Greetings and tidings from ARC! We stand on the doorstep of 2023; the door of 2022 closed behind us. It’s been a year of growth and growing pains, but looking back, we see the fingerprints of God scattered all over it, and we are grateful.
Much has happened at ARC in the last couple months. New teachers, new house parents, new students, new possibilities and horizons. We are happy to have a complete team of teachers and house parents on the ground- some who have committed for 6 months. Team transition is not easy, and it’s a tremendous blessing for everyone involved to have a fully staffed team, and some long-term commitments! We also anticipate Peter & Erin Wadel joining the team as administrator for the next 2 years! The current team includes Jesse Martin, Wisconsin; Austin Martin, Michigan; Susanna Jones, Montana; Amanda Mast, Oregon; Faith Musser, Pennsylvania; Bethany Van Pelt, Ohio; Raymond & Julia Brubaker, Missouri. After spending 6-7 months at ARC, Andrea Lapp has left the city for her home in Pennsylvania. Corina Troyer returned to California, after spending 3 1/2 months in Minneapolis.
We trace God’s fingerprints in sending many appreciative students. One lady told her teacher, “Thank-you comin’ my home.” Recently the men have gained a couple new students, and the girls are carrying a full schedule as well! There seems to be frequent and standing petitions for more classes, especially for the Afghan women. One man who attends class has asked repeatedly if there are any lady teachers who can come teach his wife and we regretfully explain again that we are full. We are currently teaching 19 men and 15 women.
A young Afghan couple recently wanted to travel to California to visit relatives, but could hardly accomplish it on their own. Andrea and Heidi had the privilege of helping them purchase tickets, then spent much time trying to change their tickets to a preferred later date. They could hardly navigate the airport and needed help to check-in. A language barrier can make simple things very complex and stressful, and we prayed multiple times that the Lord would work out the details! It was an answer to prayer to see them successfully return from California.
One of the Afghan ladies can communicate very well, especially if she needs help with something! She and her husband may need a new phone set up, mail explained, a ride to an appointment, or advice on purchasing a car. She knows her teacher will do what she can to help, and it is hard for our Afghan friend to concentrate on class until her problems are solved. She might even say, “You are my very best friend!” and this is reward enough for the time invested helping her.
Justyn and Austin have had the adventure of teaching 4 young Afghan brothers some evenings. Their energy will outrun their attention span, and some sessions sound more like a circus than a classroom! Their teachers have gotten creative about how to give them structured English practice. Instead of using the standard procedures, it may be practicing left and right while shooting rubber bands, or writing their names with Scrabble pieces or reading story books.
Another young man who came to class many times has recently quit because of a new job schedule. The men have spent hours helping him learn to drive. He also needed a ride to the dentist two days in a row. Some days we do much more than teach English!
The ten-year-old daughter of one of our students was describing her family’s journey to America. This precious girl with unforgettable eyes speaks clear English, her slight accent only adding charm to her words. “We were like chickens on the first plane. We were sitting on other people’s legs. The bathrooms were very dirty.”
Another ten-year-old girl doesn’t try to hide how sad she is that two of her friends and teachers are leaving. In her simple but distinct English she says, “Everybody going.” Her mother fights tears at the thought of another goodbye. How our hearts break for our Afghan friends who have left behind so much-family, homes, and all things familiar. We teachers can return to our homes and resume the lives we left; they cannot- they must start over and accept new surroundings, food, people and culture. This is why long-term teaching commitments are priceless!
Hosting visitors is a big part of living at ARC. We often welcome people who have come to join us for Sunday morning. Recently the board members came to the city for a meeting, and Nelson Weavers and Darrell Yoder spent some time at the Hive. Other recent visitors included Ken & Abby Mast, Fan Schrock, and Joseph & Charity Schrock. It is always good to see supporters who drop by every couple weeks- Phil Mast, Leon Smith, Brad & Gwen Horst. A couple of the teachers got the treat of having family members visit. Jonathan Erb dropped in to see his son Justyn for a weekend, and Andrea Lapp was able to introduce her mom and sister to Minneapolis before they traveled home with her to Pennsylvania.
Singing as a group has been a beautiful way to spend free time at ARC! The team has been able to sing in the St. Paul Cathedral, Union Depot, on the metro, and in the main hall entrance of the apartment complex we share with neighbors. Thrilling acoustics and appreciative passers-by make it rewarding, especially over the holiday season! May the lost people of Minneapolis be able to see the fingerprints of God!
We have been experiencing God’s protecting fingerprints all over us as we go about the city. We pray often for protection and God has answered those prayers more often than we know. The heavy traffic, snowy roads, merging freeways, and unfamiliar territory can pose real dangers. The homeless presence has somewhat eased, but it also adds challenges. The property caretaker reported finding homeless men sleeping in the dumpster shed next to the Hive. The constant scenes of people asking for handouts, rampant drug abuse, hostile attitudes, and filthy language adds pressure, and we feel the need for spiritual protection and team work as we face the darkness all around us. We rejoice to know the our Savior has come to give light to them that sit in darkness…to guide our feet in the way of peace. Luke 1:79
Grateful for His fingerprints,
As we stand on the far bank of 2022, I ponder what have I done with this time capsule that God gave to me… Did I use it in service to my King, or did I waste it with selfish ambitions? It is a year ago today, December 31, 2021, that a small group of us representing ARC Ministry attended an Afghan New Year’s eve event in Minneapolis. We were invited to attend this event by a man we met in Fort McCoy last year. He is an Afghan man, a soldier in the USA army, and he hosted this event to connect the Afghans to the community where they now live. It was through connections we made at this event that we were asked to “come teach English”.
A few highlights of the work in Minneapolis in 2022…
•The first English class was taught on February 14. Oh, the tension of wondering if anyone will come for class…but the first day we had sixteen men and nine ladies in three classes! Classes have varied widely since then and we have now found a more comfortable “norm”. Currently an average day is eight classes with around 18-20 students. •The lady volunteers have spent many hours sitting on the floor with their students, teaching English and discussing many topics including death, religion, and Jesus. •The men volunteers have driven many miles hauling their students to class, taking them to appointments and occasionally letting them drive with their learner’s permit. •Teachers have helped students find and purchase vehicles. •Many opportunities opened to witness for Jesus on the metro and the streets. •Although there have been some close calls, our staff has been kept safe over the many miles. Praise God!
Thank you to ALL who have helped make this ministry possible—the staff (both current and past), parents, churches, financial supporters, prayer warriors. God bless you. Please pray for us as the door continues to open and we explore opportunities to work with other refugees in various parts of America. As we progressed through the year, many times I wondered, “Is this ministry worth all the time, money, and effort? Will any of the many seeds that have been planted for Jesus bring forth fruit?” Many times, I have pondered a comment from another brother, “The only way you are guaranteed to not have a harvest is to not sow seeds!”
In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Ecclesiastes 11:6
Housing in Minneapolis is quite expensive. It is our largest expense! Currently we are renting a 4 bedroom and a 2 bedroom apartment to house our volunteers. We are also renting a small house that we call the TeaHouse where we teach some of the English classes. All together it is costing almost $6,000 per month.
We need another house for a couple that is planning to come as administrator in January which will raise our monthly rent to around $8,000!
We would like to purchase a property that could fill all of our current needs at one location. This would reduce the mileage, cutting fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
We estimate a building/apartment complex that would meet this need to cost us at least $600,000. As a new organization, we are not comfortable going deeply in debt and are starting a building fund for this need.
If you feel the Lord’s leading to help with this need please note your contribution for “building fund”.
If you are interested in serving, or would like more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have immediate need for churches that are willing to open their homes and lives to helping Ukrainian families to get out of bad situations in their home country and resettle here in America. We have a waiting list of families wanting to come but are waiting on sponsors to make this possible. There have been families brought over to America through this program and it is very doable!
If you are interested in this great opportunity, please contact Kevin Weaver and he can answer questions and even put you in contact with churches that are currently hosting Ukrainian families.