Growing and Moving Forward Posted December 14, 2013

His Plan, Our Partner in 2013  
As we move into the new year, I am reminded of the words to a favorite hymn:  “Lead me Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness.  Make Thy way plain before my face.”  This is our prayer.            
It has been too long since we formally updated our partners and for this we apologize.                                                                                                                                                                          
We have had the good fortune to see many of you in person in recent months and to share what’s been happening in our lives. I will try to provide an update without making you read a novelette.                                                                                                                                           
On October 25, our daughter Jessica was married to Ben McCrary in Atlanta. We were able to be with her and Ben, his family and our three sons to celebrate this joyous occasion.  Family from Michigan and Wisconsin were there to share in the union.  It was a small affair as Jess and Ben had desired.                                                                                                    
It is important that you know that NO missionary funds were used for either of our trips to the US.                                                                                                                                               
During our time in the US we were able to accomplish other goals.                                                                                                                                                                                                           We started with a two-day visit to International Teams US headquarters in Elgin, IL. We had decided to change mission agencies some time after arriving in Rome and finding that ITeams was more aligned with the ministry we were called to. This quote from ITeams President Scott Olson sums it up best.  “We’re passionate about delivering an authentic Gospel that fully integrates mission and compassion. Through the years, many traditional mission organizations that have focused primarily on evangelism and discipleship have found themselves at odds with those involved in today’s growing compassion and justice movement. Rooted in Jesus’ own ministry model, we will continue the work that he started in order to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the whole person. We’re passionate about working alongside the oppressed, and not over them. We believe that there is so much we must learn from each other as we work together.” 
We have since completed our transition application and acceptance. We are assigned to Rome and will continue the work already begun with Danielle and the growing team in place in Italy and with leaders in England. One of our goals is to learn more about their on-going ministry with victims of human trafficking. This is an area we have both felt drawn to in the past. With ITeams, we are positioning to work both in Europe and stateside in the future as we gain experience in these specific areas.  We will be attending a week-long training session beginning January 6, 2014, near Chicago.  
We want you to know that all donations sent to GEM up to December 31, 2013, will be transferred to our new organization. There is a protocol in place as change in agencies is not uncommon. All support sent to GEM after that date will be returned to the donor.
As of January 1, 2014, this is the information needed for support partners:
To give online and/or to set up a monthly account visit   Where it asks for person or project type in Mark Edens. I have used it already so I know it works.  If you have any questions, please contact us.  or 478-697-6609 
To give by check, Please make your checks payable to International Teams and include a note stating your donation is for Mark Edens. 
Mail to:
International Teams
Attn: Receipting Dept
411 W River Rd
Elgin, IL  60123                                                                                                                                
While we were in Georgia I was able to connect with and visit the family of one of the refugees we have befriended in Rome. They had not seen Nasim for 25 years, they had heard through sources in Afghanistan that he had made it to Rome.  I was able to share with them a letter and gifts Nasim had sent with me. I also had pictures which they appreciated. We visited for several hours and I was able to learn more about Nasim and the family that he lost in Afghanistan — the real stories of the refugees are heartbreaking. Nasim’s family put together a care package for us to deliver to him.                                                            
The experience left me moved and motivated to continue working with refugees and to learn more about the process of immigration into the US.  Nasim’s uncle and his family came to the US from Afghanistan via Russia. They were sponsored by five churches in Atlanta that worked with the International Rescue Committee. The most difficult requirement is providing a contract guaranteeing a minimum of two years employment. 
I ask for your intercessory prayer for Nasim. His family would like to bring him to the US and he would like to come. He is 32 years old and has already lived a lifetime of pain, yet he smiles and works hard everyday to survive.
Just two weeks after we returned to Rome (in fact, the winter clothing that we had shipped while in the US had not yet arrived) we learned that my sister Mary was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told by two hospitals that there was nothing that could be done for her. So, with heavy hearts, we headed for Upper Michigan to spend some time with her.  On Monday, December 2, she checked into the Mayo Clinic. After several days of testing, they informed her that the type of cancer was misdiagnosed and that they would start chemo therapy as soon as she was strong enough.  (B-cell Lymphoma per Mayo.)  One week later they began chemo and her prognosis at this time is positive. We ask for your prayers for Mary and her family. 

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