Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Transition, Celebration and Ministry


I don't know about you, but it's hard for us to believe that another year is almost gone.  Perhaps, the older you get, the faster time actually goes - at least it seems that way.


Karl started 2012 transitioning to being the full-time Justice Pastor at Mission Community Church. MISSION is a growing church in Gilbert, Arizona that has a vision to "do Justice, love Mercy and walk Humbly".  We have known Mark Connelly, the Senior Pastor since 2007 when Karl took a group of pastors to Malawi and South Africa. That trip introduced MISSION to Somebody Cares Malawi and we have been in relationship since.  Karl is still on retainer with Visionledd as the transition to new leadership in the USA begins to unfold.  We anticipate that this transition will be complete by the middle of 2013.

In the meantime, Debbie continued to lead and participate in short-term teams for both MISSION and Visionledd. Throughout this year she has had a greater role in being a pastor and friend to the women leading or working in our partner ministries around the globe.  Those of you who know Debbie, know she does a brilliant job at this.


In June, we spent a couple of weeks in Canada celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Karl's parents.  Donovan and Hyesun were able to join us for part of our time in Canada.  We are so grateful for the example of good marriages that both sets of our parents have provided for us.  We realize that in today's world - long marriages are not the norm - and having stable families make all the difference in the world.

The 60th Wedding Anniversary Picture
We had a wonderful time together in Edmonton and in Radium Hot Springs in the Canadian Rockies.  Being in the mountains and where it is green is soothing to the soul.

On The Road Again 

At the end of last year we felt that we needed to do less international travel in 2012 - AND - we managed to accomplish that.  Instead of doing over 175,000 miles between the two of us in 2011 - we only got in about 100,000 in 2012! Three of our trips in particular were of significance.


In February and again in December we spent time with Homes of Hope (HOH) in Fiji. Homes of Hope operates residential and community-based programs that rescue, restore and reintegrate women and their children, to give them value and stop the cycles of forced sex. HOH has a growing focus on community-based work - and two of our partners - Somebody Cares in Malawi and Dr. Hugo Gomez of Global CHE Enterprises in Guatemala are some of the leading practitioners of this approach to ministry.  

In February we were able to facilitate and participate in the visit of Chief Theresa Malila from Somebody Cares to HOH.  She came as an African chief and spent some very significant time speaking to Fijian chiefs about their responsibility to protect the women and children in their villages. Because Fijians believe that East Africans settled the islands about 3,500 years ago - her visit took on special significance.  We were also able to spend time with the staff and leaders of Homes of Hope to think and pray through the implications of HOH becoming more community-based in their ministry approach. It was a very important week.

Chief Theresa, Karl & Debbie and Linda Rinzel with HOH Staff
Chief Theresa, Karl & Debbie Mueller, HOH Staff and Provincial Chiefs, Pastors and Leaders

Building on the foundation of the February trip, Debbie and I accompanied Dr. Hugo Gomez from Guatemala to HOH in December.  Dr. Hugo conducted a 30+ hour CHE (Community Health Evangelism), Training of Trainers Workshop for the HOH leadership and staff.  Once again this was a significant time in the life of HOH, as we spent a whole week learning about and discussing community-based ministry.

Dr. Hugo with some of the HOH Staff who participated in the workshop

It was such a privilege to facilitate these two trips that enabled our partners from Malawi, Guatemala and Fiji to learn from each other.  This is something new that God is doing.  The Great Commission is "from everywhere to everywhere" - and it was wonderful being part of seeing that happen in Fiji.


In September we were able to be part of a small consultation of African leaders from 5 nations involved in community-transformation.  Hosted by Somebody Cares, this was a week where Africans could learn from other Africans and discover what God is doing to change the continent.  Debbie and I were privileged to be part of this gathering because we have been partnering with Somebody Cares since 2005 and because MISSION has been working alongside Somebody Cares in the community of Chikudzulire since 2007. God has done some amazing things in Chikudzulire and in other communities served by Somebody Cares, and it was wonderful to be part of sharing that story with our African friends. 

Chief Theresa & Debbie with the women leaders at the Consultation
At the beginning of the consultation we all introduced ourselves and shared what we do.  Debbie simply said that one of the things she comes to do in Africa is to be "a friend".  After that meeting, one of the women leaders from Zambia, who cares for 4,000 orphans and vulnerable children came to me with tears in her eyes and told me how much what Debbie said meant to her.  She said;

"I've been working with children for 20 years.  I've had scores of westerners come to Zambia and tell me what I've done wrong, criticize me, and try to tell me what to do.  NEVER has anyone said to me - I want to be your friend". 

Once again I was reminded of the fact that what we "do" doesn't matter half as much as who we "are".  Simply being a friend can make a huge difference.


We are looking forward to the coming year.  We don't have any international travel scheduled for the first few months - but we do get to go to Alaska in February!  Karl has been invited to speak at a Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class in Anchorage, and we are looking forward to spending a couple of extra days enjoying the mountains, the snow and the cold.   

As we have been thinking and praying about 2013 we are filled with expectation that the Lord is going to do some new things in our lives and in our ministry.  We "see as in a mirror dimly" but we know He only has good in store for us in the months ahead.

Debbie and I want to wish you a wonderful 2013 filled with the blessing of the Lord in every aspect of your life.

We so appreciate your friendship, your prayer and your support.  We become more and more aware each year how the real wealth we have here on earth is in relationships with dear friends and family like you.  Many blessings on each of you.

Karl and Debbie

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Nice to Be Home!


We hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and that you enjoyed the holidays.

We ended 2011 with an American-Canadian-German-
Korean Christmas. Karl's parents came from Canada for the holidays, and Hyesun's family came from South Korea. So, on Christmas Eve we enjoyed Bulgogi from Korea, a German recipe of herring in a cream sauce over boiled potatoes, and I'm sure there was some Canadian/American food in there as well. Then, we took our family Christmas picture.

A good time was had by all!


2011 was one of the busiest ministry years of our life. Between Debbie and I we logged over 175,000 miles in the air and on the ground. By the time our travels came to an end, we felt like this:


We are so thrilled that we have once again been able to become part of what God is doing through Dr. Hugo Gomez and Community Health Evangelism (CHE) in Meso-America - and particularly Guatemala. It has been 7 years since we were last there, and this year we've both been able to go back twice! In November, Debbie led a team of 11 women from Mission Community Church to work among the women of two villages in the mountains of Western Guatemala. They had a wonderful time of sharing life and ministry with the women of Chicoz and Chirammos.

With Karl being on the Board of Directors of Global CHE Enterprises, and Mission Community Church being in partnership with Dr. Hugo - we know that we'll be back again partnering with the Mam and Quiche peoples.

Malawi and Fiji

Debbie spent more than 12 weeks in Malawi and South Africa this year - facilitating and leading teams from Visionledd and Mission Community Church and being part of the staff of Somebody Cares. Karl was in Malawi 3 times. Our trip in September was of particular significance.

Missions is no longer from the "north to the south" or from the wealthy nations to the poorer nations -- it is now from everywhere to everywhere. T
he church is truly global, and Christians from different parts of the world have much to learn from each other. God is bringing the church together in new ways in order to see individuals and communities transformed.

In September, Debbie and I facilitated
dialogue and discussion between Somebody Cares Malawi and Homes of Hope Fiji to see how these two ministries can learn from each other and support each other. Homes of Hope rescues and restores women and their children who are victims of incest, abuse, rape and trafficking. Somebody Cares in Malawi is increasingly working with women who are victims of similar circumstances. It was wonderful to see how the Lord knit together the hearts of Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares and Lynnie Roche of Homes of Hope and to see open doors for potential future collaboration. It's a new day - a day where the global church works together, prays together and transforms the world together. Here is what our little group looked like in Malawi.

30 Years!

This year we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It's hard to be
lieve we have been married that long. I guess we must be old! It's been a great 30 years. We have been so blessed in our marriage and we are so grateful to God for all He has provided. We have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law - we have friends around the globe, and even after 30 years we still love each other. In fact, we are more bonded together than we have ever been.

Courtesy of lots of frequent flyer miles from Delta, and a great deal we found at a Bed and Breakfast, we were able to spend 10 days in Maui. We really enjoyed the beach, the hikes in the mountains, and just spending time with each other without responsibility. It was wonderful!

Looking Ahead

In the fall of last year Karl was able to go on a retreat for a few days. The focus of the retreat was "Sabbath". It was during that retreat the Lord began to speak to him about 2012 and how we not only needed a Sabbath year, but that we needed to keep a Sabbath regularly. It was clear we needed to simplify our life and ministry. We had become very tired, and the Lord clearly spoke that 2012 needed to become a year of rest - physically, spiritually and emotionally. We needed to spend more time learning, and less on trains, planes and automobiles.

We wondered what that would
practically mean. After a lot of thought and prayer we made a decision that Karl needed to move out of his role as the Executive Director of Visionledd and become the full-time Justice Pastor at Mission Community Church.

We want to be sure that the transition from Visionledd is smooth and that we do all we can to help. We will most likely continue in a much smaller role with Visionledd for the 1st quarter of 2012 as the way forward becomes clear. At the same time Karl will focus the great majority of my time on my role as the Justice Pastor at Mission.

We will continue to be involved with Somebody Cares Malawi, Global CHE Enterprises in Meso-America, and Homes of Hope in Fiji. Building and facilitating partnerships globally and locally will be a big part of our ministry in the days ahead.

Thank you so much for your friendship, prayer and support.

We pray that 2012 will be a year of peace, joy and fulfillment.