Current news and stories from our Alliance field workers.
By an Alliance worker serving in the North and Central Asia Region
All his life Axel* had followed a traditional religion. After being diagnosed with cancer, he dreamed he was in hell and Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him out. This experience shattered Axel’s belief system. His wife, Sara*, and her sister, Mari*, were believers and had many conversations with him about Jesus.
Our team helped Axel’s family with food, medicine, prayer, and emotional support. Although he was too ill to receive guests, Mari begged us to visit him in January. He insisted on getting out of bed to eat a meal with us. We shared our wishes for him for the coming year, including our desire for him to experience God’s grace and peace. Axel was moved to tears.
He died several weeks later. He is now, I believe, in heaven with Jesus who revealed Himself in a dream.
Pray for Sara and her daughters, who are still grieving and now unwelcome in the house where they all lived together, which Axel’s mother owns. Sara quit her job to care for him during his illness; pray they will find a home and Sara will secure employment.
By Austin Wood, Envision Paris intern
When I first moved to Paris, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as cross-cultural ministry is concerned. I’d been overseas before, having lived in multiple European cities and having traveled to Africa, but I hadn’t yet been a part of an established ministry center.
After seven months being in France, my approach and viewpoint of cross-cultural ministry has completely shifted. God has continued to show me how He wants to shape the culture in this city and what I can do to come alongside Him in His plan.
Before you embark on a short-term missions experience, my advice is to prepare yourself in every way possible. Here are a few ideas:
- Prepare to be stretched in ways you thought were impossible. Other cultures operate differently from what you’re accustomed to. Having an open mind and a willingness to try new approaches will provide opportunities for growth in yourself and in others.
- Understand that you’re not coming to do your mission; you’re coming alongside the Lord and His mission. Check your motives and mindset that they reflect this truth.
- Practice regularly being in the Word and in prayer. Spending time daily with the Lord will help your relationship with Him grow. A firm commitment from you to Him will help to further your intimacy.
Once you’re on the missions field, keep these three things in mind:
- Don’t become overly focused on your goals and tune out God and what He is telling you. By doing this, you will not only ignore God but also ignore why He called you to join Him on His mission.
- Your time on location is not about you, not about what you can accomplish, not about elevating yourself above others. Approach it with humility, and make sure you do everything you’re asked to do to the best of your abilities.
- Remember to respect the Sabbath. Take time to explore God’s wonder and beauty around you, and you’ll find yourself trying new and exciting things. You’ll not only be resting but also gaining a deeper understanding of how God is at work around the globe.
Whether you’ve been called to serve overseas or in the States, we are all His servants. When you walk out your door in the morning, be ready to give an account of what He has done, regardless of your position on a map.
Our faithfulness to God is what sets us apart from the crowd. Regardless of what is happening in the world, He has amazing plans for furthering His Kingdom.
By an Alliance worker serving in the Middle East
After fleeing her war-torn country several years ago, Susannah* arrived in our city with her four children. Her husband is not with them because he is recovering from a serious injury sustained when their home was destroyed. Susannah started attending a local Alliance church after one of the children came to an outreach event last summer.
Life is hard for this family. The oldest son, now a teenager, has a job to help provide. But his health has suffered, and sometimes he is unable to work.
Susannah says that when she comes to church, she feels at peace. She even saw a vision of Jesus while at the church, which gave her comfort and hope.
On a recent Sunday while Susannah and I were talking, I encouraged her to trust the Lord for her family’s needs. I helped her find John 14:13–14 in an Arabic Bible: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Susannah read the verses aloud, and we discussed the passage. I then suggested she show the verses to her children and pray with them for provision in Jesus’ name.
The following Saturday there was no bread in Susannah’s house. Bread is one of the most essential—yet least expensive—parts of every meal here.
Susannah called the children together, and the family prayed for bread. After their petition ended, there was a knock on the door. “A bag of bread was right outside,” Susannah told me later. “We don’t know where it came from, but the children knew God had answered our prayer! Our Lord never forgets anyone!”
Praise the Lord for how He is working in Susannah’s life and in her children’s lives! Pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to them as their Great Provider; that they will experience Christ as Savior and Lord if they have not already; and that God will heal Susannah’s husband. Also, intercede for salvation, provision, and comfort for the many refugee families to whom Alliance churches in the Middle East minister.
By an Alliance international worker serving in the Middle East
“This is where our house was,” our friends say, pointing to a photo on their phone. “We had beautiful gardens with olive and lemon trees. Our whole family lived here—brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren.”
All I see is rubble. I don’t know what to say.
Another family member says, “This is my brother.” We scroll through pictures of a young man in a makeshift coffin, people crowded around him, saying their goodbyes. “He was hanging up a sign protesting the government; the soldiers shot him dead.”
Again, I am speechless. I barely know how to respond to such loss in my own culture, let alone theirs.
“This is my niece.” A little girl with huge, brown eyes stares up at me. “She’s in a besieged city,” her aunt says. “My sister says they have only a piece or two of bread to eat a day. They’re starving, and there’s nothing I can do.”
My heart breaks. There is suffering throughout this world; and the more I become aware of it, the harder it is to trust the One running the show. I confess that at times I question His love—and stop praying in faith.
But then I see this reminder: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9–11).
If I—a broken, evil sinner—mourn this world’s sorrows, how much more does my perfect, good Father? What a humbling challenge to my weighed-down heart! What an encouragement to intercede for myself and those around me!
Will you join me in asking the Father for good gifts? Will you pray for Him to send more workers to His harvest field, including the Middle East? Ask Him to open the eyes of the lost, to restrain the evil responsible for so many atrocities this region. Ask Him to bring peace to nations and hearts.
Thank you for standing with me in keeping the faith.
Take a look inside a refugee camp.
If you asked my mother why she, at 90 years old, is still so involved in her local church, she would likely reply, “I didn’t know there was an age requirement!” My mother, Adele Barber, wouldn’t dream of missing any activity at the Alliance church my parents helped plant in the 1970s.
She attends all Great Commission Women’s events in the district and, if traveling, is sure to make it home for the missions festival each year. It’s not unusual for me to hear an international worker on home assignment say, “Hey, I know your mom. I stayed with her when I spoke in Merritt Island.”
Her activity, however, is not limited to her involvement in the church. My mom is always helping someone, visiting senior citizens, or giving them a ride. And she is always ready to give a word of testimony about the Lord.
A few years back I sent her a copy of River Dwellers: Living in the Fullness of the Spirit by Dr. Rob Reimer. She loves this book and rereads it with her devotions each day. She says it reminds her so much of the teaching she received growing up in the Gospel Tabernacle in New York.
One morning while reading, she was drawn to a couple of paragraphs that mentioned the Holy Spirit directing our paths. She prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to lead her that day.
That afternoon she went grocery shopping. While standing in the seasonings aisle and holding a bottle of vinegar, a woman approached her.
“Where did you find the vinegar?” she asked.
My mother told her that it was on the bottom shelf, and she bent down and got it for her. The woman seemed impressed.
“You are different,” she said. “Anyone else would have said gruffly, ‘Down there on the bottom shelf.’”
The two continued to chat, and the woman, named Dottie, mentioned she was a very religious Catholic.
“Are you religious?” she asked my mom.
“I have a personal relationship with the Lord, my Heavenly Father,” Mom quickly replied.
Dottie was interested and said she would like to talk more about having a relationship. She then gave my mother her contact information, and a friendship began.
The Whole Truth
On her first visit, my mom was blown away by Dottie’s drama, exaggeration, and foul mouth. Mom boldly told her she needed to “clean her mouth” or she would have to leave. Dottie slapped her mouth shut and said, “I want you to stay, so I’ll clean up.”
During the visit, Dottie told my mother she had been a Rockette in New York City. But in a later conversation, the story changed: her husband played in a band for the Rockettes, and she liked to dance with them. Other incidents also indicated she wasn’t telling the whole truth, but Dottie liked drama, and my mom was persistent in her witness.
When Mom gave her testimony, Dottie listened with interest but was quick to remind her that she is Catholic. Undeterred, Mom continued and gave her the plan of salvation. As she was leaving Dottie’s apartment, she gave her a Bible and an Our Daily Bread booklet with instructions to read it every day.
One day the phone rang, and Mom heard, “I am going to repent and ask Jesus to save me.” Later that day Dottie called back and told my mother, “I did it!” Mom, wanting her to say it aloud, replied, “What did you do?” Dottie had received Jesus.
At Christmas time, Dottie’s sister and brother visited, and my mom was invited for dinner to meet them. As Mom walked in the door, Dottie blurted out, “This is the lady who led me to Jesus Christ.” Her family remarked that Dottie’s speech was different. That evening Mom had the opportunity to give the gospel to Dottie’s siblings, and seeds were planted.
Soon Dottie began calling every day—sometimes three or four times a day. She no longer had a car, and my mom, in her late 80s, became Dottie’s chauffeur.
Although the unfolding story fascinated me, I began to worry. With a little prompting from a worried daughter, Mom set boundaries, explaining to Dottie, “I have others that I am helping as well.” Dottie accepted this and dropped the calls to once a day, just enough for my mom to continue to speak into her life.
Without a car or regular chauffeur, Dottie began walking more and discovered a Baptist church nearby. She began taking classes, her faith was confirmed, and she prepared for baptism.
As time went on, Dottie’s health failed, and her family moved her into assisted living. Although she no longer had contact with the woman she met in the grocery store, Dottie had been introduced to Someone who would always be there. And it all began over a bottle of vinegar.