We wanted to give you an update on how vacation Bible school went in India that you prayed for and supported. While not quite the full amount came in that was needed, $5,376 out of the $5,700 need, the team were still able to accomplish much! Please read below the note from the team and be blessed with the results of your giving and prayers!
Greetings to you in Jesus Name! Hope you are doing well. You have been in my regular prayers and thoughts. I want to thank you for your sacrificial support for holding Vacation Bible School in 27 districts for 4050 children. There were about 2871 children saved. Praise God!
Honestly, it would not have been possible for us to hold VBS without your support. Thank you for your support. You have been in my prayers.
I have also attached a few pictures of the most recent VBS. Hope these pictures may be blessings to you. May God Bless you
Thank you to all who gave to complete the funding necessary for the Vacation Bible Schools in India and the building/repairing of the widow’s house in Pakistan. I hope no one was offended by my reminder, but I often have people say they didn’t get our email and didn’t know about the need, thus the reason for my repeating it.
As photos come in over the next few weeks, I will share them with you.
In the meantime, please pray for our people around the world. We may have a few bare grocery store shelves, but they have completely bare cupboards at home and no funds to purchase the little available food. I’ll send you a report in the next few weeks.
In case you missed the earlier emails, you can read them here;
India Vacation Bible School
Pakistan Widow's House
Week after week, you put up with us, sharing projects with you. I apologize if we go overboard, but we have learned over the years that some will give for one thing but have no interest in another. (Personally, I am that way. Some things don’t move my spirit, and others move me to do all I can.)
Allow me to give an analogy that applies to myself -- food. If I owned a steakhouse, you might come and visit me once a month, but if I owned a Golden Corral, you could come three times a day and not eat the same thing twice for a month. (And if you don’t know what a Golden Corral is, you need to come to Augusta and experience it. I’ll gladly be your guide!)
Usually, when we present a need, it is supplied in full within one hour to three days. That’s why I said you amaze me. But every now and then, I must drop the ball in explaining the need because your interest doesn’t seem to be there. By the way, we don’t do projects for the sake of doing projects. We do them because of the significant needs that come to us from our roughly 1,500 directors in nearly 80 countries. They present needs to us they feel are worthy and needy, which they cannot fulfill. Then we try to pick those that we think will interest you, benefit them, and will visibly and physically display the love of God to their unbelieving neighbors.
Recently, I presented you with two such projects -- but not yet completed, though both came close. So today, I want to ask you to reconsider helping with these so we can move on to others. (And you don’t have to eat steak again.) Right now, we are preparing some fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn on the cob with some apple pie, and a scoop of … I digress.
The first need was supplying funds for the Vacation Bible Schools in Tamil Nadu, India. The plan was to have one triumphant VBS in each of the 38 districts of that State. Our strategy was not only to bless the 150 children in each location but also to use it as training for the other churches in the area. Pastor Thomas wrote me yesterday and told me that some of the VBS classes had finished and that he has sent the local church leaders along with hie Bible College students to serve in the others. He also told me that they would do even more if they got enough funds. The request was for $5,700 to do all that, and you gave $3,562, so we have an outstanding need of $2,138. Click here and select "Special Projects" and then "India VBS" to give online. Otherwise you can mail in a check and designate it to "India VBS" but please let us know it is coming.
The second need was to repair the house of a widow and her children in Pakistan. She works as a maid and is, of course, uneducated with few opportunities. Her believing husband died unexpectedly about five years ago. She has asked for nothing during all that time and remained faithful to her church. Her three oldest are studying God’s Word at our Bible College and serving almost daily on evangelism teams. Several months ago, heavy rains caused her roof to collapse and destroyed their belongings. Her family of five lives in a two-room “house” with their neighbor’s family of five. We want to share God’s with her from God’s abundant provisions to us, demonstrating our great God’s love to her unbelieving neighbors. We want to repair and refurbish her house. The amount we need to do this is only $3,272, of which you already gave $2,638. (Obviously, her house is not like mine or yours.) We need only $634 more to give this family a new house.
Please click here to help this widow and her family, select "Special Projects" and then select "Pakistan Widow House". Otherwise you can mail in a check and designate it to "Pakistan Widow House".
Well, globally, many of ours are, and this allows us and you to reach children around the world whose parents will let them attend a time of teaching with songs, games, and food. And in many cases, these are parents who otherwise would not allow their children exposure to Christianity. So, this is a once-a-year opportunity for our churches in southern India to reach the children has grabbed my attention. Over the years, you have become acquainted with pastor Thomas Maher and his ministry. I am amazed at how his work grows and grows, but when I received his recent email, I knew this was something I wanted us to help with. So let me reprint his letter here for you to read.
I have a vital prayer request for your prayerful consideration. We have been holding Vacation Bible School for the children of Tamil Nadu State in all the districts. We hold these Vacation Bible Schools with our pastor's help in all 38 districts of our State of Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, we could not conduct these Vacation Bible Schools in the last two years because of Covid-19.
Our burden is to hold 15-day Vacation Bible Schools (from May 9-21) in all 38 districts, reaching 5,700 children. (There will be 150 children in each VBS.)
I ask for your prayers and help because we need to provide lunches, Bible stories, VBS materials in the Tamil language (which are rare and expensive), and a gift for every child on the final day of Vacation Bible School. Please pray because there is a need for $300 for every district. $300 for each district is just $2 for each child (150 children) to be trained for 15 days, including their food and gifts.
Please let me know if you have any way to help with this outreach. Your response will be greatly appreciated. I have attached a few pictures of our latest year's VBS that will give you an understanding of VBS in our rural villages.
I know how complicated it is for a pastor to organize and effectively run one VBS in his church and train 40 or 50 kids for five days or a week, but Pastor Thomas will oversee 38 separate VBS with 150 children in each -- for fifteen days. His pastors are well trained, and they have discipled their members to help, and in addition, the students at Thomas' Bible College will also lend a helping hand.
Please rush and offering to us by giving online if you can so we can get an international wire sent to him in time. As you can see, even $2 will go a loooong way with this incredible opportunity.
38 separate VBS with 150 children equals 5,700 children being taught God's Word for fifteen days in a pagan land. What an outreach! And yes, $5,700 is a lot, but when you consider it is only $2 per child for the fifteen days, it is really nothing at all. So, if you would like to help, you need to do so quickly -- an online gift would be the best way. Click here and select "Special Projects" and then "India VBS". Otherwise you can mail in a check and designate it to "India VBS".
Thank you, and enjoy some photos from their previous VBS.
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,