The other day my husband gave me a small, simple bouquet from our garden. It consisted of three yellow roses and a couple of stems of beautiful yellow flowers. At first, I had to think what the small yellow flowers were, and then I remembered where I had seen them – they were from our raised bed where the kale had gone to seed! It made me consider how Man has spent years grafting and perfecting so many different varieties of roses, and yet the humble kale plant naturally produces such intricate, pretty little flowers! Sometimes in life we spend so much time looking for the “big” miracles that we overlook the “little” ones!
About 6 weeks ago, the senior pastor of our church announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and so needed urgent surgery, taking several weeks to recover. It came as a shock to everyone – and apparently it came as a shock to him too. He had gone to the doctor because of shoulder pain. The x-ray showed no problem with his shoulder but something of concern was noted at the edge of the film, and so he was sent for another scan of the adjacent part of his body. Again this showed no abnormality, but “something” at the edge of the scan caught the doctor’s eye – when this was investigated, it was discovered that he had multiple tumors in his pancreas, although he had experienced no symptoms!! The doctors said that it is extremely rare to catch pancreatic cancer at this very early stage before it spreads! The surgery went well, and he has a good prognosis, but his recovery was painful and slow. Praise God, this past Sunday he attended church briefly to announce that he plans to preach next Sunday!
It would be exciting to share a testimony of how God healed him completely without surgery (after all, LOTS of people were praying for him!) or that he made an amazing recovery without pain or complications. But in this case, he did have to endure and suffer the “working out” of his healing. But that doesn’t negate the miracle of his cancer being diagnosed so unusually early, and in time for the surgery to prevent it spreading! Once again it brings to my mind the story of Lazarus and his sisters – sometimes God just calls one of his faithful servants to travel down a particularly difficult road for reasons we don’t understand until later (if then!). Yet our journey may well be an inspiration to many others and in ways we could never imagine! Sometimes our life is nothing like the “perfect rose” we would like, but instead it has unexpected beauty like the tiny kale flowers! Our friend Pastor Honoré in Africa is also going down a very difficult road right now, but we trust that God is continuing to bless and inspire others as they are watching him persevere in faith, and we pray that our prayers will comfort and strengthen him.
Blessings and encouragement to you all, Shirley
Pastor Honoré in Central African Republic and his family have been going through a particularly horrible time these past couple of months since his home (next to the church inside the ministry compound) was attacked and his young teenage daughter held captive for ransom in the middle of the night. Despite employing several guards, the personal attacks and threats have continued frequently – causing the guards to run off and his family to be unable to sleep because of fear. He finally decided to move his family to a rented house in another part of the city so that they could have peace and more security. The police seem to be doing nothing, but thankfully during the day the church and school continue to do well and have no problems. We pray the Lord will soon intervene so that the perpetrators will repent of their attacks against him, and the family can return safely to their home.
Pastor Sika in Togo reports that he recently met up with a woman named Sarah, who had been attending a church for 5 years and even preaching to others. However, after talking with Pastor Sika, she realized that she was not saved. She had started attending a church after her sick brother was prayed for by the church and was healed. This experience caused her to turn from idol worship and start attending the church, although she had no understanding of salvation or what Jesus did to gain it for us. She sat under the preaching in the church for 5 years but never heard about salvation! Pastor Sika was able to explain it to her and she gave her life to Jesus Christ – this photo shows the two together. Sarah is now continuing to grow in her Christian faith.
It illustrates just how many people there truly are still not saved, and many churches are failing in their responsibility to correctly teach and disciple their congregation, quite apart from evangelizing those outside the church! It also shows how important such ministries as the Joseph Project orphanage are, where not only do people attend the church on Sundays, but they also see an ongoing testimony of Christianity lived out on a day-by-day basis through the staff and children. We keep the JP always in our prayers as we know that everyone there depends on God to meet their needs, often on a daily basis, and we thank and appreciate all of you who continue to help support this important ministry!