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Encouraging news and pictures February/March

Recently I decided to continue reading a book I had started months ago called “When Faith is Forbidden” by Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs organization. The chapter told the story of when Todd visited China in 2002 and was interviewing a female pastor, Sister Tong, who had just spent 6 months in prison for her faith. When asked by a translator what her time in prison was like, Sister Tong’s eyes shone brightly as she smiled and replied: “That was a wonderful time!!” Expecting to hear about the terrible prison conditions and suffering, Todd felt she had misunderstood, and so asked the question again. Her explanation of how she had felt the close presence and strengthening joy of the Lord in a new and powerful way throughout, and been able to share her faith with others, changed Todd’s life forever in the way he thought about prison and suffering!

He writes: “What if even the worst places and times on earth could be places of blessing and God’s presence?” He goes on to challenge the reader: “Is there some situation in your life right now that is not what you hoped or expected? Is it possible in that experience God might be moving? Is it possible in that situation you may experience Him in a new, special way?”

Lily waiting for discharge Feb 29For me, it spoke to my heart, as recently our life has been a roller-coaster because our sweet Lily has been back in hospital battling with frightening new physical symptoms, which add to the mystery of her rare neurological disease. We’ve spent over 2 weeks of constant tests, scary symptoms, worry and exhaustion, but GOD was with us, and finally things turned around and we were able to come home on Thursday afternoon just after this photo was taken! Lily is excitedly walking around and enjoying life like she hasn’t been able to for the past 6 months – and she doesn’t need oxygen, except for short periods when she gets overexerted! We are just so totally amazed at how she has been so strong and touched the lives of so many people during this ordeal.

Then, just a few days ago I received a lengthy text message from a friend I hadn’t heard from in many months. She is elderly, legally blind and deaf, in addition to having other physical ailments. I met her a few years ago as she was coming out of a very dark period and rededicated her life to the Lord. She wrote to update me on her situation – that she has moved and is living by herself in a senior citizens’ community in another city. She writes: “Life has been good and I thank the Lord every single day for everything he has done for me….the best of all is that I have become so very close to our Lord….God is the center of my life now and it is beautiful!” It is often only when everything else is stripped away that we experience the most amazing gift of all – our own personal relationship with Our Heavenly Father!! Let us not run from difficulties and suffering, but instead draw closer to our Lord and experience His love in a deeper, more profound way! As we approach the Easter season, I pray that each of us may experience a renewed relationship with our Lord! Blessings, Shirley

Villagers in Agbanake receiving foodPastor Sika in Togo – He sent us a great report about the ministry in Agbanake (the pagan village previously very resistant to the Gospel). He and his team returned there in late January to distribute much needed food and other items as the villagers are still recovering from the devastating floods late last year (first photo). He continues to preach the Gospel and teach a group of villagers the Bible (as seen in the 2nd photo) and plans to return weekly and start a church. The people are becoming more and more open to the Gospel, and the 3rd photo shows them thanking Pastor Sika as he leaves the village. It again shows how God can move in the midst of a terrible experience.

Teaching in AgbanakePeople of Agbanake thanking Sika





Pastor Tomety with new bikeAlso, another missionary recently visited Sika Kondji to see the work of the Joseph Project Orphanage and the church there. He was so impressed with what Pastor Tomety is doing there, that he decided to buy a new motorcycle for Pastor Tomety. This will be a major help to him in his ministry as he visits surrounding villages and no longer has to walk everywhere! We continue to pray that God will provide the funds needed for the annual plowing and planting of the JP ag project, and also for the JP high school students who have to attend school in another town. Many will be preparing this year to start apprenticeships and so special funds will be needed for that too.

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