Monday, October 8, 2007

Should We Put Our Family At Risk For God?

Since we began sharing with people of our plans to serve the Lord in Ethiopia we have had a reacurring question related to the safety of our family. The question comes in a variety of forms such as, "Is it safe to live there?" "To what kind of diseases will you be exposed?" "What is the political situation like?" "Are Christians persecuted there?" "Will there be good medical facilities?" "Are you taking your children with you?" etc. These kinds of questions are very understandable and we have asked all of them ourselves. They basically all relate to the question of risk. To put it plainly, many people wonder, "Is it right to put your family at risk for the sake of the ministry?" Some would answer, "NO" and others "YES." We have had to wrestle with this a lot and it has not been easy.

Since this is such a common question, we thought it would be good to share some things that we have learned about taking risks. By the way, I think all of these things came from a couple of sermons that John Piper preached on Risk and the Cause of God and his book entitled, "Don't Waste Your Life." (see links below)
  • All of life is risk because we do not know how things will turn out. God does not intend for us to know what will happen tomorrow or the next day or the next moment. If we always knew there would be no need for faith in God (Consider James 4:13-15).
  • God takes no risks because he knows all things and can accomplish all that he sets out to accomplish. Since He takes no risks we are able to put our lives completely in His capable hands and know that our security lies with Him alone.
  • We live under a Myth of Security thinking that we are completely safe in some situations and completely unsafe in others. But in every part of life we face unknowns and things that are out of control. We all take a risk driving our cars everyday and we never think twice about it. Piper says that "the tragedy is that in the deceptive enchantment of security (where we take risks for ourselves everyday without knowing it!) we are paralyzed to take any risks for the cause of God, because we are deluded and think it may jeopardize a security which in fact does not even exist."
  • God often calls His people to take risks for the sake of the spread of His Kingdom (Consider the following examples--Esther 4:13-16; Daniel 3; Paul's Whole Life). By the way, the disciples were told in Luke 21:16 that some of them would die for their faith. History tells us that all but John were martyred for their faith. Have you considered that most if not all of these were men with families (see 1 Cor. 9:5)? Was it wise for Jesus to call these disciples to a ministry that would get them killed when that could put their family's wellbeing in danger. Jesus knew how He would take care of their families, but they probably didn't. For them it was risk.
  • If all the missionaries who have brought the Gospel to risky places had not done so because it was too risky many of the unreached people groups around the world would not be reached today. Just think about all the stories you have heard about missionaries and their families who have suffered for the sake of Christ. If you haven't heard any pick up a book like Foxes Book of Martyrs and read it.
  • To be a Christian in the first three centuries was to risk your life. This is still the case for many around the world today. One magazine that we have really benefited from is Voice of the Martyrs which talks about persecuted Christians around the world (check out their website at
We would really encourage you to read and/or listen to the two messages below. THEY ARE NOT ONLY FOR MISSIONARIES GOING TO FOREIGN LANDS. You will see that they apply to each and every follower of Christ. We pray that you too will be challenged and encouraged to give more of your life away to Jesus to be used in any way He desires. When we follow Him wherever He leads, we simply cannot fail. God calls us to radical discipleship, but he also promises radical blessings. As William Carey, the founder of the modern mission movement, said, "Expect Great Things for God...Attempt Great Things for God."

You can listen to John Piper preach these sermons or read them by simply clicking on one of the links below (We would definitely encourage you to listen if possible). We would love to talk more about this issue with any who are interested so please email us at We pray that we will all grow in Christ as we consider these things together.

Risk & the Cause of God-Part 1

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ethiopian Herald - Issue 5

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank for taking the time to prayerfully read our latest prayer letter (just click the link below to view it online). We hope it is a blessing to you. By the way, if you haven't seen our ministry video, please take a few minutes to check it out by clicking on "Watch Our Ministry Video" in the column to the left.

May God bless you so that you may be a blessing to others in Christ!

The Mena Family

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Check Out Our Ministry Video

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, we have linked our Ethiopia ministry video to our website. Please take a look at it sometime to find out more information about our ministry. God bless you as you continue to seek and serve Jesus! By the way, it may take a few minutes to load, depending on your connection (Dial up users please be patient).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Christmas Reflections: He Will Save His People From Their Sins

We hope you all had a great, Christ-centered Christmas season and are off to a good start in the New Year. We must say that Christmas is probably one of our favorite times of the year. The colors, family get-togethers, giving and receiving of gifts, special things to eat, more than usual friendliness of strangers, songs about our Lord in nearly every store you go in, etc, etc, etc. It is just a great time of year!

It was a blessing to receive Christmas cards from some of you in December. We hope that you received ours in email. We had planned to send out this newsletter, but we could not pull it off as Steven had a very busy work schedule coupled with many family, church and personal holiday events. Anyhow, we thought you might be bombarded with update letters from various people and the chances of this one getting read would be slimmer.

Although Christmas is over we wanted to encourage you with some thoughts about our Savior that came to our minds as we thought about one of the many passages of Scripture that is emphasized during Christmas. It is found in Matthew 1:21 where an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

We have all, no doubt, heard this passage many times, but have you ever noticed the great implications of this text for missions? Consider the following thoughts with me. First, as many of you know, the name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Yeshua” or Joshua and means “Jehovah is salvation.” Isn’t it amazing that the very name of our Lord tells us something of His gracious mission to save people from their sins? Jesus is the greatest missionary that ever walked the face of the earth. He crossed the greatest cultural, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, linguistic, barriers that could have been imagined. And for what? To live and communicate the great message of the Gospel of grace to His enemies!

Second, Jesus came to save “His people” from their sins. This tells us that the Lord has a people for whom He came to live and die and rise again. And who are these people? Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 tell us that they are people from every tribe, nation, tongue and race. I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited. Think of what this means for missions and evangelism. His plan of salvation will culminate in complete victory. He has people throughout all the world that are just waiting to hear the Gospel that they might believe and be saved (whether they know it yet or not). The work He calls us to do in His name is never in vain though we don’t always see the results we think we should. We plant and water the seeds, but it is God who gathers in His people (1 Cor. 3:6).

So as you go forward in this new year, we want to challenge you to consider the part God wants you to play in the work He is doing in the world to bring people to Himself (and what a privilege this is!). Matt. 9:36 says, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” May our hearts also be moved in the same way.

Highlights from 2006!

This year was a year of NEW THINGS for all of us!

A new baby!!! Sam (4 mo.) has added a new joy and dynamic to our family. The boys just adore him and love to smother him with kisses and hugs continually. Zack keeps asking when I’m going to have another baby! Apparently 2 babies just aren’t enough :) Sam is a sweet and happy baby, full of smiles and is now rolling over!

Steven has developed a new talent—juggling! That’s right...he’s now juggling the responsibilities of running his own cabinetry business, working part-time on Ministry Partner Discovery, being a husband and daddy, and serving in the church. He’s looking forward to getting to Ethiopia and having a more centralized focus.

Jenny has entered a new decade and a new dimension of motherhood. She hit the big 30 (the same day Ben hit the big 1! It was a fun celebration.) and is now the mother of 4 boys, age 5 and under! She keeps busy changing diapers, home-schooling, learning about herbs and nutrition, reading while she nurses and just enjoying being at home with her boys.

Jake (6 in Feb.) has learned new skills this year as he began 1ST GRADE! He is reading!...and he loves it. He also loves anything which requires his creativity– especially making crafts, drawing, and experimenting/exploring in the backyard. He loves Jesus and is often heard making up songs of praise to God and singing them as he works around the house.

Zack (4) has a new depth to his prayers this year! He says, “I love you so much Jesus and I wish that I could be up in heaven with you right now, but I can’t.” He is so cute and such a sweetie. He is doing school with me and Jake and is really good at puzzles and coloring in the lines. He especially loves playing with Ben, kissing Sam, slumber parties with Jake and being a little jokester. He keeps us all laughing.

Ben (17 mos) has experienced a whole new world this year– from learning to crawl, then walk, run and talk (his own kind of language that is)! Whoops! I almost forgot, wrestle! He gets right in there with his brothers as they tackle Daddy during “play with Daddy time.” Ben has an exuberant personality, adding such fun and laughter to our home.

Pray for Peace in the Horn of Africa

In our last issue we asked you to pray about tensions that were mounting between Ethiopia and a growing Islamic fundamentalist group that was gaining strength in Ethiopia’s neighboring Somalia. In early December, Ethiopia went to war with the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia in efforts to protect its own national security and to help promote peace in the region. According to Ethiopian officials, they have met most of their objectives of removing Islamists and could be leaving Somalia within a couple of weeks. Of course, the work of establishing a stable Somali government must now be done. Please pray that there would be peace through this process. Pray that there would be a greater openness to the Gospel with the strengthening of the Somali transitional government. Pray for the many Somali refugees who have fled to Ethiopia and Kenya. Pray that God would use this situation to build His Kingdom in ways we could have never expected. For more details see the VOA link on our website.

Support Update/Questions
We are excited to report to you that God is continuing to bring supporters to join with us in our ministry. We are so thankful to all of you who have partnered with us prayerfully & financially. You are such a blessing! For those who are interested here are the monthly giving stats:

We have also received several special gifts for which we are very grateful. Everything we receive right now is critical to getting us to the field more quickly.

If you are reading the email or web version of this prayer letter and would like to begin supporting us you can go to the home page of our website at to find out how. In our Links section on the left side of the page there is a link called “Partner with Us.” Click on it for more instructions.

We praise the Lord for His provision and look expectantly for what He is still going to do.