January news update and urgent prayer request
As we enter this new year, I imagine most of us are rather glad to say goodbye to 2020, and hope that the coming year will be somewhat less challenging to say the least! But already, at least here in the USA, we know to expect more changes, including a new president and government which seem to want to take the country in a very different direction. Our nation seems to be becoming even more and more divided, but whatever our political views, I believe it is important not to put our faith in either individuals or political parties.
I am reminded of when God’s people begged Him for a king so that they could be like neighboring tribes – that very interesting story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 8. All the people agreed about what they wanted, and even though Samuel gave them God’s warning about what their life would be like under a king, they insisted, so God gave them their own way. We can go on and read how God led Samuel to choose Saul as the king. To the people, Saul seemed perfect and in fact did start to lead the people well – but we then see how he became more prideful and began to disobey God. Even his successor, David, whose heart was for God and who did such great things for Israel, fell from grace in his later years and left a legacy of division with his sons, that eventually led to the whole nation being divided!
Jesus lived in a time when his nation was governed by very ungodly people yet we never read that he influenced people to fight to overthrow the leaders. Instead we read that he encouraged people to pay their taxes and respect the rulers: “…give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 22:21 (NLT). Time after time we read in the New Testament that we should be subject to those in authority over us and 1 Peter 2:13 says very clearly: “For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority…” (NLT). Leaders and governments will rise and fall (and yes of course our lives may be greatly impacted by them!) but ultimately we must obey God, and by putting our trust in Him rather than human government or reasoning, we will be able to continue to carry out HIS will on earth no matter WHAT is going on in our nation!
In addition, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread so that we all know more and more people who have become infected, and even seriously harmed, there are so many needs for prayer. Even among our small group of ministry partners there are those who are presently suffering and in hospital with Covid; others have recently received devastating diagnoses of malignant cancer; another is in special care because of pneumonia; and some are experiencing real financial difficulty because of being unable to work due to shutdowns.
You will also see that the news from our African partners brings additional urgent prayer requests. We could so easily be overwhelmed – but Jesus understands exactly what we are feeling and we read in 1 Peter 5:7:”casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (AMPC). Jesus promises to be there with us through it all, lifting our burdens and giving us His peace that is beyond understanding. Praying that each and every one of you experience that peace as you navigate the unknown and possibly stormy waters of 2021! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Honoré in Central African Republic wrote recently asking for urgent prayer as rebels are once again attacking Bangui, the capital. Despite the election of a new president in December, rebel forces have been gathering across the country and converged on Bangui on Wednesday, trying to stage a military coup. Pastor Honoré and his family (seen in the photo) only just moved into their newly built home on the CEERCA site at Christmas, planning to complete the construction in the upcoming weeks. Church services have continued and the school there was reopening, but he just reported that some 500 rebels surrounded the ministry site and have since overtaken it! He describes the rebels as immoral and demonic, and says the rebels have taken off their uniforms so that they merge in with the local people, so if attacked it is likely that many innocents will also suffer.
Please join us as we pray for God’s protection over Honoré and his family, and all the staff, churchgoers and children that have fled to the CEERCA site for help. Heavenly Father, we know that you have power over ALL the powers of the enemy, and we ask that you put a shield of protection around the people and property there with Pastor Honoré. We pray that they can feel your presence with them, strengthening and encouraging them. I ask that you help them see these rebels as lost souls who have been overcome by hatred and evil, and that those same lost souls will be touched and changed by the love of God that shines forth through these faithful believers. Please intervene in this situation and turn it from tragedy to new hope and a new beginning for so many lost people who need you. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Mike’s widow, Irene, and their young family in Kenya continue to broadcast amazing videos from their home on Youtube and Facebook as they carry on his ministry to children. We know the year ahead must be particularly daunting for them, so we pray that they feel God’s loving presence with them each day as He guides them down the path that He has so specially prepared for them. They remain in our hearts and prayers.
Pastor Sika in Togo sends New Year greetings to everyone. Because of Covid restrictions and curfews there in Togo, he was unable to carry out all his plans for Christmas celebrations in the churches in Lomé and elsewhere. However he reports that celebrations went well at the Joseph Project Orphanage, and he was able to hold a meeting for leadership training in the countryside at the end of December. We are very thankful and happy to report that the funds have been promised once more for the annual planting of the JP ag project, which provides much of the staple diet of the orphans. As each year passes, we trust that the fruit trees and gardening projects are able to produce other much-needed fruit and vegetables as well, but monthly donations are still crucial to buy fish, meat, milk, oil, toiletries and other necessary items.
This photo shows the orphans with their new school supplies, which they received in October before returning to the local school. Prayers are also still requested for funds for the engine repair of Pastor Sika’s vehicle, which will greatly help lessen his pain and aid his travel for the ministry; and for the young student lawyer, Dede, who is staying in the Sika home and still needs to have her legal ID papers and school documents restored. They were stolen, and her father got false ones to try to get her into sex-trafficking. We pray that God will find a way for these documents to be restored and her situation to be resolved quickly – we know that NOTHING is impossible with God!