International America, Nations Among Us

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Photo from Assemblies of God World Mission Hall of Nations (2017)

The face and sound of America has greatly changed since I was a child. Except for fourth grade Spanish television lessons with Senorita Conchita, and high school French with Madame Gaffie, I’m not sure that I ever heard anyone speaking another language (except at church!). Today, everywhere we go, we hear many languages: Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, Romanian, and many more.

I (Gary) am currently in the States for a couple of weeks to help our daughter Jasmine with some health issues. Our flight to Indianapolis was canceled due to weather, leaving us stuck for the night in Dallas-Fort Worth. We stayed overnight at the Clarion Hotel near the airport.

The next morning, as we were waiting in the lobby for the shuttle, I saw a man who was obviously not American. So I asked him, “Where are you from, brother?” “Côte d’Ivoire,” he responded. That’s Ivory Coast (West Africa) for those who’ve not yet updated their geography. Lori and I spent three years (1984-1986) in Daloa, Côte d’Ivoire, helping to train local pastors. Thirty-three years later, many of them are still pastoring churches or serving as missionaries to other African countries.

Imagine this man’s surprise and mine! He was amazed to find an American who had lived in his home country. I was amazed to find an Ivoirien in Texas. My new friend has been in the States for 19 years and works with the hotel and airport shuttles.

We immediately switched into French. Adding to our surprise, he too had lived in Daloa as his father had been a teacher at a school there. When I spread my arms and said, “Atoooo,” an Ivoirien greeting for old friends who had not seen each other for a long time, he came up and gave me a big hug! He was laughing through the whole conversation. We blessed each other in the name of the Lord.

There are many new faces and voices all around us, some just needing to be recognized and loved as fellow bearers of God’s image and told of the love of Christ who commanded us to make disciples of all “nations” (Greek: ethne, ethnic groups). Today many of those “nations” are in our airports, our superstores, and our neighborhoods, many just waiting for a friendly word and blessing.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for wisdom and God’s direction as we seek to help Jasmine so that the Lord would accomplish His purposes in and through her life.
  • Pray for Lori and our national pastors, Philip and Kiel, as they try to carry my load at Joy Bible Institute during these weeks of my absence.
  • Pray for Jeremy as he finishes high school in Vanuatu with us.
  • Pray that the Lord would send us a young missionary couple trained in Bible and theology.
  • Pray that the Lord would call more national workers in Vanuatu.
  • Pray and consider increasing your monthly support. We are about $2,000 short of our monthly expenses.

Thank you for your partnership in this Great Commission ministry!


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Gary and Lori Ellison have been serving as Assemblies of God missionaries since 1982, training pastors in Africa, Europe, and the South Pacific. Gary serves as the principal of Joy Bible Institute of Vanuatu. In addition to teaching and coordinating various projects, Lori translates Christian literature into Bislama.
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