For thirty-five years, I have been recruiting like-minded Believers to help me support national church planters. The blessings that God has showered on those donors and me are incredible as we have followed the light He shined on our paths.
These gallant servants of God, who serve where we cannot and probably would not, live humbly. I sometimes refer to their "houses" and wonder if you know what kind of structure they live in. To be sure, it is a house, but it may be less than 100 square feet (10' x 10') and be made of mud and sticks or bamboo. Yet, they are thankful for their "house" and feel incredibly blessed by God. And they are.
Sometimes they ask for help so they can perform their ministries more effectively. For example, they may need a bicycle ($125) or motorcycle ($1300). Others may request help for a necessary surgery or to help to pay a hospital bill. Others request travel funds to plant a church in a remote village or rescue them from imprisonment because of their faith. We even get requests to help bury a pastor, his wife, child, or a church member who has passed and had no provision for such. Once, we had to bury forty-eight young people who three men shot with machine guns as they were praying in their house church.
Their needs are as vital to them as our needs are to us. As Americans, the difference is that our needs are often our wants, whereas their needs are precisely that, -- they don't even dream of acquiring a want. Yet, through all these years and in every country (the 90+ where we have served them), there is one item they all ask for, and they ask continually. That need is for Bibles.
We expend a lot of time and effort to raise funds for Arabic and Farsi Bibles as we strive to cover North Africa and the Middle East with Bibles; in the last week, we took 25,000 Bibles into just one country in that region. Their response was, "When can we get more?" They are not trying to stack copy upon copy on their bookshelf. They are merely hoping to get enough so each family in their house churches can have one and to have a surplus to give to the new converts. Imagine turning from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Animism, where you have been indoctrinated with the nuances of those faiths all your life. You have rejected them, and perhaps your family has rejected you. Yet, you have no Bible with which to learn about your new Lord and Savior. Therefore, we must provide these converts with a Bible.
In August, we decided to dedicate our efforts to raise funds to purchase Bibles, not for the Middle East but the rest of the world. So I wrote to some of our national directors scattered globally, asking them the prices and number of Bibles they need. The prices range from $3 to $10, and they ask for thousands of copies.
In this effort, we will be ignoring Latin America for the most part, as there are so many missionaries there who can get Bibles donated and shipped to them. So instead, we are going to concentrate on those regions where Bibles are available, but the people cannot afford one. $3 is not much, neither is $10, but when your average monthly income is only $4, you cannot afford to give a month's income to buy one. In addition, you may need six months' income to travel to the closest Bible bookstore.
So, as a Christmas present to our Lord, I ask you to help us raise at least $15,000. You can donate online on this page, or by mailing in a check and designating it to "Christmas Bibles".
We hoped to raise $25,000, but Tabernacle Baptist in Orlando already gave $10,000, so we have already purchased several thousand Bibles for Kenya, Pakistan, and India.
What will we do if you give more than the $15,000? -- We'll buy more Bibles. -- Personally, I hope you will give $50,000 for this project.
When Christ was born, the angels declared that His birth would be good news for all nations. So, let's join with them and do what we can to declare that good news to those who have neither heard it nor had the opportunity to read about it. Imagine the tens of thousands of Believers who will this Christmas, for the first time in their lives, be able to sit and read the story of our Lord's birth in Luke, chapter two. They will be as amazed as the shepherds! Thank you for making that possible for them, and Merry Christmas!
I wanted to send a letter of gratitude to those who gave to help the Indian pastors buy seeds for their farms. As we neared the end of this project, we were still short by 1/3 of the amount, but a family who knew about the need offered to pay the final $8,500 so that these 31 pastors’ families could have a better life.
It is incredible to realize that these servants of God have to pay monthly interest of up to 40%, and it is no wonder that because of this, they often fail to make their payments and lose their land. Tragically, they sometimes lose their children as debtor-slaves, and even though they use the word servant rather than slave, the result is the same. The children are separated from their families for several years to pay off the debt, working in the house and the fields, feeding the livestock, and being sexually abused, when they should be in elementary school. Because of you, they now will be in school.
Through of your concern and generosity, you have given their lives back to them, and they give great praise to God and thanks to you.
I just wanted you to know the result of your giving. Keep up the good work.
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".
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!
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,
One of our pastors, named Raju Ankanpalli Gujjalla, has passed away. He contracted covid, and because he had diabetes, the doctors said it caused him to develop a “black fungus.” The family borrowed money to get him to a hospital, and he was given steroids to no avail. They sent him then to Bangalore at an additional expense, but he did not survive.
While supported by Final Frontiers, pastor Raju led more than 242 souls to Christ and started 13 churches. He leaves behind his wife Premlata and two young children, a boy, and a girl. They ask that you pray for his family and the churches under his care.
This family does not have any well-to-do relatives and no income for the survivors. (Though the wife will receive our in-house “death benefit” to help bury him and purchase some food. She will also receive his support for the next 2 years as part of our ministry policy.) The non-Christians are traumatizing the children and keeping his family at a distance out of fear.
It would be a blessing and a grand testimony if we could send a gift to this family during this time of their grieving. They borrowed over $2,300 and if you are interested and can help with this you can donate below or send a check for "Raju Ankanpalli Gujjalla's Family". Note that we will also be caring for the children through our Touch a Life program. If you would be willing to do so, you can offer support or offerings for their needs online as well. Please contact us if you would like to support them.
About the photos:
In developing countries, the funeral must usually occur within a day because there is no option for embalming. During that time, the body is laid out on a table for visitors to pay their respects. In this case, the family is so poor they have no table and had to place him on the floor. So the church members borrowed money to purchase a casket for their beloved pastor.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.