DrSteveWhen a team of dental and medical missionaries conducts evangelistic clinics in distant lands we often hear this question from those to whom we minister: “Why do you come here and do this for us?”

 

Reaching Other Continents

 

Bringing the Gospel to the Uttermost Parts

 

From: Sowing by Grace, Fall 2011

 

(Click here for the full article)

 

ChildWhen our family first arrived in Benin with our eight-month old child, I had an overly romanticized view of my role as a missionary wife.

Feeding Malnourished Children Gives an Opening for the Gospel

by Teena Ovenell, missionary to Benin (from Sowing by Grace)

It wasn’t long into our first year of ministry before I realized how much time it would take for me simply to keep ourhome. I soon became discouraged, often reflecting at the end of the day on how little had been accomplished. It became clear that some of what I had envisioned myself doing in ministry was not realistic. How would I find time to visit women in the village and build relationships?

A special opportunity for ministry arose when a woman came to our homewith her little baby girl Awa. Awa was a couple of months old but in size she appeared to be a newborn because of her mother Nafisa’s low milk supply.Awa’s mother resorted to asking other nursing mothers to help feed Awa from time to time, but they had to meet their own babies’ needs first. In the local village the cost of formula was prohibitive for her. As a mother with a little one my heart ached for Nafisa.

When we bought formula in the village ourselves and gave her a one-week supply, Nafisa brought Awa to see us every week. Soon we had women coming to our door at all hours of the day with ill or malnourished babies. God’s plans are better than our own! What better avenue to share the gospel than with the physically needy. As more children came, formula became expensive and hard to keep stocked. Then a GDMMissions team brought the ability for us to produce formula locally, making it more cost-effective and accessible. On average, ten women now come weekly for a supply of formula. One of the exciting results of this is that not only are we getting to know women from our village, but word has spread and women from six other area villages are coming to us for help. This is one of the ways that God showed the power of having a medical clinic that could meet the villager’s physical as well as spiritual needs.

Returning to my story, Awa is now almost a year old. Although she and Nafisa do not come to our home for formula any more, I see them from time to time in the village or they pass by to visit. It is exciting to see how Awa has grown. I wish it was always the same happy ending for these little ones. Unfortunately, since we began distributing formula we have lost five children. It is the ones who have suffered the longest without proper nourishment or whose mothers have passed away who never seem to be able to catch up.

Pray for ourfamily that we would be found faithful, making the most of every opportunity to demonstrate and share God’s love with these women and their little children. Pray also that God would open their spiritual eyes so that they might share in the joy and peace that can only come by having a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Yap3The Chuuk Islands of Micronesia, called Truk during WWII, comprise a breathtakingly beautiful group of islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

Dental Ministry to Three Storm-Ravaged Islands

by Dr. Jack Mitchell, DMD

In March of 2015 a Category 5 typhoon did extensive damage on these islands and the neighboring Yap island chain. GDMMissions, with the help of God’s people, mounted a relief effort that brought help to these islands in the form of electrical generators, chain saws, food and other essential items. In July, a small dental team came alongside several national church planting men to help with the dental needs of those impacted, and to give the church planters opportunity to share Christ with island folks who continue to struggle with their living conditions.

The first location of ministry was on the main island of Weno. Because of its many cement block buildings, this island didn’t suffer as much physical damage as some of the less developed outer islands. Nonetheless there were several injuries reported and people had gone with meager food, essential supplies and electricity for a number of weeks. Our team ministered with Pastor Mike Abbe of Grace International Baptist Church. Each day overwhelming numbers came for dental care—more than we could possibly treat. However, church members were faithful in sharing the gospel with all who came, even if we were unable to meet their physical needs.  

The outer island of Tonowas, an island which the Japanese used as their command center during WWII, was our next place of ministry. This was the first time we had access as a medical or dental mission to this very spiritually needy island. A small group of graduates from Harvest Baptist Bible College of Guam came to Tonowas to help our team by translating, registering patients, sterilizing instruments and dispensing medications. Their greatest help, along with the local church planting pastor, was in assuring that all the patients heard a clear presentation of the gospel. This ministry was so important on this island which has no Bible believing church. The fact that our team was encouraged by the islanders and their leaders to return in the future was a testimony to God’s wonderful grace!

On the island of Fefen, our team supported the efforts of church planters Truly and Lency Erras. Once again the dental needs of the patients were overwhelming—each patient needed multiple tooth extractions and many of the children had serious dental infections. Many people on this island had lost so much during the typhoon and several had lost everything. They were very appreciative of the physical help we could give them, and we trust that the gospel which was presented will have a lasting impact.

There is a tremendous spiritual battle being waged on these and other Micronesian islands, in many ways much greater than the battles that were fought here during the war in the 1940’s. Many cults are trying to make inroads, some in ways which take advantage of the desperate needs of the people. We are thankful for the opportunity God has given GDMMissions to impact these islands with the true gospel which is, “the power of God unto salvation.”

Mex2019Mexico Ministry Milestone

Thank you for your prayer support for Field Team that recently served in Hermosillo, Mexico.  Our team included a medical doctor, a dentist, two registered nurses, a hygienist, and support personnel.

 We worked with Iglesia Bíblica Betania, a missions-minded church with a vision to plant 50 churches across the Sonora region. The farming village of Pesqueida was the focus of our week of ministry. Our team provided care to 600 patients. Every one of those patients heard a thorough Gospel presentation in a one-on-one setting.  We are thankful that many had a positive response to the Word.  Church members and gospel workers carefully gathered information on each contact, and follow-up ministry is ongoing as you read this.

We are often moved by the desperate life circumstances of those coming for care. Our Lord was moved with compassion for hurting people too. Their physical suffering and desperation often points to their greater need for spiritual healing.  There are many stories from the medical and dental sections, but we share these two that relate to vision.

A young woman, just 22 years old, came seeking medical care. The team discovered that she suffered from an advanced case of glaucoma. She had lost most of her vision to the disease and the vision loss was not reversible. Sadly, if treated sooner, her sight probably could have been saved. The church will continue to follow up on her spiritual need.

An elderly man also came for treatment, complaining of poor vision. In the past, he had been given a prescription for glasses, but could no longer read. The team had brought a limited supply of glasses. After fitting him with a pair, he joyously shouted, “I can read.” We share in his joy as we had the privilege of sharing the compassion of Christ with others in need, and the church saints will continue to reach out to him to minister to him.

Please continue praying for lasting fruit in the lives of those who have heard the Gospel and wisdom and strength for the local church as they follow up with individual contacts and continue to show the love and compassion of Christ to them

Praise and Prayer

  • We are praising the Lord for those new believers who came to church in Pesqueida the Sunday after we left and followed the Lord in believers baptism.
  • Pray for a continued harvest as follow up ministry continues.
  • Pray for God to lead a man to permanently shepherd the body in Pesqueida.

Bout11 2019Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We write to you with warmest greetings of joy and thanksgiving from Boiffo, Benin. Our primary focus over the month of November has been training our new Beninese staff members who started serving with us here in October. Training new staff members has made us realize how much our “older”staff members have learned over the past 2.5 years, and when asked to name something we are thankful for during our Thanksgiving celebration, a great team of Beninese Christian clinic staff members was the first thing that came to mind. What a privilege to have such an influential role in the lives and training of these young adults through Bible studies, medical teaching, one-on-one mentoring, and simply serving the Lord together.

This past month, we have enjoyed the privilege of again ministering alongside our friends Colin and Teena Ovenell and their children, who are serving the Lord with Faith Baptist Mission and just returned to Benin after leaving for home assignment in March. They have played a crucial role in envisioning and preparing for the medical ministry and in helping us begin serving here, and they continue providing spiritual leadership, technical assistance, and valuable advice in all non-medical aspects of ministry here. At the same time, we have had to say a temporary goodbye to our friends and colleagues Joseph and Amy Marshall, who began their home assignment this month. They are our next door neighbors in Boiffo, and it's hard to imagine what we would have done without their help over our first two years of ministry in Benin. Joe fixed countless technical problems and plumbing emergencies while Steve was busy with the clinic, Amy helped Kat with adjustment to a new way of life in Benin, and both helped accommodate visiting medical providers when we were away and spent time with us every week as friends, including when we needed breaks away from the stresses of medical ministry. When asked asked to name something we are thankful for, a great team of missionary colleagues was the other main thing that came to mind.

Another note of thanksgiving is for a crowd of about 100 clinic staff members, patients, and their family members who raced across the mission property from the clinic to help us extinguish a fire at the Marshall's shop (vocational training school) this past Friday. We are so thankful that the timing of the fire allowed it to be noticed and extinguished quickly, and that Steve and a Beninese employee named Yacoubou were able to repair most of the damage on Saturday in just a few hours of work.

As the Marshalls are away for the next 8 months, one new ministry we are taking on is serving one Sunday per month in a small church plant in the village of ToroZougou where the Marshalls have been ministering. There is a man from Boiffo who preaches there three weeks per month, but he needs relief once per month, and Steve began preaching there this Sunday (Dec. 1) in what we expect to become a once-per-month ministry. Kat is helping with the children's ministry there. Please pray for this small church plant, that God would establish and grow it for the glory of His name in this region.

The medical ministry continues to minister to over 400 patients per week: young and old, rich and poor, great and small alike. For this month, we would like to share with you the story of a woman named Hebu. She lives in the nearby village of Guene and is the wife of Bio, who is a Christian man who is employed as the groundskeeper at the mission property in Guene where the Ovenells live. For many years, Bio, the Ovenells, and many others have been praying for her to come to faith in Jesus Christ, but she continued to resist the good news of salvation. This year in February, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in Boiffo (by a visiting doctor, while we were in the US). She began chemotherapy at a mission hospital about three hours away but was never able to have surgery, and ultimately the cancer spread to the rest of her uterus and into her abdomen. We have treated her several times recently as a patient, mostly to relieve symptoms by draining the cancerous fluid filling her abdomen and to treat various infections she has developed because of her body's weakened state. Ministering to a person who is slowly dying can be emotionally difficult, but in this case it was not without reward, as we were delighted to learn that she made a profession of faith in Jesus this month for salvation! She likely has only a few weeks to live, and we would appreciate your prayers for her and her husband Bio.

There is one other update that we'd like to bring before you for prayer. This month, our ultrasound machine has been giving us problems, although we are still able to use it to a limited extent. Then, just this Friday, our X-ray detector stopped working. These medical imaging technologies have a major role in our ministry impact, as they are the primary reason that the government has allowed us to stay open even though we have been unable to get the official paperwork, and as multiple other hospitals and health centers in Benin refer their patients to Boiffo for X-ray and ultrasound services. We ask for God's direction as we seek wisdom and funding to know how to address these problems in a timely manner that would not adversely affect patient care and the testimony of the ministry.

For this month, please consider praying with us about the following:

-The need for more trained medical staff, especially a second doctor, as we consider expanding the medical services provided here

-God's provision for our medical imaging equipment (repairs and/or replacement), specifically for the X-ray detector and ultrasound machine

-Continued spiritual growth and medical training for the clinic staff members

-Wisdom for us and the clinic board of director in making plans for potential future expansion of services

-For the time we will be spending this month with Kat's parents (a doctor/pastor and nurse) who will be visiting us in Boiffo and helping with various aspects of ministry

-An effective testimony for the name of our Lord that results in the spread of His gospel and the growth of His church in this region

We are thankful as always for your prayers, support, and encouragement!

Because of Christ,

Steve and Kat

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