I would like to thank all of you who have been praying for RMNI and God’s faithful work through the diligent service of Jim Sutherland and the team of amazing volunteers that God has raised up for this unique work. My dear wife, Nia, and I are humbled and excited to be a part of RMNI and represent the Lord and all of you in the days ahead as we seek His guidance for the future. We earnestly desire your prayers for our family as we enter into this new chapter of our lives dedicated to ministry and service in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have known Jim Sutherland for many years as our families have attended Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church (LMPC) together. I can remember many times sitting in church or Sunday school, hearing Jim share about RMNI and the work in South Sudan and the many teams he has taken over there to serve and share the gospel with some of the neediest people on the planet. Every time I heard Jim speak I would feel something stirring in my heart, maybe one day I would be called to go with him on one of those trips? However, nothing ever seemed to come of those initial feelings, and God seemed to be calling me to other mission fields…until now.
Several months ago, I was prompted to contact Jim to see what his plans were for another trip to Africa as I thought my work schedule with Moses Watersports (our family business) might permit me to take a few weeks off for a short term trip. Through that conversation I began to meet with Jim on a regular basis to discuss evangelism and world missions and he invited to join him and the Westside volunteers on Thursday afternoons. For those of you who have not had the blessing of “walking the Westside” I would simply say God is really moving in and through that small group of faithful believers. It has been one of the highlights of my life to begin to actively interact with our brothers and sisters who live in the Westside projects and to share the good news with those who do not know Jesus.
I had heard for several years that Jim was looking for someone to take up the mantel that God had originally placed on his shoulders, but I never thought it would be me...until I began to meet with Jim recently and began to learn more about what God has done and is doing through RMNI. After much prayer and seeking of counsel from many godly individuals, I began to discuss the possibility with Jim of my coming on board with RMNI. With the unanimous support of the Board of Directors, as of January 2, 2020, I became the current Executive Director of RMNI. Here am I Lord. Send me!
These past few weeks have really been a blur as I have begun the transition process to join RMNI while at the same time visiting Central Asia with LMPC for 21 days to learn more about what God is doing in that region. I am so grateful for the blessing the Lord showed us on this trip and now am able to focus more on what He is doing through RMNI as we prepare for the April trip to South Sudan and the rest of 2020. Thank you again for your faithful prayers and encouragement, Jim and I are deeply honored to be your representatives in this work the Lord is doing!
As I traveled to Turkey, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan with Brian Salter and Keith Michaels in January of 2020, I was repeatedly struck by the theme of long-term, relational discipleship as the prevailing model of growth in the Church. It seems God is more interested in the hearts of people than in the numbers of church “attendees” on a Sunday morning.
We arrived tired but full of anticipation in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday, January, 15th. We were met by Paul Hagelgans (Director of BMG, Bible Mission Global) who I had heard so much about. Paul is indeed an impressive figure, standing well over six feet tall and having the build of a German/Russian linebacker (he has claim to both those cultures). The biggest thing you quickly notice about Paul is his love for the Lord and his dedication to His Kingdom!
After a night of much-needed rest, we met with two of the pastors that LMPC supports in Turkey--Ahmet and Ender. Ahmet is the pastor of the church in Diyarbakir, and is the spiritual father of Ender, who was sent out several years ago to plant a church in Mardin (about 1 hour south of Diyarbakir). Both Ahmet and Ender have amazing testimonies of how God drew them to Himself and has sustained them over the years. They share His good news with the people of Turkey, with Syrian refugees (Mardin is on the border with Syria), and with others in the region. Ahmet has been invited by the churches in Azerbaijan to help train them, and travels there as time and resources allow.
We also met with David Hunter, who was our translator, while visiting with Ahmet and Ender. David is a unique individual and has been used of the Lord in many ways over the 40+ years he has been living in Turkey. He has a co-worker Hilmani, who is one of the best examples of relational ministry. He develops friendships with people who call a phone number for counseling and information about Christianity. He often spends months or years talking with the same person on the phone before they finally meet face to face, if they want to learn more about becoming a Christian.
From Istanbul we flew to Dushanbe, Tajikistan for a few days to visit the churches in that country that our church has supported in a small way. It was incredible to travel around Tajikistan and hear stories of God’s grace, even during civil war in the 1990’s, and to learn of the challenges they face every day. I must say that the relationships I made in Tajikistan were the most impactful to me, and I will share more about this part of the trip at a later date.
From Tajikistan we flew to Almaty, Kazakhstan (largest city in KZ) and spent a few days visiting the teams at BMG and the Almaty Bible Institute. Both were absolutely amazing in spirit, and are used for His glory in Kazakhstan and all over Central Asia. Please join me in prayer even now as you read these words, that our Lord will continue to lead, guide and protect our brothers and sisters in these regions. May we follow their example of dedication and faithful service to our King, for His glory!
- Mark Newton
2019 Ministry Summary
The last RMNI Report chronicled what you’ve done to empower RMNI to serve during the last 20 years https://rmni.org/ereport/93/. Here is an overview of work in 2019.
Once again, most resources went for ministry in S. Sudan. We recruited and facilitated a team of 15 dentists and assistants to work at the UN Jebel Camp at Juba, treating 570 patients, mostly for extractions. We took 1,000 pair of sunglasses. We purchased a mobile generator and gave $2,000 toward purchase of a Grace Theological College (GTC) vehicle. By God’s grace, you provided $3,250 in year-end gifts to Juba ministry partners, and over $14,000 for Grace Theological College operations. A $6,000 grant proposal for a Mobile Theological Training School (at Miridi, S. Sudan) was approved. We monitored, together with Agape Mission, the work of GTC, and of chaplains and Hope Secondary School at Jebel Camp. To date we’ve recruited a team of 6 for the April 2020 team (8 total). $65,056 was expended on ministry to S. Sudan.
Regarding African American (AFAM) mission mobilization, we provided missionary census statistics to several and PowerPoints to a mobilizer and to an AFAM church. We presented missions at Cedine Ministries and visited African American churches.
Over the years urban ministry has been more difficult in some ways than ministry in other countries. Physically and culturally it is easier, and less demanding in preparation, but we face much more hostility by some in inner city Chattanooga than abroad. Black Muslims, Muslims, Black Hebrew Israelites, and those resenting Whites or Christianity in general comprise the opposition. However, God continues to give us favor with the majority. Teams went 47 times, averaging 6-7 members. We distributed hundreds of New Testaments, Daily Bread devotionals, and tracts. We provided furniture, emergency food, rent assistance, etc. Pictured, with the red top and jeans, is Consuela at her baptism at Love Fellowship Baptist Church. She’s surrounded with team members and others who have discipled her since 2011. We helped train Last to First Church’s treasurer, as their finances became independent last May. A grant proposal of $26,000 for a church van was approved. Thirty smoked turkeys were distributed to Westside friends. We assisted Chattanooga Sports Ministry in starting soccer at the Westside. $49,645 spent on urban ministry (including $26,000 van money and $13,400 transferred to Last to First Church).
43,655 unique visitors came to www.RMNI.org making 92,124 visits.
2020 Ministry Goals
Mark and I plan to field a team of 8 to S. Sudan in April. Sub-teams are: (1 trauma counseling training (2 small business development training (3 evangelism training (4 training youth leaders. We intend to support Grace Theological College in 2020, and provide oversight to 3 other programs.
We intend to continue weekly ministry at the Westside. Jim plans to complete the African American missionary census. Mark will prayerfully explore new opportunities in the Spanish speaking Christian community, as he is fluent in Spanish.
- Jim Sutherland
- We thank God for Mark! Please pray for wisdom and grace as he picks up more of the day-to-day operations of the ministry, and for grace and protection for his wife Nia and their four children during this transition. Thank you for praying!!
- Pray for health, physical protection and spiritual strength for all RMNI volunteers, their families, and supporters.
- Pray for the South Sudan team of 8 as we prepare to serve in the Juba area. Pray for traveling mercies and health for all involved.
- Please pray that the coronavirus will not force cancellation or impede this trip.
- Pray for continued soft hearts and spiritual sensitivity in the Westside ministry (residents and RMNI team as well).
- Praise the Lord for the continued dedication and faithful guidance of the RMNI Board. Pray for three new Board members to join the Board in the next few months for proper oversight of the ministry.
- Please Pray for the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Ch. World Missions conference March 18-22, with a Central Asian focus. Mark will present.
- Momentum is good in S. Sudan, toward peace. A big issue now is integration of government and opposition forces into one army.
- Pray for Grace Theological College to attract and keep new students, for chaplains and Hope School teachers at the Jebel UN camp, and for Apape Mission.
- We’re grateful for highly skilled sub-teams going to Juba. Please pray for maximum impact and enduring fruit.
- Ask God to use RMNI for global missions in Black and Hispanic churches.
- Pray for conversions at the Westside and for wisdom and love when faced with hostility or indifference or avoidance. We need the power of the Spirit.
- Pray that Jim will pursue a sabbatical that will refresh and direct his and Judy’s lives, so as to better complete the work given them to do.
- Pray for Jeremy and Dawn as they lead Last to First Ch. at the Westside.
- Pray that Jim can finally complete the AFAM missionary census!