July news and encouragement
Even if you are not one who keeps up much with the news, one thing that we ALL cannot escape right now is the fact that prices are continuing to rise! We are told that inflation here in the USA is the worst in 40 years, and it seems that interest rates are steadily creeping higher. As the mid-term elections draw nearer we hear that the main concern of most people is the economy, and many are fearful of what the future holds. As we were married in 1981, it quite surprised me to learn that the economic situation in the country was so bad back then! Gerald and I knew that we had a very hard time – with the minimum wage at only $3.25 per hour and rent around $600 for an old house to fit our family (which included his 4 young children), we literally struggled one day at a time, doing everything we could to provide for the family and trusting that God would somehow make up the difference! Interest rates were a staggering 18.5% and it took us literally years to pay off a small hospital bill from when one of the kids was a baby. But because we rarely watched TV and couldn’t afford a newspaper, we really had no idea of how the rest of the country was faring!
We are all blessed that this country has seen easier times since then; of course I am saddened that things seem to be taking a turn for the worse again – we need to pray for our leaders and do our best to make wise decisions. However I want to encourage you all that REGARDLESS of the political or economic situation (whether here in the USA or elsewhere) we do not need to fear, if we put our trust in God. Our Heavenly Father loves us all and knows EXACTLY what we are presently facing as well as what the future holds. He is the Creator and can make a way through for us – even if we have to make a few changes! Tough times will come in this world because God chose to give each one of us free choice – and some people do choose to follow after selfishness and greed. But tough times should NOT prevent us from still serving God and being good examples of love, kindness, mercy and blessing to others!
As in the Parable of the Talents, God does not want us to hide away our blessings and resources in fear of the future! He wants us to trust Him and be good stewards of our resources, our time and our energy, so that others may be encouraged and come to put their faith in God and carry out His plan. I find it interesting that the Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25 – right after the long passage where Jesus taught his disciples about the End Times and went into such graphic detail of how difficult life would be. He told us in order to prepare us for tough times, so let’s stay focused on Him instead of being caught up in the fears and anxieties of the world! Jesus truly is Lord of all and there is much Kingdom work to be done! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo recently sent some special prayer requests. The prices in Togo have also increased dramatically recently, and there the government does little to help the people. One of the most pressing needs is to pay for the 17 orphans at the Joseph Project to attend school for the coming year, starting in September. Since most of the orphans joined the JP in 2015 when they were 9-11 years old, they are now in the higher grades of education. This means the books and school materials needed cost more (and prices there have doubled since last year). In addition, for political reasons, three of the students have to attend a high school in Tabligbo (about 15 miles away) which costs more. According to Pastor Sika (who gave us a breakdown of the costs) some of the school supplies will last 2 years, but the total funds needed by September total just over $3,000. Last month we shared some of the testimonies of these young students, so we pray that God will provide so that they can go on and accomplish the plans that they have to live independently and also play their part to help support the JP in the future.
Pastor Sika also is planning a major Christian conference in Lome in August, for about 150 pastors and leaders from all around the country. He feels that many of the Christian community in Togo seem to be lukewarm and overwhelmed with preaching prosperity and miracles. The topics at the conference will focus on Biblical discipleship, seeing and serving God. He asks prayer for himself and the others who will teach (Pastor Dogbe and Pastor Adjevi). Let’s pray the conference has a real impact on all who attend so that the Church in Togo will stand as a strong and faithful witness of Christ throughout the land there. He also asks special prayer as jihadists have recently started entering Togo from Burkina Faso to the north, entering homes and killing families and even police. The government is merely telling people not to allow strangers into their homes.
Pastor Honore in Central African Republic sent us these photos of when he attended a recent meeting of the ICEJ – the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The speaker from Israel, Rev. Kallus, emphasized the importance of Israel today in the world scene. The first photo shows Pastor Honore with Rev. Kallus and the mayor of Bangui. The second photo shows him with the C.A.R. Minister in Charge of Youth, Arts and Culture. It was a great privilege for Pastor Honore to be included in this meeting, along with a number of important local political leaders – one of whom attended a leadership seminar that he taught a few years ago. We thank God for this opportunity for pastors and local political leaders to fellowship together.
Irene in Kenya continues to minister in various places, as seen in these recent photos. She often shares photos and videos on her Facebook page so we encourage you to check it out. We pray God will continue to bless her and the children.