October update and prayer requests
As is sadly so often the case, after sending out a positive and uplifting newsletter last month, we find that this month it is not quite the case! There are just so many things to pray for and about (both in this country and around the world), and sad and disturbing news from our friends in Africa. The world today is in such a mess: with terrible corruption of government officials, major disasters, ongoing greedy exploitation of natural resources, and untold suffering…. But in fact, if we are honest, it always HAS been a mess! Looking back through history, if we really consider what life was like and how much people suffered, it’s obvious life here on earth has always been uncomfortable, tough and unfair for most people! How are we supposed to handle it all as Christians? As I was considering this, several scriptures immediately came to mind:
“FRET NOT YOURSELF because of evil-doers” (Psalm 37:1,7)…. “LET NOT your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27) … There’s no doubt that in biblical times life was very difficult and the world was still in a mess! But the Word tells us that IT IS UP TO US to not let these situations distress or sway us from our Christian purpose each day! We have to make a conscious choice to stay focused on God and praise Him. A passage that puts it perfectly is found in the obscure book of Habakkuk: Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms [no hope for future harvest], and there are no grapes on the vines [no present provision]; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields [real long-term hardship ahead!], and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (NLT)
The translation of v.18 in the Amplified Bible says “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!” It’s our CHOICE how we respond to the hardship and lack of hope. We can CHOOSE to look to God and put our trust in Him so that we can remain a light in the midst of the darkness! Let’s pray that our overseas partners will also choose to do that and be able to not only stay strong in their faith but also inspire and encourage others. Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo – As some of you may have already heard, although he sent out a very encouraging news update some weeks ago, there has since been a tragic turn of events. This first picture shows the orphans at the Joseph Project orphanage with their new project of planting 25 lemon trees inside the compound. Within 2 years they should start to harvest lemons, which in addition to being used by the orphans, will also be sold to generate some income.
The second photo shows Pastor Sika’s oldest son, Gilles, doing children’s ministry with some 500 children from different villages. After games and hearing the Gospel, about 250 children gave their hearts to Jesus – along with some parents as well! Pastor Sika was able to teach a training seminar for church leaders recently, but it seems the government is poised to clamp down again as a result of Covid and is likely to close all the churches again! He asks for prayer for the government of Togo, which is increasingly corrupt and forces the population to undergo compulsory vaccination with vaccines which are outdated because they are not well preserved, because Togo does not have a good hospital. The people live in anger and are distraught, not knowing where to turn.
Then, more recently, Pastor Sika sent an urgent prayer request because the River Mono (which divides Togo from Benin and is only a mile or two from Sika Kondji) suddenly broke its banks and has brought devastating flooding once more to the region. The first photo above shows the road into the village, and the second shows the flooding just 150 yds from the JP. Although the corn had already been harvested, the floods (which take weeks to subside) have certainly destroyed all the remaining crops of cassava, peanuts, peppers and tomatoes. Of course the crops of all the area villagers have also been destroyed, so there will be hunger for many over the coming months. Please pray for God to touch people’s hearts to send in extra donations for the JP so that the orphans can maintain a healthy diet.
Irene in Kenya – As we approach the first anniversary of Mike’s passing last year, his widow Irene is asking for special prayers. Many may not know that, thanks to the generosity of many supporters both in the US and UK, she received a large amount of funds to help with the funeral expenses and also to support her with their four young children (seen below). She was able to use some of those funds to complete the work on the house that Mike had almost finished constructing (ceilings, plaster on the walls etc) and also stocked up her little store that provides a little income to feed the family. She reserved some funds to provide for the family during the year, but decided (after prayer and advice) to invest the remainder in buying the plot of land across the road from their house. It is in a prime position, being close to a large school, and since the banks in Kenya are not always trustworthy or safe, and she had been robbed before in her store, it seemed wise. Now the family is barely making ends meet. She is willing to sell the newly acquired property to help, but she is still waiting to receive the property deeds from the authorities, so is unable to at this time.
Please pray that God will open the door for her to sell the property by fixing the paperwork and providing a reliable and suitable buyer; or, if it is not God’s plan, then God will provide for her and the family regularly in some other way. Being a widow in Kenya is nothing like in the West, and so we also pray that she will receive good advice and help from local Christian leaders so that she will not be taken advantage of.
Pastor Honore in C.A.R. – He reports that his daughter, Divine, is doing well. She is taking her final medications this month and will now return to school. Praise the Lord! Sadly though, two of his congregants have gone to meet the Lord: a girl and an old man. The CEERCA school has already opened. They have been praying the Lord to help them build a permanent building for the school maybe next year. They praise the Lord for being able to complete the windows and door frames of the church. Their urgent prayer was to have the church building done and be able to dedicate it at the end of November 2021, but this does not seem likely. They did an intensive door to door evangelism during two months, and now have 300 congregants with the church growing step by step each month. They are grateful to the Lord, and recently held the first wedding ceremony at the church and there will soon be another. This photo above shows Honoré and Clarisse with the CEERCA school teachers. We pray that God will continue to bless this amazing ministry that has overcome so many obstacles in the past.