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.

On Monday, January 2, a team left for Sierra Leone. It’s mostly a medical team which will work at Mattru Hospital. They will return January 14.

The travelers include two persons from Global Ministries, director Jeff Bleijerveld and associate director Michelle Harris (right). We are beginning a major and very exciting initiative at Mattru Hospital. Part of Michelle’s responsibilities include overseeing the missionary personnel we will be assigning to the hospital beginning early this year. This is Michelle’s first visit to Sierra Leone, though she lived ten years in the African nation of Gabon.

They are joined by a team of medical volunteers led by Dr. Ron Baker, who served at Mattru 1974-1990. The other team members include:

  • Dr. Dan and Elaine (RN) Metzger, who served at Mattru during the 1980s.
  • Dr. Ian and Laura Jackson and Esther (their 10 month old baby).
  • Dr. Kim Stillman, a third-year ER resident, and her husband Matt Millich (MBA).
  • Brooke Snyder, a nursing student.

Jeff and Michelle will help the medical team in whatever way they can. They will also meet with our national leaders to discuss several exciting projects, including the installation at Mattru Hospital of a solar electricity system and a water filtration system.

Information about these projects, and about several medical and other personnel who will soon join our team at Mattru, will be coming soon.

UB endorsed missionary Dave Datema (right) transitioned out of his role as one of three General Directors for Frontier Ventures, effective January 1. He will remain with Frontier Ventures in Pasadena, Calif., and with the US Center for World Mission, but will change roles. Here is his explanation.

“There are several reasons why I think it is time for me to step down from the Office of the General Director. The first reason is that I never planned on being GD for a long time. Back in 2009 when Dr. Ralph Winter asked me about taking the role, I saw that his health was rapidly declining and that the organization needed somebody to take the reins. I did so thinking that my role would be transitional, not knowing how long that transition might be. Now, seven and a half years later, it seems that I have been in this role much longer than any transition might necessitate. It was never my intention to be a lifelong General Director.

“The second reason is that I have increasingly recognized that my life-giving interests were more in the area of missiology than organizational development. I didn’t know in 2009 that so much of this role would cater to the latter not the former. Over the years, I have had many experiences, good and bad, that tested my mettle as an organizational leader. I’ve come to realize that my best contribution to Frontier Ventures is not the same as what some long for in an organizational leader.

“The third reason is that spending so much time on the organizational side has depleted my energy reserves. My zeal for it has slowly eroded. Years of living in a world of planning, org chart shuffling, dealing with personnel issues, real estate management and endless policies and procedures have taken their toll on my general well-being. As a wise man once said, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’

“I now look forward to my new assignment and future. First, I hope to get our campus collaboration onto firm footing for a new season of ministry together. Second, I am looking forward to diving into a full-time ThM Program at Fuller in June, possibly leading to PhD work. Ironically, pursuing doctoral-level work was one of the main reasons we came here 17 years ago. Yet the road we travel rarely goes in a straight line. I’m trusting that God has been in the twists and turns and that being on this road again is part of his plan for me. Someone once said, ‘There is no knowing. But walking makes the road.’ It is in that spirit that I move forward, still part of this community, but in a different role. I covet your prayers.”

Milton and Erika Pacheco with Rosanna Dunn.

Milton and Erika Pacheco with Rosanna Dunn.

At Rosanna's organ.

At Rosanna’s organ.

Milton and Rosanna jamming.

Milton and Rosanna jamming.

Milton and Erika Pacheco, a Honduran couple, are in the States this fall raising support as they prepare to become United Brethren missionaries in Thailand. A few days ago they had the opportunity to visit Rosanna Dunn, the maternal grandmother of Brian Glunt, one of their Thailand team members. Rosanna, 93, is supporting the Pachecos financially and through prayer.

Rosanna, who lives north of Indianapolis, started learning to play the electric organ in her 80s. she and Milton, a talented musician, were able to have a little jam session.

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The Pachecos at Mt. Hope UB church in Carson City, Mich.

The Pachecos at Mt. Hope UB church in Carson City, Mich.

Milton and Erika with Nancy N'Gele, a former UB missionary in Sierra Leone.

Milton and Erika with Nancy N’Gele, a former UB missionary in Sierra Leone.

Milton and Erika Pacheco, a couple from Honduras, plan to join our team in Thailand in early 2017. They are currently in the States speaking in United Brethren churches and raising support.

On September 18, they visited Mt. Hope UB church in Carson City, Mich. There, they met Nancy N’Gele, who served 11 years as a missionary in Sierra Leone.

Here is the Pachecos’ schedule through the end of November, in case you have opportunity to go hear them. In some churches, they will also do music–a very talented couple.

September 18: Mt. Hope UB church (Carson City, Mich.).
September 25: Franklin UB (New Albany, Ohio).
October 2: Otterbein UB (Greencastle, Pa.).
October 9: Heart o’ the Lakes (Brooklyn, Mich.).
October 16: New Horizons (Rockford, Ohio).
October 23: Mt. Zion UB (Decatur, Ind.).
October 30: Clearview Hispanic (Goshen, Ind.).
November 6: Fountain UB (Keyser W. Va.).
November 13: Salem UB (Chambersburg, Pa.).
November 20: Eden UB (Mason, Mich.).

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Each summer, Global Ministries provides a mission project for local churches to promote during their summer children’s ministries. Materials are prepared in advance so the children learn about the ministry they are supporting. The project usually relates to something of interest to kids. In the past they have contributed to the needs of Syrian and Iraqi children living in refugee camps in Southern Turkey and have supported our Mexican United Brethren children’s outreach ministry. This year the focus was on children’s ministry in Guatemala.

Once again, we are amazed at the enthusiasm and sacrifice of our children who raised $7895 to purchase teaching materials and improve the spaces where children gather for Sunday school and outreach activities in Guatemala. On behalf of our Guatemalan United Brethren, we thank all our children for their prayers and support of this ministry.

L-r: Julie Hui, Brian and Rachel Glunt, and Milton and Erika Pacheco.

L-r: Julie Hui, Brian and Rachel Glunt, and Milton and Erika Pacheco.

Frank Y, Associate Director of Global Ministries (right)

The Global Ministries church planting initiative in Thailand is the largest United Brethren missions venture since Macau in 1987. It is a multinational effort, with people coming from four different countries. A family of five recently arrived in Thailand, and five other missionaries will soon join them. Here is an update on what is happening now, and what lies ahead. Several missionaries are still raising support, so at the end you’ll find opportunities to come alongside them.

Our Team Members
Brian and Rachel Glunt, along with their three children, arrived in Thailand on August 9. They are from Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Glunts are getting settled in, taking care of such things as locating a home, finding a vehicle for a family of five, getting their kids into school, opening a bank account, etc. For now, they are living in a condo hotel, kind of like an extended stay hotel.

Julie Hui and Lai Au Yeung (right), from Hong Kong Conference, will join the Glunts in October. They are being fully supported by Hong Kong Conference.

Erika and Milton Pacheco, from Honduras, will likely join the team in early 2017. They continue to raise their support. Since it will be difficult for Honduras Conference to fully support them, the Pachecos will come to the United States this fall to develop partnerships with United Brethren here.

That brings us to the latest addition to the team, Paula. Since she comes from a sensitive country, we can’t publish her picture or give details about her via any internet media. However, we are very excited by what she brings to the team.

Our Newest Team Member
Paula attended a top-tier university in her country, and became a Christian when a friend took her to a house church. Since then, she has been fervent in sharing her faith. During one 40-day stretch, she set a goal of sharing the Gospel with one new person each day. She also shared with every member of the company where she worked.

We became aware of her in a roundabout away. She was helping another mission organization by serving as translator for short-term mission trips (her English is excellent). I was told about her by a member of one of those teams. When she came to the States earlier this year to visit friends, I met with her.

Though she held a good, secure job in a major city, Paula was brokenhearted for the unreached peoples around the world. From our first conversation, she mentioned going to unreached people groups and working among the nations. This impressed me, because I haven’t met many people from her country who talk about unreached people groups.

Over the course of several months, we got better acquainted. Finally, this summer, the Global Ministries team had the chance to formally interview Paula and accepted her to join the Thailand team.

We hope she can join the team in Thailand during the first quarter of 2017. It all depends on how quickly she can raise support. Coming from a small house church and a nonChristian family background, she has a limited base of support. We are bringing her to the United States in November 2016 so she can spend a couple months developing partnerships with United Brethren individuals and churches.

Getting Started
During this first year, the entire team will focus on learning the Thai language and culture. Down the road, Thai will be the common language for the team.

We took about ten research trips into the area to see how the UB work could fit into what God was already doing. We developed relationships with local pastors and missionaries, who are willing to help the Glunts and the rest of our team get oriented. A key contact is a missionary from Singapore—yet another country we can add to our international mix.

In 2015, we purchased a building in Chiang Rai which will become our ministry center. We hope to thoroughly renovate the building during the next year; Hong Kong and Global Ministries (the US and Canada) will split the cost.

Among other things, we will teach English and Mandarin Chinese. Learning Chinese is very popular in Thailand. Many Chinese tourists come to Thailand, and China is increasing its trade with Southeast Asia. A highway between China and Bangkok cuts through Chiang Rai, and there is talk of a high-speed train from China to Thailand. If you know English and/or Chinese, you have excellent job prospects. This is especially true in Northern Thailand. In Chiang Rai, all major street signs have Chinese, English, and Thai on them.

The Glunts signed up for a program to learn the Thai language and culture. Julie Hui and Lai Au Yeung will attend at the same time. The Pachecos and Paula will start the program in 2017.

The two older Glunt children are attending an international Christian school. The youngest child will attend a local kindergarten that is taught partly in Thai and partly in English.

FYI: Bryan and Emily Gerlach, whom we sent to Thailand in September 2013 as the first members of the Thailand team, completed their first term and chose to work with a local church through another ministry in a different Thai city. They are now listed as United Brethren endorsed missionaries.

From Everywhere to Everywhere
The global church today is literally Christians from everywhere going everywhere. I love that our Thailand team encapsulates what God is doing in our world.

This summer, I attended a Lausanne Conference in Indonesia. I met an ethnic Korean who grew up in China and holds a Chinese passport, and now works in Turkey and reaches out to Muslims. There are many such stories. Brazil is sending out massive numbers of missionaries. So is Africa. A majority of today’s missionaries are being sent out from non-Western countries.

Our Thailand team is a reflection of the global church today—the first time that all of God’s people, from everywhere, can work together. Missionaries from the United States, Hong Kong, Honduras, and another country working together to reach ethnic Thais in Thailand.

Partnership Opportunities
The Pachecos will be in the United States September 15 to November 23, living in the UB mission house in Huntington and visiting UB churches. They are already booked up on weekends, but are available for any weekday events or groups at your church. Milton and Erika have a unique Latin American perspective about what God is doing in Honduras. They are also very musical; in fact, they’ll be leading worship during some of their Sunday visits.

Paula will be in the States from November to January, and is also available to meet with local churches. She can tell you exciting things about what God is doing in her country.

The Pachecos and Paula need additional financial and prayer supporters, and are available to meet with local churches. If you are interested in hosting any of them, please contact the Global Ministries office. You can contact Jana Gass, our administrative assistant, at jana@ub.org. Or call toll-free: 888-622-3019.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Imagine what it would be like if you shared your doctor with 400,000 other people. That’s the situation in Sierra Leone today where just 17 medical doctors serve a population of more than 7 million. Prior to the outbreak of Ebola the ratio was 250,000:1, but many doctors died fighting this deadly infection.

The United Brethren in Christ established a hospital in the town of Mattru Jong nearly seventy years ago. Originally missionary doctors and nurses staffed the hospital and it was slowly being handed over to local administrators and physicians when civil war broke out in 1991. When it reopened 11 years later, it was but a pale reflection of the regional health center it had once been and has struggled since that time to gain momentum.

At the request of the Sierra Leone National Conference, Global Ministries is seeking to recruit a team of missionaries to serve for six to eight years training and mentoring hospital staff. We’re recruiting general practitioners, surgeons, pediatricians, OB specialists along with individuals with administration and engineering experience.

If you, or someone you know, might be interested, contact us by email or by using this online form.

Global Ministries is excited to announce two new family units approved for missionary service! We can’t post their full names here, because they serve in countries which are closed to missionary work. However, you can contact the Global Ministries office about them.

  • Harrison, from a United Brethren church in Indiana, will depart in August to teach in the Middle East.
  • Another couple has been serving in a closed Asian country, and will return to their field in early 2017.

In addition, a young woman on staff with Global Ministries who has been teaching in a closed country for several years will be in the States during July and August of 2016. She is available to share with groups and churches about what God is doing on the other side of the world.

Finally, get Milton and Erika Pacheco on your schedule while you can. They are fellow UBs from Honduras Conference who will be a part of the international United Brethren team in Thailand. They’ll be in the United States during the late summer and fall of 2016.

If you are interested in having any of these persons share their vision with your mission team or congregation, or if you’d like more information, contact Global Ministries at info@ub.org.