Encouraging March news update
I never cease to be amazed at God’s timing that let’s us know that HE is in control, despite what we may see happening around us! I already had a couple of personal news items I was going to share this month, but now suddenly the big news is the coronavirus, which is obviously the main topic of conversation in most households today here in the US. Discussions such as: is it really as serious as “they” say? …what changes should be made to protect our family?.. ….how is it going to affect our work and schooling?…etc. There are no clear answers and we may find that even our loved ones disagree with us at some points. As Christians, especially for those actively involved in church programs or ministries, there’s the added burden of responsibility of guiding others, as well as wanting to reach out and minister to those facing urgent new needs.
Most certainly we need to pray for wisdom and guidance for ourselves and all those in authority that have to make important decisions. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.” (GW) and James 1:5 says “But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. God is generous. He enjoys giving to all people, so God will give you wisdom.” (ICB). So when we pray (both for ourselves and others) we MUST have faith that the decisions made ARE guided by God!
Decisions such as to close schools and cancel all church and community gatherings may cause us to come to an abrupt halt in our day-to-day lives. None of us like it when new boundaries are imposed upon us that are beyond our control. But, whether they are right or not, our Heavenly Father knew we would have to deal with them long before we did! HE already has a plan to guide us through! Rather than fight against them because they disrupt our plans, let’s embrace them and realize we have new opportunities to shine the truth and love of Jesus Christ as we calmly adapt to the new situation, anchored in God. Jesus, himself, did not take on the challenge of abolishing slavery in his time – instead he taught how to live a godly life in truth and peace for both slaves and masters. I truly believe that this pandemic is an unexpected but powerful opportunity for the Church to share the peace, joy and strength that comes from knowing and serving Jesus Christ, with many that are in desperate need of that today. Let’s focus on that as we step back and decide how to reorganize our daily life during this chaotic time.
It is interesting that I had already planned to share this month about my new book. I was encouraged to write it well over 2 years ago, and completed it as a computer document within a few short months. Much like sharing a prophecy from God, I felt that my work was then done. I shared it with 2 or 3 close friends who gave confirmation of its worth, but as I had no funds to have it printed myself, I decided to just wait for the Lord to show the next step. I have no desire to sell it and know of no publisher to send it to – it was simply something God had “birthed” in my heart to share. As the months passed I did wonder at times about it, but was determined to leave it in God’s hands. At 3 consecutive New Years, I merely prayed that God would enable me to get 50 copies printed at some point during the coming year, as I felt that several different people I knew might be helped by it.
Then, in mid-February, I was handed a check for $250 from a new friend and at last was able to order the 50 copies. The book, Miracles, Lazarus and that age-old question “Why does God allow suffering?” was delivered the day I returned from a recent mission trip with our church! I can’t help the long title, it’s the only one that seems “right”, but I believe the thoughts, scriptures and testimonies shared in it will be an encouragement to many as they go through tragedies and trials in this life. My only desire is to pass on the book to those who want it and will benefit from it, so if anyone is interested they should contact me.
I started by talking about God’s perfect timing and I praise Him that I was able to enjoy the 5-day mission trip I helped organize from our church to Mesa, AZ. Our small group installed a playground and helped a small Hispanic church that ministers to those who are seeking asylum and have been granted legal entry into the US. It was an amazing trip, and hopefully the beginning of an exciting new ministry relationship. Here are some photos showing our team; the ladies helping organize the clothing stores there; and new friends enjoying playing together after rough journeys from four different countries! Blessings, Shirley.
There is lots of news from our partners in Africa this month, so here are some of the exciting highlights; and thank you for your ongoing prayers and support for them:
Michael in Kenya has been doing a lot of traveling and ministry. The first photo shows him doing children’s ministry in one town, and in the 2nd picture he is preaching to young people at a gathering of 3 secondary schools in Kitale, with a total of over 1500 students!. He also traveled over 9 hours recently to teach a children’s ministry training seminar, and the 3rd picture shows him ministering to both children and adults with one of his many puppets, at another clinic for the disabled. If you get the chance to check him out on Facebook you will see that he has many awesome pictures and information about the many places he goes to minister.
But life is never perfect, and just recently he was in Nairobi buying plumbing and electrical supplies to finish the kitchen and bathroom in his new house, when suddenly his large box of supplies was stolen! It wasn’t just the loss of the money (many hundreds of dollars worth) but the incredible work it takes to obtain and transport such supplies half way across the country when you don’t have a car!! He was naturally devastated and immediately asked for prayer via Facebook messenger……and God did a miracle! Within an hour, a kind woman in Europe decided to wire him the funds immediately to buy replacements! Now his family is able to enjoy a “proper” kitchen and bathroom!
Pastor Honoré in Central African Republic also just sent us lots of great photos and the exciting news that at last they have put the roof on the new church there. You can see just how much that church congregation (started from nothing only a few years ago!) has grown! They held a special praise service and celebration. They also recently celebrated the International Women’s Day there by Clarisse preaching. Though we don’t get to mention her much, she is a gifted and vital part of CEERCA ministry there – both with the church and school.
Pastor Sika in Togo sent photos of open air evangelism in two villages for the first time, and also some great testimonies including that of a 5 year old boy who has been attending the Lomé church although his mom always just dropped him off. Recently, he cried and refused to stop until his mom came into the service – resulting in her getting saved and joining the church!
But also some sad news – a faithful friend and coworker who helped with bibles and the prison ministry, Brother Moses, (seen left) recently fell ill and died. He will be sadly missed, and we pray for the family he left behind.
One of the Joseph Project orphans, Afi, who is HIV +ve and has been sick, has thankfully been moved into a hospital for medical treatment thanks to funds sent in. There are still two other orphans who are HIV +ve and need prayer. Six huts were recently destroyed by fire in Sika Kondji but thankfully the fire didn’t reach the JP compound. There’s no doubt our prayers are always needed!