April news and pictures
As I prepare this month’s newsletter, I feel I must give thanks to God for Gerald and I being able to celebrate 40 years of marriage on April 18th. It is undeniable that such a benchmark could not have been reached without the Lord – not just in the beginning when we had already both individually committed our lives to Jesus Christ, but throughout all the subsequent years. Like most couples, we have experienced many difficulties and differences of opinion! Innumerable times we faced desperate or impossible situations, but as we turned to God, He never let us down. If I could share just one key thought that has helped through the years, it is the importance of respecting the vows we made to God on our wedding day. It wasn’t just a commitment that Gerald and I made to each other – we made it to God also!
Deuteronomy 23:23 says: “But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfill your promise to the Lord your God.” (NLT) No two people (especially one being a man and the other a woman!) act or think exactly alike. This can bring disappointment and strife; but if we can see ourselves as being able to balance one another’s strengths and weaknesses, we realize that TOGETHER we are better! For my part, whenever I have felt hurt or disappointed in our marriage, I have turned to God’s Word – often to my favorite passage about the “God” kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
I love this in the Amplified Bible as it reminds me of how I should act (regardless of how Gerald might act!) – and it helps lift me out from my pity-party and start acting in a way more pleasing to God. As I look back at all that we have experienced and accomplished through the years, I see God’s hand gently smoothing out the rough spots and filling in the cracks so that our marriage could remain strong and blessed. And it is such a blessing that He has connected us with so many other wonderful believers around the world as we all continue to serve Jesus. Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo gives praise and thanks for answered prayer regarding the church inside the Joseph Project orphanage compound. His wife, Lucie’s, younger sister who lives in Belgium, recently gave $1000 dollars to build the walls of the Bethany Bible Baptist Church which gathers orphans and other converts from the village. The church will soon have a lot more potential to serve the many needs of the community there.
He asks urgent prayer for the orphaned twins, Christian and Christine, who are seriously ill and are under the care of a doctor at the hospital. Thanks go to a supporter who has committed to send funds to provide them with much-needed food items for their physical growth.
The orphan, Kossi, continues well in his apprenticeship to a mechanic in Lomé and has received a lot of good testimonials from his boss. He also helped get Pastor Sika’s car repaired, although he recently suffered a severe bout of malaria. Two of the orphaned girls, Julienne (pictured here) and Afi, are still awaiting apprenticeships. Afi wants to learn hairstyling and Julienne opted for sewing. Another girl, Chantal, wants to continue schooling to become a nurse in the future and be able to help the JP orphanage. A total of $3800 is needed to help these girls move ahead with their plans. We pray God will soon provide the necessary funds and open the right doors for the apprenticeships to begin.
Special note – If anyone would like to send funds to Pastor Sika to help, we have a partner who can pass them on immediately via bank transfer. Just email us.
Irene Mwanhika in Kenya just sent us a great report of how Mike’s children are continuing his ministry. They frequently post videos of singing and short teaching on their Facebook page. Irene and the kids were invited last Sunday to a church to minister to Sunday school children who meet outside the church building. There were about 50 children with just one teacher there in the sun as this photo shows, and Joy was able to share with them and teach.
Afterwards Irene was supposed to preach to the adult congregation inside the church, but the pastor instead asked if Joy could share in the main service what she had shared in the Sunday school service! Joy did so, and many people were blessed. Irene plans to return with the family to help train new children’s ministers there. We pray the Lord will continue to bless and develop Mike’s family as they continue to develop the ministry.