Author: Amber Werner
I told the women in the prison that I had been a foster child. That I was made to feel unlovable and unwanted by a previous foster parent. I talked about my joy when I was adopted, only to have that family fall apart because of alcoholism. I told them that I had let my past wounds lead me into a life of drug use.
I, too, have been arrested and that only by God's grace was I able to turn my life around.
Today I was in a woman’s prison in LaPaz Bolivia. I was escorted there by John and Carmina Donhowe who have been lifetime missionaries with Cup of Cold Water Ministries. The Donhowe’s translated my testimony for the imprisoned ladies.
“It is only through God that we can find our worth”, I continued.
"If we look to others, we will always be let down and disappointed. Our past sins do not define our future. God already loves us and forgives us even before we ask for his love and forgiveness.”
At the end of my story I asked if anyone had questions.
One woman asked if I had been given any gifts from God. I answered that at my home church I am famous for my hugs. So the women started lining up for a hug from me! I hugged the first woman and she immediately broke into tears. I could tell that she was feeling God's love. Peace flowed through me. Then the second woman in line came up for her hug and the same thing happened! This continued for all of the 20 or so women that were there. They even left the chapel to find their friends to get a hug from me!
One woman in particular could not stop crying. She kept saying "forgive me, forgive me" over and over. I told her that God has forgiven her sins and that she is His beloved daughter. These women are so thirsty for God! They are crying out for His love!
Today exceeded my expectations by far. I feel so blessed that God used me to show His love for these women in prison.
…I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36
AUTHOR DAN HENNENFENT
“Dad, just stay very aware of who you meet on the new flight.”
Those were words of wisdom from my son Luke moments after I cancelled our Tuesday flight and re-booked another for Wednesday. UPS has been playing ping pong with the passport and Bolivian visa of my traveling partner and CCWM Secretary, Glenn Harms.
So is God’s hand in this circumstance?
I feel something like Gideon when God whittled his army from 32,000 down to 300. (Judges 7:1-6) Originally there were four people from the CCWM board on the team going to Bolivia to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Life and Truth school.
Then the first one dropped, then the second one. With only Glenn and I left, the passport situation became more grave as it’s 10 day journey wore on. They believe that it has two bar codes on it, so the automatic sorters send it back and forth with no human intervention.
Convinced that I could pick it up at a regional UPC sorting center this morning (Wednesday) for the flight this afternoon, I was looking forward to the overnight flight with Glenn to LaPaz, Bolivia.
Who will we meet?
What will be the ‘good’ for being delayed by one day?
But like Gideon, my team has been whittled once again.
The passport is still missing and I’m traveling alone today.
Staying very aware of whom I might meet on this solo flight.
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Field Report written by Dan Hennenfent
Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, Thailand is a block long stretch of neon
with bar after bar packed side by side on both sides of a very narrow street.
The ‘traffic’ going up and down Soi Cowboy are men, sometimes walking alone, or pairs, and sometimes in packs of eight or ten.
On the “front porches” of the bars are tables, bar stools an occasional dancers pole, and girls. Many girls that are barely clothed.
Through the front door of each bar (which is really just a curtain) is loud disco tech music, lights, a dance floor and more girls with less clothing.
It’s on the front porches on the outside of the bar where our mission team
has spent time getting to know a handful of the women whose job it is to get men to buy over priced drinks.
Members of our team, working in groups of two or three will buy a girl a drink, which really just buys us the privilege to visit with her for ten or fifteen minutes, but that is long enough to let her know that someone in the world really cares about her.
When it goes well, a girl will agree to meet with us the next day over lunch or other social way and the conversations go deeper. The ultimate victory for us as an outreach team is to introduce them to the women of The Well, servantworks.com a ministry to bar girls in Bangkok. So far this week there has been one victory! Our team is working on number two right now. What are the lives of one or two Thai bar girls worth?
The blood of Jesus!
WHAT'S MY QUARTER?
AUTHOR SHARI TVRDIK
"You're not going to believe the story behind this quarter! "
My sister Joanne stood in the grocery store isle holding up a quarter as if it were a piece of gold.
We had bumped into one another at the store, both in a mad holiday rush with no time to talk.
"Remind me to tell you all about it when we have a chance to catch up." she said.
Three days later we sat together, coffee in hand and sure enough, the quarter was the first thing I wanted to hear about.
"I believe the Lord has been stretching my giving and obeying abilities and He is using a quarter to do it!"
Joanne shared with me.
"It all started when I felt the Lord leading me to leave my quarter in the shopping cart at Aldi." She said.
She was referring to a local grocery where you had to insert a quarter into the cart in order to use it.
"I truly did not want to part ways with that quarter." She continued.
"I never carry cash, and especially not coins. I have one quarter that I continually use for the Aldi carts. I know exactly where it goes when I leave the store and I always have it on hand."
And then she added, for drama sake,
"There is nothing worse than arriving to Aldi WITHOUT YOUR QUARTER."
I laughed because I knew from personal experience, exactly what my sister was talking about.
Without my quarter I've had to either wait near the cart rack and awkwardly beg a stranger to give me their cart as they are returning it, or drive to an ATM, collect my cash then drive back to the store and ask for change. A lot of hassle in order to begin my shopping.
Joanne went on to tell me about her struggle to obey the Lord's gentle command to her. She explained her main fear was she would forget to replace the quarter and wind up quarterless at the store the following week.
"Then I believe the Lord spoke to my heart again saying,
"Do you not believe I could provide a quarter for you next time you need one?'"
In the end, Joanne reluctantly left the quarter inside the coin slot of the cart.
"Now, why was this such a big deal for me?
"How could I not willingly obey such a harmless instruction from my Heavenly Father?
The following week as Joanne approached the grocery store she realized she had forgotten to replace that quarter. Annoyed with the whole situation she proceeded to go through the hassle of driving to find change at a fast food place.
"I was feeling frustrated when I arrived back AGAIN to Aldi. As I walked up to the cart rack with my quarter from the fast food place in had, I noticed the first cart in line had a quarter sticking out of the slot! I stood there in shock, remembering the Lord asking me if I believed HE could provide a quarter. It was as if He was right there smiling as I discovered His provision."
Her excitement in the story was contagious. I could sense she had truly experienced a precious lesson from the Lord. "And it didn't stop there!" Joanne said.
"Since then, quarters continue to surprise me, showing up in the most unlikely places. I've never had so many quarters. It's almost funny! "
A joyful grin splashed across her face.
"God continues to provide quarters to remind me that obedience is the very best way to show that I believe! "
Her final words struck my heart.
She was right.
It is the very best way.
My sister's quarter story has been on my mind this week. It has agitated my heart in a good and growing kind of way.
What is my quarter? I wonder.
Do I believe that He provides for me?
Am I willing to find out?
packing and weighing.
This was the main job that I had to do in the last 3 weeks.
It seemed ok since summer is a time of traveling and camping for most Mongolians.
Then came the meetings,
and many goodbyes followed.
I did so well until the last couple days.
Everything at my home, community and my whole country seemed extra precious and beautiful.
Everyone I know became so hard to part with.
My heart started to ache.
My tears were easily flowing and I needed to hide and cry in my bed.
Why am I leaving my family?
Why am I leaving my job?
Why am I leaving my beautiful country Mongolia?
Why do I need to leave them when I love this place so much?
We usually don’t know how precious the people and life around us are until we are separated. It is in our human nature to not notice the significance of our loved ones until they are gone from us.
Gratitude is something that we need to look for often.
My dear sister-friend Siew Ling gave me a bracelet on my birthday which says GRATITUDE on it. I’m thankful that she reminded me of this important part of life. I’m grateful for my life in Mongolia.
This chapter of my life is ended.
Thank you my Lord for all the blessings.
27th of July, 2017. I arrived in the United States, at O’hare International Airport.
Happily this place didn’t seem foreign to me since it is the 4th time coming here and my dear friends were waiting for me.
The only difference is a thought in my brain which says
“You know that you are not going back soon, right?”.
I heard this over and over again.
I have been to many places in the past 10 years, but all temporary.
I never left Mongolia with tears until this time.
Many are happy and also jealous of me.
They said, "You are going to AMERICA for 16 months!
And you have a scholarship!
You have friends!
You know English!
Oh I wish I was going instead of you!
I would live there forever.
Yes, they are right.
But I’m the one who is leaving
and I’m the one who doesn’t like to leave my home country for long.
Here I am today.
Among the corn fields.
Today felt like an empty page in between chapters.
It will pass soon and I will start my new chapter soon.
Don’t know what adventures are ahead of me, but I’m peaceful,
because God knows and He planned it.
God, please teach me and tell me WHY I AM HERE!
AUTHOR NOAH WARD
It hits me like a wave bearing the force of the ocean behind it.
The overwhelming of my brain
This is the daily grind of language school. It is a grind that is hard. It is a grind that has its many challenges, yet also has its benefits.
I stare at a paper with letters that confuse me
….yet they are starting to make more sense.
The vocabulary I study seems to go in one ear and out the other
….yet I use new words on a daily basis in conversations
I think I only understand 40% of the story
….yet when questions are asked I comprehend more than thought
Language school offers so many challenges. At times it can be discouraging. You feel you are making no progress and you constantly feel worn out. You look at the end of one year and wonder if you will ever make it. You see veteran missionaries speaking Thai with such ease and you wonder how is it possible.
Will I ever be there?
Will I be capable of the same feat?
Will Thai people ever understand me?
When I first arrived in Thailand, a veteran missionary and I sat down for lunch. He described a story to me of when he was in language school. He shared the challenges that he faced and his story paralleled what I go through very well. He described the same situations and the same doubts. He then proceeded to give me an encouraging thought that has pushed me to keep pushing everyday.
“Always remember why you are here.”
These words are some of the most valuable words I have ever been offered in my twelve years on the field in Asia. I have heard them before, but this time they came at the right time. It is so easy in times of stress to forget. This is what keeps me focused on the task. It is my constant reminder that my God is greater and I want people to see His Glory. It is so important that I keep my eyes set on this goal and not let the little things derail my focus and my trust in Christ.
This question is one that can be applied in all jobs and all lives.
Why are you where you are?
What is your purpose in your job, your mission and your life?
I know mine and it is what pushes me to keep going.
Do you know yours?
AUTHOR LILY FLUHARTY
Two years ago God called me to the streets.
I had just spent the last four years loving on 70 adorable children living at an orphanage in the mountains of Caranavi, Bolivia. They called me “Tia Lily” and the ten littlest ones that I lived with called me “Mami". My heart was filled to overflowing every day and I was at home on that mountain surrounded by little ones.
Then I traveled to Santa Cruz and met some of the kids living on the streets.
I saw teenagers whose eyes told stories of pain and abandonment who use drugs to drown out the pain and hurt. I saw young kids with bottles pressed against their nose as they inhaled paint thinner and glue.
And God broke my heart.
I couldn’t get these boys out of my head.
“How can I help these kids?” I prayed.
These kids weren’t like the little ones I had been loving on.
I knew nothing about how to help these children.
I saw their worn faces and scar covered arms and my heart broke.
And God began to grow a love in my heart for these precious kids.
I couldn’t take away the years of pain these kids have endured.
I couldn’t erase the scars telling stories of abuse.
I couldn’t fill the emptiness of their eyes.
Yet as I looked and saw these kids, God showed me hope.
I saw myself in these beautiful yet scarred children.
I saw myself lost and hopeless…
and I saw how God met me in my brokenness and gave me hope.
I was reminded how He redeemed my life from the darkness and filled me with Himself.
And as I look at the beauty of what Christ has done for me,
I see the faces of the boys God is calling me to love and I hear Him saying,
“See what I did for you?
See where I brought you out of?
This is my heart for these lost and hurting boys.
They NEED to know me.
They NEED to know my love.”
There is an urgency to this love.
So even when I feel overwhelmed by the reality of the scars that are deep in their hearts,
And I feel insufficient…
I hear God whisper,
Love these children.
Love them in their pain and sorrow.
Love them even if they seem unlovable.
For these are my little ones.”
“Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut… I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name… and I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.”
The door is already open.
We cannot shrink back in fear.
See the love the Father has given you.
See what He has saved you from!
He wants to pour that love out on the lost sheep of His fold.
“I will make them come!” Says the Lord.
Please see these children.
See their scars.
See their pain.
Don’t look away.
Please let your heart break for them.
And let God grow a love for these boys.
AUTHOR SHARI TVRDIK
I sat in the church life group noticing the expressions of those in the living room.
Did we really just hear what Andy had spoken?
We all heard.
But none of us are about to get dropped off in the jungle of Africa to teach the Bible.
I mean, not unless we were "called" by God.
On the drive home I struggled with our reaction to Andy's words.
We were entertained by the missionary's stories,
but we became less than thrilled when he mentioned a need that we could technically fill.
All of us in the room were Christians.
We have been participating in Bible studies for a whole lot of years.
We could teach the Bible.
We could go.
Perhaps for a fleeting moment the thought danced in our spirits.
Inspired by Andy's life.
He was just a man....like us.
And yet, he was living the Great Commission.
If Andy could do it, so could we.
But then there are jobs,
the vacation we have planned for next summer,
our parents and children,
The comfortable rhythm of life.
Didn't our Pastor say, "Not all will go"?
And almost as soon as we had the thought to be an Andy....we were valiantly rescued by all the reasons why...we shouldn't, or couldn't.
So we told Andy we'd support him in prayer.
We tossed a check into the little basket by the door... it helped to ease the nagging suspicion that we had just been duped by ourselves.
And we drove home to forget.
But I couldn't.
I couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps I was willfully ignorant of a purpose.
I couldn't stop thinking of Andy waving goodbye to us from the front porch.
He had a flight to catch in the morning.
Off to "tell the world" I suppose.
Tomorrow, I'd be off to make enough money to pay our second mortgage and the car payment.
It must be nice to be Andy, and not have to think about those kind of things.
I want to forget everything Andy said.
Are there really that many people left who do not know about Jesus?
I wish I had not gone tonight.
I don't like to think of myself as someone who doesn't care.
What a terrible discomfort to know the Great Commission remains unfinished, and that I don't really wish to be bothered with it.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" ~ Mathew 28:19
AUTHOR HEATHER JOHNSON
There is nothing quite like being an outsider.
The whispers that you can hear.
Each week I get my water from a well.
It's not a traditional well but a water station where a water truck comes several times a day to fill up the tank which is connected to a hose in which water is pumped into the containers, brought from people around the community.
It's next door so I shouldn't complain.
My heart soars on the days no one else is there.
No one else to see me ask the water station lady for the one-hundredth time, "Sorry how much is it again?" as she rolls her eyes at me.
But the days that is is crowded
I want to hide.
Sometimes I stare back.
I grin and boldly respond to their questions.
Other times (usually) I keep my head down wondering if perhaps they won't notice I am a foreigner,
I'm making it sound much worse than it is.
It's not so bad.
Often I have people come and help me out of the kindness of their hearts for the helpless white girl.
But each time I'm reminded of another woman at a different well thousands of years ago.
Before Mongolia I had understood the story of the woman at the well,
but now I can actually feel her embarrassment.
I know what it feels like to have your face turn bright red because you can hear what they are saying about you.
I understand why she would go in the heat of the day, to avoid her neighbors.
I remember how Jesus told her, "If you drink from my water, you will never be thirsty again."
And like the woman, I too would be thinking, " Yes! Now I will never have to haul these heavy containers again!"
Of course that is not the point that Jesus was making.
There is the dry heat of Israel
and the dry cold of Mongolia, but there is also the dryness of our hearts
when disappointment after disappointment comes and nothing seems to satisfy those
We have a common need.
True literal water and sustenance to keep us going.
Something (Some One) to keep us from dying of thirst,
to keep our souls from becoming parched.
Usually I hate being the one who’s different than everyone else.
But last week when my container got off balance and wasted water gushed all over the ground
I was happy.
Because, unlike the Mongolians would have been, I didn’t get scolded.
For me it was just more eye rolling and “poor foreigner, she has no idea what she’s doing.”
And they were right!
The Value of A Mission Sending Board
AUTHOR SHARI TVRDIK
"To whom it may concern,
The letter went on from there to ask if Cup of Cold Water Ministries could be of any assistance.
This letter was the starting line of our race. the moment right before the gun shot is fired into the air, when the runner feels everything, dreams big and believes winning the race is possible.
Director of CCWM, Dan Hennenfent responded to that email with a two hour phone call followed up by a personal visit to our home. I'll never forget the little circle we made in our kitchen that evening where Dan prayed his heart out over us. In a world where a letter like Troy's may have caused some heads to shake, CCWM took us seriously. They still believed in missions and missionaries.
They believed Abraham stories happen today.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a simple process. There were applications, interviews, board meetings. All this leading to one night months later where we waited by the phone for the call that would either welcome us as missionaries or turn us away. When the phone had not rung by 11pm we were almost certain the board had decided we were not fit for the field.
Who could blame them?
An ordinary couple from a small town who didn't even own passports. Four children, two of them teenagers. Neither of us held a degree in anything.
Sometime after 11:30 came the call that changed our lives,
"Congratulations, you are CCWM's newest missionaries!"
The starting shot rang out through our hearts that night. Joy gave way to tears.
CCWM did not leave us there to figure it out for ourselves. They began to run by our side. Through the early days of learning how to raise funding all the way to the airport to send us off. they were there.
And the send off was just the beginning. CCWM has followed us through this race, supporting us with whatever it takes to keep us running. They meet regularly to pray for, care for, raise funding for and plan for their missionaries. If you've ever had the privilege to sit in on a board meeting you're struck by the authentic love and care the organization has for their missionaries and for the mission of the Gospel to go forward to all nations.
CCWM board members come and SEE what is happening. This accountability is greatly needed. Many missionaries are left without that kind of support and it is one of the leading causes of missionary burn out and failure. WE NEED A TEAM!
Our mission board, the unseen writers of the incredible story written in Mongolia.
There is no special recognition given to those who manage the bank accounts, pay the salaries, answer the countless email coming in all hours of the international night, edit, print and mail newsletters, counsel and provide a shoulder to cry on. Our Heavenly Father sees and knows the feet that bring good news are in the shoes called a mission board.
The story that followed our arrival in Mongolia was much bigger than any of us could have known. God had a plan and invited us into it.
But back at that starting line, back to that first letter, what would have happened had CCWM responded to Troy with something to the effect of, "I'm sorry, but you don't qualify."?
When we were just getting started, when the race was unknown, when it was all a beautiful hope, we found CCWM.
And they said, "Go, we're right behind you!"