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Encouragement and news for January

I have said before that I believe our greatest testimony is often brought to light when we are experiencing an extremely difficult test of our faith. Such as when we are trying desperately to hang on to our trust in God, despite a continuing battle that may be physical, mental, financial or emotional – or all of the above! When we have prayed and stood firmly on God’s Word, but now feel at the very end of our strength and ability …… we are so very aware of our weakness and desperation. Onlookers may ask how we are doing, and we somehow manage to muster a smile and positive answer, though secretly wishing we could just curl up and cry! But at such times, our words can have the greatest impact and be a strong testimony to our faith!

2 Corinthians 12:9 says: “But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power….” (ERV)

This past week or so has been a bit like that for our family. Our precious granddaughter, Lily, was rushed back to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital with frightening episodes when she completely stopped breathing – at times having to be “brought back”! Staying with her in the hospital, it was heartbreaking watching her struggle so hard to breathe, despite being on oxygen. Doctors still remain baffled as to the cause, and of course it was particularly terrifying for her. Her ever-inquisitive mind led her to type out on her speech device: “I want an explanation!”

The second night I was there, we had very limited sleeping arrangements in her room, and my daughter had asked the nurse for another eggshell foam mattress so that I could sleep more comfortably – although I wasn’t bothered about it. However, the nurse said it was unlikely she could find one. After a couple of hours of particularly difficult breathing, Lily wanted to say something to the nurse. She laboriously typed: “Please get a mattress for my Nana”!! It deeply touched us all how she was so concerned about me rather than her own precarious position!! It obviously impacted the nurse as well, as she soon returned with a mattress for me! Lily has battled throughout the ordeal with fears and worries, like us all, but has amazed us with her determination and resilience.

Lily home from hospitalAs we were preparing to return home (with additional oxygen resources) she wanted to make a card to give to a little girl she had met briefly in the hallway. Our journey home through bitter cold and snow took double the usual time, but this photo clearly shows her joy at being back home with Daddy!

We are reminded that even though it is a battle, and we may feel helpless at times, the Lord IS with us and reveals His strength and power to enable us to get through to better times. You will see another wonderful testimony of this in the following update from Pastor Sika in Togo. May you all feel God’s comforting strength and presence as you continue to fight the fight of faith throughout 2024! Blessings, Shirley and family.

Pastor Sika in Togo – He continues to recover from the surgery that amputated part of his finger but has been able to resume most of his duties. Over Christmas, he visited the Joseph Project orphanage to celebrate Christmas at the church there. On the way, his wife, Lucie, became so sick that he had to take her to a hospital. He went on to the JP where everyone had already shared the meal, and then he preached in the church where there were many visitors (as seen in this photo). After his message, 24 people gave their lives to Christ!! What a victory!

Sika preaching at JP Christmas serviceAfterwards, he had to drive 70 miles to get his wife into a better hospital, where she received treatment. Her situation was compounded by the fact that just 3 days beforehand, a large part of the huge market in Lomé burned to the ground – destroying everything including Lucie’s small business that supports their family!! Their personal future in 2024 was decidedly bleak, but they refused to doubt that God would somehow provide. I learned last week that indeed God did so abundantly! Some unexpected gifts were given for Pastor Sika and Lucie to not only pay their medical bills, but also enable her to restart her business! What an incredible testimony – especially to those new believers who met Pastor Sika in the midst of the bad situation and later heard how God had turned it all around! The following picture shows the 24 new believers with Pastor Sika and Pastor Tomety. The final picture shows the JP orphans – now all in high school.

JP orphans at Christmas




Pastor Honoré in Central African Republic – sent us an update on their Christmas celebrations at the CEERCA church, along with these lovely photos. We pray God continues to bless and grow the ministry there throughout 2024.

Honore and ClarisseChristmas at CEERCA

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