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.
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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.