This month before we give news of our African partners, I want to share something a little more personal. Many of you know that one of the reasons Gerald and I moved to Maryland two and a half years ago was to help our daughter, Anna, and her family. She and her husband, Joe, have 5 year old twins, and 3 years ago Lily was diagnosed with autism, later to receive a more complete diagnosis of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome after genetic testing. She is one of only about 2,000 people around the world diagnosed with this very rare genetic condition caused by a mutation of the Shank-3 gene on one chromosome. As a result, she is non-verbal, has a form of epilepsy and delayed neurological development, among other symptoms. She is also very vulnerable to suffering severe regression if she gets a high fever – as happened in December 2017 when she literally “forgot” how to play with toys, climb steps and notice people and pets around her. Thankfully, as a result of untiring efforts from her mother, ABA therapists now come 5 days per week to give her therapy at home, and she is making good progress with other forms of communication.
She is a delightful and affectionate little girl with abounding energy just like her twin brother, Levi. There continue to be some difficult days and unexpected challenges, but through it all we have felt strengthened by the Lord and seen how He has connected us with specific people to help Lily. God’s Word is TRUE! “Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Isaiah 41:10 (AMPC)
During the week of Saturday October 17th – Sunday October 25th, there is a world-wide international event to raise awareness of this rare disease and support the individuals suffering from it. It is the Global Phelan-McDermid Running Week. You can find out more from RunLikeAHero.com and if you would like to support Lily by walking/running 1k-5k (at any time and place of your choosing) and help spread the word about it to others, you can sign up online and join #TeamLilyKat. We would love to hear from you – and you could even win a special prize! All funds raised go to support ongoing research, support and advocacy for those with the condition. We have learned to adapt to the new (and often very different!) seasons that come in life, and it is truly amazing how God develops areas of our faith and strength in one season that we will need in a new season, so that we can also encourage others that we may never otherwise have met! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo has asked for urgent prayers for his wife, Lucie, who is suffering from severe headaches and needs special tests done at another clinic outside Lomé. We pray that God will give wisdom regarding her treatment and heal her completely, as she has had similar episodes in the past. After the celebration and testimonies he shared last month, it is really no surprise that the enemy (Satan) has made his family a special target in recent weeks. His integrity with Operation Christmas Child was falsely questioned at a high level, resulting in leaders visiting him from the USA. But God was faithful and revealed the truth, fully restoring his reputation and bringing judgment on those who had abused that ministry. Pastor Sika has been asked to reorganize the distribution teams in Togo since some have been guilty of mismanagement. He also asks prayers again for Dede, the young student lawyer staying with them in Lomé, who urgently needs surgery for breast cancer. She is the young woman at his church whose father tried to sell for sex-trafficking in the US, changing her name and passport. Recently, as Pastor Sika returned home late one evening, he was attacked and held at knifepoint by 5 armed youths who threatened him for helping Dede. Thankfully neighbors called the police and the youths fled, but Dede’s father is wealthy and liable to keep harassing Pastor Sika’s family. We pray that God will reveal himself to the man and give him an experience like Saul of Tarsus to change his life!
So far the state of emergency has been extended for 6 months in Togo and (unlike in the rest of West Africa) nearly 95% of the churches have not yet been reopened – with the 5% of reopened churches being political ones. Pastor Sika continues to evangelize in such places as stores (as in this photo) and outdoors in pagan villages. But recently, he was held for 2 hours by the chief priest of the village of Hlande, being threatened and told not to proclaim the name of Jesus there. His car tires were punctured and he was only allowed to leave when the village chief called the administrative authorities, who told him the village is completely dedicated to idolatry and witchcraft. We pray for his protection and safety as he continues the Lord’s work. We pray also for God to provide the funds urgently needed (around $1,000) for the Joseph Project orphans to attend school again when it reopens at the end of October.
Michael in Kenya was recently very excited to receive several hundred bibles for his youth and children’s ministry – provided by Henderson Metro Church in East Texas. He continues to hold bible studies in his home as well as in many other locations, as you can see by these pictures, in addition to ministering in church and with Sunday videos online. He continues to work on finishing his new home (started almost a year ago) and is finally able to put in tile flooring and real kitchen cabinets!!!! What a blessing for this faithful man and his family!
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R. sent these recent pictures showing how his church continues to grow each month. They held a baptism service last week and also a week long healing seminar which is still producing encouraging testimonies. With the school and many other ministry events there at the CEERCA site, Pastor Honoré has finally been able to begin construction on a small house for his own family on the same property. This is a dream he has had for many years and will make a huge difference for his family as they will finally no longer have to travel back and forth or live in a rented house. (As in many parts of Africa, rented houses must be paid for in advance often with a 2 year lease – and frequently raised rents cause a family to have to move every few years!). We pray the Lord will soon provide the funds necessary to complete the construction for Pastor Honoré’s own home at last! The second picture shows Pastor Honoré discussing house plans with the builder at the CEERCA site.