November encouragement and news
As we begin to prepare for the holiday season with upcoming celebrations of Thanksgiving and then the highlight of the season, Christmas, we have to face the fact that they must be very different this year, particularly here in the US. The year has been a turmoil of change, and although we have all learned to cope with the ramifications of the pandemic, the current HUGE increase in cases here, coupled with so much unknown about the political future of our nation, certainly tries to steal some of the joy from celebrating.
Our pastor, Todd Crofford, has been teaching an excellent online bible study on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes these past few weeks. The book of Ecclesiastes is one of those that is not very appealing to many people as it speaks of disillusion, despondency and the apparent futility of life. Perhaps as we look back over this past year, we are tempted to lean toward those very feelings! Where is God in all this? What’s the point of trying to figure it all out?
Particularly here in the U.S., in this day and age, we tend to expect that the scientists and multiple studies will bring us an explanation and understanding; that the doctors and treatments will bring the healing; that answers and advice can be found on the Internet….. There have been such giant advances in technology and knowledge that we’ve come to put more and more trust in mankind to provide our answers. But mankind is only “human” – individuals make mistakes; businesses make bad choices; the best of intentions can be corrupted; and even justice can be unattainable. The older I get, the more I can empathize with the writer of Ecclesiastes – yet this reality doesn’t HAVE to lead us into depression!
We should simply remind ourselves that the darkness of this reality is exactly why God sent His son Jesus into the world! Jesus brought us all HOPE – that we do not have to get through these difficulties alone because He has promised to be with us. John 14:23 says: Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, then he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (ICB). And Jesus gave us a FUTURE where life will be eternally joyful and free from all the uncertainty and fear: “Your faith and love continue because you know what is waiting for you in heaven—the hope you have had since you first heard the true message, the Good News.” Colossians 1:5 (ERV)
As we see the darkness around us, let us make an even greater effort to let the light of God’s love (Jesus, himself) shine through us in every word and action. We HAVE to stay focused on Him, and in so-doing, our own hearts will be lifted and our lives brightened – and we will be able to share that with those around us who are still struggling. Let’s pray for ways to make THIS Thanksgiving and Christmas (and EVERY day!) shine forth God’s love and glory even more brightly than ever! Be blessed, Shirley.
“Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV)
Michael in Kenya – In late October, Mike sent out a detailed quarterly report of all the children’s ministry being carried out by his team despite the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus. God is using his ministry in a marvelous way to reach many hundreds of children and youth across a wide area of the country – including via home groups, outdoor meetings, television programs, Facebook and Youtube weekly meetings, and training for hundreds of children’s ministers through online sessions. It’s really no surprise that this has made the Devil mad, and a huge spiritual attack came against Mike in the form of sudden severe illness, which led him to be hospitalized. For the past 2 weeks he has been seriously ill with pneumonia and blood in his sputum. He was transferred from the local hospital to a larger hospital in Bungoma, about 25 miles away. There he was put on oxygen and given multiple tests including for Covid-19 and T.B. but it seems that he was not given any specific diagnosis. We just heard that he has now returned to the local hospital and is slightly improved, especially after being able to be visited by his family. He still needs much prayer for healing and strength, and we pray for his soon and complete recovery.
Sadly also, the wife of the pastor of Henderson Metro Church in Texas (which helps support Mike by sending bibles for children) is in desperate need of a miracle – Lisa has been in hospital for the past couple of months battling severe complications from Covid-19 and is now on a ventilator, so we ask prayers for her also. Dear Lord, please show your power and love for these special servants of God and heal them, and help them overcome this great attack from the enemy. Please raise them up and strengthen their bodies to be able to continue to serve you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Pastor Sika in Togo – He thanks us for our prayers for his wife, Lucie, and reports that she has improved after receiving medications prescribed for high blood pressure. She had a CT scan that revealed the problem, which we hope will be resolved now she is taking the prescribed medication. He has remained busy working from his office organizing the various aspects of the ministry including the continued distribution of bibles and teaching materials to prisons, schools and church groups. He is also reorganizing the Operation Christmas Child ministry in Togo, and is able to distribute the remaining boxes from earlier this year to children that come into the office.
He recently shared with us that because of his increasing and constant hip pain, he finds it very difficult now to travel around on his motorcycle. He is still believing God for the remaining funds to be able to repair the engine of his car, which would make travel much less painful. God has already provided $1,250 for the engine, but $2,350 still remain to complete it. We pray that God will soon answer this prayer for funds and for healing, so that he is able to continue the ministry with better transportation and be relieved from the constant pain.
Pastor Honoré in Central African Republic – He reports that they were able to start the school again and so the ministry is continuing both there are through the church. This photo shows a recent baptism – African style! They are working slowly on the construction of a small house for him and his family there on the CEERCA site, so we continue to pray that God will supply funds and laborers for this to be completed soon.