Windows On Our World

October 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel

     Our October stained glass windows can be found in the women’s restroom adjacent to Fellowship Hall (sorry, gentlemen!)  The first depicts a Lamb in a Manger.  A lamb is symbolic of innocence, purity and sacrifice, and of course our Lord Jesus is named “the Lamb of God” in John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ “ The second window pictures a shepherd’s crook propped next to a door.  The crook was used to safeguard and recover fallen animals.  Thus it has been used as a religious symbol of the Lord’s care for us.  John 10:2 states, “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”  Later in this chapter Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…..if anyone enters by me, he will be saved…..I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” 

      The September “Windows On Our World” article closed with Matthew 28:19, the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, and promised stories in the October issue of some who have gone out from Gashland in obedience to this command.  Of course providing missionary support is a priority of GEPC, both locally and internationally.  We will focus on a few of those individuals who have and are faithfully serving around the world.

      People who have or have had a connection to Gashland are those we ultimately support in their missions/ministries.  Dale Anderson emphasized this, “That’s one of the criteria we use when we get an application for support, is whether they have a connection to Gashland.”  He explained that he knew Dr. Linda Balugo’s father, Dr. Conrado Quemada, in the early 70s when he came to speak at Dale’s church in Brainerd, MN.  After supporting this ministry, and then settling in the KC area, Dale learned that Linda’s Uncle David taught English at Park College, and every time her father, Dr. Quemada, came here to visit his brother, he and Dale would be in contact.  So fostered by the connection with the Andersons, support was offered from GEPC to Linda and her husband, James Balugo, for the Philippine Gospel Association.  Linda now conducts fund raising for PGA in the United States. If you wish to read further about the Balugos’ missionary work, please access the May, 2021, February, 2022 and March, 2023, issues of The Porch.

      A Gashland member missionary, supported by the church since the 1970s, Nancy Morse spent 3 years teaching Spanish in the NKC School District and 5 years as an English teacher in Spain.  She explained, “In February,1975, I was teaching English to foreign students at the University of New Mexico and attending Faith Bible Church where a missions conference was held.”   She was called by God to Bible translation work as she listened to speaker Dick Elkins.  “He and his wife, Betty, were doing language development and Bible translation for the western Bukidnon Manobo people in the Philippines and were on furlough.  As I listened to Dick that morning the thought I had was ‘You are going to do what he does.’ “.  After training at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and in Chiapas, Mexico, from 1975-77, she was commissioned to full-time missionary service by Gashland’s pastor, Paul Votaw.  She has worked in Colombia, Peru and Equatorial Guinea-Cameroon.  While in Colombia Ms. Morse translated scripture into the Cubeo language.  A copy of the Cubeo language New Testament can be seen in a glass-covered case to the left of the doors leading into the Chapel.  Nancy, who is now working with a team of native translators who are translating the Bible into various Indian languages in Venezuela, clarified, “I continue to serve full-time as a translation consultant, from 2000 to the present.  I was a linguist-translator in Colombia 1977-1997, and was National Training Coordinator in Colombia 1997-1999.”  Nancy added, “Perhaps I should explain what a translation consultant does. It’s the quality-control aspect of the process. The thousands of Bible translations being carried out by dozens of organizations cannot be released for public use (printed or audio-recorded) until a translation consultant approves every verse for accuracy, clarity and naturalness. The means by which this is done is a computer program called Paratext (Parallel texts) and a back translation from the receptor language translation into a language understood by the translators and the consultants. In my case, English occasionally, almost always Spanish, in which by God’s grace I am fluent, having spoken it for the last 64 years and taught it in the 1960s.”  Nancy Morse’s work has been reported in greater detail in past issues of The Porch, in March, 2021, April, 2022, and most recently in May, 2023.

      Longtime Gashland member, Diane Fry, entered training for the mission field in 1985, and returned home to Kansas City in 2013, after nearly three decades serving around the world.  Chronologically, she began with 5 years in Manila, Philippines, where she worked within women’s ministry and with the youth drama team.  Her next assignment was Izhevsk, Russia, located some distance northeast of Moscow.  During her 3 years in this area she again worked with women’s ministry as well as Bible studies.  She taught English classes to adults as well.  When asked about having freedom to work in that country, she explained that she entered shortly after the doors (borders) opened, “I was able to interpret while in Russia.”  She added that she could communicate in that language on a basic level.

      Regarding her financial support, Miss Fry noted she was supported mainly by Gashland Church and some individual Gashland members, as well as by some other churches.  After leaving Russia, she moved on to Bishkek, Kyrgystan, serving for 7 years.  “It was a former republic of the USSR, and now it’s a country of its own.”  In addition to women’s Bible studies, she taught small business skills and started a cottage industry in handicrafts for women.

      Her next move took her to Amman, Jordan, “I went for 6 months and ended up staying 3 years.  The reason I went to Jordan was I was trying to get a doorway into Iraq.”  While in Jordan she worked to learn Arabic and befriend Iraqi refugees.   

      Ultimately, Diane did make it to Iraq, where she lived for over 4 ½ years, teaching English.  She reported, “Every Friday a group of women would come and have food, fellowship, crafts and a time of sharing the gospel….like through skits….very low-key.  At that time the government didn’t care if we were there, they were just trying to survive.”  When asked about the danger level, she responded that there were bombings and gunshots heard every single day.  “There were only two times I was scared, when the police or some sort of military group came to where we lived.  We were able to keep them from coming in.”  When questioned about safety levels when out in public, she assured, “We rarely went out, but when we did we had to be covered, head to toe.”  She said her co-worker was dark-haired, dark-eyed, and safer because of her appearance.  But blue-eyed, blond Diane….well not so much so!

       Gashland Evangelical Presbyterian Church supports many other missionaries as well.  Check monthly articles in “The Porch” regarding activities we support in various mission fields, both international and local.