September news update
About 3 years ago, I was asked by our local church pastor to head up the new missions and cross-cultural ministry at Real Life church to help our church people become more personally involved in missions. Our first project was to take a group to Haiti – but sadly, after 3 attempts and many months of planning, that had to be abandoned when our hosting missionary family had to flee the country due to riots and dangerous gangs! (Fortunately the missionary family has since been able to visit us here at Real Life on two occasions.) We were able to take a group in February 2020 to Mesa, AZ to install a playground and help a Hispanic church there with their ministry to migrants crossing the Mexican border from many different countries. Then Covid hit – putting a stop to any future mission plans!
But I have always believed that even if every door seems closed to us, if God has truly put a burden or vision on our heart for a particular ministry, He will make a way for us to continue if we refuse to give up and are patient! So many stories in the Bible teach this truth – just think of Moses, Abraham, David, Esther…. A couple of months ago, as I was praying about how to bring more missions awareness to our church (which has around 7-800 people and three services every Sunday) I suddenly got a great idea. As a result, on the last Sunday of every month I now have a “missions booth” in the church foyer. It is not to solicit funds, as we already take up mission offerings; it is simply to highlight a different country each month that has some connection to our church, or a group or family from the church.
This photo shows me (in a makeshift “sari”!) a couple of weeks ago with pictures and typical products from Sri Lanka – as our children’s church sponsors two small children from that beautiful island off the coast of India. We have provided each child at church with a “Real Life passport” which they are encouraged to bring to the booth to be stamped with the country’s name, and they also receive a small handout with fascinating information about the country, pictures and a puzzle. This month we are highlighting Guatemala as several from our church regularly go on mission trips there; and in October, I plan to highlight Afghanistan – partly because of the present desperate situation there, but also because so many of our church families have members in the military who have served there. So far the booth has been a great hit with many of the families and children. God is so good! I pray that despite the difficulties and hindrances right now, God will direct and enable each of you to continue to carry out the visions He has put in your heart to serve Him. Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo recently gave us a wonderful update on the family that is fostering the little twin orphan boys who are too young to be at the Joseph Project orphanage. The foster mother was deeply involved in idol worship and the animist beliefs of the area, but after frequent visits with the JP staff and hearing the Gospel, she has responded and given her heart to Jesus Christ – along with her 4 children! The family (pictured here) now regularly attends the church inside the JP compound, and thanks to a faithful supporter, Pastor Sika is able to give regular staple foods to help feed the family.
He also reports that thankfully the funds have come in to pay for the school fees and school supplies for all the orphans at the JP. This year’s harvest of crops has been good, and Pastor Sika’s oldest son, Gilles, who is studying for his master’s degree in agriculture, is a big help in continuing to develop the JP ag project. The young dressmaker apprentice, Afi, is doing well now and has returned to work. However her medical bills from the cardiologist, along with the expensive AIDS treatment, now total just over $1,000. Please pray that God will provide for this debt which is very large there in Togo. Pastor Sika also asks for prayers as he is suffering a lot, especially from pain in his wrists now. Any donations can be passed on through one of our main partners who supports the JP – just contact me for details.
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R has been sick for several weeks but has now recovered thankfully, and his daughter, Divine, is getting better as well. He is preparing for their first wedding ceremony at the CEERCA church this weekend.
Irene in Kenya just recovered from another bout of malaria, and hopes to complete her pastoral studies next month. She is also asking for prayer as the family is having difficulty financially as her little shop does not provide sufficiently for them.