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.
Our latest Progress Report is now available to view online!
In this issue you can read about;
And of course, so much more! So head on over to our website and download the latest issue.
In North Africa
The two sisters in North Africa were released from the hospital today. They have gone to live with a family in their church who will take care of them. Theirs is a secure location, and next week will start their physical therapy. Both sisters are burdened with various casts on their legs, feet, arms, hands, etc. As you can imagine, they are in a great deal of pain. In addition, we have purchased a blender because one of the girls has her mouth wired shut and can only eat liquids for the next many weeks.
Pray for the situation. We had learned that before their brother attacked them, he called his father, and the father told him to do so. And it was his mother that initiated and encouraged the beating. For this reason, the girls do not want to return home, but the family is threatening to take our local church, which rescued them and is hiding them, to court. We have reminded them that if they do, their son will be charged with two counts of attempted murder, among other charges, and will spend many years in prison or worse. Please pray for wisdom and that they will decide to let their daughters live apart from them legally.
While the situation may require it in the future, at least for the moment, we have the necessary funds to continue with their healing, therapy, and living expenses. If that changes, I’ll let you know.
Several months back, we asked you to help us relocate our two churches in Afghanistan. We had to move both congregations to new locations, far removed from their hometown where they were unknown. Moving them, renting apartments, restocking their food, clothing, etc., cost tens of thousands of dollars, but God provided it all through you.
Today they informed us that since moving, they have led 17 young adults to Christ and, in another location, 13 others. They have grown stronger in the Faith through their trials and are a shining example to the churches throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.
We need to send 25,000 more Bibles to a single country in the Middle East where an incredible harvest is being reaped. Each Bible costs us $6 to print, bind and deliver to that land. Thus, we need to raise $150,000 quickly. Can you help? The success stories you read about above resulted from us smuggling Bibles into Islamic lands where they are forbidden. With such results, this is no time to slow down. You can donate online by clicking here and selecting "Smugglers". If you prefer to send a check, please email us and let us know the amount so we can expect it and make a note on your check that it is for "Smugglers".
We would first like to wish you a wonderful and blessed Easter today!
He is not here, but is risen (Luke 24:6)
Did you know that “youth” in the third world generally includes all ages from 12-30? So though you may be married and have kids, you may be a deacon or a pastor, yet you are not considered fully adult until you reach the age of thirty. Until then, you are still classified as a youth.
I know you look forward to sending your kids away to camp every summer! (oh, such sweet relief!) And what about the week-long Youth Conferences scattered across our country? They can have a life-changing effect on those who attend. Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t aware, but once you leave the USA, such opportunities for young people are virtually non-existent, until now -- and in Pakistan.
Our team that traveled to Pakistan in February was very impressed by the overall ministry of Pastor Shaukat. I was particularly amazed at his success in winning the youth (ages 12-30) to Christ and motivating them to serve Christ as a disciple. Even his teenagers are planting churches that the experienced pastors oversee. In addition, he has dozens of Bible Institute young men and ladies who are eagerly and tirelessly serving in ministry as leaders of other youth – without any compensation.
One way he does this is by conducting youth camps and seminars. You have helped fund his camps in the past. He sent back glorious photos that I have shared with you. But visiting him, I was able to see with my own eyes not only the fruit of his labors but the “fruit that remains.” And that is what our Lord prayed for our ministries to produce: fruit, more fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains. The orchard of disciples he is producing is healthy, strong, and expanding.
In the last week of April, he will be conducting a youth seminar in one of the churches I visited. It is in the city of Lahore, which is a vast metropolis where he already has several churches planted. This will be a one-day seminar to which he is inviting 350 young men and ladies. Among them are Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, and his youth and youth workers. The intent is to bring them to Christ and begin their life of discipleship. In this way, he can raise hundreds of more workers to reach Pakistan, a country where missionaries are not allowed.
The seminar, discussing the second coming of Christ, will last from 10 AM to 7 PM, after which some will have to travel by bus for as much as twelve hours to get home. The cost of funding the seminar is $3,900. This will include four transport busses bringing the youth from different areas of a city the size of Atlanta and bussing in many from remote villages where he has established churches. The cost also includes water, juice, and the rent of the hall with chairs and food, at barely $10 per person. If you are drawn to youth ministries, this is an excellent opportunity to help reach a country you will never visit – in this lifetime.
This is a great teaching time and evangelism opportunity – but it also gives our Christian young people hope. How? It is an opportunity to meet and fall in love with another devoted follower of Christ, thereby building up the churches for generations to come. So, I hope you can help us with this country-changing project.
Jon and our Final Frontiers team -- here and in Pakistan.
PS He also has a five-day youth camp in July that we want to help. It will be in the northern part of the country where the Taliban has more control. I’ll give you details about that in weeks to follow after we take care of this need. If you want to rush an offering to help, click here and select "Special Projects" and then "Pakistan Seminar". If you prefer to send a check, please email us and let us know the amount so we can expect it and make a note on your check that it is for "Pakistan Youth Camp". Please don't forget to pray for the seminar.
In the photo, the screen states this is a Final Frontiers Youth Seminar for Pakistan. The photo was taken in February 2022 by Joshua Martyn. Mr. Roy Harris, who was part of our team, spoke to the youth, some 500 of them.
We want to share with you an update from the Enskyys, who are on the ground in Ukraine, so you can continue to pray for them and see how the funds that you have donated are being used.
Another week of war has raged on. Time seems to stand still and fly by at the same time. Thank you for praying for our family and ministry. We praise the Lord for your support and encouragement.
This week in partnership with the ministries of Operation Renewed Hope, European Initiative, and Every Nation Education our church received several shipments of humanitarian aid; Bibles (a really nice key chain with a Ukrainian Bible QR code), food, cleaning supplies, and other necessities for keeping our temporary shelter for refugees open and running well. Our staff and refugees were so excited to see these trucks coming to our door and unloaded them with enthusiasm. I cannot underscore what an encouragement this help is to not only our refugees but our church staff as well. As war decimates the already weak Ukrainian economy, food prices rise as salaries are cut in order to send all funds to the army. Everyone is reeling from this horrible, unjust war. Knowing that our brothers and sisters in Christ really care and are helping brings smiles to tired, downtrodden faces.
Right now, our region is experiencing a lull of "incoming" refugees. Last week we were feeding 50 to 80 people a day. We are using this reprieve to better organise the center and deep clean. As the battle for Kharkiv, Mariupol and Kherson ramp up, we expect the next wave of fleeing refugees soon. No one wants to leave their home and most stay as long as possible, some too long and are in need of evacuation. We are partnering with Oleg's seminary brothers in central Ukraine who are evacuating people in these kinds of situations, helping them with food and fuel for their vans.
Thank you for continuing to support our ministry financially. Your funds go to keep our building warm, clean and offering physical and spiritual shelter to those fleeing active war zones. Please pray for the literature, Bibles and spiritual counsel offered to these vulnerable people to be taken in the spirit it has been given. Pray for the seeds of the Gospel to find fertile, prepared heart soil!
Please continue to pray for peace and revival in Ukraine, safety and health for our family, and wisdom to make quick decisions as war makes for very fluid and unexpected situations.
Join Missionary Ernest Livingston for his epic Season Two finale. In Episode 7 we find him coming to the end of his strength, as he endures one misfortune after another, wondering if truly this is his worst day ever. Will loving one another ever pay off? Or will he finally give up his Usiache spirit?
As of this morning, the need has been met. Praise God! We give our thanks to Him and to you, His people, for meeting this need. In Glory, you will delight to meet these two sisters whom you have given life to and all those they will bring to Christ!
There is no doubt that other expenses will arrive. We learned yesterday that the doctors have had to put multiple pins in the hand of the one girl, and the other has had her jaw wired shut for it to heal. As a result, she will be on liquid foods only for six weeks. Then, of course, we cannot return them to their home, and it will be illegal for them to be on their own at those ages, so we will have to find a place to secure them and provide for their needs for a time.
Please pray for their healing, safety, and safety of all our churches from Morocco to Pakistan. And pray that we will continue to reach millions of Muslims for the glory of Christ.
(If you missed the original need you can read it here)
I am in the lengthy process of writing a book of stories regarding the persecution of our people in the Islamic world. Its purpose is to be a historical compilation of the stories we have brought you over the years and those that were too secretive and graphic to share. The following story, which happened on April 5, will be among them in greater detail.
Do you know any young girls in your church or family ages 17 and 19? If so, this story will relate to you and touch your heart.
In a particular north African Islamist country, there live two sisters, Rana (age 17) and Abir (age 19). They have lived a normal life, still in their parent's home, expecting that soon they would be married, hopefully as the first wife of a Muslim man and not the second, third or fourth. Their father left some years back to work in another country. Their oldest brother serves as head of the house. As a devout Muslim, he took his position and responsibilities very seriously. The girls were raised to obey the illogical and incomprehensible laws of Islam, which highly restrict women's educational, social, and individual rights. They could not understand why some sins are minor and others big and the measure of good deeds required of them. What concerned them most was the questions of who God is and how they can have a relationship with Him. They were accustomed to wearing veils and never venturing outside their home without a male relative accompanying them.
Abir had enrolled in college with her brother's permission and had many questions about the rules of Islam and the lifestyle of the prophet Muhammad. In college, she became friends with a young lady who is a member of one of our house churches. The young lady began to witness to her and let her read from the Bible.
Then, about eighteen months ago, Abir accepted the grace of God through His Son Jesus and willingly, though secretly, gave herself to Him. Understanding the faith, joy, and hope of eternal life and what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ, she began to witness to her sister, despite her fear of doing so. Every day they would read the Bible together in secret, and soon, Rana also accepted Christ. From that day on, they prayed for the salvation of their mother and brother.
Immediately their attitudes and lifestyles changed. Rather than watching television, the mother told her son that they go into their room and read from a book each evening, then close their eyes and mumble words. Their brother began to investigate their daily lives but could find nothing that would explain such activity. Everything changed on that day and led to the events of last Tuesday.
Ramadan began on April 2 this year. As followers of Christ, the girls did not want to participate and tried to explain to their mother why they did not want to fast. Still, their mother became angry because fasting throughout the month is an annual requirement of Islam. Tuesday evening, when her son came home, she reported to him their suspicious behavior. The brother entered their room, rebuking them, and began searching through their belongings. He found their hidden Bible and started hitting his sisters with a wooden stick. As they tried to shield themselves, he started ripping apart the pages of their Bible. Then, in a fit of rage, he threw down the wooden stick, tied their wrists to the bedposts, and began beating them with an iron pipe. He continuously yelled at them, saying they had forsaken Allah and his prophet Muhammad.
The beatings quickly became so severe that the mother ran into the room and attempted to stop him. Still, she was unable, so she called her neighbors to help, and they pulled him out of the room. They were startled how these two girls had denied Islam, but more so at how severely their brother had beaten them.
The girls were left in their home for several days with no medical care. Then word came to our pastor, who informed us of the incident. The church people had given all they had to care for them, but it was not enough. We instructed him to take the girls to the hospital. But, the administrators refused entry because of the circumstances of the wounds and because they were Christians. Having no other option, we admitted them into a private hospital. Abir was in a coma all this time, which she came out of today (Saturday).
Abir awoke from her coma to find she had a broken jaw, many broken teeth, and broken bones in her arms, left leg, and right foot.
Rana's left shoulder was broken, and her lower spine fractured. In addition, her right arm is broken, as is her hip and left femur, just below the ball that connects to the hip.
Both young teenagers walked into the fiery furnace. But, for whatever reason, though Christ was in it with them, He allowed them to crawl through the valley of the shadow of death and come out on the other side badly wounded. (Recall, the three Hebrews who went into the fire acknowledged that they did not know if their God would deliver them but were confident, He could if He chose to. Either way, they would not deny Him.)
The sisters lay unconscious for hours, and Abir for days, having no medical treatment and no pain medication. Finally, when Rana awoke, she lay in severe pain, uncertain if Abir was still alive. They were beaten and broken by their brother and abandoned by their mother; their only hope of rescue was their house church. When the help of the members was quickly exhausted without sufficiency, the church could do nothing more but call on us.
Jesus said if you give a cup of what in his name, it is equivalent to giving it to him. So, what more excellent reason could we have for recuperating and healing the wounds of two persecuted children than knowing it is as if we are healing his wounds?
Though reality may again exceed our expectations, we estimate a need of $26,985 to heal and dismiss the two sisters from the hospital. The Deceiver has taken his wrath out on these helpless young girls. The congregation is hiding but is not scattered. What a testimony for us to bear their burden and pay their bills (Galatians 6:2). In that land it will not be known where the funds come from, only that the Lord Jesus provided them through His people, and Christ will be glorified for it.
Now, will you please help us pay the bill?
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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.