Orphan Care: what should it look like?

Linda Spriegel, WGM missionary in Kenya at Tenwek Hospital, shares in this post about the Tenwek Orphan ministry and some of the challenges they faced this past year.  What should the response of the Church be to orphans and impoverished families?  There is more and more discussion on the global front about doing away with orphanages and empowering families to adopt.  We’d love to hear your thoughts as you read and process Linda’s story in regards to care of orphans.

The Koech's at Kenduiywa Home.JPG

The Tenwek Orphanage ministry was in crisis!! Funds that had carried it through for ten years were gradually decreasing, and we realized we couldn’t keep doing everything we had been doing as we supported four orphanages in the Tenwek area.

These orphanages were started by Kenyan believers who have hearts for the needy. Over the years they had given their land, their resources and time to welcome and care for needy children. Missionaries had come alongside these orphanage directors to supplement their needs for food, firewood, and clothes, and to help with school fees. Some of these directors had networked with local churches to help provide for their daily needs. For example, one director had arranged for a different local church to sponsor the food needs each month. But it was always a struggle, and Western visitors and supporters in the US were often looking for ways to share their resources with the needy. Tenwek missionaries were glad to help channel giving to where they saw vital needs.

Umoja kids singing.jpg

Some of these children were genuine orphans, with no living parents, and others came from homes where the resources were too few to feed them and send them to school. Year after year, the orphanages continued to grow, with expanded building projects for more dorms, bigger dining rooms, etc., funded by caring donors from the outside. And orphans were being helped!  Some of them completing high school, going on to good jobs or for continued higher education.

But in March 2016 it seemed like this ministry was coming to a screeching halt as the orphanage ministry accounts went into the red. Although it was difficult, we believe the Lord ordained this financial crisis to stimulate a much-needed conversation. What is the real need for outside involvement in these locally-started orphanages? Was the Lord trying to change our mindset? This all came at a time when the main family in this ministry was headed back to the US for Homeland Ministry Assignment with no obvious successors in place. No one had the time and energy to put into this ministry like this family had been doing, even if the funds were there.

Umoja kids.jpg

So, what, if any, should be our involvement in these orphanages? If we were able to restore a balance in the fund, what should our priority be? What do we tell our donors?

Thankfully, we have able advisors on the Tenwek Orphanage Committee, Kenyans with years of experience in community health and development work. They, more than anyone, can sense when helping is starting to hurt, and when original vision and good will is getting in the way of the long-term good. As we prayed and consulted together the decision was made to hand back all day-to-day expenses to the local orphanage directors and only seek funds for student scholarships. The Committee and the Directors agreed that education would have the most lasting impact on the orphans. The Tenwek Community Health and Development staff offered to help round out the scholars’ training with seminars during their school breaks on other necessary life skills.  Formal education and mentoring together will help these kids break out of the cycle of poverty in their families’ lives.

This is just one angle of the orphan issue. It seems we are moving a few steps away from dependency on the Western world for these orphanages.   This will help in the long run but there are broader issues at hand. Can we move even farther along to the point of changing the focus from residential care to training and equipping families to cope with the challenges of raising children in the midst of poverty?

We are not the only ones raising these questions. There is a movement, mentioned in Joy’s blog of August 31, 2016, to move orphans out of orphanages and into families. A cousin of mine who is very involved in global issues relating to orphans and vulnerable children recently shared with me the work of two other groups.  World Without Orphans (http://www.worldwithoutorphans.org/) is “a global movement for every child to grow up in a nurturing permanent family and to know their heavenly Father.” They offer seminars, teaching and discussions to move churches and organizations in this direction. In fact, a conference is coming to Kampala in March!

Christian Alliance for Orphans (https://cafo.org/) unites churches, organizations and individuals committed to caring for orphans around the world. From their website, “CAFO members join in coordinated initiatives that grow effective adoption, foster care and global orphan care rooted in the local church.”   A great-looking summit is being held May 4-5 in Nashville.

Aligning ourselves with others who share this passion may be helpful in shaping our future direction.

I commend my Kenyan missionary colleagues for their untiring compassionate care for the orphans, both through the Tenwek Orphan Ministry and the Kenya Africa Gospel Church.

Linda from Kirsten cropped.jpg

Linda ministers in Kenya with her husband, John, who is an Internist at Tenwek Hospital.  Linda has developed a network of women who are involved in Bible studies that reach hundreds, if not thousands of women, called Tabitha Ministry.   She has also chaired the Tenwek Orphanage Ministry Committee over the past several years.




As you finish off the last of your Christmas sweets and think about how to get rid of that holiday weight gain this book is a poignant reminder about our role in a world where many go to bed hungry.


From Jon Steury who serves as WGM’s Africa Regional Director along with his wife, Vera.


Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Moving from Affluence to Generosity by Ron Sider (available on kindle for only $7.99)

I first read this book several years ago and even then it was not a new book. The copy I have is the fifth edition and in it, Ron speaks of writing the book “almost thirty years” ago. However, the Biblical concepts it presents are timeless, and kept relevant by the continued updating of the facts and figures and examples throughout the book.

The book is an examination of world poverty and hunger from a Christian perspective with consideration given to what can be done to address and alleviate the problem.

Because I’m a “detail guy” I was intrigued by the facts and figures throughout this book that time and time again “put things in perspective” for me. The first chapter, A Billion Hungry Neighbors, felt like an onslaught of uncomfortable realizations as the scale of world poverty and hunger was presented through data and interesting anecdotes. I was astounded to learn how great the gap is which exists between the world’s “haves” and “have-nots”. It felt overwhelming, hopeless and depressing. Fortunately, the book doesn’t leave you there.

The book is divided into four sections:

Part One – Poor Lazarus and Rich Christians (The presentation of the problem.)

Part Two – A Biblical Perspective on the Poor and Possessions (The analysis of the problem from a Biblical/Christian perspective.)

Part Three – What Causes Poverty? (A look at the causes of the problem.)

Part Four – Implementation (A look at what can be done about the problem.)

This was the first book I read that really delved into the roots and causes of poverty – and even a deeper understanding of poverty – that it’s not just “a lack of money”. This has helped me to try to look at “the poor” in a more wholistic manner – searching for the areas where even they are “rich” in some aspect of their lives.

I appreciated the thorough review of the different causes of poverty in part three, and the many practical suggestions in part four on how we (I) can fight against it.

I was so impressed by this book that I have shared it widely with many of our supporters. I learned, in the process, that the book is somewhat “political” as well, when I shared it with supporters who were in “big business” in the USA and did not agree with some of the author’s conclusion in Chapter 11 – Making the World More Fair. Fortunately, we were able to talk it out and accept each other’s understanding.

I also suggested to one of our supporting church’s missions chairman that for their next annual “Missions Banquet” that instead of serving an international meal, they put a copy of this book at each place at the table because the cover of the book shows a place-setting of fine china and silverware – and that bread and water be served as the evening meal in realization that a large percent of people in the world will not have any more than that for supper. I’m not sure if my suggestion was taken, but I felt it would give a far more accurate picture of the need for “world missions” than a big dinner with lots of international dishes.

As you can see, the book’s intent is not to make us feel better as western Christians, instead, it’s to challenge to us to “move from affluence to generosity” as the subtitle invites. Or, for us to find ways of identifying with, caring for and showing Christ’s love to the poor. Jesus said we would always have the poor with us – so the challenge remains. Read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger to learn how you can face the challenge head on in a Christ-like manner.


Lifelong Learning


In this busiest of busy seasons why is this blog about educational resources?  Isn’t this quite out of place with Christmas less than two weeks away@#$%*!!  This blog post is highlighting educational opportunities in wholistic transformation NOW because it will soon be time for ‘New Year’s resolutions’.  Here are two fantastic opportunities requiring just a little time each week in the new year that will reap huge blessings in your spiritual and ministry journey.

Check out these awesome opportunities.  And this first one is offered FREE.  That alone should cause a stampede!


Monday Church is the newest and FREE online course put out by the Disciple Nations Alliance. The Church is not a building or a Sunday-morning activity; it is the Body of Christ on mission in every sphere of society, every day of the week. Monday Church explores the greatest tool God has given us to impact the world: our work. God intends for our daily work to be for the service of man, the blessing of the nations, and the glory of God.

Get a few friends together or introduce this to your Sunday School class or small group and be challenged together. There are video’s to watch, together or individually, and discussion questions.  Unleash your talents for the Kingdom of God!  You won’t regret taking this course.


Want to understand Islam better?  Houghton College here we come.  But wait – this college course is coming directly to your computer.  The course starts on January 9th and registration closes on January 3rd.  Check out the letter below and the link to the Lillias Trotter Center for more details.

Dear friends,
Beginning January 9th, 2017, the Lilias Trotter Center is running the online course: The History of Islamic Theology and Movements: A Christian Investigation. The course is being taught here at Houghton College (we have 32 students registered) and we will have a team who will video the lectures and class interactions and post them online the same day.
The class is taught Tuesday and Thursday afternoons each week (2:30-3:45 pm EST). In addition to selected readings from an authoritative history of Islam, most of the readings are taken from a wide variety of sources and will be available in the course for free download. I will be working with the Professor and interacting with online students. 
The course is available for an Lilias Trotter Certificate for $199, and for graduate school credit (3 credit hours) through Wesley Biblical Seminary for $637.50. Full information about the course can be found on the LTC website here.   
I warmly commend this course to you. We expect that you will need to spend 8 – 10 hours each week, including the 2 ½ hours of watching the videoed lectures. 
To apply, go to the course online
Serving with you for his sake,
Director of the Lilias Trotter Center and Adjunct Professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary


What’s wrong with orphanages?

Caring for orphans and vulnerable children is a Biblical mandate. Stories and pictures of orphans easily capture our hearts.   I recently listened online to Rick Warren of Saddleback Church speak at last year’s Finishing The Task Conference and was blown away by a story he shared.

You may be aware of Saddleback’s PEACE plan that they’ve been unfolding in Rwanda.  PEACE stands for Plant Churches, Equip Leaders, Assist the Poor, Care for the Sick, and Educate the Next Generation.  Rick was expounding on “C” – how his church has cared for the poor in Rwanda.  He was also highlighting the fact the church has the biggest participation of any organization around the globe.  The church is an army of volunteers.

After the genocide of 1994 the President of Rwanda asked Rick for help with the orphan problem.  One million children, or 10% of the county’s population, were left orphaned.  Rick said, “Sure we’ll help, but you need to know I don’t believe in orphanages.”

The goal for Saddleback was to make Rwanda the first nation without any orphanages.  And for 10 years, with the participation of local churches, orphans have been moved out of orphanages and into families.  At the time of the FTT Conference last December when Rick was speaking 2 out of 35 orphanages were left and the goal was that by the end of 2016 Rwanda would be the first nation without any orphanages.  How amazing is that!

After telling this story Rick reiterated that the government can’t do that, NGO’s can’t do that . . . . . only the Church can do that!

Saddleback sends teams to train churches in Rwanda to start an orphan ministry.  A ministry that provides a permanent, legal, lifelong family for children.

It was a powerful talk but you don’t have to take my word on that as it’s available on Vimeo.  If you’d like to hear just the orphan talk – start at 1:14.  If you’d like to hear a bit more on health care (and they are using a slightly revised model of CHE – Community Health Evangelism)  – start at 1:00.  (Actually the 2+ hour talk is all good!) There’s also a bit more information about the Saddleback Orphan Care Initiative here.

Another resource I was made aware of recently is a curriculum entitled Orphan Calling:  A Biblical and Comprehensive Guide to Orphan Care by Jessica Johnson.

World Gospel Mission talks a lot about the Disciple Nations Alliance.  I like this study not only because it’s got great graphics and reflection questions but it talks about DNA values like the Kingdom of God, shalom, and worldview.  It also asks some really hard questions.

Hard questions are good though.  What do you think about orphan care?  Has what Rick Warren or Jessica Johnson shared made you question what you’ve traditionally thought about how the church should help orphans?   Can you initiate a conversation about orphan care within your church or with colleagues?

I love Rick Warren’s response to the President of Rwanda.  “We’d be glad to help with the orphan problem but we don’t believe in orphanages.”  And look what God has done!  How can your church get involved in caring for orphans?



Joy Phillips is WGM’s Wholistic Transformation Coordinator.  She loves to see individuals , churches and communities rise to their full God-given potential.  She has had opportunities over the last 3 decades to be involved in community transformation in East Africa. Currently she networks with WGM’ers globally who are coming alongside the Church to build His Kingdom in all it’s fullness.




What’s in a name?

Whitney Smith McMunn, a WGM volunteer several times over, submitted the winning title for WGM’s Compassionate Ministries blog ~ Between the Trees.  Below she shares the meaning behind the name.


There are two prominent trees in the story of the Bible.

The first we see in the beginning. In the Garden of Eden we find the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; the tree from which Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat. Their disobedience regarding this tree brings sin into the world; sin, destruction, death. This tree is at the center of their story. And, it is at the center of ours. We reached for that which was not ours to take, and we have been broken ever since.

But, it’s not just as simple (though severe indeed) as being separated from God. That relationship was broken and created the greatest loss for humanity. But also, our relationship with each other was broken. We look around and see war, violence, infidelity, lies, hatred, and prejudice. Also, our relationship with the rest of creation was also broken. We are filling massive landfills, depleting resources, producing and dumping toxic waste. On a smaller scale, we simply throw away our plastic bottles and cans, recycling only when it’s convenient, because we simply don’t care. And lastly, our relationship with ourselves has been broken. Many of us know someone who thinks they are so worthless they do harm to themselves, and maybe even try to commit suicide. We encounter those who are so proud they trample everyone in their way.

We didn’t just damage our spiritual selves through sin. All of creation was impacted. All of creation was broken. Our whole lives were affected.

As we progress through the story of the Bible we see this brokenness apparent in so many ways. We encounter people in Scripture who have turned their backs on God and tried to run as far and as fast from him as they could. We also encounter people in Scripture who have surrendered everything to God to glorify his name and make him known throughout the world. And the lives of every last one of them were wholly broken by sin.

But, if we stick with the story and continue to make our way through, we see the beautiful picture of redemption unfolding. We see that every book in the Bible is about the Gospel, leading us to Jesus Christ. And finally we make our way to Revelation, the end of the story, the grand finale—which is also chocked full of the Gospel. And here, in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible we find the Tree of Life; the Tree of Life that is for the “healing of the nations” (Rev 22.2). In this chapter we rejoice that one day “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 11.15). God’s kingdom will fully come and people from all nations will worship him forever.

This is the culmination of the whole story. Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ we will experience the fullness of God’s kingdom where we will be wholly restored! There will be no more brokenness. We will live as God’s children in the fullness of his presence, and there will be no more hatred, sin, or death, no more sorrow or tears. Just life. Abundant life without any more brokenness.

We are living life between the trees.

This is what we strive for now: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6.10). God’s children are called to be a part of God’s redemptive work to move us from complete brokenness to complete wholeness. That’s what wholistic development is all about. That’s what community transformation seeks.

The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just to restore souls to a relationship with God. And the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just to give food to someone who is hungry. The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring wholeness where there is brokenness, to restore our whole being to what and who we were created to be.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through [Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.” (Colossian 1.19-20, emphasis mine).



Whitney has been a Volunteer in Action twice serving in Kenya where she met Joy Phillips.  They talked about Mango Ministries, WGM’s new ministry in South Sudan.  Whitney then spent a year ministering in South Sudan using the training tools of Community Health Evangelism and Biblical Storytelling and mentoring and discipling those around her.  She is married to Kirby and this past spring they led a team of youth from their Church, who they have the opportunity to lead year-round, on a trip to Escuela el Sembrador in Honduras.

The 4-14 Window: A Generation that Transforms

Nearly fifty percent of the population of Honduras is under the age of eighteen, and unfortunately, these youth are facing a myriad of issues in their country. Some of the main problems include: absentee parents (many leave the country to find work or some families experience abandonment from one parent or the other), gangs recruiting children, and a general discontentment with the political situation in the country due to corruption, affecting many areas of life including the medical and educational systems. The youth are often left with little or poor guidance, only contributing to and causing the issues.

That’s why WGM-Honduras has caught the vision of the 4-14 movement. This movement, spearheaded by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), focuses on ministering to children between the ages of four and fourteen. Studies have shown that it is between these ages that people are more open and receptive to the Gospel and are more likely to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Logo.jpgWGM-Honduras partners with the Iglesia Evangélica de Santidad en Honduras (IESH) (the Evangelical Holiness Church in Honduras) and together they are working to minister to the young population. Currently, there are two avenues of work in this ministry – youth camps/training curriculum and Sunday School curriculum.

Youth Camps

The first camp was held in January 2015 in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The leaders and camp workers arrived one week early to receive training on how to run the camp and prepared for the 90 campers that arrived the following week.


The group of volunteers that worked hard to make the first camp in January 2015 a success.

The campers came from 12 of the 18 departments of Honduras. Each day, the campers learned about one of seven “spheres” of life that the 4-14 Movement focuses on: Family, Education, Science, Art, Economy, Government, and Communications.

economy day.jpg

Campers making jewelry on “Economy day” during the January 2015 camp.

The youth learned about worldview and how being a Christian affects how they view and live out their faith in each sphere. What a person believes, affects how they live. The campers learned a lot, grew in their faith or began a life in Christ, and had a wonderful time!


Many campers dedicated their lives to Christ during the evening worship services. January 2015.

A second camp was held in January 2016 for the new students of Escuela El Sembrador, one of the ministries of WGM-Honduras.

Out of this camp, a 4-14 Committee consisting of Hondurans church lay leaders and WGM missionaries was formed to promote and advance this movement in Honduras. The committee uses the same training curriculum, modified to the context of the Honduran culture, to train the leaders of IESH churches around the country to hold their own camps.

Curriculum for the Children’s Ministries of Local Churches

After the camp, the 4-14 Committee saw a need in Honduras to provide further training and development for leaders and children’s ministry workers in the local churches. Therefore, the Committee has turned their attention to developing Sunday School curriculum, based on the principles of the camp materials, for continual ministry with children week after week, that the 3-days to one-week camps cannot provide. The Committee is working closely with IESH National Coordinator, Rev. Jorge Gomez, in the development of the curriculum and aligning the materials with the strategic plan of the IESH.

In talking with Claudia Bonilla, chair of the 4-14 Committee, it was hard to miss her passion and enthusiasm for ministering to children. She first became involved in the movement because her pastor signed her up to help with the first camp in January 2015. She admitted that she didn’t really know what she was getting into; however, Claudia is thankful because she can use her skills and talents in this important ministry. She has also enjoyed visiting churches in other departments of Honduras to train them with the camp training materials. She looks forward to the day when they will have the Sunday School materials ready to share with local churches around the country.

2016 worship service.jpg

Evening worship service during the camp at Escuela El Sembrador, January 2016.

Ethan Batschelet, WGM Missionary Disciple and 4-14 Committee Member, has also enjoyed working with the ministry. He helped extensively with the first camp and now helps guide and facilitate the 4-14 Committee.

The 4-14 Committee hopes to have the majority of the Sunday School materials ready by the end of the year 2016. In the future, they also hope to set up a fund that can provide scholarships for the Honduran youth to participate in the camps and help with school supplies.

service day.jpg

The January 2015 camp ended with a day of service out in the community.

The 4-14 Committee is excited and passionate to reach the youth of Honduras. It is a hard ministry with all the problems that the young people are facing, but they are excited by the blessings of the ministry they have seen so far. The Committee requests prayer for more local churches to get involved. The campers have had a wonderful time and have learned and grown in their faith, but culturally, the idea of sending children away for a 3-5 day camp is still new to many families. Additionally, several local churches currently have small or no children’s ministry. However, the Committee is expectant that their work will help the churches because it not only provides training for those involved in children’s ministry, but it will also provide Sunday school materials that the leaders can utilize in their local ministries.


Heidi Buell is a WGM Missionary Disciple working in Honduras.



Empty Tortillas

One of the guys working on the house construction said, “Yolanda and Francisco have been eating empty tortillas”.house.JPG

Our church has been helping build a new house for Francisco and Yolanda in one of the communities where the Shalom church has been developing a church plant. A Hispanic church in the States had donated funds to help with construction materials. Church members from our Shalom Church in the city of Choluteca, Honduras were supervising the construction and local workers from the community were volunteering to help with the labor needed to build the house. With everyone working together, it would take about two and a half weeks to build a small secure cement block house.


Francisco and Yolanda were selected by community leaders as the most economically needy people in the area. Their old adobe house had deteriorated over the years and the rainy season was about to arrive. With a leaky roof and broken down walls in the house, the couple did not look forward to enduring another rainy season.

Francisco is older and has chronic health problems. He is no longer able to work in the fields or go fishing along the coast like most of his neighbors do for a living. He and Yolanda have a few garden plants planted around their yard but it was not enough to sustain them.


I couldn’t get the words out of my mind. I kept thinking, “They’ve been eating empty tortillas” with no beans, much less any meat to put in them. In 36 years of ministry in Honduras I had never heard hunger expressed quite that way before. I had known that the cooking stoves in rural southern Honduras are often kept cold during this time of year. By July, people in the country have finished their food reserves from the previous season’s harvest. During this time of the year, they still have not yet started harvesting the few crops that they are able to plant. During June through August, people often gather what they can find to eat from the trees nearby. There is little else available.

To make matters worse, the young people are not able to help. Many of the young people in the region work in the large agricultural farms that grow produce for export. Most of the workers are seasonal laborers who work long hours for part of the year, but are without work for long periods of time during the rest of the year. One of the local municipal leaders once commented that “a whole generation of young people in the region are losing all knowledge of how to grow their own food”.

Yolando and Francisco depend on others to give them something to eat occasionally when there is extra food in the community. Often there is very little extra to share from the neighbors. Our men from the church commented on how difficult it is to eat your lunch in front of someone who does not have food to eat themselves. When they stopped at noon-time on the first day of construction and began to eat what they had brought with them for lunch, they realized that Francisco and Yolando had nothing to eat. The fire place remained cold. Our men readily shared what they had and the next day they packed a little extra in their lunch bags.

On the day that I visited the construction site after several days of work, Yolanda and Francisco once again had a cook fire for lunch. It was only because family members had given them eight pounds of corn a couple of days earlier. That would be enough corn to make about 150 tortillas. Eight pounds of corn would not feed them for very many days. In order to get the corn, they had to walk most of the day to go pick up the grain in a neighboring village, and then turn around to carry it back home the same day.

It’s often a challenge to know how to best help the needy people around us. As Christians, we are often challenged to walk the fine line between continually giving relief aid and that of encouraging communities and local church members to find ways to help each other.

There are several ways that our regional church is attempting to help their neighbors. They are looking for sustainable solutions that are developed by local community members. Church extension workers are not only preaching in the surrounding communities now, but they are also being prepared to be effective health promoters. Health promoters are teaching nutrition classes in the communities where the church is active. At times there are vegetables grown in the community but some families have never learned to eat them. The health promoters teach families the importance of eating vegetables how to grow their own food. They then show them how to prepare the food for their families. Health promoters are also teaching families to grow new foods, like eggplant, that they never imagined would grow in the region.

Our men in the church have also been looking for ways to help others. In the years immediately following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, World Gospel Mission had helped build several homes in the region. Over the past 15 years, the church has been wanting to develop a sustainable model home project. The home needed to be secure, using locally available materials, and it needed to be cost effective. A source of funding was needed.

First, several men from our church have developed improved skills for building high quality homes using locally obtained materials. They have the skills in part from teams of university students who have come from the Ohio State University. Some teams have helped teach community development practices. Others have designed a model home that may be adapted to different client’s needs. The homes include a “healthy combo” bathroom and kitchen.


Larry Overholt and his wife Angie have been involved in various aspects of community development in Honduras since 1982.   In this post Larry highlights the challenges found navigating between relief and development.   The Overholt’s process some of these hard and challenging issues in their blog.  What have been your challenges as you walk this fine line between relief, rehabilitation and development?

Wholistic transformation in Honduras

“We have to get involved in changing world view.”  David Hawk, Field Director from Honduras, shared about his experience with the Disciple Nations Alliance  (DNA) at last years  Compassionate Ministries Workshop held before the start of WGM’s 105th Celebration.  Listen here as David shares timeless truths and exciting ways that God is at work in the murder capital of the world.  In the next few weeks several others from the Honduras field will share how God is growing His Kingdom.

Have you been through a DNA Vision Conference or done the online training,  Coram Deo? If so, have you noticed differences in the way you view life and outreach?  How has interacting with this material changed what you do and how you do it?  We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Escape to the City

Did you know that over half of the people in the world today live in cities? Our two final summer-season book reviews are about cities.  The first is very inspiring and the second is very challenging.  I hope you get a chance to escape to the city this summer, even if only a virtual trip.

From Bonnie Gouge, who serves as Regional Director for South America and Iberia along with her husband Ron

Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt’s Garbage Slums by Marty Makary and Ellen Vaughn


This is an excellent book.  It is an easy read, yet full of opportunities to learn and be challenged in your thinking.  The book is the authorized biography of Maggie Cobran, who was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize for her work in the dumps of Cairo.  Maggie grew up in a privileged home in Cairo, Egypt, attended the university, and married.  While living an affluent life, her heart was drawn to the poor and downcast who lived in the garbage dumps in Cairo.  Soon, Maggie was visiting the “garbage villages” in the dump and realized that the call to help the poor was meant for her.  The story of her journey and her faith is inspiring.  From a visit to the garbage dump to the development of  a huge ministry, Maggie, the woman in white, has given leadership and has passionately loved those in her care.

Mama Maggie helped me catch a glimpse of Egyptian life and culture as well as reminded me to open my eyes and my heart to the needs of those around me.  It is a great story and well worth your time.


From Joy Phillips, WGM’s Compassionate Ministries Coordinator

To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City by Eric Swanson and Sam Williams


Have you ever worn out a highlighter? Be sure and have a fresh one before starting this book. This 200 page read may not look like summer reading on the surface but I found it quite compelling. As I’ve been mulling over WGM’s central ministry focus – wholistic transformation – this book resonated with me in a big way. I’ve been in conferences that talked about the urbanization of our world and I’ve read the stats and seen the infographics but I’ve still been left with the question – what do we do about the growing urbanization of the world?

This book gives clear-cut direction for how your church can join with other churches, and even community and business groups, to make a better community or to put it another way – to facilitate the coming of His Kingdom here on earth.

So many good quotes like, “We settled for conversion rather than transformation,” said Layo Lieva from San Salvador. “We don’t need to do it better, we need to do it different. I’m not sure we need any more church plants, if they are like the ones we have now. What we need is a different kind of church.”

This book is filled with great diagrams that help the reader grasp the concepts they are putting forth. There’s also a great list of additional resources at the end of the book to further help you in your quest to see your city transformed.

I’ll close with a quote from the forward. “On a macro scale, this view of church means that every community should be better if the church gets the mission right. The scorecard can no longer be about how well our individual congregations are doing. The condition of our communities is the scorecard on how well the church is doing at being the people of God.” Reggie McNeal

That’s challenging!

Those lazy days of summer – reading recommendations!

Have you ever wondered what WGM leaders are reading?  I’ve asked and they’ve shared a few of their favorites.  I hope this summer season affords you a chance to dig into a few good books to stimulate and entertain.  This post will highlight 3 books reviewed by WGM President Hubert Harriman, Alice Vanderhoof and WGM President-Elect Dan Schafer.  The book titles themselves are compelling: Futureville, Hastening and essentialism.  Happy reading!  We’d love to hear your thoughts after reading any of these.

from Hubert Harriman, WGM President

Futureville:  Discover your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow by Skye Jethani


Jethani is a younger writer who has his pulse on God’s ways in today’s world.  He gets it.  Bob Goff comments, “This book won’t make you want to just think about what the world looks like, but how you’ll shape it.”  He’s right.

Jethani challenges us to think about tomorrow because our vision of the future is what determines how we understand the present.  “In a real sense today is defined by tomorrow.  How we interpret our present suffering, our work, our purpose, even our relationships is defined by how we think about what lies ahead… whoever shapes our vision of tomorrow wields enormous influence over our lives.”  Jathani’s concern is that we are approaching God from a posture of control predicated on fear, rather than one of faith flowing from love.  “As Christians, we believe that a meaningful life is one spent participating in what God is doing—God’s mission!  There are no divisions, in God’s mind, nor should there be in ours, between “religious work” and “secular work”.  Both are true vocations.  But our worth is not in what we do but who we are.  “The Christian worldview stands in unwavering opposition to all forms of utilitarianism.  Our faith affirms the God-given value of every person regardless of their usefulness.”

“Imagine a Christian community where followers of Christ are not merely focused upon church-based programs, but they are taught how to commune with Christ and glorify him in business, the arts, medicine, education, and every other channel of the culture where he has called them.  Such a church would exist not to advance its own agenda but to advance the common good.  Each person would know what part of God’s world he or she is called to cultivate with the order, beauty, and abundance of Futureville.  Their callings would all be diverse, occurring in different parts of the world and in various channels of culture, but every calling would be held in esteem by the church as coming from Christ and as part of his plan to redeem all things.”  Ministry is not being “a minister”, in the traditional way of thinking.  Ministry is being a Christian with a Kingdom view, no matter the vocation.

When asked if he would do anything differently Hubert responded, “I don’t know about differently, but certainly purposefully—I will affirm all Christian workers as called of God and doing full time Christian work, whether a builder or a pastor, etc.—one as important as the other.”


from Alice Vanderhoof, Kenya Field Director with her husband Jim

Hastening: No place Left by Steve Smith


When I was told that there was a good Christian novel that combined missions and the end times, I was pretty skeptical. Missions is exciting enough without having to make it into fiction, and end times books tend to put me off. However, once I started Hastening: No Place Left by Steve Smith, I was hooked.

The premise is compelling – in this modern age with advanced technology and ease of travel, what is to prevent Christians from completing the task of taking the gospel to every group of people until there is no place left where Christ is not known? The end times aspect comes in with Jesus’ promise to return in Matthew 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Will ours be the last generation – the one that welcomes Jesus’ return? Thus, the two titles: “Hastening (His return)” when there is “No Place Left”.
The characters are normal – with strengths and weaknesses, but who dare to surrender all for something that is greater than themselves. They do things we all can do. They feel emotions that we would feel. They are young and old. We could be in that story.
The approach is doable – train Christian “commando” units who will go to the unreached and difficult places to establish “beach heads” where follow-up teams can enter to disciple and train the believers. Their task is focused and short term, and the teams travel light.
The challenges are real – difficulties in entering isolated and sometimes hostile areas; language and cultural barriers; political roadblocks; forces of Satan opposing this ministry through sinister and secret organizations. The last part is reminiscent of stories of the Illuminati and DaVinci Code, but still plausible. There are not always happy or predictable endings.
For me, I was gripped by the sense of urgency to take the gospel to the world, a feeling that had waned somewhat from my 20’s. Research has shown that the number of unreached groups in the world is still a daunting number. There has been good progress and focused prayer raised up for the task in recent years. However, this book is a no-holds-barred quest for the call of the Kingdom. Since I am a person who doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines when God is calling people into action, I found myself intrigued by the possibility of this book being more than just a novel, but an inspiring invitation to strategic service.
I would commend it to every believer to see with new eyes the realities of this present world – a true battle for the souls of men and imminent return of Christ. I would commend it to every missionary to gain a renewed vision that may result in a change of approach and intensity of ministry.
Hastening is Book One of the two-part saga No Place Left. Book Two, Rebirth, has not yet come out. Both need to be in your library and passed around.


from Dan Schafer, WGM President-Elect
essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown
Initial success has a way of leading us to lose our focus which in turn leads us to a failure to really succeed. Successful people often take on too much work specifically because they are successful at most everything they try.  Therefore, we try to do it “all” and as a result we lose focus on what truly is our priority.  Without the necessary focus on our priority, we fail to invest sufficient effort to ensure that we accomplish that priority. Therefore, to truly be successful, we must understand what is our priority and eliminate everything that is in competition to keeping our efforts focused on that priority.  This requires that we build into every day a sufficient amount of time to consider our priority and to figure out how to eliminate the things that will keep us from focusing on it.  Maintaining focus on our priority requires us to develop a discipline of gracefully saying “no” to anything that interferes with that priority.  In the end, less (fewer pursuits) becomes best (the achievement of our priority pursuit).  We develop the disciplined pursuit of the essential in order to avoid the undisciplined pursuit of the nonessential.