Website and App Developer

West Asia, Information Technology, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 463

Many ministries in this country have websites and IT infrastructure produce resources for churches and children and communicate with their clients using various forms of media. These ministries have a vision to strengthen the local church serve the local population and spread the Good News in this 99.8 Muslim country.

People are heavy users of social media and smart phone usage is very high. Ministries here can expand their reach and impact by innovative use of technology. Bringing IT expertise and solutions to these organizations by equipping them with new websites new apps and new technology will allow them to bring the gospel into communities and areas which may never have heard the Good News.

Applicants must have some experience in web App and programming technologies. Specific technologies are not important but a willingness to learn and bring creative ideas is more important. A 1-year minimum commitment is required longer is preferred.

Social media developer

West Asia, Information Technology, 1-11 months, 12-23 months / Job ID: 1556

The aims of this organization are to make the Bible available in a language people can understand and at a price they can afford. They continue to work on Bible translations for all of the people groups in this country to have Gods word in their own language. Their translation policy ensures translation guidelines acceptable to the Catholic Protestant and Orthodox Churches.

A person with IT skills and social media experience is needed to work in expanding their social media usage. This person should be able to design and implement apps for social media and help design strategies to increase the penetration of electronic Bible usage.

A person with a heart for integrating their skills at app development and social media strategy with a calling to spread the Good News. A willingness to work cross-culturally with the Director who is a local citizen and believer. Creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics

Librarian

West Asia, Other, 1-11 months / Job ID: 1554

The aims of this organization are to make the Bible available in a language people can understand and at a price they can afford. They continue to work on Bible translations for all of the people groups in this nation to have Gods word in their own language. Their translation policy ensures translation guidelines acceptable to the Catholic Protestant and Orthodox Churches.

A librarian (or library science student) with skills in cataloging is needed to set up a library system for the national organization for its many Bibles and books in multiple languages collected over the last 200 years. In the collection are many rare and first edition books of historical significance. This person should be able to design and implement a cataloging system for current and future books and set up the library.

A person with a heart for integrating their skills in library cataloging and organization with a calling to spread the Good News. A willingness to work cross-culturally with the Director who is a local citizen and believer. Creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics for this person.

English Teacher

West Asia, Education, 1-11 months / Job ID: 1584

A Christian publishing house and ministry for children produces books magazines Sunday School lessons and camp lesson booklets for children runs camps and teacher training programs and has a long-term vision for developing the church by reaching and discipling the next generation in this country.

This short-term position is for an ESL teacher (or a native English speaker able to help ESL learners) to give office ESL help to organization staff and leaders during work hours. This ESL at the desk is wanted by the staff to improve their capacity and allow greater access to training partnering working with outside organizations etc. ESL as ministry is needed here. The hours would be flexible depending on how many staff and how much work time they can give to ESL improvement.

A person with a heart for integrating their skills in teaching English and personal relationships with a calling to spread the good news. A willingness to work cross-culturally with the Director and others on staff who are local citizens and believers. Creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics.

Elementary Teacher

West Asia, Education, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1653

A very significant English-language international K-12 day school in West Asia educating TCKs/MKs in a key mega-city of the region. It has a holistic vision of Bible-based education and aims to educate the head heart and hands of each student. Students are drawn from like-minded families creating a pleasant and free yet safe environment for the school community. The schools vision is to develop wise and healthy Third Culture Kids who use their academic proficiency and spiritual character to engage with and influence society. The school enables families to carry out their work in the city by providing a high-quality university preparatory education for their children. Cambridge IGCSE curriculum is used through Grade 10 and an American AP curriculum is used for Grades 11 and 12. With 45 international and 25 national staff the school has over 260 students representing more than 30 nations.

This international school is seeking an Elementary School Teacher to teach either Grade 1 2 or 4 for the 2020/2021 academic year.

Interested teachers will have a desire to both teach and care for their students with Gods love. They will want to work in a cross-cultural setting in international education in a crossroads mega-city of this region with a diverse staff of teachers and administrators from many countries.

A refugee comes to stay

What would you do if your dad put a gun to your head and said, “If you don’t want to follow the faith of our family, I will kill you”?

This is the story of a homeless 23-year-old Iraqi refugee who came to stay with us one night. He had been sleeping on a bench at the local bus station for the past two weeks, but that night he came home with us so that, for at least for one night, he could have a home-cooked meal, a shower and a warm bed. Now he wants to help others by serving at the refugee centre where we volunteer. This is his amazing story of encountering Jesus …

“I first started seeking God by attending a local school in Iraq. However, I was turned off by the violence that was promoted, so I returned home dejected and eventually decided to become an atheist. Then, I became aware of a Christian in my city who encouraged me to honestly pray, ‘God, if you are real, then show me’.

“What followed changed my life … I had a vivid vision of Jesus carrying the cross. In such pain He was struggling, and I ran over to help Him. But He wouldn’t let me carry His cross. He just smiled at me with an unforgettable smile which I can still see today and said, ‘I’m carrying this for you’.

“A little later, I was hanging out with my friends who were talking about horrible things when someone leaned into my right ear and said, ‘Your name is now John and you need to leave these people’. I turned around but no-one was there. I knew at that time God had spoken to me and I needed to turn away from my sin and the bad influences in my life. But I knew this wouldn’t be an easy road, as my dad leads a pretty ‘dark’ group. So when my dad found out about my new faith, he pulled out his gun from his pocket and held it to my head.”

John did the only thing he could think of to save his life. He bought a plane ticket and fled from his family. He went from being part of a wealthy family to being homeless and jobless in a city of five million people, with no support. Although we could not provide John with everything he needed, we could encourage and pray with him.

Adam (IT/project management) and Penny (special education) serve the church in West Asia long term. They have two children.

All names have been changed.

Finding love without strings

Nour is one of the new faces at our art group today. “I love drawing”, she says, “but I never get time to do it at home”. Her tangled black curls bob with each stroke of the pencil, with each sip from her tiny glass of tea. And she begins to share about the life she left behind.

Once, she was a law student in Syria. She was prevented from finishing her degree, first by her abusive husband, then by the war. She recalls the bombs falling as she fled with her two young children. In this new city, which is both haven and hostile, she must now raise these children as a single mother. Nour has no job. She speaks little of the local language here. Until recently, she felt scared to leave her home. “It’s hard”, she says, in what must be the biggest understatement of this refugee crisis.

With her children now in local school, Nour is finally finding time for herself. She heard about the art club through the refugee centre where she gets occasional help with food and clothing. Here, she has found that time to sit with her pencils and a cup of tea. She’s found other women who know what it is to run and hide and raise children alone.

But she tells us she’s found something else. One day, some of those women bring Nour a cake for her birthday. She smiles awkwardly through the singing and then proceeds to cut generous slices for us. As we’re eating, she says to us, “It’s different here. There is joy that comes out of you that is so different”.

We marvel at this because so often we feel ordinary and small in the face of the extraordinary needs of refugees. But maybe what Nour has glimpsed in the art room is the extraordinary love of God who cares for her. A love without strings attached, which grows in community, and which is stronger than bombs or language barriers or fear.

Erin is serving long term in West Asia. She is passionate about melding art and loving community for therapeutic and kingdom-building purposes.

All names have been changed.

Heart in colours

We are a small group. Women whose hearts dream in different languages, trying our best to communicate with gestures and borrowed words. Some wear colourful headscarves. Some have immaculate makeup and stylish haircuts. Some bring children. One brings homemade snacks. There is a warmth here which seems, for a time, to soothe their loneliness and grief. We greet each other with kisses, pour tea, sit down and get out the art supplies.

Our table is in a creaking upper room of the refugee centre. We can see the sky and sunlight through the wood-framed windows—the light and openness seem to mirror our purpose for being here. We create art together and, in doing so, I hope these refugee women will feel a lightness in their weighed-down spirits and have a safe space to bring their pain-filled stories into the light. I long for them to experience the love of the one who called himself “Light of the World”.

We spread out paper and simple art supplies. Nothing is complicated or technical, but to these women whose daily lives are shaped by displacement and feelings of helplessness, gentle guidance is necessary as we begin to transform blank pages with colour and form. We talk briefly about an idea around which we build our art-making activity: identity, happiness, home, hope, fear. We gently shape a space where sharing is allowed and start with a reminder that whatever we create or say will be met with kindness, not criticism.

This is not a class, I find myself repeating. The beauty and benefit of our shared art making is in the process of creating together, not in the product. This is a new idea for many of them. One young woman softly confides that she loved to draw as a young girl but her stern father discouraged such childish activities and forced her to marry at fifteen. Now, as she holds her breastfeeding daughter in one arm and watches over her three-year-old son, she sketches and tells me there is no time in everyday life for drawing. I can tell, though, by the way she carefully moves her pencil over the page, and the tired, wistful look on her face, that she would sit here with these pencils all day if she could. I know that tugging feeling in my own creative spirit as a mother of small children and my heart goes out to her.

I pour more tea (our intercultural love language) and watch as the women depict their hearts in images and colours. I see a lot of black and red—symbols of death and destruction, of lost homes and difficult journeys. There are also usually green or yellowish glimmers of tenacious hope, simple joys or love. Some talk about finding joy in the sunshine or trees, things that not even war or murder or displacement could take from them. Some speak of hope in heavenly paradise for a lost child, hope for a home in a new country where they can tend a garden or continue their education without fear. And I share simply why I drew my symbol of hope as an empty tomb in the middle of a rising sun.

So our time comes to an end. Kisses, hugs, “Inshallah* we shall meet again next week”. I marvel at the gift of God in art making as a way of bringing healing and building community. Beauty from pain, creation from destruction, community from isolation. Isn’t this the stunningly paradoxical way our redeemer God works?

The author is serving long-term in West Asia. She is passionate about melding art and loving community for therapeutic and kingdom-building purposes.

*If God wills.

The God at the end of the line

“Before the war”, Moussa* explains, “I had hope. I was in a good school, I had my family. Now, every day is bad. Every day is the same. We are just waiting for something to happen”.

We are standing in a tiny upper room in the old quarter of the city. Outside, the autumn air is crisp and tinged with the smell of burning coal as locals struggle to heat their homes ahead of the winter. In here, though, it’s mercifully warm. Moussa and I have found a patch of sunlight and we are cradling tiny glasses of tea as he tells me in broken English and local dialect about his old life in Iraq. He had been in high school in Mosul when the war had come – he had wanted to go on to university and study teaching. But as fighting intensified between local security forces and tribal militias, and, later, with the group calling itself “Islamic State”, Moussa’s family knew they had to go. Hidden in the back of a truck, they crossed borders until they arrived in our city in West Asia, hoping they might return in a month or two. That was four years ago.

Moussa is one of literally millions of people on the move out of Central Asia and the Middle East. Fleeing conflict and persecution, they have escaped by any means necessary and they are searching for new places of refuge. But we’ve learned that life as a refugee is as much about waiting at the pit stops as it is about moving along the highway. Our family recently moved to one such pit stop, in a country which hosts one of the largest single populations of refugees on the planet. Here, refugees must quickly learn the art of waiting. They queue for everything – for registration with the United Nations or the local government, for their weekly check-in with local police, for assistance at aid organisations. They sit before blank-faced civil servants and patiently, haltingly, retell their stories over and over as they make their claims for protection under international law. Moussa’s friend shows me a card for his next meeting with the local government ministry for refugee aid. The earliest appointment available was for mid-2019. “No-one cares”, he says. “You feel you are dead, that you aren’t human anymore”.

This life of despair and hope is nothing new to the people of God. They were brought out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 26:5–8), sat by the rivers in foreign lands and wept for what was lost (Psalm 137) and, later, became known as “exiles” and “sojourners” whose true home is not of this world (1 Peter 1:1, Revelation 21:1–4). Migration and movement, waiting and wandering, is one of the ways God is at work in the world. So a question we often ask ourselves is, “What is our Father doing, even in the misery of these waiting lines?”

Since we arrived four months ago, we have seen several of the tiny local churches reaching out to refugees in welcome and compassion. Working together, they make essential food and clothing available to thousands of families each month. The sheer scale of their need can be overwhelming, and there is always more that could be done – on our distribution days, the line of people winds through the neighbourhood’s narrow streets, often in bitter cold. But we try to treat refugees not as numbers in a system but as people, loved by God and travelling a long and difficult road. We create spaces for them to step out of the lines, to drink tea, to learn new skills, to talk. Some share their stories more deeply, with whispered prayers in Jesus’ name.

Back in that upper room, Moussa drops another cube of sugar into his glass of tea with a faraway look. “We’re just waiting”, he says again. “But what for, I don’t know”. With my limited language, I can’t say much in response. But I am happy to wait with people like Moussa, and as in that perpetual waiting, we hope for new and divine beginnings.

Joel* serves in West Asia.

*Names have been changed.

Hope after border crossings

The world took notice of one lifeless child on the beach, and responded with tears. Yet thousands of refugees continue to make desperate border crossings in hope of something better. The UNHCR estimates 4.8 million Syrian refugees have flooded into neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. This region, known as West Asia, is buckling under one of the gravest humanitarian crises in modern memory.

The onward journey is complicated and slow at best. As time stretches on, poverty and ill health become problems, and despair sets in. Many have given up hope.

But there is hope. In West Asia, a small local church with a big heart is reaching out to refugees, with amazing impact. They began with blankets, mattresses, baby formula, and gas stoves. The refugees were astounded – no one else treated them like these ‘Bible people’ did. As numbers increased, a refugee centre was opened, and they now provide regular food relief and programs for over 5,500 refugee families.

The church knows they are in this for the long haul. They want refugees fleeing violence and strife to find love in Jesus' name and, by God's grace, faith in Him. Multicultural Interserve teams have been serving alongside this local church for over twenty years.

Two new Australian Interserve families are departing this year to join the refugee work of this church. These families bring skills in trauma recovery, special-needs education, IT and project management, and experience with asylum seekers in Australia. Experience tells us that as Interserve workers apply these skills, we will see innovative solutions developed. The smartphone-based system for managing food distribution at the refugee centre, for example, was created by an Interserve worker.

These two families are committed to long-term service –to making West Asia their home, and being attentive to what God is doing there. We believe that this kind of investment in long-term workers – who themselves are invested in a local body of believers – is the single most effective, sustainable and innovative contribution we can make.

This project has been submitted as part of the Mission Travel “Giving Back” campaign. If you are a Mission Travel client, you can help by voting for this project at missiontravel.com.au/givingback.

Brendan and Penny* have just departed for West Asia. Joel and Erin* are raising support. If you would like to be a part of their support team, you can give online using the supporter code 2059 or contact us for more information.

These families are not superheroes. They are ordinary Christians who are responding to the world’s need and God’s call to serve.

*Names have been changed.