February Heartbeat

Hope in Rwanda

By Gabe Sevigny

Genocide is often the initial thought when most people think of Rwanda. While the genocide in 1994 was a horrific reality, Rwanda continues moving on from its painful past in hopeful ways, specifically in the future of its youth. One example of this is our good friend Allain Irankunda.

Allain is a pastor at Kibogora Free Methodist Church, located in a rural village on Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. He is busy serving the church in youth ministry, working as the coordinator for Rwanda’s Youth for Christ (YFC), and serving with Compassion International. When I asked Allain why he feels called to youth, he told me it was because he remembers what it was like to be young and encounter the challenges youth face. As a teenager, he learned about the gospel from a friend at school. Allain told me he was caught up in drugs and alcohol and had little direction in life until then. After graduating secondary school, he joined YFC’s leadership program to disciple, inspire and prepare future leaders. In 2011, Allain returned to Kibogora to start working at the church. He later graduated from Kibogora Polytechnic and came on staff at the church full time in 2015.

It is immediately apparent how purpose-driven Allain is about youth ministry in this community and beyond. Whether through YFC or the church, he is constantly working to expand to more of the youth population in Nyamasheke and its two neighboring districts. He has big dreams.

After several years of ministry, he has enjoyed the privilege of watching some youth grow older and turn into thriving young adults. His first small-group Bible study started in 2012 and consisted of 8- to 11-year-olds. They have all completed their education and are now in the process of pouring into other young lives. Some in the first small group are now preachers, worship leaders, youth workers or leaders in university outreach. Allain also tells the story of a young man who decided to follow Jesus years after a youth camp. This young man shares a life-changing moment at camp that impacted him even years later. In this continuing cycle, the impact of Allain’s life and efforts are felt as the outreach multiplies. However, he would tell you it doesn’t happen overnight.

Allain continues to plant seeds of hope and grace, simply allowing the Holy Spirit to do what only God can do.

The Ask

By Katie Keranen

It all started with a missions conference at the Wilmore Free Methodist Church in 1997 and an introduction to Mike and Vickie Reynen. We were young and excited to learn more about missions, so Mike and Vickie graciously arranged a trip to Nigeria for us, a summer that forever connected our hearts to Africa. Little did we know the path God would lead us on, one of true joy even amid significant pain and loss.

My husband, Ryan Bartlett, graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2001 and was serving as a pastor of Prescott Free Methodist Church in Arizona when we received an email from Eric Spangler (then FMWM director of mobilization) titled “The Ask.” I will never forget that day. Ryan and I instantly knew we were supposed to respond with a “Yes, Lord!” So in 2007, we moved our family of three little girls to serve at Great Commission Bible School in Malawi. We dreamed of working in Africa for the rest of our career, a dream that was tragically cut short when Ryan passed away in December 2008. But the Reynens didn’t give up. They reached out to me, encouraging me to pray about continuing ministry in Malawi. I was humbled by their willingness to invest in my life. I responded to “The Ask” once again, returning for another year of service in Malawi.

When I married my husband, Rob Keranen, in 2011 and moved back to the USA, Mike asked me if I would work for him as the Africa Area administrator, assisting him in his work as area director. It has been a privilege to see the gospel spread across the continent as more and more national pastors reach into distant places, raising up new leaders, planting new churches, and baptizing people desperate for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. During the past 10 years, I have been honored to become acquainted with missionaries who sacrificed much to serve in Africa. Some have already joined Ryan in heaven.

As I conclude my time with FMWM, my prayer is for more people to respond to “The Ask.”

Perhaps God is asking you. Whether you serve by giving, praying or going, be obedient to “The Ask” and see what the Lord can do with your humble and willing heart.

Two-Thirds Through!

By Mike Reynen, Africa Area Director

 

The year has been wonderful! Driven by faith, the Wesley Missionary Institute opened in January 2021 with the first class of 11 students. Most teachers have been Togolese this first term, but they have also welcomed teachers from the U.S. and Nigeria. To remind you, this is an 18-month-long residential missionary training program.

The students have completed two of their three internships. Most have had some ministry experience. Two came to us as ordained Free Methodist (FM) ministers, but all of them are being developed to cross the boundaries and obstacles of different cultures. The internships are done within Togo, with the students being attached to ministries of our existing FM churches in Togo.

One pastor was asked in advance of the first internship whether he would like a group of student workers. He said, “No, we don’t need them.” After hearing the results in other churches, he was first in line to receive a group of students for the second internship experience. Students worked with his church for four weeks. Formerly a church of primarily children, this church now has a more commendable group of adults and an adult trainee-leader working under the pastor.

Another exciting development we can’t take credit for: One of our four Nigerian students, who was not a French speaker when he came to us, now speaks French sufficient to do some work in French. Our school director said he wishes he could use him more in Togo. Praise the Lord for natural AND grace-enabled talents!

These 11 students have six months left (January-June 2022). Most of April and May will include their final internship. They return to campus for a final course and then will return to their home countries. THEN their local leaders will have the task of sending them out as missionaries, hopefully, to extend the work of the national church by making use of their new cross-cultural skills to widen the church’s work in unreached areas.

Please pray for these 11 students, their teachers and the leaders who will deploy them. We have high hopes for what the Lord will do through them!

 

 

 

 

 

World Missions Prayer Calendar: February

01 Tuesday | Ethiopia

Conflict in Ethiopia continues. One group conscripts children as young as 13 and adults up to age 70 as they invade the Amhara and Afar regions. Thousands of people have been displaced. Pray for all who are suffering and plead for peace and stability.

02 Wednesday | Asia

Pray every Free Methodist leader in Asia will identify and train two new leaders in 2022.

03 Thursday | Malawi

Pray for the three annual conferences as they engage in church planting in Malawi and the neighboring countries of Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

04† Friday | Jordan

Praise the Lord for a partnership established with ICCM Connected Communities helping educate refugee children who cannot attend public schools.

05† Saturday | Spain

Pray for new international missionaries Raul and Abigail Araña-Santana from the U.K. Annual Conference. They begin serving in Spain this month.

06 Sunday | Nicaragua

Pray for new mission district leader Pastora Jenny Orozco and the health and growth of every church in Nicaragua.

07 Monday | SEED

Women in the community-based sewing centers in Kenya are part of the Wunders project, sewing reusable menstrual supplies for ICCM students and

other women. Pray these efforts will help girls stay in school and prevent trafficking.

08† Tuesday | Creative Access Asia-PN

Pray for 12 leaders in this country considering affiliation with our FM network. Pray the network will grow with integrity and passion for expanding God’s kingdom in this desperately needy place.

09 Wednesday | Russia

Pray the power of the gospel will reach the hearts of the Russian people and many will come to Christ. Ask the Father to strengthen international missionaries

Michael and Tanya Mendakoff.

10 Thursday | Middle East

Hany has church-planting seminars planned in three countries during 2022. Pray for effectiveness and encouragement in these seminars and for these new leaders to bear much fruit.

Birthday: Hany

11† Friday | Latin America

Praise the Lord for the new ROOTS curriculum being developed for the Latin America context! Ask the Father to use this to minister to children, helping them grow deep roots of faith in Jesus.

12† Saturday | Sierra Leone

Pray for partnerships and resources to help introduce potential leaders to the Free Methodist Church and train them in church planting.

13† Sunday | Creative Access Asia-MR

Pray for Superintendent “P” to be strengthened physically, emotionally and spiritually as he continues to lead the church through the country’s ongoing socio-political turmoil.

14† Monday | Middle East

Ask the Father to give Dale and Dawn wisdom, strength and discernment as they continue work with Impact Middle East leaders, encouraging, equipping and resourcing them.

Birthday: Dawn

15 Tuesday | Brazil

Dan Owsley travels to Manaus this week. Manus is in the Amazon rainforest region. Pray for him as he provides encouragement and support to a church plant initiated in 2021 by FM families who emigrated from Venezuela.

Birthday: Dan Owsley

16 Wednesday | ICCM

ICCM serves children in nine creative access countries around the world. Pray for the protection of ICCM team members serving the children in these countries.

Pray the children in these ministries will become faithful followers of Jesus.

17 Thursday | Albania

New work established in Albania will provide education and social programs serving children from needy families. Pray these children and their families will come to know Jesus.

18† Friday | Middle East

Many believers in this region are disowned or persecuted by friends and family members. Thinking of Matthew 5:44, ask the Father to help them love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

19 Saturday | Argentina

A strategic ministry in the city of Buenos Aires is in development. Pray for this international church, The Harbor, as they work with university students and

serve the community in holistic ways.

20 Sunday | Tanzania

Pray for the unity of the believers and a revival in the churches and local communities that will bring great transformation.

21† Monday | Creative Access Asia-HK

There is a new initiative in the Free Methodist Church to reach out to minority groups in HK.  Ask God to lead them to those who have hearts open to the gospel

message.

22† Tuesday | Haiti / Portugal

Haiti: The situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate with increasing violence and gang-related kidnappings. Hunger and poverty are deepening. Pray

for the perseverance of believers and God’s physical and spiritual provision for our FM churches and ministries.

Birthday: Dan Snyder

Portugal: Pray for the FMC in Portugal as they support the extension of the Portugal seminary to São Tomé and Príncipe (Africa), allowing leaders in this island

nation to study the Bible and theology.

23† Wednesday | Set Free Movement

An emerging Set Free Team in Spain was formed in 2018. Ask God to give wisdom as they explore opportunities to address human trafficking as a community.

24 Thursday | Kenya

Pray for Pastor Rachel Wanderi and the ministry of Mwihoko Resident Aid. They are serving abandoned senior citizens and special-needs children in their

community, providing basic household help, food and encouragement while sharing the Word of God.

25 Friday | Thailand

Praise the Lord for more than 150 new believers in Thailand in 2021. Pray for a continuing movement of the Holy Spirit among FM churches here.

26 Saturday | Hungary

Plans are for the start-up of a new homegroup in the town of Szigetvár this month. Pray the Holy Spirit will open people’s hearts to hear the gospel message.

27 Sunday | Colombia

Near the end of 2021, there were evangelistic efforts in the area of Barrancabermeja. Pray for follow-up efforts with the new Houses of Peace that were established.

Pray these groups will produce mature disciples.

28 Monday | FMWM Staff

Pray for the home office team members as they transition, along with other employees of FMC-USA, to a new building.