Dates: June 17 – 27
Ministry Partner: unlisted for security reasons
Ministry Focus: Compassion ministry to Iraqi refugees and the urban and rural poor; medical outreach
The team from Grace will be involved in a multi-faceted compassion ministry to the poor – some of them refugees from Iraq who have fled the war in their homeland. The medical aspect would include working at a Jordanian hospital and medical outreach in remote areas of Jordan.
The Jordan team arrived home safe and sound yesterday, bringing to a close a full week of ministry in the Middle East. Thank you for your prayers for their work. Be sure to come to the Summer Missions Celebration on Sunday, September 19, at 6:00pm in the Worship Center
, to hear more from this team and the other teams that take God's grace to the nations this summer.
June 27 - Day 9
Scott and Vickie write:
On our final day, we returned to East Amman to work with Iraqis. Our partners in took us to some amazing places to reach out to those who were outside the church body and needed hope. We met people from Baghdad and Fallujah, and elsewhere in Iraq. Stories that touched our hearts, caused us tears, and drove us to pray.
Did you know it is legal in most countries in the middle east to have 4, but not 5, wives? That's what an Iraqi wife was explaining to us Saturday, as we met with this woman who was the 4th wife of a farmer from Fallujah. They fled Iraq under threat of death for opposing terrorists, and are still being pursued where they live now. The situation of having nothing, and needing help, opens doors for our friends to meet some of their needs. On Saturday, we took a food box, and added one link in the chain of friendship between this family and the local church. Our local friends like to take us to homes, because often we are viewed in a different light, and can open doors or add a link that would be harder for them to do. Bringing someone to the light in this area of the world takes many interactions. It is like building a chain, one link at a time. The challenge with each visit is to determine how long the chain is, and which link to add on each visit.
We also built a bond of friendship with a blind man and his family of 6 kids who lived deep in the heart of the city. They lived in housing conditions which, in their words, put their family's health at risk while they wait for their papers to emigrate to Idaho. But they so appreciated the visit and the food box, the value of which amounted to more than 25% of their monthly income. We were able to establish much commonality and break down barriers. As we prayed at the end of the visit for this family's needs, we could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as the whole family gathered in a circle with us. One of the audio Bible sticks we brought with us was eagerly requested by our new friend. The church will return to take it to him, and use the visit to put one more link in the chain to faith for this man.
Alex and Kitty had an amazing experience on Saturday afternoon. The pastor at our partner church had encouraged Alex to meet with the daughter of a family, and Alex took the initiative to arrange the meeting. Before meeting the family, Alex was nervous and unsure of what to expect. Although unaware of the family's spiritual condition, a few sentences from the family's nineteen year old daughter affirmed the daughter's faith in the Lord. This home had a different, unmistakable spirit. The daughter told the story of her family's journey from Iraq to Jordan to escape harassment and being targeted for shooting by terrorists, arriving in Jordan with nothing but their lives. The father, a bus driver, had tried to save his passengers who had been kidnapped by terrorists, resulting in retaliation. The local church had reached out to the family in Jordan and demonstrated Christ's love. Through this expression of love, the father and his two sons and daughter eventually accepted Christ. Even though the daughter suffers from her father's decision to report the terrorists and is unable to attend a Jordanian University, she told Alex that unlike Islam, which exposed her to murder, killings, and hate, Jesus brought her an undeniable peace. She had a love for Jesus that was overflowing and told Alex that Jesus catches her every time she falls. To Alex, she confirmed the change Jesus brings once He comes into a person's life. Kitty and Alex were able to pray with the family on a rooftop, hands held and worshiping together. Our local host was overwhelmed at what he saw on that rooftop. The prayer was overlooking the city of Amman as God's children prayed for healing and safety.
Kitty made a special connection with the mother, who gave her an Iraqi soldier's Bible as a thank you for her son's ultimate sacrifice of his life fighting for their freedom in Iraq. Pray that Alex can continue communicating with the daughter in the family by internet and encourage her to continually keep the faith. Pray that the family, now brothers and sisters in the Lord, can receive a visa for relocation to Ohio. Well, that brings us to the last evening of our trip, with some incredible visits in Iraqi homes. Pray for this church, that they would be able to reach more and more deeply in this neighborhood of Amman. The July Jordan team will be working with them in a couple of weeks, as well.
Thanks so much for your faithfulness to pray for us this week. Words cannot express our deep appreciation for your faithful partnership in the Gospel.
For the Jordan team,
Scott & Vicki
June 26 - Day 8
Scott and Vicki write:
Friends, today we had the great pleasure of returning to Mufradet, the site of our village outreach last year, and ongoing community development. It was like going home. People waving at us from their yards. No suspicion. So much has changed that mere words cannot express. True life transformation is happening in the village, one person at a time. To those who donated goats for our 2009 outreach - THANK YOU. The 20 goats, including 9 provided by you, have now multiplied.
But goat multiplication is the least of the changes. We were met last year by somber, inquisitive faces as strangers. We were waved to and welcomed as friends this time. Mufradet is a village of 80 homes, 12-14 people on average per home, all of the dominant religion in Jordan. We drank tea with many of the residents last year, gave sandals to barefoot children, and gave goats to the poorest families. (This year, we gave 3 more.) In the meantime, others came back periodically to check on the goats. A few other needs have since been met, including a small vocational school loan for a young person. In the own words of villagers: "we thought last year you were different, but now we know the truth of what you are" "our goat has a baby" (small boy) "I remember you" "I'm one of you" "This village was in darkness until you brought the light in (sheik) "We had no hope. God sent you to us. You literally rescued my future". (Kamleh, age 19)
Kamleh told us that on a recent national holiday, she made a speech to people at her nursing school, after which everyone applauded. In her words: "wherever I go I talk about people who came to rescue my family. I thank God for all the help that came I told everyone that I had no hope after leaving high school, and that when there was no help inside Jordan, people from outside Jordan came to help us. Since I know I can never repay this, as I'm studying nursing, I'm pledging to help others in the same way by hoping to someday work in the nearby (Christian) hospital. My real wish is to do the work they are doing." Kamleh's' mother, Mehlina, said last year to us: "I think God hates me". Today, she beamed as she introduced her kids to us. She is happy. She has 3 goats, and works up to 12 hours a day in the wheat fields for no cash pay, but rather to be given enough grain to feed her now 3 goats. She is sacrificing what she must for her kids. She now has a refrigerator, the only piece of furniture in her empty living room. Leaders in her community say they have been personally moved by her attitude change. This is Mufradet.
Today, Mike, Jackie, Cameron and Kitty staffed a medical clinic and built more bridges of friendship and trust. Who knows where those additional bridges may lead? Keep praying for our friends here.
But this was only half of our work today. The other half was done in Mafraq, a nearby city where we partnered with the Alliance(CMA) church. The visits were amazing. We visited with a variety of people who were somehow known by the church but generally not believers. A few were desperately poor believers who needed encouragement and support, but most were visits where we were able to share the love of Jesus in words, not just in the tangible box of food. It was another town which had never done this type of outreach before, and it was a resounding success. We were able to be the hands of the church to people who had nothing, and no one to turn to. We hope this will be the start of something big in the city of Mafraq, just like in the village of Mufradet. Time will tell.
As we departed Mafraq, we were able to spend the early evening visiting a Christian camp in Gilead, overlooking the Jordan River Valley. What a treat, as the cool breezes refreshed our bodies, and the familiar tunes of worship refreshed our souls. We felt truly like "there is a balm in Gilead."
We are almost at the end of a perfect week, where our ministry stretched from North to South Jordan, and to the East and West of the Amman area. Your prayers have been answered in abundance. God has moved in amazing ways. Since I'm writing this recollection one day late, please check in tomorrow for stories from our last day, Saturday. I have heard stories at today's debrief which literally brought tears to my eyes, they were so amazing. We will write them down as we change planes in Frankfurt. (There was just no time to do so before departure, since we worked in the neighborhoods in the evening until 7;30, and then had to coordinate our debrief and departure.).
This has been a special week of very special blessings, to us likely even more than to the people we came to serve.
For the Jordan Team
Scott & Vicki
June 25 - Day 7
Our ministry in Ma'an began at an orphanage where we saw almost 65 patients. In one dentist room they had a state-of-the-art dentist chair but no one to use it. It was still in the wrapper! (Any dentists want to come? Hani has room for you anytime you can make it!) The kids there were adorable.
The nearby nursing college heard that we were coming. They knew that there was a nurse in our group (Debbie) that could mentor some of their students. So, we met five nursing students from this school, who were the most passionate people I have ever seen. They were fascinated about medicine and wanted to learn more. They were very good helpers.
We truly saw the hand of God today because Debbie was at the nursing school, so wasn't at the clinic for all of the women, so Mike had to check all of the Muslim women himself. Well, he got to see ALL of them. They would somehow trust a man to examine them (unheard of!) and even to perform ultrasounds on a few of them. It was fun though because I played with some of the kids there to keep them occupied while their moms were in the clinic.
Later that day I went with the other team to deliver some food to some houses. At the first house I went to, there was an Armenian man who seemed to be very stubborn about the Gospel. His daughter was a strong believer. So, we talked to him and figured out that he did EVERYTHING that a Christian does. We were confused about what the problem was and finally figured out that the only thing that was missing with him was the act of asking Jesus into his heart, and permitting Jesus to be Lord of his life. So, Mr. Gillis challenged me to lead him in prayer. At first, I declined--unsure of myself, but then I was convicted and did it. It was a fantastic experience and he became a follower of Christ that very day.
At the second house we went to, there was a couple with two kids. The wife was a believer and wanted her husband to be, too, so we came and talked to him. He considered himself a good Catholic, but he didn't want to invite Christ into his life because he had a status to hold with his family and community.. We reminded him that in the end when he would be face to face with God, it didn't matter if he was catholic, protestant, Nazarene, or Baptist, but what REALLY mattered was his relationship to Christ in his heart. It was cool because Mr. Gillis was able to relate the Gospel to his marriage as he was telling him the gospel. So, in the end, he decided to make the decision to follow Christ. We prayed and he broke into tears. It was really great because at the end he gave his wife a big hug, gave all of us hugs, and you could feel the difference in house with the Holy Spirit.
That’s about it for tonight, folks. We will write tomorrow.
For the Jordan team,
June 23 - Day 5
Scott and Vicki write:
Friends, the medical team joined us tonight from their time elsewhere. Amazing things happened there! Debbie had some wonderful experiences with the nursing students there, including one who was deeply touched by the concept of the "bread of life", and was inquiring about that. Mike spoke to medical students today, in addition to the huge number of people who were seen in the clinic. The demand far exceeded their time. One of the most amazing things was that Mike was allowed to treat many, many Muslim women, which is absolutely unheard of in this area of the world. The medical team was well-received with gratitude from the local area. After the great job they did, another medical team would be welcomed at any date or time. This area is too far from Amman for all but the most dire situations, and seems to have no local doctors practicing there.
These two days in Aquaba at the southern tip of Jordan were among the most amazing of our trip. At the end of the day today, our hosts commented on how encouraged the local church has been, and how our time here will cause them to rethink new ways they do outreach to their neighbors. One after another has been added to the kingdom, growing the small local church here by about 10%. But we inadvertently found out the real secret of why God likely chose to move here in such a way: two ladies, including one who guided us to homes, have regularly been spending 4 hours a week praying for their neighbors and the people we would reach out to. They have been growing the church from their knees.
Today we visited Abu A., an elderly Armenian man who, by his own words, "tried to do good, pray before bed each day, and let's his wife go to church every week". As Lauryn gave her testimony, we found out that his daughter was a true believer, but that this man was convinced God would accept his good works. We spent more than an hour narrowing down the differences in our understanding of God's expectations, and in the end, his wife and daughter were overjoyed when this crusty old man bowed his head and prayed with Cameron to invite Christ into his heart. As we left, the whole family walked us out and down the block, their joy evident in their shining faces. We also spent time with Nasar and Ghoda, a lovely young couple with two kids. While Ghoda was a believer, Nasar strongly believed that "best efforts to live a good life" are what God expects of man. The church had been praying for this man for 7 years. As we explained the Gospel, the light gradually dawned in his heart. We explained that becoming a follower of Jesus was like participating in your own wedding. (A one time decision followed by a lifetime of setting yourself apart.). In the end, this young man was glowing after praying to invite Christ into his heart. And his wife was elated. We left them on the front porch with hugs and tears, finding it hard to pull away.
Today, Kitty, Alex and Vicki visited a modern day Abraham. Munasfa and Menil left his father's house in Egypt and moved to Jordan, living in a neighborhood as the only Christian. This family which we delivered food to was extremely poor, with gaping holes in the walls. Their story paralleled Abraham and Sarah's story in the Bible. They were believers who prayed thirteen years for children. God granted their wish and now they have two sons and one daughter. They decided to name their second son Isaac. Although the family is the only Christian family in their Muslim neighborhood, the husband told us that their love and joy has garnered respect from their Muslim neighbors. The wife and children must return to Egypt for schooling, but the husband will indefinitely remain in Jordan to work and support his family. Alex was touched by the family's unending faith and trust in the Lord. When we left the home, the husband couldn't hold back his tears. Please pray that this special family will continue to be encouraged by the local church. Also pray that the family will remain steadfast in the Lord and that the husband will find a roommate and continue to impact their neighborhood, even though the rest of the family will be returning to Egypt.
The angels sang once more as Victoria, a widow of 8 years, and her mother Simeon prayed to invite Christ into their lives in Aqaba tonight. Victoria is 57 and unemployed, and the two women care for Victoria's 6 kids. Vicki's testimony made the connection with the women, as she explained one needed to come to God with open hands of surrender, not by working our way into heaven. Pray for these women, for provision for daily needs, for a job, and for their growth as believers.
Please remember to pray for these new babes in Christ. They need to grow, and to be protected while they grow. They are the fruit of your labor of love. And pray for the church in Aqaba.
For the Jordan team - Scott & Vicki
June 22 - Day 4
Scott and Vicki write:
Friends, we are humbled and thrilled by all that has happened today as we went out to visit homes with the Free Evangelical church of Aquaba, on the very southern tip of Jordan, just a few miles from Israel, 13 miles from Saudi Arabia, and just a ferry ride away from Egypt. Please pray for this church, and its Pastor Nabil, as it is the only evangelical church S of Amman except for the Nazarene church in Karak (Moab) that we worked with yesterday. This church is having programs for Phillipine, Egyptian and Chinese people in addition to Jordanians, here at the crossroads of many nations. Pastor Nabil is an energetic young pastor in his 30s, committed to reaching the people God has placed in this far corner or Jordan. And your prayers, far away in America, are being answered here in the lives of people.
Today, God answered the prayers that Alex and Lauryn had been praying all week, and well before. Alex had asked God to let her present the Gospel in a way that draws someone to Christ. And Lauryn had asked God to let her pray with someone as they invited Christ into their heart. Tonight we went to the home of Luna and Sara. The mother of 3 kids had very little, and was delighted to hear we were coming by with a food box and to pray for her kids. But as we talked, we discovered a greater need, a belief that good works and trying hard to do right will get someone accepted by God and into heaven someday. While the discussions took much time, eventually Luna bowed her head in submission to Christ. And then, to everyone's surprise, daughter Sara, who had been tending the younger kids on the other side of the room walked over and asked "Can I pray that prayer with you, too?". And so Alex and Lauryn together, sitting on each side of 19-year old Sara, led her in the greatest decision of her young life. As we dried our eyes, and began talking, the mom exclaimed " something wonderful has happened tonight in me! I feel so different!" And it is wonderful to know the church worker promised to be back within days to involve both of these ladies in their women's ministry.
As we drove up to Abu R.'s home, we were greeted with a scowl and a hand gesture telling us not to park there. After seeing the church member and realizing we were bringing a food box, though, we were invited in to this retired longshoreman's home. Home alone, with his believing wife away for the evening, we chatted. However, as the conversation turned to the spiritual, we got reaction after extreme reaction. First of all, we were told that he thought he was accepted by God because he had never sinned. As Scott asked him if he wanted to know what the Bible said about that, he became willing to listen to the Bible's words. He then told us how offended he had been by some failings of a priest to visit him when he had been sick, and how he never wanted to darken the door of a church again. As we discussed the fact that ALL have sinned and fall short of God's standard, including priests and church people, he began to listen. Alex presented the Gospel, and yet it had to be repeated by another time for him to comprehend it. We told him that all of us could pray for his upcoming knee surgery, but only he could pray for a new heart for himself. Finally, expecting a 'no', we asked if he was willing to repent, believe, and receive Christ as best he understood the Gospel. To our amazement, he answered a firm yes, and as he began repeating the sinner's prayer, he began softening. At the end, he was insisting that we stay and talk over a soda, and asked for prayer for his smoking habit and for his surgery. Every time we would try to leave he would call us back to show us a picture or something. And finally, following us out to his front porch, he exclaimed "I really like you!" And "I promise I will come to church on Sunday with my wife"! Such a change reminds me of the excitement of Zaccheus, wanting to find a way to express his repentance. We saw first hand tonight the amazing excitement of a changed life.
Our team is exhausted right now, but full of joy in seeing God's hand at work in unmistakable ways. We cannot tell all the stories here. We are tired but overjoyed. Tomorrow (tonight your time), please pray for a second evening of outreach in Aqaba, and for the medical team's continued success in the orphanage in a key Islamic center of Jordan. In particular, Mike will likely be speaking to groups of physicians, and Debbie to nursing students. Pray that their time will be fruitful, and that they will bring light to a lonely place. We will send you another report tomorrow.
Remember, what you read in these daily reports is the fruit of your ministry of prayer and giving. You are just as much a part of this team as if you were present here with us. We are all eyewitnesses of His glory, serving as His hands and His feet in a dry and barren land.
For the Jordan Team, Scott & Vicki
June 21 - Day 3
Scott and Vicki write:
Friends, yesterday the team thought it had hit rock bottom when we visited Iraqis in East Amman. But then the team was astonished when they saw people who were even worse off in the area of Moab.
Today, Monday, the medical team worked in a clinic in Amman, and both teams worked in the afternoon with the Nazarene Church in Karak, a town in Moab.(Moab stretches along the east side of the Dead Sea). There is a promise in Jeremiah 48: "But I will restore the fortunes of Moab". Today, in Moab, there is only one evangelical church. One. So, first of all, please pray with us that God will raise up workers for his field in Moab.
Our ministry in the Karak area was to visit families in Smakieh, a farming town. Michel, a young man of 18, heard the Gospel and prayed along with Scott to invite Jesus into his heart. But the real recipient of the message seemed to be the mother, hanging back in the kitchen listening to every word that was spoken and prayed. As we left, the mother had tears in her eyes and was absolutely glowing. Whether principally for her or for her son's behalf that day we may never know for sure. But one thing we know, is that Jesus visited that house today.
Today Mike visited with an 80 year old lady who had flies around her, bedridden, diabetes, demented, and basically waiting to die. He was able to actually read her medical records, since Jordanian medical records are written in English. The team was able to meet with her, give comfort, and pray with her. The medical team also visited with a single young man of 30 who was desperate and hopeless. He had a degenerative hip disease, and needs surgery to repair the hips, which at $7000 was way beyond the means of the family. But without it, he cannot work, cannot marry, and has no hope for his future. Please pray for the young man, and for our team as we process whether there are any ways to help him. Favia is a Christian woman in Smakieh caring for 3 teenagers by herself with no source of income. Her husband was killed by neighbors. She is possibly losing her house to foreclosure, and needs to know how to survive. Please pray for her.
Pray for Mike and Debbie these next two days. They will be working in an ultra-conservative city in S Jordan, and they need wisdom on how to speak to bring light to a dark place. In addition to running a clinic, Mike has been asked to address a group of doctors, and Debbie has been asked to speak to student nurses. Wonderful opportunities to share light! Pray that they would have wisdom.
Good news! Remember the two kids who we saw Saturday who both had severe foot deformities? They saw the Surgeon in Amman today, and word is that the younger of the two will be operated on as soon as next week, at government expense! This never happens! We are grateful to God for what He has arranged. Keep praying for a solution for the older boy, whose situation is much more complicated.
We appreciate all you have done to pray and to make our ministry together in Jordan possible. This is YOUR ministry, and YOUR fruit. We are eternally grateful for the opportunity to be here and to see God work in such wonderful ways.
Scott & Vicki For the Jordan team
June 20 - Day 2
Scott and Vicki write:
Have you ever been overwhelmed by a desperate situation where you could do little to help? On Saturday, Vicki and Debbie encountered more grief than their hearts could handle. They visited a woman with 5 daughters and one young son, whose house had been barren - as in no kitchen, no bathroom, and only one room for everyone to sleep in. If ever there was a worthy candidate for the gift of a food box, this was it. But the emotional and spiritual needs were much greater. You see, the husband was in jail for molesting 4 of the 5 girls. And now these young girls were being rejected outright by the local community, being called prostitutes and kicked out of school.. The father was still threatening from jail to hurt them, and told the extended family to stay away from them. The girls have been told it is their fault, and that they are evil. The two oldest daughters have run away, with nobody knowing where they are. Into this tragedy, people from one of our partner churches came into their lives to love them, and have built them a bathroom, bought them a used refrigerator and a used sofa. Their situation is still desperate, and the girls still are terrified their dad may come back. Please pray for this family. We were able to share bit of hope, but much more healing needs to happen.
On Saturday, Mike visited a Muslim family with many children, the youngest two of which have a severe genetic defect in the foot (one had club foot, one was pigeon-toed) If you were the parents of such a child, what would your prayer be? Dr. Mike was able to identify the issue, and when known, our host placed a call to a cousin, and was able to arrange an appointment for the two children this Monday at 9am with the most well known orthopedic surgeon in Jordan, who committed on the phone to do "whatever could be done", for free, to help the two kids. These things just do not happen, except for the hand of the Lord.
On Saturday, Debbie had a chance to share her story with a single mom named Laila with 2 girls and a devastated life. After she shared her story, she was privileged to see this Kurdish Muslim woman invite Christ into heart with tears, and share that "now you are my sister."The team also visited with a family of 5 where the father had died, and which was being solely supported by $100/month the son was able to earn. This family was SO grateful for the food box they received, and loved the time we spent visiting.
Every home Dr. Mike visited seemed to have medical needs, including an Iraqi man who had just seen his brother killed after being kidnapped and held for ransom in Iraq 6 months ago, and who personally had developed multiple medical issues, including the start of multiple sclerosis induced by stress.. This man was a Sabien (follower of John the Baptist). 8 days ago, half this man's body was paralyzed, and the Grace Church family in Amman came and prayed over him, and he quickly regained the use of his left side. To this point, this man has believed in the miracles of Jesus, but not in His Lordship. This family, with 4 kids, is scheduled to emigrate to Arizona, but has at least now heard the Gospel shared clearly in their own language before they tackle coming to a new culture.
A Muslim lady Mike visited on Sunday was formerly a prosperous accountant in Iraq before being told she must leave or die. Last week, she had her foot run over by a car, and so was delighted to have a doctor stop by. Our medical team was again a blessing, even before the official medical part of the program starts tomorrow.
A Syrian lady we visited had to flee from her village after their house was burned down. 7 years ago, this Muslim woman came to Jordan, and God started putting Christians in her life. As she began coming to church, she would take away one nugget of truth, and felt the love of others. Today, she and her three kids are all believers, won by the love of people modeling Christ;s love. The team that visited told us you could feel the Holy Spirit in that home.
Thank you for praying and for sending us here as the arm of Grace, and as the hands and feet of Jesus. Without you, these lives would not have been changed. Tomorrow we leave Amman and head to the south of Jordan, to Moab tomorrow and to Edom tomorrow night. We will be in the conservative Islamic center of Jordan. Please keep us in your prayers these next few days, as we need to be alert to opportunities for the Gospel, but wise as serpents and gentle as doves.
Scott & Vicki for the Jordan team
June 19 - Day 1
When you receive this, we will have arrived in Amman at approximately 2am local time. It has been a wonderful airplane trip, and the team will now crash for about 8 hours of sleep before beginning ministry tomorrow afternoon. We so appreciate your encouragement and your prayers in preparation for this ministry next week.
Scott & Vicki, for Jordan Team 1