New Year Newsletter
Dear Friends and Partners,
Happy New Year! After the busyness of the holiday season I recently had time to watch a very thought-provoking documentary film called “Finding Home” by the ministry Rapha House (https://raphahouse.org/). This amazing and extensive ministry helps girls involved in sex-trafficking, and the film particularly tells the stories of three such young girls in Cambodia. It is a terrible lifestyle that sadly holds literally millions of girls imprisoned (often from as young as even 6 or 8 years of age) all around the world. Such ministries thankfully save many from this lifestyle, but the sad reality is that also many still return to it even after being set free and hearing the Gospel.
The film explains that part of the reason for this in Cambodia is the ingrained cultural belief that children are considered in debt to their parents for giving them life! They have a responsibility to provide for their parents (and often also for their younger siblings) as long as their parents are alive. Once a young girl has lost her virginity and can be made to earn money as a prostitute, she virtually sacrifices her life to pay back the debt to her family – and, according to Buddhist beliefs, will have a chance at a better life next time! Even the Gospel message of salvation and forgiveness is sometimes insufficient to break through the cultural beliefs.
As I pondered this, I felt overwhelmed by the sadness of all the terrible needs around the world, and so powerless to help. Even large, well-funded organizations can only help a few individuals – to REALLY make a difference there must be changes in the whole nation! That takes literally years of outside influence; improvements in education and health; and of course, preaching the Gospel of truth, love and forgiveness…But that is all part of Christ’s Great Commission. As individuals we only have one life to live and we all have different limitations (family responsibilities, finances, health….) but I do believe that God has a special place for each of us to fit into His master plan. THAT is what we need to discover and submit to, and then we can trust that God will work it all out together to accomplish His perfect will!
This month I am preparing the annual reports, and I am so very thankful for those of you who so faithfully send monthly donations like $10, $20 or $50. These all add up to enable us to give regular support to Michael in Kenya, so that he can provide for his family and still work full time doing God’s work. They enable us to send monthly funds to Pastor Sika to pay the salaries of the JP staff and provide food and other needed items for the children at the JP orphanage.
Then we are also thankful and very appreciative of those of you who periodically send special donations throughout the year, of maybe $100, $200 or even more, as the Lord leads you. We have just received a sacrificial donation once again of $600 from a couple whose desire is to provide for the JP ag project – to rent a tractor and buy seed, fertilizer etc for planting at the beginning of each year. Without that help the important corn and cassava crops could not be grown. God is so faithful and knows exactly when there are special or urgent needs – such as in August, when about $700 is needed to buy school supplies and uniforms for all the children at the orphanage if they are to attend the local government school for the year. Sometimes one of our African partners has an urgent medical need; or it is imperative to finish construction of a building…. the Holy Spirit may just impress someone unexpectedly to give a certain amount, yet it always seems to come at just the right time and we know without doubt what it should be used for. So as we enter into another year, we want to thank you for doing YOUR part in this ministry of IMOF Inc. and we pray God will bless you greatly so we can all continue!
Gerald and Shirley
Mike in Kenya called us over Christmas and we enjoyed speaking also with his wife Irene, and all four of their children. They usually have two of Irene’s teenage relatives from Uganda living with them (so they can attend school), but Mike was able to buy them both bus tickets to travel back home to Uganda to visit with family during the 2-month school vacation. Mike said how the house felt so empty without them – which I hastily questioned, knowing that they all live in a tiny 4-room mud house!! He says the annual AOG children’s camp went well – although due to late planning, they “only” had 500 children attend instead of the “usual” 600! The photos below show teaching at the camp and taking the kids on a hike.
Pastor Sika in Togo: Pastor Sika and all at the Joseph Project Orphanage send their thanks and appreciation for the Christmas cards and small gifts sent by some of our supporters. They all enjoyed the special meals, and Christmas and New Year celebrations that were held there and with villagers attending Bethany Baptist Church inside the JP compound. We are thankful that at last the JP church is better accepted in Sika-Kondji, but we must remember that it has persevered and endured much persecution over the past 8 years!
In Pastor Sika’s recent report he asks special prayer for another rural church, in Fio-Kondji, which was planted just a year ago. Meetings had been held in the village school until there was so much opposition (stirred up by local witch doctors) that the school principal was falsely accused and sent to prison, and many of the new church members were intimidated into returning to the pagan beliefs. The photos below show the village idol and a religious building there. Please pray for the remaining new believers to be firm in their faith. and especially that God will raise up a native local minister to move into the village and take over as pastor of the church, to continue with evangelism and discipleship. As mentioned earlier, in order to make a REAL difference in a country, it takes years of patient endurance from many faithful servants of God! Thankfully Pastor Sika also included photos of another recent baptism service in a river there, which shows proof that the Church in Togo IS growing!
Pastor Honoré in C.A.R. has had major trouble with his e-mail account and had to change his laptop hard-drive, but was able to send us some photos and a quick update. The special Christmas and New Year celebrations held on the ministry site went very well, as seen below. They have been able to make and fire a load of bricks and are now just praying for sand and cement so that they will be able to move ahead and construct the permanent walls of the new ministry building. We agree with them in prayer for this building to be completed in the coming year!!!