July news and encouragement
As we hear news of over 70,000 new Covid-19 cases reported in the US just yesterday (second day in a row!) and close to 1,000 deaths in one day, NO-ONE knows what the future holds! Every additional news headline or story seems to bring more incredulity, less understanding of this strange virus, and just sheer amazement at how varied the responses are of our fellow Americans:
a strong, healthy ex-military man of only 30 died from Covid-19 after stating he would never wear a mask!
groups of young people are holding “Covid-19 parties” with the plan of deliberately spreading the virus!
a 24 year old woman was just released from hospital after spending 79 days fighting the virus and complications!
a preacher, believing in miracle healing, caught Covid-19 and died after street preaching in New Orleans!
80 people caught the virus at a Christian teen camp, despite wearing masks and prior 2 week self-quarantine!
…..yet still many people testing positive for Covid-19 suffer little or no symptoms!
…. and government leaders, church pastors, and school districts around the country battle to make the right decisions, trying to balance economic and social needs with the risks of this virus spreading.
Yes, this is a nation that believes in the individual’s right to have their own opinion, have freedom of speech, and make their own choices – but sadly some of those choices today may well bring serious consequences on others around us, both loved ones and strangers! We all face bewilderment, fear, consternation and worry about the future – but as believers in Jesus Christ we CAN overcome such feelings! As believers in Jesus Christ, we have already been warned (and prepared!) through God’s Word for whatever may come in these “End Times”. Through faith, we do not HAVE to understand everything – and we do not have to know the answers! Our Heavenly Father is in control and so we can just focus on doing our part to the best of our ability. Be blessed by this passage of encouragement and guidance, Shirley.
“ Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.” Philippians 4:5-9 (AMPC)
Michael in Kenya recently recovered from another bad bout of malaria, but thankfully Irene, Trevor and the girls all continue to be involved in the Sunday children’s ministry broadcast via Facebook. Thankfully in Kenya, Covid-19 cases seem to be declining and restrictions are loosening. Travel is opening up again around the country, and people from Nairobi have started coming to the Kimilili area again, so it is hoped that no new cases will develop as a result. There is officially still a curfew from 9pm-4am, with penalty of being arrested and enforced quarantine for 14 days. There are still some restrictions on church gatherings, and in-person worship is prohibited for those under 13 or over 58. Schools are planned to reopen only in January 2021.
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R. sent us his photo and thanks for our prayers. He is finally recovered after being ill for 3 weeks. Masks are mandatory apparently now in Central African Republic, and although Covid-19 appears to not have spread as much as feared, the political situation there is still very unstable as plans for a long-awaited election are made for December.
Pastor Sika in Togo continues to do much ministry in and around the Lomé area as well as with his church there, Bethany Baptist church, and social media. He regularly visits with Kossi (a former JP student), who is doing well in his apprenticeship in welding there in Lomé. Pastor Sika send his thanks and appreciation to all who continue to send financial support for the Joseph Project Orphanage, especially during these very difficult times.