A Refugee Story
I was born in Tehran, Iran, on September 19, 1986. My father was very interested in Christianity at the time of my birth, so he gave me the name Maryam, the Arabic form of Mary, mother of Jesus.
My mother and my eight-year-old brother both died in a car accident when I was 11 years old. It was very complicated for me. My father and I moved to Germany for two years.
While in Germany in 2001, my father converted to Christianity.
Before going to Germany, my father had problems with the Iranian government. He had published a forbidden book. While we were in Germany, the Iranian government put my grandfather in prison because his son had written this book. They cut off the ends of four of my grandfather’s fingers. Then they sent a picture of this mangled hand to my father. The message accompanying the photo was, “If you don’t come back to Iran, we will kill your father.” My father felt so guilty he decided to return to Iran.
Once we were in Iran, they put my father in prison, but they did not free my grandfather. My grandfather died in prison a year after our return.
We moved from place to place. I finished high school and started university. My father’s religion was still a secret in Iran. I thought God wasn’t helping us, and I did not believe in God’s existence. I believed that God had allowed the deaths of three of my family members and allowed the imprisonment of my father. I was not a follower of Christ, but neither was I interested in Islam. However, I began to feel peace when I attended Christian services. I began to understand that Jesus was the “Prophet of Kindness.”
At my university, they found out about my father, and they did not allow me to do my last semester. We now had a whole new set of problems.
After many years, we fled to Turkey. We lived in a little town, Balikesir. There were three home churches in Balikesir. Because we were still close to Iran, the Iranian government continued to harass us.
We became refugees in Turkey, later in Germany and now in Greece. Our passports and money were taken from us in Greece. Two times we lost everything. Now we have only our bodies, our minds, and our souls.
But thanks be to God ̶ we have found a home at the Free Methodist Church of Thessaloniki, Greece.
The FM Church in Thessaloniki, Greece is ministering to many refugees with similar stories.
Brokenness to Wholeness – The Bulgarian Church at Work
Dire poverty will cause people to do unspeakable things, especially when they know of no other option. People will sell or trade their daughters, prostitute themselves to feed their children or go across borders to sell their unborn. These are some of the realities among the poorest people in the Balkans. The lack of opportunities for Bulgaria’s large Roma population, along with some unhealthy traditions and customs are creating large communities of brokenness. It is normal to see children and adults digging in garbage bins for food, metal, or anything of value. Begging and stealing are also common, as is the marriage of child brides.
Our goal as missionaries has always been to partner with nationals to support them in any way needed: discipleship, training, mentorship, etc. Our philosophy has always been that nationals can reach their own people much better than we ever can.
Over the past eight years, we have established close connections with both Roma and Bulgarian people. Through these relationships and doing life together, we developed deep friendships. We decided to observe and encourage their God-given visions for their communities.
The church plant was the vision and heart of Pastor Lyubcho, a Roma pastor with a desire to form healthy leaders and create healthy churches. The strength of raising a pastor or church leaders in a broken community becomes the first line of defense in human trafficking. These leaders are men and women willing to get in the muck with people who are hurting. They are eager to listen and learn more about the problems that exist in their community, and they are willing to engage in finding solutions to these problems.
The St. John’s Home, a new rescue/safe home for girls, was a need that grew out of community involvement. The house was purchased and has undergone an extensive renovation and will be dedicated on September 7, 2019.
We pray that this home will be a place of safety, protection, and love for the girls who will live there. We have had the privilege of watching this house be transformed from disrepair and hazardous to a safe and beautiful home with modern conveniences. It feels like holy ground now.
We invite you to join us in praying for each girl who will call this place home. May she know God’s perfect plan for her life. May she know His perfect love. May she understand her purpose and value in Him.
by Dee Dee Galloway
The Apostle Paul’s partnership with the church in Philippi is the model for our growing partnership between the Free Methodist Church (FMC) in the United Kingdom (UK) and the FMC in Spain. In January 2018, a team of five from the UK made a trip to visit FM churches in Madrid and the Canary Islands. Our goal was to consider a meaningful partnership ̶ one of mutual service and encouragement.
During our time in Spain, there were opportunities to preach, share meals, build friendships, and understand the opportunities and challenges that are before the church. We also spent time praying together because we are eager for this partnership to be built on prayer.
Paul’s partnership with the church in Philippi has been a great source of help when thinking about partnering with the FMC in Spain.
Gratitude and joy in partnership deepen when:
- We wholeheartedly commit together to the same mission. Our partnership is in bringing the gospel to all people (Philippians 1:4-5).
- We are genuinely interested in one another’s welfare. Our partnership is characterized by genuine concern for one another’s welfare (Philippians 2:3-4).
- We pray for one another continually because we know we need God. In partnering through prayer, we are unified in seeking love and holiness, knowing we can do nothing apart from Him (Philippians 1:9-11,19).
- We stand strong when the going gets tough. Fruitful partnerships that persist over time are not shaken when things are slow or when challenges and difficulties come (Philippians 2:25).
- We find creative ways to meet one another’s needs. Just as Epaphroditus was sent by the church at Philippi to care for Paul’s needs, this partnership includes the giving of encouragement, prayer, and finances.
This partnership is only beginning. No doubt, we will learn as we journey together. We will make mistakes, and we will get some things right. But as we look forward to the journey, we have taken time to look back and learn from those who have partnered well ̶ Paul and the church in Philippi.
Join us in praying for an increasing number of deep and fruitful partnerships around the world!
Michael Bretton is the Pastor of the Helston Light and Life Church and a National Leader in the UK.
World Missions Prayer Calendar: September
01 Sunday | Cameroon
Pastor Wilson Esambe and his leaders are eager to minister as widely as possible throughout Cameroon. Pray specifically for the growth of the fellowship in Douala and expansion of FM work in the southern portion of the country
02 Monday | Macedonia
In 2017, four churches were planted in Northern Macedonia. Pray for Pastor Lyubcho and missionary Chance Galloway to have wisdom as they mentor pastors and seek to establish churches in new communities in this region.
03 Tuesday | Thailand/Myanmar
Seth Van Tifflin and his wife Hlawn Hlawn serve in Thailand and Myanmar. Seth assists in event planning and hosting teams. He is also the Executive Director of In Better Hands (an affiliate ministry partner of FMC-USA). Seth requests prayer for health, safety, and boldness to share Jesus with others openly.
Birthday: Seth Van Tifflin
04 Wednesday | Bahamas
The Grace and Peace FMC in Nassau is part of the South Atlantic Annual Conference. Pray for increasing numbers of new disciples, groups and leaders.
05 Thursday | Middle East
Pray for children being served throughout this region. They receive education, participate in sports, and learn practical skills. Pray that the love of Jesus will be seen through all these ministries.
Birthday: Sarah Clemente, Susan Yu
06 Friday | Creative Access – C
Jason and Wendi have served in a Creative Access country for several years. Pray for clarity of vision and purpose as they seek the wisdom of the Lord and prepare for a new area of service.
07 Saturday | Bulgaria
Today, the St. John’s Home for girls will be dedicated. Pray that this home will be a place of safety, protection, and love for the girls who will live there.
The FM Church in Liberia is a mission district under the leadership of Rev. Rufus B. Kahn. Pray for their church planting and evangelism efforts as they continue to work toward expansion to all counties in Liberia.
09 Monday | El Salvador
A high percentage of the population lives in the city of San Salvador. Pray for church planting efforts in this city. Also, pray for the strength and protection of leaders working in a dangerous environment.
Birthday: Gene Hall
10 Tuesday | Middle East
Pray for those being discipled to mature in their faith and to seek the wisdom and leading of the Holy Spirit diligently.
11 Wednesday | Malawi
Pray for the continued work of the Great Commission Bible School in Lilongwe to train pastors and leaders for work in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.
12 Thursday | Hong Kong
Pray for the unity, strength and faithfulness of the FM Church during recent turmoil and uncertainty in Hong Kong.
13 Friday | Brazil
Pray for Dan and Hope Owsley as they move to São Paulo in 2020 to become more involved in the Free Methodist seminary there. Dan will help revise and renew the curriculum, and both Dan and Hope will teach. They will continue to participate in church planting and discipleship.
Birthday: Hope Owsley
14 Saturday | Ireland/France
The U.K. oversees a work in Ireland that is primarily among Congolese refugees. The work in France is mainly composed of Haitian and African immigrants. Pray for the development of the church in both countries and pray they will be able to reach new groups of people in their area.
15 Sunday | SEED
As SEED increases orders, the livelihood groups can employ more people. Pray that SEED will find U.S. based companies and businesses who will order from their partner livelihood groups.
Birthday: Art Brown
16 Monday | South Africa
Pray for this General Conference as the church serves to transform communities through several ministries including Greenville Hospital, an urban housing program, and a shelter for abused women and children. Pray for the church to bring truth and hope to every level of society.
17 Tuesday | Asia
Because of increasing persecution, there are a growing number of countries in Asia that are now being considered Creative Access. Pray for increased opportunities in closed countries and for those who will boldly serve.
18 Wednesday | Hungary
Pray for Sylvia, a new Local Ministerial Candidate in the Győr church. She begins Bible/Theology studies at a university in Budapest this month. Also, pray the Lord will continue to call local leaders who are excited to grow in service for the kingdom.
Birthday: Chadwick Anderson
19 Thursday | Middle East
Many women in this region have been abused physically and emotionally. Pray for those counseling and serving them. Pray these women will understand their value to God as they are nurtured and cared for by Christians.
20 Friday | Greece
Pray for Rodrigo and Tanya Rosado as they complete fund-raising efforts, obtain their visas and transition from partnership building to Greece and language acquisition.
Birthday: Tanya Rosado
21 Saturday | Zimbabwe
The nation of Zimbabwe has endured terrible suffering and political turmoil for several years. Pray for the Lord to provide strength and peace for the FM Church and leaders.
22 Sunday | Philippines
Today the Philippine General Conference will celebrate 70 years since the beginning of the Free Methodist work in the Philippines. Rejoice and give thanks with them! Pray for the continued expansion of the church, especially in the major urban areas.
23 Monday | Uruguay
Mike and Andrea Green are in the process of partnership building to return to Uruguay as extended-term missionaries. Please pray for their two young children Gabriel (4 years) and Zoe (4 months) during this time of travel and inconsistency of routine.
Birthday: Andrea Green
24 Tuesday | Haiti
Pray for our FM churches and leaders as they continue to deal with the unrest in the country. Also, pray for the ongoing ministry of Dessalines Hospital and our ICCM schools.
Birthday: Dee Ann Snyder
25 Wednesday | Ukraine
Pray for Misha and Lena Petrochenko, a dedicated lay couple, who are currently leading the work in Ukraine. Ask God to give them wisdom and daily faith for the hardships they face.
26 Thursday | Middle East
Praise the Lord there is power in the Word of God to overcome superstitions and ghosts. Pray that people will continue to find truth and life through the Bible.
27 Friday | Kenya
Join Ken and Letty Myers in giving thanks for the partners who faithfully pray and support their ministry. Pray for them as they finish their time of partnership building and return to Kenya at the end of October.
Birthday: Ken Myers, Kenya and Gerry Coates, FMWM Director of Global Church Advocacy
28 Saturday | FMWM
Pray for those attending a VISA team leader training event in Indianapolis this weekend. Pray that it will lead to new churches and individuals being involved effectively in short-term missions.
29 Sunday | Set Free
Pray for the long-term impact of Freedom Sunday in local communities. Churches across the denomination and around the world will come together today as a united, hope-filled, justice-driven communities seeking to end modern-day slavery.
30 Monday | Cambodia
Pray God will reveal His vision for developing a business as a mission at the property in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Pray also that God will provide a Christian business partner to grant capital for beginning the business project in order to provide sustainable income for this growing conference.