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A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net

SPRING 2021

CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis

EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND


Faithful Steps Toward Thriving By Paul Baxley

It has been

an entire year since congregations across our Fellowship began responding to the profound challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the middle of March last year, so many congregations quickly discovered new ways of worship, Bible study and mission in communities across the United States. During those early days of the pandemic, we saw faithful agility and holy tenacity find new expression in congregations of every size and context. Over the course of this past year, much has been required from our congregations and their leaders, and in the days ahead we will have to search together and help one another find faithful ways of thriving as the pandemic begins to recede. The challenges that have confronted our congregations have also been faced by our field personnel all around the United States and across the world. In this issue of fellowship! magazine, you will read stories of how the ministries of several of our field personnel have taken new forms amid lockdowns and a public health crisis. From California to central Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, and many places in between, our field personnel have found new and urgently important ways to join the Triune God in cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development. We have seen, in new and compelling ways, the power of long-term presence, as field personnel who have served in the same community for many years have had access to relationships of trust that opened doors for faithful ministry that would not have existed apart from that trust. Just as Jesus himself offered healing to the ill, food to the hungry and comfort to those lonely and marginalized, so our field personnel have found new ways to participate in Christ’s healing, feeding and comforting love. At the same time, our field personnel have become even more deeply connected to the ministries of our congregations. Through the opportunities afforded by technology, we’ve heard more and more stories of field personnel participating in virtual worship services, Sunday school classes, and midweek prayer experiences. Our field personnel have brought their expertise serving in pandemic climates to help congregations find new ways of serving here. Through their ministries around the world and their deeper connections with our congregations, our field personnel remind us

A Publication Of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Volume 31, Number 1 Spring 2021

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fellowship!

PAUL BAXLEY is Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

that the ministries of our local congregations are part of a much larger mission of Christ all around the world, and they offer us chances to join that mission so that we not only extend Christ’s love in ways none of us could on our own, but we also have opportunities for learning, transformation and friendship in our own faith journeys. When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was formed 30 years ago, there was from the beginning a deep and compelling commitment to joining Christ in mission all around the world. We have found ways of serving in this country and around the world that move beyond the old debate as to whether mission is about bearing witness to Jesus or meeting human need. Jesus’ ministry moves beyond that false dichotomy and proves that evangelism, discipleship and mission are inseparable from one another. Inviting people to follow Jesus is inviting them to join Christ’s life and mission in the world. Today I remind you of our founding commitment to joining Christ in mission around the world. I do so in order to remind you that the Offering for Global Missions is the lifeblood of our approach to global mission. Contributions to that offering only support the “presence” costs of our field personnel, most notably their salaries, benefits, housing costs and educational expenses for their children. Many of our congregations support this offering through special emphases during the year, and the pandemic has seriously challenged all of the normal ways congregations receive that offering. In the very season that we have seen compelling examples of the difference our Global Missions ministries are making around the world and in our congregations, support for the offering has not been as strong. So, this Spring, I invite you to join my family and me in supporting the Offering for Global Missions. We do so each month through a scheduled online contribution. I also encourage your congregation to take advantage of the resources available to promote the offering and encourage participation in it. The transforming power of that faith investment has never been clearer. As we approach our 30th anniversary as a Fellowship, let’s renew our response to Jesus’ global mission by giving generously, praying fervently, seeking new partnerships between congregations and field personnel so that Christ’s love can be shared, our congregations can be transformed, and communities around the world can experience the healing that only comes from God.

Fellowship! is published 4 times a year in September (Fall), December (Winter), March (Spring), June (Summer) by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Inc., 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500, Decatur, GA 30030. Periodicals postage paid at Decatur, GA, and additional offices. USPS #015-625.

Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley Associate Coordinator for Identity & Communications Jeff Huett Editor Aaron Weaver Associate Editor Carrie Harris Graphic Designer Jeff Langford

E-Mail fellowship@cbf.net Phone (770) 220-1600 Postmaster: Send address changes to: Fellowship! Cooperative Baptist Fellowship 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500 Decatur, GA 30030.


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EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND By Grayson Hester

16 ABUNDANT HOPE &

HOSPITALITY: KATA AND MILAN’S STORY By Caleb Mynatt

20 A CUP OF COLD WATER CBF field personnel in California share acts of compassion in the face of COVID-19 By Melody Harrell

24 READY TO CATCH During COVID-19, CBF field personnel in Spain support refugees By Joshua Hearne

4 TO HELL’S KITCHEN AND BACK (...VIRTUALLY) By Jennifer Colosimo

6 LONG-TERM PRESENCE IN ACTION WHEN A BLAST SHAKES BEIRUT

19 GLOBAL CONNECTIONS By Bekah Rhea Opportunities to

29 AFFECT: MARCH 2021 Acts of Compassion

Opportunities to

30 AFFECT: APRIL 2021 Offering Welcome

Opportunities to Opportunities to

31 AFFECT: MAY 2021

Refugees Walk a Tightrope

FROM THE EDITORS As we continue through this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, churches and individuals across the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship continue to minister in creative ways. CBF field personnel have altered EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY the way they build community like IN THE HEARTLAND Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey in New York City (p. 4). Immigrants and refugees struggling the most throughout the pandemic in California are receiving food and masks from Lita and Rick Sample (p. 20). In Spain, Matt and Michelle Norman are helping to keep refugees afloat and welcome them into community (p. 24). After the blast in Lebanon in August, Chaouki and Maha Boulos reached out to provide aid to those displaced (p. 6). Before and throughout the pandemic, Mira and Sasha Zivanov have been extending hope and hospitality to the international population in St. Louis, Mo. (p. 12; p. 16). As a Fellowship, there are also opportunities to connect, which are highlighted here in this issue of fellowship! Learn more about the new and improved CBF Book Club with 12 new titles and an Editor’s Choice list for 2021-22. See the inspiring upcoming guests on the CBF Podcast throughout the spring, including Jen Hatmaker, Jemar Tisby and more. Learn about CBF’s Encourager Church initiative and how even during the pandemic, your congregation can form and deepen relationships with CBF field personnel serving around the world. Opportunities abound! We are excited to tell the stories of CBF’s global impact, and we look forward to hearing and sharing your stories as you connect. A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net

SPRING 2021

CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis

AARON WEAVER is the Editor of fellowship! Connect with him at aweaver@cbf.net CARRIE HARRIS is the Associate Editor of fellowship! Connect with her at charris@cbf.net


To Hell’s Kitchen and Back (…Virtually) How CBF and Student.Go helped make urban immersion possible in the pandemic By Jennifer Colosimo

In the midst

of the global pandemic, many things were pushed aside to make room for front-line priorities. We’ve had to weather the effects of the pandemic, in certain cases, hoping to come out the same on the other side. But for CBF’s front-line workers in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, the same wasn’t going to be good enough—whether they knew it at first, or not. When the world went digital in March of 2020, CBF field personnel Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey, serving with Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries (RMM) in NYC, had to get creative in the ways they serve local survivors of domestic violence, food insecurity and homelessness. This was also true of connecting with youth and college groups who visit the city through the RMM Urban Immersion program, which is designed to provide a holistic experience of missions for visiting groups through a combination of work, prayer and play in the city. “One of the beautiful things about NYC is that it is a laboratory of sorts for the rest of the country. It’s a place where things are happening on a huge scale,” said Hix

Tommey. “The aim of the Urban Immersion Program is to encourage students out of their comfort zones, awaken their senses and renew their vision so that when they return to their home contexts, they see a little bit differently.” But in 2020, it wasn’t happening. In fact, CLUE Camp, RMM’s summer camp that utilizes CBF’s Student.Go internship program to run the camp, wasn’t operating either. And there were no groups meeting at the church, since not much of anything was happening face-to-face. Without any of that, would they even need a student this year? Dual-degree graduate student Kathleen Post was asking similar questions from the other side of the fence. Post, who is studying

at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary and the Diana Garland School of Social Work, wondered what she would do during the summer too. “Working with Lesley-Ann was already at the top of my list,” said Post, a former high school theater teacher. “It would be a perfect pairing of what I want to do, blending the church and social work. Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries does a really beautiful job of serving people where they are. I was excited about the prospect of joining them.” Without summer camp, Hix Tommey rewrote the job description to be more administrative, helping RMM manage their social media or possibly write grant proposals. But when Student.Go paired them with Post, it was immediately apparent that they could really start dreaming up something incredible. “Because of her awesome education background, we saw a clear connection to our Urban Immersion Program which wasn’t running at the time,” said Hix Tommey. “In fact, we quickly realized what a gift she was,

Farmer Kay gives a virtual video tour of the rooftop farm at Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries in New York City.

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“OUR SALVATION AND HEALING, OUR HOPE, PEACE AND JOY ARE BOUND UP IN EACH OTHER. WE NEED EACH OTHER.”

An Urban Immersion group gets an in-person tour of the rooftop farm of Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries before the pandemic made it necessary to move these experiences to a virtual format.

and, because of her creativity and skills, we were able to do things we would have never been able to otherwise.” In a normal year, the program provides deep learning experiences through immersion into the work at RMM (serving in the food pantry, clothes closet, afterschool program, etc.) as well as working with other service providers around the city for volunteer experiences. “We realized that the best use of her skills would be to create something that would provide those groups with a connection to NYC at a time when they can’t come visit us, but could still have the same kind of learning experience,” said Hix Tommey. “She wrote a virtual version of the program that they could do on their own, in their hometowns.” The result was incredibly creative content like videos spotlighting Kay, one of their lead farmers, giving a tour of the rooftop garden, or performers of all experience levels from RMM congregation adding to the learning. “The Urban Immersion curriculum was a very special project for so many reasons,” Post explained. “Helping churches find a way

to serve people in similar ways in the middle of this pandemic was really cool. We’re all looking for a piece of normalcy; so, to be able to say to people, ‘you can’t come to us, but we can help you get some education’ was awesome. We were hoping this curriculum would help people see that this work can be done right where they are, from their pew, from the corner of their house. It doesn’t have to be done in a big city, far away. That was really special to discover and share.” The virtual curriculum is a six-week package, leveraging the spiritual gifts from RMM with informational videos, testimonials and insight from local practitioners and pastors. “Finding purpose in this internship has actually helped me be healthier,” said Post, who also attended the church’s virtual services online and met with community groups via Zoom calls. “I was struggling with feeling sad about the state of the world, feeling helpless. Lesley-Ann really helped me put a boogie in my step—that’s the best way I can describe it. She reminded me that my skills are still really useful right

now, even if I am sad. There is still much work to be done and it’s possible to get it done. There’s something special about being connected with people from different places who are all seeking the same things. I definitely think it prepared me to go back into another semester of grad school in a way that I am not sure would have been possible otherwise.” It has prepared Hix Tommey and her team at RMM for a brighter future, too. “There have been so many things we started doing because we were suddenly only able to do certain things,” she said. “Having to muster creativity and reach out in new ways, noticing how important community is and that it is more than just an in-person group—that’s what we’ve learned. I keep catching myself when I say I’m ready to return to normal. Certainly, I want to hug my people and visit my family; but I don’t want to go back to our cultures being so independent. We need to carry on while clinging to each other. Our salvation and healing, our hope, peace and joy are bound up in each other. We need each other. That’s what we have to have to participate in creating the world again.” SPRING 2021

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Long-term Presence in Action when a

Blast Shakes Beirut

On

August 4, 2020, an explosion shook the city of Beirut, Lebanon, near the port and central district. Homes crumbled and buildings were destroyed. Hundreds lost their lives and thousands were injured. Chaouki and Maha Boulos, CBF field personnel, were in their apartment when the blast tore through the city.

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After the August 4 explosion in Beirut that crumbled homes and buildings, CBF field personnel Maha and Choauki Boulos (above) acted quickly to provide assistance to help meet immediate needs of food, water and medical care for displaced individuals.

On a typical day, the Bouloses are involved in rendering aid to refugees, assisting expectant mothers and children, food distribution, leadership training and sharing the gospel. The pandemic had already brought crisis to a country struggling with a burgeoning refugee population, economic downturn and political unrest. The Bouloses were responding daily to these ongoing situations. And then yet another crisis—an already hurting city torn apart by explosion. You, Cooperative Baptists, responded quickly to the call for funding to support relief efforts. Thanks to your generous support, Chaouki and Maha were able to act quickly to provide assistance to relieve some of the immediate needs for food, water and medical care as hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and unable to remain in their homes. They began to register names so that food distribution and medicine for ongoing health needs could


begin immediately. They set out to distribute mattresses, windows and roofing supplies. They offered comfort to those who lost loved ones in the blast. Chaouki shared an account of a woman who lived close to the port on the fifth floor of an apartment building. The building was severely affected by the explosion. As the Bouloses used the stairs to reach her apartment, they noted the evidence of injury and lives lost. Entering the apartment, Chaouki saw destruction all around. With tears flowing, the woman related how her mother had been alone in the apartment when the explosion happened and was killed when a door fell on her. All Chaouki could do was to grieve and mourn with the woman, offering as much comfort as he could. He later expressed the deep sadness of witnessing the sudden disappearance of the hopes and dreams of people who had been living peacefully.

Calling on their team of experienced volunteers, doors were replaced, roofs repaired and houses restored. As winter approached, they began to distribute blankets and food boxes to thousands. Yet, providing these very tangible essentials was not enough. Maha had it on her heart to do more. She felt it was necessary not only to respond to the blast, but to address the ongoing economic situation. She knew that relationships were key to building a healthy community. Chaouki and Maha are deeply grateful for the response of Cooperative Baptists. Because of you, a community devastated by an explosion was able to begin to rebuild and heal. Because of your generosity, Chaouki and Maha are able to share the love and hope of Christ to those who are hurting.

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www.cbf.net/books

CBF Book Club 2021-22 We’re excited to announce selections for this year’s book club. With new subjects, great authors, more comprehensive reading guides and Fellowship-wide virtual events. We invite you and your congregation, Sunday school class or small group to join us as we read and learn together.

Editor’s Choice 2015-2020

www.cbf.net/books

OCTOBER 2015

AUGUST 2017

By Rachel Held Evans

By Colson Whitehead

Searching for Sunday

Learn more and find the calendar of titles at www.cbf.net/books.

Editor’s Choice 2015-2020

We are offering a compilation of discussion guides celebrating the best works from the CBF Book Club over the last six years. Download the free PDF at www.cbf.net/books.

With humor, authenticity, and a gift for poetic prose, Evans reflects on her personal and generational disconnection with and longing for the church. She uses the seven sacraments—as recognized by the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions—as touchstones to explore the deeper meanings of faith that speak to her personal journey.

The Underground Railroad In Whitehead’s rendering, the Underground Railroad is a literal subterranean tunnel with tracks, trains and conductors, ferrying runaways into darkness and, occasionally, into light. The central narrative of Cora’s flight to freedom in the north is interspersed with short chapters about the other characters she encounters.

AUGUST 2016

MAY 2018

By Emily St. John Mandel

By Jodi Picoult

Station Eleven

Twenty years after a devastating flu pandemic, Kirsten Raymonde moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence.

DECEMBER 2016

Signs Preceding the End of the World

By Yuri Herrera (translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman) Traversing the lonely territory between the United States and Mexico is Makina, who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.

Small Great Things White supremacist parents don’t want Ruth, an African American nurse to touch their newborn boy. When the baby goes into cardiac distress and Ruth is the only nurse in the hospital nursery, she makes a decision that will change her life and the lives of others as well. What would you do? As with most of her novels, Picoult challenges readers’ assumptions in a compelling story that isn’t necessarily black and white.

OCTOBER 2018 The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas The uneasy balance of Starr Carter’s life is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. As the only person alive who knows what really went down that night, what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community and endanger her life.


The Youth Theology Network is your resource for helping high school students answer the question, “Is God calling me to ministry?”

THEIR NEW ONLINE HUB IS WHERE YOU CAN: Connect with and learn from practitioners across the country doing this important work. Direct students to a program that fits their individual needs and interests. Read inspiring stories from program alumni and leaders who represent the future of ministry. Find vocational discernment resources to equip both leaders and students on their spiritual journeys.

YOUTHEOLOGYNETWORK.ORG


The CBF Conversations Podcast shares stories, ideas and innovations from popular authors, journalists, ministers, advocates and nonprofit leaders from the Church and society.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Catch up on any episodes you’ve missed at

www.cbf.net/podcast

March 21 Jen Hatmaker Simple & Free: 7 Experiments Against Excess

April 11 Jemar Tisby How To Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice

March 28 Anthea Butler White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America

April 18 Sissy Goff Brave: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Beating Worry and Anxiety

April 4 James Bryan Smith Room of Marvels: A Story About Heaven that Heals the Heart

April 25 Mae Elise Cannon Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age

May 2 Michael Battle Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Biography of South Africa’s Confessor


EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis By Grayson Hester 12 |

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EXTEND

Our

country has never been more divided. Or, so our recent public discourse would have us think.

HOPE HOSPITALITY

Discounting the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, it seems that our political camps have never been more firmly entrenched, our ideologies never more diametric. And while this may be true, we may also be in need of some perspective. For one point of view, we can turn to Mira and Sasha Zivanov, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel serving in St. Louis, Mo., the heart of the contiguous United States. The Zivanovs know in their marrow what it means to live in a divided country. Both were Bosnian refugees from the former Yugoslavia—which now comprises Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. They have seen with their own eyes the disastrous consequences of division. The ethnic wars that devastated their home country in the 1990s literally divided their borders, their families, their histories and their life trajectories. Like millions around the world, they came to the United States—in Sasha’s case, as a refugee and in Mira’s, as an immigrant. “Bosnians first started coming to St. Louis after 1994,” Mira said. “It seems that the government was very helpful to them, offering assistance with opening businesses and with many other things.” While St. Louis may not seem at first glance the obvious or most accessible choice, the Zivanovs explain that it is similar, geographically and architecturally to their homeland. Familiarity, after all, is often what migrant peoples seek in a new place. It’s one

“I NEEDED TO HAVE PEOPLE WILLING TO LISTEN TO MY STORY AND WILLING TO ACCEPT ME AS I AM, TO OPEN THEIR DOOR TO ME SO I COULD COME IN AND FEEL COMFORTABLE AND BE LOVED.”

(Top) Mira and Sasha Zivanov are CBF field personnel serving in St. Louis, Mo., among the immigrant and refugee community—primarily consisting of those from the former Yugoslavia. (Bottom) Mirsada and her husband receive assistance from the Zivanovs with interpreting and understanding documents and translating to navigate red tape that English speakers all but take for granted. SPRING 2021

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reason why St. Louis has become a Bosnian hub in the United States. More than 70,000 Bosnian people live in the city, which is precisely why the Zivanovs live and minister there. As CBF field personnel, it is their mission to provide hope, hospitality and, in Sasha’s estimation, a smile. “I came as a refugee, and I always wanted to see the smile and the welcome in the people that I was going to meet,” he said. “I needed to have people willing to listen to my story and willing to accept me as I am, to open their door to me so I could come in and feel comfortable and be loved.” The Zivanovs carry the migrant experience in one pocket and the Gospel in the other. This confluence of narratives has led them to work directly with the Bosnian population in St. Louis since 2004, when they were under the employ of Kirkwood Baptist Church. It wasn’t until 2011 that they were commissioned as CBF field personnel and, since 2017, they have sustained their vital work with funds from the CBF Offering for Global Missions. For the past 16 years, Mira and Sasha have provided indispensable services to up to two percent of the Bosnian population (14,000 people), as well as to other refugee populations (Iraqi and Afghani, for example) whom they serve. They do this now through the recently established International Fellowship Center. “When we open the doors for friends, they open the doors for us. Usually we will drink coffee or have tea with a family. When we visit Iranian or Afghanistan families, we don’t understand each other,” Mira said. “But the smile means a lot, and we share that cup of coffee or tea—something huge for the people that are here.” Moving to and integrating into a new society often proves hugely difficult for people, even if they speak English. For those who

are non-native English speakers, it can be nearly impossible. The bureaucratic maze of paperwork and fees and appointments, mildly annoying to those who grew up here, can be an existential nightmare for people trying to make a new life here. “You’re not going to always be accepted. Actually, most of the time, you’ll hit the blank walls really,” Sasha said. “Some people will try to help you, but others will just ignore you.” Having experienced this for themselves, Sasha and Mira want as few people to go through it as possible. The Zivanovs offer translation services, in addition to facilitating a huge network that can assist with finding affordable housing, completing paperwork, securing appointments, and navigating the kind of red tape Americans all but take for granted. But they don’t stop there. The Zivanovs’ ministry isn’t simply about getting people settled; it’s about finding people family. That’s why a central feature of their work in St. Louis revolves around a food pantry. After all, there’s no better way to share life than to share a table. “Food pantries are a big opportunity for us to meet with the families and help with their needs,” Mira said. “We share the food; we share love; we share prayer; we share understanding—all as we meet the families.” Started as a collaborative effort among several St. Louis-area churches, the service eventually became defined by the Zivanovs’ presence, chiefly because they spoke the language and understood the experience of those with whom they were working. This knowledge has led them to be just as interested in filling stomachs with food as they are with filling heads with knowledge; to this end, they also provide a tutoring service.

“WE SHARE THE FOOD; WE SHARE LOVE; WE SHARE PRAYER; WE SHARE UNDERSTANDING…” Study after study demonstrate the importance of a good education in the life of a family, regardless of nationality or immigration status. Many Bosnian parents, therefore, insist that their children work tirelessly for that which they never had—education. “My biggest hope is for my kids to go to school and to finish school. I lived in Bosnia where I never had the opportunity to go to school,” said Mirsada, who met the Zivanovs through the food pantry ministry. But a major roadblock for Mirsada’s children, and many Bosnian children like them, comes in the form of language and cultural differences. Hard work yields few results when the system is not able to accommodate those who are working. CBF field personnel Sasha Zivanov and his wife, Mira, partner with Kirkwood Baptist Church and other organizations in the area to facilitate a community food pantry and the International Fellowship Center.

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Learn more about the CBF Offering for Global Missions and find videos about the Zivanovs’ ministry at www.cbf.net/ogm

Faced with this pervasive problem, Mira put it simply: “We need to do something about that.” “She did figure out a way we could do that,” Sasha said. “Back in 2014, we started working with the kids in the community, helping them.” The Zivanovs initially helped with education by way of home visits, where they could sometimes find themselves helping five different kids on five different levels and subjects of schoolwork. And while that particular effort has changed, what hasn’t changed is the care with which they serve and the family they have created along the way. Indeed, for all the services the Zivanovs and International Fellowship Center provide—and there are many—what remains most important are the relationships they’ve nurtured. “I consider them to be my second mom and dad. Mira and Sasha are the best; everyone knows that—both as friends, and as people,” said Sanela, whom the Zivanovs have walked alongside throughout her time in St. Louis. For Mira and Sasha, the feeling goes both ways. A couple they met through the food pantry, Milan and Kata, remain vitally close even as they no longer visit the food pantry due to age and Milan’s advancing dementia. “I feel like they’re really part of me and my family. Both of them are very concerned about what we feel. They always want to help us out in any way because they want to return the favor,” Mira said. This experience is not uncommon among refugee and immigrant populations—a people group that’s the largest it has ever been (and only getting larger). Torn asunder by war, washed away by climate change, or caught in the crosshairs of political dispute, these peoples often don’t choose to leave. They’re forced to seek a better life, any life, elsewhere. And what a better life looks like isn’t simply help with food and housing and tutoring and paperwork, although those are important.

For the past 16 years, Mira and Sasha have provided indispensable services to the Bosnian population in St. Louis, as well as to other refugee populations whom they serve, including a food pantry, translation services and a tutoring program.

A better life looks like community and family, wherever they may be found. “What do I want? For my kids to have it better than I did,” Sasha said. “For us to have peace, to be good, to be well, to live well, to have a normal life.” As long as they have the funds and support to do so, Mira and Sasha fully intend to continue fighting for their refugee families to have that normal life. It’s not merely a directive—it’s a Gospel calling, etched in bones that have walked across borders, traversed vast seas, and endured incredible burdens. “Well, once you are an immigrant, you try to help those who are going through the same process that you went through,” Sasha said. “It’s a common brotherhood, I guess, or a common need. We come together either to celebrate something or to fight for something or to share something.” And, to hear Mira tell it, there are few better places to share that ‘something’ than in a welcoming church or larger Fellowship. “If you can find your place with the people who are around you, and you feel you are safe in that place, and you feel that, ‘Okay, this is my country now,’” she said, “this is something that we’re all looking for—security, stability and peace.” SPRING 2021

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Abundant Hope & Hospitality The

life of Kata and Milan together has been defined by differences that didn’t really matter to them. As a married couple living in what was once Yugoslavia, they had a very normal life in Eastern Europe in 1992. Kata, a housewife, was a Protestant Croat married to Milan, an Orthodox Serb. Despite their differences, their marriage was never affected. They considered themselves one-and-the-same, a team living a normal life together. Then, when the USSR and Yugoslavia began falling apart in the early 1990s, things started to change drastically. Although their differences didn’t matter to them, those differences began to matter to other people. “No one cared about our marriage before this war. It was normal for us. My brother also married an Orthodox woman. No one cared about that before the conflict started,” Kata said. “We were leading a normal life in

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Croatia, among Croats, until the war. Then they started dividing people by nation.” A series of wars in the area completely decentralized the region, as well as turning ethnic groups against each other. Then, after Operation Storm in 1995, a military strike that inevitably led to Croatian independence, things continued to get worse for the couple. What was once a life characterized by happiness and normalcy for Kata and Milan became one characterized by terror. Facing ostracism and potential violence, Kata and Milan followed the separation mandate put in place by the Croatian government and relocated to Serbia because of Milan’s race. Then, still in fear for their lives, they applied for refugee status and moved to the United States as senior citizens in 1998. Along with their three sons and their sons’ families, the entire group relocated to St. Louis, Mo., in search of the happy life they were forced to leave behind. “We were happy to be here since there was a war raging back in Serbia,” Kata said.

Kata and Milan’s Story By Caleb Mynatt “We lost everything there, everything burned and destroyed.” Even though they were happy to be in the U.S., once again the couple found themselves having to deal with their differences defining them. Although their new situation was an improvement over their lives in war-torn Serbia, the move presented a new set of challenges. In addition to assimilating into American culture and dealing with time changes, there was also the adjustment to living in a brand-new city that was much bigger than the one from which they came. More than that, there was also a significant language barrier. “The worst thing was the language barrier. We could not even find jobs; since we didn’t know the language; there was nothing we could do there,” Kata said. “Because we were just babysitting our grandchildren, I never managed to learn the language. I even went to school but still didn’t manage to learn it.”


The adjustment period was not going well. Kata and Milan were having major troubles adjusting to their new reality and, in many ways, it seemed like the differences in culture would be too much to overcome. Then the couple happened upon a church and food pantry where they saw people carrying food. That’s where they met Mira and Sasha Zivanov. “In 2004, Kata came into the food pantry. I spoke with her, and she was obviously very happy that we were speaking the same language,” said Mira Zivanov, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in St. Louis. “Then she told me, ‘You know, my husband is going to be very happy to meet you.’”

Kata and Milan emigrated to the United States as senior citizens in 1998 after unrest in Yugoslavia and a move to Serbia, relocating to St. Louis, Missouri, in search of a calm and happy life.

Relieved to finally meet someone who spoke their mother tongue, Kata, Milan and the Zivanovs struck up a friendship. There was finally someone who understood the couple and where they had come from. This was an extreme relief for the elderly couple who had experienced nothing but hardship and change over the past decade. Working alongside Mira and Sasha, they became more involved with the local food bank. They began to feel more comfortable in their new environment and found a community of believers that accepted them for who they are, differences and all. “For an elderly couple like them, being here, it’s very hard to start a new life from the

beginning,” Mira said. “We feel for them, and they feel for us. So, we support each other.” Although Kata and Milan have aged, their relationship with the Zivanovs has become even stronger. They have finally found peace with their life in St. Louis—largely because of their relationship with Mira and Sasha. They were able to become more adjusted to their new surroundings, which was all they could have ever asked for. The couples still meet regularly, dine together and support each other. By all accounts, they are more than friends. They have truly become family. “Milan and Kata are like my own parents,” Mira said. “They are really a part of me and my family.”

(Clockwise from top left) CBF field personnel Mira Zivanov and Kata. Mira and Sasha Zivanov assist with translation and understanding of documents. Milan struggles with dementia, which makes it difficult for the elderly couple to travel to the food pantry and get out in the community. The Zivanovs regularly dine with Milan and Kata, describing them as family.

SPRING 2021 |

17


PLANTING NEW CHURCHES Janée Angel Antwerp, Belgium

OFFERING FOOD & FRIENDSHIP Mira and Sasha Zivanov St. Louis, Missouri

ORDER OGM MATERIALS 2020-21 OGM Leaders Guide

to the Offering will support CBF field personnel serving in the U.S. and around the world.

When you give to the Offering for Global Missions, you help plant new churches and share the hope of Christ with people who have never heard the Gospel. You offer food, teach children how to succeed in school and help refugees adapt and thrive in their new homes.

OGM Flash Drive

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2021

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HOPE

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Please give today through your church or at www.cbf.net/ogm “That’s where the welcoming comes to the plate. Loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, being there for them, trying to understand, trying to become a friend and trying to accept them as they are…. That’s why we are still here in St. Louis.” – SASHA ZIVANOV CBF FIELD PERSONNEL

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” – HEBREWS 13:2

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Global

Connections

Kentucky congregation engages in mission through CBF’s Encourager Church initiative By Bekah Rhea

As we make our way through the phases of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, many churches are finding different ways to engage in global missions while still maintaining social distance. Fortunately, CBF’s Encourager Church initiative provides a way to do just that. The initiative allows congregations to formalize their relationships with CBF field personnel. The details of that partnership vary according to the congregations’ resources and the field personnels’ needs; but ultimately, the relationship is a matter of covenant and mutual support; It is a testament to the power of beloved community. So, how does a church decide which of several field personnel with whom to partner? Jim Cobban, pastor of First Baptist Church in Middletown, Ky., shared the story and lasting impact of the church’s recent covenant ceremony with Jon and Tanya Parks, CBF field personnel in Slovakia. FBC Middletown did not have a prior relationship with the Parks family. However, Tanya is from Kentucky, and there they found common ground upon which to build. Additionally, the congregation and staff expressed interest in the Parkses’ efforts to record Roma music, as Jon and Tanya’s mission work focuses on the marginalized Roma people. Cobban described how, upon affiliating with CBF four years ago, FBC Middletown changed the structure of their missions offering and how it is distributed. Instead of promoting campaigns throughout the year, Cobban explained, they set aside October

as “missions month” when there is “one big offering, allocated according to percentage.” Cobban says he has been “wonderfully surprised” every year as the annual drive has proven to be more successful than the previous structure. Cobban added that this has left room for creativity as the church “tries to find ways throughout the year to connect the congregation and CBF field personnel.” For example, FBC Middletown is currently providing encouragement to the teachers in a Roma school in Slovakia by putting together gifts for them while the children’s ministry writes letters to those teachers that will subsequently be e-mailed to the mission field. FBC Middletown’s offering plan also involves changing foreign mission partnerships every three years; and the Encourager Church initiative makes formalizing those partnerships possible. That is no small feat in our current reality where introductions are difficult to make. FBC Middletown has, like many churches, found themselves adopting technology to connect the congregation with each other and with mission partners. Cobban expressed hope that “forced innovation has led us to stay more globally connected.” During the recent covenant signing ceremony, the Parks family “Zoomed” into the service to preach and participate. Cobban believes that harnessing this technology in his church has actually “given us more rather than less intimacy.” It may seem counterintuitive to build global relationships in a pandemic over a speaker or a screen and even overwhelming to introduce an entirely new ministry partnership; but ultimately, Cobban says

CBF field personnel Jon and Tanya Parks, FBC Middletown congregation, pastor Jim Cobban and CBF Manager of Global Missions Engagement Ellen Sechrest meet virtually to celebrate a new Encourager Church relationship.

that the Encourager Church initiative combined with technology has allowed “the opportunity to maintain relevance. It allows us to be a church. We can’t meet, but we can do all of the things that churches do.”

Your congregation can connect more deeply with CBF field personnel across the globe by becoming an Encourager Church. Learn more and find the right connection at www.cbf.net/encourager-church SPRING 2021

| 19


A Cup of

Cold Water

CBF field personnel in California share acts of compassion in the face of COVID-19 By Melody Harrell

“We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.” — Matthew 10:40-42 20 |

fellowship!


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CBF field personnel Lita and Rick Sample have provided groceries and masks to the families in the San Francisco Bay Area struggling the most, including delivery, socially-distanced pickup options and providing large items like turkeys for Thanksgiving celebrations.

L

ita and Rick Sample understand sharing a cup of cold water. For 19 years, they have been working in the San Francisco Bay Area as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel, finding ways to reach out to refugee families who live around them, including people from Mongolia, Burma, Afghanistan and other countries. These families try to make a living and educate their children in a strange country away from their support networks back home. In most cases, life had become untenable in their home countries due to economic and political hardship, so much so that they risked starting over in a new and unfamiliar place. They work hard, stretch their means, and

do their best to fit in while at the same time honoring the cultures, faiths and traditions they so value. They look out for one another, offer encouragement where they can, and point to places where friends can find support. When COVID-19 struck, the cup of cold water took on whole new imagery for the Samples. It became grocery items, a delivery van and, over Thanksgiving, a large load of turkeys! They found out which families were struggling the most, some having lost jobs in the pandemic, and arranged to deliver food items according to the needs of each family. Leaving bags outside apartment doors so as not to violate social distancing protocol, Lita and Rick were met with overwhelming enthusiasm and gratitude.

The Samples recognize they do not work alone. One of their greatest partnerships has been with their CBF Encourager Church, Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco. “Nineteenth Avenue is not a large church, but they have huge hearts and are deeply missional,” Rick said. “The way in which they do church is with eyes wide open to the needs of their community. Even though they are on the edge of the country in California, they are not on the edge of the concept of Global Missions. They are actually front and center and, under the leadership of their pastor, Joy Yee, have given money, delivered groceries, and most importantly, consistently befriended the refugees with whom we work.” SPRING 2021

| 21


“EVERY ACT OF COMPASSION IS AN ACT OF LOVE THAT GOD LEADS US TO MAKE.” The personal friendships that have developed have been the most meaningful part of this ministry. The Zarabi family from Afghanistan were challenged in multiple ways with the start of COVID-19. With five children, they were alarmed when Ahmed faced a health crisis and temporarily lost his job. The older children in public school struggled with online learning and needed tutoring help. The Samples learned of the family’s struggles and were able to begin delivering groceries to them. Their after-school tutoring program was moved online due to the pandemic and, as a result, Ahmed and Afarin’s children were able join the program. Lita and Rick’s Student.Go intern, Jewel, began working directly with the Zarabi children. The family felt that a lifeline had been extended to them. The cup of cold water offered during these challenging days has also looked like hand-sewn facemasks. A donor in Kentucky sent a box of masks to go along with the

ones Lita herself had sewn. These have been distributed widely among the Karen refugee population. “What a delight it was recently when a little girl received her new mask, put it on and began to dance with joy,” shared Lita. “Every act of compassion is an act of love that God leads us to make during times when there is so much overwhelming anxiety and depression. We need to bring some words of hope and we get to do that through food and masks.” These acts of kindness in San Francisco in the form of homework help, masks, friendship and food are just what people need to experience the love of God in these arduous times. The ministry of compassion in the name of Jesus meets people where it’s needed most. The Samples are willing and able to continue being “intimately linked in this harvest work.” And chances are they won’t miss out on a thing!

The Samples provide hope to internationals in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing food and masks, as well as by offering online homework help and tutoring for children struggling with the new format of online learning.

22 |

fellowship!


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Ready to Catch During COVID-19 pandemic, CBF field personnel in Spain support refugees walking the tightrope of life in a new home By Joshua Hearne

It’s

hard to learn to speak another language when you’re walking a tightrope. But, unnoticed by nearly everyone, Sabina, Yazan and Maira were doing their best.

CBF field personnel Matt Norman sings and plays guitar for a virtual church meeting from his home in Barcelona.

24 |

fellowship!

As refugees in Barcelona fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, the family was on a precarious path between the world they knew and the world for which they hoped. But the end of a tightrope can look terribly far when you’re still standing in the middle of it. Yazan was working ample hours for too little money; there just wasn’t time to learn Spanish let alone Catalan. Food and shelter were far more pressing priorities. Yazan’s job wasn’t enough to meet all his family’s

needs, but it was better than nothing; so he poured a little bit more of his life into it every day. Isolated from his peers and most of his community by language, Yazan kept taking small steps forward with hope that there was rest and comfort somewhere ahead along this tenuous journey. Sabina was doing better in Spanish, but, as any language learner can tell you, misunderstandings and miscommunications were still a regular occurrence. While, for some of us, these mistakes might make


(Left) Pedro is the coordinator of the food bank which is located in the Baptist Church in Cerdanyola. (Right) CBF field personnel Matt Norman assists at the Cerdanyola food bank with COVID-19 precautions in place.

for a cute, amusing story at some dinner party years hence, they can make for substantial missteps in the tightrope life of refugees. Every little mistake of word choice or conjugation threatened Sabina’s family’s already-meager security. While

navigating the steady stream of forms and appointments necessary to maintain their refugee status and receive the support they’d need to rebuild their lives, Sabina also cared for her and Yazan’s daughter, Maira. This family’s story isn’t an unfamiliar one to people around the world who make their home, and mark their vocation, among refugees. Refugees like Sabina, Yazan and Maira are daily and silently walking their tightrope before the eyes of people who are too often unwilling to pay attention. Without attention and with only the vague promises of natural human rights, they do it all “without a net,” perhaps wondering if anyone would even notice if they fell. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Michelle and Matt Norman are watching, though, to make sure the family doesn’t fall. The Normans are listening to the needs of their neighbors and responding in ways that empower the community and preserve dignity, building not only a better safety net, but also a life-giving community. They’re working among local

congregations in Barcelona to help them reach out with the promises of God’s love and the great mystery of atonement into an especially secular community. They’re leading classes and Bible studies that invite neighbors, friends and acquaintances to encounter the God who is already at work in the neighborhood. But none of that is the reason they’d notice if Sabina and Yazan fell or started to slip through the cracks. They’d notice because the lifestyle they’ve adopted—an attentive and loving way of sharing life with their neighbors that is at the root of all their good work—won’t let them look away from their friends as they take steps toward hope and security. When the region locked down to curb the spread of COVID-19, Yazan lost his job. He’d been working in a restaurant where lockdowns meant layoffs. Soon, the family was subsisting on an allotment of food from the local Baptist food bank. The allotment is variable in quantity and contents and meant to be a supplement to a family’s food supply at the most. Subsisting on a supplement is just another feature of the precarious lives of refugees. Because of the years the Normans had already spent building relationships and being consistently present to their neighbors, Yazan and Sabina reached out to them for help. Sabina messaged Michelle, her need traveling by technology while feet could not bridge the distance in lockdown.

YAZAN’S FAMILY DIDN’T HAVE TO WALK ALONE. SPRING 2021 |

25


“WE HAVE EACH OTHER AND WE HAVE GOD. WE ARE RICH.”

answer a question like that. In that moment, it must have been hard for Sabina to discern what feeling motivated the question, and she must have wanted to provide the answer that addressed that hidden and vulnerable together on necessary and complicated motivation. Was Maira feeling embarrassed? paperwork in both Spanish and Catalan. Sad? Scared about the future? Frustrated? A life together built by many small “No, my dear,” Sabina started, scanning moments of connection is unknowingly her darling daughter’s eyes for some hint making the way straight for sisters and of how these words were received, before brothers to care for each other. continuing. “We are not poor. We are rich in Those bonds of relationship, ever the love of God. We have each other, and we constant but invisible to those who measure have God. We are rich.” impact in hundreds of thousands, resisted Yazan, Sabina and Maira continue walking the insistent isolation of a pandemic and the tightrope life of being refugees, but they consequent safety measures. When Yazan do it together, and they do it with their faith got a new job, they celebrated; when he lost in the God who will never leave nor forsake the job with new lockdowns, they grieved it them. They walk the tightrope holding the and renewed their promises. His family didn’t hand of Jesus who knows that precarious have to walk alone; they shouldn’t have to path by personal experience, and they hold walk alone. the hands of the Normans who will not look “Why do we never eat out?” nine-year-old away. Maira asked her mother one afternoon after All the while, the Normans wait and watch stewing on the question for a little while. and prepare to catch them if they should She had seen a favorite fast food restaurant fall. There are yet so many more caught on while out for a walk with Sabina and had a tightrope somewhere between what was been eager to get one of her favorite meals. and what may yet be; may God call each of Lost somewhere between familiarity and us to make our home and life among those hope, there can be quite a bit of comfort in who walk a tightrope of their own. May we all a favorite meal. Sabina had regrettably said have the eyes to see our sisters and brothers they couldn’t afford it. “Are we poor, Mama?” on a precarious path and may we have the Maira asked on the heels of her first question. honor and joy to build the relationships we There must be a dozen different ways to need both now and later.

(Left) CBF field personnel Michelle Norman sews masks to give to community members in need. (Right) Volunteers assist at the food bank in Cerdanyola.

“Michelle,” Sabina wrote, “we need help. We have no money. We need to pay rent.” This was only March of 2020; months of instability would follow. The Normans were able to help in part thanks to the generosity of donors and partners. In fact, they were able to help three separate times so that Sabina, Yazan and Maira could remain safe in shelter while they continued to appeal for aid from the Spanish government. The aid system was seemingly jammed by the surplus needs and the quickly spreading tragedy. This was only one family, so they may as well have been invisible to an enormous aid enterprise that must, by virtue of seemingly insurmountable need alone, focus on efficiency and numbers. But they were not invisible to the Normans or to their sisters and brothers at the Baptist Church of Cerdanyola. Years spent building a relationship and having conversations about a hundred different small things laid the groundwork for the substantial and sometimes-scary conversations of lockdown. Trust built by little measures of hospitality—chai and Pakistani delicacies every time Michelle visited—became the foundation for working

26 |

fellowship!


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ril 1. p A y b Apply by May 1. o G . t n pply Stude A h c r u .Ch Student


CBF Church Benefits is proud to partner with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) to share these free e-guides to help ministers and churches with

Learn more at:

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YOUR BENEFITS ARE OUR MINISTRY.


Opportunities to

MARCH 2021

Acts of Compassion

During the pandemic, CBF field personnel Lita and Rick Sample have provided food and other basic needs to immigrant families in the San Francisco Bay area.

In Small Groups MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The following outline is designed for small groups or Bible studies to engage Scripture and missional action. Photocopy permission granted.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Prepare for the session by reading the article about CBF field personnel Lita and Rick Sample on pp. 20-22 in this issue of fellowship! Distribute copies of the article before the session to encourage informed discussion. Say: CBF field personnel Lita and Rick Sample have worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost 20 years. Ask: What advantages might this longevity bring to their ministry? How might long-term presence affect the work of other CBF field personnel around the world? Say: The article notes that immigrants and refugees often leave behind networks of support when they are forced to flee their home countries. Reflect on the networks of support in your own life. Ask: Which support systems would you seek to rebuild first if you had to start over in a new country—religious, economic, cultural? Say: The article describes how the Samples adapted their ministry to new ways of serving during the pandemic.

Ask: How has our church adapted its approach to service and missions during this time? 8. Say: The sharing and distribution of food and basic household items became a larger focus for the Samples after COVID-19 struck. The article notes that the Samples delivered food according to the needs of each family. 9. Ask: How do you think this ministry was received by these families? 10. Say: The article highlights the commitment of Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, the Samples’ Encourager Church, which is “not a large church, but they have huge hearts.” 11. Ask: What importance does “heart” have in the mission impact of a church? For what causes or missions does our church have a “huge heart”? 12. Say: For both the Samples and Nineteenth Avenue Baptist, the most meaningful part of this ministry is the development of personal relationships with immigrant families. 7.

Learn more at www.cbf.net/sample

13. Ask: Why is building friendships so important? 14. Say: The article describes how the Samples’ Student.Go intern, Jewel, was able to help the Zarabi children through online tutoring. 15. Ask: How do you think this experience might have affected Jewel’s life? 16. Say: Lita Sample asserts that “every act of compassion is an act of love that God leads us to make.” Reflect on the acts of compassion has God led you to give or receive in your own life. 17. Ask: Are there acts of compassion you felt drawn to after reading this article? 18. Say: The article begins with a passage from Matthew 10. 19. Ask: How has the idea of giving a cup of cool water in Christ’s name shaped your view of missions? In what ways does our church “give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty”?

A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net

SPRING 2021

CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis

EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND

PRAYER GUIDE

BOOK CLUB

MORE AFFECT

cbf.net/pray

cbf.net/books

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Opportunities to

APRIL 2021

Offering Welcome

CBF field personnel Mira and Sasha Zivanov offer welcome to Bosnians and other refugee populations in St. Louis, where they minister through a food pantry, translation services and tutoring.

In Small Groups MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The following outline is designed for small groups or Bible studies to engage Scripture and missional action. Photocopy permission granted.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Prepare for the session by reading the article about CBF field personnel Mira and Sasha Zivanov on pp. 12-15 in this issue of fellowship! Distribute copies of the article before the session to encourage informed discussion. Share how the Zivanovs have personal experience living as immigrants and refugees. Note that their experiences in Yugoslavia have shaped their understanding of living in a divided country. Ask: Do you agree that our society, and even churches, feel more divided than ever? What lessons about conflict and division can Christians learn from the experiences of immigrants and refugees like the Zivanovs? Say: The story notes that familiarity is often what immigrants and refugees seek in a new place. Familiar food, cultural habits and language can help ease the burden of adapting to a new home. Ask: How important is familiarity in your own life? Which aspects of your familiar life would be the most difficult to live without? Share how Sasha Zivanov believes that a

simple gesture like smiling can make a big difference for an immigrant or refugee. Share how Sasha, as a refugee, learned that a smile showed that people were “willing to accept me as I am, to open their door to me.” 7. Ask: What are some welcoming gestures, like smiles or handshakes, that our church offers to newcomers? What are some additional ways our church could express welcome to others? 8. Say: Mira Zivanov explained how sharing a cup of coffee or tea is a key way to connect with immigrant families even when there is a language barrier. 9. Ask: Why is sharing a beverage or a meal around a table such a powerful experience for people of all cultures? As a Christian, how has the sharing of food—at a potluck dinner, special event or during the Lord’s Supper—helped you connect with your faith community? 10. Say: The article describes how most immigrants face a “bureaucratic maze of paperwork and fees and appointments.” Many of us have probably experienced “red tape” when dealing with large companies or government agencies.

Learn more at www.cbf.net/ogm

11. Ask: Have you ever struggled with a complex system or complicated paperwork? How could (or did) having a trusted guide or advocate help? 12. Say: Sasha Zivanov shared that “once you are an immigrant, you try to help those who are going through the same process that you went through.” 13. Ask: How does common experience shape how Christians share the Good News of Jesus? In what ways can common experiences help us connect to neighbors in our community who need help? 14. Say: Mira Zivanov suggests that gaining “security, stability and peace” helps immigrants and refugees finally feel at home in a new country. 15. Ask: How can our church help to strengthen the security, stability and peace of newcomers to our community? 16. Close in prayer, asking God for security, stability and peace for refugees and immigrants around the world and giving thanks for CBF field personnel who minister to their needs.

A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net

SPRING 2021

CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis

EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND

PRAYER GUIDE

BOOK CLUB

MORE AFFECT

cbf.net/pray

cbf.net/books

cbf.net/affect


Refugees Walk a Tightrope

Opportunities to

At Home: With Children MISSIONS EDUCATION RESOURCE: The following matching activity will help children think about CBF field personnel Matt and Michelle Norman, who help refugees in Barcelona, Spain, as they navigate the challenges of learning a new language in a new home. Post the completed activity on a refrigerator or bulletin board as a reminder to pray for CBF field personnel and refugees around the world. Photocopy permission granted.

MAY 2021

Learn Words in Catalan

Directions: Trace the tightropes to match words in English and Catalan, the language of Barcelona, Spain. Then color the famous sites around Barcelona.

Good Morning

Gracies Bon dia Nice to meet you Si us plau Bona nit

Thanks Moit de gust

Please

Good Night

A publication of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship • www.cbf.net

SPRING 2021

CBF field personnel create community with immigrants and refugees in St. Louis

EXTENDING HOPE & HOSPITALITY IN THE HEARTLAND

PRAYER GUIDE

BOOK CLUB

MORE AFFECT

cbf.net/pray

cbf.net/books

cbf.net/affect


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MAXIMIZE YOUR IMPACT THIS SPRING — AT A LOWER COST More and more of our supporters are using tax-savvy giving methods to help spread the hope of Christ, rather than making cash donations! You can do the same today by ​ donating from your IRA​or g​iving the gift of stock. Why choose a new giving method? Both of these forms of giving help you make your biggest impact yet at less cost, while reducing your future tax burden! Wondering how to get started?​ It’s easier than ever to make an impactful gift to CBF while saving money. Learn more about the benefits of donating stock in your state at FreeWill.com/Stocks/CBF. And if you are 70.5 or older, find out about the benefits of IRA giving at FreeWill.com/QCD/CBF. For more information, contact Shauw Chin Capps, CBF Foundation President & Chief Development Officer, at scapps@cbf.net or 770-220-1622.

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fellowship! magazine - Spring 2021  

fellowship! magazine - Spring 2021