A Global Pandemic and the Faithfulness of God

2020 has been a crazy year. I know I don’t need to remind anyone of that truth. COVID hit the world like a destructive force and the enemies of darkness rejoiced as they launched this weapon in their war against the gospel. Yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 27th) at CCSG, when I was teaching our youth ministry, I focused on Ephesians 1:19 and Ephesians 6:12. Eph. 1:20-21 centers on Christ being placed in his seat of power “far above” all demonic strongholds, and Eph. 6:12 reminds us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces in the “heavenly places.” I encouraged our teens to remember that the Christian life is a life chalked full of spiritual warfare. This is what COVID, at its roots, was – spiritual warfare. It was a guided missile aimed at the ministry to shut down the church and halt missions. However, sitting at the end of 2020, I am glad to say that the enemy has not prevailed. In fact, the enemy lost ground and the gospel has spread through SGWM’s efforts in phenomenal ways. In this end of the year update, I would like to reflect on a few key victory points the Lord brought about, even amid intense warfare. This will be a longer update than usual, but if you read it to the end, your soul will be encouraged and your boldness in the gospel will be strengthened.

COVID Relief

Kyla Thiemann helping prepare crafts for a COVID outreach in Mexico during a youth missions trip in November

First, when COVID first hit, I watched the entire globe shut down, and rightfully so. We didn’t know anything back at the beginning of the year. However, as a result, I watched already hurting and impoverished people all over the world suffer greatly. They did not have stimulus checks coming in the mail. They did not have access to food, clean water, or medication. I gathered our missionaries and SGWM leadership together on a Zoom meeting and organized a Christ-centered relief plan. On top of that, I was able to, with the support of the SGWM team around the world, raise $60,000 in relief aid and then get those funds organized into gospel-centered food and supply outreaches to hurting people in places like Mexico, Nepal, South Asia, Uganda, Peru, and Sudan. In all, we hosted around fifty different relief outreaches around the world. Thousands of people were helped and are continuing to be helped through our efforts at SGWM. Furthermore, since all these outreaches took place at one of our church plants, all of these people are now directly connected to faithful Bible-teaching churches and pastors.

Restructuring SGWM

Image: youth team I lead from CCSG on a COVID relief trip to Mexico in November

Next, a few months back, I wrote about the restructuring of SGWM. This sounds like a lame point to bring up in an end of the year update. Boasting in administration usually doesn’t produce a whole lot of enthusiasm. But my primary role as SGWM’s Vice President is to organize and administrate SGWM to see that we are strategic in our efforts to advance the gospel. In this, I boast that God has been faithful to surround me with an amazing and qualified team that I have organized into three departments that focus on missionary care with Joel Garcia at the lead, missionary training with Tim Pappas at the lead, and church planting and national worker car in the most unreached places on earth with Heather Gaona at the lead. We officially launched this new structure in October and I can already see SGWM growing exponentially. These new department heads are leading their areas forward into more significant ministries with greater gospel impact. As a leader, I look to surround myself with people more talented than I am because I know that they will help me bring the ministry to greater heights and that what happened this year in a big way.

God’s Amazing Provision

In my opening paragraph, I mentioned how COVID was a demonic attack upon the ministry that aimed at shutting us down. In light of this, I also want to share one point that shows how great this attack failed this year. I met with my Administrative Assistant Hope Douglass last week and we were reviewing some end of the year financial information. I was blown away by the information we found and I think you will be too. Amid a global pandemic where regular day-to-day ministries across the world were shut down, God funneled over 2 million dollars through SGWM. That is 2.5 million dollars err marked for church planting, sustaining missionaries in over 35 countries, hosting outreaches, running Bible colleges, providing COVID relief, and facilitating the advancement of the gospel, to name just a few areas. Isn’t that incredible! I am so privileged to be at the helm of a missions organization that God is blessing in such tremendous ways. Imagine what the Lord has in store for 2021?

Calvary School of Missions

Image: Malachi Thiemann joining our School of Mission’s students on an outreach over the summer.

Next, when COVID hit the US back in March, we were well underway with our plans to host our second summer school of missions. This is a six-week on-the-field missionary training program that SGWM started in 2019. Once COVID hit, we didn’t know what to expect or which direction we should go. Through much prayer and in a step of tremendous faith, we gathered 12 college-age/young adult students and headed to Mexico. At the time, Mexico was shut down and we did not know how the school or the ministry would play out. Over the six weeks, we watched God move on the lives of these 12 students and confirm their calling for cross-cultural church planting. We were also able to host over a dozen COVID relief outreaches where the students partnered with our church plants in Mexico and distributed food and supplies, ran VBS style children’s ministries and preached the gospel. Furthermore, our two summer missions schools (20219 & 2020) resulted in 12 semi full-time missionary interns who are working at CCSG and SGWM and are getting specifically prepared to be sent to their desired locations (i.e., Jordan, Japan, etc.). It is incredible to me that God accomplished all of this, even during a global pandemic.

Christmas Outreaches in Asia

Lastly, I would like to share with you a praise report that over the Christmas season, SGWM has been able to coordinate, administrate, and conduct 18 outreaches throughout South Asia. Throughout Asia, our ministries have been radically affected by COVID and intense persecution, but that has not slowed our national pastors down at all. These individuals minister in some of the most hostel and least-reached areas of the globe and I rejoice together with you in knowing that the Christ is being preached.

Personal Support for 2021

As I type this update, I keep thinking of more and more amazing stories that I could share. God truly moved in powerful ways in 2020. I do want to thank you for taking the time to read this update. Also, I would like to take a moment to communicate that I am able to fulfill my calling as the Vice President of SGWM first, by the grace of God, and second, by the generous support of faithful ministry partners. Like our missionaries service overseas, I too live on missionary support, which is profoundly difficult to do with a family while living in Orange County. As you consider your end of the year giving or your vision for 2021, could I please ask you to prayerfully consider becoming one of my monthly ministry partners? Currently, I am at about 50% of what is needed to sustain my family. Any amount of monthly support is helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. If you would like to support me in my role as the VP of SGWM, please click the link below.

God Bless,
Pastor Mike and Family