A “church at Christmas time” often conjures up pictures of a pretty little snow-covered church reaching out with bright lights and Christmas carols to draw people in to meet Jesus. But seeing the photos of how our friends in Africa celebrated Christmas reminds us just how important it is to focus on the word “church”!
In Central African Republic, the congregation put on a dazzling presentation which attracted everyone in the area to come inside the “tent church” – as the new building still only has partly built walls and no roof after 3 years of construction!
In Kenya, after traveling hundreds of miles and ministering in dozens of camps and meetings in December, Mike was able to celebrate Christmas in his “almost-finished” new home with many friends and family members.
I was able to participate in our church’s food and clothing distribution to the homeless in Washington, DC “Christmas in the city” and it was a wonderful experience. About 100 church partners blessed about 300 homeless people with hot food, warm clothes and blankets, shoes, toiletries…and of course a bible. It was amazing to help people and hear so many stories – even if I had to communicate in sign language with a Russian lady who spoke no English! There was such a spirit of love and joy there – truly the “church” was there, even though there was no actual building! We pray that spirit of joy and celebration continues to accompany us all as we go into 2020, so that MANY more people will be drawn to Jesus all over the world! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R. sent many lovely photos of the Christmas celebration at the CEERCA site even though the new church still lacks some walls and the roof. From pictures it’s easy to see that the REAL church (people) has become an exciting part of the community.
Pastor Sika in Togo started the year with praise reports and thanks to all who sent in special donations, which enabled the remaining school fees to be paid for the JP orphans as well as small gifts and special food to celebrate Christmas. We also thank God for the special donation that will pay for the ag project to go ahead once more in 2020, paying for tractor rent, seed, fertilizer and labor. Some exciting news is that Pastor Sika’s oldest son, Gilles, just received his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy with distinction, and now plans to go on to get his master’s. No doubt his knowledge will be of great benefit to the future development of the Joseph Project!
Sadly the Christmas celebrations were disrupted by the ill health of one of the orphans called Hounou Afi (see right). She is HIV positive and often suffers from heart pain which causes her to lose consciousness. This young girl will enter high school in the next school year and her teachers say she is very intelligent. She really needs our prayers for healing and that God quickly provides money for her to be cared for by a cardiologist. (It will cost $700 for initial treatment, more for follow ups). Also we continue to pray for the $600 needed for the JP prefect to start his apprentice training.
In December, in spite of his ongoing hip pain, Pastor Sika visited 4 villages to evangelize. Arriving in one such remote village, he came across a family in a pitiful situation and living in a terribly poor home (see photos). He determined to tell them of Jesus, and the whole family accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. Their village is pagan and far from any Christians, so they begged him to start a church there so they could continue to grow in their new faith. We pray God will provide a way for this to become a reality soon and for the family’s situation to start to improve.
Michael in Kenya spoke at many events through Christmas and New Year, large camps for kids and youth, team-building meetings etc. For some meetings he had to travel as long as 12 hours away by bus, but thankfully he was accompanied by his son, Trevor, so they were able to enjoy plenty of good father-son time! PTL he was able to celebrate Christmas at home with family and (many) friends. The new house still lacks finishing but is a beautiful blessing – truly a miraculous accomplishment in just about 4 months and proof of God’s faithful provision!