Wes & Carol Schellenberg (Avant Ministries)

The Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference has had a long-term relationship with Avant Ministries (formerly Gospel Missionary Union). Henry & Hazel Neudorf were the first EMMC/Avant missionaries; sent to Mali Africa in 1952. In 1958 another EMMC/Avant missionary was sent out – Carol’s father, George Wiebe. There are currently 5 EMMC members who are serving with Avant Ministries and are associate missionaries with the EMMC. Learn more about Avant by visiting avantministries.org or by watching a video on the history of the mission at https://vimeo.com/233520650.

One of the main reasons this has been a lasting partnership is the shared desire to be used by God in spreading the good news of Jesus around the world. Our history as individuals, churches and organizations, are reminders of what God has done. Someone told us about Jesus, and we believed. We gathered with other believers and learned to better love God and one another. We pulled together to evangelize, disciple, and begin new churches both nearby and far away. And we have witnessed countless lives transformed by the gospel.

Beginning in 1988, the EMMC, Glencross Mennonite Church (our home church), other EMMC and evangelical churches, and many individuals supported our ministry through prayer, financial gifts, and words of encouragement. This pulling together to spread the gospel is an experience shared by both the Conference and associate missionaries. We are incredibly grateful to be part of such a team!

And yet, there is still much to do! 4.7 billion people do not know Jesus. 2 billion souls have never even heard his name!

Avant Ministries currently has just over 500 missionaries working in 50 countries around the world. Many people are hearing about Jesus and are responding. Here are a few snapshots of how we have seen God at work early in 2020:

A friend gave M a New Testament and told him about knowing God. After watching a program produced by our media center in Spain, he called the phone number wanting to know more. John 14:6 spoke to his heart – I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me. His life is now changed as he grows in his faith.

One church plant broadcasted their Palm Sunday service live on YouTube. They were thrilled that 130 people clicked in to watch. The next week, 900 people joined in to watch their Easter celebration! May God continue to give wisdom to those leading this church plant in West Asia.

Much has happened in East Timor since January. E decided to follow Christ, and F and A were baptized. Bible lessons are planned that will help the transition from a Bible study group to a church gathering.

It was a joy to see that A was putting into practice what she had learned through the ladies Bible study in France (via Skype). And, while S previously had mild interest in the study, the Holy Spirit softened her heart so that she began to truly seek him. An unexpected blessing was that her husband listened in and wanted to know more.

One ministry in Bolivia reaches out to the poor. Many of them live day to day selling socks, washing clothes, or making something to sell so they have enough food for the day. In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, special permission was received to deliver food to these people. Along with food for the body, this ministry provided food for the soul through devotionals and Bible studies. K said, I want to give thanks to God. When I received my gift from you, I got goosebumps thinking that HE never abandons us. Because of you, our family was able to smile today. J & M shared similar sentiments: We didn’t have any food left in the house for our children to eat. We are so thankful, first to God because everything is from him!  

Thank you for helping us support ministries like the ones we’ve just mentioned. Though our work is about accounting and administration, the purpose continues to be making Jesus known to lost and needy people. Thank you for your financial gifts, your prayer, and your kind-heartedness. You are a great encouragement to us!

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