News and Updates

June 2018 Central Asia Team Updates

Day Seven
 
Today is our last full day in country. We started our day heading to Koln (Cologne, Germany). It’s a town just south of where we’ve been this week. It is home to the second largest cathedral (called the Dom) in Europe. The Dom is still used by various catholic churches for daily mass. You also can tour the Dom and it is quite astonishing to know that this cathedral is over 500 years old and took 225 years to build! 
 
Some of our group also toured a Nazi prison camp where many were held and killed in World War 2. Much like the Anne Frank house, it is a very somber experience. 

While in Koln, we drank more coffee and got to eat some great food (did someone say strudel? Or Latte macchiato?) and purchase some souvenirs. Driving to and from Koln proved to be another in a long line of traffic adventures we’ve had this week. It’s no surprise so many people take the train daily. Sometimes driving on the Autobahn isn’t quite what you thought it was going to be. Our team decided that traffic in Nashville isn’t that bad after all. 

We returned to Duisburg early in the afternoon, in time to meet in the home of some local believers. It was our last chance to enjoy Chai (Turkish tea) and our entire team loves Chai! We also had to say goodbye to these local believers. Later in the evening,  our team had a great debrief time with our local missions partners and then we had a hard goodbye. Leaving this sweet family is very, very difficult. They are doing hard work...good but hard. Our team commented many times tonight how much respect and love we have for these sweet people. Please pray for them. “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few”. There may be no place on earth this is more true than working with Central Asian people in Europe. Language barriers, prejudiced assumptions, huge cultural challenges and lack of manpower create significant barriers to their ministry. Thankfully, God is greater than all these barriers and our prayer is that he would change this area and turn these people back to him. 
 
Written by: Scott Koon

Day Six

Yesterday, after a long day of fun in Amsterdam, the team woke up early to go to the Bazaar. The long-term workers set up a place for us to put up a tent to attract nationals. We had face painting, glitter tattoos, and even henna! Terry, Haley, and Kathy did an awesome job with the kids. Meanwhile, Jamie made chia to give to adults while their kids where getting their faces painted, and Matt, Scott and Jason passed out pamphlets. Scott and one of the long-term guys went around to mailboxes and put the pamphlets in there, while Jason and Matt stayed closer to the tent. Matt even dressed up as a bear to pass out candy and toys!! All in all, the team had a lot of good gospel centered conversations for the long-term workers to follow up with.

After a hard day in the bazaar, and a full week for that matter, we took the afternoon to rest. The girls took this opportunity to buy authentic tea sets. After a restful afternoon, we split up guys and girls. The guys took one of the long-term team members to a steak house. The girls ate in. Both parts of the team had constructive conversations with the long-term team member’s about how we as a church could better serve them!

With just one day left, it’s fair to say the team is tired, but isn’t that a good thing? We’ve worked tireless to advance the kingdom while here. We are excited about Koln today! And excited to see you all very soon! 

 

Written by: Matt Hulker


Day Five

Amsterdam!

After 4 very fulfilling (but long) days, our team had our first real free time today. We left the hotel around 7am and returned after midnight. 

The train ride to and from Amsterdam is about 2 hours each way but is surprisingly comfortable and relaxing. 

On the train ride to Amsterdam, a couple of the women from our team were able to speak with a Buddhist woman from Sri Lanka and connected with her over being mothers. They were able to share some scripture and have a gospel conversation! How awesome!!!

Once we got to Amsterdam, we ate the dish the Dutch are most famous for....pancakes! They. Were. Awesome!
Our team had an Anne Frank walking tour where we learned so much about the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam and the Nazi occupation during World War 2. 

After the walking tour, we did a canal tour on a boat and learned much about the history of this amazing city. 

Late in the afternoon, we toured the Anne Frank house where she and her family stayed in hiding for over 2 years. It was a somber place. 

After hearing the stories about WW2 and how the Jews were treated, several of us remarked on how far sin can take us. It was a stark reminder of our need for a Savior and our need for redemption. 

After a long but wonderful day our team was very glad to catch the train back to our hotel and get a shower and a good night’s sleep. 

Two interesting facts about Amsterdam:

1) They have more bicycles than people.

2) Many of the buildings lean one way or another. Originally the city was built on a marsh. While the buildings have all been stabilized and are safe today, they are now known for the leaning buildings and sometimes will build structures today to look as if they are leaning. 

Written By: Scott Koon


Day Four

“Today was a great day.” What does a statement like that mean anyway? It can mean different things to different people, but for our team on this day (Tuesday, Day 4), it meant living, laughing, learning and crying with brothers and sisters all day long. Let me try to explain…

The day started in a quaint Bavaria restaurant where a traditional breakfast and plenty of tea was enjoyed, but the food was not the focus. The focus was our mission partners and their teammates-people who have committed their lives to serve in a place where tangible fruit is rare. They live day after day trying to balance work and family among people who may or may not even notice they are there. Complications abound as you might imagine, but so does their commitment. The Lord sustains them and provides for their needs. Part of that provision, as the team saw today, is interaction with people from ‘home’ who love them. The Bible says in Proverbs 25:25, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Watching that play out literally in front of our eyes was such a blessing. 

After more tea than any one person should drink and the mandatory Ikea stop, the team visited perhaps one of the most fun people they have met so far this week. Nadya abla (Big sister Nadia) insisted on hosting lunch for everyone and invited another lady, Miryam, to join in the fun. Lunch was ‘interesting’, but the fellowship was fantastic! Teri shared about loving the difficult and then tears abounded as Nadya abla shared how even as an abandoned child, God pursued her. She is a living example of ‘considering it all joy’ when encountering various trials. With tears streaming down her face (and ours) she thanked God again and again for all He’d done for her. As our mission partner translated what Nadya was sharing, it was more than evident that he truly loves these people he and his family have committed to live amongst. 

The team stayed all afternoon with Nadya and Myriam sharing stories and encouraging each other. This time Proverbs 25:25 worked in reverse. The good news that The Lord was working in our sisters’ lives in this far away country was encouraging to the entire team! 

Exhausted emotionally and physically, but in a good way, the team split up to head out to evening events. The ladies went to Daniella’s for a Women’s small group (you may remember Daniella from Haley’s update on Day 2) and the men had dinner with the men from one of the American families serving in the area to encourage and fellowship with them. 

After an amazing meal, Kathy opened the time at the women’s study by sharing her testimony and Haley followed up sharing a powerful message from Ruth. The women in this group are hungry for the Word. Even though they don’t fully recognize that right now, as the team fielded questions and concerns pointing again and again to the Word of God, it was obvious they are craving it. Again, with tears streaming down faces, it was evident The Lord was at work gently providing proof that He is good, that He loves these ladies, and that He wants them to grow deeper in their relationship with Him through the study of His word. As lady after lady from the group shared their hearts, the team (and other ladies from the group) surrounded each one and called out to God on behalf of these dear women who have endured so much for their relationship with God. It is extremely difficult to be a woman in a Central Asian culture but these women are amazing and strong, and will forever be in the minds and hearts of our team. 

Living, laughing, learning and crying with brothers and sisters all day long, focusing on The Lord and His Word together made for a great day. 

Written by: Matt Hulker


Day Three

This morning our Central Asian Team (CATeam) split up into two groups (the males and the females). The plan for the males were to “fellowship while fishing”. While the plan for the females were to go to our fellow Sister in CHRIST (Seta’s) home to have breakfast and paint on canvas.  In the afternoon, the males and the females would reconvene at another Sister in CHRIST (Elmas’) home to fellowship and have lunch. For the evening, our plan was to split up again, and babysit at the homes of two of our mission partners.

At about 6:45am the men left the Ibis (hotel) and headed to the family home of one of our mission partners to pick up the male counterpart. From there, they drove on to Venlo. Once they reached their destination, they paid their way to cast their lures in a pre-stocked pond, that wasn’t quite stocked that day.  However, their sport of fishing was not a complete loss, they each manage to fish out a five-inch guppy. Good thing they are all “fishermen of men” and not fish.  

The women had a later start to their day. At 9am the women drove to the family home of the same mission partner to pick up the female counterpart.  After picking her up they headed to Sister Seta’s home where they were welcomed by Sister Seta and her dog Coco.  Sister Seta is a beautiful middle-aged woman with long auburn hair. She has a welcoming, warm and joyful heart, that no one can resist.   The women were led by Sister Seta to gather around her dining table for communion and fellowship.  There, they were overwhelmed by the spread Sister Seta laid out for them.  It turns out, the women of the Central Asian culture are wonderful “hostesses with the mostess”.  After Sister Seta gave thanks to Our LORD in her native tongue, the women dug into the meal set before them which included eggs, olives, couscous, cheeses, deli meats, tomatoes and cucumbers salad, grapes, bread and jams, pastries and tea. A feast for a King! Or should I say…”a group of Beautiful Queens”. 

After the meal, the woman all cleaned up and set the table for a fun activity…a painting project.  To prep for the project, each were given a canvas, cup of water, paint brushes and a pallet for the paints (sheet of wax paper = when you’re on mission in a foreign country…you improvise).  The women decided collectively on a subject to paint…a cross.  They were all nervous and afraid that their paintings would not be up to par. However, as we are all made in the Image of GOD, the women all displayed a bit of HIS Character…they all “created” beautiful paintings.  

Time does fly when you’re having fun…the women lost track of time. As they were well into their painting project, they realized they had only ½ hour left to finish up their master-piece, clean-up and bid Sister Seta goodbye with a Holy Kiss.  

From there the women headed off to Sister Elmas’ home. On their way they picked up Sister Nadia. Sister Nadia is a jovial, wise woman, who does not shy away from stating what comes to mind.  She is a woman with a big heart and a big hug who is always receptive to knowing and hearing more of “The GOOD NEWS”.

The men and women of the CATeam along with Sister Nadia met up again upon arriving at Sister Elmas’ home. They were led to join a welcoming group in the garden of Sister Elmas’ home. There they were all greeted by Sister Elmas and her son, Sister Suna and her son, Sister Elmas’ and Sister Suna’s mother and another sister, named Gul.  Both the sons, grandmother and Gul, have yet to accept CHRIST into their heart as our Sisters Elmas and Suna have.  Hopefully, the time spent there had shed some of HIS Light upon them, so that they may eventually come to see what two of their family members (Sister Elmas and Sister Suna) already know and hunger for…everlasting life with Our SAVIOR.

Sister Elmas and Sister Suna can be likened to the image of Mary and Martha. Sister Elmas being Martha, busy at work. Whereas, Sister Suna sits back quietly listening. Sister Elmas and Sister Meryem (who showed up later) are full of questions about Our LORD. They are very inquisitive and hunger for HIS WORD. Sister Suna, unlike Sister Elmas and Sister Meryem is quite and timid. She often sits back and listen with a comment or a question or two. The three of them are new in HIS SPIRIT and are eager to know more.

Much like the spread at Sister Seta’s home the CATeam were presented with a similar grand feast for lunch. The CATeam and the hosts at Sister Elmas’ home all gathered around a huge table to communion and fellowship as the twelve disciples did with Our LORD JESUS. Yes, you guessed it...The LORD is in every detail. There in the garden gathered around a table for a feast, were twelve believers in CHRIST, sharing, crying, laughing and loving on one another. HE brought together 12 believers from different countries, different walks of life, different spoken languages with one common factor in mind.  Their love for their LORD. Only HE and their love for HIM could break down the barriers that separate them. Only HE can bring us together as one with HIM.

Although they hated to say goodbye to one another, they all knew their lives here on earth was temporary and the time they shared with one another was just the same (temporary). However, because they knew and loved Our LORD, they also knew they would spend eternity with HIM and their newly found Sisters and Brothers in CHRIST. It was a wonderful experience and a site to see what a small glimpse of Heaven on earth would look like.  They all bid each other farewell with Holy Hugs and Kisses.

Later that evening, the CATeam split up into two small groups, one last time for the day.  They had presented this evening as a gift to their fellow mission partners to take a moment from their already hectic lives, as they stayed behind in their home watching and caring for their children.

Today was a wonderful day of LOVING GOD FIRST, then LOVING THEIR NEIGHBORS.

Written by: Teri Daly


Day Two

Today (Sunday) was such a great day - full of so much fellowship, food, Gospel conversations, food and more food! 

 

While the guys stayed with our missions’ partners on Saturday night, the ladies spent the night at Daniella’s apartment.  Jamie and Haley met her last year and instantly felt a sweet friendship with her! When the girls walked into her apartment (after being awake for 40+ hours), they were greeted instantly with a hug, instructions to relax and make theirselves at home, AND a dessert table spread full of fresh fruits, homemade cinnamon rolls, chocolates and coffee. Daniella is the hostess with the most-ess! After a much-needed night of rest, the girls woke up to a traditional European breakfast (we're convinced she is Southern at heart, y’all).

 

After breakfast, it was time for cooking lessons and lunch with four Muslim friends (brothers and sisters ranging in age from 21-29 years old). The two women showed the team how to prepare a traditional Kurdish meal and took the time to explain in detail the how’s, why’s and what’s of each dish. Kathy Koon was voted as the class winner because she rolled cabbage and grape leaves stuffed with rice like a total champ! Teri has the entire ‘class’ on video! Ask her about it! :-) Jamie, Haley and Scott originally met these siblings in November when they shared an American Thanksgiving dinner with them. It is our prayer that these times together provide a foundation for our sweet friends to hear the gospel and come to know Jesus in a personal way. To thank Daniella for her hospitality, the girls gifted her with a decorative sign that had Numbers 6:24-26 printed on it, a BELOVED coffee mug and her very own She Reads Truth Bible.

 

That afternoon/evening the team went to church. Haley and Matt shared their testimonies then our mission partner preached on who you truly serve in your heart and then explained the imperative that you cannot serve two masters. Where does Jesus reign in your life?

 

After the sermon, a potluck dinner was enjoyed by all before the men and women’s bible studies. Jamie encouraged the women through a powerful message on prayer and the importance of slowing down to understand what the Bible says rather than just repeating words. Scott similarly taught the men’s group on the importance of knowing the word of God. These messages are very difficult for the Central Asian culture to fully comprehend because they base their relationship with Jesus on sermons and teachings from a pastor so there is not much individual time spent reading or studying God’s word. What sweet timing that the Holy Spirit spoke through all who shared with very similar message themes to provide consistent, impactful truth about the finished work of Christ and His rightful place in our hearts, minds and lives. 

 

Written by: Haley Baker


Day One

 

Do you ever stop and just watch people? 

 

If you haven’t in a while, you really should stop and simply watch people. People are just so, so different. Different in the way they dress. Different in the way they talk. Different in the way move and interact. Different from you. 

 

Walking through European cultures and airports … especially airports … you see just how far from Franklin your steps have taken you.

 

Awake and on our feet for 31 hours, the ClearView team stepped into a meat grilling extravaganza that ramped into a Bible study. The meat led the way to the food, so to speak. That was way, way different. 

 

Discussing the Scriptures, in a church that has a few simple lights bolted on a coral colored stucco wall, strung out on no sleep, with people who literally do not speak your language, that isn’t the best recipe if cultural harmony is your goal. It was definitely different. 

 

Until Mariana asked the question. 

 

We had gathered in a circle of adults. Men and women, which in and of itself was special in this Muslim culture, were gathered together to hear ClearView’s pastor, Jason Cruise, share some of his story on how he met Jesus. 

 

And they were Muslims, born in Muslim countries, who had made their way to Europe. That was different, too. Our team was in Europe, to minister to Muslims. That’s way, way different. 

 

Sitting in blue padded chairs circled around the room, Jason began to walk them through the early years of his faith, years when he was a teenager who actually did believe in God, and yet didn’t really know Him other than knowing aboutHim. 

 

The conversation turned a little when he mentioned, “I remember a man talking to be about the power of sin in my life and how it takes over and will eventually separate you from God eternally if you do not repent. And it made me angry. Not angry because of being offended by being called a sinner; angry because no one had ever cared enough to tell me that until now. It was literally the first time anyone ever told me that.” 

 

Just after hearing Jason unfold the biblical concepts of sins, trespasses, and iniquities, and just after hearing how Jesus covered the iniquity problem in his life, Mariana asked, “But what if you’re really not that bad? If you’ve tried to please God, doesn’t that please Him?”

 

Do you ever just stop and watch people? 

 

If you haven’t in a while, you really should stop and simply watch people. People are just so, so similar to you. Different in the way they dress. Different in the way they talk. Different in the way move and interact. 

 

And so, so similar to you. 

 

Written by: Jason Cruise