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December 2016 -January 2017


Beyond the Walls


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Too Old?

By Elizabeth Hodges


Earlier this year, I was asked to participate in a Hanna Project (THP) trip to Kazakhstan. The trip would be a new experience for me, but offered a return to a country that holds a special place in my heart. The team was a blend of men and women, people returning to Central Asia and those who had never been. We even had one member who had never been out of the United States. (I well remember those feelings in 2014.)

The team would be involved with distribution of eyeglasses, putting final structural touches on the physical center, installing new playground equipment, distributing medical kits, and providing encouragement to the workers, orphans, and those recovering from addictions. It was a mammoth task for young, strong, able-bodied persons, however, at 62, I was one of the younger female team members. But God knew who needed to go and serve on this team.


The guys on the team mixed and carried concrete for a driveway and sidewalks. They helped fence the sports ground and assisted in the building of a gazebo. Most team members did some painting at some point during the trip. The days were scorchers—above 106 degrees at times! A cup of cool water given in the name of Jesus took on new meaning for all of us during these days.

The ladies helped with a kids’ day that involved a trip to the zoo and park with 38 youngsters. Each child received a backpack with school supplies. Others helped with distribution of eyeglasses. These two activities yielded over 250 contacts for the leader of this Hope Center. Pray these contacts will open doors to the formation of a church in this village.

One gentleman could not see well at all. Once his eyes had been tested we were told he needed-14 readers, which we did not have. So team members began looking through the collection of prescription glasses sent by one of our churches. A pair of -10 were found and given to the man. His response? “I can see!” I couldn’t help but recall the story of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). One lady, a seamstress, was holding white paper under her work so she could see to sew. Now, she can see well, and will be able to work better. She had tears in her eyes when she thanked us for coming to her village. Perhaps she will become a Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). Each person seen in the eye clinic was offered a copy of the New Testament in their heart language, whether Russian, Kazakh, or Uzbek. Pray the seeds planted will return a rich harvest.


Friendships were also rekindled during this trip. Danny Gasperson and Michael Walker have made over a dozen trips each to Central Asia. Many team members had ministered at the Hope Center on previous trips. The mother of the pastor had washed their clothing in anticipation of their return. Read more about this amazing story from Curt Holland, THP director, in the February-March issue of ONE Magazine.

Students from previous English camps, now grown and serving the Lord, made a special effort to reconnect with team members. One young lady endured a 13-hour train ride to spend eight hours with the team before making the return trip to be home for work on Monday. During the team’s debriefing, Michael said, “You never know the impact you are making on a young life when you obediently serve the Lord.”


And what did these young people request for prayer? That God would raise up another generation of believers. Will you join us in praying for them and for our Central Asian brothers and sisters?

The ladies on the team had the privilege of sharing in two women’s fellowship meetings. The first was in Shymkent. The ladies shared their God-sized dreams and prayer requests. The second was a fellowship meeting of Kazakh women from four of the churches in Almaty. We shared our testimonies, what ministry we were involved in, and prayer requests. Women are women all over the world, with very similar needs.

At the end of the second meeting, one of the ladies told me her daughter spoke English and wondered if she could email me. “Absolutely,” I responded. When I arrived back in the States, an email was waiting. One particular sentence gripped my heart: “I wish to learn more from the Bible about baptism.” Pray for this young lady and her soul’s need.

The Hanna Project offers short-term opportunities for Free Will Baptists to get involved personally in global outreach. You will be changed as you witness first-hand God at work around the world. Too old? Our team does not think so. God put together a team for the work He had for us in Kazakhstan. May our sweat and hard work pave the way for precious people to come to know and serve our Savior.

About the Writer: Elizabeth Hodges is director of Women Nationally Active for Christ: To learn more about The Hanna Project, visit



©2016 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists