New Year encouragement and news
I know many people were ready to put 2021 behind us all, and start afresh in 2022. I was blessed to spend a week with our son, Mark, and his family back in East Texas, where the weather was lovely and warm in the upper 70s until dropping drastically into the teens overnight! The same system hit Southern Maryland bringing 12 inches of heavy snow in just a few hours, breaking many tree limbs, and shutting down power for tens of thousands of people for several days in some cases.
This is a picture of the table and chairs on the back porch where Anna placed a large mixing bowl to collect snow to make snow ice-cream, but 3-4 hours later couldn’t find the bowl! How I wish I could have been there to help, as the power was out for over 24 hours; the generator (working fine the previous week when checked) refused to start; and in addition to the usual problems of no heat, water or lights, Lily is very dependent on her tablet to play music and communicate with pictures, so keeping it recharged and her happy was a real challenge! I don’t know what is worse – personally going through such challenges or being unable to help as loved ones have to do so! But we all must confront such unexpected trials from time to time, and God has promised to guide us through them all!
Many years ago, after just such an experience, I realized that our “victory” is NOT emerging strong and heroically with a jubilant smile on our face. Instead, it is often merely the fact that we EMERGE at all, and have not given up! How often today do we underestimate the value of patience and endurance? Perhaps because we tend to want to avoid any semblance of suffering! One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in James 1:2-4 “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” (AMPC) No matter what trials we must face in the coming year, let’s try to approach them with a determination to put this verse to work and allow that patience and perseverance to continue to perfect us and bring us to the maturity that God has planned for us! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo – He experienced some serious ill-health over the Christmas season, suffering from another terrible bout of malaria with intense joint pain. In addition, his mother was hospitalized just before Christmas with severe malaria, diabetes and high blood pressure. Thankfully, she was able to come home for Christmas, and Pastor Sika was also able to enjoy the festivities and attend at least some of his planned ministry events.
He reports that the celebration at the Joseph Project orphanage went very well – with a special meal, preaching and testimonies. It was attended by many local people, including several prominent witch doctors and a Voodoo priestess, who heard the Gospel and testimonies from many – including an ex-witch who was saved there 7 years ago (see left)! Pastor Sika asks prayers for these still-lost souls to soon give their hearts to Christ. This photo shows Kossi (a JP graduate) holding the mike for an ex-voodoo priestess as she testifies.
Pastor Sika is seen here below, with his wife, Lucie, and the newly-saved foster mother, Ade, who has taken the abandoned twins into her home. They all attend the JP church now, but Ade’s husband has yet to accept Christ. Many needy people enjoyed a good Christmas meal and heard the Christmas story, including this young orphan boy. There is no doubt that the ongoing witness of all at the JP and Bethany Baptist church (in the JP compound) continues to have a huge impact on that whole area. We praise God for everyone who sends regular support to Pastor Sika to help, and pray that all will go well for the next planting season soon to begin in the fields of the JP ag project there.
Pastor Honore in C.A.R. – After several weeks of being ill in bed in December, Pastor Honore was able to recover in time for the Christmas celebrations. These photos show his family with festive hats, and part of the special Christmas program at the CEERCA church.
Also, this month there is a special report on the Voice of the Martyrs website about the current situation in Central African Republic. To read the full report, follow this link:
Here’s a quote from that article: “Despite being thought of as a predominantly Christian country, the Central African Republic (CAR) is a difficult place for biblical disciples to live today. Since 2012, Islamic rebel groups, often called the Seleka, have caused civil unrest. And fighters opposing the Seleka, known as the anti-Balaka and considered to be mostly “Christians,” have carried out brutal revenge killings. As with the Seleka, some anti-Balaka have even targeted biblical followers of Christ. In truth, the anti-Balaka are simply non-Muslims. While 85 percent of the CAR’s 5 million people identify as Christians, only 30 percent are thought to be committed followers of Christ. These believers are increasingly attacked, driven from their homes and even killed. Since the fighting began, more than 1.2 million people have been displaced by violence in the CAR. Roughly 600,000 refugees live outside the country, and another 600,000 live in camps for internally displaced people (IDP)”
Irene in Kenya – She was busy with her children and 3 other members of the children’s ministry team over the Christmas season. She reports that they ministered in several schools and churches, both locally and in Busia, Kitale and even some towns in Uganda. She sent several pictures of a Christmas meal she shared with youth and friends. The children are all in school for the next two months and then have a two month holiday, so she is planning some special children’s ministry events during that break, and is praying for God to supply the funds needed.