Jake’s Final Thoughts From Summer In Africa

A few last takeaways from Jake Grasser in Africa…

First off, Jesus is worthy of ALL honor and praise. Everything that happened this summer in the heart of those who I served and in my heart was totally because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. He is magnificent, and if more people were able to gaze at His beauty through interactions with me and by reading my writing, then the time and energy is well spent.

God has not shown a ‘special level’ of grace to me by revealing more of himself to me. He reveals himself to all of us equally- we must simply learn to look for Him in every situation. He is there if you look. One way to see more of God is to ask/petition/pray REGULARLY for more of your sin to be revealed. God wants our full devotion and faith- we won’t be able to do that until sin is cut out and removed. It isn’t fun at all, but God has shown me so much of my wickedness this summer and it has deeply increased my delight in Him by showing me that I literally CANNOT do it on my own. There is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than a life sold out for Jesus.

Until I learned to approach God in an intimate manner and actually be honest with myself AND God- I was just distant and putting on a ‘Christian’ front. I went to church, did the Sunday school thing, read my Bible occasionally. When I realized how unhappy I was and regularly cried out to God, He turned my cries into JOY. A scheduled out, regular time of prayer is critical to spiritual growth. Praying on my knees or laying on the ground in submission also helps me remove my wicked pride and admit my depravity.

Next steps- Lord willing: 2 more years of pharmacy school, then most likely 2 years of work to gain clinical experience, 1 year of language school- then move to West Africa full time. I don’t know what country or agency yet. I have my leanings, but there is plenty of time to make a decision.

May we never cease to have faith, love Jesus, and have compassion on those around us. Jesus is worth it all- believe that.

Pictures From Peru

Our Peru team partnered with local missionaries to pass out Bibles in Quechua in several villages. They also worked with Cedarville grad, Rachel Yanac painting a mural and passing out Bibles at a local school.


Hungary Update

The Hungary team has been serving at a Word of Life (WOL) camp for a few days thus far. All of our flights were on time and we all had the pleasure of picking up ALL of our luggage in Budapest. We arrived at camp with a refreshing rain falling. The campus is BEAUTIFUL. The castle is a historic building, so WOL isn’t able to make too many modern changes, but they have kept the building in great shape. We were able to meet a lot of the Hungarian volunteers and full time staff here It was wonderful to reconnect with Misi and Daniel who came to visit Cedarville back in the fall. The energy and passion that comes from everyone about camp is contagious.
Today’s activities allowed for some solid time to just hang out with the kids. We had a righteous Gaga Ball game going and really got to pound, I mean, enjoy playing with the kids. Today, our focus was on Acts 17 and to take a good look at what God we are worshiping. We ended the night with a color war that got pretty messy!! Our prayer is to keep looking for ways to encourage Daniel and Misi, our hosts, and to thank them for all their hard work. We are also praying for energy and an outpouring of God’s love for these kids.
Overall our group’s prayer is that we step aside and let God be seen in us. That even though there is a language barrier we want to have genuine and intentional conversations with the staff, volunteers, and campers. #CUGO


Germany Update #2

Wow! It’s hard to believe that our time in Germany is almost over.
We wrapped up day camp on Friday; and several of the kids came to church on Sunday and sang some of the songs they learned at camp for the whole congregation.
We had a brief break between camps on Saturday, so we took a day trip to Wittenberg. Here we saw where Martin Luther lived and taught, visited the Castle Church where he nailed the 95 theses, and learned a lot about the Protestant Reformation.
The rest of this week was spent at teen camp. The theme this year is Olympics, and each night is full of high-energy, competitive activities. It’s great to see how the students having this much fun, especially since Christian youth events like this are much less common here than in the US. Many of them have never experienced anything like this before. The best part of teen camp was Thursday night, when Travis, a youth pastor visiting from Iowa, shared the gospel during the large group session. Some of the students made personal decisions to follow Christ for the first time!
Please continue to pray for the children and teens who came to camp over the past two weeks, as well as for the missionaries here who will continue to minister to them long after we have left.  Even in the crazy post-Christian world of Berlin, God is still doing some amazing work, and we were honored to be a small part of it!
–Germany Team #CUGO

Germany Update

Guten Tag from Berlin! After some frustrating delays with our flights, we finally arrived in Germany. This didn’t give us as much time to rest and get over jet lag as we had originally planned for, but our rescheduled flight took us straight to Berlin instead of a layover in London.
On our first Sunday we joined the worship team at Crossway International Baptist Church, which is the church here in Berlin where we are serving.
Last week we were busy helping with Crossway’s English day camp, which is an event for elementary students that they put on every summer using a Vacation Bible School curriculum. The theme this year is Roar: Life is Wild, God is Good. Each of us from Cedarville were in charge of a different station that the kids visited throughout each day. Josh taught the Bible story of the day, Haile led crafts, and I (Jonathon) taught the Scripture memory verse. Thursday was especially exciting because it was essentially the climax of the program, in which we got to most clearly present the gospel to the kids. They had lots of questions about Jesus, so please pray that they would remember and keep thinking about what they learned today.
This week is teen camp at Crossway, so pray that God would prepare the hearts of the teens as we minister to them. #CUGO

Italy English Camp

    This summer four Cedarville students, including myself, left the United States to spend two weeks ministering at an English Camp in Isola Del Gran Sasso, Italy. Our two weeks of ministry was followed by a long weekend of recuperation and fellowship with a hospitable family in Rome who, along with their church, are fervent supporters of the ministry in Isola under the leadership of Joe Hunziker. The heart behind the English camp is to establish and affirm relationships between the camp and local families in order to encourage attendance at future Bible camps organized by the ministry (Centro Evangelico). We served as counselors on the “Fun Team” alongside an incredibly diverse staff of individuals from all around the world. Our role was to organize a fun afternoon of games and activities while intentionally building relationship with the 80+ children who attended English Camp this year. Personally, this was my second opportunity to serve at this camp through Global Outreach. This year, I was particularly encouraged by the power of the relationships we are able to build through this ministry— relationships not only with each other as Cedarville students and camp staff, but also with the children attending camp and our host family in Rome. One of the children’s parents this year phrased the power of this camp perfectly. Stepping into this camp is like stepping into another world filled with peace. I pray that this man comes to know and love the One who embodies the perfect peace that fills Centro Evangelico.” –Emily Gifford


Jake Grasser’s Togo Update

Togo has presented challenges but also has been a wonderful encouragement.  Here are two instances.

A couple of weeks ago I encountered a preemie (in the hospital/pharmacy where I serve) who was incredibly small. They all said that it’s the smallest one that they have seen which a little less than 2lbs. The baby was born outside the hospital and then brought here for treatment because the parents were worried about it. One of the nurses said she was surprised that it was brought here given that it is a girl. In this culture, it is normal to let a girl baby die if she is weak and doesn’t stand much of a chance of survival. Maybe this is a wealthy family that can afford the treatment to keep her alive. I have never seen one this small either, so I ventured my way into the NICU and looked at the little tyke. There were two nurses surrounding her trying to get an IV in. They were really struggling, as the smallest size IV that we have is bigger than the baby’s veins. The attending physician had tried for an hour and a half to put a line in through the umbilicus, but was unsuccessful, so another option was needed. The poor baby just laid there, struggling to breath. You could see her chest cave in and out as her lungs exhaled, and then inhaled. She eventually died.  She kept losing weight due to not being able to eat. She was getting some caloric intake in the form of dextrose, but it just wasn’t enough given how much energy she had to expend to breathe. Even after giving her multiple doses of surfactant, her lungs couldn’t handle the stress of life, and the little one just died of exhaustion. While I didn’t personally care for her or hold her, I was invested in her care- regularly asking how she was, verifying orders for drugs that she needed. Death is a part of life, and it is especially visible here in Togo. If this little one was in a NICU in the states, she would have had a much higher chance of survival.

Over a week ago, a group of us went to a village around 45 minutes away where there was a baptism service being performed. We loaded 9 people up into an SUV and headed off at 7am. It was raining slightly, so the weather felt great! We were greeted at the village church by 120 or so kids who came running out to us, thrilled to see white people, but they were also excited to get to travel in a car (it is around 3 km until the river where they were getting baptized). It took 3 or 4 trips with 3 vehicles to move the whole village to the water, so there was an hour and a half that I just stood around and waited. I asked them how the church here got started, and the story is cool! There was a patient from a neighboring village who was treated at the hospital here. After they got treated, they accepted Christ, and started a church at their own village. As word spread of the way that God was changing hearts, the villagers from neighboring villages traveled to hear the Good News. Eventually, a church in all of the surrounding villages was needed to hold the size of the congregation. A pastor from Mango goes there once a week to preach, and they have elders and such who help lead during the week. THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH! Gatherings of brothers and sisters in remote parts of the world who are PASSIONATE about Jesus. Who leave behind their old ways and seek HIM. I was struck by their willingness to forgo the old, and take on the new in stride.

Praise God for new spiritual life in the midst of physical death.  #CUGO


Anna Johnson’s Update From Bolivia

Hello everyone!  I spent the first week of my trip in Charlotte, NC for training and since then I have been living
with a wonderful Bolivian family who has been so very kind. My Bolivian familia has welcomed me into their family and
have even included me in family celebrations and outings.

For the month of June, I have been taking some language classes 3-4 times a week which have been very helpful.
I look forward to being able to communicate more fluently with the people around me and more easily form relationship with others. In the afternoon, I go to the Camp Kewina office and help in any way that I can. Monday and Thursday evenings I participate and help another Serving in Mission (SIM) missionary present ways for local Sunday school teachers to use puppets to teach children about the Bible. On the weekends (Friday- Sunday), I will be going to Camp Kewina, which is a Christian outdoors camp, to help with the camp itself and to help with some maintenance work such as painting, cleaning, etc.

The people here are kind and busy, but always make time for family and others. They are very relational- based and have taught me that, after God, people come first. Coming here to serve and help, I realize that I have much to learn and little to teach. I must daily remember that I am here to humbly learn. Servanthood is both a challenge and a burden that, by the grace of God, we must fully embody to effectively minister the gospel of Christ cross-culturally. However, servanthood is culturally defined and first I must learn.

Pray for compassion for the people here, understanding of their culture, and for the gospel to be proclaimed whether in words or actions.  Pray also for the Quechua people groups who still do not have God’s word in their dialect.  #CUGO



Church Connections in France

We are excited to share what God has done these last two weeks in France!  We started our trip in Senots, France. It is a small village but God has used our time there perfectly. In Senots we had two events, a youth group event and a BBQ. During the youth event, we played games, prayed, worshiped, and prepared a song to perform at church the next Sunday. It was a great opportunity to meet these young believers because most of their friends at school are non-believers. Encouraging these children and teenagers was significant because they got to experience Christian community and recognize that we are all members of the same body, the church, even across nations. The next evening we had a BBQ, shared American s’mores and played Christian music. Our prayer was that more people would come than the last time we had a trip to Senots in 2017 and that it wouldn’t rain on us. God answered both prayers. At the end of the night a woman accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and one of the missionaries prayed for three people! It was amazing! Before we left the camp, the community in the campsite invited us to a dinner. We were given a woman’s address to be pen pals and she gave us photos from the last time we had a team in Senots. It was great to continue to love the people and see how God has worked through our ministry and is continuing to keep doors open for ministry (even when we go home). We connected the woman who accepted Christ with a pastor and gave her directions to a nearby church.

We then left for Paris to support a church plant in the city. So far, we have attended Bible studies with a spectrum of people, from curious non-believers to young Christians, alongside the full time missionaries. We have offered food, coffee, tissues, prayer, and the gospel to the homeless people in the area. We held a painting event which had a theme of restoration or renewal and the people were to paint what that meant to them. One of our team members, Beth Oldham, shared a poem about how her renewal comes from God. Seven women attended the event and we were able to form community and share about our beliefs in a safe space. The woman I sat next to was a Greek Orthodox woman who was encouraged to see young people involved in the church since people are not religious in Paris.Tomorrow our team will be playing music, sharing testimonies, and explaining our artwork from the previous event at the house church in the city. Not everyone who will be at church are believers and we are asking in prayer that God will use us to help soften hearts and bring people to Himself.  We will also attend the Paris Prayer Connection which is a prayer conference that is incredibly important for ministry in France. France is generally closed off to God and prayer is an incredibly important tool for missions in France. Please pray that all of the attendees will have safe travels and that our team will help facilitate the conference efficiently. #CUGO





Ecuador Reflections

The Ecuador team had a busy agenda. Upon landing, we visited the Word of Life facility in Quito. Then on to Otavalo where we held medical clinics.

As you can see pictured, one of the girl’s dogs decided to sit on the table with her as she got her pulse taken. Emily was not even phased as the dog licked her arm while she worked. Another funny moment was when @kayak_cliff began taking pictures with the Compassion ladies who were half his height!

Today we saw the Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) Camp. Because of our connection with the Compassion ladies doing the clinics they asked if they could take the kids we provided care for to this camp. This is an important connection for the Gonzalez’s and those children may have the opportunity to go to camp and learn about Jesus who otherwise would not be able to.

On our last day, we took a tour of PUCE, a university in Quito, and were able to make connections with the nursing facility. This was crucial because this faculty knows best how healthcare in Ecuador functions and may be able to collaborate with us in the future! We are very very sad to say goodbye to the missionaries we have had the blessing to work with. They truly are special families with hearts to serve. Please pray for the Gonzalez and Luzuriaga families and their ministries as they continue to do important work in Ecuador! #CUGO #cedarville