Today, the young lady has had her second of two surgeries. We spoke to the doctor by phone, and he said that she would need to come back and see him in about fifteen days, but he does not anticipate any problem. She is doing fine and is expected to be able to see perfectly. She wanted to express her gratitude to those who gave her this gift of sight and let them know how much their generosity benefits her and how grateful she is. Now she will abide by the doctor's instruction and have her bandages removed in two weeks. At that time, she will give glory to God for His healing and get busy again in her service for the Lord.
Those of you who gave to help her did so for your own personal reasons. We are so thankful for you demonstrating God's love to this young sister. You have changed her life for the better and given her the ability to serve Him as never before. You are amazing, just as your Father is. I hope that someday, somehow, we will be able to get you a photo of her.
It is an unbelievable story that I’m about to reveal to you. A miracle? Yes, but well beyond. We read of miracles in the Bible with astonishment, but I suspect Moses and Joshua and Elijah and Elisha must be tempted with jealousy when they hear about this one.
Millions have been displaced or disappeared in a certain Middle Eastern country, where war has ravaged the people for over a decade. Mass graves have become common, and widows and orphans have increased at least a thousand percent. All the deficits that follow such terror have also increased; water is scarce, and what is on hand is not fit to drink. Food is in short supply, causing thousands to be malnourished and even starve. Health care is virtually non-existent, and doctors have no medicine to treat illnesses and few supplies for necessary surgeries.
This has become a land that exemplifies the expression, “hell on earth.”
But there are Believers there, former Muslims who have been adopted into our Father’s family. You and I have helped them in the past, so many times for so many reasons. They, too, have endured what their fellow citizens have, but they have also been hunted and slain by the thousands. Their suffering is multiplied because of their outspoken faith in Jesus Christ as they witness, preach, distribute Bibles, and openly glorify Christ.
Their love for others and their stubbornness to stand with Christ have caught the attention of their Lord’s enemies, and as a result, some of the persecutors have come to Christ while others have watched in amazement as they show love to their persecutors. That is where this miracle has its roots.
Because of their testimony:
A governor, who has long been both a persecutor and a prosecutor, has come to us with a request. He comes from a small town in his province that has been badly affected by their crisis. Family, neighbors, and friends of a lifetime are suffering badly, and he has no means to help them. Yet, observing our churches for years and seeing their grace and hospitality, his eyes have seen the Light of their testimony, and he has humbled himself to ask for help.
Proverbs 25:21 says, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.”
A thousand years later, in Romans 12:20, Paul quoted this verse in his letter to the Roman church encouraging them, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink.”
This governor has asked our house churches, whom he has persecuted, to now be generous to the people of his hometown and give them food, fuel, and clean water. Our people have responded by saying they will do all he has asked, but he must also allow them to share the gospel with the families and give each one a Bible. They desire to do as Paul instructed in the next verse, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I have often asked you to give so we can care for our people in this region, and more specifically, in this country. You have fed them, bound their wounds, and buried their dead. But this is the first time I have ever asked if you will give so their enemies will be fed. We are here, and they are there. Only God will know where the funds come from; therefore, it is God who will receive the glory for your gift. But the food, water, fuel, clothing, etc., will be delivered by the hands of preachers and Believers who will deliver these items with a smile and a word of comfort; but more importantly, with a Gospel witness and a family Bible.
Do we have a church there in that town? No. Not yet. But you can be assured that as these seeds are planted, a harvest will be the result, and already we have the laborers standing by to reap the harvest. So, your gift will plant a church in the hometown of the governor. (BTW: No promises, but I imagine the persecution in his province will be diminished when the persecuted are the ones feeding his people?)
Felix, the governor, sent Paul away, saying, I’ll call you back when I am ready to hear more. Festus, the governor, his replacement, told Paul, you have almost persuaded me. In both instances, the seed fell on thorny ground. But now we have a governor near the same land, who is not calling our pastors to stand before him condemned, but coming to them, asking for help, and authorizing the gospel preaching in his hometown. A miracle? Yes, and far, far beyond that.
Historically and Culturally (expand your knowledge):
Typically, a village is inhabited by a “tribe” as most people living there (unlike a large city) can trace their ancestry back to the same “father.” Thus, they are all related, distantly. So, what he is asking is that we save not only his people but his tribe. Everyone in the Middle East belongs to a tribe, and often, when the leader of the tribe converts, the extended family feels it is acceptable for them to consider conversion. So much respect and confidence are given to the leader that the members of the tribe follow his lead as a child in American would follow his father’s will. We find this same custom in Acts when Paul witnessed to the jailer in Philippi and told him that he and his household would be saved.
Now, their request:
Our pastors have estimated that because about a hundred families live there, with five to fifteen per family, they will need $10,000 to meet the need. (That is their estimated total) As per the governor’s request, they have, by faith, promised aid to arrive before Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas gift this will be for our Savior. Our infant Lord was born in a similar small town, not far away. He came to His own to be sure, but the angles declared that night, His coming is also good news (gospel) “to all people.”
You can give online above, or mail in a check and designate it to "Governors Town".
Let me say that this is but a slice in a much larger miracle in that land. Other things are happening that reach higher than a governor, but I cannot publicly share that information—yet.
With all our requests and all your giving over the years, you may feel like we are chipping away at one mighty oak in a forest of thousands. But, in reality, we have nearly cleared the forest and left behind thousands of pioneers who have built Christian homes and fortresses with the timber they have felled. They have cleared the forest, but you provided the axes.
Here, in this one small town, we have a tree with deep, ancient roots in Islam. But as Solomon purchased trees from Lebanon to build a house for the Lord, I am asking you for one more supply of axes so our workers can fell this tree. It will fall as others have before it. Listen for the shout -- “Timber!”
What in the world is “Giving Tuesday”?
Well, ideally, it is meant to be an annual day of giving to a charity of your choice. So, whether you give frequently or just when the mood strikes, it is an annual reminder for you to help support the charities that you care the most about, identify the most with, or just wish to help out. (That, by the way, would be us.)
Truthfully, it was probably dreamed up by the same shady characters that invent every other “special day” as a way to get your money. Whether it is Valentines Day, Grandparents Day, or National Pirates Day (arghhh), the idea is to get you to spend. But this day is a bit different. It doesn’t require you to go to the mall, cook a special meal, or buy a decorative card. Instead, it is merely the writing of a check or the clicking of an internet link that allows you to say, “Hi guys. I had a few extra dollars and wanted to share them with you because I believe in what you do.”
So then, my question is not, what is Giving Tuesday, but rather, can we have one every week? (Just kidding.)
For those of you who would like to participate this year with a special offering, I want to let you know that whatever we receive will be applied to our Pastor’s Farm Projects in India. There are thirty-one pastors and their families that will benefit from this project.
In October I wrote you a short note about this. So here’s a reminder: Many of our pastors farm small family plots so they can survive. Typically they have to borrow money for seeds, and if the harvest is hindered by drought or disease, the collateral they put up for the seed is lost. Sometimes, they even have to send their children away to the lender to pay for their debt. For this reason, many lose a part or all of their small farm each year as they struggle to pay back the principle while having no hope of paying the exorbitant interest that can be 30-40% MONTHLY.
We thought this year it would be a wonderful thing to gift them with the seeds they need so that they can enjoy the full benefit of their labor and. We want them to have food for their families and food to sell to purchase the items they cannot grow like clothes, soap, oil for their lanterns, and education for their kids. Our goal was to raise $24,000, but we have only received 51% of that to date, leaving a balance of $11,799.
So, simply put, what you give to us, we will give to them. Please click the link below if you wish to help. It’s Giving Tuesday – what else do you have to do today?
You can give online below, or mail in a check and designate it to "India Farming Project".
Join Missionary Ernest Livingston as our Season 2 adventure continues. In Episode 2 we find him four months after being washed ashore as a lonely cast away. Will he survive his deadly jungle enemies? How is he staying sane, not giving up, and learning how to love one another in utter isolation?
You all know by now about our farms in Myanmar. They are up and running a bit now; still, the civil war in that country continues. Pastor Vel wrote the other day to give me an update and shared a story that was a blessing. I thought it would be to you as well, so here it is.
Yesterday, our deacon and I brought our church's widow and her three grandchildren to our new farmland and built a temporary hut for them to stay. They have been living on the side of the road in our area, on municipal property, and they were forced to leave the place by the military on Tuesday. So, the widow came to me and asked for help and said that she wanted to live in our new land. So we brought them and built for them a temporary shelter.
A very simple hut and I pray we will be able to build a better or decent one than this soon. We also need to build a toilet as well. Our farm watcher, his older brother with our deacon, and two of our orphan boys helped build the hut.
How wonderful it is to see those among the poorest of God's servants doing what they can to take care of a family in even worse financial shape. How grateful I am for them and for you, whose offerings for recent projects have allowed us to help so many churches, families, and pastors.
We wanted to share with you a short video from Raju Ankanpalli Gujjalli's family for the help the support that you sent. Click below to view the short video. Thank you again for fulfilling this need!
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First, an update on Amina; thank you to those who gave and fulfilled this need! The funds are on their way and we will update you on her once they have been able to complete the surgery.
Second, thank you again so much for coming to rescue our brothers and sisters who had to flee Afghanistan. By God's grace, we relocated seven entire families and the brother's widow, who was crucified. Their baby will now be born in their new country. Altogether, we rescued about one thousand people as their families are quite large. If you stop and think about it – that is incredible. And better yet, the house churches in their new land feel they can take care of the seven families while settling in and finding employment. I'll let you know if they need our help.
Their current situation.
The sixty-four families left behind are all being resettled in a region close enough to maintain contact with each other and attend the services at the various house churches. To do this, we had to transport more than six hundred souls, rent homes for them, then purchase clothing and housewares so they could start again. Of course, they are all unemployed now, but they are alive and relatively safe. We will continue to provide them with food, medical care, etc., for at least the next three months until they adjust and find new jobs. Doing this for six hundred plus people will require a considerable sum of money.
We need an estimated $22,986 to meet their needs. That comes to an average of about $12.77 per person -- per month. The price is so low because they will be receiving help from sister house-churches all over the region who give despite their suffering.
Would you please pray continuously for their security and needs? And if you have spare funds, please consider helping us take care of them.
Imagine how they must feel as new Christians. They cruelly lost two brothers, one by crucifixion and the other by dragging behind a truck and beheading. They then had to say goodbye to seven families who fled for their lives, whom they may never see again in this life. These families have lost their jobs and fled, leaving their worldly goods behind and moving to a new place to start again. What a blessing your gift will be for the entire body of Believers. When our churches in neighboring lands hear of your generosity, they will be encouraged and strengthened. They will see that not only will their new-found Lord never leave nor forsake them, but their family of Believers in America will not either. Thank you so much for your kind heart and willing spirit. You truly make my burden lighter and bring glory to the Name above all names.
Last year, we presented you with an opportunity to help us establish a farm in Myanmar that could generate food and income sufficient for our orphanage and help support the pastors and projects there. You responded, as usual, with the total amount needed, and when we observed how well the project was progressing and an opportunity to purchase more and better land arose, you gave to purchase it as well. Then Covid hit, and right behind it came a military coup. Since then, thousands have been killed by the junta and tens of thousands by covid. Before we could purchase the new farm, the banks closed.
Recently I spoke with Pastor Vel, and he told me the land-purchase funds are secure in the bank, but the road there is so dangerous that he prefers to wait. He had given a deposit to the seller, locking in the agreement and price, but feels it prudent not to risk their lives to travel to the capital and withdraw such a large sum. In the meantime, he stated that the boys living at the original farm are fairing very well and have had plenty of food to eat. As you can read in his letter, he brought some stock to his church property, and the orphans living there have been tending to them and multiplying the numbers. He wrote, "Yes, the chickens are multiplying by God's grace. And thank God, the boys (7 of them) were able to use them and the goats as their income and food while we cannot go there and give food budgets because of sicknesses and the coup from May until the end of September.
We already had 158 chickens on the farm and some 30 chickens at home. (I incubated about 23 eggs every 7 days, so the chicks were increasing. At present, we can incubate 30 eggs every 7 days as the hens increase, and in the future, we will have more hens to incubate more eggs at a time. I ordered 4 incubators from China in January and February, so we are excited about chicken farming).
But at present, there are 61 chickens left on the farm and about 127 chickens at home. We put about 84 eggs in the incubators, which some will hatch in 3 days. We also have one-week-old chicks. We also have two turkeys at home, and we put 10 turkey eggs in the incubator as well. The mother turkey is laying eggs again right now, and we have stored 4 eggs now. We also have 17 ducks at home that are laying eggs, and we have put 52 in the incubators, and we store 5 eggs as well. We have 6 geese at the farm at present. We had 11 geese already, but the boys also used some of them during the past 5 months. So, the chickens, goats, and geese were lifesavers for us. Now that we are getting better and approaching the dry season, we will try our best to increase them again. Thank you so much for all the funding and supports for farming!"
So we see the chickens, geese, ducks, and turkeys provide meat for the children and income to purchase non-consumable items like soap, shoes, clothing, medicine, etc. In addition, the goats are breeding, and the flock is multiplying. The only items I have not heard about yet are the fish ponds, completed before Covid, but I do not think they have been stocked yet.
We believe that helping them become more self-sufficient and not rely totally on American funding is working. In fact, it's working better and faster than I expected, despite the coup and Covid. So, what now? We planned to use the farm project in Myanmar as a test and, if it worked, do the same or similar elsewhere.
In recent months, you may recall that we had several small projects in Africa about which we have posted follow-up videos. These were corn grinders, now giving a dozen church members an income and supporting the pastors. This was only a baby step to see how well the project would be managed, and it proved to be a good beginning. But India is a country of great need and thus an excellent opportunity for us to launch them towards financial self-sufficiency and employment for their church members.
Pastor Solomon recently wrote to us explaining the perpetual poverty of the pastors we support. Most of them are from a farming background and are first or second-generation Christians. They have small landholdings of two-four acres at best. He explained that they are subsistence farmers, not commercial, and many are in areas where lack of rainfall makes them dependent on reservoirs and water channels. Those who have good locations can have two-three crops annually, while others are fortunate to have one.
Because of their poverty, they do not have assets to use as collateral with banks to purchase seeds and equipment. As such, they have to risk their land as collateral, and if the bank still rejects them, they turn to private money lenders. However, whether the loan comes from a bank or private party, the interest rates are steep, up to 30-40%, monthly. If they cannot pay these high rates and the principle, they forfeit parts or all of their family inheritance to pay their debt and then struggle to survive. If this becomes necessary, the banks will "blacklist" the farmer, ensuring he cannot get another loan in the future. When this happens, all hope is gone, and the farmers with their wives and children will often commit suicide.
Their dilemma is not an unwillingness to work but an inability to pay the high interest rates. Finally, after four months, when the harvest is gathered, the loan's outstanding balance allows the lender to confiscate the farmer's entire yield at an unfair price. Then they sell it on the market and get a higher profit, while the farmer loses his land.
Pastor Solomon then ended his appeal with these words: "These farmers are our pastors. We need to provide them with some monetary assistance for fertilizers, seeds, and labor costs. This will strengthen their capacity to overcome this seasonal crisis without borrowing and allow them to sell their produce at the government procurement price. For decades they have been denied any sustained constructive help. This repeating cycle robs the profit for family sustenance and ministry expansion. Their wife and children will be able to lead a very dignified life in the community being financially stable. Also, the elderly widows at home, who had sustained their hand-to-mouth survival while they were below 60 years and can no longer work as daily wage workers, can now be fed joyfully from the farm produce."
After hearing Solomon's appeal and better understanding the situation, we felt this would be an excellent opportunity to show our brotherhood with them and help their families become financially stable. And at the same time, help them provide jobs for their church members and care for the elderly widows. We want to raise an estimated need of $24,000 to accomplish this. The funds will be distributed and managed by our Director for that region. He knows each family and can ascertain their ability to benefit from the gift. For example,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.