Depending upon how you look at things, we are either six months before Christmas, or six months after Christmas. Either way it seems like a long time since the wintry days of December or January. I calculated that there are only 182 days left till Christmas, or 213 days till Missions Fest 2013. Perhaps it’s that way for you and it seems like a long way off.
Let me assure you that even in the slower months of summer we are working towards next year’s conference and there are three developments that I would like to bring to your attention:
“Win a Trip to Meet Your Missionary” Contest
Missions Fest Vancouver and Love Global Foundation will be partnering this fall to hold a contest that increases the interest in missions for youth and young adults. This will also provide an internet-based information sharing and funding model that can be used by interested agencies or individuals. Missions Fest will benefit by learning to better use Social Media tools as we promote global missions.
Love Global Foundation works with individuals of new organizations to provide administrative and legal tracks to enter the world of global missions. They also work with missionaries from established agencies who seek additional support with internet-based technology to share their story and work with their constituency. Their service is a combination of Facebook and Canada Helps, using innovative technology to help those involved in global missions.
The contest focuses on championing and supporting missionaries. Three contest winners will be announced at the Young Adults Rally at Missions Fest 2013 (January 26, 2013). For further information, see www.missionscontest.com or consult the poster included with this letter.
WANTED: Stories for a New Missions Fest Website
In September a new Missions Fest website will feature stories of individuals and organizations that are making a difference; people who are world changers. We invite you to be a part of a series of blog postings that will feature people and agencies that may not get posted anywhere else. We will eventually have a series of biographical and organizational sketches that can be searched by geographic location, ministry description, or by name. We need your help to do this.
One category that we are looking for is a 300-350 word biographical sketch of a person who is making a difference. This can be a volunteer in an organization, or a cutting-edge leader. It can be a child who saves their allowance to support a sponsorship child. For more details on how you can be involved, phone the office at 604-524-9944 or email email@example.com.
Connecting the Dots…In Jamaica
Missions Fest is a Link Between People and Opportunities
Frank and Elsie O’Brien came to faith in Christ through the Alpha ministry of their local church. They saw a complete transformation of their lives and found themselves looking for an opportunity where they could share their faith.
“I’ll always remember my first Missions Fest,” says Frank. “Tony Campolo was the speaker and he challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and become involved in missions. We were new Christians and we didn’t even know what missions was about, but we knew we needed to do something.”
“I remember going to see the exhibits after the speaker,” adds Elsie. “We were just looking for a place where we could fit in; a place where we could be used by God. There were many opportunities, and we didn’t seem to have the right qualifications, but we were encouraged to keep looking.”
POVERTY IN PARADISE
Elsie worked as a travel consultant and enjoyed the perks of two trips per year. “We’d been going to Mexico for many years, but about that time we made a decision to see another place. A great deal came for a hotel in Jamaica and we went.”
The couple noticed a change in the way they looked at things as they spent time on vacation. They met a dynamic young lady who worked at the hotel. They asked Raquel if they could visit her home.
“That first visit opened our eyes to a whole new world,” says Frank. “We had never seen anything like that; it was unbelievable to think that the people who served us lived in such conditions. Yet we were welcomed and loved by Raquel’s family. They’d never had someone from the hotel come to visit them, and they asked if we wanted to see their school.”
The visit to a local school sparked an idea in Elsie’s heart. “We didn’t say much when we first got home, but we couldn’t get Jamaica out of our minds. We just came out and said it one day: ‘This is what God created us to do. This is where God wants us to be.’”
The next year they returned. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” says Frank. “We went with a suitcase of Bibles and toys. We showed the Jesus Film and the people asked us when we were coming back. That’s when we organized the first trip with our church youth group, and Islandson Ministries was born.”
THE LOVE GLOBAL CONNECTION
Frank and Elsie began to look into the procedures to begin a charitable organization and found that the process was complicated. They asked the Missions Fest office for help and were directed to Love Global Foundation, who worked with them to lay the tracks for a new organization. They were able to focus on developing their ministry in Jamaica, while they also learned about fund-raising.
The special Missions Fest / Love Global connection enabled the O’Briens to make a difference in the world; finding the place where they fit into God’s global plan.
As the Chair of our Board reported to the Annual General Meeting in May, no one likes to talk about a deficit. It may even come as a shock for some to read that last year Missions Fest ended with a negative balance.
We give thanks that God continues to supply our needs for our upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration, but in response to our current situation the board prayerfully took the following decisions:
- To seek guarantors who will secure the finances to cover the deficit. (Done)
- Staff will work at 80% time and salary levels in the summer, helping to cut costs and avoid lay-offs. (In process)
- To appeal to agencies, sponsoring churches, and individual donors, inviting them to help with operating costs leading up to the conference.
- Increase the costs for Youth Rallies, Film Festival, Club 67, Children’s Programs, and some premium seminars.
- Mission agency booth rental costs for future conferences (starting in 2014) will increase to reflect the actual costs.
All of the above are stop-gap measures and we need to address the overall financial situation for future years. It does not present a Christ-honoring testimony to have Missions Fest in a financial position where it is unable to pay its obligations to suppliers or staff.
Both our auditors and the Board have come to the conclusion that we have undervalued the quality of the world-class venue and the incredible job done by staff and volunteers. They make Missions Fest Vancouver one of the best-run, most effective conferences of its kind.
The Board has spent time in prayer and I have personally been seeking God’s guidance as we discern what He is saying to us at this time. This has been a time to seek God’s direction.
We believe that there continues to be a great need to encourage churches in their mission awareness and involvement. We feel that passing along the torch of world missions to the next generation is a priority, and we have some ideas of how we can provide tools that will help missionaries, churches and individuals tell their stories. We want to continue to celebrate what God is doing in the world, inspire others to get involved, and motivate our churches in service.
We covet your prayers and are thankful for the way God is supplying for the needs of the ministry through individuals and churches. We trust him to continue to do so as we go into the busier – and more expensive – months of the Fall.
Thank you for carefully reading through these details – even though it seems like Missions Fest is a long way off. Your partnership and support is valued and I look forward to working together as we concern ourselves with matters of the Kingdom.
In HIS service,
Dwayne K. Buhler
Executive Director, Missions Fest Vancouver
Missions Fest 2013: His Story Revealed
January 25-27, 2013 at Canada Place
Plans for the 30th Anniversary of Missions Fest include a special Thursday evening celebration banquet (January 24th), together with testimonies from people who have been impacted by the years of ministry in our city. The theme His Story Revealed: Celebrating the Growth of the Global Church will provide opportunities to reflect on the advances of the Gospel. We will also focus on the future, considering the mission movements in the developing world and new initiatives among the younger generation. Mark January 25-27, 2013 on your calendars now!
Ramez and Rebecca Atallah live in Cairo, Egypt, a region with many challenges and changes. Ramez is the General Secretary of the Egyptian Bible Society and was the program chair for the 2010 Lausanne III World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Rebecca grew up in Haiti and as a young woman returned to Quebec to work with a project with Haitian refugees. In Cairo she leads a ministry to children and the disabled at the Mokattam Garbage Village and among Sudanese refugees.
Gracia Burnham returns to Missions Fest to bring an update about her life, ministry, and contact with her former captors. She and her husband Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot. They were kidnapped and held hostage for over a year. Martin was killed and Gracia was wounded as army forces closed in to liberate them. Gracia’s story is told in her book, In the Presence of My Enemies, and her sequel To Fly Again.
Patrick Johnstone is best known as the author of Operation World. The manual has been revised six times and continues to be used by many to actively engage in prayer for the nations. Patrick lives in England, where he is a part of the WEC International leadership team. He is author of The Future of the Global Church and will speak on the growth of the Church in the developing world.
Ajith Fernando is an internationally recognized Christian leader, teacher and Bible expositor. Ajith led Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka, for 35 years. He now serves as Teaching Director, concentrating on teaching, mentoring and counseling staff and volunteers. He is the author of 15 books, including The Supremacy of Christ and Sharing the Truth in Love.
Luis Palau is the author of more than 40 books, host of three international daily radio programs, and head of the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. Known as one of the world’s leading evangelists, Luis has dedicated his entire life and career to presenting the claims of Jesus Christ. He has ministered in more than 73 nations and has reached more than 1 billion people through television, radio, print, and live events.
Nigel Paul is the founder and director of MoveIn, a movement of teams of Christians who bring transformation to high-needs neighborhoods through prayer, presence and action. Nigel grew up in Zambia, Pakistan, Kenya and came to Canada to attend the University of Waterloo. In 2006 Nigel served as the travelling assistant to the Founder of Operation Mobilization, George Verwer. Upon his return to Canada, Nigel joined another ministry in an unreached neighborhood where God gave him the vision for MoveIn.