Dear Friends and Partners,
Gerald and I have just returned from a wonderful two-week visit to Southern Maryland where we enjoyed an action-packed time with our daughter Anna, husband Joe, and their 18 month old twins Lily and Levi! What a blessing! We also very much enjoyed visiting our adopted church there, Real Life Wesleyan, and Pastor Todd Crofford. We encourage you to check out their website at http://www.reallife.us/ where you can watch videos of all the sermons – you will be truly blessed and spiritually fed! We have much to share in this newsletter as in the last month both Mike in Kenya (who just returned from a trip to the UK) and Pastor Sika in Togo sent us detailed and inspiring ministry reports, which you can read under the Latest News blog, so I encourage you to check them out. We appreciate all your faithful prayers and support, Gerald and Shirley.
Mike in Kenya just returned home safely after a 3 week visit to England. After so many years of faithful ministry and hard work, it was such a blessing that he was given this trip to go and participate in a friend’s wedding and also enjoy a real holiday – in spite of all the culture shock! He shared many photos and experiences on his Facebook page – from experiencing English church services to actually going onto the famous Manchester United soccer field; from visiting a museum with the very first computer on display to helping in a thrift shop; and from riding around London on the back of a motorcycle to being in a traditional wedding party in a historic church. But he also had the opportunity to speak briefly about his ministry to a men’s group, and put together a very detailed report of his ministry over the past few months. In it he says he runs bible studies in five different high schools in the area around Kimilili – which leads to ministering to the youth about the many topics that arise, including dealing with HIV and homosexuality among others. He has held many workshops for children’s ministry training, which is still something few churches recognize the need for.
Honoré in Central African Republic has also been busy with youth – teaching a youth camp recently on How to Follow the Way of God (see photo). Many youth responded to the altar call at the end, and some 20% of them confessed to having been forced into being child soldiers in the bloody conflicts over recent years. Often they were given drugs and made to do horrendous acts. Pastor Honoré says how so many of their testimonies were really terrible, but PTL these young people heard the message of love and forgiveness, gave their hearts to Jesus and can start new lives! They really need our prayers! Honoré plans to hold a large youth seminar for some 400 youth in Oct/Nov so we pray for his guidance and that God will provide all that is needed.
Pastor Sika in Togo has been suffering greatly again with his knee that was badly injured in a motorcycle accident 8 years ago. Thankfully he was able to visit the JP orphanage and with special funds sent in from some of our supporters he paid for the tuition and school supplies needed so that all the orphans can attend the local school this year. He says they are doing well and brought in a good corn harvest this year – enough to keep in store and also give some to him for his own family’s use. He bought some more building supplies for the new building but says that right now it is difficult to get labor to do the construction.
He shared with us that there is considerable opposition to the Gospel as many of the villagers in the area fear (rightly!) that their pagan practices are prohibited by the truth of the Gospel. As a result, when they see that their witchcraft and evil curses do not work against the Christians, they instead turn to causing hindrances such as stealing equipment, raising the price of materials, and scaring away workers who do not want to upset their ancestors or run the risk of being cursed. The successful evangelistic campaign at the beginning of the year in Fio-Kondji, which gave rise to a new church of 87 people meeting in the local school (with the consent of the school director) is an example. Sadly more and more persecution has arisen from locals who now refuse to allow the continued use of the school, and have falsely accused the school director leading to his arrest and unjust incarceration in prison! The result is that the church congregation has now been reduced to 27 (most of whom are children and youth!). Pastor Sika asks for our constant prayers and is determined not to give up. In his full report he shares of his ongoing work as a director of training with Operation Christmas Child, his prison ministry, and continued ministry in schools and training in evangelism for church pastors. So much work to be done – we encourage you to get involved and help pray for and support this important ministry!