Missions Update Blog

Newsletter from Brandon and Melinda Dockum – June 2018


JUNE 2018


In what has felt like a rather natural progression, we’ve phased into full time development of the discipleship work that as a team we’re pioneering. We are very grateful for the time for adjustment and language/culture development, something that will remain an ongoing growing edge during our time here. In the middle of May, we had the privilege of hosting and working with Mark and Martha Hendrickson in what resulted in a very productive week. We are grateful to them, for your prayers, and to God for leading us. The certificate experience is targeted to begin September 21, though there’s a lot to do in preparation. Below see our provisional new logo for the discipleship certificate! Our local pastor is in the process of narrowing down potential participants.

What meaningful, challenging, and fun work this is! 


While I, Brandon, have gotten to substitute teach some doctrinal basics for the Pastor’s discipleship class, it’s felt like I’ve actually been the one with the most to learn. Not only is my sense of humor culturally different like I’ve mentioned in the past, but also the way I teach. At the end of Tuesday night’s lesson, I made sure to make room for my usual series of reflection questions including, “What impacted you the most? Which concept is still fuzzy? And so on.

Unlike in seminary classes, however, I found myself facing blank looks and then trying to restate each of the questions in 3 or 4 different ways. When one participant finally understood the last question, she blurted out, “the fuzziest part without a doubt are these questions of yours!” 

I need God’s help to adapt and enter into this different mentality while also gently stimulating critical/independent thinking.


Even in the little teaching that Brandon has done, there’s a couple around 40 years old who seem to soak it up like a sponge. Their teenage daughter developed terminal brain cancer, that miraculously has been cleared (but not without lasting effects). Their hearts are soft. Two weeks after the first time teaching, the Dad said to another person, “I had never really understood that salvation isn’t just for when I die, but rather is something that starts now. I’ve been a Christian a long time and never got that.”
3 weeks later about Baptism his wife shared, “There’s a lot of things in life where you just kind of do it and don’t really understand why, where it comes from, or what it means. I learned a lot tonight. Thank you!”


Wednesday, May 16th marked a sudden change in the weather here: Every single day since then, after a morning of mounting levels of humidity and insect activity, a thunderstorm finally breaks the tension around 1pm.


We are thankful to have a God who shepherds. The Lord knows what sheep need and how to satisfy – pasture, quiet waters, good paths, and especially God’s own presence. The same is true for us, including finances. It’s been amazing to see God provide for us through such a great team. Thank you!
Probably the biggest budget-related news item that we should share with you is that the Visa process has been $2500 more than expected. Rather than about $3000, as we thought, it’s actually cost over $5500.  The previous fee that we had understood as a deposit in case the government needed to deport us, was actually just a paperwork processing fee. That being said, we invite you to consider being a part of meeting that $2500 one-time need for this stage of moving here with the mission of joining with God in igniting a movement of communities becoming full-fledged, useful, and powerful agents of good, just like Jesus. PRESS HERE TO GIVE
Early Tuesday morning we got up and had to keep casting our cares upon Him, for we were anxious about our third meeting with the government official trying to get registered for the socialized medicine system – one of the final steps to obtaining residency status here. We meticulously prepared paperwork while lots of people prayed. Previously at a house visit, this government official asked about where our finances come from. Pointing to your pictures hanging on our wall, we had the opportunity to explain that our income comes from an amazing team of people who volunteer their money, interest, prayers, and concern out of love for God and what God wants to do in the lives of people in this country and region. So over the course of our 90 minute meeting the following Tuesday, we got to resume the conversation about the work we’re developing and the need for discipleship amidst a disintegrating society.

We ended up with an incredible answer to prayer, as the personable, responsive and understanding official gave us a great result! Celebrate with us!! 


  • Praise God for our new babysitter (pictured below)!!! She is a believer, enjoys the girls, and is less rigid in her approach. The girls love her! What a huge answer to prayer!
  • Praise God for a great outcome with the government office, and we are on the final steps for getting our family’s visa to legally reside here!
  • Continue to pray for wisdom, energy, and our close connection with God as we collaboratively design the Discipleship Certificate.
  • Praise God the children & Brandon have not been sick! Thank you for praying for them.
  • Please pray for Melinda’s health. For close to 2 months she’s been experiencing some kind of allergy related eczema, and is itchy all over. A couple rounds of oral steroids gave relief, but is not a long term solution. The irritant is difficult to nail down but seems to be environmental. Pray for us to listen God and what Melinda’s body is telling us, and address factors like environment, stress, irritants, foods, etc. Please pray for complete healing.   
The girls with our new babysitter
Become a Discipleship Partner


Don’t be a stranger!


We’d love to connect via email or Facebook.

 To call or text, we recommend using WhatsApp:

Brandon: +506.8680.6431
Melinda: +506.8680.6459 

Connect via Facebook
Explore Discipleship Reimagined Website
With much love,
Brandon, Melinda & the Little Ones
Envisioning communities of Latin Americans becoming full grown, useful, and powerful agents of good – just like Jesus.


Update from Warren and Carol Cheek – June 2018

Greetings from LaGrange, Wyoming!

Carol and I are praying for you.

Thanks so much for your ongoing prayers and the financial gifts you send to UIM for our ministry assignment as the International Representatives for UIM and the partnership with Frontier School of the Bible.  

May 19-26 we took a week of vacation and visited Silas and Amanda, Emma, Isaac and Isabella.  Amanda’s Mom, Kim, was also visiting them and we were able be with Emma for her 5th birthday celebration!

We are enjoying being home for a few weeks and preparing for a summer of ministry travel.  

We need your prayers for safety, strength, wisdom, discernment, and understanding as we interact with many people.

June 16-23 – Whispering Winds Bible Camp – Camp Pastor for Teen Wilderness Camp (Warren); with family in Colorado (Carol).

June 28 – August 3 – Five week ministry trip in our motor home.  We are really looking forward to visiting the 1st Nations churches and communities and UIM missionaries in British Columbia.

August 19 – December 13 – Fall semester for Frontier School of the Bible: Representing FSB in local churches, mentoring students, teaching Introduction to Christian Education (Warren), overseeing all the students in their Christian Ministry Assignments (Warren with the help of another faculty member and a FSB intern), meeting with a men’s prayer group (Warren), and serving a keynote speaker for the October 21-26 Missions Conference (Warren).

In Christ’s grace,

Warren and Carol


Update from Rich and Merja Duke – June 2018

Dear Friends,
As our ministry is all about touching the lives of people God puts us in contact with, with the Good News of Jesus, and since it is the middle of Ramadan (the Mus$im month of fasting), we want to feature several Mu$lims that are dear to our hearts. Will you join us in praying for these dear ones?  These people are entrapped by cultural and religious baggage and there is a spiritual war raging  for their souls!
Abbas – A middle-aged man from Iraq I met while substitute teaching in a class. He has regularly attended our Bible study for the past two years and asks questions about what a real Christian is. He meets regularly with one of our volunteers and has come to know a number of other Christians in our community.
Abida – From Morocco. She has shown great interest in the Bible when she has attended our Bible studies. Abida is a serious seeker. She is in nursing school and recently had a baby and as a result is very busy and we don’t see her as often. We stay in regular contact via text and email. 
Jugurta – A Berber man from Algeria. He attended our Bible study and other events regularly until he opened his own restaurant in Denver. He is proud of his Berber heritage and prefers to speak Berber, French or English over Arabic; knowing that the Arabic language, culture and religion were forced upon his people. Paradoxically he still defends Islam but shows interest in learning from the Bible.
Adila – She is a friend of Jugurta  and also Berber from Algeria. We have been able to assist her in many ways and have a strong friendship with her. She recently moved to New York City but has found it hard to fit in and find community even among her own people. We are trying to find Christians to connect her with as well as audio scriptures in her dialect of the Berber language. 
Khalid – From Egypt – I have had him in my classes at two different language schools. I have also run into him on occasion as he was on his way to the mosque he prays at. He is a devout Mu$lim and incredibly friendly.
Amir – From Iran – He is a new Christian who attends our Bible study and church. He is hungry for the word of God, for fellowship and has a desire to grow deeper in his relationship with God. He talks of wanting to plant churches in Iran. 
Ahmed  – One of the many Libyans we know. We have known Ahmed for more than 5 years. One of the first things he told us was that he wanted to read and study the Bible. We gave him a bilingual Arabic/English Bible and he attended our Bible study regularly for over a year. We continue to meet with him but he is having a hard time letting go of I$lam as he comes from a devout Mu$lim family.  
We could list many others that we know, have shared Jesus with and given Bibles to. We trust that God is at work in the hearts of these people as they are confronted with the truth of Jesus and the message He has for them. It is such a struggle for them to admit the truth that I$lam is false and Jesus is the true way to find life and peace.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Rich and Merja Duke


Newsletter from Anna Foster – May 2018

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits… Psalm 68:19a
Here are a few:
My birthday is May 13. I was due on Mother’s Day (May 12) in 1946 but was a day late. It was always
really special for my mom when my birthday fell on Mother’s Day. Ever since she died (July 2011), I have
dreaded it when my birthday falls on Mother’s Day. The first year after her death (2012) my birthday
was on Mother’s Day and I had dreaded it for months. At that time I was attending an English speaking
church in Santa Cruz because it was only a 5 minute walk from where I lived. They always have a special
program for Mother’s Day. I didn’t want to sit there and cry through the whole thing so had decided not
to go to church that Sunday. I planned to stay home and have a pity party. As I was sitting at my kitchen
table eating breakfast and reading my Bible, my phone rang. It was Delma, one of my spiritual
daughters, calling from Spain to wish me a Happy Birthday and Happy Mother’s Day. God completely
changed my sorrow to rejoicing. As I cried over the phone, I thanked Delma over and over for calling and
told her how special it was to me that she had called. I’m continually amazed at God’s attention to
seemingly insignificant details in my life.
Once again, this year, my birthday fell on American Mother’s Day (in Bolivia it’s a different date). I had
been dreading it ever since I got my new 2018 calendar last year. But, once again, God knew exactly
what I needed. On May 7, Eliana, another very close Bolivian friend, sent me a special invitation to
attend her church on Sunday, May 13 (she did not know it was American Mother’s Day, nor did she
remember it was my birthday). Eliana, a graduate of our missionary training center here in Bolivia, has
been working in the Guarayo tribe for almost 2 years. During part of that time she was carrying on a long
distance courtship with Israel, a young man she met in a church she had attended during part of her
missionary training here in Etnos. Israel is a graduate of the Word of Life Seminary in Argentina and was
on a mission trip to Honduras when they started corresponding. They were married in La Paz (Bolivia),
Eliana’s home town, in January of this year. In February they, as a couple, moved to the Guarayo work to
continue in the ministry where Eliana was already working. On Sunday, May 13, they were officially
commissioned and sent out by his church here in Santa Cruz. What a great privilege to be included in
their commissioning service.
Since coming to Etnos, our missionary training center, to work, I have not been able to find a church I
really feel at home in, though I have attended several different ones. I felt so comfortable and at home
in Eliana and Israel’s church that I plan to go back there this coming Sunday.
I wish I could share some of the other special blessings God has showered me with recently, but I think
I’d better quit here for now and thank you for praying so faithfully, for your financial help, emails,
Facebook messages, etc. The post office here is still not open but I’m hearing rumors that they’re
working on reopening it. There were some questions about whether that affects financial help you send
for me to Sanford. No, it doesn’t. My mission’s financial office deposits whatever arrives for me monthly
in my U.S. bank and I draw it out down here. The only thing it affects is letters, cards and packages that
are sent through the post office to Bolivia.
Thankful for the many blessings He has bestowed,
May 2018


Newsletter from Brandon and Melinda Dockum – May 2018


MAY 2018

Did you all hear the news? A few years ago the terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, was thrown into the ocean.

Many wagged their heads up and down.

It’s that deep down he was actually a good person.

Silence. Blank faces. A few long seconds pass, before I clarify.

It’s a joke. But related to our topic tonight. 

Everyone laughs. But I couldn’t tell if it was funny because

  1. they had missed the joke or
  2. they were just now getting the joke or
  3.  I thought it was a funny joke (perceiving me to have an odd sense of humor) or
  4. they were surprised that I should even attempt a joke in such a hitherto serious setting.

Having shadowed him for 6 weeks, I had the pastor me to teach through his next lesson on the fundamentals of discipleship to a group of about 14 married adults.

It dealt with life after conversion. Pretty broad, but one thing we explored was how salvation is not really an event (like a ticket or passport to heaven) but a life, an eternal one (not as in a life in the future when you die, but an unending one). 

And pretty much the only definition of eternal life in the Bible is found in John 17:3 – an interactive, living relationship with God. And so the Christian life could be reduced down to a couple of words: trust Jesus. For everything. Not just when you die, but also while living. Trusting – living in confidence in – Jesus is the same thing as being his disciple.

The biggest leg of our visa paperwork came back. Gracias a Dios! But with it came a bunch more hoops to jump through. In “pillow talk” time with Melinda I confessed to her that I felt pretty anxious – feeling like I need to try to get these next steps out of the way as soon as possible, and I couldn’t rest without knowing that I had the next step in motion.

With a gentle smirk she responded, “I know. I can tell.”

So I paid the immigration lawyer the rest of her fees and the government of Costa Rica a “deposit” equal to a one- way ticket to deport each of us. Then I made plans to go to the government’s socialized pension office to register. Their phones never answered so I head downtown, hoping to get the “big interview” over with, the one where they determine your required monthly payment for the rest of your life.

Two well organized folders in hand, I walk 10 blocks and enter a drab building that looks like it once got bombed out. It takes 20 minutes to get to the window, where I discover that I needed to have an appointment. But it wasn’t a waste because I needed to stand in line in person anyway just to request said future appointment. Ours will be a month out. Adding my name to the appointments schedule takes 25 minutes, and to my frustration, I discover that I would have been missing a key document anyway – one where a “patron” (sugardaddy) signs on the dotted line to be responsible to make the monthly payments for me (presumably if I fail).

I sat there for the remaining 20 minutes discouraged and trying to make sense of the new requirement and racking my brain for who might possibly want to sign something like that for me. I returned home sick (see prayer requests below), tired and discouraged.

5 days later, after emerging from all of us being sick, I found out that someone from the church works for that very government office, and together we figured out that all I probably will need is another letter from our mission organization.


At that moment my heart was convicted as Jesus calmly was teaching me that whether or not I worried about it, as long as I take appropriate action steps, I would have figured out the same thing. I not only need to – but I have the opportunity to – trust him (and CHILL).


We’ve really struggled with health this month. After trying out a daycare a couple of times, our kids developed another strain of hand, foot and mouth disease. Our 16 month old stopped eating or even nursing for 72 hours (think throat pain and mouth sores on top of fever and malaise), and we were genuinely concerned about dehydration. But thankfully at key moments she had enough minimal intake and then she got better and she’s her normal playful self again.
Trying out a daycare                                                                                                                                               Sisters


  • Costa Rica selected the liberal presidential candidate, Carlos Alvarado, much to the disappointment of many of our evangelical brothers and sisters. In any case, pray for wisdom for President Alvarado, and for the Costa Rican Jesus-followers to wisely navigate the current and coming social and government systems. Pray for us with our visa paperwork too.
  • Praise God for our missionary parents, Ted and Juli, who check in on us and encourage us. Praise God for a couple of outings with another single missionary, which proved to be rejuvenating and encouraging for us and our girls.
  • Continue to pray for wisdom, energy, and our close connection with God as we collaboratively design the Discipleship Certificate.
  • We tried a Costa Rican daycare close by that came recommended by our neighbors. After a handful of trials, we’ve decided against enrolling them, due to  too many kids per adult and too much screen time with poor choice of shows. The other quality daycares are full and have a waiting list, since we missed the enrollment at the end of last year. Please pray for us as we continue to look for a good childcare option for our girls at least a couple of times a week.
Become a Discipleship Partner


Don’t be a stranger!


We’d love to connect via email or Facebook.

 To call or text, we recommend using WhatsApp:

Brandon: +506.8680.6431
Melinda: +506.8680.6459 

Connect via Facebook
Explore Discipleship Reimagined Website
With much love,
Brandon, Melinda & the Little Ones


Update from Alton Cothron – May 2018


                                                                                                                                                May 1, 2018

Dear Friends at EBC:

   What can we expect? Is it supposed to be like this? Ok, now you are wondering what am I talking about. Well, Paul, in his second epistle,  told Timothy, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Remember Timothy was not a bench warmer but an active missionary. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (4:12-13) he describes his own experiences as an apostle: “Working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world.” The history of missions is well marked with the lives of scores if not hundreds of men and women who have experienced all the above as they preached the message of salvation. Adoniram Judson was imprisoned in Burma in the early 1800’s, today, Christians and church leaders in many Asiatic and middle east countries are in prisons or living under stringent restrictions and threats because of their faith in Christ.

   I write these words as a reminder of who we are and as a challenge to prayer and renewed consecration to the task God has given us. Doors or opportunities for evangelism that are open today may suddenly close tomorrow…..who knows?

   The last couple of months have kept me and Beatriz, my daughter, busy with respiratory issues. Beatriz ended up in the hospital for four days doing exams and treatment. I have had a CT scan and taken two rounds of anti-biotics plus other measures to try and get rid of a very stubborn cough and congestion. We are both doing better, thank the Lord. Now we are into the spring pollen season which is bad some days.

    Satan is alive and well….unfortunately.  News from one tribal group, needing prayer, is that one Christian Indian about ready to be ordained as an elder, is experiencing some marital problems. Please pray this will be resolved soon and satisfactorily for God´s glory. Another group of Indians has been doing a chronological Bible study but have yet to take the step of placing their trust in Christ. These are the times when you and I may make the difference.

    I am so truly grateful for your prayers, dearly needed, and for your financial support.

                                                                        By His Grace,

                                                                        Alton Cothron