Even in times like these, we have so much good news to share. For example, since I returned from Pakistan a month ago, our Pakistan team has started two new churches and is beginning construction on FIVE wells in the desert villages where we have established churches.
When I came home, I wrote a letter asking you to help us raise the $50,000 necessary to do that project. It included drilling the well, installing an underground pipe to the village, building a baptistry/holding tank of about 1000 gallons, installing an additional 1,500 gallon, gravity-fed (if necessary), water tank, and two public bathrooms (since they have none in their houses). We also ran water to every home in the village, so the ladies no longer had to walk one-two miles to the river to get water. And since there is no electricity there, we installed seven solar panels to charge the pump's batteries. Joshua Martyn even made a beautiful and compelling video to encourage you to give. (If you haven't seen it yet, give yourself ad blessing and click here.)
What? You never got my request? That's because before I sent out the email, a family who generously supports our work sent us a check sufficient to meet that need and more! I didn't want to ask you to give to a need already met, so I never sent out my letter. Joshua also reworked the video, excluding the discussion about the need for the wells.
Since then, I have had to tell several families and churches not to send money for the wells, and they were disappointed. But don't worry, maybe we will do the same for other villages where we plant churches in a few months.
As I said, we have so much good news, but I will save it for later. Instead, I want to ask your help with something near and dear to my heart and my wife's. We have several needed construction projects in Honduras that I have not been able to persuade people to help with. It is not a tear-jerking need, so it keeps getting pushed to the back of the line, but I can no longer continue ignoring these needs. -- We have three established churches that need help to grow their ministries.
Project # 1
Zurzular, or what I call the coffee village, sits on a mountain top over a mile high. We bought a great house to remodel for the church that started under a shade tree. It is solidly built out of concrete and has a new roof that should last thirty years or more. What it does not have is a floor, plumbing, or electricity. In America, builders pour the foundation first, then build on it. In Latin America, they build out of concrete blocks and cement. They wait until the walls go up and the roof, then pour the floor and install the plumbing and electricity. The lines are either run outside the wall or into a track chiseled into the walls, then covered over with cement.
We have a thriving church there, but most people are only employed during a few months of the year when the coffee beans or the sugar cane is harvested. We have been feeding kids there for years, usually 80-100 at a time. They sit on the floor and the food is prepared at a nearby house and brought to them. We need to finish the house, knock out the non-supporting walls and make it into a church "auditorium" and feeding center. We will also install an outside bathroom and a functioning kitchen. This will give plenty of space for the kids. In the future, as our numbers increase, we will build an overhead extension outside above a concrete pad and use it as an overflow.
Project # 2
Guaricayan is a small village that sits near the bottom of the same mountain. (We have started four churches on that mountain.) The adults meet on a porch, and the children meet on the porch of another house, about fifteen yards away. That's typical for a new church plant, but when it rains, everyone gets wet.
After we started, a family in the church donated land to build a church facility that could also be used as a feeding center. We are already feeding the kids there, sometimes in the rain. We have the land, and the village is not large, so we simply need to erect a small building about the size of our Bartolo feeding center. The family who gave the land really love the Lord and are a shining light in their little community. The husband is training to become the pastor there. But poverty rules in that area. Last year he asked for money to start an egg business in his village and requested only $200. (That was after he had given us his land free.) I gave it to him, and now he is providing well for his family, but erecting even a small building is out of the question with their economy.
Project # 3
Suyapa is the village where I started a church about a decade ago. When we built the church facility, we had a congregation of new believers, about 120 in number. On the first Sunday, it could not hold the attendees. So we built a covered pavilion at the back two years later, making our church in an "L" shape. This village has an unemployment rate of more than 70%, and most families are genuinely fortunate if they have one meal a day. Usually, parents and the elderly will go two or three without a meal. We have been feeding kids there for years, and before covid, we prepared the food elsewhere and paid to transport it every day. We want to enclose part of the pavilion as a kitchen so they can prepare the food there. Doing this will require only constructing three walls, buying a stove (the plumbing is already there for the sink), a freezer and refrigerator, and storage for the dry foods. We will have 90-120 kids eating a prepared, hot meal every day once the project is complete. Eliminating the transportation will save about $7 a day in operational costs. That's $1800 a year.
Nolin and I went to Honduras last August and did not tell anyone we were coming. Then, I went to the Suyapa church to see how things were going on a Wednesday night. The one-room church had 84 adults attending, leaving space for maybe a dozen more people. Outside on the pavilion, the children's church had 89. That was a Wednesday night service with 173 people. Eat your heart out, pastors!
Do you want some more good news?
During the past two years, legal requirements have prevented us from feeding the kids at our centers, so we give them food bags. Now that is ending, and the kids are anxious to sit at our tables and enjoy a hot meal. To make that possible, I need your help to fulfill these needs.
We set a goal of $59,000 for these three projects, but a family in a church where I recently preached has just given $30,000. (Again, before I even made the need public.) So, we need $29,000 to do all THREE projects. And if you happen to give above that amount, I won't stop you this time since we have many more projects awaiting our attention in Honduras.
I really appreciate your help with these three projects. It will be an encouragement to the churches and to me personally.
Is that a typo? Not at all. Jesus fed the 5,000, but we got close with 4,500 (500 families), and ours is not a one-time meal but food for two months. Our Magnificent Lord said we would do greater things than He did, and our Lord allowed us together to do so. With Him, all things are possible!
In late January, I wrote you about the suffering and starvation of a region in central Asia where we have many house churches whose combined total is 500 families. An average of nine per family adds up to 4,500 people, without food, without blankest, and without gas to cook or heat their tiny apartments. Yet, you gave abundantly as if the need was your own, doing for others what you would want someone to do for you and your family. Here is a summary of what we purchased for the 500 families on the brink of starvation in central Asia.
Each family was given:
For your pleasure and better understanding, I requested that we receive a report from one family so that you can read a testimony of what your giving accomplished. So here is what one of our pastors sent us:
One of the five hundred families we helped had neighbors who lived near them. This family consists of five children and their parents. The father works five days weekly far away and returns for two days to spend time with his family. They are a Muslim family and are under the care of a religious man (Imam) who helped him to find work.
The desperate wife received no help from the Imam. So, she began to ask her neighbors to help her and her children, to keep them warm and fed, but no one could because everyone was going hungry and cold. But, when she knocked on the door of our Christian family, the wife told her, "bring your children, and come stay with us, and I trust my God will provide for all our needs." So, she brought her children and stayed with them for twelve days. In the house, there were eleven children and three adults.
The Christians shared with them what we had given for their family. At every meal, the Muslim woman watched them pray before eating and saw how they read their Bible and prayed before going to sleep. This was one of the Bibles you smuggled into our country for us. On the third day, this Muslim lady asked about the book, why they read it every night, and why they pray differently from the memorized Muslim prayers. Of course, these new Believers shared with her the answer to all her questions, and she became under great desires to have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Then, on the eighth day, she came to the knowledge of salvation and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her savior. Now they are working to reach her husband for Christ.
There are reasons for our suffering.
There has been a "perfect storm" of conditions that prompted this need:
Meeting the needs of others, especially your Christian family, as the book of James teaches us, is an ongoing need, especially now with the situation in Ukraine. Although it may seem overwhelming to us, hearing of so many needs in so many places, this is, in reality, a constant. Our Lord will sort it out by leading some to help with one need and others to help the others. Our responsibility is to let you know the needs and let those who suffer know that they are neither forgotten nor abandoned. After all, it could be us in need, waiting for affluent Believers elsewhere to relieve our suffering.
One last word…
What we raised was to carry these families through the remaining winter months of February and March. Now that Spring is here, there is hope that seed can be planted and a harvest comes, alleviating their suffering. Then all they have to be concerned with is losing their lives for the cause of Christ. But, until that is evident, they still need our help. So many of you are giving to other needy causes, but if the Lord should direct you to help these Believers in Afghanistan and their neighboring lands, please do so.
On February 18, we informed you that our men in Pakistan needed five motorcycles (see the original email here). Then, after our email was sent to you, we were told that their need had grown to seven. Rather than send out a correction, we waited to see what you would give, and by February 23, we had received enough for all seven motorcycles. Our marvelous, all-knowing Lord moved in your hearts even though you did not know the entire need. Serving Him keeps getting better and better.
It takes time to process your giving and wire it to the receiver’s bank. Then it takes a few days for them to clear the international wire and release the funds. So, about a week ago, we received a photo of the five motorcycles for the Lahore church planters, and last night Pastor Shaukat sent photos of the two given to desert church planters. Along with the photos, Pastor Shaukat sent this message:
Please keep praying for us because it is a very hard task for us to reach more lost souls and win them for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Join Missionary Ernest Livingston and his sister, as our season two story continues. In Episode 6, we are reintroduced to Melonie Penelope, who has followed her dream and become a Christian English teacher in Paris France. Her unique imagination is a very powerful thing, however; and sometimes the task of separating reality from her own fictitious adventures . . . is nigh impossible. While Ernest is living his life of personal tribulation; his sister wishes daily for more excitement . . . .
Which is more critical in world evangelism, the message, the messenger, or the means of delivery? That is like asking a child what is more important on his bicycle, the rim, the spokes, or the tire? One without the others is useless. So, we too need “chariots” to do His bidding effectively.
We have a situation that has never occurred before. It is a severe and sincere need that is neither glamourous nor a tear-jerker. But this need has unseen importance that you will understand in the next two minutes as you read.
Our feeding ministry has grown so vast that we are now experiencing trouble delivering the food. And in addition, the vehicles that we use to evangelize and carry preachers and Timothies to far and remote areas are experiencing difficulties, hindering our expansion of the Gospel. Let me give some examples:
In Kenya, we have well over 500 national church platers supported, in addition, to probably 3,000 Timothies. Many now have bicycles or motorcycles, but most still rely on bus transportation or walking. We sometimes need a vehicle to transport teams to remote areas using PowerPacks to show the Jesus Film, resulting in a new church plant. Additionally, we have two feeding centers that require the weekly delivery of bulk foods. (Last week, some of you gave around $4,700 to pay the annual food budget for these two Touch a Life centers located in local churches.)
We could easily open 500 more centers if we had the funding. However, it takes money to deliver the food as well. Currently, we must use taxis, rent trucks, or hire Uber-type drivers, which is very expensive. We need to purchase a delivery truck for this purpose, and this week, a dear family in Florida gave us $30,000 for that cause. However, we feel that to get a reliable, second-hand Kia2700 delivery truck (the same model we use in Honduras), we need an additional $3745. This amount will cover the tax, title, delivery, etc., and a full tank of fuel. We had estimated a cost of $30,000, but since they are second-hand vehicles, we knew that our pick might have to be adjusted, affecting the possibility of exceeding the target amount. However, a delivery truck is barely half the price of a used pickup truck. It will easily carry food for multiple centers and 15-20 preachers who can be delivered and retrieved after a full day of evangelizing.
We are now only $3,745 from making the purchase. Can you help?
While on a Visionary Trip, many of you have ridden in our Ford van. However, we don’t use it whenever possible because it has an old engine that sucks up gasoline like me with a strawberry milkshake. To be frank, (I always wanted to be Frank) during our last Visionary Trips in 2019, using it was cost prohibitive as it gets less than 10 miles to a gallon. With the price of gasoline nearly doubling worldwide, using it is no longer an option. We have tried to sell it and use the funds to purchase a used diesel vehicle, but there have been no “takers”; in fact, there have been no “lookers” either. But this week, my son Daniel came up with a great idea … why not replace the old gasoline engine with a new diesel engine? (He got his looks from me but his brains from his mom.)
We investigated and found that we could do so for around $9,000. Diesel engines are preferred in Honduras, and you often must pay extra for a gasoline engine. (Generally, they are unwanted due to expensive gasoline and the shorter engine-life expectancy.) And though the price of diesel fuel has risen too, in Central America, it is much cheaper than gasoline (just the opposite of here in the USA), diesel engines give better mileage, and the engine will literally last longer than the body of the vehicle!
We also have some needed repairs for the Mitsubishi truck. We have taken good care of it, but it is fifteen years old now, and if you have been with me, you know the kind of roads we drive on and rivers we drive through. Ours is not typically a city ministry; it is a “highway and hedges” ministry. Those repair needs come to about $2,200.
If these were my vehicles, I would bear the cost and never mention it to you, but they don’t belong to me; they belong to Touch a Life. We have kept our sponsorships low so as not to burden the donors. Sponsorships in 2005 were $35 a month. Sponsorships in 2022 are still $35 a month. We have cut corners wherever possible, leaving nothing for vehicle purchases, repairs, or construction. And to be honest, in our 35+ years of ministry, I don’t recall a time when we have ever asked you to finance or repair any of our ministry vehicles. We have bought hundreds of cars, trucks, and motorcycles globally for the needs of others but not for our own. As a rule, we ask for others but not for ourselves. This is a first for us, and to be honest, I am a bit embarrassed to ask now, but the need requires me to swallow hard and do it.
So, I come to you with hat in hand, leaving me no covering for my bald head, and ask you to help us raise this combined total for a delivery truck in Kenya and an engine replacement, and needed repairs in Honduras -- all for $14,945.
When someone is hurting, I mean really hurting, to the point of despair and the feeling of no hope; the greatest gift you can give is a sincere acknowledgment that they have not been abandoned or forgotten. Hunger pains go deep, but not nearly as deep as hopeless pain. Hopelessness says no one knows, or even worse, they know but don’t care.
So much has happened in the last week, so we will give you a few bullet points and some more detail below.
Also, I need to make a correction. In my haste to prepare the email last week, I wrote that our facility was on the East side of the country, it is on the West side of Ukraine.
Understand this: Ukraine is the birthplace of the Russian Orthodox Church. As a result, baptists are considered cultists, and priests tell the people not to attend Baptist churches. However, Oleg and Lori’s ministry has done much to remove that stigma.
Before the invasion of Ukraine was imminent, we contacted our people there, Oleg and Lori Enskaya, to see how we could help. Oleg’s English is weak, so we always deal with Lori, an American whose burden took her to Ukraine years ago as a single woman to serve the Lord. She met and married Oleg and was immediately dropped by her mission board because they do not believe in supporting non-Americans as missionaries. Because of this unbiblical policy, they rightly determined that since Lori was now married to a Ukrainian church planter, her support would benefit him. We learned of her plight through Pastor Gene Carpenter at Palmetto Land Baptist in Summerville, SC, and have served as their “mission board” ever since, even though we are technically not a mission board.
You have read many articles about their work, including their Bible Institute, Touch a Life feeding center, and their soccer and ping pong teams for Toch a Life kids who play across the country. They are often on television and share their faith with the politicians and people.
Before the crisis became a reality, they determined to remain in Ukraine rather than abandon their calling and people. Then, during the night, Oleg was awakened with severe pain in his abdomen. They went to the hospital and were told to leave immediately for Budapest, Hungary. Living in the SW corner of Ukraine, in Mukachevo, Budapest, is only a three-hour drive. When they arrived at the hospital there, Oleg was treated, and fortunately, the Ukrainian doctors had misdiagnosed his condition. He was treated and kept in the hospital for several days. It was during that time that Russia invaded. Logically, they wondered if the Lord had allowed this to get them out of the country. They immediately found an apartment to rent and began to make plans to serve the refugees that would spill over.
But Oleg could not remain in peace and safety as his nation was attacked. So, leaving Lori and the kids behind to care for refugees, he returned to Ukraine to do whatever he could, convinced that his actions to return would have a profound impact on his future ministry. And so, he did.
We have received many calls and emails wanting to know if we have people there and how to help them. For days we have asked Lori how we could help, but she could only and honestly reply that she did not know. Then, this morning I received this word from her.
“Right now, we can get food. We have about 50 refugees and our TAL kids to feed. We need food, extra money for heating, electricity, and more pots and pans/cups/ kitchen supplies. Oleg is going to try to get money from his Ukrainian card tomorrow. If he can, I will send it there. If not, I will go to the border and get it to him.”
So, there you have it. Our Touch a Life ministry is still open, their Holy Trinity Baptist Church is still open, but there is a need for food, utensils, and supplies. As time goes on, the need will remain until and even after this is over. But as you can see, Oleg will remain also. So, how much do we need to raise for them? Your guess is as good as mine. Even Lori and Oleg have no idea. It is apparent that the longer the crisis lasts, the greater the need will grow.
Though a need for food, water, clothing exists, the greater need is for the people of Ukraine to know not only does America stand with them, but specifically, the Christians in America do so as well.
There is no need for us to give daily updates on the war, as you can see it on television. But know that our people and their converts are there and will withstand all that is thrown at them. Will we lose hard-won territory for the gospel? Probably so, but the testimony of what we do now and how we helped in their time of need will go a long way to regain that territory and reach throughout the entire nation with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
If you want to help, knowing we don’t honestly know the extent of their need, then donate below. We will either deposit it directly into his account or send it to Lori, and she will meet Oleg/TAL Staff at the border and give them cash.
PS I tried to get Lori to talk about their personal needs, but she wouldn’t. I know they have a budget and bills in Ukraine that must be met (rent, utilities. etc.), and now they have it in Hungary as well. She told me simply that their family now has a $2,000 monthly deficit. If you wish to help them personally, you can also donate online here by selecting "Representative" and then "Oleg & Lori Enskaya". And then there is food, blankets, water, medicines, bandages, splints, and the great need of prayer.
As promised, I wanted to send you a video of our trip to Pakistan. This video is more like a blog explaining the strategic ministry value of evangelizing Pakistan and assisting the national preachers. Soon, Joshua Martyn will follow up with a more cinematic presentation of where we went and what we saw. Be sure to watch it as it will blow you away. Most likely, I will attach his video to notify you of our upcoming projects in Pakistan. You will see what we have already done and what more we want to do.
In the video, I mention that we purchased some motorcycles for them since returning home—seven in all. Four have been purchased, and the other three should be this weekend. When we get a picture of them all, I will send that out as well.
Enjoy what your offerings produced!
We currently have two Touch A Life feeding centers up and running over in Kenya, feeding over 100 children. Our Daily Bread program has supported these, and the results are amazing so far. Both are run out of local churches. The first one is out of Illula Baptist Church. The benefit of the program being run by the local church is that the children receive both physical nutrition as well as spiritual nutrition, hearing the Word with their meals. As a result, family members of the children who are coming to be fed show up to the church services and learn about the Lord. Illula Baptist Church has grown from an average attendance of 60 members to 80 members since the feeding program began there, a 33% increase.
The second location is out of a church run by one of our National Church planters. It has also seen an increase in members since the feeding program started, going from an average of 100 to 150, a 50% increase!
As you can see, the benefits of our daily bread program in setting up feeding centers out of our local churches has a tremendous impact. They are able to feed those children in need in the community, physically and spiritually, and also reach the adults with the Word while doing so.
Some of the fruits of the Touch A Life program at the second location. Pastor John Thumbi Kigwa seen here with a family. The children came when the program started, and now their parents have joined the church!
Now, we need your help! As mentioned above, we currently have two feeding centers operating in Kenya, but we have the potential to be able to operate many more due to the size of our national church planter group in that country. The only thing we need to move from potential to action is your commitment to help. To free up the daily bread funds being used for these two active feeding centers, we need you to support them. The total cost to run them together for the next 12 months is $4,645. We would love it if you could partner with us with a monthly commitment, but if you are only able to help one time for now, that would be a tremendous blessing and will allow us to open up the next feeding centers. Make your donation below, or by mailing in a check and designating it to “Kenya Daily Bread”.
May God bless you!