Dear Friends and Partners,
Of course here in the USA the focus of this month is on Thanksgiving and we do indeed have so many things to be thankful for! It is the American way to be forever reaching forward – looking for better ways of doing things; striving to accomplish new visions; and searching for solutions to problems that both we, ourselves, and others confront. But as we do this, it is also good to sit back and look around us to genuinely appreciate the many blessings we DO have! It is humbling to realize that in addition to our own efforts and hard work, most of these blessings have come through God giving us HIS favor and blessing! Where indeed would we each be without Him?! We certainly want to remember to give thanks to Jesus and our Heavenly Father in this special season.
It is also a good time to remember that literally MILLIONS of people around the world STILL do not know Jesus Christ and how to receive the wonderful blessings of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness of sins. Christianity is so very much MORE than studying the Bible and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is enjoying a personal relationship with Him – talking with Him; recognizing His voice as He gently warns us or guides us; running into His arms when we are hurt or afraid; and KNOWING He will help us and somehow guide us through even the darkest of situations.
As we move closer to the Christmas season and I think of our partners in Africa – especially the Joseph Project orphans and the many other children our partners minister to at this time, I want to help them understand above all else that we do CARE about them. I want them to know that the Lord has divinely connected us with them, even though we are separated by thousands of miles; that we pray for them and are concerned that they are continuing to grow in their own personal relationship with Jesus; that they need never feel alone because they are now part of God’s great family with us.
Obviously this is especially difficult when we speak different languages, so here is the SECOND part of our Christmas plan this year: I want to encourage you ALL to send them a Christmas card! This is not a normal tradition in Africa – there are no mail carriers where our guys live, and most people do not even have a PO Box, so I guarantee you that our partners and their families will be truly blessed to learn that families far away are thinking of them and praying for them! I am telling you now so that the cards have plenty of time to reach the destinations in rural Africa. Our three main ministry partners DO speak English, and so can translate anything you do write for their families. If you would like to send a card to the staff and orphans at the JP, I’m sure they will be thrilled, even if they cannot understand what it says – though no doubt Pastor Sika will translate it for them. Their names and details are here: JP staff and children
A card sent to Africa by airmail costs around $1.15. Multiple cards for the JP orphanage cost less when packaged together. Delivery times vary but they should arrive before Christmas if sent before the end of November. The mailing addresses are as follows, so the rest is up to YOU! Please consider how a few minutes of your time, and a couple of dollars will be a real blessing and encouragement to our partners in Africa. You can read their latest news below, and you can still send special donations for us to pass on in time for Christmas. Thank you, and have a really blessed Thanksgiving! Love, Gerald and Shirley
Pastor Sika (wife Lucie and 6 children ranging in age from 19 – 6yrs)
Joseph Project Orphanage
06 B.P. 62010 Be
Michael Mwanikha (wife Irene and 6 children from 18 – 3yrs)
P.O. Box 842
Pastor Honoré Boundou (wife Clarisse and 3 children from 19 – 8yrs)
Central African Republic
Mike in Kenya surprised us with a phone call the other night and we were able to chat with him and several of his children as well. He and Irene have four of their own and also have two of Irene’s teenage siblings from Uganda living with them while they attend school. Mike was about to leave with some of the children to minister at a special children’s camp in Kitale, a 4-5 hour drive south (though it takes much longer by local bus!). He says Trevor (12) and the twins (8) have a natural gift with the puppets and so often help him in the ministry. Right now the schools are on their annual long (2 month) vacation so there are many holiday camps and special events planned. These photos show ministry at one recently, and a poster advertising a recent camp (with the parrot costume I made for our own ministry 20 years ago and donated to Mike!).
Mike also reports that the student led bible studies in many schools are also doing really well. He has asked for more bible study guides – I recently wrote and sent one as an Overview of the Book of Psalms, and plan to write one for Proverbs in the New Year. (These can also all be found on our website). He also told us the exciting news that his bike that was stolen a couple of months ago, was found and returned to him by the police!!! What an answer to prayer! It makes his travel so much easier!!
Pastor Sika was unable to visit the orphanage as planned but will be doing so this weekend. There have been several frustrating hindrances for him recently, but thankfully he is able to stay in contact with his brother, Beaugard, who runs the orphanage and was able to make a trip to Lomé to receive the funds we had sent, and also buy some fish and other important items at a cheaper price than in the village. Apparently the children continue to do well. Here is a photo of the JP staff, and also one of Pastor Tomety and his wife, and Sister Akossiwa.
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R. plans to send us a report soon. He and his family have finally got settled into the new rent house nearer the ministry site, so that is good. They continue with the church services on the ministry site and have plans for a big youth seminar soon. Unfortunately in recent weeks there have been more clashes between armed militia and rebel forces, resulting in several deaths, including of police. At present a special UN conference is being held in Brussels to try to secure aid for C.A.R. It is estimated that 850,000 people are still displaced after the conflict in early 2014, half of them children. C.A.R. is one of the most dangerous countries for children – one third are out of school and 41% under age five are suffering from chronic malnutrition. Please keep this desperate country in your prayers, and especially Pastor Honoré and his family and ministry.