Bishop John Pessima at the CCSL Camp.

L-r: Revs. Sorie Kamanda, Josephine Bankola, John Pessima, and Joseph Farma.

Bishop John Pessima at the CCSL Camp.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of UB Global

On August 14, catastrophic floods and mudslides hit Freetown, Sierra Leone. We’re grateful for all who responded to our call for assistance. UB Global received $18,692.75 from churches and individuals.

Initially, the government put the death toll at 450. Reverend Bishop Emeritus Arnold Temple, who leads a Methodist church near Regent, said the country is now mourning well over 1,000 victims, some of whom may never be found.

Bishop John Pessima sent these photos from the site where the Church Council of Sierra Leone, a network of Christian churches and relief partners, set up temporary camp from which supplies are being distributed.

Rev. Mrs. Josephine Bankola, Rev. Joseph Farma, and Rev. Sorie Kamanda have been representing the United Brethren at the camp. Rev. Kamanda is there every day while the other two pastors are there three days a week to provide psycho-social care and counseling to the many survivors.

Continue to pray for their efforts and the resettlement of hundreds of families.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Another team is headed to the Mattru UBC Hospital in Sierra Leone today. The team will be there from February 10-29 and will be comprised of both medical and technical volunteers.

Our travelers include: Ray Proud, Hope Grube, Michael Seigel, Nick Pranger, Sharon McDonald, Dr. James Myers, Dr. Jonathan Steen, Dr. Alyssa Welch and her husband, Joe Welch. Dr. Richard Toupin planned to accompany the team but could not for health reasons. However, Dr. Ron Baker, who just returned from Sierra Leone in mid-January, has agreed to join up with the team early next week.

Be praying for the team as they address a number of repair and facility issues, offer medical care in the absence of a doctor, and make visits in the community to conduct and train others to do Discovery Bible Studies.

Jeff Bleijerveld (right), Director of Global Ministries

The following email was received Friday morning, January 13. Director Bleijerveld and associate director Michelle Harris are at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone with a ten-person medical team. They return to the US tomorrow, January 14. 

This morning the doctors are making their last rounds before we begin the trip back to Freetown. We’ll stay there overnight, and then begin the trip home with a layover in France.

Since I last wrote you, two babies were successfully delivered–one naturally, the other by c-section. We’ve also continued to receive new patients, and a variety of procedures have been performed. We are sad to report that one of the three babies admitted with cerebral malaria passed away the first night, but the other two are recovering.

Just this morning a set of twin babies with club feet were brought to the hospital. We’ve been in touch with the Ministry of Health to determine whether there is an orthopedic surgeon in the country able to perform the corrective surgery.

I am happy to report that the first installment of funding from a major donor has been received. Additional funds will come from another foundation, and Global Ministries will be contributing $50,000. The entire project will cost $430,000 but will benefit the hospital with new income from the sale of surplus power to the community and from small businesses they’ll operate at the hospital, like the water purification/packaging project.

In the meanwhile we continue to assist the hospital in paying staff salaries. With the focus on fundraising for the solar project, donors have decreased their giving normal giving toward the salary support project. As a result we left the hospital this morning having left salaries for November and December still unpaid. We nearly have enough to pay November, but lack some $4000 to pay for December.

Begin praying for the next team that will be in the country during the last two weeks of February. It includes a medical team and a technical team.

Jeff Bleijerveld (right), Director of Global Ministries

The following email was received Wednesday morning, January 11. Director Bleijerveld and associate director Michelle Harris are at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone with a medical team which will return on January 14. 

Our time in Sierra Leone is running down but the patients are increasing, especially since we were interviewed on the radio.

With the increase in patients, we have also dealt with some challenging needs. Three children under two were admitted with cerebral malaria. This morning one of them passed away. Continue to pray for the other two. We have also had three women admitted with cervical cancer. All three are terminal. Nothing can be done by the doctors to change their diagnosis. As Dr. Ron Baker always reminds us, “We treat, but it is God who heals.”

Micheal, who had major surgery, is doing better. So are a number of other patients who have had a variety of procedures, including a successful c-section and two hernia repairs. A molar pregnancy and DNC will take place today.

We have meetings with Bishop John Pessima and the hospital board later this day. There are some important, yet delicate issues to deal with. We’d appreciate your prayers.

Tomorrow, a group will be doing a medical clinic in Madena where Francis Mustafa and his wife, Bobbi, have started an elementary school with 400 students. Francis is from Sierra Leone, but taught high school biology in Indiana for many years. In fact, he was recognized as Teacher of the Year in Indiana some 15 years ago. The group will also visit the missionary cemetery in Gbangbaia where Dr. Ron Baker’s eight-year-old brother was laid to rest following a boating accident. Also buried there are many other missionaries who succumbed to a variety of diseases as young adults.

Yesterday we signed a contract with Daniel Kamara. He will be the new business manager at the hospital and will help us stay on track with the new income from the solar and water projects. He will be moving here with his wife and daughter and get started on January 30.

The team is healthy (aside from itchy bug bites) and sleeping relatively well. Unity has been great, and our interactions with the leadership and staff have been very encouraging. However, the pressing needs and sorrow many of the patients deal with on a daily basis weighs heavy on our hearts. Pray with us that our work today and in the future might be effective and seasoned liberally with God’s love and mercy.

Read Jeff’s earlier report from January 6.

Jeff Bleijerveld (right) Director of Global Ministries

Jeff is part of a 10-person team, mostly medical personnel, which is spending January 2-14 in Sierra Leone. He sent this report on Friday, January 6.

We made a number of important visits on our way to the Mattru Hospital, including the Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer in Freetown. In Mattru, we also met with the paramount chief and regional health directors.

Michelle and I have been in multiple meetings with hospital and conference leadership. We have also been asked to audit the hospital’s books for 2016 with the help of Matt Milich, an investment banker. Matt’s wife is one of the doctors, so it has been fun to see how God created a project here that’s perfectly suited to his gifts. The audit is going to take a few days and may include a number of recommendations. We also plan to meet the new business manager, Daniel Kamara. He is coming on staff as part of the solar and water projects. He has business accounting and finance education and has had excellent experience serving with the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Ron Baker’s mother, Evelyn, is in hospice and his wife, Jane, was hospitalized with influenza A. Jane is doing much better; his mother remains the same. Ron is recovering from bronchitis and is fine during most of the day, but coughs a lot during the night.

Yesterday a patient named Michael had surgery. He had a acute abdominal pain, infection and swelling and needed immediate surgery. He has come through the surgery well.

We have also connected with Francis and Bobbi Mustafa. They operate a 400 student grade 1-6 school in Francis’ hometown. We’ll send a small team to do a medical clinic there next Thursday.

At the end of the day, yesterday we went for a swim in the Jong River. It has a lovely sand bottom and clear water. It was one of Ron’s favorite things to do growing up. He can still swim across the river and back–even while recovering from bronchitis.

Thanks for your prayers. All are doing well. God is providing many opportunities to meet people, pray for patients, and share the gospel.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

On July 1, Michelle Harris will join the Global Ministries staff as one of the three associate directors (alongside Frank Y and David Kline). She brings over 25 years of cross-cultural experience in mentoring, training, and teaching in a variety of settings. Michelle will work with our short-term missions program, oversee some of our staff serving abroad, be a great resource to those seeking to work with refugees and immigrants, and use her gifts in writing.

In 2012, Michelle and her family moved to Fort Wayne, Ind., after serving 1994-2012 with InterVarsity Link in Europe and Africa. During those years, they lived a year in Paris, 11 years in the African nation of Gabon, and the last seven years in Nice, France. Michelle has been a teacher in an international school, a student minister, and a team leader. Since relocating to Fort Wayne, she has coordinated low-cost translation services at the Reclamation Project, which works in 18 languages.

Michelle graduated from Ball State University in 1990 with a degree in Education, and this summer will complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Ashland University in Indiana. Her husband, Scott, is an InterVarsity campus minister working with international students in Fort Wayne. They have two children, Justin and Anna. Michelle serves with the women’s ministry at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne.

Michelle is passionate about the beauty of the international church and the ways we can learn from and serve one another. She loves to write and read. She is excited about this next chapter with Global Ministries.

Donna and Jason Hollopeter traveling for Global Ministries in Southeast Asia.

Donna and Jason Hollopeter traveling for Global Ministries in Southeast Asia.

Donna with the Global Ministries staff giving a Chinese New Year's greeting for the Macau staff.

Donna with the Global Ministries staff giving a Chinese New Year’s greeting for the Macau staff.

Donna Hollopeter having fun with children in Sierra Leone.

Donna Hollopeter having fun with children in Sierra Leone.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Donna Hollopeter has faithfully and tirelessly served the United Brethren Church since 1993. During that time she has led the Women’s Missionary Fellowship, coordinated and participated on many short-term mission trips, spoken in numerous UB churches across North America, traveled to all of our mission fields (usually multiple times), and participated in a variety of projects and campaigns. She has served well and has been very much valued and appreciated.

As Donna retires from Global Ministries, we encourage you to join us in thanking Donna for her 22 years of service to the United Brethren church, and more specifically, to the work of UB missions. Donna was hired as associate director of Global Ministries in 1993, and sometime during those years—perhaps several times—she probably spoke in your church. She has been known as an enthusiastic speaker. At the national office, we have appreciated her as a creative, quick-witted person who was fun to be around.

For many of those 22 years, Donna was also a pastor’s wife. Her husband, Jason, was pastor of the UB church in Corunna, Ind., before retiring in 2010. He accompanied her on many short-term trips. They have three daughters scattered between Colorado, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Ind.

We invite your prayers for Donna during this transition in her own life, and for Global Ministries as we look for a new associate director to meet our changing needs.

julie-huiJeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Last month in Hong Kong, the Lausanne Movement held an historic gathering of 900 Chinese leaders for the launch of the Mission China 2030 vision. This vision is to see 20,000 missionaries sent out from China by the year 2030, one for every missionary received by China in the past 200 years.

The seeds of this vision were planted when more than 200 Chinese leaders were prevented from attending the Cape Town 2010 Congress. The vision took root in 2013, when many of those leaders and leaders of the global church were able to meet in Seoul. Michael Oh, Executive Director and CEO of the Lausanne Movement, reports that two hundred of those who attended the gathering in Hong Kong committed their lives to serve as missionaries!

The United Brethren in Christ is a part of this vision as our Hong Kong conference is preparing to send Julie Hui (right) to join our international team in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Julie just completed her graduate work in TESOL at Huntington University and is traveling home to Hong Kong today.

Pray for Julie and for the other 20,000 we are trusting God will send out from China by 2030.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Following are some items from Jeff’s report to the October 2015 meeting of the Executive Leadership Team.

Central America

  • All Central American conference leaders and delegates are participating in quarterly training events in order to implement the BILD (discipleship and leadership development) model among their churches. BILD is already being used widely throughout our Honduran UB churches.

Africa

  • In Sierra Leone, there are very few remaining cases of Ebola. During this time the hospital has done relatively well. Church planting and the construction of a school building continue in the mission region of Pujehun, and conference leaders have remained in contact with our UB churches in Liberia.
  • On November 10-23, 2015, Jeff Bleijerveld will travel with Rev. Brian Magnus, Rev. Joseph Abu, and Rev. Derek Thrush to be introduced to our newest UB churches in Liberia. From there we will travel to Sierra Leone, during which time we will participate in a ministerial retreat with pastors.
  • The Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone (CHASL) recently facilitated the donation of a new Land Cruiser ambulance for the Mattru UBIC Hospital. Currently, CHASL is providing assistance in writing a grant proposal to USAID to pay for the purchase, and also to complete installation of a solar electric system that would power the hospital. The surplus electricity could then be sold to the surrounding community. The profits from these sales would be used to assist in paying hospital salaries.

Caribbean

  • Jamaica will host General Conference February 27–March 4, 2016. Each National Conference has been urged over the past months to raise funds to send their national leader and at least one delegate.
  • Six United Brethren students from Haiti graduated from the Gamaliel Bible Institute. All six received sponsorship assistance from our church in Fowlerville, Mich., and from the U.S. National Office.

China

  • We continue to dialogue with Macau churches and staff regarding a ministry redesign. It would focus more on a disciple multiplication model.
  • During October, Global Ministries associate director Frank Y teamed with Mike Cook of Huntington University to conduct a staff retreat in Macau. It included Global Ministries and Huntington University staff from China.
  • Jen Blandin recently completed a six-month Home Ministry Assignment and returned to Macau on September 2, 2015. She will be working to implement a new disciple-making strategy.

Thailand

  • We are completing the process required to purchase property in Chiang Rai. During our last trip in May, we were introduced to a number of Thai church planters eager for the participation of missionaries in their church planting endeavors.
  • We also continued dialogue with the Chiang Rai International Christian School (CRICS) regarding a variety of joint-venture ministries in the region. We are actively promoting opportunities for educators to teach at CRICS.
  • Brian and Rachel Glunt are on full support and are completing a 12-month internship before leaving for Chiang Rai, Thailand.
  • Ignite, a one-day mission information and inspiration event, is scheduled to take place at Rhodes Grove Camp in Chambersburg, Pa., on May 7, 2016. Considerable interest in attending is being expressed.

Other

  • International Needs works among Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Turkey. This work was promoted during our churches’ summer children’s ministry programs. The children raised some $4800 for the project, and another $2900 came from churches. On top of that, $2200 from the Arnold Bible Fund and an individual donor provided for Action Bibles (graphic novel New Testaments) to be distributed among children in the refugee camps.
  • We recently increased to 10% the amount we charge to project donations (previously 7%) and missionary support (6%). This is providing some help to our general budget and is making up for the decline in giving to our general fund.
  • Seth and Rebecca Mallay are members of Hillsdale UB (Hillsdale, Mich.). They have been endorsed to serve as missionaries with World Medical Mission (Samaritan’s Purse) in Togo, West Africa.

Jeff Bleijerveld (right), Director of Global Ministries

This past year, we formed an official partnership with the English Language Institute/China (ELIC). Since 1981, ELIC has been placing passionately committed Christians in teaching roles across Asia and the Middle East. A number of United Brethren people have served with ELIC, including Global Ministries Associate Director Frank Y.

We are sending churches a packet of information, along with a DVD that contains a short video highlighting our partnership and the opportunity to be involved in either short-term or long-term ministry on ELIC/Global Ministries projects. We recommend that you use it during your announcements on Sunday, November 8, or at your earliest convenience.

Through ELIC, we have the opportunity to send a team of eight UB volunteers to work among Syrian refugees in Lebanon next summer. ELIC’s 7+1 program makes it possible for one volunteer to travel free for every seven that join the team.

We hope that you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity and present this ministry to your church family. If you have questions, feel free to contact us at info@ubglobal.org.