March news update and pictures
Our small group of partners through the years has always felt like family to me, despite the fact that many of us have never met up in person. So it is with sadness that I report that one of our group passed away recently. Cenith “Lorraine” Gore, of Ludington, MI, formerly of Washington DC Metro, passed away on February 18, 2022. Lorraine would have been 94 just a few days afterwards, so no doubt she was able to celebrate with Jesus, himself, this year! Lorraine was a faithful supporter of IMOF Inc. for over 15 years, and I actually got to meet up with her twice in recent years. She was one of those quiet, faithful believers – always praying and helping out behind the scenes. I know she was welcomed in Heaven with open arms!
I have always been a firm believer that God is in control and His timing is always perfect. Sometimes it may not seem so at the time, but afterwards we look back and see that there was a lot more involved than we thought and God’s timing WAS right! This past month has been especially chaotic here and I have to admit that the timing of everything most certainly did NOT seem perfect! My brother-in-law, Pip Shallcross, also went on to be with Jesus after battling mesothelioma for 15 months. I booked my flight back to Texas, with a heartfelt desire to spend a week with my sister and her family – but then had to cancel it at the very last minute!
Right before I was about to leave, our sweet little granddaughter, Lily, suffered several frightening new seizures over a period of about a week, requiring 911 calls, visits to ERs and doctors. Finally, she was admitted to John’s Hopkins Children’s unit in Baltimore. I accompanied Anna, since Lily’s very rare disease really requires two care-givers – one to discuss details with doctors, while the other watches and keeps Lily from getting hurt or in trouble! Lily was hooked up to an EEG machine and monitored for 48 hours, which enabled the specialist neurology team to identify the new types of seizures, occurring mainly at night. Finally, on the Sunday, she was discharged and able to go home to celebrate her 7th birthday with her twin brother, Levi! She seems much improved with increased medication, but has several follow-up visits planned.
I had no doubt whatsoever that I should cancel my trip to Texas, but having prayed constantly about it all for many weeks, I have to admit that I was upset at God that He didn’t time it all better! If He had taken my brother-in-law a week sooner, it would have spared Pip so much suffering, and it all could have worked out perfectly!! But, despite what my head says, in my heart I KNOW God’s way is best! I may not EVER really understand but I truly believe that God has His reasons. This life here on earth is far from perfect. Even God’s own son experienced that! But as we continue on, trusting that HE is right there with us as He promises so many times in the Bible, perhaps our faith will somehow be a help and encouragement to others around us.
The Message version of Ecclesiastes 3:14 says: “I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.” In the Good News Translation it says: “I know that everything God does will last forever. You can’t add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of him.” True faith is when we submit our own plans and ideas about how things should work out to God, believing that His way truly is better! Oh, that we would all come to truly embrace that! Blessings, Shirley
Pastor Sika in Togo – He shares several praise reports. Although the Togo government officials refused to waiver the customs charges on the containers of shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child, (causing them to be diverted elsewhere), the OCC director wrote a glowing report about Pastor Sika and his team. It included the following quote: “Pastor Sika, It has been a great joy to spend time with you and your team. What a wonderful improvement we have seen as God is at work among us….” Pastor Sika also shared that two of his children were recently seriously hospitalized, but God healed them and they came home from the hospital, and are back to school.
The ag project at the Joseph Project orphanage this year has kicked off again, but sadly, costs there have sky-rocketed. The funds that have been given are now only sufficient for the first stage: to rent the tractor to clear and plow the 4 acres of land, plant the seed, apply fertilizer and do the initial weeding. However, later in the season another $500 will be needed to complete the work and bring in the harvest. We pray God will provide so that the harvest will be completed without problems. The children help, but cannot do all the work as the JP might be accused of violating child labor laws. We continue to pray for the day-to-day needs of the orphanage in addition to special needs – such as for another older student, Julienne, who needs apprenticeship.
He also sent us some great pictures and video of further construction to expand his church, Bethany Baptist Church in Lome. Despite much persecution when the church was started, it is now well-established and growing fast. The video (which I would include a link to if I knew how!) clearly shows just what a huge project this is, and we pray the Lord will enable the work to be finished quickly and well, so that “normal services will be resumed as soon as possible!”
We just received an urgent prayer request as Pastor Sika is suffering extreme stomach pain, fatigue, high blood pressure and other serious symptoms. He needs to see a specialist at the hospital for tests and treatment. We pray for God’s healing and also that the root causes can be revealed and correct treatment given – and for the funds needed to pay for it!
Pastor Honore in CAR – He reports that they held a baptism service last Saturday, where they baptized 16 people (see photo). More people are also preparing for baptism at Easter, when special services are of course being planned. The school will close for 2 weeks over Easter. The CEERCA church is growing each month and the new church, recently started about 5 miles away, is also doing well – though in great need of basic items such as seats, tables and shelter. We pray the Lord will provide for these needs soon. Pastor Honore also wants to start raising chickens as a way to support the ministry so needs to build a henhouse for the project.