Iraq #6: Return to Mosul

by Marilyn Borst

Mosul. The name does not immediately conjure up frightening images for me as it does for most.

Yes, I am well aware of its recent history: of its gradual takeover by fundamentalists when the U.S.-led war in 2003 destabilized Iraq, of the subsequent terror wrought by ISIS upon Christians and moderate Muslims who had called it “home” and the of the “battle for Mosul” which defeated ISIS there but decimated a large part of the historic Old City.

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Iraq #5: Churches with a Mission

by Mike Kuhn

Can you name any of the earliest missionaries to China or India? Hudson Taylor? William Carey?

Aside from the Apostle Thomas, who is thought to have taken the gospel to India, the first missionaries to these areas went from Iraq. The monasteries of the ancient Church of the East spread along the silk road until they reached India and China.

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Iraq #4: Iraq is Holy Ground

by Tony Lorenz

“Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”  Exodus 3:5

Iraq is holy ground. I realize this more and more each hour, each day, each trip. My first trip to Iraq was a year ago, a whirlwind of visits and flights punctuated by prayers, tears and amazing meals.

This visit has been no less a whirlwind but with fewer flights. Sunday morning did, however, find us on a big yellow bus headed from Erbil to Kirkuk in order to visit and worship with our brothers and sisters in the Presbyterian church.

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Iraq #3: Our Partner Churches

by Chris Weichman

When we talk about institutions, the church or places like the United States or the Middle East often we paint pictures with broad strokes; as if every church or every area in a country is the same. One of the realizations of this trip is that the church in the Middle East is as diverse as one could imagine. The great blessing of our time together is hearing from the leaders in our partner churches.

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Iraq #2: We Are Here

by Mark Mueller

What does the church in the Middle East have to teach Christians in the United States, in any land for that matter? It is a question that I have wrestled with as I have stepped into a complex land with many layers of joy, struggle, despair and hope. Even as this consultation begins today, the Turkish army bombs northeast Syria and moves its troops into some of the towns and villages of people attending the conference. I was wondering today how one attends a conference with war in your neighborhood and news texted from loved ones and friends of an occupying force driving its tanks down Main Street. But we are HERE. We are HERE to look at the many layers of life in the Middle East and learn from the faithful remnant of Christians who have not migrated to safer lands but have endured Saddam, ISIS, invasion and sanction all the while remaining the faithful church to spread the Gospel in these parts.

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Iraq #1: Friends in the Middle East

by Jack Baca

A bit less than four years ago I came on my first Outreach Foundation trip into the Middle East. This makes trip number five. I could hardly be more excited. Why?

There are lots of things to love about this region of the world. The history here is, of course, amazing. For folks of faith like me that goes without saying. How could you not be eager to get back to the land of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Paul? But there’s also so much great art, and archaeology, and the story of the beginning of human civilization. The food is great, too, and there are hauntingly beautiful vistas often magnified by ethereal sunsets.

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Brazil #4: Fresh fragrance of life

by Celia Stone

Barreira, a Brazilian village of approximately 16 families and the least populated of the four we visited along the Amazon River, was the second stop of our medical/dental boat. It appeared that most families had basic long, narrow fishing boats or canoes, some with standard outboard motors and others with motors made from what looked to have been weed eaters. The people we encountered throughout the week fished regularly and grew a few vegetables. Lush fruit trees seemed to grow naturally.

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Brazil #3: "No doubt it is the work of the Holy Spirit"

by Rocky Stone

On our second day in Brazil we met with Pastor Francisco, the senior pastor of Manaus Pres. Church to discuss the church’s missional model and experience. I was a bit surprised that he would make time to meet with our little group of 5 people representing our churches and The Outreach Foundation, but I was more perplexed as to why we were meeting at 11:15 am. I knew that the church had several pastors and shared preaching duties, but why meet on Sunday morning at this time? Well, as it happens they have three Sunday services at their two main locations, but none at 11:00. The most attended service is at 6:15 pm. We later attended this very lively worship service in a large converted warehouse (former car dealership). The sanctuary seated 2,600 people and majored in functionality vs. aesthetics. That, like most things at this church, was very purposeful.

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Brazil #2: The Great Commission in Brazil

by David, Arredondo- La Mirada Community Presbyterian Church. Ca

If someone would have told me I was going to be in Brazil for 10 days in a mission trip to the Amazon River, flying for almost 14 hours, sleeping in a boat for six days in an 8x9 room with bunk beds for 4 people, I would have told that person he was delusional.

I could not believe I was waiting at Los Angeles international airport for my flight to Brazil. When Pastor Juan Sarmiento from the Outreach Foundation invited our church, Community Presbyterian Church of La Mirada, to be part of Amazon river mission in December 2018, I was clueless of the magnitude of the mission trip and how our Lord could use someone like me on this trip.

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Brazil #1: Manaus Presbyterian Church:  A church that is both missionary and missional

by Juan Sarmiento

Presbyterians have a long history of partnerships in the Brazilian Amazon. Considered to be in a remote area of the country with the most diversity of indigenous communities, it seems to be an unlikely location for what today may be the largest Presbyterian congregation of the Western Hemisphere, Manaus Presbyterian Church (IPM, by its initials in Portuguese).

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Lebanon #10: Opening the Eyes of the Blind

by Julie Burgess, for the team (West Hills Presbyterian Church, Omaha, Nebr.)

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:51-52)

I have arrived safely home in Omaha, but have the great privilege of wrapping up our series of blogs for the 2019 faithful women trip to Lebanon. Our last visit before coming home closed a circle that Susan Parker began when she led her devotion about starfish with the story of blind Bartimaeus, the end of which appears above.

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