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Top 10 Reasons I’m Counting Down to The 2013 Justice Conference

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Since being hired at Kilns College, I’ve had the awesome opportunity—blessing, really—to be a small part of The Justice Conference. It’s truly amazing to see the conference staff, Kilns students, and countless (seriously, countless) volunteers come together to pull off this awesome event.  I’ve honestly found it difficult to sleep all week because The Justice Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend. Here are my top 10 reason why I’ve been looking forward to this event all year!

1.     It’s the single event where thousands of people who care about justice gather together. That’s a lot of awesome people in one place!

2.     Kilns College co-sponsors the event with World Relief so I get to spend 48 hours meeting people and talking about Kilns College and why it’s a place that’s revolutionizing higher education. If you’re coming to the conference come check out the Kilns table and say hi!

3.     Micah Bournes will be performing. This guy is seriously talented!

4.     You get the opportunity to meet representatives from hundreds of nonprofit organizations

5.     I was honored to ask to speak during a pre-conference session. If you’ll be at the pre-conference check out my session on education! While you’re at it, check out all the pre-conference sessions on The Justice Conference website

6.     My dear friend Erin Lytle is Director for this conference and works tirelessly 365 days a year to make it an awesome experience for all the attendees, exhibitors and speakers.

7.     This year’s conference is in Philly! After living for a few years in New England, I’m excited to be back on the East Coast, even if just for a few days.

8.     It’s a great networking event!

9.     Kilns College President Ken Wytsma’s new book Pursuing Justice will be available at the conference bookstore

10.  This year, Kilns College has a HUGE announcement to make at the conference… can’t wait to share it with everyone!



Guest Blog Post :: Mara Family

Guest Bloggers: Mike & Ann Mara

Kijabe, Kenya, is a small village situated about an hours drive from the bustling capitol city of Nairobi. The main road out of the city winds its way up over 8,000 feet elevation along the rim of the Great Rift Valley. As one slowly ascends in elevation, the views to the African plains below are simply breath taking! The turn off to Kijabe begins a slow and twisting switchback down the edge of the escarpment for four kilometers, on a pothole filled road towards the village. The area here is rich in foliage and smells a lot like the damp moss you find in Ireland! It is not uncommon to encounter troops of brash baboons and colobus monkeys as you approach the village, in addition to the usual cows, goats, donkeys, and dogs.

Our family has committed to working and living here for at least five years. We arrived in Kijabe almost two months ago after two years of preparations and planning. Having met each other in Tanzania in 2001, we had hoped and prayed that God would call us back to this part of the world. One cold December evening in front of a roaring fire, we responded to God’s prompting and committed to long-term overseas missions. Soon thereafter, we sold our house in Bend, our cars, furniture, and belongings, and left behind wonderful friends, family and comfortable familiarity. Our work here is to come alongside the mission of Kijabe Hospital “to glorify God through compassionate health care provision, training and spiritual ministry in Jesus Christ.”

About the Hospital:

Missionaries from the Africa Inland Mission first established the Kijabe mission station as a mission outpost in 1903. From its earliest days, it was a center for training and medical and spiritual care for the surrounding community.

Due in part to the high quality of health care provided and the compassionate mission of the hospital to treat any patient, the hospital grew quickly and has become a centre of excellence and compassion highly regarded throughout Africa.

Currently, the hospital has 281 in-patient beds and serves approximately 120,000 outpatients per year. Surgery is a major focus area for the Hospital, and it performs more than 10,000 surgeries annually, and is the second busiest surgical centre in Kenya.

Caring for children is a critical component of the Hospital’s compassionate mission. The Hospital provides outpatient care to 25,000 children annually, of which almost 30% are malnourished. More than 13,000 immunizations are provided each year. In 2010, more than 2,000 babies were delivered.

With over 280 surgeries for spina bifida and 790 surgeries for hydrocephalus performed each year, Kijabe Hospital has the largest volume of surgeries for these poverty-related conditions worldwide.

Training is a strategic priority at AIC Kijabe Hospital, and the staff has a keen awareness that they are building and discipling future compassionate health care leaders. As a result of this significant training emphasis, 10 of the hospital’s senior-level consultants are Christian Kenyan physicians and surgeons. Many others have been trained and now serve their communities across Kenya and in a number of other African countries. Current training at the Hospital includes postgraduate programs in Orthopedic Surgery, General Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Neurosurgery, and Family Medicine.


Ann’s perspective on living in Kenya:

There is such a lot to be said for having a sense of belonging, where you understand social cues, can join in the banter, and where one can expect that most of the unwritten social constructs make sense…for the most part.
Living in Kijabe has demanded that we relinquish control of our expectations regarding how things should work. Daily routine takes on a whole new meaning. There are no supermarkets in the village, rather a small “duka” or shop, which sells the essential items such as oil, sugar, flour, soap and canned goods. Beside this is the “butcher,” which commonly displays bloody carcasses hanging from a hook in the ceiling. Across the road is the market, which sells all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables, our favorite being jumbo sized avocadoes, juicy pineapples and mangoes. In the market sit a dozen vendors each selling their goods. You do your best to buy from each of them to avoid hard feelings. On return home, there begins the arduous task of bleaching each item in preparation for dinner.

We needed to buy a queen bed for all the visitors we are anticipating! I asked around the village for a recommendation of a “fundi” that could make us one. I was directed to a small timber shop and ten minutes later had ordered a cypress bed frame for $80. After three weeks, I received a call from Joshua to say that the bed was finally ready for collection. It took some time to make but it is one of the most beautifully crafted pieces of furniture that we have ever owned! We arrived at the timber shop to see it completely assembled outside. After inspection and words of affirmation it was disassembled and loaded up onto the roof of our car, after which we brought it home, reassembled it only to find out that we couldn’t fit it up the stairs! We resorted to using a saw.

It is a common saying in these parts that “Westerners have watches and Africans have time.” The pace of life here is slow and relaxed, which makes a lovely change to the frantic pace of what we just left behind. There simply is no hurry here and yet things always have a way of working out. Yesterday, we had a painter come to our home to paint a couple of the rooms. He travelled almost three hours to get here by Matatu (local bus) and arrived dressed to the nines in a suit and dress shirt. I saw no evidence of a painter in him. I asked him if he had paintbrushes to which he replied that they were in another house in the village. We drove to get them and when we got back home he stated that he needed paint thinner. Back into the car we got and drove to the hardware.

Once home again he said that we really did require putty for fixing the holes in the walls. Yet another trip to the hardware store ensued. Four hours had passed from the time he had arrived to the time he started painting. His work, however, is impeccable! He uses no dust covers, no fancy gadgets, and yet there is not a splash of unwanted paint to be seen anywhere! Things really do have a way of working out when you choose to take a deep breath and go with the flow.

Some days here are filled with such a sense of belonging and being right in the center of God’s will. The kids love their new school, the weather is warm and balmy (when the rains stay away), our house here feels like a home, we have met wonderful people and feel as if we are already part of a community, and we are both filled with an incredible sense of purpose being here.

And then there are days when life is quite simply, difficult – when learning the language becomes an insurmountable chore, when our home is invaded by venomous “Nairobi Eye” beetles, when one of the kids says that Kenya is not the place for him/her, when we have an upset stomach for the umpteenth time, when our son’s blood sugars are out of control, when the need here is completely and utterly overwhelming. It is at times like these when all we can do is fall to our knees and say, “God, help!” The swinging from one extreme to the other can be emotionally draining and yet the pendulum continues its course. God, are we really cut out for this life here? Can we really be effective in what we are doing to alleviate suffering and make a difference? Can it be that you chose “us” to be your instruments of peace and love in this place? We are weak. We are lacking in faith. We are not equipped enough for the task at hand. And yet, as we cry out, “God, help!” His grace abounds, our joy is made complete in Him, and we face another day in His power and mercy.

God has already put before me many opportunities to use my gifts and experience here. I cannot begin to imagine what that is going to look like exactly but I trust that He will pave the way for me. During this time of transition, I am clinging to the following words by Elizabeth Elliot: “It is not our level of spirituality that we can depend upon. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God’s and the call is God’s and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes – the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package – our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses.”

God, help.


Mike’s Perspective on Moving to Kijabe

The move to long term foreign missions has involved so many facets, so many steps, that it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s strange being “one of those people” who had a “normal life” and are now doing something different. I always thought this sort of thing was for other people. But years ago, God’s quiet whisper began to make itself heard over the static of my “normal life.” The more I listened to that whisper, the louder it became, until eventually it became deafening to the point of being impossible to ignore. There’s never the right time, or good time, or easy time, to just surrender your will to God’s. At some point, Ann and I realized, individually and as a couple, that our lives, though fine, “Christian”, and inoffensive to anyone, were just not aligned with God’s plan for us. Though it was a little scary and a lot of work, abandoning our “normal life” for the adventure that has awaited us.

When you’re wearing gloves, you’re insulated. You don’t feel the cold, you don’t feel the heat, you won’t get cut, but you also can’t play the piano or feel the softness of a baby’s skin. Moving to Africa has removed the gloves. Daily, I’m exposed to the most hilarious, disgusting, kind, cynical, gentle, violent, inspiring and heartbreaking people and situations I can imagine. Last week, I left my iPhone in the locker room at the hospital. A man found it and returned it to me. That phone cost more than his house. Later that day, I took care of a woman who was the sole survivor of ten people in a matatu (share taxi) crash whose driver was probably drunk. Moments where I feel like I’m in the throne room of God, everything is shalom, amazing, followed immediately by devastating callousness and suffering.

As Ann mentioned, our missionary training taught us a very important phrase: “God Help.” There are so many times when I’m completely out of my element, my language training is pathetically inadequate, I don’t know what to do culturally, and all I can do is cry “God help.” And He always answers. I feel like I literally rely on manna, on my daily bread from God, to get by. When you’re secure in your life, you don’t need to rely on God, and it’s easy to keep Him safely locked away until Sunday or the doctor gives you bad news. For me, the greatest thing about our move is that all the crutches have been kicked away, and I get to hobble down the road leaning on Christ. I’m sure a lot of people don’t need to move to a foreign country to have this kind of intimacy with God, but I think He understood my addiction to comfort and things and found a way to help me “take off the gloves.”

The work at the hospital is hard but very rewarding. The orthopedic department functions at a very high level, and patients are treated kindly, so people come from a wide area to be taken care of. Patients travel for days to get here from all parts of Kenya, Somalia, Southern Sudan, and DR Congo. The suffering is hard to imagine. In the US, if you break your femur or ankle, you’re in a hospital receiving morphine within minutes to hours, and having your fracture repaired urgently. Some of these patients have had to wait weeks, with an unstable broken leg, and no pain medications, bouncing over rutted roads for hours on end to get to Kijabe. Even after arriving at the hospital, they may have to wait for 6 hours or more to be seen. It’s a busy place.

My job here is to be part of training a new generation of Kenyan orthopedic surgeons. Kijabe has the first orthopedic surgery training program in Kenya, and I’m privileged to work with an amazingly intelligent, hard working, and kind group of orthopedic surgery residents and consultants. The residents are selected both for their academic excellence and their walk with Christ. Each patient is prayed for before undergoing surgery, and each receives a level of care similar to what one would expect in a good hospital in the US. I’m on a steep learning curve, becoming re-acquainted with conditions I haven’t seen since my residency, and some things that aren’t even published in books. At this point, I feel more like a student than a teacher. The senior orthopedic surgeon at Kijabe is returning in December to his home district after more than a decade here, so I’m trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Overall, we feel amazingly blessed as a family. We take great comfort in remembering the large group of people supporting us with prayer, and we look forward to reuniting with our friends at some point in the future. For the moment, though, we feel like we’re exactly where God wants us to be, and that brings us a peace that makes all the inconveniences seem trivial.

If you would like to follow the Mara’s work and adventures in Kenya, check out their blog:


Mike and Ann Mara and the Medical Mission to Kenya

THE MARA’S JOURNEY from SRO Productions on Vimeo.


Uganda Trip

On April 28, Amanda Wingers, Lauren Edwards, my dad John Wytsma and Sam and Darci Meier will travel to Uganda on a missions trip for Antioch Church.

They will be establishing the groundwork for future trips to an orphanage in Lira, Uganda and to continue our partnership with Alex and Faith Mutagubya with their church in Kampala, Uganda.

To read more click on the picture below and check out our new Antioch Missions Blog!


New Missions Blog

Click the image below to check out the new Antioch Missions Blog!!

Make sure to check back often for updates on local, global and a dollar for change stories and updates.


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Posted in: missions

Uganda Fundraiser With Ben Edwards

In late April, a small team from Antioch is going to Uganda to pilot two new missions opportunities.

The first week the team will be at the Otino-Waa Orphanage in Lira, Uganda.  Otino-Waa was started by a Bend couple Bob and Carol Higgins. The last two days the team will be in the capital city Kampala profiling Alex & Faith Mutagubya’s church, which Antioch will have an ongoing partnership with when they return to Uganda later this year after studying in Portland.

The purpose of the trip is to lay the groundwork for future short-term trips, explore Mission Kids opportunities, find ways to help Alex’s church in Kampala with upcoming launch events and much more.

The group is paying their own way and the Photo Fundraiser goes toward covering their costs.

Here are the details I was given:

Uganda Facebook Photo Fundraiser with Photographer Benjamin Edwards

Friday March 25th 1pm-5pm; Saturday March 26th 9am-5pm

10 minute portrait slots – view and pick your image immediately

$75 per image, tax deductible and for a good cause, payable at shoot

Payments made to Antioch Church with “Uganda Trip” in the memo line

Different backdrops available – Funny, crazy, serious, etc…

To book a time slot, please email Amanda Wingers @:

amanda_wingers (at)



I’m looking forward to Antioch tomorrow as we’ve got our friend Alex Mutagubya from Uganda teaching again as well as several updates on Antioch Missions.

Should be fun!


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Posted in: missions

Missionally Mature

One of the coolest things about the team’s return from Nicaragua was the comment made by the couple who have been running ministries down there for 12 years…

Their comment was, “In twelve years of hosting trips, the team from your church is the most missionally mature we’ve ever had.”

Both Matt and I are pretty proud of Antioch missions – pretty cool that a group of people are learning to serve rather than be served when it comes to short-term trips!!

(Here’s a picture of one of Antioch’s Elders, Rick Gerhardt, playing with a soccer ball – he’s actually quite good!)



A team from Antioch has been in Nicaragua all week (they return tomorrow).

One of the primary things they’ve been doing is ministering to women at the House of Hope, which houses some 200 women saved from either prostitution or sex trafficking.

Below is a link to Amanda Winger’s blog where you can read about the ministry as well as how the Antioch team has been involved.

I think this trip, like most short-term trips, is doing as much if not more to change the people who went from Antioch than the women in Nicaragua.

The hope is for a long-term relationship that would allow for us to truly make a difference and express love to these beautiful people in need.

Click here for Amanda’s blog.



Antioch will be sending a team to Nicaragua to help with a ministry that rescues and educates women from who have been victims of trafficking.

If you live in Bend, see the table this week for more information.  The trip is open to anyone and only has six spots left.  If you don’t live in Bend and would like more information, e-mail Matt Smith at matt (at)

I love being a part of a community of people who are compassionate enough to make large sacrifice on behalf of others!!


Local Missions Fair

We’re holding an Antioch Local Missions Fair this Sunday after church.

Come and get a full missions booklet (seen below) and visit over 20 different tables of local organizations people at Antioch are involved with.

Having Matt Smith on staff as a Missions Pastor has been huge!!

(Click on the picture below to go to the Antioch Missions Blog and make sure to read about the two Antioch kids who raised money for Haiti!)


Missions Blog

Click the picture below and bookmark the Antioch Missions blog.  Matt Smith has taken it over and will be updating it regularly!

Also, make sure to check out the post on the earthquake in Haiti and how you can give through World Relief.


Antioch Romania Trip

So there’s actually a blog for the high school team that has been in Romania the last two weeks — who knew!?!
Click here to see some pics and read what they’ve been doing.


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Posted in: Antioch, missions

Missions Blog

We just went live this week with a Missions Blog to help communicate the heart of missions at Antioch as well as provide information, helpful links and ways for people to serve locally.
Check it out and stop back regularly as we have a missions intern coming for the summer who will be expanding the site significantly.


Missions Booklet

We’re kicking off a two week missions series this Sunday as part of the upcoming launch of World Relief NEXT.

Among a host of other things that are coming together, the Missions Booklet detailing our philosophy and strategy will be printing in about an hour. I’m pretty excited to have a document that people can look at to see our heart for missions as well as how they can begin to get involved.

I’m beginning to appreciate just how important communication is in a church… like the old saying, “People are down on what they’re not up on.”


Launch of World Relief NEXT

The World Relief NEXT project is going to be launching here in Bend in the next two weeks. It’s as cool of a thing as I’ve ever seen!!

One of the goals is to create a collaboration of northwest churches that can be more meaningfully involved in missions through collaboration than alone.

Below is the e-mail that Ann Mara sent to local pastors inviting them to a special luncheon. Make sure to holler if you would like to find out more information for your church!!


Dear I am writing to invite you to lunch on December 4th, at 1pm, at the Pastini Restaurant, in the Old Mill Shopping District.

As we prepare to launch the World Relief NEXT Project ( here in Bend, we would welcome an opportunity to sit down with you and explain our vision and goals, and to see how we can enter together into a collaborative approach towards global missions.

We will be joined by our esteemed friend and colleague Emmanuel Ndikumana, who will be visiting Bend from Burundi, East Africa. We invited Emmanuel to help us launch the World Relief NEXT Project, and to communicate his view on Missions from an African perspective. Emmanuel is a graduate of All Nations Christian College in the UK, and holds a B.A. (Hon) degree in Biblical and Intercultural studies and an M.A. degree in Aspects of Christian Missiology.

We hope that you are able to make this luncheon, and if you cannot, that you would suggest someone else in your place. Please RSVP by December 2nd, to this address.

Many thanks,
Ann Mara.(Project Manager)


OurCauze Fundraiser

Click here to visit the Cauzal Coffee store and purchase world class coffee with $4 of every bag supporting the development of the Kilns College Missions Department.


Don Golden

This next Thursday there will be a lecture on Church and Missions at The Kilns by Don Golden.

Don is senior vice president of church engagement at World Relief in Baltimore, Maryland. His passion to help churches help the poor and oppressed has taken him to more than 60 countries.

Don’s new book with Zondervan, called Jesus Wants to Save Christians, just released this week.

Don will be in town for discussions around World Relief NEXT as well as his lecture at the Kilns.

Plan on being there from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.!!


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