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FOREVER GRATEFUL

16 Dec

When I asked how he happened to join OM International in Belgium 16 years ago, Govert Minderman flashes a pirate-like grin and jokes, “They left the front door open!” But before that, Govert had taken a few seriously wrong turns.  His story really goes back to when his Indonesian Govert Mindermanparents were interred in a Japanese concentration camp in the 1940’s. During those harrowing years his father was forced to watch his wife being raped by soldiers. He also saw his brother cruelly beheaded.

Govert says his mother was a strong Christian.  “Later, I asked her what she did after she was attacked. She said she dropped to her knees and prayed that God would redeem those soldiers. She also prayed that hate wouldn’t enter her heart, so that she could raise her children in love.”

After they were liberated, Govert’s parents were given the choice of returning to Indonesia or moving to the Netherlands. They chose Holland. In spite of his mother’s powerful faith, Govert began running with wrong crowd as he grew older, drinking and taking hard drugs.

 “I was on drugs for 25 years,” he admits. “By the end of that time I needed 500 Euros a day to support my cocaine and heroin habit. I even robbed a bank to get money. The woman I married was also on drugs. When we had a daughter, the welfare department threatened to take her away unless we stopped our addiction. So I went to a rehab center to try to get free of it. My wife started going with another man, and we divorced.”

LOST & FOUND

Of his salvation experience Govert simply says, “God found me.–I didn’t find him. He let himself be found! My mother told me I needed to pray and when I was sick from drugs I prayed. But the answer didn’t come until years later.” The “hound of heaven” relentlessly pursued Govert over many paths until he was ready to stop and acknowledge his need. Accepting Jesus as Saviour changed him from the inside out.

Not long after that, Govert attended an OM new recruits’ conference in the Netherlands.. “Meeting Al Meyer [manager of the Zaventem, Belgium, conference centre] and fellow believers there was one of the most blessed times of my life. I wanted to join one of OM’s ships but I had injured a tendon, so was advised not to. Then someone suggested that I should help at the base in Zaventem, Belgium, because I like practical work.

Zaventem, Belgium buildings“Just the fact that I could be part of a ministry is such grace. –To BE church rather than just go to church! In Zaventem we were ten nationalities together. I helped with building, maintenance and repair at first. Now I also like doing hospitality for ZavCentre. It’s the Lord who gives a smile, who fills my heart with joy!”

For a number of years Govert assisted disabled OMer Jonathan McRostie, and remembers once struggling with another friend to carry him and his wheelchair up a set of steps to a meeting room. Jonathan suddenly asked his helpers, “Do you know what this reminds me of?” Govert’s friend, groaning under the weight of the chair, mumbled that he wasn’t  interested. But Jonathan went on, “Remember the friends who carried the disabled man to Jesus and made a hole through the roof?”

 “Suddenly,” smiles Govert, “ that chair wasn’t so heavy!  You know, moments like that are really precious.”

 In his spare time, Govert enjoys playing his guitar and doing prison ministry with friends. “I like to play music, to have fun. But the most important thing is God’s Word. We always try to share that, or give a testimony.”

Govert will always suffer heart and kidney problems as a result of his long years of drug abuse. But few visitors to ZavCentre go away without noticing his cheerful spirit. Govert is very aware of how much he owes the Lord for turning his life around. “I’m a blessed person,” he states simply. “Whenever people ask me how I’m doing, I always say I’m grateful!” —Forever grateful.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Europe-Restoring-Hope-Deborah-Meroff/dp/3941750062

Read Debbie Meroff's book and learn how it's possible to transform a continent

Read Debbie Meroff’s book and learn how it’s possible to transform a continent

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Life and death on the lake

11 Oct

An English nurse embraces the challenge of a lifetime on Lake Tanganyika

Copyright Brad Livengood 2013“The minute we saw the lake I said to my husband Chris: ‘That’s it. I’m home.'”

 Ever since she was a little girl, Nicola (Nicky) Tiltman had cherished a passion to become a missionary nurse. She had never even heard of Africa‘s Lake Tanganyika until the couple applied to OM and learned that a nurse and person with administrative skills were required in the lakeside town of Mpulungu. The job descriptions suited them both.

Chris and Nicky moved from England to Zambia in 2012 and by April they were settling into a vastly different lifestyle along the longest freshwater lake in the world. Their team had 40 missionaries, 33 of whom were Zambian.

 “As a Good News II Medical Ministry Team, our first priority was to build a relationship with the local government clinic while making trips to the villages on the lake,” relates Nicky. “Almost a million people live on the Zambian shoreline and OM has workers in five villages. Initially we are focusing on three villages. Two of them have no clinic and in the third we are working together with a local Christian community health worker.  The most prevalent conditions we find are severe malnutrition, malaria, skin conditions and opportunistic infections related to HIV and AIDS. Our response is at primary and preventative healthcare level including education about nutrition, hygiene and sanitation.

Nicky adds that the need in the villages is not just physical but spiritual. “There are churches in some villages, but most who attend them also have a heavy reliance on witch doctors. Men, women and children bear scars from small charms implanted under their skin. When we visit a village, our team encourages the local church, does ministry with the children and often shows the JESUS film.”

HIV testingCopyright Brad Livengood 2013

Nicky says that serving in Lake Tanganyika has given her a heart both for Africa and for people living with HIV. “Mpulungu has a population of about 100,000 permanent residents, and an HIV rate of 15 per cent amongst those who department of the local government clinic. This clinic does have a conventional machine for obtaining a CD4 cell count, the test needed before a person can commence antiretroviral therapy. One of the challenges, however, is the cost of transporting people to Mpulungu for testing and the fact that it takes two days to get test results. Another problem is that Voluntary Counselling and Testing is not routinely conducted along the lakeshore, so many people do not know their status. The local Ministry of Health is desperate for us to go and offer this service.”

Now, thanks to funding supplied by OM UK through their “Just Christmas” appeal, the team has taken delivery of a UNAIDS-approved CD4 cell count testing machine. The machine is lightweight and portable and does not require a laboratory technician to operate it. Nicky and her husband attended and passed the manufacturer’s training in Lusaka; now they plan to train a number of local workers. The main benefit of the machine is that it analyses a CD4 cell count in a sample of blood taken from a finger prick, giving a result in only 20 minutes. This means that a person who is HIV positive can get their CD4 cell count and start on treatment within 30 minutes.

 “Please pray for a continuous supply of antiretroviral medication to the government clinic we are partnering with to offer HIV services,” urges Nicky. “Also pray for a change of mindset in the villages, where people are living in bondage to fear. We are dealing with 12-year-old girls who are at risk of early marriage and trafficking; with women who have no right to say no to sex and with men who have multiple women at different fishing villages. Many of them still believe that having sex with a virgin will cure them of HIV.

“There’s a huge job ahead,” she admits. “Illiteracy is very high so I am making a pictorial teaching tool. It’s a NICKYlakeTwithChrischallenge not to feel that we are fighting a losing battle. But that’s where faith comes in. God is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or think or even imagine!”

On the road for Syria

8 Jul

KelmsRefugeeRide2013

On June 21st OM artists Dustin and Katie Kelm set off on an extraordinary adventure. Their goal is to ride two 36 inch “big wheel” unicycles from coast to coast across the USA in order to raise one million dollars for Syrian refugees and internally displaced people. The journey began at Tybee Island, Savannah, Georgia, and is scheduled to end the first week of October in Yachats, Oregon.

Dustin and Katie have been serving with OM Arts International since 2008. Millions around the world have been impacted by Dustin’s skills and personal testimony as he uses the unicycle at schools, festivals and other events as a tool to share the message of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, while in training just two months before the start of the Refuge Ride, Dustin had a crash that resulted in a concussion and broken arm. However, the Kelms felt the need and pain of Syrians was much greater, and made up their minds to complete the challenge.

Although the couple are riding the 3,500-plus miles their own, without any vehicle backup, this initiative is very much a team effort. A large support group has arranged lodging and speaking engagements, ships them supplies as needed and continues to recruit sponsors and donors.

“We have been amazed by the generosity and kindness we have already experienced,” they affirm. “Someone handed us cold water from their car window as we rode by. Numerous restaurants and hotels have graciously donated food and rooms. People have prayed with us for safety and success in parking lots. Others have donated instantly when hearing about our cause, even from their cars while slowly driving by to talk to us.”

OM is trying to meet some of the immediate physical needs of displaced Syrians, also providing trauma counseling programs and long term micro enterprise projects to get people back on their feet. Dustin and Katie ask you to get behind their effort by spreading the word, praying and giving. “With God’s help and the sacrificial involvement of many we can all make a difference in the lives of Syrians struggling to survive.”

Follow their journey this summer on http://refugeride.blogspot.co.uk/ and give at https://my.omusa.org/RefugeRide

KelmsUnicycleTrip2013

PSALMS FROM THE SEA

15 Jun

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