Sharing the Good News About the Really Good News

Hello friends and family! Here’s a quick update on how things have been going in my now 3-month old position as a full-time SGWM missionary. In summary, things are fantastic, and I feel more settled into my role than ever before. I still fulfill a hodgepodge of tasks for our ministry as we all work together, but my official role is Director of Communications. What does that mean? In the business world, we’d probably refer to it as “Marketing,” but I don’t think that quite fits the bill of what I do for SGWM. We’re in the work of facilitating the spread of the Gospel through our missionaries and endeavors; my job with SGWM is to let the world know about what we and our missionaries are doing. In a nutshell, I’m spreading the good news about how our missionaries are spreading the really Good News!

Missions training in Pakistan via Skype with Pastor Mike

Why is that important? I think that, above all else, we want to inspire people to get involved. To pray, to support financially or otherwise, or to go out themselves. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a concept far too prevalent when it comes to missions; my job is to keep SGWM’s work and missionaries in sight and in the minds and hearts of people everywhere through some of our culture’s most powerful mediums like email and social media. One of my biggest projects in this area is SGWM’s new monthly newsletter updates, which I put together each month to let people know about all the amazing ways God is using SGWM and our missionaries! If you’d like to see the work I’ve put into our inaugural edition, check it out here!

Of course, I still get to do a lot of other amazing things for SGWM. I’m still teaching on occasion for our Pastors’ School in South Asia via Skype (sometimes with these amazing young men from the young adults group Amy and I lead for our church!). That is always an incredible honor!

Teaching our South Asia Pastors’ School via Skype. Sometimes our young adults group joins us!

We also recently held a Missions Sunday at our church, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, to talk about all of the work that goes into facilitating missions through our home office. People don’t typically think of people working from beautiful Yorba Linda, CA as missionaries, but the fact is that we at the home office have dedicated our lives to making sure international missionaries have all the tools they need to fulfill their part in the Great Commission.

Missions Sunday at CCSG. I participated in a panel discussion, and we had a great info table set up in the courtyard

We ask you to continually pray for us during our first year in this role! Pray for constant vision and that we’d continue toward raising all of the monthly support we need. We love what we’re doing and would like to continue in this work for a long time as the Lord sees fit. If you’re not already signed up, feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter here!

If you’d like to become a financial parter with us, the best way to do that is by signing up here to become monthly supporter. Or, you can send a check directly to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886 with “Garcia Family” in the memo line.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Love in Christ,

Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, & Jude

Home Is Where The Mission Is

Just a quick look-over of Bond and Heather Gaona’s travel schedule is an exhausting experience. If you’ve ever travelled internationally, you know that even one long international flight can be tiring. Jet lag alone tends to throw off your body’s schedule for a few days. I remember my own Missions Pastor telling me about the sensation of feeling so tired that it hurts; after returning from my last trip to South Asia with him, I vividly understood what he was talking about.

Pastor Bond Gaona, his wife Heather, and their two-year-old daughter Breanna, however, are pros at this by now. Breanna has been doing this her whole life, and her parents say she’s a better traveler than they are! This was abundantly evident to me a few weeks ago as I sat across from all three of them at a taco restaurant; they had just returned from Nepal barely 24 hours earlier and I knew they were exhausted, but they handled themselves with ease. Almost every time they land across the ocean or in the States, they hit the ground running. The Gaona family has responded to a specific call from Christ on their life that doesn’t really allow them to plant firm roots anywhere. As missionaries for SGWM, they split their time each year between three different continents. They’ll leave their home base here in the United States to spend a few months in South Asia and then head to Nepal, or to spend a good chunk of time in African countries like Uganda, and then return to the United States for a couple of months, only to go out on the field all over again. It’s a whirlwind experience that they wouldn’t trade for anything. In 2008, God stirred their hearts to start reaching the nations with the Gospel in a greater capacity. So now, they submit to a travel schedule that is, to most people, a bit dizzying. The Gaonas never seem to settle down, because for them, home is wherever God is using them to advance His kingdom.

“There was no specific goal in mind when we started,” Pastor Bond says. “We just didn’t like the idea of staying in one place forever.” In those early days, as the Lord was beginning to give Bond a broader vision for the nations, his wife helped ground his outlook in the Bible by reminding him that this was exactly what Paul did. The great Apostle to the Gentiles has become somewhat of a model for their own missionary work.

The Gaona’s game plan is to go to the unreached and preach the Gospel to them, disciple those who come to Christ, and raise up leadership among that group to take over the work there for them. Then, they do their best to return there every year or so to see how they’re doing and help with any of their practical and spiritual needs. Sound familiar? It looks like a modern day layout for exactly what Paul did all through the book of Acts. While many missionaries are called to go out and plant roots in a new country to establish churches and disciple people, the Gaonas feel called to have a further reach. Raising up nationals to continue the works they begin allows them more time and freedom to reach other unreached people groups. Another upside, says Heather, is that “the people don’t become as dependent on you; they’re forced to step up and take leadership.” And this leads to fruit that lasts and multiplies itself in the areas the Gaonas evangelize in.

But this lifestyle has not come without some personal cost to the Gaonas; the call of Christ is never easy. There are, of course, the cultural issues that all missionaries face. It takes a lot of work to learn a culture well enough to overcome issues of language and, even amongst those who speak your own language, the interpretation of what you are trying to say (Pastor Bond calls this the “box of confusion” phenomenon). And the Gaonas are juggling this issue in multiple countries!

Another difficulty fairly specific to Bond and Heather is that they aren’t able to create a real “home” for themselves anywhere. This can be particularly hard on Heather as a mom and wife. But Heather is intentional about doing the best with what she is given, and understands that even with this unique issue, other missionaries who plant themselves in a specific country face problems that she doesn’t have to. The Gaonas do a fantastic job with taking things in stride and with a proper perspective.

Bond and Heather have greatly valued the relationship they have with Saving Grace World Missions. The number one thing they appreciate about their sending organization is pastoral care and guidance. Bond cites Proverbs 15:22, stating that “There’s just more wisdom and counsel available to us with different pastors and leaders on the board.” They have a team to run big decisions and vision by. Heather has really appreciated guidance and counsel from SGWM pastoral leadership, particularly when both her parents were facing health issues and eventually passed away. She was advised to give herself time to stay home and grieve her loss, and  received counsel through that difficult time. The compassion and freedom she was granted during that season was a huge encouragement to her that she’ll always hold onto.

Life on the field (or, for the Gaonas, on multiple fields) is never a breeze. But, as Pastor Bond says, “When you’re called, nothing seems too hard to handle. It’s when you’re not called that you start running into issues that are beyond your grasp.” The Gaonas know that they are called to what they are doing, and their unwavering faith in Christ through it is strong evidence to that fact.

Prayer Request for Dave Zavala – CCA Pastor’s Conference Uganda

(Editor’s Note: The following is a prayer request from Twinkle Zavala. The Zavalas serve with SGWM in Africa)

Please pray for Pastor Dave Zavala and the other pastors as they attend the CCA Pastors conference in Uganda this week.

Please pray for me (Twinkle), and our daughters Bianca and Sophie in Nairobi. Please pray for God’s protection over us and for Dave as he drives for 13 hours from Mukono, Uganda back home to Nairobi on Saturday.

Thank you so much for your prayers

Pastor Dave and twinkle’s Missionary blog: sgwm.com/zavala

 

(Photos) East African Pastors Conference 2018 in Mukono, UGANDA over 300 in Attendance

SGWM at the Calvary Chapel 2018 Global Missions Conference

(Editor’s Note: Tim Rich (deacon and leader of Missionary Care Teams at Calvary Chapel Saving Grace) and his wife Mary Ann helped man SGWM’s table at the Calvary Chapel 2018 Global Missions Conference. Below is Tim’s assessment of SGWM’s reach from his experience at the conference.)

Picture yourself sitting at the SGWM table at the four-day Calvary Chapel Global Missions Conference in Murrieta this past week when a small group of young women approach.

One says to another, “Oh look, there’s the SGWM table.” Another says, “There’s your picture and prayer card” among a dozen others in a display in front of you. Suddenly, you realize you are meeting one of “your” missionaries and looking into the face of what Saving Grace World Missions has become—a sending organization for missionaries not just from Calvary Chapel Saving Grace  but from churches—some in faraway places—which don’t have the wherewithal to provide administrative and other support for missionaries headed to the field.

In the past few years, SGWM has attracted a significant number of Christians from around the country and beyond who are being led by the Lord to the mission field. They have the desire to serve and the leading of God to go but no practical way to make it happen. Enter SGWM which has been established to assist them in receiving donor contributions and providing tax receipts for those donors, payroll, budgeting, e-mailable newsletters, updates and prayer requests, medical benefits, missionary specific tax services, pastoral support and counseling, and a myriad of other functions.

Originally established as the missionary arm of Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, SGWM today serves three times as many missionaries and missionary families from other churches than from CCSG. Some are the product of CCSG outreaches, most notably the pastor-training schools of ministry this church established in South Asia.  Some are from other Calvary Chapels which need assistance in answering the call of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mathew 28:19-20).

It was apparent at the four-day missions conference that SGWM is gaining a reputation as a first-class sending organization. The conference attracts missionaries and mission-minded Christians from around the world. Many who visited the SGWM table had already heard of the good work SGWM is doing and were interested in hearing more. But one such group of visitors—those depicted in the second paragraph of this article—already knew the benefits of this organization. Rebecca Alaniz, who came to SGWM from another Calvary Chapel, visited the table with her friends and had nothing but high praise for the support she receives from SGWM staff, most whom she mentioned by name. Rebecca is currently home raising support to return to Zagreb, Croatia, where she ministers to children in the Roma (gypsy) community. More information about her and others serving in the world is available here at SGWM.com.

It’s A Jungle Out There!

by Joel Garcia

For many Americans, just the sight of a “Daddy Long Legs” spider showing up in the corner of the tub for our morning shower is enough to send us running down the street ready to burn down our whole house to get rid of the thing. I had this experience just a couple of nights ago with a giant silverfish bug at the entrance to my apartment. It took me a good five minutes to build up the courage to crush it with a shoe. Not my proudest moment.

So imagine a world with giant fly-looking creatures that are seemingly wearing “Iron Man” style armor and are ready to eat you alive; a world with an array of bats, giant flying cockroaches, poisonous snakes, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes; a world where the beady little eyes of crocodiles sometimes poke themselves out of water lurking with piranhas and electric eels where you wash your clothes! For Brad and Melissa Miller and their children, this is just normal life for them in the Amazon jungle in Brazil. And for the Millers, these sometimes unnerving inconveniences are well worth dealing with in order to see the Gospel spread amongst the Apurina people.

If the Millers could sum up their specific calling in one mission statement, it would be to bring the Word of God and leadership training to the indigenous Apurina people. The Millers followed the Lord’s leading to Brazil about seven years ago, when they took over for the very first missionaries to ever contact the Apurinas and translate the New Testament into their language. They have been going hard ever since, pastoring a church in one village with a vision to reach many more of the over 100 villages up and down the river. In fact, they were just able to plant another church in a different village this past July, and there are opportunities to plant three more churches in different villages over the next two years. The harvest is plentiful in the Amazon jungle of Brazil, but it hasn’t been without challenges.

Apart from the challenges of large bugs, difficult weather, and lacking the luxuries and commodities we so often take for granted in the United States, there seem to be two main challenges to what the Millers are doing on the field. One of those is simply the ability to communicate the deeper things of the Gospel to the Apurinas after they receive Christ. “By simple faith, we bring the Gospel to them, and they receive it by faith resulting in a changed life,” Melissa says, “but where they have difficulty is in growing via written content.” Abstract Biblical concepts aren’t always easy to teach in certain cultures. Take, for example, Jesus’ teaching that He is the door (John 10:9). Up until about five years ago, the Apurinas didn’t even have doors, and the doors they do know of now are set up to protect electrical equipment and other things, so they are locked and meant for keeping people out. This doesn’t allow for easy application of Jesus’ proclamation that He is the way to salvation by use of the door metaphor! Many times, the Apurinas don’t even necessarily have a category for integral Christian concepts like, for instance, confession. But the Millers have worked hard in this area with the people, tirelessly pouring into them. As Brad puts it, their goal is to “teach them how to read with understanding so that they can go out and reach other people in the same way.”

Another challenge the Millers face is that of lacking resources. They have a huge vision for the Gospel in the remote jungle villages of Brazil, but this requires both financial and material resources, and people willing to go out. Brad and Melissa are trying to raise up the nationals to go reach out to their neighboring communities, which would be more efficient with a much smaller cultural gap to hurdle. But the first generation of Christians in these villages had some cultural qualms about evangelizing their neighbors, something that seemed too intrusive to them. However, through the work of the Millers and their supporters, the Holy Spirit is doing what He does best: transforming the hearts and outlooks of the next generations of Apurinas, opening them up more to take the gospel out to their neighboring villages up and down the river.

And that’s a good thing, because part of the danger of preaching the Gospel to a village is that if the missionary isn’t able to stay to disciple the people, other pseudo-Christian groups tend to move in and teach dangerous unbiblical doctrines to them. So the Millers are praying for continued resources to come in and for the Holy Spirit to lead others to go out and provide lasting biblical leadership as they plant churches all around the area.

The Lord is doing amazing things through the Miller family, and their response is a humility that is part of the reason they are so effective. “We constantly feel ill-equipped,” they told me, “but we also constantly see God working despite our weaknesses. We are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.” And I don’t think they, or the Lord, would want it any other way.

Gaona Family Update: Christmas Comes To The Leper Colony

About a year ago, an opportunity opened up to visit a leper colony in Nepal and they welcomed us gladly since visitors to the compound are very few. The first bumpy bus ride to the outskirts of town was filled with thoughts that raced through our minds like “would we touch the lepers” and “how would we respond if someone wanted to shake hands”. But, knowing that these people are outcast from society and in desperate need of love….we didn’t want to miss what the Lord would have because it was outside of our comfort zone. We knew the stories in the bible where Jesus spent time with lepers, but we never thought that our lives would include hanging out at a leper colony.

Wow – are we glad that we said YES that day! As the bus door opened and we entered the courtyard at the Leprosy Colony a woman by the name of Ritu threw her arms around us and hugged tightly saying “thank you, thank you, thank you for coming”. We had over thought every aspect of what it would be like, what we would do and how we would respond. We almost missed out on the countless blessings, friendships, miracles and life altering moments that have filled this past year as we have spent time with these precious people.

Since that first day, we have visited the Leprosy Colony over a dozen times bringing hygiene kits, distributing food and cooking items, serving meals and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. So much of the physical blessings have been provided through visitors that we have been able to take with us. There have been concerts, dance parties, testimonies, and messages from the Word that have rung out in that place this past year to encourage the 200 families that call the Leprosy Colony home.

This past month, our friends from Believers World Outreach sent a team to serve and they asked if an optical clinic would be needed. We responded with a resounding YES PLEASE! Bond and the team spent the first week in the village doing an optical clinic at a new church planted by one of our CCBC Nepal graduates. Hundreds lined up in the early morning to see Dr. Dennis (eye doctor) who brought a $15,000 machine to properly evaluate each patient and get them the exact prescription from the 3,000 pairs of eye glasses that were provided and brought by BWO. People walked for miles, waited for hours, were given glasses to see again, hundreds were prayed for and invited to come back to church as services in the new building that will begin soon. The team worked tirelessly to serve each and every person that came in the village.

When the team returned from the village in early December, we were extremely excited to learn that the Leprosy Colony gave permission to hold an optical outreach on-site. The eye team set-up in the director’s office, the eye charts were hung in the courtyard, the construction team was working on building walkways and leper after leper lined up. What a gift to be able to share about Jesus who invaded history and is the reason we celebrate Christmas with each person living in the leprosy colony! Imagine never hearing who Jesus was or why we celebrate his birth (Christmas) and in one day you get to see both physically and now you see your need for a Savior! As Heather helped one of the ladies in the leprosy colony choose glasses and put them on, she exclaimed “I Can See”. What an incredible Christmas gift that lepers were receiving sight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is because of your prayers, financial support and endless love that we were able to bring Christmas to a Leper Colony this month in Nepal and share the love of Jesus with these precious people throughout the year! Thank you for letting us be your hands and feet this past year to those who may not otherwise be reached with the love of God.

Merry Christmas With Love,

Bond, Heather and Breanna

Christmas in Pakistan with the Poor and the Outcast

Last month, Saving Grace World Missions and our missionary in Pakistan, Pastor Nadeem Massey, put together a campaign to raise money for a Christmas party for some of the poor and outcast in Pakistan, a group called the “Brickmakers.” The Lord faithfully provided through His people to fund this, and the Brickmakers, who are essential slave laborers in Pakistan, were blessed with a great time of food and the Gospel from Pastor Nadeem. Thank you to all who faithfully donated and prayed over this event! Below are some pictures and a word from Pastor Nadeem regarding the outreach.

Greetings,
We had Christmas party with brick makers on Dec. 15. It was such a great blessings for us and for all those poor and un-reached people. They live outside of the town, as an isolated community of the brick makers. Churches here are busy with many Christmas programs; they have beautiful decorations and music but while this poor community of our brothers and sisters live out side of town, no one is thinking about them at this time of Christmas as all are so busy with their preparation for Christmas.
We praise God that He has enabled us to reach them on regular basis and they now know that they are part of Calvary Chapel Pakistan. You can notice a little banner behind on the wall, we got that printed last year at the time of New Year, and as they welcomed us they decorated the way to their place for us and put the poster of Calvary Chapel behind on the wall. That was simple way of their expression of love.
Thank you to all our friends and family for praying for us and particularly these precious people, and also for supporting us in order to bless these people with a good lunch, food supplies and some clothes. They are very happy and blessed and send their thanks to you and everyone there!
In Christ Jesus
Pastor Nadeem Massey​

Around The World (No Planes Required)

The transition into being full-time missionaries with SGWM, becoming intimately connected with facilitating worldwide Gospel work and raising support as missionaries ourselves, has been quite a whirlwind. But there’s a peace in the midst of the hurricane, and we’re finally settling in to see what this is going to look like for our lives in the long-term after the completion of two successful church events I got to head up: our Halloween Front-Yard Parties and Thanksgiving Potluck. (If you’re curious, planning a potluck for 150+ people gives you a taste of both delicious food, mass chaos, and an incredible display of community in your church family). I’ve been a bit more freed up now to dive into the missions side of things. In the past month-and-a-half, I’ve had a chance to make contact with ministry in Uganda, Pakistan, and South Asia, with no air travel required!

One highlight has been spending some time with our brother Brian Kanyike from Uganda while he was here in the States. It was such a blessing hearing how he is doing as a human being, a husband and father, and not “just” a missionary. On top of that, we were able to help launch a campaign in which our church body came together to purchase some cows for the sake of advancing his ministry back home. What a privilege it was to hang out with this man of God (and help facilitate his very first selfie! Not sure if I should actually be proud of that…).

One of my favorite moments of each week is the missions training class we’ve gotten to do with our brother Pastor Nadeem in the Middle East via Skype. These Thursday mornings were designed for us to train him in how to facilitate missions work from his own home base. The result has been that we have all been blessed, encouraged, and built up in the process by each other’s fellowship!

 

 

 

Finally, we have some amazing work going on in South Asia right now. I’ve been teaching our Pastor’s School in South Asia over Skype every Sunday night. It’s been an immense privilege to teach these dear brothers through the book of Ephesians (with some of our young adults from my church joining me on occasion). It’s wonderful to be a part of their training to go out and bring the gospel to their own unreached villages. Also, as we get closer to the opening of our Bible school there, we got to interview, via Skype, a graduate from another campus in South Asia to become a SGWM missionary and serve at the new school we’re building.

On a more personal note, we’re loving being a family of five, and it was such a blessing to have Jude dedicated at our church, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, last month. All three of our children have been dedicated by Pastor Trent now, and it’s always an incredible opportunity to re-establish who we are as part of a larger family in Christ with our church community. We couldn’t do any of what we’re doing without our church family’s love and support!

Please continue to pray for the Lord to grow our financial support so that we can continue our work as missionaries with SGWM. Please pray as I step into my main role of helping create the “face” of SGWM (more on that in our next update!).

If you would like to partner with us financially for the spread of the Gospel or sign up to receive our newsletter updates via email, visit our SGWM missionary page

Soli Deo Gloria!
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude
joel@sgwm.com