November 2018 Update
THREE MONTHS ON THREE CONTINENTS
“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). As members of the body of Christ we continue in this great task of Apostle Paul—that all people may see the light of salvation. The ‘ends of the earth’ would have been unknown in Paul’s day, long before Magellan’s fleet circumnavigated the globe. Yet in our time, traveling around the globe is safe and easy. As International Director of Things to Come Mission I have done it several times.
It is an entirely different matter to shine the light of Christ among all the peoples of our world. That takes a long term commitment involving complete faith in God, knowledge of his Word, cross-cultural skills and a sacrificial love for the people. I praise the Lord for our faithful missionaries who have taken on this challenge.
Joyce and I departed from Singapore on August 8, heading westward to Ethiopia and then Mombasa, Kenya for the National Conference of Grace Bible Church. We enjoyed being reunited with old friends from our years in Kenya while also meeting new Grace members. Peter Kagwi and his team did a masterful job of accommodating 250 delegates. After riding the new high-speed train to Nairobi we flew on to Uganda to meet with the leaders of the Uganda Grace Gospel Churches and visit some new churches.
Then we were back to Kenya for two more weeks of ministries in Thika, Nakuru and Eldoret with Director Titus Kivilu. I was encouraged to hear Pastor John Kariuki of Nakuru say he was a third generation Grace believer. His grandmother helped us plant one of the early churches. He has a goal of planting five Grace churches in Nakuru. May God give him strength to match his vision.
The first week of September Joyce and I were in South Africa meeting with the leaders of the Grace churches about a number of organizational issues. We enjoyed ministering with Paul & Mariana Craesmeyer who were finishing up their two years in Africa.
Joyce and I were in the US in September for the TCM board meeting. We took advantage of frequent flier miles to visit family and friends in Florida (Jaclyn), Arizona (Joyce’s mom & siblings) and Oregon (Tegwen and Franci). Joyce was able to teach a 5-week women’s Bible study at Grace Bible Church in Grants Pass. I finished up in early November in Indianapolis with some projects at the TCM headquarters, the Grace regional meeting and some personal projects. I enjoyed spending time with my mom who is now 89 and my sister Val who directs the TCM office.
In October I spoke at the memorial service for Jessie Easterly in Colorado. She was the widow of the founder of TCM Herbert Palmer. She served as a young missionary in Congo and Burundi and later served with us in Kenya for 14 years. She was a true example of faithfulness and sacrifice for the cause of Christ.
Then on to Brazil where I met with the Camposes and LeFebers in the north together with the Grace leaders. They have several projects in process including improving buildings and a new church plant. I flew to the south where I was hosted by Gomer & Nene Indino while meeting with the Schmidts, the Grace annual conference of the MCP churches and a discussion with Pastor Cleiton who is heading up the Bible training.
As I write this I am on the last leg of Curitiba-Sao Paulo-Madrid-Cairo-Dubai. I have not visited Dubai for four years and am looking forward to my time with the Grace Fellowship. On Saturday I return to Singapore. I request your prayers as I take on my least favorite task of looking for a place to rent after our last apartment was sold. Pray also for Joyce who will be helping out in the US for a few months while TCM is without a Development Director.
Jesus is the light of the world and he shines through you and me!
July 2018 Update
Ben & I were eating with a group of Chinese Christians last week and everyone was using chopsticks. One of the people finally leaned toward me and asked rhetorically, “You don’t use chopsticks much, do you?” Those people were masterful at eating with two sticks! What a blessing to be with these Christians. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese who have never heard of our Savior. It feels like an impossible mission!
But, God calls us to share the gospel with everyone because He is not willing that any should perish. What an amazing obligation and opportunity we have to carry His saving life to our friends near us and to strangers far away. So many people live in countries with no Christians and no churches.
Thank you for your prayerful support. We’re partnering together because we all desire that, “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” Reaching the lost is possible through the Body of Christ working and praying together.
Ben & Joyce
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May 2016 Update
Four months without an update! Life has been full of exciting ministries, and it is time to bring you up to date. As International Director I have been working with the Philippine Mission Department to prepare, organize and send out the eight Filipino missionary candidates accepted by the TCM board on January 20.
In mission we are most aware of the missionaries themselves. But mission is a team effort. There must be the SENT as well as the SENDERS. In Paul’s famous passage in Rom 10:13-14 he begins with the wonderful promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” He then asks a series of rhetorical questions ending with the most foundational question, “How can anyone preach unless they are sent?” Mission depends on senders.
Joyce and I have spent a lot of time with the senders during these months. I have spoken at graduations, celebrations, church services, conferences, continuing education seminars and regional meetings in order to inform and challenge people to become senders. Twice we have met with the Mission Department to write guidelines and make plans. The Philippine Grace churches have willingly stepped forward to take their role as senders of the gospel to the regions beyond the Philippines.
In March Joyce and I were provided with tickets to fly to the US for my sister Valerie’s wedding to Pete Wynalda. It was great to see Val happy and beautiful as she was united with her man. We so enjoyed seeing Jaclyn and Vince and their three kids at the wedding. Please pray for Val & Pete as they are building a house and helping our 87-year-old mother while Val is the Office Administrator at the TCM headquarters. I was able to help out around the office for a week and present the ministry at Grace Church before returning for meetings in the Philippines. Joyce stayed longer in the States to visit our kids and grand kids.
A highlight of my year was participating in the Grand Thanksgiving Celebration for 100 Grace churches on one island. Missionaries and church planters first started visiting Negros Island in 1960. A few years ago the church leaders joined together for a church planting drive. Every established church has a pioneering area. One thousand people attended with 30 professions of faith in Christ.
In our GTCM training we do not have an independent exposure trip to the field. Instead, we take survey trips to familiarize the missionary with the country. This year we have surveyed Singapore with James & Agape Bermejo and Myanmar with Salvina Ulfindo and Dan Banac.
On May 9 TCM sent our first missionary to Singapore, James & Agape Bermejo. They are still in the support-raising phase, but wanted to step out in faith to get the work started. They have found a place to live and have already started meeting with people around the city. Pray for many open doors with the Singaporeans.
Another part of my work is to visit the fields. So far this year we have been in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, USA, Singapore and Indonesia. It is always a blessing to talk with the missionaries and leaders to hear of their commitment, ministries and plans. Just last week Joyce and I participated in the national conference in Indonesia where a new board was elected with several key changes. Much time was spent discussing the churches, the Bible school and the best way to reach all of Indonesia with the gospel. By the end of this year TCM will have 23 missionaries in SE Asia.
A goal of mine as director of TCM has been to increase the cooperation between our fields in SE Asia. To that end we hold a SE Asia Grace Conference every two years: 2012 in Bali, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur and now 2016 in Siem Reap. We are expecting around 170 Grace delegates from eleven countries to be present. TCM works in eight of the eleven countries in Southeast Asia and we are targeting the remaining three.
Immediately after the conference we will be sending Jude & Faith Bunglo and Juna Umacob off to their work in a closed country of SEA. Pray that the Lord will protect them and give them boldness in that land. They face hostility on the one hand and open doors on the other.
Mission requires separation. Jesus was the perfect example. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The cup which Jesus prayed about in Gethsemane was the cup of separation. When Jesus “became sin,” the Father remained sinless. Thus his terrible cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then, immortal God experienced death—the ultimate separation. May our generation be willing to accept the sacrifice of separation in order to carry the gospel to the lost people in the regions beyond.
Serving the Lord
In January 2004 the TCM board voted for Ben to become the director of Things to Come Mission. After 18 years in Kenya, it was both a joyful and also a painful process to turn the ministry over to others. Gardner Improso became the Field Representative while Samuel Mwangi and later Peter Kagwi took the directorship of Grace Bible Church. These men had been mentored in the ministry for many years and were well-prepared for the task they faced.
Ben took the directorship of TCM in January 2005. The work can be divided into three primary areas. 1) TCM Headquarters: This involves handling finances and missionary requests and producing the prayer letters, International Harvest and News You Can Use publications. There is a staff of five people who work with Ben in the office. 2) Church Relations: Since TCM is a sending organization of the U.S. Grace churches, it is essential for Ben to stay in contact with the pastors, board and mission committees of these churches. This also includes visiting Bible colleges and seeking to encourage Americans to become missionaries. 3) Field Development: TCM seeks to evangelize the world using the methods of the Apostle Paul. This requires going to the “regions beyond” where Christ is not named. Ben helps each field to develop their strategy for reaching their own country while looking at new countries to reach with wonderful message of God’s saving grace.
Joyce has been elected to the position of Coordinator of Missionary Care for TCM. Her responsibilities will be focusing on the spiritual and emotional care of TCM missionaries. She is to attend an intensive Counseling and Member Care Seminar sponsored by Narramore Christian Foundation on October 12-22 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She will learn more of what others are doing in this critical field and gain knowledge and skills for TCM’s program.
Tegwen and Robby just celebrated their first anniversary. Robby continues to oversee a home for autistic children at Daymar while Tegwen attends IUPUI full time and works at Christian Appliance Repair.
Jaclyn married Mr. Vince Logan of Indianapolis on June 19th. They met while working at a Japanese steakhouse and have since discovered their love for each other and their love for the Lord.
Frances completed her 1600-hour course at Regency Beauty College. She is home for the summer as she looks for a permanent job. Her desire is a job which would allow lots of travel- missionary roots definitely showing through.