You’re invited to join us for International Conference!

Every three years, WIM missionaries from all over the world meet together in Texas for encouragement and training at the WIM International Conference. It’s like a big family reunion! Our goal is to help them recharge their spiritual batteries, reconnect with WIM family, and build greater vision for advancing God’s kingdom.

Date: July 21-25, 2019

Location: Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio North Stone Oak, 823 N Loop 1604 W E, San Antonio, TX 78232

What Missionaries Ought to Know about Laughter

Written by Dr. Ronald Koteskey. Original article can be found here.

When Martha first became field director, she had a mixture of emotions toward Peter. Martha was annoyed when Peter cracked jokes during field meetings, genuinely liked him because he was so funny, and envied him because he was so popular among other missionaries. 

As time went on she came to really appreciate Peter for what he did.  Martha realized that she was often so intent on getting the job done that she needed someone like Peter to temper her intensity at times.  She came to value his jokes and no longer envied his popularity.

What Martha did not realize was that Peter and people like him are more than just a help to leaders in maintaining team unity, they are valuable in many other ways including physical health, mental health, and social relationships in general.

Physical Health

 People often say that laughter is the best medicine, and that is often literally the case.  Laughter brings healing and renewal through the following physical changes.

  • It relaxes muscles all over the body, and that relaxation may last for up to an hour.
  • It lowers stress hormones which have an effect on the whole body.
  • It releases endorphins which make people feel good and may even relieve pain.
  • It boosts the immune system making it less likely that individuals will become ill.
  • Although blood pressure may rise briefly during laughter, such laughter lowers blood pressure overall.
  • It helps people relax and fall asleep.
  • It has many of the effects of exercise (although it cannot replace exercise).

Mental Health

Laughter is good for mind as well as body.  Here are some mental health benefits.

  • It makes individuals feel good so they can keep an optimistic outlook.
  • It reduces anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness.
  • It helps people relax so they can stay focused to complete tasks.
  • It allows individuals to see things from a more realistic point of view.
  • It creates psychological distance to keep people from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Social Relationships

Shared laughter is good medicine for social relationships.  It is a requirement for strong relationships and has the following effects.

  • It produces positive feelings to strengthen emotional connections.
  • It produces a bond which protects against stress and disagreements.
  • It allows individuals to lower their defensiveness so that they can disregard criticisms and doubts.
  • It lowers inhibitions so that people stop holding back and avoiding others.
  • It lets individuals be more spontaneous and express their true feelings.

In general mutual laughter heals resentments and hurts helping to unite people during difficult times and see each other’s points of view.

Laughter in the Bible

Not all laughter is good for us.  The Bible mentions two kinds.  Basically “laughing at” someone is bad, and “laughing with” someone is good.  Laughing at someone in scorn or ridicule is not good medicine.  Here are some examples.

  • They will laugh at him saying… (Psalm 52:6).
  • I have become a laughingstock to my friends (Job 12:4).
  • But they laughed at him (Matthew 9:24).

Here are some examples of laughter as good medicine.

  • He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21).
  • A feast is made for laughter (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
  • Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:2).

The same event may produce both kinds of laughter in the same people at different times.  This was the case with Abraham and Sarah in events surrounding the birth of Isaac.  When God told them they would have a child, both laughed in derision.

  • Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself… (Genesis17:17).
  • Sarah laughed to herself as she thought about it (Genesis 18:12).
  • God was not pleased with their laughter and rebuked them—and then rebuked Sarah’s lie about it (Genesis 18:13-15).

After Isaac was born, Sarah laughed, but this time it was healthy laughter.

  • Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6).
  • At God’s command, Abraham gave the name Isaac (Laughter) to the son Sarah had borne (Genesis 17:19 and Genesis 21:3).

Who says that God has no sense of humor?

Jesus’ Humor

Asking parents to name their child “Laughter” after they laughed in derision when told they would have a baby shows God’s sense of humor.  Likewise, we find Jesus’ sense of humor as he talked to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). Here are the events from their point of view.

  • They were walking along the road when a man they did not recognize joined them (vv15-16).
  • Jesus asked them what they were talking about, as if he did not know (v 17).
  • One of them asked Jesus if he knew what had happened in Jerusalem (v18).
  • Jesus asked, “What things?” as if he did not know (v19).
  • They told him about the crucifixion, as well as their dashed hopes, and confusion (vv19-24).
  • Jesus called them foolish, rebuked them, and asked if Christ had to suffer (vv 25-26).
  • Then he explained prophetic Scriptures, still not revealing who he was (v 27).
  • When they neared home, he pretended he was going on, still not telling (v28).
  • They urged him to stay with them, so he did, still not telling (v29).
  • As they ate with him, he gave thanks and broke bread—and suddenly they recognized him! (vv30-31).
  • Then he disappeared! (v31).

Of course, then they remembered cues that should have let them know who he was.  Imagine yourself in Jesus place watching their puzzlement and laughing inside!

Getting Started

Anyone can get in on laughter which is free, fun, and easy to use.  Living in another culture provides many things to laugh about.  Here are some tips on getting started.

  • Count your blessings.  It is harder to begin laughing when thinking about things that make you sad, so literally write down a list of things you are thankful for, such as medicines that prevent or cure diseases.
  • Smile at people.  Like laughter, smiling is contagious in most cultures.  People will often return your smile, and that may lead to laughter.
  • Laugh at yourself.  Stop taking yourself so seriously.  Instead of trying to hide your embarrassing moments, share them with others so that everyone, colleagues, nationals and even you can get a good laugh.
  • Move toward laughter.  Sometimes laughter is the result of an “inside” joke for a small group, but more often it is “public,” and people enjoy telling it again.  If you do not understand, ask, “What’s so funny?”  Not understanding humor often occurs before you know the culture well.
  • Keep things in perspective.  We cannot control many things that happen to us, especially the actions of other people toward us.  Rather than getting angry, laugh about those absurdities in life in both your passport and host cultures.
  • Read the comics.  I enjoy “Pickles” because it pokes fun at people my age.  The cover on one of the books of those comic strips on our table says, “The older I get, the better I was.
  • Watch a funny TV show that you like.  “Americas Funniest Videos” makes me laugh out loud, but my wife empathizes with people who fall down or run into things.  DVDs of your favorite funny shows are probably available.
  • Hang out with funny people.  Find other missionaries who can laugh at themselves and at the absurdities of life and can find humor in a variety of things.
  • Spend some time with children.  Young TCKs know how to play and take life lightly.  They can laugh at nearly anything.
  • Post reminders to “lighten up” on your office wall or screen saver.  How about a picture of yourself with a mustache drawn on it?  How can you take yourself seriously if you see that all the time?
  • Do something silly.  Help someone wash their car and end up with spraying each other with water!
  • Put on a silly skit for others on your team.  Of course, in the skit, poke fun at your own agency—not malicious fun, but humorous fun!
  • Share your language goofs!!  Thinking they are talking about being embarrassed, Americans learning Spanish often tell people they are pregnant (embarazada).  Beware of false cognates.

The more you laugh, the better it is for you!  Have fun laughing at yourself.

Marriage Night Simulcast Event

We have an exciting opportunity coming up on May 17, 2019 at World Indigenous Missions in New Braunfels, Texas! We are registered as a host site for the first-ever Marriage Night simulcast event presented by RightNow Media, and we would love for you to attend. Live too far away? There are several locations across the United States. Just enter your zip code on the registration site to find a location near you.

Marriage Night is a one-night event for married and engaged couples to laugh and learn as they hear from marriage experts and discover how to honor God through their relationship. The speaker lineup includes Francis and Lisa Chan, Les and Leslie Parrott, and comedian Michael Jr. Mark your calendar and plan to attend—it’ll be worth your time!

Tickets are available for $30 per couple. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the event begins at 7 PM. Click below to register to attend Marriage Night here in New Braunfels, TX or at a location near you.

Please contact us if you will need childcare during the event.

We look forward to seeing you at Marriage Night on May 17!

Prayer Requests

Pray for our missionaries’ safety as they travel from country to country, from city to jungle and mountain villages, or just across town. 

Pray for our missionaries’ good health and for protection from disease.

Pray for our missionaries and their families to walk in God’s favor as they apply for new visas or extend existing ones. 

Pray for our missionaries’ families to remain united, not allowing Satan to divide or destroy them. Pray for our missionaries’ children to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, especially for their hearts and minds to be protected from Satan’s schemes to distract, divert, discourage, and destroy their faith. 

Pray for more workers for the harvest fields where God is calling WIM.

Pray for Orientation/Training to be filled with the people God wants to come this year.

Pray for the 2019 WIM International Conference in San Antonio, Texas. As a group, we are only able to get together one time every three years. These are important times together for the WIM family to reconnect with fellow WIMers, times of refreshing as we worship together, and times of learning about new tools that we can use to continue our work of making disciples.

Recommended Reading: “Miraculous Movements,” by Jerry Trousdale

(adapted from Amazon’s review of this book)

How do the people most resistant to the transformative power of the Gospel come to be its most devoted followers?

Miraculous Movement recounts an amazing change taking place within Muslim communities where the truth of Jesus Christ is turning around the lives of many Muslims from more than twenty people groups. Discover through the sometimes humorous, often sobering, but always enlightening and encouraging true stories how imams, sheikhs, and entire mosques are forsaking Islam and embracing Christ.

Author Jerry Trousdale explains that “counter-intuitive disciple-making” is the biblical approach that makes such dramatic transformation possible.

WIM missionary Chad P. describes this as …
Sticking to simple principles that are found in the Bible, instead of using clever marketing techniques. Focusing on making disciples, not converts. Going slowly at first to be more fruitful. Focusing on a few people to win many, instead of trying to get mass conversions. Engaging an entire family, not just one person at a time. Sharing only when and where people are ready to hear. Starting with Creation and moving to Christ, instead of starting with Christ. Making the focus on discovering God’s will and obeying what God tells us to do, instead of teaching lots of Bible knowledge. We should aim to ‘disciple people to conversion’, not the other way around […] encouraging and coaching lost people, from the beginning, to obey biblical truth.

It seems that we could avoid many problems in discipleship, if we teach people to obey God from the beginning of their relationship with Him. … I liked how this book presented practical advice that can be reproduced all over the world. The emphasis placed on prayer was also refreshing. The idea of finding a person of peace to be a gateway into cities, communities, and even nations is […] is definitely something to pray for, in reaching a region with the gospel.

WIM missionary Jon Looney explains further:
Sometimes, we assume people already know about God and Creation, and we think they are ready to skip straight to Christ; when we should really start right where God started—at Creation.

Many times, as missionaries, we go where God has called us and start preaching or sharing [the Gospel] and do not notice whether they are ready to hear what we are sharing. Then, many times, we do not see the results we had hoped for and [find] ourselves feeling defeated and burned out. The basic idea is to make disciples like Jesus did, and that is not through mass evangelism, but through connecting with a few people on a deeper level, and teaching them to do the same. [We should do] it like Jesus did—discipling and sharing with an individual or family and, then, teaching them how to share; so they can do the same process with another individual or family. That is how the Gospel was spread back in the time after Jesus; and it still works today.