Feature

A New Thing

New doors open to Alliance international workers Caring in Chaos

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“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

COVID-19’s bleak desert season has touched the Alliance family across the globe. Yet amid the trauma and chaos, Alliance people are reporting how God, in His faithfulness, is doing a new thing, writing a bigger story. Our international workers (IWs) testify to stirrings of fresh revelation and inspiration to pursue new ministry innovations, sharing accounts of how the refreshing streams of His Spirit are softening the hard soil of human hearts previously resistant to the gospel. The stories that follow offer just a glimpse of this new thing God is doing as our IWs have remained on the field—caring in chaos—anchored by the prayers and generous gifts of the U.S. Alliance family.

Our Hidden Work

In my corner of the world, glimmers of hope and growth are taking place through the COVID-19 crisis. Local believers—dear ones who constantly battle the tension between wisdom and bravery when deciding what to share with their neighbors, whose faith seemed timid at times—have begun taking the lead in the effort to bring relief both to fellow believers and unbelieving neighbors. They have reached out to us for assistance and extra resources to reach as many as possible.

The Lord has been reiterating to me that our service is hidden in Him, and we can trust Him with the outcome. Several circumstances have required us to realize that when there is nothing tangible we can do, we must turn our eyes to the Lord. And He has been faithful. Prayer and trust in Him are no longer a piece of what we do, but this is our primary work—a hidden work He is using as He moves in this land.

an Alliance worker serving in a creative-access location

A Grateful Community

We serve refugee families here, who were hit especially hard by the COVID-19 lockdown. Many lost their jobs. We initially assisted with providing for the greatest needs, including medications and supplements. When the lockdown extended and needs increased, we worked with several locals to disburse a small relief fund among 120 refugee families. This would have been impossible without the generosity of the Alliance family.

While distributing the funds, our local partners have seen the overwhelming joy of each family’s gratitude. “I don’t understand how you guys care for us, but we’ve received better care from you than from our own!” one refugee exclaimed. Our team’s investment in relationships established over the years are proving fruitful as we reach out to this community with such great needs.

Alliance workers serving in the Middle East

This is So Exciting!

In response to the U.S. Alliance family’s overwhelming generosity to the Great Commission Day Offering, an IW in Spain exclaimed: “This is so exciting! It´s moving me to tears to see that God cares so much for the world—and for us workers in His field—that He´s providing in such a way so that the gospel continues to go forward. It makes me want to run out the door with renewed zeal to proclaim to the world what a Savior they have if they would just embrace Him!”

shared by Tim Westergren, serving with
The Alliance in Spain

Health-Care Innovations

Our preparations for the COVID-19 global pandemic inspired innovations that will better equip our Bongolo Hospital ministry beyond this crisis. A medical colleague of Dr. Wendy Hofman, director of Ophthalmology, sent us instructions, which we were able to replicate, on how to make clear plastic “breath shields” to better protect patients and medical staff from disease spread via respiratory droplets.

Steve Straw aviation mechanic and pilot for Bongolo Hospital and the C&MA national church network here, learned the skills needed to fix a number of oxygen concentrators in disrepair. Information gained through videoconferencing with the hospital’s previous maintenance director, now back in the states, enabled Steve to assist the hospital’s local maintenance staff to make the repairs. Had it not been for COVID-19, we may not have made this discovery that will impact the hospital’s future outreach.

Alace Straw, serving with marketplace ministries at the Alliance-affiliated Bongolo Hospital in Gabon

God Is in This!

In compliance with the COVID-19 lockdown, Nun closed her hair salon and moved out of Baan Paeo to Baan Bo to care for her nephew so her sister could work. We cried as we prayed for her on moving day, remembering how God started the Mahapawn Baan Paeo Church in her hair salon four years earlier. (See “But First, Pray” in the Jan/Feb 2016 Alliance Life.) Baan Bo is the area where Pastor Sukprasan is focused on church planting. Could it be that God has sent Nun ahead to help start another Thai church? I believe God is in this.

Meanwhile, our online services and prayer meetings have drawn a wider audience than before the lockdown. Some of our members share the link for the livestreamed service on their Facebook page—and off it goes across the country! Some not-yet Christian friends have commented, and conversations have started. We plan to keep online options open as we move to the “new normal” so that we can impact the country through the web of online friends.

Sue Danneker, serving with The Alliance in Thailand

An Unparalleled Opportunity

Some of the regions hit the hardest by COVID-19—East and South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe—are among the most unreached places on earth. In many of these areas, less than 1 percent of the population is evangelized and there is little to no gospel access; the majority have never met a Christian, and many have never even seen a Bible. Most of the people who die in these countries do so without ever having been introduced to Jesus. A pastor friend has said, “When the rest of the world is in retreat, the church should charge.” What an unparalleled opportunity for the people of God to go after lost people like never before.

Stories are pouring in from all over of how God is using this time to bring people to Him. This is something I want to be a part of. Let’s love, proclaim, reach, and launch.

Dan Lawrence, serving with The Alliance
in Paris, France

Zoom, Zoom!

God is growing His Church through virtual means because of the social distancing required to curb COVID-19. Event attendance has increased since we switched to Zoom, including the weekly women’s Bible study I lead called Café Espiritual. Most weeks, I offer two sessions because the women are so excited to interact with the stories of biblical characters. To illustrate the desert setting for these narratives, I’ve spread a small pile of sand over cloth and made small figures with thick paper.

After recently telling the Genesis story about Dinah, Leah’s daughter, we discussed what it means to be a victim, how to give victims a voice—even how God honors Dinah’s suffering by including her story in the Bible. One friend expressed surprise at the relevance of God’s Word for our everyday lives. As we begin meeting again in person, I plan to implement a weekly Zoom session for those who can’t attend the live meeting.

an Alliance worker serving in Latin America

Hunger at the Door

COVID-19 has added to the problems of drought and hunger in this region. In the city where we serve, food insecurity has posed a higher risk than the virus. We have worked with our little church and partners to donate more than 10 tons of food aid along with personal protective gear and washing stations for 140 at-risk families. Our teams are distributing two months of staples to each family. We teach them about the virus and how to protect their families. Then we pray for them in the name of Jesus.

By supporting our work through the Great Commission Fund, you are doing something that is hard to put a number or value on. Each of these 140 households represents a significant relationship built over many years. They are among thousands who have heard and seen the good news demonstrated in this city over the past decade because of your faithfulness to give. Please intercede for the roughly 50 million people at risk of hunger in West Africa and for Christ’s Church that is reaching out to the many in need.

Alliance workers serving in West Africa

United We Stand

As we all know, in the COVID-19 world it’s been easy to feel trapped at home. We’ve worked to stay outward focused, helping with public-awareness campaigns. People from across Indonesia’s Alliance network of 3,000-plus churches have asked for the banners we’ve made, hanging them in front of their churches and in their communities.

Many of us in the city have also gathered multiple times a week on a Zoom call to pray. Additionally, groups have formed around callings and skill sets to address the needs and plan present and future responses. Ironically, COVID-19 which threatens to isolate and distance us, has brought the Body of Christ here closer. We’re excited to see where God continues to take us—all of us—in the days beyond the worst of this crisis.

an Alliance worker serving with CAMA in Indonesia

2 responses to A New Thing

  1. We serve a wondrous God of power and creativity and amazing enabling for His people- a new thing that we could not imagine.

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