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Elaine Gaston

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Missionary reaps harvest as ‘refugee’ in foreign land

SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP) -- After years laboring in a restricted-access country, International Mission Board missionary Layla Murphy began reaping a harvest as people became more open to the Gospel and former Buddhists were baptized. "Things were starting to progress," says Murphy, who serves in Southeast Asia. "We were starting to get chances to do evangelism in some new places we'd never gotten to go before. It was really getting exciting -- and then, the bottom sort of fell out of everything. That's when I got kicked out of the country."

Teen overcomes fears to spread Gospel in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (BP) -- The children crowded around 18-year-old Bethany Amber, hands reaching toward her on the hot South African morning. A few years ago this kind of crowding frightened the Southern Baptist "missionary kid." At age 13 she found the lack of personal space in the townships difficult to endure, having just moved to South Africa with her parents who were International Mission Board missionaries. "People were always wanting to touch my hair, touch my face," Bethany recalled.

WEEK OF PRAYER: Couple equipping ‘insiders’ to reach South Asians

SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- Shanti chose for her wedding attire blue silk trimmed with gold. Rich fabrics in brilliant hues are traditional for wedding saris in this South Asian megacity. But the guest list was anything but typical. Among those celebrating this day were 20 prostitutes -- women who were like family to Shanti. She knew them from the years she shared their heartbreaking lifestyle as a prostitute before the ministry of a Christian activity center rescued her from her ...

WEEK OF PRAYER: God is ‘up to something’ in Norway

SANDEFJORD, Norway (BP) -- International Mission Board church planting catalysts Zack and Jennifer Dove were geared up to plant their lives in Oslo, Norway, in 2013. They had fine-tuned their expectations toward an urban setting, but a few months before landing there, circumstances shifted them a little further south. While the couple would still be in Norway, Jennifer noted they went through "almost a grieving process" when they found out they wouldn't be going to Oslo. But they soon embraced their new assignment to work with and minister to Norwegians in Sandefjord.

WEEK OF PRAYER: ‘Days of sweat’ spread Gospel in Ghana

NALERIGU, Ghana (BP) -- After 10 years of medical school, residency and training, surgeon Heidi Haun spent a May morning in a West African courtyard pounding gravel into dirt with dozens of ladies who chanted traditional songs as a drummer beat time. It was a joyous scene with laughter and jokes as the women pounded smooth the courtyard dirt. Heidi, 34 weeks pregnant, pounded alongside them with a sampanni, a wooden tool resembling a baseball bat.

WEEK OF PRAYER: Jewish population on IMB couple’s heart

SOUTH AMERICA (BP) -- International Mission Board journeyman David Harris encounters a couple of hurdles when arranging a meal with his friend Aaron, an Orthodox Jew, in South America. Weekends are off-limits, as Aaron carefully observes the rituals of the Sabbath, known as Shabbat, and all meals must follow kosher dietary guidelines, Harris said. "I went with him to a kosher McDonald's," said Harris, who has ministered in South America since September 2015 with his wife Hanna, also a journeyman. "It wasn't my favorite burger experience."

WEEK OF PRAYER: New relationships in ancient Verona

VERONA, Italy (BP) -- In the ancient Italian city of Verona, Nick and Shannan Copland use modern tools to shape new relationships and share timeless biblical truths. The International Mission Board workers appear to be naturals -- in any language -- when it comes to making friends. Nick, 32, and 28-year-old Shannan use their interests in good food and outdoor pursuits to connect with individuals there.

WEEK OF PRAYER: Gospel confronts witch doctor in Mozambique

NACALA, Mozambique (BP) -- Believers traveling by boat, sharing the Gospel. In the book of Acts it was the Apostle Paul on the Mediterranean. In Northern Mozambique today it is International Mission Board missionary Brian Harrell steering his small wooden vessel through coastal waters. He and his family live on the water's edge solely to reach the approximately 300,000 Makhuwa Nahara people with the Gospel, whether that means venturing to unreached villages accessed best by water, or sharing Gospel stories with a local witch doctor or women as they sit in a circle and make rag rugs.

Prayerwalking: Reaching a city on foot

INDONESIA (BP) -- It started with a map and a book. The map laid out the sprawling city in which International Mission Board worker Howard Brackey* lives. The book challenged Howard to put feet to his prayers for the city. The book hit close to home. In "That None Should Perish: How to Reach Entire Cities for Christ Through Prayer Evangelism," author Ed Silvoso described undertaking the task of prayerwalking a large South American city. As Howard read the book, he thought about his well-creased map of his large Indonesian city. "God put the vision of this particular map in my head. I thought, 'All right, we're going to prayerwalk this city.'" As part of an urban city team, Howard figured he and his teammates could at least prayerwalk major roads in the city that is roughly the same size as St. Louis but, like most Asian cities, is densely populated with millions of people.

Helping prostitutes in Indonesia leave the streets

]INDONESIA (BP) -- International Mission Board worker Rosemary Brackey* and her daughter Patricia* had a dream: to offer a safe place for women to escape lives of prostitution; receive job training, medical care and psychological counseling; and even bring a child there if they have one. An Indonesian Christian had told Rosemary that if prostitutes with a child want to change their lives, they usually have to put their child in an orphanage.