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".
Before I get started, allow me to update you on our current Bible project. Two weeks ago, I told you that we are attempting to raise $150,000 for 25,000 Bibles. We have already received over $8,000 towards that goal. Thanks so much to all who gave and prayed. Our preachers and their congregations are so effective that it has increased the need for more Bibles, which are illegal in their countries. Because of our numerical growth, all 25,000 Bibles will be targeted -- for not a region but one single country! Please consider helping us with this need by clicking here, or mailing in a check and designating it to "Smugglers".
A Widow in Pakistan:
In Pakistan, there is a widow in great need. Her situation is so dire that I wanted to share it with you. Our Lord gave us instructions in the Book of James to take care of widows and orphans. This command is emphasized with the admonition that while we seek to take care of others, we should concentrate on helping those of our "household of faith." So, let me share her need with you.
This widow's name is Zerina Sarvar. Her husband, also a believer and faithful church member, passed away five years ago from a heart attack at the age of thirty-five, leaving her with no means of caring for their four children. Her kids range in age from ten to fourteen. To feed them, Zerina took a job working as a housekeeper while her three oldest children study in our Bible Institute and work in the ministry. (Like timothy, we train them and put them to work as early as possible.) Unfortunately, her salary is only $80 a month.
Arzo, age twelve, is her oldest daughter. She works teaching the children in Sunday School and doing outreach and evangelism with the other students and is particularly effective at door-to-door evangelizing. Her two sons, Sahil and Sajeel, ages fourteen and thirteen, are good students but are also on the church planting teams. When I was there in February, they both went along with us from house to house and village to village, helping in any way they could. All her kids are bright, energetic, happy, and eager to serve in any capacity. The youngest daughter, Eshewa, is ten years old and is learning by the example of her older siblings. She eagerly serves Christ by helping mothers with their babies, helping in the kitchen, etc.
Recently, during the heavy rains in March/April, their tiny house was destroyed. It was only a one-room house where they slept and lived while cooking on stones outside. The rains caused large cracks in the wall and roof, which have collapsed and are irreparable. As a result, they moved in with neighbors in their tiny "house" with two rooms, having a "kitchen" corner inside. Ten people are living in this confined space. Pastor Shaukat tells us this widow needs and deserves our help. He is asking us to provide the funds for building materials so he and the men in the church can build them a new house.
Here are some incredible details that might lead you to help them.
The entire budget to build this family a new house is only $3,272. It will be equal to or a bit better than what they previously had and will be built of better materials to survive future rains. In addition, they will have an indoor "kitchen" like their neighbors (but better) and electricity and running water. We are even giving them their own bathroom. (Usually, these communities have an outdoor bathroom that five to twelve families share.)
We can do all this for $3,272. Isn't' that incredible! What a blessing for them and what a testimony to the Muslims living around them to see how Christians take care of their own. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR good works, and glorify your FATHER who is in Heaven." This is an opportunity for us to do so without straining our resources.
You may wonder how we can do this for such a low price. That is the blessing and advantage for us, working in developing countries, where our dollars are multiplied in value. It is incredible that the cost of a dining room set or living room set here -- can build an entire house there. But, like Jesus feeding the 5000 from a single child's serving of bread and fish, we can take a little and do a lot. But consider this, had the lad, when asked by the disciples, not been willing to give Jesus all he had – what then? The willingness of that young boy will prevent us from ever knowing the outcome.
As His disciples today, we are always thankful for you, who willingly, sacrificially, and eagerly give us your "bread and fish" for the benefit of others. You must undoubtedly have abundant rewards waiting for you in Glory.
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".
Recently you gave to help us feed a village in the Middle East, where the governor was born and raised. Formerly a persecutor, after seeing the testimony of our light shining so brightly, he asked our pastors for help. (For more detail, click here to read the original request)
Of course, when I say “our shining light,” I am referring to the lives of our church members in that land. Where we once had one church, we now have more than a dozen, and that’s just in that land.
Our endeavor resulted in seventy-two adult Muslims coming to Christ, and a new house church was planted. Over the following weeks, the three-man team returned to evangelize more and teach the newborn Christians. As Paul wrote, as babes in Christ, they “desired” milk from the Word and were delighted to be instructed by the pastors as they read along with their own gifted, but illegal, Bibles.
We called the group leader Abraham, and though only twenty-nine years of age, he was already a veteran church planter and pastor. Years ago, we sent him to xxxxxxxxx, where we were beginning to evangelize and smuggle Bibles. The militia in that land caught him. They used sledgehammers to break the bones in one hand and one leg as part of the torture, wrongly assuming the pain, discouragement, and disability would silence him forever. We brought him home, hired medical professionals, and tended his wounds. As soon as he could, he picked up his Bible, walked out of the house, and went back to that country to continue his work. (How I wish I could tell you the countries so you would see where we are and rejoice that where Christ was once unknown, He is now embraced. First by one or two, then by dozens, then hundreds, followed by thousands and tens of thousands.)
After some time, we brought Abraham home to assist our upcoming leader. Metaphorically, our Moses was getting old, and Joshua was ready to lead the people. Still, just as Moses needs a Joshua, Joshua also needs a trusted, experienced, loyal, dedicated, and competent assistant. That man was Abraham. His life and ministry blessed everyone, and they enthusiasticlly watched as he did wonders for our Lord. Several years ago, the church was blessed to witness Abraham marry his bride, now twenty-four years of age. Together, they have a son who is eighteen months old.
On New Year’s Eve Day, Abraham and his team of two younger men, both dedicated to a life of service no matter the cost, entered a van with a bag containing sixteen Bibles. The plan was to return to the village, where the governor had promised us protection, and evangelize sixteen more households. But as they approached the village, the van stopped abruptly at an unexpected militia checkpoint. Everyone was forced to exit the van, and immediately our three men were accosted. They were, in fact, the purpose of the checkpoint. The militiamen abused the three with great anger, then knocked Abraham down to the ground, and the leader shot Abraham. The three bullets in his chest and one in his neck quickly ended his mortal life. Immediately, his bride was a widow and his son, an orphan. He was our last to fall in 2021, mere hours from the new year.
The militia then took the sixteen Bibles as well as the two men. Later that day, the church was able to buy back the body of their fallen pastor. The militia had intended to guard his body against rescue so dogs could eat it, and in this way, disgrace our Lord by shaming His servants. However, the thought of a few coins in their pockets persuaded them to sell his corpse so our brothers could wash it, make it presentable for his wife to view, and then take him out to our secret place and lay him to rest with his fallen comrades. When the ceremony was over, I received a call saying, “We took him to our place, kissed him goodbye, and put him in the ground.” The simple eloquence of that heartbroken sentence, from the mouth of the man who had won him to Christ and discipled him, brought me to tears.
A civil war has engulfed the land I speak of for more than fifteen years. In addition, it has hosted the armies of proxy wars of other half-dozens countries. There is no family that has not suffered loss or a community that has not been shelled. Over a million of its citizens have risked their lives and forsaken all they possess to flee to neighboring lands. And even more who have left their home but remain trapped within the borders. When General Sherman burned Georgia and secured the Union, his tactics were criticized. To that criticism, he replied, “War is Hell.” But the devastation this land and its people have endured makes Sherman look like a little boy playing with matches.
The reason these militiamen were so angry is this. As the war continues, every group tries to possess and control new territories. Battles are fought to conquer or protect territory. And the driving force in all this is the conflict between the two major denominations of Islam -- Shia and Sunni.
The Shia believe the headship of Islam is hereditary and passes from Mohammad to his blood relatives. They believe the Ayatollah is a descendant of Mohammad. Shia is the primary religion of Iran and comprises 15% of the world’s Muslims. The other and much larger denomination is Sunni. They believe that Islamic leadership is not hereditary but should be selected or elected to the position by their clerics. They rule in such lands as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. 85% of all Muslims are Sunni. Other, smaller denominations align themselves with one of the two larger sects. One tiny sect speaks in tongues; another believes in reincarnation, while another, during worship, spins in circles until they enter a trance. Both the Shia and the Sunni consider non-aligned or wrongly aligned sects of Islam to be heretics and traitors to Islam and deserving annihilation.
In this case, the militia was Iranian; and targeted this village to convert them to become Shia Muslims. They had sent as many as one hundred men there for nearly a year to preach the Shia faith and establish it as a stronghold. Yet they had failed. Then, only a few days after our men first went there, they returned, but few would come out to hear them this time. Wondering what was causing this unusual rejection, they began to question the community and learned that our men had been there, distributing food, clean water, medicines, blankets, and Bibles. Enraged that four of Christ’s men could do in four days what a hundred of theirs they could not do in a year, they set up a checkpoint beyond the village entrance to ambush our men.
As he promised, the governor did not prevent us, but neither did he protect us, and we are dealing with him over that issue. In the meantime, the government has dispatched men to remove the militia and protect the villagers, most of whom are now Christians! Still, we have two brothers in Christ held against their will in a secret location. The militia feels that these men broke the law of Islam but are willing to pardon them for a price. That price, for the two, is $8,000. Some would say this is a bribe, but we see it as a bond or a judiciary fine. To be sure, if not paid, they will not be released – alive.
Are there other options? Yes, we could let the authorities handle it in their own way, but be assured, our men would likely be the first to perish in the attempt. Therefore, we feel the best course of action is to redeem these men, remembering that the word redeem means to “buy back what was previously yours.” If Christ could and would do that for us, at the cost of His life, surely, I can do the same for His younger brothers, who are my brothers as well.
So, we need your help to raise $8,000 quickly for these two men to be released. If you are able and willing, please use the donation form on this page.
I hear some of you asking, what is there to keep this from happening again? I cannot tell you why that is not a concern. I don’t want to give away our secrets. But let me say that we have been doing this for nearly two decades in nearly a dozen lands, and that has never happened. Procuring release comes with conditions that have historically always been honored. I am confident that this will be the rule and not the exception.
By the way, at his tiny, makeshift funeral, several men pledged their lives publicly to take Abraham’s place, to preach and to smuggle Bibles. So we lost one, but we gained three in his place. Satan either does not know or does not care that the more of us he kills, the greater our numbers grow.
Now for some good news:
Abraham’s widow is/was in need. Like her husband, she too converted from an Islamic family. However, they are still Muslim, and culture demands that she return to her family and subject herself to her father and brothers. They have already begun making plans to bring her home. They will likely beat her for converting and publically shame her, believing Allah killed her husband for his and her blasphemy, and they will ensure that the boy is raised as a Muslim. Then, they will force her to marry a Muslim man of her father’s choice. She has no voice in these decisions. For this reason, sometimes the widow will arrange for a Christian family to take her children, then commit suicide rather than being forced to marry a Muslim and be forever separated from her fellow believers.
We have a commitment from and to all our men in the Middle East and the wives that upon their death, no matter the cost, we will ensure that their wife is secure from forced marriage and their children raised by Christians. Then, as they grow older, we reveal who their real mom and dad were and how they gave their lives for Christ.
Thus, the other option is for her to disappear for at least a year or more, causing the family to give up hope of finding her. Therefore, we will have to relocate her and take care of her to do this. During that period, we will have her acquire a skill and a trade to take care of herself, and hopefully, someday, she may want to marry one of our single men.
To accomplish this for her and the child, we estimate a need of $5,650.
I am happy to say that before I made this need known, I received a call from a family that had some funds they wanted to give to the Lord’s work. With the recommendation of their pastor, they contacted me. So, as I write this letter, I am blessed to report that they have fully paid the expense of the widow and child; thus, all we need is the $8,000 for the two men. What a blessing! What a Heavenly reward!
A final prayer request:
A big thank you to those who gave to help the poor widow who was robbed of all her funds last week. We took what you gave and sent it to our National Director, Lucas Ulo, and he promptly gave it to Sister Amadi Charity. To be sure you knew that what you gave arrived as intended, he snapped this photo of himself giving the funds to her. In addition, he attached a note saying that she has received your funds with great appreciation.
You can see it is a bundle of money. But, as usual, and like our Father, you gave “exceeding and abundantly above” what was asked for. In fact, you exceeded the amount by about 10%. Isn’t it great to be used by the Lord to help a fellow Believer on the other side of the world? One who will not be able to thank you personally until you meet in Heaven. The Word says that God sees those who bless the poor and considers what they give as a personal loan to HIM; and assures us that He will pay us back, WITH INTEREST.
Now, as my dad always said, don’t spend it all in one place!
Today I received an email from Lucas Ulo, one of our directors in Nigeria, regarding the widow of our deceased pastor, Amadi Polycarp. We gave her a lumpsum bonus upon his death, based on his time with us and his amount of support. This funding is given to our widows to cover burial expenses and care for the family's pressing needs. She has also been receiving the continuation of her husband's support by which she has been able to survive and open a small business in her home to meet their needs.
However, last Sunday, while at church, burglars broke into her little house, ransacking it and stealing all her funds and food, leaving her with no help for her two children in the university and the three young ones still at home. (From here, I quote his email with minimal editing for clarification.)
Lucas wrote, "She was broken-hearted and confessed that without your support given through me, she doesn't know what else she could have done. The church's financial strength is too small to take care of her". Several of her brothers-in-law had been secretly helping her, as the radical neighbors and family members would not permit it. They testify that she has kept herself from other men since his death and has lived a Godly life, in a manner different from worldly widows.
He continued by explaining, "She makes her living by selling foodstuffs like rice, beans, vegetable oil, condiments, sachets of salt, tomatoes, etc. Since she is a trusted customer, after her payment for the previous week's goods, the wholesaler then gives her additional foodstuffs on a credit basis. These thieves took the insecurity opportunity to commit the crime. They stole all her market money, ransacking all her rooms, bags, and remaining cartons of goods. Last week, she visited her debtors and collected payment from them, which she had stored in her house, together with her profit and small personal capital. On Monday, she planned to go to the Owerri City market, pay her bill, and acquire more items to sell. This is how she provides for her family apart from the funds Final Frontiers sends each month. As a result of the theft, she doesn't know what to do. She has reported the theft to the Police just for formality because, as we know, they will demand some money to investigate, and in the end, nothing might be achieved".
After hearing this news, I asked Lucas to break down the value of cash and stolen goods. He replied that the total of goods she had on credit was $1,700 and another $165, which was her household savings, making a total loss of $1,865.
Lucas did inform me that the church has helped her some, but as poor subsistence farmers with virtually no cash and having to take care of the pastor, they gave according to their ability, but it was not enough. I want to state that Lucas did not ask us or you for help. I know the attitude of our partners and believe you would want to know and pray about her situation and that some of you would desire to help her as well.
You can give online, or mail in a check and designate it to "Amadi Polycarp Widow"
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.