Missionary Stories

Bury Your Heart

Exactly a year ago we left the U.S., left family and friends, left a familiar environment and lifestyle, to come to another place and people we knew and loved. In the past year here in Beirut, Lebanon, we have been privileged to enter the world and the hearts of those among whom we are serving in the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches of the Near East (UAECNE) and Haigazian University, thanks to the support of Global Ministries and the Armenian Missionary Association of America. In playing a supporting role in the various tasks we are given, we are helping the churches and institutions continue to be salt and light in the Middle East through worship, education, outreach, children’s and youth ministry, ecumenical cooperation, and much more.

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Born to Be Like A Dream: Spending International Women’s Day with Janna and her family


It was dusk and the smoke of tear gas still hung in the valley like a benign cloud with the occasional whoosh of new rounds streaking the light grey sky. We had finished our late lunch of chicken fettuccine with Nawal and her mother and the lovely Janna.

We came to spend International Women’s Day with three generations of Tamimi women. What better way to celebrate Palestinian women then to spend time with them - cooking, laughing, and even singing and of course talking about what was happening in the village and who was still imprisoned. 17 people were kidnapped, detained, or arrested in the past two weeks including 8 minors. There was great concern that Mohammad who was still recovering from being hit with a rubber bullet in his head would be arrested once they deemed him “healthy enough.” Ahed’s trial was scheduled for Sunday. It seemed we didn’t talk too much about her in case our words might somehow affect the outcome.

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On to Greece…

As many of you know, getting my visa for my upcoming Global Mission Intern (GMI) placement has not been easy. My term in Hungary ended at the close of September 2017, and I have been back in the United States ever since, preparing for my next placement with the Evangelical Church in Greece. During my time in the states, I’ve been itinerating and traveling all over the country to speak with congregations about my work with the Reformed Church in Hungary. So far I’ve spoken at churches in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, and more.

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All That Is Left

The monument at the spot the Prime Minister of Lebanon was assassinated (23 Apr. 2017 - St. George Hotel area, Beirut)

A Lenten Reflection from the Middle East

It is Monday, the first day of Lent in the churches of the East, and here in Beirut it is a dreary and drizzly day. Early this morning, as our taxi made its way through various neighborhoods, traversing one end of the city to the other, clutches of people emerged from the various churches, dressed for work but with a telltale cross on their foreheads, remnants of today’s worship and last year’s palm and olive branches. They are bearing a reminder that what once was green and verdant life is now a blackened sign, a simple advertisement of an approaching and inevitable sorrow.

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Fall In or Let Go of the Nets

Jonah 3:10; Mark 1:14-20

If you become a fish in a trout stream, said his mother,

I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

This is my call story plain and simple. It is also one of the stories in Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s book, The Runaway Bunny which I read to my daughter Colette, religiously alternating with Brown’s other book, Good Night Moon. Both books allow for imaginative add-ons like “Good night dust under my bed”, and “If you become a mouse, I will become a piece of cheese so I can live inside you.” These are the ones I can remember.

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Go get soaked

Sermon preached Jan. 7, 2018 at St Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church, Jerusalem

First Sunday after the Epiphany
Genesis 1.1-5; Psalm 29.1-11; Acts 19.1-7; Mark 1.4-11
Rev Loren McGrail, United Church of Christ / YWCA of Palestine

Don’t mind the mud.
A certain drowning is required as Breath
From above is delivered on the wings of a dove.

The Baptizer’s bargain is this:
There’s no getting right with God.
There’s only getting soaked.

From Ken Sehested, The Baptizer’s Bargain

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We Fools in Christ

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or well-born when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose the low-born, the things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

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Feast of Saint Barbara. Eid al Burbara


According to tradition, Burbara (Barbara in English) was the daughter of the pagan Dioscurus. On discovering that she became a Christian, her father tried to kill her, but she was miraculously transported out of his reach. Dioscurus denounced her to the authorities. Despite being tortured, she refused to denounce her faith. Her father killed her and was immediately struck by lightning and reduced to ashes. As a result of her father's fate, St. Barbara's prayers are especially sought as protection against thunderstorms and fire, and by an extension of this idea she became the patron saint of gunners, miners and firefighters.

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Roots Planted in Wolverhampton

United_Kingdom_Allison_2.pngAfter living in England for about 2 months, I have adjusted very well to my work schedule, made new friends, and know exactly the latest time I can leave the house to catch the train in time!

This is my work schedule so you can get a sense of my daily life.


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Correct Everything that Stands Against Love



    Love. Love God, love neighbor. This is the message this Reformation Sunday; the day we celebrate the founding of our

Protestant faith; the day we remember when religious dogma was challenged and changed.

     Love, God. Love your neighbor. All the law and prophets depend on these two intertwined and entangled commandments.

   “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. It is called the Shema. It builds on the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).

    In addition, Jews are instructed to bind this on their hands and to make it a symbol between their eyes. This is why Jewish people wear them in phylacteries on their foreheads or post them in mezuzahs on their doorposts and repeat them as part their daily worship. Both the Shema and Jesus ask us to love God without qualification---with all that we have and all that we are.

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