Extending ministries

Living on Mission for God

Tom and Gayle Shook, with the All People Initiative, share an update about their ministry and how you can pray.

Tom: We’re with the All People Initiative and we also have a ministry called His Refuge, working with refugees and immigrants.  

Gayle: I’m his right hand.  

Tom: I’m her right hand.  


Tom: She’s good at organization. I’m good at getting the stuff done and meeting the people. We work pretty good together.  

Gayle: We always say that together we almost make a whole person.  

EFCA Communications: Tell us about your ministry.  

Tom: We never know what's going to happen, what's going to come through the door. So, primarily, we're working with refugees: Afghan. Ukrainian. Rwandan. And they come to us, and they're looking for help. We basically help them integrate into the community. Working with resettlement agencies, and then the church in the ministry that we're in, works with the resettlement agency to actually help the people get integrated. Schools for the kids. Medical. Finding housing. Finding jobs. Getting a car. Very, very practical kinds of things.  

Gayle: We lived so many years overseas [as missionaries]; we're learning about America ourselves. And so walking alongside people who are in a state of, not just need, but in trauma, through what they've been through just to get to America. Just this morning we drove a family of kids to summer school, and then took a mom to the doctor.  

Tom: And then we’re trying to get them into affordable housing. I helped them do their application. And we’re in California and housing prices are crazy.  

Gayle: And most of them are not planned. Somebody just calls and has a need. They’re very practical needs.  

Tom: The other thing is that we’re doing work with Immigrant Hope. We’re trying to setup our office so that we can help the folks also navigate the immigration process.  

EFCA: How did God lead you to this ministry? 

Tom: Our church went on a short-term [missions trips] to Lesbos, Greece, so we thought we would go check it out and use it as experience. So we went on that trip and that basically altered everything. When we were in the camp, working in the camp, seeing the actual environment and seeing the numbers of refugees and displaced peoples, it just rocked our world.  

Gayle: We were born and raised in Orange County, and when we came back, all of a sudden we started seeing the community in a new way. We realized helping refugees was clearly what God wanted us to do. For the time that we lived overseas, we know what it’s like to come into a new area and really need help. We always had someone that God provided to help us. So this has been a way that we can give back. I also feel that this whole movement of displaced people is for the Church to have an opportunity to really touch the world and be changed.  

EFCA: What are the challenges you're facing right now? 

Gayle: On the practical side, it’s just service. It’s housing and things like that that are hard. On the spiritual side, it’s trying to move the Church to focus on the command that we are to love the foreigner.  

Tom: That’s such a challenge, but the opportunity for the gospel is wide open.  

EFCA: How have you seen God working in your ministry? 

Gayle: We've been working with a single woman from Ukraine who was expecting and when we first got connected with her, she was very reticent to ask for help. We've been helping her with various things like immigration issues, social services, as well as someone donated a car and we were able to get it fixed and give it to her. But it's been interesting in our interchange, we're always talking about God, talking about that we do this for God, we do this for Jesus. This what we're about. God ended up connecting her with another Christian family, not a ministry, but a family that started housing her. And she started going to church. To watch the dates of the text messages we've gotten to where she is now, it’s evident, she was witnessing to it herself of God's mercy in her life, taking care of her. So we see a lot of that, a lot of testimony of “God is helping me.” And that's the goal; you want them to know that it's God. 

EFCA: How can we pray for you? 

Gayle: On a spiritual level, for the people that we're serving, that they would come to Christ. That God would send dreams, which is typical within a Muslim context, but that they would come to know Christ. For us, that we would not grow weary in what we're doing because we're tired sometimes. And then I think practicality for the ministry, the fields are white to harvest, but the laborers are few. So to pray for that. 

Tom: And just for energy. Like she said, we're pretty wiped. We leave on Wednesday for Greece. 

Gayle: We’re going back to Lesbos, Greece, where we went before, but we’re taking churches in hopes that they’ll come back and go, “You know what? We can do that here.” 

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