Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Spring 2012 Newsletter

Monday, June 4th, 2012

In this newsletter:

DRIME – Learn more about this amazing ministry within Power to Change that uses choreographed street drama to share the gospel with those on the city streets around the world in a creative, non-threatening, and engaging way.

Family update – updates on Shannon and I, our boys (Toby is 6 months old already!), our trip to Ontario, and more.

Click here to download the PDF

Fall 2011 Newsletter

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Here’s the latest installment in our family / ministry newsletter. This time, the main focus is on our trip this summer down to Fort Collins, CO to take some biblical courses.

View the full PDF here

Spring 2011 Newsletter

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Every few months, Jason writes up a newsletter to send to people who are interested in his ministry at Power to Change. In this edition, you can read about:

  • FamilyLife Weekend to Remember: I’ve been able to help work on some web sites for this ministry, and am encouraged by quotes from recent conference attendees
  • Biblical Studies: We have the chance to take some biblical studies in Colorado for 4 weeks this summer
  • On the Home Front: Our church, dreams, health, and son

View the full PDF here

Fall 2010 Newsletter

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Every few months, Jason writes up a newsletter to send to people who are interested in his ministry at Power to Change. In this edition, you can read about:

View the full PDF here

Staff Conference 2010

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Every year, Power to Change puts on a 4-day conference for all our staff near the end of July. It was in Whistler, BC again this year, which is a beautiful location. Shannon and I always look forward to the conference, because we know it will be a great time to reconnect with some of the staff friends we have that we don’t get to see very often (especially old university friends who are now campus staff across the country). We also look forward to relaxing in a hotel, wandering around Whistler village, taking in the spectacular scenery on the drive in, and being blessed and challenged by the conference sessions.

We knew this year would be a little different, though, because it was our first year coming with a child! Fortunately, it worked out quite well. Silas slept in his stroller at the back of the room for some sessions, so Shannon and I could both participate. Other times, one of us would hang out with Silas in the lobby, watching the session on the live feed out there. Only a few times did one of us need to miss out entirely on something, and since we had expected that ahead of time, we were pretty relaxed about it. And, having Silas there allowed Shannon to win the photo contest for one day. The theme was “relaxation”, and here’s the winning picture Shannon submitted:

Here are a few thoughts that came out of the conference for me:

  • I was reminded again how much I love the vision of Power to Change. The people here love God deeply, and are passionate about people in our communities and across our nation. They are dreaming big dreams of how God could use us to introduce people across our land to the one they were created for.
  • People in Canada ARE interested in spiritual things, and want to talk about the deep issues of life. However, we have to stop approaching people around us as a “project”, but as someone we truly care about and are interested in. Erwin McManus was one of our speakers, and he especially challenged us in this area. He showed us a short documentary he had put together, where he interviewed a number of prominent, secular people from the Vancouver area, and it showed clearly how open people were to talking about spiritual things!
  • Another important aspect of engaging our culture in spiritual conversation is being real about how Jesus has impacted our own lives. And, I’m not just talking about a conversion story from 20 years ago, but how has God been making a real difference in my life in the past week? To share naturally about Christ, we need to be walking closely with Him, making Him a part of every aspect of our lives, all the time.
  • Shannon and I were really challenged to be taking greater faith steps in our own life. Sometimes it feels like we are just living a “maintenance” life – maintaining the house, maintaining the car, maintaining our friendships, etc. We both want to go beyond that, to be agents of God’s kingdom, following His leading to do things that are beyond our own ability and comfort level, that require complete dependance on Him.

May God give us strength and wisdom to put these thoughts into action.

Summer 2010 Newsletter

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Every few months, Jason writes up a newsletter to send to people who are interested in his ministry at Power to Change. This newsletter includes ministry stories from Athletes in Action and TruthMedia, as well as some personal updates about what we’ve been up to this summer, and how life as parents is going. View the PDF here.

Fall Update on work with Power to Change

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

We’ve been back from Africa for about 3 1/2 months now, and I (Jason) have gotten fully back into my work in the IT department at Power to Change. I try to send out an update about what’s going on in the ministry and how I’m involved with it (along with some personal updates) every few months. For family and friends who are interested, here’s the latest fall update.

Fall PTC Update

Final Week in Burkina Faso

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Wow, how quickly this time has gone! Shannon and I are now in our final week here in Burkina Faso. The last couple of weeks have been busy wrapping up, so I thought I’d post a quick overview.

On Friday, April 10th, the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (where I work full time and Shannon has worked a day a week) had a little goodbye party, since that was my last work day. Everyone was incredibly kind, and Shannon and I felt very privileged to have been able to serve this group.

On Saturday, April 11th, we hosted a big goodbye party at our house for all the friends we made in Mahadaga. We gave invites to the medical clinic and the Center, our two places of work, as well as to our church friends. We expected maybe a 50% turnout rate, like a party back home, but people warned us that when a white person has a party, EVERYONE shows up! It turned out they were right, with about 80 people coming to our house between 11 am and 5 pm. Several of the locals and Florence, one of the other missionaries, cooked up tons of rice and sauce for us to feed everyone, and Shannon baked MANY dozens of cookies and cut up lots of mangos. We managed to go through the whole party without running out of food, and it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to everyone.

We waved goodbye to Mahadaga for the last time on Monday, April 13th, as we drove off to Fada for a short visit. There is another mission station there, and we wanted to spend a bit of time with the missionaries we had gotten to know there before leaving the country.

A few days later, we continued up to the capital, connected with 5 other short-term SIM missionaries, and headed off on a 4-day visit to Djibo which we had been planning for several months. Djibo is a large town/small city in northern Burkina Faso, close to the southern frontier of the desert. It’s known for being hot, isolated, and a difficult place to minister. We went to visit the missionaries there, and to learn about the church planting that is being done among the Fulani people. This people group, we learned, is actually the LARGEST unreached people group in the world! (By unreached, I mean they don’t have a growing, self-sufficient Christian church in their own culture.) They are a stoic people, who think it’s weak to show any kind of emotion. They are spread across western Africa, and are almost entirely followers of Islam (although they often mix Islam with their traditional animistic practices). We had the opportunity to visit a Fulani pastor who has just moved to Djibo, visit a traditional Fulani village and have a meal in their home, and visit the small Fulani church that the missionaries are working with. It was quite fascinating, and helped open our eyes to the needs. Please pray with us that God would open the hearts of the Fulani to know Him! Pray as well for the Fulani pastor we met – it’s quite tough for him when Christians often become social outcasts from the rest of the Fulanis.

While in Djibo, we also got introduced to the Tuareg people. The Tuaregs are nomads, who typically live in Mali. However, the Tuaregs have been engaged in a struggle with the Mali government for quite some time now, and many Tuaregs have left Mali as refugees from the fighting. We had the privilege to visit a Tuareg camp, have a meal with them, and even take a short camel ride! Here’s a picture of Shannon and I with the camel in the background.

Shannon has also posted several other pictures from our last few weeks here on Facebook. To check them out, click here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=74893&id=502659080&l=62892af52e

Our last week here will be planning and preparing for our time in Europe and our time in Ontario.  We will be taking a 3.5 week trip through Italy, France, Spain, and Morocco and are excited to get the chance to see Europe for the first time!  We are scrambling trying to book everything even now and also hoping to prepare some presentations for when we return to Canada.  We are also getting the chance to visit with missionaries here on the field for one last time and are getting the chance to see some ministries here in Ouaga.

Please pray for our continued protection and that we make all our connections in Europe!  Please pray also that we finish well here and have opportunity to bless the different missionaries here.  We look forward to connecting again with everyone back at home!

Visiting the Pastor’s Field

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

“I’ll pick you up between 6 and 6:30 am”. I (Jason) had just been talking with our local Pastor about wanting to go see his field, where he grows staple crops of rice and millet in the rainy season. He was happy to give me a little tour, and said we should go before the day got to warm. So, just as the sky was starting to go from black to grey, I pulled myself out of bed to get ready.

When the Pastor arrived on his moto, I hoped on the back and held on for the ride. The field is a ways back from the one main road, and about a 15 minute ride from his house. He told me there wasn’t much land close to the road, so that’s why he couldn’t grow his crops close to his house. I asked why he didn’t build his house back by the field, and he said it would have made it very difficult to get water, since the nearest well was several kilometers away from his field.

After taking several successively smaller paths (and getting me thoroughly lost), we pulled up to a mud house compound and parked. “My brother lives here”, the Pastor told me; “We should go greet him”. Of course, how could we visit the area without stopping to see the people he knew in the area! I guess they chose to put up with the difficulty in getting water, so they could live closer to the field. After stopping in to say hi for a few minutes, we continued on to the field.

Unfortunately, since we are near the end of the dry season right now, the fields are mostly just hard, cracked furrows of dirt with the remains of last year’s stalks in the ground. But, just by looking at the size of the fields, I could see that it would be a big job for one family to till the land, sow the seed, tend the crops, and then harvest them, all by hand! “During the rainy season, I’m out here in the field from about 7 in the morning till sundown, just after 6”, the Pastor told me. He still has to work on church activities like his sermon after that! He asked me, “Do pastors in Canada have to grow food or have another job to feed their families?” I know there are a few who do, but it’s pretty rare. We are so blessed in Canada! It seems that EVERYONE here has a field – even a family that seemed quite well off, where both of them have decently paying jobs (one at the medical clinic, one at the handicapped center) had a field. They said they needed to grow some of their own food to survive! I’m not sure how people like the pastor are able to actual get money for things like gas for his moto, since he doesn’t really grow enough food to sell – mostly just to feed his family for the year.

As we wandered to the far end of the rice field, the Pastor pointed out a small barrier he had constructed last season to keep the water from draining so quickly off the field. The dirt is really hard (especially when dry!), so it was a tough job to build up a barrier like that. Fortunately, he does have one steer to help with some of the plowing and other work. He’d like to buy another so he can add some more barriers next year and keep his fields better watered, but it’s quite expensive for a steer and he doesn’t have the money. His wife comes to help in the field during the rainy season a lot as well (I’m not sure what she does with their 2 kids, though!). I asked when kids start learning to cultivate fields, and he said when they around 10 or 11. So, maybe they’ll be helping out soon enough!

On our way back from the field, the trail we were on passed right beside a circumcision camp. This is an annual tradition here. Boys who are deemed by their parents or older siblings to be ready for the transition to manhood go out to these camps for about 3 weeks. They learn a bit about farming and other skills. However, the camps are also animistic (following the tribal religious traditions) and cause quite a few problems in the community. The boys dress up in masks (they are not supposed to be recognized, now that they are “men”), spread sand and clay on their shirtless chests and arms, and run around in the village with sticks demanding money from people. They are known to hit women and children with the sticks they carry around, and many people are quite scared to go out when the circumcision camps are going on! It’s prevented people from going to central locations where Shannon and other nurses from the clinic were giving vaccinations, and kept some kids from coming to hear Betty (another missionary on the station) do the Bible stories she does several times a week in various housing compounds around the village. A girl even had to go to the clinic last week to be treated after having been hit by these circumcision boys! One time, I noticed a number of kids crowding on our porch, peeking around the corner of our house. I asked what was going on, and they told me some of the circumcision boys were coming. When the boys came through the front gate of the mission station, about 100 feet from our house, the kids were so scared they ran straight into our house, which has always been off limits for them! Fortunately, I just went out and told the boys to leave, and they didn’t give me any trouble.

Anyway, as we were approaching the circumcision camp, about 30 boys (all early teens I think) started getting up and running to block the path. As we got closer, they started chanting and hitting their sticks together. Needless to say, I was a little nervous! Fortunately, the Pastor didn’t seem too concerned. He pulled out a bit of money to give to one of the adults leading the camp, after which the kids applauded and let us through. That was definitely a close encounter with a very different side of the local culture!

Final steps to our destination

Monday, November 10th, 2008
Words from Jason
I thought I would send you another message to post, before we head out to the rural area:
 
First off, I’ve posted some more pictures of our trip so far on Facebook. To check them out (you don’t need a facebook account), use this link:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=176701&l=704d4&id=593615598.
 
This afternoon, we will probably be leaving for the long journey to Mahadaga, the rural station where we will be for the next few months. We’ll drive the first 2 or 3 hours on the paved roads to Fada this afternoon, and then stay there overnight. We’ll then drive the last 6 or 7 hours on dirt roads to the final destination tomorrow. It’s not really safe to drive that part after dark today, as there are bandits around and the road can be pretty bad after the rainy season. Pray that the trip goes well and there are no car breakdowns.
 
Finally, this trip will mean the end of our internet access, which has been so nice up to this point. We’ll be able to check a special e-mail account through a satellite phone once a day, and we’ve set up Shannon’s e-mail address to forward to that account. So, if you want to get in touch with us while we’re in Mahadaga, send e-mails there. Thanks for all your encouraging comments and faithful prayers so far!
Words from Shannon,

Friends and Family,

We have officially arrived at our new home safely!  We drove a couple hours to a town called Fada and stayed there on the night of the 3rd, and then yesterday we left from the guest house at the SIM compound in Fada to come here to Mahadaga.  To say that this is in the “middle of nowhere” might possibly be a huge understatement!  We are definitely at the end of civilization out here and it was a lot of work to get here!  We strapped all our stuff on top of our truck and endured a very bumpy ride to Mahadaga.  At some points the roads are completely devastated, other points there are rivers over the road or a herd of cattle in the way!  It was a very hot and dusty ride but the truck had a/c which was somewhat of a help.  We thankfully did not get attacked by bandits and had no car trouble (apparently both are VERY common here).

 

Driving into this area- there is a large difference in how it looks compared to the rest of Burkina.  You drive over these “hills” and down into the valley area – which was thick with condensation (looked like fog).  It’s more hot and humid here, very lush and there are mango trees everywhere.  There are a few towns before you arrive in Mahadaga- so it’s not completely all on its lonesome- but there is not much by way of a ‘town.’  You feel sort of like a celebrity driving along- everyone waving at you and smiling.  It’s not often they see vehicles and even less often they see white people driving them.  My favorite part though was the group of swimmers we drove right beside….all children…there was a herd of cattle in the way and they all jumped out with their naked behinds and swatted away the animals- all the time smiling and giggling.  Was quite funny!

 

We settled into our home here soon after arrival….I started to “nest” and try and get our kitchen in order.  Our little home hasn’t been lived in for awhile so there was dust everywhere and lots of cockroaches and spiders!  (I had Jason go ahead of me in every room and wipe all the shelves and spiderwebs down for me!)  We actually got quite a bit done soon after arrival which made me feel a bit more at home.

 

We had a nice dinner potluck last night with everyone at this compound.  Two families with 2 kids each.  One of them just built an incredible home here on the compound- they have a million stories about the difficulties it took in getting all the supplies here from Ouaga or the U.S.  There’s also a French nurse (about my age) and the 80 year old missionary we met beforehand in Canada!

 

Today we got to tour the clinic where I’m working (just across the street).  It’s huge!  Lots of maternity, overnight rooms, a laboratory, and much more.  Most of the staff were gone today to go out in the bush and do immunizations- but I did get to watch one of the African nurses start to suture a very bad cut on a guy’s arm.  (felt a little woozy- ha ha!)  Also got to see the sweetest, newest little babies.  HOWEVER- I realize even more how much I need to learn the local language Gourma- it will be most useful!  The long term missionary Betty- who’s 80 years old and has come here for over 50 years will be teaching me soon- or we’ll hire a “language helper.”

 

So much more to say- hope it’s not too long!  Some random things….

-there are LOTS of scorpions here apparently and one lady in our compound just got stung last night (thank goodness they’re not deadly),

-took me about 3 hours today to make brownies (HA HA)- all ovens are gas powered and problematic, our eggs were bad etc (will tell you the interesting story of making brownies later)

-donkeys are the worst sound to wake up to in the morning

-I was actually cold last night.  NO JOKE

 

Love to you all

Will update more infrequently now as we get into our work.  We’ll be starting our jobs probably after we get more settled after the weekend.  We’ll also go next weekend BACK to fada to hopefully collect our baggage and have orientation with other short termers.  I may have to go a bit further to get dental work too- PLEASE PRAY I DON’T NEED TO AND MY TOOTH WITH HEAL!

 

Hi all,

In case anyone wants it- here is our mailing address here:

 

For letters/small things:

SIM Mahadaga

BP 18 Diapaga

Burkina Faso

 

For large things (NOT that we’re expecting many large packages- but if it’s anything that you are concerned that we don’t get):

 

Shannon and Jason Brink

SIM Mission Protestante

01 B.P. 1552 Ouagadougou 01

Burkina Faso