Tony, Just What Are You Doing Now?

In this post it is my hope to better explain my new role with Reaching and Teaching International Ministries (RTIM) hopefully to clear up any confusion that friends and supporters may have and to help you pray more effectively.

This post will be a sort of list of FAQs or frequently asked questions that might be in some of your minds.

What is your role with RTIM? My title is “Training Facilitator for Latin America.”FullSizeRender

What are you doing now? My job description with RTIM includes the facilitating of existing RTIM training projects in Latin America as well as the development of new ones as the Lord may lead. It is my responsibility to travel to each site (especially new ones) for the first training project and then to do follow-up visits as much as possible. I am also responsible for developing a database of information for each site to help staff and volunteer teams know exactly what the on-the-ground reality is at each site. Finally, I am expected to travel to promote RTIM stateside among churches, conferences, etc. – especially in those that are Spanish speaking.

Where will you be traveling? RTIM currently has training sites in Brazil, C*ba (not a typo), Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Peru with new sites being considered in these countries as well as countries such as Argentina and Bolivia. As all of these are in Latin America, it is my responsibility to do what I mentioned above in each of them. In addition, I will have the need to travel considerably while I am in the USA.

Are you still a missionary? That is a very good question. In my heart I am still a missionary because since my childhood I have had a burning desire and calling to be a missionary. However, in the strictest sense, I am a servant of missionaries and local churches and pastors on several mission fields as I serve the Lord in the new role to which He has called me. I do not now live in a foreign country. I live in the USA again. However, I am traveling to many foreign countries now on a regular basis. I will let you decide, based on your definition of a missionary, if I am still one. I only know I am where God has called me to be for this time.

What is your relationship with Southern Baptist work? RTIM is currently in strategic partnerships with the IMB and IMB missionaries in places like Brazil and Panama. These partnerships are sure to increase with the current strategy direction of Dr. David Platt and the IMB leadership. RTIM’s director, Dr. David Sills, is professor of missions at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has a long history of and commitment to Southern Baptist life and work as do I.

Is your work slowing down? By no means! If anything, my work and responsibilities have increased dramatically.

Are you still working in Mexico? I am! I still have a heart and burden for Mexico and I am seeking and developing new projects there as well as other parts of Latin America. I used to only work in one part of Mexico. Now the whole country of Mexico and indeed all of Latin America is my mission field.

Have your financial needs decreased? No. The opposite is true. Now that we are living in the states again our living expenses have increased considerably. Plus, as you may imagine, traveling and ministry expenses have increased dramatically. Whereas, I used to travel in one part of one state of Mexico, I am now traveling in the entire Western Hemisphere! As such, my domestic and foreign travel budget alone has increased by $15,000-20,000 per year allowing for 8-10 foreign trips and 5-6 domestic trips per year. I also have a rather urgent need for travel funds as I will be traveling to Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru before the end of May.

What are your needs? As always, above all, I need your prayers. My new responsibility is huge and, to be honest, it feels vastly bigger than I know I am. That is where faith comes in. I serve a God who is far bigger than my responsibilities and abilities. I am always on the search for individuals, churches, associations, etc. who feel the call of God to be involved in strengthening local churches and church planting in Latin America through training pastors and leaders. I hope many of you are praying about this. Beyond these needs, the obvious need is for financial support. I have honestly and accurately shared my travel needs if I am to fulfill my responsibility. Beyond travel expenses, I draw a regular salary from my support funds that is approved by the board of RTIM. That amount has increased as well since we moved back to the states due to increased living expenses. I am currently receiving a salary that is in line with if not somewhat lower than that of the average senior pastor of a Kentucky Baptist Church.

Doesn’t Reaching and Teaching pay your salary now? Reaching and Teaching is my employer and, as such, pays my regular salary each month, but does so out of the funds that I raise – not out of the general fund or an agency payroll account. All RTIM missionaries and staff are required to raise their full support – salary and ministry/travel expenses.

How can we give? Beverly and I are very grateful for the faithful giving of many of you over the past years. We are aware that it is a carefully prayed-through sacrifice on you part as individuals or churches. We need those regular monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual gifts to continue frankly. In addition, I need to fund the travel needs mentioned above. It would be a blessing if you would consider any of the following: monthly or regular support, a one-time special gift, church love offerings, special missions offerings, V.B.S. missions offerings, etc. As you can imagine, it is a soul-searching process on our part to ask for money and we are not in any way ungrateful for anyone’s current giving level. Your giving is a blessing. However, the needs are what they are and, now, hopefully you have a better idea of those needs. You may check out the “Give” section of my blog to know how to send your tax-deductible donation. If you want to give online, follow this link and fill out the form provided. Thank you for anything the Lord may lead you to do to give, pray, or go.

Tony Steele

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A Burden and Plan for Latin America

New Responsibilities

Since I last wrote, I have been in leadership meetings with Reaching and Teaching staff. This week I was given additional responsibilities and a new role which is exciting and humbling. I am now serving as Training Facilitator for Latin America. In this role it will be my responsibility to identify and develop new pastor training projects in all of Latin America and work with other staff to connect partners (churches, missionaries, teams, individuals, etc.) to staff these training projects on short-term missions trips.

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It will also be my responsibility to travel to project sites on the first training project week and do follow-up trips for quality assurance. I also have the responsibility to develop a database on all Latin American projects which give pertinent information for the use of staff, missionaries, and teams on the particulars of each individual site.

As Reaching and Teaching International Ministries continues to grow and be used of God throughout the world, the need for oversight of various aspects of the ministry are needed. I am honored to be asked to take on such a role and desire to do my very best to glorify God and assist Dr. David Sills in this role. I humbly ask for your prayers.

Upcoming Trips

I was scheduled to travel to that Caribbean island nation south of Miami in March, but due to visa issues that trip had to be rescheduled. I am hoping to be there in May to do a week of pastor training.

Also, the Oaxaca Costa project is set to go. I was there last month visiting with Nathan and Mary Stanley and with pastors in that region of Mexico to set up the project. I also made a visit to South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville KY last Sunday. Pastor Jonathan Logan Carl and other church members are going to help us kick off this project July 11-19. Please pray for this project and for many pastors, missionaries, and church leaders to be trained in this strategic part of Mexico.

I am also anticipating going to other locations in South America where new projects are developing. Please pray for more open doors.

Thank You

As always, Beverly and I are very grateful for your prayer and financial support. Financial needs are increasing significantly due to increased travel responsibilities and your faithful giving and praying are very necessary.Your regular giving is necessary and appreciated and, if churches or individuals feel led to give any one-time gifts to help with travel costs, this would be a great blessing as well. We are trusting that where God guides, He provides, and that has always proved true. It is a blessing to us and to you as well when you give according to the Holy Spirit’s leading to fund this important and timely ministry. If you need information on how to give, please click on “Give” at the top of my blog. Thank you again for your faithfulness and sacrifice.

Tony Steele

Preparing in Panama and Mexico

As I am writing this, I am in Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico after traveling most of the month of January. It is exciting to be a part of what God is doing through Reaching and Teaching International Ministries and through this post I want to share a bit of what has been happening. This post is a bit lengthy, but full of news. Thanks for taking a few moments to read it.

Panama – January 3-10

Panama City Twilight

Panama City at Twilight

On January 3, I flew from the Zacatecas airport to Panama City, Panama for a week-long training event there. It was my privilege to work with Jason Wright, who is the Executive Director for Church Relations with Reaching and Teaching. Together we taught on the subjects of Missions and Evangelism with a daily emphasis on the spiritual discipline of service.

Preaching Espave

Preaching in Espave, Panama

First, I was privileged to be asked to preach on Sunday morning, Jan. 4, at a relatively new church called Templo Bautista Hay Vida en Jesús (There’s Life in Jesus Baptist Temple) in Espavé. It was a joy to fellowship with these dear believers and to share the Word of God.

RTIM Panama Tony

Capira Class

Jason Teaching Balboa

Jason Teaching in Balboa FBC

There were two locations where we taught in Panama. In the mornings from 8:00 a.m. to noon, we taught at Capira at Iglesia Bautista La Resurección (Resurrection Baptist Church). We had a daily group of 20-25 here for the class. In the evenings from 6:00-9:30, we were at Primera Iglesia Bautista Balboa (First Baptist Church Balboa) where we taught another group of 25-30. Between travel and teaching, it made for a long but rewarding day.

Balboa FBC

Primera Iglesia Bautista Balboa

 

 

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Kenny and Cheryl Morris

We were blessed to be the guests of Kenny and Cheryl Morris, IMB missionaries, throughout our stay in Panama. They picked us up at the airport and returned us there, fed us, transported us, washed our laundry, and provided a comfortable retreat for us at the end of each exhausting day. I am grateful for missionaries such as the Morrises who are carrying on the work of the Kingdom throughout the world. I wish I had room to share in this post what God is doing through their ministry. Suffice it to say, they are obedient servants in a grand vision God has for Panama.

Oaxaca, Mexico (Oaxaca City – Gibsons)

I left Panama City on January 10 and flew to Mexico City with a connecting flight to Oaxaca City. However, due to teacher protests in Oaxaca City at the entrance to the airport that weekend, I was unable to get there until Monday, January 12 (it’s Mexico). So, I spent a couple of solitary days in Mexico City reflecting on the week in Panama and praying about the future.

Gibson family

The Gibson Family

It was a joy to spend a few days in Oaxaca City getting to know missionaries A.J. and Ruth Gibson and their five children, Jonathan, Christian, Katelyn, Hudson, and Sofia. Being away from my own grandchildren, I was delighted to find out that these children were excited for me to come to visit and they quickly took me on as a surrogate grandpa. I look forward to working with the Gibsons in the future in the training of pastors in the central valley of Oaxaca state.

Oaxaca, Mexico (Pluma Hidalgo – Stanleys)

From Oaxaca City, I took a mini-bus (suburban they call it here) over five hours of curvy roads over the mountains to Pluma Hidalgo. With the help of Dramamine and a bit of a nap on the way, I made it without incident on one of the most beautiful journeys I have experienced in Mexico.

Stanley family

The Stanley Family

In Pluma Hidalgo, a coffee growing market near the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, I was delighted to reconnect with missionaries Nathan and Mary Stanley and their children, Sam, Jack, Henry, and Hattie. They also have a Mexican son, Neftali, who is in the process of enlisting in the Mexican military. The Stanleys are working to build housing for poor families here as well as training pastors and missionaries in the Costa region of Oaxaca state. I am looking forward to a pastor training project here set to begin in July of this year and grateful for the folks at South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville, Kentucky who are planning to help us kick it off.

Returning Home and Future Travels

I am flying back to Kentucky on Feb. 1-2 and looking forward to reuniting with my wife, Beverly, and our children and grandchildren. I miss them dreadfully and am excited to see them again. I also hope to see some of you during my time back and already have several engagements scheduled there in the states. Then on March 15, it’s on the plane again to a certain Caribbean island about 90 miles south of Miami (sorry to be cryptic, but it’s prudent) and then back to Zacatecas for two more pastor trainings in both places. After that, it’s load up the Jeep in Jerez and head back to Kentucky to await our third grandchild’s arrival in June.

Thank You

As you can see, it’s a busy life here lately – but a rewarding one. Beverly and I are grateful for your prayers and giving that make all of this possible. I know many of you pray for us daily and we are so grateful. Also, many of you are stepping up giving and this is so appreciated and needed. As you might expect, it is expensive to travel as much as I am now, but it is the work the Lord has called me to do. Our monthly budget has increased significantly with the added expenses. Your gifts make it all possible. We live month to month trusting in the Lord and your faithfulness. It is a blessing to see how God provides through you. If you would like to learn how to give to this mission, just click on the “Give” tab at the top of my blog. Thank you!

 

 

Busy January: Panama and Oaxaca

January is going to be a busy month with travels, pastor training, project preparation, and research. I wanted to write this post to update you so you can be praying. On January 3 I will be traveling from here in Zacatecas to Panama City, Panama to help with a week long training with pastors there. There will be two groups we will be working with for each of the five days that we will be doing the training. One group will be in the morning and we will be traveling to a location outside of the city for this training. The evening session will be in the city, so each day will be busy with training and travel. I am grateful to be working with Jason Wright of Reaching and Teaching during this week. We will be teaching on missions/evangelism and the spiritual discipline of service. Please pray for God’s blessings on this week of training and for pastors to be better equipped to take the gospel to their communities. Panama City   Panama City, Panama   On my return from Panama City on January 10, I will be staying with AJ and Ruth Gibson and their family in Oaxaca City. They are missionaries who have been with New Tribes Missions and are coming on board with Reaching and Teaching and it will be a blessing to get to know them, their family, and their work better. From Oaxaca City I will be traveling over the mountains in a minibus to Pluma Hidalgo where Nathan and Mary Stanley live and serve as missionaries. It is in this area where we are planning a pastor training. The plans are to begin in July with a team coming from Kentucky. I will be doing further research in this area and groundwork for the project. Please pray for this time and for the missionaries who serve there.Gibson family Stanley family

Gibson family (above) and Stanley family (below)

Beverly and I are so grateful for your prayers and giving. Some churches and individuals who support us monthly have given extra love offerings in addition to their monthly gifts. For this we are very grateful. Your support is needed more than ever now as the additional travel has increased our budget significantly. When you give as God leads, the need is met and we are very grateful.

We hope that your Christmas has been blessed and we pray for more blessings for each of you in the coming year.

Tony and Beverly Steele

Beginning with Reaching and Teaching International Ministries

As many of you already know, things have changed with the Steele mission. Beverly and I were missionaries with Global Outreach International for four years, in language school for one year and on the field for nearly three years. Our time with Global Outreach was rich and blessed and we are grateful for the experience of serving with this “great missions family.”

Because of Beverly’s health, it became necessary to seek another way to do missions based in the United States as well as Mexico. Beverly has moved back to our home in Kentucky and Tony will be in Mexico for the next few months wrapping up some commitments and preparing for some new projects before coming back to the states. After that, Tony will be traveling from our home in the U.S.A. to Mexico and other parts of the world to serve through Reaching and Teaching International Ministries.

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How are things changing?

Tony is now serving as missionary/staff with Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. Reaching and Teaching was begun from a vision by Dr. David Sills, president of RTIM and A. P. and Faye Stone Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology and Director of Global Strategic Initiatives and Intercultural Programs in the Billy Graham School at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Sills sees the greatest need in missions today to be the training of indigenous pastors, church planters, and leaders throughout the world to equip them to reach their own people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This burden has also been in my heart since beginning to work in Mexico. The need is obvious. The lack of solid biblical training is negatively impacting the spread of the gospel and the establishing of solid New Testament churches. Because of this, Tony has been led to begin serving through Reaching and Teaching.

How will Tony be serving now?

Tony will now be developing new training projects throughout Mexico as well as connecting churches, associations, teams with those projects in order to accomplish the training. We have served together in the state of Zacatecas over the past few years, but now the entire nation of Mexico is the mission field. Projects are being developed among Zapotec pastors in Oaxaca state and Huichol pastors in Jalisco and Nayarit states as this is being written.

Besides these projects in Mexico, Tony will also be assisting with other training projects in the other parts of the world as needed. Upcoming trips include a week long training in Panama in January, project preparation and research for several weeks in Oaxaca in January and February, a week long training trip to the eastern end of a Caribbean island nation about 90 miles south of Miami (if you catch my drift) in March, and a weekend pastor training in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico, also in March. As you can see, the next few months are very busy.

When in the States, Tony will be working in a supportive role with Reaching and Teaching, making contacts with churches, training teams, working on curriculum, perhaps doing translation work, and developing new training projects.

 

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What are the needs now?

Always, the greatest need is for prayer: prayer for Beverly’s health, prayer for Tony’s stamina and safety in travel and the work, prayers for God’s guidance and blessings in the work that is opening up, and prayers for necessary support.

Obviously, financial needs are increasing due to increased travel requirements among other changes. We need the faithful support of those of you who have been giving as well as others who now feel led to support the work that God is doing through this mission. We humbly and gratefully ask that you pray about your part in increasing the harvest of the gospel through this mission. We thank you for considering and praying about your part.

You can support this mission by sending your tax decuctible gift to:

Reaching and Teaching International Ministries

P.O. Box 122

Wheaton IL 60187

You can put “Steele” or Acct. # 4122170 on the memo line of your check.

Or you can make one-time or recurring gifts online at http://www.reachingandteaching.org/give/. Click on “Give Online” and fill in the form with your name and banking information.

Thank you for reading this first post as a missionary with Reaching and Teaching.

Tony Steele