July 2015 Issue 146

Cross-cultural mission

... it’s in our DNA!

SIM: 4000 workers (including over 2330

mission partners) from 70 different

nationalities serving around the world.

The driving

force behind

everything we

do is to share

the Gospel

where Christ is

least known.

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.

Official publication

of SIM New Zealand

(Serving In Mission), an


evangelical Protestant


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,

Auckland, 2145

Phone: 09 538 0004;

Freephone: 0508 47 46

69; Email:


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.


Naomi Simpson

“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 Brown

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

Church, Auckland

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.

Kaylene Yeoman

“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

time service.”


Helen Scarlet

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

my future?”

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

her experience





“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

South Korea.

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

to hurt.

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


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.’

“...Safety is

a Western


crafted into

an idol...”

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)






the Quechua

people group

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.

Daily life

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

Photos: Connally


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

other methods.

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.

—Brendan Connally


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.


South America

Kiwi connection

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,


finds a

way to


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

their home.

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

this ministry.

partner and reach out.

And many more...

Start a dialogue with us by going to

and clicking on GO, or phoning us on 0508 47 46 69

for a chat, or emailing us at

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

wasn’t working.

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


—Samantha Kay


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,


a commitment

to rebuild —

not just buildings!

your help for


Give to Nepal

disaster relief

project #88600

Rebuilding not only homes but lives, limbs, hearts and minds

offers a huge opportunity to serve the Lord in this earthquake

scarred country.

We have people already on the ground, doing medical, education

and community work; people known and respected in their local

areas. To give, email, or go to: 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????

artiists wanted

are you an architect or designer?

mechanics and engineers


teaching English

offifice manager

occupatiional therapist

can you run a café?

food technologist

ambulance driver


couple needed to run a safe house


make the most of your GAP year

Start a dialogue with us by

going to

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?

dance teacher

kids leaving home?

Where will you follow Jesus?

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