Director Sopheary of Family FM Radio flew to the USA a year ago to be diagnosed with serious kidney disease and started on dialysis. After nine months of health and visa issues, she was able to have a transplant. Miraculously, her husband was able to be the donor. Under the leadership of an interim director, Family FM was able to continue their ministry and grow in confidence. The programming team, who make and host daily programs covering family and community issues, as well as Christian content, are incredibly talented and dedicated.  Here are a couple of excerpts below are listeners’ testimonies:

Mr. Thouern, a pastor, lives in a rural village of Pursat province.  He says, “Before I believed in Jesus, I was a monk leader in a Pagoda. I was a very devoted and strong Buddhist, and so was my family. I tried everything to make myself perfect and hated Christians. One of my aunts is a Christian. Every time I gave gifts to family members, I never gave her anything because she believed in Jesus.  Suddenly, I became so sick. During my illness, I was able to see who my true friends were. No one cared for me except my family and my aunt whom I had always hated. During this time, a man came and told me to go to the Christian hospital.  He said the treatment would be free, and “God would heal me.” I only had 10,000 Riel ($2.50), which was only enough for transportation to the hospital and back. However, I spent $1 to buy food as I was starving.  My health check-up went well and the doctor prescribed medicines too. This was a big problem for I had no money to get back home. I asked for some money, and he gave it to me. God used this simple act of kindness to open my eyes and heart to realize that Christians do love people. Later, I gave my life to Jesus. A pastor came and shared about Family FM with me, so I started listening to it often. It has been such a blessing in my life.”

“Although I believed in Jesus for many years, I had trouble remembering the lyrics of the songs and couldn’t sing. After listening to Family FM, I felt a deep love of the hymns and used to sing along. I can now proudly say that God’s goodness, through Family FM, enabled me to memorize over 100 hymns which would have been impossible for me before. God has changed me, and Family FM has been a big part of that. I have learned to be patient and to control my temper too. God has used me to lead all of my family and even my cousins to Jesus Christ. I want to thank Family FM for being such an important part of our life.”

Our Asylee Friends

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Twenty-two members of the BelPres community have partnered as a “Good Neighbor Team” (GNT) with World Relief Seattle, a non-profit organization working with local churches to provide refugee resettlement services.  The GNT’s purpose is to come alongside immigrants granted asylum or refugee status to help with their start in the United States. (Asylee: a person who is seeking or has been granted political asylum)

A little over a month ago, we met Walter from Cameroon (a country in Central Africa), Abdulmanan and Teddy, both from Ethiopia (a country in the horn of Africa). All three men were recently granted asylum in our country.  We have come to know each of them as very friendly, compassionate individuals simply looking for a new beginning. The GNT has committed to assist our new friends for up to 6 months, at which time, we are hopeful each man will be on his way to self-sufficiency.  We can already tell that these will be life-long friendships.

Our commitment is to assist “our guys” with the day-to-day activities like finding housing and employment, establishing a bank account, managing a budget, learning bus routes, transportation to and from medical appointments and helping them enroll in ESL classes.

God has already answered our prayers in so many ways: at first, we were able to assist each to secure a job. Walter and Abdulmanan work at the Northwest University campus in food service. Teddy began learning new skills for a local general contractor.  Each man works very hard and is extremely happy to be living in our country. We often tell people that there is no one that wants to be in our country more than our three guys.

We were blessed to find a reasonably priced apartment in Kirkland. The apartment is next to a major bus line and a few blocks from a local supermarket. Through the generous support and donations from many BelPres people, the GNT was able to completely furnish the apartment in one Saturday afternoon. As Walter told us later that day, “this place really feels like home.”

Our guys enjoy living in our beautiful Seattle area and the GNT has enjoyed taking them on several weekend outings to show them more about our culture and why we love this place we call home.  Some members of the GNT first took Walter up to the mountains to experience snow for the first time.  It was his first time throwing snowballs, snowshoeing and making snow angels. A few weeks later, we toured the Theo Chocolate factory in Seattle and discovered that cocoa beans from Africa are the main ingredient in their chocolate.  We witnessed how the beans are processed to make tasty treats. Another outing was a day trip to Pike Place Market to see the city’s historical center for fresh local produce, specialty foods and the diverse small independent businesses. Most recently, we walked Seattle’s Gas Works Park showing the guys beautiful Lake Union and unobstructed views of the city skyline.  We saw many families enjoying the park and flying colorful kites in the gentle breeze.

The main refrain we hear from all three men, now that they have settled into our neighborhood, is that they are trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. Their courage and determination are evident to all of us, as they have risked everything to get into this country. At one of our recent GNT gatherings, we watched a CBS documentary on the “Darien Gap;” a remote, roadless, 60-mile swath of jungle between Panama and Colombia. We learned that tens of thousands of migrants each year risk their lives to cross the gap by foot from South to Central America including our own Walter and Teddy. The dangers include torrential rains, crossing chest-high swift rivers, steep terrain, poisonous snakes, jaguars, malaria, and confrontations with violent paramilitary groups, controlling the drug smuggling corridor in the jungle. When the film concluded, Walter, with tears in his eyes, told us all how much we have helped each man and how grateful they are. We are all deeply moved by their stories.

We continue to pray for Abdulmanan, Teddy, and Walter as we know that God has a purpose for their life here in America. Walter’s hope is bringing his wife and four children from Cameroon to live with him here in his new country. We continue to ask the BelPres community if they have knowledge of affordable long-term housing as this is our biggest challenge.

Please read Walter’s letter to the Bellevue Presbyterian Church:

Dear people of God,

My name is Walter and I am writing to say thank you for what you, through the “Good Neighbors” has done to my life. 

I came to this country; mid last year and spend four months nine days in the detention center in Tacoma seeking political asylum. God being on my side, my request was granted on the 9th of January 2018. DHLS open the doors of the detention center and I was released.

When I came out, I was desperate and confused not knowing how I could survive but because of you THE BELLEVUE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, through your wonderful people of the ‘GOOD NEIGHBOR TEAM’ I now have an apartment which I share with my two Ethiopian friends (Adulmanan and Teddy) who are also refugees. Because of you, I am now working and able to send money to my trapped family back home. What else can I say than to say thank you!       

Walter 

If you know of housing opportunities, or if you have questions related to BelPres GNT, please contact Kristen Chesmore at 425-761-8583.

Stars in Her Eyes

Estrella means “star” in Spanish and her eyes reflect that as they sparkle with joy. But this wasn’t always the case for the young Dominican girl. I would get teased a lot, says Estrella of her life before Children of the Nations (COTN). “People would tell my mom not to let me look at them because they didn’t like the way I looked.” Estrella’s esotropia (condition of which one or both eyes turns inward) made it difficult for her to see. Her poor eyesight caused her to struggle in school and she was teased for her appearance. Her family struggled to afford food and clothing so paying expensive medical bills was out of the question.

Fortunately, visiting medical Venture teams from COTN treated Estrella and subsequently, she was able to have eye surgery.  “It has changed my life forever!” Estrella declares. “My total disposition changed after my surgeries. I have self-confidence and I am happy.”

Today, through COTN, Estrella attends school and enjoys nutritious meals. She receives important follow-up care through their medical clinic including prescription glasses that continue to correct her vision. Her surgery and continued care have helped her grow up a happy and confident young woman. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of medical Venture teams, the clinic staff, and partners who supported the clinic and children like Estrella.

The COTN clinic plays a crucial role in keeping children healthy and by offering lower cost medical care to the community of Barahona in pediatrics, gynecology, surgical procedures, and dentistry. Last year, thanks to the generosity and tireless work of COTN partners and volunteers, the clinic doubled in size.

Barb Kjose, a nurse and Venture team member, recalls the early days of the clinic: “We would come in the morning and there would be a line out way past the clinic. And we’d feel bad because we could not see all those who came.”  And now a second story has been added to the building, creating more space for surgery, dental care, and processing patients. The expansion has also moved the clinic’s laundry room and kitchen from an old shack to a more hygienic space within the building.

Estrella wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up. To everyone who supported the clinic, she says, “Thank you. . . Without the clinic, we would not have medical help. More people would suffer and have bad health, and I would still be suffering physically and emotionally with my crossed eyes.”

Thank you for helping children like Estrella ‘see’ their way to a healthier future.

 

If you would like to find out how you can go on a Medical Mission with COTN or other organizations, please come to the Global Outreach Talk on Medical Missions, Sunday, April 8, 12:15pm in S-140.

Building Homes in Baja

Dear Friends and Family,

Wow! The weekend in Mexico was phenomenal. It’s amazing what 12 people can do in just 72 hours. God taught so much on our journey to Rosarito and Tijuana through our mission, our team and those we ministered.

One thing God taught us: love has no language—you can see love simply through emotions. We were in an all Spanish-speaking part of Mexico. Our team and the translators were the only ones who spoke English. It was difficult communicating with the family and the others while sharing the gospel. When we handed over the keys of their home to Nina, the mom, we didn’t need words or a translator. The tears of happiness that flowed spoke more than anyone could’ve said.

On Friday, we built a house in Rosarito for the Barreto Family (Fabian-29, Nina-26, Eduin-12, and Elias-7). The house was built quickly by our fantastic team with no injuries on the building site. (God was definitely watching over us.) On Saturday, we went to Tijuana where we invited families to come hear the word and team members’ testimonies. It was unbelievable seeing people, invited by complete strangers who don’t even speak Spanish, come to a park to hear the word of God!

Our lives will never be the same because of this trip and we thank you for your prayer, encouragement and financial support. Without your partnership, our mission trip might not have been possible. Thank you for investing in us for the Kingdom’s sake! God wants us to be bolder about sharing our faith – not just in Mexico, but right here in Kirkland.

May the Lord bless you and your family for being a part of God’s transformation, not only of the many of families we served but also in our life.  Please don’t stop praying for them: that they accept the gospel and for protection of those who recently accepted Christ.

Love in Christ,

Molly, Mark, and Leslie  Behrends

 

Please pray for BelPres’ next Impact team to Baja on April 5-8.  If you are interested in going on the Baja trip scheduled for Oct 11-14, please contact Chuck Pilcher at chuck@bourlandweb.com

 

First Response Radio

In December 2016, a small First Response Radio(FRR) team responded to an earthquake in SE Asia which displaced 90,000 people, by setting up a radio station in a local government office building. They broadcast information about tent distribution, what to do in case of aftershocks, stories from the affected community, trauma counseling, and they distributed radios. Listeners thanked them for being the only radio station to address their need for information. Save The Children also appreciated the radio programs allowing children to tell their stories, noting the vulnerability of children in trauma situations.

Pakistan
Mike has been waiting many years for doors to open allowing FIRST Response Radio (FRR) to train people to support Hazeen, the one-man FRR ‘team’ in Pakistan. It could be said that a good day in Pakistan is like a disaster anywhere else in the world, and Hazeen has single-handedly responded to earthquakes and floods there for many years. Last year Hazeen was given 5 minutes to talk to the Director General of Pakistan’s Radio Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), and as he prayed for wisdom how to use his 5 minutes, he decided to show the FRR promotional video ’72 Hours in 72 Seconds’ which had been translated into Urdu. One hour later they were still talking, and FRR was given permission to bring a radio-in-a-suitcase into Pakistan. In April, Mike and Hazeen demonstrated it to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and their head of Communications offered to work with FRR. 35 people from 10 agencies attended the one-day ‘taster’ event which explained the role of radio communications in disasters. FRR has been invited to hold a full training event in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the visas were not granted for this year, and FRR will continue to push for this training. Suffice it to say; God opened doors for FRR beyond what we asked or imagined.

Philippines
On October 17th, FRR Philippines did Early Warning messaging anticipating Typhoon Lawin passing through Northern Luzon, Philippines. This was the first time FRR served a role in Early Warning. They coordinated with the Humanitarian community and the Philippines Government Office. Broadcasting on the station DZMR in Santiago Isabela, they shared information from UNOCHA to the impacted community and FRR Philippines officially deployed their Alpha team to respond in the aftermath of Typhoon Lawin.

 

To find out more about First Response Radio, go to their Facebook page here.