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SoThankfulAs we come to the end of 2015, we are thankful to each of you! There have been many blessings this year, but much work needs to be done.

Because of your generosity, lives have been changed. In Rwanda Christophe was able to purchase a car to assist in spreading the High-5 program and to bring reconciliation teaching into several districts of that nation.  Teachers are empowered in how to value and support their students; parents are taught the value and blessings of children; victims and perpetrators are learning to live together as neighbors.

Because of your generosity, leaders in Africa are being encouraged and refreshed. With their spouses, they were brought together for a time to relax, recommit and recharge for their ministries. These Breakthrough associates were given the opportunity to bathe in the teaching and stimulation of other brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Because of your generosity, children in Ivory Coast and Guatemala will now have the opportunity to learn biblical values and character traits as their parents and teachers demonstrate God’s Kingdom intentions through the High-5 Character Values Program.

We stand with the apostle John and say, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Please know that you are an integral part of our work. We would be grateful for your continued support as 2015 comes to a close. Click here to make a year-end gift that will strengthen and encourage these leaders who are offering hope and a future to the broken and needy.

In expectation of the Living Christ,
Gary Edmonds

High5LogoWordsBreakthrough Partners is pleased to be highlighted as the “Non-profit of the Month” by The Green Bean  Coffeehouse and Bakery in the Greenwood area of Seattle. Our High-5 Character Values Program is the focus of our display. It would be great to have you stop by. Located at 8525 Greenwood Ave N., the Green Bean is open from 6am to 7pm. You will have the opportunity to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee, buy a t-shirt or make a donation while there.

In addition, we will sponsor an acoustic night of praise and worship at the Green Bean on Saturday evening April 25th from 7pm to 9pm.  The Exchange (www.theexchangerock.com) will be singing and sharing that night as well as promoting High-5. We would love to see you that evening! Feel free to stay for a few minutes or the whole evening.


You can also find the Green Bean Coffeehouse and Bakery and Breakthrough Partners on Facebook.

Thanks, Green Bean, for your partnership!


Christophe Mbonyingabo,
BTP Partner,
is in the Seattle area.
Born in 1974 to Rwandese parents in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Christophe was the first of seven children. At age twelve, he quit school to help his parents survive the difficulties of living in exile. In the violence following the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 which killed about one million people, Christophe lost his father and several other family members. Returning to Rwanda in 1995, he was shaken by the effects of the genocide, and after hearing many of the shocking stories, he became Christian in 1998. In Rwanda he continued his studies and earned a college degree. With a bright financial future ahead, Christophe couldn’t forget the atrocities and wounds that his nation had endured. God compelled him to begin a ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness, CARSA,* to promote the healing process for those left behind. In addition, to ensure that the next generation of Rwandans will live a different future, he has begun the nationwide High-5 Initiative to bring biblical character values to children, helping them to choose peace and hope over war and despair. Christophe lives in Kigali with his wife Diane and four children.
Open Dialogue on the Healing of a Nation
 with Christophe Mbonyingabo of Rwanda

You are invited to interact with Christophe in an intimate setting and to learn about Rwanda’s past, present and future. Come and be inspired by God’s work in and through this courageous young man.

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014         4:00 pm to 5:30pm
Campbell Nelson Nissan/Volkswagen  24329 Hwy 99, Edmonds, WA 98026

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014          3:00pm to 4:30pm
One Accord  1018 Market Street   Kirkland, WA 98033

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014          3:00pm to 4:30pm
Bickford Ford  3100 Bickford Ave, Snohomish, WA 98290

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014        6:30pm to 8:00pm
Foundation for International Services, Inc.  505 – 5th Ave S, Ste. 101, Edmonds, WA 98020

Thank you to PinkaBella Cupcakes for providing the refreshments for these gatherings

Call (425) 775-3362 for more information

* CARSA – Christian Action for Reconciliation & Social Assistance, a Rwandan Christian non-profit organization, was created to promote healing, forgiveness and reconciliation around the world. It also seeks to address the social needs of the families and communities it serves, fostering cooperation and collaboration with other institutions working for these same causes.

Hear through the words of our partner, David Adrianoff, of the incredible spread of the gospel in Mongolia over the past 20 years.  

In 1993 when David moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, food was limited, the power and heat would shut off unexpectedly and the water was unreliable. And there were only 200 Christians in the whole country. Last month, when David returned for the twentieth anniversary celebration of Joint Christian Services (JCS) International, Ulaanbaatar was modern, full of traffic and bursting with skyscrapers. And there were an estimated 80-100,000 Christians. 

David and Bazarsad at the 20th anniversary celebration of JCS International.

Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is home to nearly half of the country’s 3 million citizens, while the other half live isolated in rural provincial centers. David, the first executive director of JCS, started the consortium of development and church planting agencies in January of ’93 along with six other board members. In the following five years, JCS witnessed and assisted as the gospel spread throughout Mongolia, forming believers into churches, and bringing the total number of Christians in 1997 to 10,000. 

“The church in Mongolia is absolutely exciting,” said David. “It’s governed by itself, not led by outsiders. It’s very unified even though it is so small.” One of the most amazing aspects of the church in Mongolia has been its powerful focus on evangelism. It currently sends missionaries to China, Tibet, Russia, Afghanistan, and many other countries. However, this growing church still faces challenges at home. In a landmass twice the size of Texas with very low population, the church has struggled with how to reach those in rural areas with discipleship and training. Furthermore, those who do come to the capital to learn and train often do not want to return to the rural countryside to lead and pass on their training.

Despite these challenges, the church in Mongolia is strong and united. In a country that has leapt towards modernism and is embracing the changes of globalization, the church has successfully grown, adapted and flourished as well. Please join us in praying for the continued work of JCS and the church in Mongolia to continue to spread the gospel.

This week, we will be hearing from Emilio Cabrera. Emilio studies at Seattle Pacific University and is a first generation immigrant from Mexico. Emilio is a former intern with Breakthrough Partners, and gladly shared with us his insight on the South Seattle community. 

Working as an intern with Los Amigos de Breakthrough Partners was a beautiful and empowering experience. As an intern I would go on Tuesdays and Thursdays to meet with Pastor Keith Tungseth and Silvia Huaynoca. We would meet and talk about the different issues concerning the Latino and immigrant community in the greater Seattle area. In particular, this community faces is housing segregation in South Seattle. We would drive together to South Seattle to see firsthand and experience how we could empower the Latino community and build leaders within this population. Housing segregation and relocation is common for immigrants and especially Latinos in South Seattle. Hence, advocating and making people aware of this issue is an important first step if we truly hope to act and see changes that will benefit both the one helping and the one who is in a difficult situation.

A specific way that I helped advocate for the Latino community was joining in with different church leaders to hear them talk and share their different goals and programs within their specific churches targeting Latino youth and the immigrant population. My personal opinion and insight, as a first generation immigrant from Mexico, was asked and listened to. These church leaders wanted to hear from a brother who has faced similar issues as the people in their congregations in order to identify and connect better with them. The work of reconciliation is not just one way of doing things, from me to you, but is a mutual cycle of learning from one another in order to collaborate and work together. Ministry in this way is a continuous cycle where God is truly the one guiding the direction and movement of each of us.

 I shared with the pastors the story of my connection with Kenny, a white homeless man that I had met my freshman year of college in the streets of downtown Seattle. We sat on the sidewalk and exchanged stories about our lives, and we both prayed for each other. A couple of months later, I found Kenny again in Redmond. He didn’t remember me, but the opportunity to talk and listen from him was given to me again. Ministry works in the same way. We do not have to assume that we are at one spectrum of the reconciliation process. We do not assume that we are bringing peace and order to peoples’ lives, but we accept that God is meeting us there when we engage in conversations and intentional relationships with the other, with someone different from us. 

Hence, identification is essential in working together to build leaders in communities and reconcilers of all nations. But in order to truly know how to do this, we must have a representative of both sides of the picture. We must have one person advocating and sharing their heart from each side of the wall. Diversity within leadership is essential and vital for this work to truly happen. Then, when we are together in this walk, we can both pray for God to shows us the way to go forward and direct our hearts to work together with a same goal and vision in mind. Interning with Breakthrough Partners showed me a lot in this work of leadership building and reconciliation. Most importantly, I learned I have a voice, that each one of us has a voice, and it plays an important role in how we work to move forward together.

Breakthrough Partners is committed to working both globally and in our local community. One of our partners, Keith Tungseth, is on the board of the South Park Information and Resource Center. Breakthrough works with SPIARC to provide English lessons to the community. For more information on SPIARC and their programs, visit their profile here

Last week, we introduced our partner ministry in Rwanda, Hope For Life, and one of its co-founders, Hilliary Anderson. Read that post here. This week, we’ll look deeper into the radical transforming work God is doing in the boys’ home.

Every day in Kigali, 24 boys and their caregivers gather together to read devotions and pray. It sounds simple enough, but each of these boys was formerly living on the streets of Kigali. “It’s been amazing to see them transform from rebellious, rough street kids to be on fire for the Lord,” remarked Hilliary Anderson, the co-founder of Hope For Life. Even more amazing are the Saturday devotions, which are led by boys themselves. “It’s really cool to hear from them what God is doing in their lives,” said Hilliary.

The spiritual transformation of the boys living at HFL is only the beginning of the radical changes taking place. Since taking in 12 street youth in 2008, HFL has grown to house 24 boys and has reintegrated 12 boys back into their homes and families. After reintegration, HFL continues to support them, growing their number of beneficiaries to an astounding 96 people. The breadth of HFL’s ministry is a result of its commitment to creating a holistic program that addresses the root of the problem, why kids go to the street. It was this commitment that directed the ministry’s focus to be the families as well as the boys. HFL has also launched a local street kids program that allows homeless youth a chance to relax, wash their clothes, receive a warm meal, take English lessons, participate in devotions, and be counseled by the HFL staff.

With 24 energetic boys running around, it takes a full team to care for them. HFL has been blessed to see God working to transform the staff almost as much as the boys themselves. “We’ve been investing into our staff spiritually, through devotions and Bible training, so they can help disciple the boys,” explained Hilliary. She has been helping the staff come together despite their differences. “I want them to focus on bringing unity to the tribal tensions they hold. Sometimes they dislike or distrust each other because of the tribe they are from, and we want them to put their identity in Christ, not tribal identity, so Christ can transcend every area of life.” 

What’s next for this incredibly blessed ministry? With God’s direction and guidance, Hilliary hopes someday to replicate what they are doing elsewhere, once they have the financial means and feel a call to a second location. In the meantime, God’s blessing and guidance is evident in the way their ministry is flourishing. Pray that God’s transforming grace will continue to work in the hearts of the boys and staff at Hope For Life.

To learn more about Hope for Life ministry, visit their website here. To donate funds to further the way HFL has been a blessing to street youth and Rwandan families click here.

In 2008, Hilliary Anderson and Megan Swanson were in Rwanda, completing an internship at a church in Kigali with Breakthrough Partners. One day when they were walking home, a five-year-old malnourished street boy came up to them. Hilliary and Megan gave him a loaf of bread, and were soon swarmed with hungry street boys who eagerly shared in the meager loaf. Amazed at the reality in front of them, the two college students supplied the boys with food, clothes, soccer balls, and spent hours with them for the remainder of their time in Rwanda. As they neared the end of their trip, Megan and Hilliary were able to procure financial sponsors for the boys, and found a woman from the local church who promised to watch over them. 

One month after their return to the United States, Megan and Hilliary were distressed to hear that the eleven boys had been arrested simply for being on the streets, and wouldn’t be released until they had a home to move to. Knowing that God was asking them to faithfully make a place for the street boys, Megan, Hilliary and Chantal, a Rwandan woman, set about raising funds and making preparations. In March of 2009, Hope for Life opened in a home with a full time caregiver for 12 boys. Since then, the ministry has continued to thrive and grow. Twenty-four boys are living in the home, and 12 boys have been reconciled to and reintegrated into their families, while continuing to receive support from HFL. Because HFL is dedicated to treating the root causes of poverty, not merely the symptoms, often the boys’ families receive sponsorship in the form of school fees, land purchases, skills trainings, and more.

Hilliary, now the Executive Director of Hope for Life, continues to raise funds in the US for the ministry, while Rwandan staff runs much of the daily operations in Kigali. HFL’s goal is to see these former street children who have been abused and neglected, be reconciled with their families and reintegrated into society, being equipped with the skills to lead a successful life and the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. A visionary, Hilliary has great plans for investing in the boys’ futures. In particular, she would love to see the boys’ education broaden to include vocational training beyond schooling, in order to prepare them for stable careers.

While most businessmen pursue success and upward mobility, Hilliary seeks the opposite. One day, she would love to transfer the position of Executive Director to a Rwandan staff member in order to fully give the work of Rwanda back to the people of Rwanda.


To learn more about Hope for Life ministry, visit their website here. To donate funds to further the way HFL has been a blessing to street youth and Rwandan families click here.

A number of years ago, after speaking about the value of collaboration and partnership at a conference in Ivory Coast, a leader from Cameroun sat down with me to tell his story. Following some 20 minutes of conversation, he told me that his country has a relevant proverb about how to have a successful life. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

There is a myth with multiple iterations that is believed by the masses in the USA. “You can be successful alone.” “Be a lone ranger.” “It all depends on you.” “Be your own person!” “Change comes though individual genius.”

Many organizations and church groups enter into mission contexts seeking to do their own thing. Or they seek to work with one local entity unaware or indifferent to other players and relational networks of the community. The results are devastating. Distrust. Duplication. Dependency. Waste. Failure.

The Dutch consulting company Synergo Ede was asked to evaluate the impact of foreign church groups working with African communities to assess their effectiveness in helping the locals to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS. After several months of research, they came up with a startling finding. When an outside entity works only with one local institution and does not build up the relational networks within the community, “it blows up the community. The situation becomes worse.”

Are you aware of the diverse actors and networks in the communities you enter? Are you strengthening the relational networks of the communities? Are you fostering trust and a spirit of unity between the local leaders and various institutions? Do you want the local residents to go far in their development? Then help them to go together.

Before the early 1970’s, visitors to Yellowstone National Park were enthralled at the opportunity to feed the bears who sat on the side of the road waiting patiently for handouts of food and sugary snacks.  After a busy summer season the Park closed, the cars vanished, and the bears continued to sit, waiting for the snack-bearing visitors who would not come again for several long winter months.  Despite being uniquely created to provide for their own needs, the months of dependency on temporary outside help and empty calories had robbed them of their desire and natural abilities to forage.  With no fat reserves stored up for the winter, they now faced a slow yet relentless foe that their claws and formidable strength had no defense against, starvation.

In our most compassionate responses to the vast needs of our world, particularly as we see the hollow eyes and protracted stomachs of starving children in the evening news or the late night aid or sponsorship appeal, we are driven to help.  We give our money, ship our consumer goods, and build wells; all good things, unless this relentless focus on pain alleviation provides no means for finding a real cure.  Like the park visitors who fed the hungry bears, we can feel really good about our contributions with little to no thought about the long-term consequences of our actions.  Although some catastrophic circumstances do merit immediate aid and relief, very quickly we must turn our best efforts to helping the local community develop sustainable solutions to the crisis in order to prevent a debilitating dependency from becoming established in the people we seek to help.  God has uniquely created these people to thrive in their own environments and we need to help them develop systemic solutions that will meet their own long-term needs without continual outside intervention.

As you consider your own ministry or missional context, ask yourself, “Is our methodology or mechanism of providing aid, social services, or training creating long-term dependency or independence?”  “If we completely pulled out of our current ministry context would the local indigenous people be able to carry on without any future intervention on our part?”  Why or Why not? “What systemic changes might we make to our current approach that will help the indigenous leadership foster creative, sustainable solutions to their own endemic problems?”

Please feel free to respond to these bi-monthly Breakthroughs in Missional Thinking; we need your voice in this ongoing dialogue about how the Christian Church engages in missions in this rapidly changing world and culture.


Mark Mielbrecht

Director of Global Leadership Development




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