July 2015 Issue 146
... it’s in our DNA!
SIM: 4000 workers (including over 2330
mission partners) from 70 different
nationalities serving around the world.
do is to share
where Christ is
For over 120 years,
SIM has remained
committed to this vision. It’s
part of our DNA to partner
with Christians who are willing to
go to the toughest places on earth to
show and tell the love of Jesus.
of SIM New Zealand
(Serving In Mission), an
For security reasons
some contributors may
use pseudonyms. Stock
photos are sometimes
used to help represent
stories. Except for stock
photographs, all images
copyright ©2013 SIM
and its licensors. All
rights reserved. SIM
New Zealand (#CC28002)
is a registered charitable
entity in terms of the
Charities Act 2005.
For more information,
visit the Charities
Register at www.
SIM New Zealand, PO
Box 38-588, Howick,
Phone: 09 538 0004;
Freephone: 0508 47 46
69; Email: nz.info@sim.
Office: 12B Picton Street,
Howick, Auckland, 2014
in this issue
We look at the idea of ‘Not Too Late’, hearing from some of our people
who have served as older mission partners, who have taken off after
the nest has emptied, or after mid-life retraining for a new direction,
or even instead of retirement. There’s also a report on the reader survey
in our April issue and more stories from people serving overseas.
The daily prayer notes found as a pull-out section in the print version
of this magazine, are not being posted in this trial web version —
otherwise this has essentially the same content.
“I’m going to Mukinge Hill Academy in Zambia,
where I will be a teacher assistant for 6 months.
I‘m originally from Northern Ireland and now
live in Ashhurst near Palmerston North working
as administrator in a plant nursery. My home
church is Emmanuel Congregational Church.
I’ve had heart for missions since I was 13 and I’m
being led to serve Him full time.”
Anna’s mission service is to Hope Medical
Centre, Lilongwe, Malawi where she will be
involved in medical ministry as a nurse
from August 2015 for a period of 4
Her supporting church is Kumeu Baptist
Why are the
Shemwells going to
To see the new 3-minute
promotional video about
them, go to
taking the plunge
NOT to TOO go and LATE serve
overseas at 50+!
“One of the great things about getting to 60 was discovering a
whole new chapter in life,” says a Kiwi mission partner who headed
overseas aged 61. “In fact as an older person I’m much freer to go
now. I have more skills, wisdom and experience to share and probably
have more of a heart to serve.
“Any concern that I might not remain healthy and strong enough
simply dissipated as I’ve learned to take it one year at a time... that
is God’s department. If the next year turns out to be the last, well, it
will have been ten years well spent.”
There’s a big range of options, from retired doctors sharing their speciality,
to former admin people helping out with office work, to going to teach
English as a second language; from being an encourager and discipler to
being a ‘real Kiwi bloke’. It’s pretty much a case of whatever your skills are,
that’s what you can do. Not all mission locations need you to become fluent
in another language (definitely this gets harder as you age!)
Yes, some fit, mature people have family commitments with grand kids
or elderly relatives; others might have a spouse who can’t travel. But if not,
how sad to sit at home saying, “It’s too late”, just because you didn’t dare
to think it possible — if God is calling you to a new venture in your life.
Here are some comments that might be helpful, from some who have taken
the plunge and gone.
“...this was different,
and definitely a
call from God”
Keith & Sandra Aitken
Keith was 61 and Sandra 55, when the Aitkens went short term to Danja
Hospital in Niger in 2009-10. As a diabetes podiatrist specialist Keith had
had many offers to go overseas, but he says this was different and definitely a
call from God.
At a conference in 2008 he heard a speaker from Africa saying how
desperately they needed someone to do this work, and Keith felt the Holy
Spirit stir within him; later in a supermarket they met up with a former GP
who said he’d come back from working
at a Leprosarium in Niger. The very
next day SIM Director Nigel Webb was
speaking at the Aitken’s church — that’s
right, he had just been in Niger, at the
same Leprosarium. They realised that
the Lord’s leading couldn’t be more
Once in Niger, Sandra, a secondary
school bursar at home, helped in
the hospital pharmacy while Keith
worked on the lepers’ ulcerated feet in
the operating theatre. Despite border
closures and political unrest while
they were there, they were kept safe
physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Keith says, “We attended a Christian
church in a Muslim country, experiencing
beautiful, true worship with
authentic Christians whose very lives
depended on their faith.” Though there was desperation in the country, these
Christians experienced none of it. Since returning home, the impact of the
trip has led to the Aitkens having major roles in their home community.
Retired farmers Noel and Elaine Reid were in their early 60s, choosing
Malawi because of the fact that English is widely spoken. On their first
short term trip they helped re-roof a mission house. For the past eight years
they’ve gone back, alternating between Malawi and Zambia. They say, “It
feels rather like going back to family as we return each time.”
Gabriel and Biz Jens see their current posting in Nepal, where they
arrived late last year, as “part of their life cycle”. The first part of life was
geared towards getting themselves and their children set up, getting
5 continues over the page u
qualifications and experience. “Then
from our 50s onwards we don’t have to
prove ourselves any more, and we can
think about serving others in areas of
the world where God is not known.”
Gabriel, 57, and Biz, 56, see the next
10 years being given to God overseas.
The Jens spent 12 years in Africa
with SIM as a younger couple, before
returning to Hamilton in 2000. They
see when they look back how God
prepared them in advance for Nepal.
Gabriel had roles in logistics, urban
ministry and relief work (Ethiopia)
before training for the ministry (NZ)
and becoming a vicar. Biz taught ESL,
and finished her Masters in Applied
Linguistics last year.
“It just took me longer with
God, than it took Dean, to be
confident to let go of the
comfortable and familiar...”
“In our 50s we have
time to start thinking
how to finish well in
the years that have
been allotted to us”
Gabriel and Biz Jens
He is now director of the SIM
team in Nepal, being thrown into the
very special challenges of earthquake
damage / opportunity. She is head of ESL at the Kathmandu International
Study Centre which gives the couple a work permit. They say, “When you
are older you know yourselves and are more comfortable in your own skin.”
Kaylene Yeoman, with husband Dean in Mercy Air flying into Mozambique,
adds that as mature people “we have ‘done a lot more life’; we are
more accepting of different viewpoints. And in Africa where age is revered,
we have gained some status with our additional years!” Dean, a helicopter
pilot, is 59 and Kaylene, an ESL teacher, 60.
“Short term work has
given me a sense of
fulfilment, being of
use to those who had
been called to full
The Yeomans have also returned to
mission work as a mature couple after
first going out as a young family, then
coming home for kids’ schooling. “We
had unfinished business from our first
missionary adventure,” Kaylene says,
but by then she was 58 and in a secure,
well-paid job in a school management
team and it was difficult to leave. A
quote by an older couple inspired her:
“We can either sit sensibly at home
and die of safe futility, or we can take a
fresh look at what we’ve sung, spoken
of and believed for a lifetime. Is God
really faithful? Can I trust him with
Helen Scarlet and husband Stan
first went as mission partners in their
late 50s, spending six months in Niger
at Sahel Academy; she served in the
school office and he did maintenance.
After being widowed in 2004 she still had a desire to serve, and has gone to
Africa regularly ever since, most recently to Botswana last year at 71. She
points out that a good thing about short term postings is that she was able
to get in on a visitor visa.
Lois and Dave Freeman went to Niger in their early 50s; they had
both felt a calling as single people but had not been ‘sent yet’. Then with
children having left home, the time was right. Dave’s ability to fix anything
‘with baling twine and No 8 wire’, knowing mechanics, building, farming,
boat-building and horticulture, and Lois’s skills in hospitality, farming
and counselling made them invaluable first at Galmi Hospital then Sahel
Academy. They came home because Lois’s mum needed care, but would go
again in future.
Keith Aitken sums up the experience: “... a huge impact on our lives and
our spirituality ... a stretching experience that helped us become authentic
Christians who recognise God’s fingerprints in our everyday lives. We were
only doing supermarket shopping, and we ended up in Niger... What could
God do for you — and more importantly what could you do for him?” ❧
Mission partners aren’t exempt
from having to cope with
others’ difficult personalities.
Meryl Ashworth shares
“What’s it like” I’ve been asked, “being in Korea after working
in the bush in Ethiopia?” Actually a lot of it is similar. Being a
missionary means having contact – lots of contact – with people
of another nationality, and for me that is no different, whether
in the remote areas of Ethiopia or in a city of many millions in
My best and worst experiences here have been connected with people,
namely, my students. Training Koreans for the mission field does include
teaching, but it’s also a lot of discipling and mentoring, being part of the students’
lives and being vulnerable, allowing them to see right into my life, to
see how I live and think and react in many different situations. I have loved
being with the students and have received a lot of love in return.
I have learned, though, that people are not always as they seem on the
outside. During my first year in Korea, one of my students started lying,
making up stories. Because I tried to help her in a way she did not appreciate,
she took a dislike to me. However, she hid this, pretending to be loving
and happy to my face yet saying dreadful, untrue things about me to others.
She kept in contact over the next year, going to my church, and telling
me many things which seemed outlandish but about which I tried to give
her the benefit of the doubt. I discovered she had a reputation for manipulating
people, and this was what she was doing to me. I have to admit – it
hurt. She is now overseas, but memories of this situation still have the power
Determined to not let it affect my relationships with other students, I
need to remind myself all the time that not everyone is like her. I can believe
what they say. I can believe in their thanks, their shows of affection, their
tears on the final day of term. One girl wrote in a journal the last week: “I
want to be a Christian like Meryl and RoxAnne … the teachers help me to
see and listen about God and God’s work. Thank you, my teachers. I love
you so much.”
I pray that God would continue to use me to help the students to listen to
God and see Him and His work in their lives.
Meryl left Ethiopia in 2010, and spent time completing papers for
her Masters degree. At the end of 2012 she went to South Korea to
disciple prospective missionaries, and since 2013 she has been at ACTS
university (Asian Centre for Theological Studies and Mission), an hour’s
train journey south of Seoul. It was established 40 years ago ‘for the
evangelisation of Asia’. Meryl’s students range in age from school leavers
to 60+, and they come from Cambodia, Bangladesh, Mongolia and
China as well as Korea. A few come from outside Asia.
—For Meryl as she leads the
team till next year, while colleagues
Jimmy and RoxAnne
Cox (pictured with her at left)
are away on home assignment.
—For all our mission partners
facing trials with people they live amongst, that the Lord will ease burdens
and send them out daily with more of his love to share.
Qualified ESL teachers are needed in January-February most
years for 5-6 week short courses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This has been on my mind lately. I’ve been so used to rubbing shoulders
(so to speak!) with soldiers in the street carrying assault rifles where
I was serving overseas, and getting told by travel insurance companies
that I’m “high risk” and being advised on the Foreign Affairs website not
even to go where I was going, that having gone and come back safely a
dozen times I’ve wished I could say something to give perspective to the
ones at home who say, “Oh you’re brave, I couldn’t’ do what you do.”
I’m no braver than you. Neither are Sean and Tasha Shemwell,
raising support as fast as they can to take their children and serve in Nepal.
Nepal! When I asked them for prayer points, the first one they mentioned
was for their extended families to know God’s peace that they are
in his hands. Safety is something that SIM takes very seriously, but it can
never be a cut and dried commodity.
I was delighted to find this in an article titled The Proper Weight of
Fear by Rachel Pieh Jones, about living in Somaliland: “Of course we were
safe. Of course we were not safe. How could we know? Nothing happens
until it happens. People get shot at schools in the United States, in movie
theatres, office buildings. People are diagnosed with cancer. Drunk drivers
hurtle down country roads. Lightening flashes, rivers flood, dogs bite.
Safety is a Western illusion crafted into an idol... “
Here in New Zealand we live on a thin crust above two clashing
tectonic plates, yet we go about our daily business. The saying goes,
‘You could get run over by a bus tomorrow.’
Are we safe? It’s an impossible question.
My country overseas simply feels like another
piece of home, not a dangerous insurance
As David said in Psalm 11: “I trust in the
Lord for protection. So why do you say to me,
‘Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!’...”
(New Living Translation)
photo: Eldon Porter
More than 6 million Quechua people, descendants of the
ancient Incas, live in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Ecuador,
and Peru, with a small group in north Argentina. Reserved
and dignified, they have unique farming techniques and a
staunch work ethic that have helped Quechua communities
thrive at high altitudes, despite hundreds of years of
oppression by Spanish-dominated society.
The big extended families farm the land together, working on one
family member’s land one day, and another’s land the next, raising llamas,
alpacas, sheep, goats and horses. In high altitude areas they mostly grow
potatoes, corn, lima beans and other vegetables. Some Quechua people
work as miners. There are few roads; electricity, clean water and access to
health care are lacking in many villages. Though more and more villages
have primary schools, many children don’t finish secondary school.
The Quechua and the gospel
In the past, the Quechua lived in fear of pagan gods, relying on animal
sacrifices to appease them. These days the Quechua people are still very
more over the page
prone to superstition. Most consider themselves to be Catholic, but
their practice is highly mixed with animistic beliefs. While they have
generally been indifferent to the gospel, now there is spiritual growth and a
blossoming of new believers. The gospel is making an impact, particularly
on impoverished people.
SIM is currently working among Quechua groups in Ecuador, Peru
and Bolivia. Ministries include church planting, Bible translation, oral
Bible teaching, theological education, camp trainings and radio ministries.
Most of the Quechua languages and dialects have some Scripture. In the
1980s and 90s major translation projects were undertaken, and whole
Bibles were made available in the three most populous Quechua dialects.
Juan and the Audio Bible
In the Peruvian state of Apurímac, most villages have no church and no
believers. Very few people can read and write Quechua, their mother tongue,
so how do church planters overcome such barriers and start churches in this
difficult context? SIM evangelist Brother Cecilio was travelling in Peru when
his bus made a short stop in an unreached village. He saw an elderly man in
the town square and asked, “Are there any Christians in this town?’ The old
man replied, “My name is Juan, and I’m the only one!”
Brother Cecilio with rural villagers
Later, Cecilio was in a different town
when someone from a local church spotted
him and said, “Come quickly, there’s an old
man looking for you. He’s been coming to
our church every Sunday, asking if anyone
has seen you. He said he met you in the
town square of Huancarpuquio and wants
to speak with you!”
Juan was overjoyed to reconnect after
two months of prayer. “Please come start a
church in my town!” he urged. “I’m too old
to do it myself, and my village needs Jesus. I
can’t read or write, so I can’t teach the Bible
to my neighbours.” Cecilio promised to visit
his village regularly and also loaned him
a ‘Proclaimer’ audio Bible device, so that
he could begin hearing Scripture regularly and teaching his neighbours.
SIM has trained many Peruvian pastors and church planters to use the audio
Bible, which allows them to bring the message of hope in a way that is
understandable and reproducible to villages that have not been reached by
Cecilio has visited Juan’s village almost weekly to teach and to train
Juan to be the pastor. He comes with audio Bible recordings and pictures,
teaching a different Bible story each week. Those who come to
the meetings memorize the story and teach it to their family members
and friends throughout the week. The Bible study has grown to 30
people, and the group is eager to learn more about Jesus.
For Quechua people
in remote villages of
the Andes to hear
the Word and share
it with others in their
Note: In 1960 Ron and Joan Wiebe went to Bolivia
with the Bolivian Indian Mission, which became the
Andes Evangelical Mission. Ron eventually became
general director and in 1980 he approached SIM
about a merger, which happened two years later.
Even after retirement, Ron and Joan often went back
to Bolivia. Ron passed away in May this year.
Kimi and Meafou Aukino
returned to New Zealand
on June 6 after 28 years of
faithful service in Peru and
Their work with churches
in and around Santa Cruz
has produced much fruit.
Hicieron bien, siervos
buenos y fieles! (Matt. 25.21)
A few of the hundreds of stories
from their time in Santa Cruz
Arriving home in a taxi, Kimi challenged
the driver to reconcile himself
to God. As Kimi prayed, he heard
switches being turned off and on. “Did
you see the light?” the driver asked.
“What light?” “A very bright light
filled the cab!” The driver had been
trying to turn it off, but couldn’t. He,
along with his wife and daughter committed
themselves to the Lord.
Old bits of timber, corrugated iron
and debris from demolition were offered
to a congregation that Kimi ministered
to. The people laboured away
with nails and wire to build a church
seating 50. Two missions
meetings were held and 20
young people followed
Christ. ... Their commitment
to mission has led to planting
another congregation. It’s
common for Bolivian evangelical
churches to grow in
this New Testament way.
Kimi and Meafou always
kept their eyes open for new believers who didn’t own Bibles. Thanks to the
Bibles 4 Bolivia Project, young people in rural areas who can read are given
their own. This is a huge need. In some areas evangelicals are not welcome,
and once when vandals destroyed billboards advertising a meeting, the believers
filled the road with chairs and members from another church came
in support. Kimi preached using his iPad because there was little light. Over
two evenings 35 came to Christ.
The reader survey...
Thank you to the 80 people who took the time to respond. We appreciate
the comments you made and will be using those as a guide to fine
tune magazine content. For example, in our print version of this issue we
are trialling something different: a prayer notes section which you can lift
out of the magazine if you wish. [For those who prefer to use this online
version, prayer notes are readily available weekly in our SIMply Prayer
Roughly half of those responding were interested in an online magazine.
The print version will continue, along with a trial of this internet version.
What you liked
In a nutshell, most readers were happy with what we are doing, and the
balance we have. Since the magazine is now small, we aim to achieve balance
(of locations, subjects and personnel) across a year, and can’t always
have it in a single issue. It was heartening how many of you appreciated
the Third Culture Kids theme. Some prefer stories which show daily
realities for featured Kiwi mission partners; some asked for more articles
about issues in missions today.
What you didn’t like
Not many concerns here. A number of respondents regretted that the
prayer notes don’t have photos of the people concerned. This is due to
tight space, but we put out one issue each year (October) which contains
the photos, location details (except where we can’t for security reasons)
and general background of the mission partners. If you keep this handy it
can be used alongside prayer updates — both in the print magazine and
in our weekly email updates.
The lack of identity of some of the mission partners we feature — no
specific location, no surnames, even the use of pseudonyms — bothers
some readers. So we just emphasize that security issues are very real, and
being fully identified could lead to our partners being put in danger or
no longer being able to serve in their challenging location.
*You can subscribe to these weekly email updates
by going to our website, www.sim.org.nz
Kripya phoned, her voice high
and cracking: “Please get all the
Bibles out of my house. I’m at the
office and can’t go, but if you don’t
get them, my mum will throw them
all in the garbage.”
It was the first day of a festival,
in which each family makes a
special worship space to the mother
goddesses and fasts in their names.
Kripya had been a believer for about
a year, and our Bible study meetings
had shifted from my house to hers.
I was encouraged when her younger
sister, and then her mother, began
to sit in on the worship times. The
peace of Jesus had begun to influence
The Bible study often took place
in the room where their idols were
displayed. It’s a common Hindu
belief that all gods are one, and you
can worship whomever you want.
But Kripya and I felt uncomfortable
about worshipping the Only Way,
Truth and Life in a room with idols.
So we began praying that her mother
and sister would see the necessity of
making a decision to worship only
Jesus. I spent several long nights
wondering how we could have that
conversation, recognizing that they
would be fearful to turn their backs
on their idols.
“You have to choose”
Before the festival began, Kripya
had discussed the week ahead:
knowing she shouldn’t worship idols,
but wanting to obey her parents. She
resolved to sit in on the worship
times, as required by her parents,
but to pray to Jesus or think about
Scripture at that time.
As her mum and sister began the
first day of worship, the two main
components wouldn’t come together.
What was supposed to be made
wasn’t forming properly and what u
Opportunities to serve
Teach English in Burkina Faso: Pastoral carers and counsellors
English For Everyone (EFE) for India:
began 10 years ago in Ougadougou
with 30 students; uals and resource books; plan
Develop and edit training man-
recently 170, mainly university training programmes for pastors;
participate in one-on-one
students, were enrolled. Some
have given their lives to Christ. counselling relationships; assist
There is an immediate and ongoing
need for teachers, and India has many opportunities
in administration as needed.
also for an individual or
in urban and rural settings to
couple who could take over come and use your skills to
partner and reach out.
And many more...
Start a dialogue with us by going to www.sim.org.nz
and clicking on GO, or phoning us on 0508 47 46 69
for a chat, or emailing us at email@example.com
or clicking your smartphone here
was supposed to be burnt wouldn’t
light. Kripya’s mum panicked,
believing this meant bad luck and a
curse for their family. She rushed to
a local priest to ask why her worship
The priest said, “In your house
are two powers. Your heart is divided
between them and you’re trying to
worship both. Also, your daughter’s
heart is given to a different power.
That’s why these things are going
wrong. You cannot worship both.
You have to choose one.”
That’s when Kripya’s mother
decided that the Bibles, and Jesus,
must go. Kripya and I were amazed
at the truth with which the priest
had challenged her mother.
He had communicated to her in
a single moment what we had been
praying for months that God would
reveal. Truth finds a way to speak,
even from unlikely sources.
Attempting to kick Jesus out of
their house was the choice made by
Kripya’s family that day. I pray, by
God’s mercy, it won’t be their final
Sat 4 July, 5pm —GORE: Calvin Community Church
(with finger food to follow)
Sun 5 July, 10.30am — GORE: Grace Presbyterian Church
6.30pm — Wyndham Evangelical Church
Tues 7 July, 7.30pm. — DUNEDIN: Leith Valley Church, Malvern Street,
(Hosted by Grace Bible Church; Supper provided.)
Wed 8 July, 7.30pm — PALMERSTON NORTH: Kingston Community
Church, cnr Kingston St & London Terrace
Sun 12 July, 5pm — AUCKLAND: cession|community, The Depot, Lloyd
Elsmore Park, Howick,
to rebuild —
not just buildings!
your help for
Give to Nepal
Rebuilding not only homes but lives, limbs, hearts and minds
offers a huge opportunity to serve the Lord in this earthquake
We have people already on the ground, doing medical, education
and community work; people known and respected in their local
areas. To give, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to:
www.sim.org.nz/donate/ and quote project # 88600
think outside the box!
There are hundreds of mission opportunities ... Don’t be limited by what you
expect mission partners to do ...
wi l you soon be retiired????
are you an architect or designer?
mechanics and engineers
can you run a café?
couple needed to run a safe house
make the most of your GAP year
Start a dialogue with us by
going to www.sim.org.nz
and clicking on GO,
or phoning us on
0508 47 46 69 for a chat,
or emailing us at
or clicking your smartphone here
are you a psychologist?
kids leaving home?
Where will you follow Jesus?