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  SRI LANKAN NEEDS UPDATE - In the aftermath of the recent tsunami, Lamplighters World Ministries is working to assist the Sri Lankan people as they rebuild their lives.

Great interview with Steve Bycroft by National Public Radio
"NPR : In Sri Lanka, Healing and Paranoia as Aid Flows"
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4515275

Please click on the headline to the story using a RealAudio or WindowsMedia player.
For players or technical support, please visit NPR's Audio Help page. http://www.npr.org/help/audio/

*Order a text transcript of this story* http://www.npr.org/transcripts/story.html
 

 
  DECEMBER NEWSLETTER  
 
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
We want to give a special Thank You for all who gave toward the Children’s Home and our Sunday School kids for Christmas. We have purchased clothes for the Sunday School kids and will be purchasing clothing for the orphanages soon. We have asked God to bless you for your love and generosity.
And to all our supporters, we want to Thank You for all of your support in monies and prayers during the past year.
Merry Christmas,
Steve & Shanthi

Mixed Feelings
Normally I look forward to Christmas time and Shanthi does too, but things are just different this year. Memories of last December 26th keep coming to mind. I doubt we will ever forget that experience. I especially remember the Christmas program at Periyaneelavanai and how happy the kids were. We had such hope of reaching more of the families. Now half of them are gone.
It will be difficult for everyone not just us. Please keep Vijay & Ananthy in your prayers as they are struggling with the celebration and preparations having lost 5 of their family in the Tsunami.
But there is still reason to celebrate as the One who given’s life and true joy was born!

Elections
Elections were held here in Sri Lanka the first part of November. To our disappointment the gentlemen elected is a Muslim and is a supporter of the Anti-Conversion law. Please keep the government and us in your prayers because this could potentially make our Ministry very difficult.

Problems Abound
Not far south of us is the town of Akkarapatth. This is a town with both Tamils and Muslims. On November 19th, two LTTE boys had gone to a Muslim beef shop, owner turned them in to the Army and they were killed. In retaliation the LTTE threw a bomb into a Mosque killing 20 people and wounding more. So the Muslim community began attacking any Tamil they found in the streets. They even chased Shanthi’s brother down the street but the police intervened before they caught him. So the entire area is on edge right now. Reports of more violence came to us so we call Shanthi’s brother almost daily.
On top of that our masons, who lived there, had gone home for the election and as yet cannot return. So we have lost two full weeks of progress on the Koddai Kallar Church Building.

Building Stalled, But Church Grows
We have been having all our services in the new building as we were out of space in our house. We have run extension cords to operate fans & temporary lights. The building has no doors or windows and needs painting. Despite these things, we’re having great Worship Services.
This last Sunday we had 50 adults and 45 Sunday School age kids. Some of the new people are ones we have been working on for five years!
Our Building which we thought would be adequate for sometime is already growing small. Praise God for problems like these! We’ve already been talking of going to 2 services on Sunday as God blesses us with more souls.

Explosion Rocks Village
In the village of Onthachimadam there has been an explosion, but not from a bomb. Pushpa Logini, know to us as Nona, has been working there for about 3 months now. She started with 3 kids who wanted her to come and have a Sunday School there. I was more than a little hesitant to start anything else in another village, but God had other plans.
Nona has been living with us since 2 weeks after the Tsunami. She lost her mother, an older sister, a nephew, and a younger sister in the Tsunami.
She had attended 9 months at the Gospel for Asia Bible School which was destroyed in the Tsunami.
At only 17 years old she on her own, by God’s Grace, began this work. It has grown from 3 to over 35 in 3 months and now she has started a Sunday afternoon Worship Service a few weeks ago with 6 adults.
God’s Hand is at work in and through this Young Lady!

Prayer Requests
1. Christmas programs to reach out to the Communities.
2. Those working with us presently and God to send more workers.
3. Completion of the Building in Koddai Kallar and temporary meeting place in Mahaloor and Onthachimadam.
4. God’s Grace and care over us as we minister here.

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  NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER  
   
November 1, 2005

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

Greetings to you in the precious name of Jesus our Lord and Savior. This has been another very busy month for us here with construction going on as well as all the regular ministry things that need to be done.

Our rains have started a little earlier than usual this year. Normally we get some rain at this time but it is raining almost every evening. This is about three weeks early for us just another thing we have to deal with. At least our building has the concrete plate so the masons are able to work inside.

We pray for you our supporters almost daily as without your prayers for us and financial support we could not do the work here. We thank God for you and pray that you will be blessed in everyway for your support of us.

Steve & Shanthi

NOT A POLITICAL NEWSPAPER
I know that not everyone is a fan of our current president but our personal feeling is he is doing a good job especially with foreign policy here in Sri Lanka. Just a week ago the headlines in every paper were "ANTI CONVERSION BILL CANCELLED". We have been praying that even though it looked as if this was indeed to become law now it won't. The reason cited in the paper was, because of pressure from the United States government and President Bush it will NOT become law! I thank God that we have a man who will stand for his convictions and use the influence of our government for things that are good!

This comes as great relief to all Christians here as this bill before Parliament would have caused a lot of grief for every Christian and church on the island.

MORE POLITICAL NEWS
November 17th there is a presidential election here. This is a hotly contested election with the former Prime Minister and current Prime Minister vying for the position. Elections always seem to bring a lot of unrest and violence in the country. Usually not in our area but you never know what will happen next. Please be praying for the right man to be elected and that there will be no violence during the election time.


CAMP AT CHEVELAKKADDAI UNDER WATER
We have been doing ministry in the Chevelakaddai refugee camp for the last few months and this ministry has been growing. Now we face another obstacle there this time not from people but from the water. The camp is in a low lying area close to a large river. Because of the heavy rain the camp has flooded several times having up to a foot of water in all the houses one time.

Half of the people in the camp have already moved out not sure where they went. The others a looking for places to move including our church members. We have 8 families there that need to relocate.

Our plan is to send them to the property in Mahaloor and build some temporary houses much like they are living in now until a more permanent solution can be found. None of them are from that area and so don't want to move to Mahaloor permanently. This culture is very family oriented and most will live and die in the same village. So they don't want to move that far from where the rest of their families live.

CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES
We continue with the building here in Koddai Kallar and it seems every week we get more crowded meeting in our house. Because of so many problems when we started,
(this is our 4th mason to work with) we are way behind schedule to be in the building. We had originally hoped to be in by the end of September, then the end of October, and now we will move in and use the building the first Sunday of November. It won't be finished but we just can't wait any longer.

Along with this we are trying to get things started for the temporary houses and permanent houses at Mahaloor. This will include wells, toilets, and a temporary church structure on the property.


CHRISTMAS FAST APPROACHING
I know I don't need to tell you there as I'm sure there are already lights and decorations up and stores filled with all kinds of things to buy.

This is a big time for us here as each year we purchase clothes and school supplies for all the Sunday school children and kids in the children's home. Each Sunday school will have it's own program where we serve punch, cake, candy, and other things to eat.

This program has always been a good way for us to reach out with the Gospel in the villages where we work so we need your prayers for these programs.

So long story short we also need the money to do all these things. This needs to be in our office before December first as the money will have to be wired to us in time to purchase everything in advance of Christmas.


OUR CHRISTMAS WISH LIST
(If you would like to help with any of these projects, please mark your check accordingly)
1. Christmas for the Orphanage & Sunday School Kids.
2. Completion of the Koddai Kallar Church Building.
3. To be able to build 8 Permanent Homes for Church Members in Mahaloor.
4. To supply Homes with wells, toilets, and electricity.
5. To have a Church Building in Mahaloor.
6. To be able to purchase additional land to build more Homes.


PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Upcoming election

2. Praise that the anti conversion law will not be put into effect

3. Workers to labor with us in the ministry

4. Our current workers, Vijay and Ananthy, Sydney and Rani, Nona, and John here and Rennie and Christine in Trinidad.

July—September 2005
Office Expenses $ 1,213.22
Payroll: Personnel 9,013.77
National Evangelist 1,740.00
Orphanages 1,650.00
Trip Expenses 637.21
Special Projects 30,776.97
Total Expenses $45,031.17
Total Support Received $32,974.44
Total Tsunami Support $13,695.00

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  OCTOBER NEWSLETTER  
  October 1, 2005

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
It doesn't seem possible, but we are now within six months of our return home to the States. Time is so short for what remains to be done and we really covet your prayers that we will be able to accomplish all that God
wants us to do!

We do thank you for your prayers for us and the ministry and financial support as always. And pray that God will bless you for what you do for us.
Steve & Shanthi


ONE YEAR PAST
This past week was an anniversary for us. Not our wedding but, of when the
children in our care came to live with us. They have changed so much and
we have grown to love them as well.
The three oldest are enrolled in school here in Koddai Kallar and doing
fairly well. This is a major achievement as Vijay who is 12 years old had
attended first grade only and Sowmiya 8 and Darsha 7 had never attended
school at all. Darshini is in nursery school now and loves to go! She gets
up a half hour earlier than she used to and gets ready 45 minutes before
it's time for her to go.
Prasanth, now three, is a real hand full most of the time he has such a
sweet face everybody loves him and wants to hold him.
The greatest thing though is they are learning to love Jesus. Even
Prasanth prays in Tamil to Yesappah (Jesus) before every meal and at
bedtime. They love Sunday school and church and are so excited to show us
the pictures or crafts they do during that time.
Their father has been to visit a total of 5 times since they came here and
every time has been drunk. This last time when he came it was shocking to
me as none of them wanted to talk with him or be near him. Darsha, when she saw him, after a minute simply turned and walked away. Sad to see in one way, but good to see that they recognize true love in Jesus Christ and in us.
We are still trying to get birth certificates for all of these kids. Things here just don't go as they should please pray for this and for these kids in our care!

TRINIDAD NEWS
Rennie now has email so he is sending some letters to us here, which is nice for us to hear current information.
We received pictures of Rennie & Christine’s 5-year-old Nicolas graduating from kindergarten and was first in the class so they were very proud of their son. They also sent a photo of their newest addition, Daniel.
Rennie continues to work in Penal sharing the word of God with all who will listen. It is a real struggle for them as some of the older church members have left for various reasons, but by God's grace some new people are coming.
They held a VBS program this last summer, with the help from some churches in Barbados that came, the VBS was well received as it had been in the past.

MINISTRY NEWS
The new Sunday school in Onthachimadam has grown in one month from 8 to 22. Nona the girl staying with us who lost her 2 sisters and mother in the tsunami is in charge of this. She goes visiting every week and always
finds kids who come to her asking if they can come and join. Pray that God continues to bless this work.

Vijay and Ananthy continue in Periyaneelavanai and Chevelakaddai, which are growing as well with the greatest difficulty.

Sydney and Rani work here and Mahaloor with about 65 children in Sunday school in both places. We have land but are in need of a building for them to meet in Mahaloor.

Our adult attendance in Koddai Kallar is over 30 every Sunday now.


PRAYER REQUESTS
1. More workers to enter into the harvest, and our present workers here
and Trinidad

2. Praise for the work finished on the building and for completion before
the rains set it.

3. Continued growth in the areas where we minister.

4. God's grace and wisdom for us as we lead in the ministry.

BUILDING CONTINUES
This past week we finally poured the concrete for the slab at the church
in Koddai Kallar. This has been a real trial for us time wise but finally it's done. But even this did not come easily.
We had reserved a concrete mixer to speed things along, but the morning we were to pour it didn't show up and after calling found it wouldn't come. So here were all the laborers standing around wondering what to do and no mixer. So we started them mixing by hand and left praying that God would somehow provide a mixer for us.
We went to a construction site in the next village where they are building
a school and asked if we could rent their mixer and operator for the day. As it turned out they didn't need the mixer that day and so were willing to allow us to use it. After finding transport for it we returned home with the mixer, 2 1/2 hours later. The story is much longer than this but there is not room to relate it. Once again God provided everything we needed when we needed it, all the praise to Him!
Even with the mixer and 35 laborers, it took 22 hours to mix, shovel into
buckets, pass it up a ladder, pour it into wheelbarrows, push it across
planks, and dump it in the right spot. We finished the work at 5 AM Sunday
slept for an hour then got ready for the Sunday service.
Needless to say my sermon was shorter than usual, and was actually how God had provided everything and how He continues to bless us in spite of
problems and delays.
Now we must wait three weeks before we can remove the forms and see how everything looks. Watering by hose three times a day to keep the concrete
from drying out and setting too fast is another item now added to our schedule.

Shanthi’s Birthday is November 2nd!

Mail card to:

Shanthi Bycroft
Kalmunthal
Koddai Kallar (EP)
Sri Lanka
Or email her at: lamplite@slt.lk
(Reminder, it takes two weeks for them to receive mail. Stamps cost 80 cents per ounce)

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SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER
 
 
  September 1, 2005
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
It has cooled off slightly, last night was really nice as we had some rain and things cooled down. Days still get rather hot though that‘s just the way it is here.
I had a nice birthday this past month with lots of cards from family and friends in fact still receiving some now, this is the birthday that never ends I guess.
Prasanth the little boy in our care has his birthday the same day as mine so we combined the two and had all the Sunday school kids over for cake and ice cream, which they thought, was great. Prasanth was a little confused he had never celebrated a birthday before and kept going around to everyone shaking their hand and wishing them a Happy Birthday it was really funny to watch.
We do thank you for your prayers they are very much needed and appreciated by us. We need people who will lift us up before God daily as Satan is constantly trying to undo everything we are doing to God’s glory. And also we thank you for your financial support without which we could not do ministry here. May God bless you richly for how you help us in this ministry!
Steve & Shanthi


NEW CHURCH MEMBERS
Seems like it has been a long time and actually it has been but we have had 4 baptisms in the last few weeks. One is the young lady helping us with care of the children and household chores.
When Rasathy came to us she said she would come and work but would not change her religion, we said okay come and work. Another young man, Niranjan, came asking us if we had any work for him while we were doing tsunami relief so he was helping us distribute relief items. One girl, Kajudah, is one of our long time Sunday school kids. The other young lady, Thurvi, is one we had visited last year several times but only started coming post-tsunami.
We have several more who are seriously thinking and some have gone through our classes on baptism and what it means to be a Christian and how we get into Christ.
This is why we are here and why the angels rejoice!

PROJECTS IN KODDAI KALLAR
We have started new projects, which at this point is for our church members affected by the tsunami, and then others as funds permit. We are building wells and toilets for those who don’t have them. This has been a real hassle but blessing too as the people are seeing that we care about them and their personal situation. I might add some of these people we are building for only have children in Sunday school or an older child who has been baptized, most of the parents are still Hindu.
This project is not only meeting physical needs but, is a tool for evangelism which is what we intended. One family said that they would start coming to church after they finish the well, time will tell but, we are hoping and praying it is true.
We also have helped one member put a roof on part of her house. Others we helped replace kitchen appliances and household items.
Each toilet costs approximately $400 and each well $350 maybe you or your Sunday School Class would be interested in providing one or more of these items.

KODDAI KALLAR BUILDING TAKING SHAPE
It seems that things are going very slowly as far as the construction on our building but it is continuing! We can’t seem to get our carpenter and mason to coordinate things so one is always saying he needs the other to do something before he can continue, such is construction whether here or there.
Getting materials is another problem as there is so much construction going on right now everything is in short supply, no Home Depot here. We had to wait 3 days to get stone with which to make concrete. Then had to wait another day for cement, can’t buy too much in advance as we have no place to store it.
The building is looking like a building though and not just piles of sand, stones, and cement blocks.

PROPERTY PURCHASED IN MAHALOOR
This past month we finally located and purchased property in Mahaloor. It is close to where we are presently meeting for Sunday school and newly established worship service and is in the area where new homes are being built.
It is large enough that we plan to give plots to at least 4 families from Koddai Kallar and build small homes for them. We’re hoping to start this within the next month as they don’t have property of their own and after the tsunami the places where they were living are now lived in by the actual owners, long stories.
This property will give us enough room for growth for years to come and also a possible children’s home in our area here.

NEW WORK IN CHEVALAKADDAI
This work continues to grow with Vijay and Ananthy doing the ministry there as well as in Periyaneelavanai. Some of the believers from Periyaneelavanai are in the refugee camp and that is how things got started.
We placed a 440-gallon water tank in the camp to help supply this need, as there were too many people and not enough tanks.
We are trying to get electricity run into the camp as crocodiles are coming into the camp at night from the marsh lands close by, of course everything takes time it seems too much time but this is out of our control.
We have already distributed school bags and school supplies and also vitamins each week for the children.
Next week we will also do a worm medication program here as well as in 8 other schools. This medication was provided by F.A.M.E. and brought over by Sue Thatcher one of the construction team members. This was something that the doctors who came said would help the health of the children as much as anything else we could do for them.

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW HOW WE SPEND OUR TIME
1. Milk program each month for 5 years and under in Koddai Kallar and Periyaneelavanai
2. Vitamin program in Koddai Kallar, Periyaneelavanai, Mahaloor, Chevelakaddai 9 schools
3. Church building construction in Koddai Kallar
4. Building 4 wells and 2 toilets in Koddai Kallar for church members, more to come
5. This month, worm medication distribution to 9 schools
6. Normal evangelism, discipleship, visitation, preaching and teaching in Koddai Kallar
7. Oversight of ministry in Periyaneelavanai, Mahaloor and Chevelakaddai

PRAYER REQUESTS
1. Additional Sri Lankan workers to help in the churches.
2. $60,000 needed to complete building project in Koddai Kallar.
3. God's continued strength for us to carry on this ministry.

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  AUGUST NEWSLETTER  
 
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

The month of July has been one with lots of changes. It has rained a couple of times so slightly cooler weather for us is very welcome.
Preparations for the work team arrival have also taken a lot of our time.
Sydney has been holding prayer meetings in Periyaneelavanai instead of Vijay.
Construction on the church building in Koddai Kallar is in full swing. And we have purchased a new property in another village close by for future building of homes for tsunami victims will occur.
One thing remains constant though; our God is constantly by our side and giving us strength to continue on, amidst the constant change around us.
We have definitely needed your prayers and felt them this past month as Satan has always been at work as well trying to destroy and hinder what God wants done here.
So we as always want to say thank you for your prayers especially. We also say thank you for your financial support, which enables us to be here and do this ministry.
We pray for you and ask God to bless you as only He can!
Steve & Shanthi

A Discouraging Situation
The Periyaneelavanai church has been a stressful situation ever since the tsunami. Vijay and Ananthy lost their family members, the church building was destroyed, and many church members lost their lives or family members, and homes. Even after 7 months there is a state of constant change in that part of our ministry.
Because of the attacks and also the strain of the situation, Vijay has not been effective in the ministry there. Most of the church members who were in camps have started going to another church there, which is giving lots more relief items and cash to them. Some have been given jobs by this church, but told they have to come to that church in order to get the job. It seems that our church members especially have been targeted by this church's program.
This situation has also weighed heavily on Vijay to the point of his giving up working with the church members. Consequently we have asked Sydney to go and hold prayer meetings in Periyaneelavanai and I have taken back the preaching responsibilities in Koddai Kallar. Vijay says he wants to continue the ministry there, after the court hearing concerning the attacks in the month of June, is settled on August 5th.

Work Team Arrives in Koddai Kallar
A 14-member work team, sponsored by Commit Ministries, has come to assist us on the construction of the new building in Koddai Kallar. The preparation for this group has taken lots of our time, but they have helped us with the beginning stages of construction.
Along with coming to build they brought some much-needed Sunday school visuals we had purchased in the States. Even this has been a ministry where they have helped us in that there are over 1800 flannel figures, which needed to be cut out and put into a file system, which came with the lessons. We also involved our youth and some of the older Sunday school children in cutting out figures.
This will be a great asset for us in all our locations where we have Sunday Schools and will be used for hopefully years to come.
Getting large tents set up on a property next to us, installing a water system to provide showers, a working toilet, and making sure the water purifier was working to provide drinking water has taken lots of time.
Prior to their arrival we were trying to get the toilet going and all the foundation work done by local masons. This was a real test in itself as we lost lots of time waiting for masons, had to deal with masons not doing proper work which had to be torn out, and actually hiring 4 different masons to finally complete the foundation and toilet.
Some of the team completed the toilet fittings and plumbing after their arrival here. The team will be here for one more week and have been an encouragement to us and we appreciate the sacrifices they made in order to come!
This is the biggest construction project ever and we are in need of finances to complete the first phase of the building. This is church meeting hall and preachers quarters. Future second floor will have Sunday school classrooms, and additional rooms for guests or work team members. Estimate for the total building is around $60,000.

April — June 2005
Office Expenses $ 1,632.57
Payroll:
Personnel 7,908.00
National Evangelist 1,765.00
Orphanages 1,650.00
Trip Expenses 1,768.02
Special Projects 3,083.34
(Money for Van & New Computer in Trinidad)
Total Expenses $14,723.59
Total Support Received $18,649.11
Tsunami Expenses $19,000.00
Tsunami Support Received $13,804.50

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

The month of July has been one with lots of changes. It has rained a couple of times so slightly cooler weather for us is very welcome.
Preparations for the work team arrival have also taken a lot of our time.
Sydney has been holding prayer meetings in Periyaneelavanai instead of Vijay.
Construction on the church building in Koddai Kallar is in full swing. And we have purchased a new property in another village close by for future building of homes for tsunami victims will occur.
One thing remains constant though; our God is constantly by our side and giving us strength to continue on, amidst the constant change around us.
We have definitely needed your prayers and felt them this past month as Satan has always been at work as well trying to destroy and hinder what God wants done here.
So we as always want to say thank you for your prayers especially. We also say thank you for your financial support, which enables us to be here and do this ministry.
We pray for you and ask God to bless you as only He can!
Steve & Shanthi

New Opportunities in Chavalakkadai

This past Sunday Shanthi and I went along with several of the work team members to the meeting in Chavalakkadai.
The meeting is held in the temporary house of one of the Periyaneelavanai church members who relocated to this camp after the tsunami. A few other church members also live there. It was very crowded but a wonderful time of sharing with the people.
This ministry is growing as each Sunday new people are coming to the church meeting along with around 30 children who come for Sunday school.
In the camp they don't have enough water tanks for purified water so we have purchased a 450-gallon tank to supplement the ones already there. Please continue to pray for this new ministry and also Vijay and Ananthy.

New Property Purchased
For the last few months we have been looking at property in different villages with the hope of building a few homes for church members who do not have a property of their own on which to build a new home. This is because property prices in Koddai Kallar are very high and lots are too small to build more than one or two houses at best.
We have located a property in the next village north of us, Onthachimadum. It is approximately 2 acres of open land, close to the village, close to the main road and also very reasonably priced. So we felt we should purchase this, as it would fill the need for what we want to do.
We are also in hopes that we will be able to build a children's home on this property and even a church in the future.
As you can see we have had lots going on, sometimes it seems too much, but God has worked through everything to His glory

PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Our workers Vijay and Ananthy, Sydney and Rani, here and Rennie and Christine in Trinidad
2. God's blessing on our construction progress
3. Additional workers for the harvest of souls
4. God's continued strength for us to carry on this ministry

Be sure and check the website from time to time. There are new pictures added.  www.lamplightersworldministries.org
 
 
  JULY 2005 NEWSLETTER  
  Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Back Home Again! After what seems now a very short visit to Holland, we are back in Koddai Kallar. It was good to be away for a while and much needed especially considering al that is taking place now.
We are still having very hot weather here. This is slightly unusual as by this time it has begun to cool off some, but not this year for some reason. Hopefully it will before too much longer. We have decided though that an air conditioner is in order so we can sleep a little better hopefully. It’s difficult to operate during the day when you have had only 3 or 4 hours of sleep the night before. Within a couple of weeks it should be done but no guarantee on that.
We appreciate your faithful prayers for us and financial support for the ministry. As you will be reading we need lots of prayer especially right now as so many things positive and negative are happening.
In Christ,
Steve & Shanthi


HOW QUICKLY THINGS CAN CHANGE
Last month we were thanking God for the new property in Periyaneelavanai, which we still do, but after several weeks of holding services on the new property the Hindus have come against us again. This time it was a large crowd well over 100 young men all angry and shouting that we had to leave. Shanthi & I had gone to this service because Vijay had said they were there the week before saying that they couldn’t have services there so we wanted to see what was going on.
This time they were threatening violence and some didn’t just threaten as two young men used our plastic chairs and hit Ananthy with them. The rest of us were outside the building while she was inside and we didn’t know what had happened until it was over.
When one of the young men tried to come out of the building with a chair I met him in the doorway and pushed him back in until he dropped the chair and ran out. While I was pushing there were others who were pulling on me and hitting me from behind. They were continually threatening us until we sent the church members home and left as well.
Last week Sydney and a few others went there and held a short prayer service on Sunday and will do so again tomorrow. Last week only a small group showed up, but with the same demands.
This situation really needs your prayers, our battle is not against flesh and blood!

VISITORS FROM THE STATES
We had a wonderful time with some new friends from the States. Bob Thatcher who was here a couple of months ago came back and brought his wife Sue and their friend, Jan. They came to help us get ready for a larger team, which will come the end of July for about 10 days, which will help us start our new building in Koddai Kallar.
Bob helped us get our cement block machine set up and running which was a big ordeal, seems nothing is simple here. We sent it up on the church property across from our house and have begun making blocks for the new building. Sue and Jan helped to make the wood planks the blocks are made on and lots of other things too. Jan did one day of medical clinic with another Christian organization working in our area. But they actually had too many people trying to help so she decided not to go with them anymore during their stay with us.
As we had received a water purifier and desalination unit, Bob and I learned how to use it and we will hopefully get it set up to produce pure water for some of our neighbors whose wells are salty. This is another way of reaching out to people.
Bob returned to Iraq where the company he works for has had him for the last 14 months and Sue and Jan returned to the States early Monday the 20th. They were a real blessing for us and we look forward to seeing them again!

NOT EVERYONE LIKES US
We have seen so many people with changed attitudes towards us as Christians since the tsunami but there are some who still don’t like us and don’t want us here.
While we were gone to Colombo to get Bob, Sue & Jan one of our neighbors we found out pulled the stakes on the church tent and on another night cut the ropes on the tent, then cut the tarps. Then while we were gone to take them back to Colombo they threw large stones at our block machine, thank God no damage. Then on another night they bent all of our rebar which is for the columns of the new building. They bent them so that it will be difficult to use them. So goes our life here!
As you can see we definitely need your prayers! It can get very frustrating when you try to help people but some instead of appreciating what you do they hate you for it. But they did the same to Jesus so I guess we’re in good company!

NEW AREA OF MINISTRY
Because of the tsunami some of the church members from Periyaneelavanai had to relocate to another area know as Chavalakkadai. So now you have another name to stumble over seems there are no easy names here. But the whole community including the LTTE have welcomed Vijay and Ananthy there and have already said that land will be allocated free of charge for a church to be built. Vijay had been going there for several weeks to meet with the people and even more people from Periyaneelavanai who had never come before are coming to the worship services.
We rejoice over this, but it brings more challenges with it, mainly the need for more workers!

1. Safety for us and our workers amid all the problems.
2. God to open the blind eyes of people in Periyaneelavanai and Koddai Kallar.
3. Praise for the new ministry opportunities.
4. New building construction in Koddai Kallar.
5. Additional workers.

BACK ONLINE
It only took 5 months since the tsunami for us to get our phone line back and email established. But the email lasted only a short time as they had disconnected it since we didn’t pay for the 5 months even though they said earlier they would credit this to us. As of last Tuesday we are back up and running.
Our email address here is still the same as before: lamplite@slt.lk We would love to hear from you so feel free to drop us a line.

MAHALOOR CHURCH
The Hindu Temple has begun to threaten church families in Mahaloor. Just two weeks ago we had 125 people for Sunday church service, last week we had only 25 people. So please keep this church in your prayers.

Steve’s Birthday is August 15th.
Mail cards to: Steve Bycroft
Kalmunthal
Koddai Kallar (EP) Sri Lanka
Mail 2 weeks ahead

PRAYER REQUEST

1. Safety for us and our workers amid all the problems.
2. God to open the blind eyes of people in Periyaneelavanai and Koddai Kallar.
3. Praise for the new ministry opportunities.
4. New building construction in Koddai Kallar.
5. Additional workers.

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  JUNE 2005 NEWSLETTER  
  Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Greetings to you from Holland! We finally decided that we were going to have to make a break for it in order to come here. We really needed a break from all we have been doing over the last year actually, but especially since the tsunami.

Things at home are going well in our absence as we have called home a couple of times to see how everyone was doing.

We really had a difficult time at first as it was so cold here compared to Sri Lanka. We left upper 90's and high humidity to low 50's and low humidity, but now has warmed up to mid to upper 60's and with sweaters we are doing okay.

We appreciate your continue prayers for us and the ministry and for your financial gifts. We pray for you our supporters and thank God for your partnership with us in ministry. As I can't remember everything I wrote last month there may be some repeats so please forgive.

In Christ,
Steve & Shanthi

CHECK POINTS REOPENING

Life was beginning to show some signs of normalcy again but now we have another difficulty arising. The police check points which had been closed for 2 years are beginning to be reopened. This makes life more difficult and stressful for everyone involved!

At present only a few have been opened but if things continue more will be opened before long.

Just 2 weeks ago there was a demonstration in a town about 40 miles form us where a check point had reopened. The people were demonstrating against this and things turned bad. Eventually the Army was called in and they shot and killed several people. Please continue to pray for the peace of this nation!

-VITAMIN PROJECT STARTED-

Prior to our coming to Holland we had prepared things for a new project, daily distribution of vitamins in 6 schools. We had made plans to start this program in the Koddai Kallar and Mahaloor schools and this was started just after our departure to Holland. The principals in 3 of the schools had asked us repeatedly when we were going to start so we know they feel it's something good and necessary to do. Sydney and Rani take a week’s supply of vitamins to the schools on Monday for the principals to distribute each day.

We are also planning a worming program of the school children in these schools as well.

Our milk distribution program continues each month, giving milk powder to every family in Koddai Kallar with children under age 5. These 3 projects have been underwritten by F.A.M.E. So you can thank God for their willingness to help us in this area of ministry.

-WATER SITUATION STRAINED-

Almost every village along the coast is finding it increasingly difficult to have pure water to drink. The French Red Cross has been doing this for several months now but transporting it by tank truck and filling the tanks in the villages is an enormous job. To make things even more difficult two of the main organizations distributing water have now stopped delivery.

The government is still not much involved in anything going on. Their solution is to build a water treatment plant which is 60 miles from us and pipe the water as far as Koddai Kallar. We have spoken to the head engineer of the Red Cross and he says the plant is not big enough to supply the area they want to supply and won't be finished for another 18 months at earliest.

We have received from another church and organization based in the States a water filtration system which is supposed to desalinate the water as well. Though it is small, at least we'll be able to help with our local water supply.

We hope to set this up in conjunction with the solar powered water purifiers we received earlier.

- NEW WELL COMPLETED ON PROPERTY-

Our plans continue to build a building for the Koddai Kallar church on Shanthi's property across the road from our house. The first phase was to build a well on the property which, has been completed and has water in it! This is always a concern when you dig a new well that indeed the water will flow into it. So we thank God it seems all is well! (Pun intended)

The next phase is to construct toilets and then a building on the property. Commit Ministries, is sending a work team in July and the plan right now is to help us construct the building, or at least to begin the project.

- NEW WELL COMPLETED ON PROPERTY-

Our plans continue to build a building for the Koddai Kallar church on Shanthi's property across the road from our house. The first phase was to build a well on the property which, has been completed and has water in it! This is always a concern when you dig a new well that indeed the water will flow into it. So we thank God it seems all is well! (Pun intended)

The next phase is to construct toilets and then a building on the property. Commit Ministries, is sending a work team in July and the plan right now is to help us construct the building, or at least to begin the project.

-DRAWING COMPETITION IN SCHOOLS-

We have been helped in the past with distribution of school notebooks and supplies through the Sri Lankan army and we have become friends with the army Major who oversees these projects.

They gave us school supplies which we distributed among the school kids who still had not received enough of these items. Along with this he gave us drawing pads and crayons and asked for the children to draw pictures which will be sent to Colombo for a national competition.

We have contacted Sydney and he has already picked up the drawings and taken them to Major Perera.

-GOD WORKS IN HEARTS OF HINDUS-

This past month the Hindu temple in our village had another meeting where Shanthi and I were mentioned by name. It seems the priest was upset because so many children were coming to our Sunday school each week.

He was scolding some of the people for allowing their children to come. Here is the amazing part, some of these people being scolded were ones who live down our lane and who had openly opposed us previously. One had even done demonic charms against us! They told the Hindu Priest, "We don't have any problem with them as they are helping Hindus as well as Christians, what did you do to help us? If you want to start a Hindu school do it on Saturday and leave them alone."

God is at work here in the hearts of people!

1. God to continue to work through us and those laboring with us.

2. God to provide more workers.

3. Building projects to be completed.

4. Our outreach through the distributions to continue to be effective.

5. Peace for Sri Lanka.

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  MAY 2005 NEWSLETTER  
  Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
It seems we just finish writing a newsletter and it’s time for the next one. That’s just the way our lives have been the last few months. But all to the glory of God things are beginning to smooth out somewhat and life is looking a little more normal for the villages in our area.
Life for those affected by the tsunami continues to be a real challenge for them and for us. We have begun distributing meat and vegetables to our believers in Periyaneelavanai as they seem to be finding it the most difficult to get along on what the government is providing. So once a week we give them the food to help out plus they can use the nutrition.
We continue to be amazed at how God works here and in the States in the hearts of the people. We again thank you for your continued prayers for us and the financial gifts. We thank God for you and pray His blessings for you as well!
In Christ,
Steve & Shanthi

Schools in Need of Help
We have gone to three schools in Koddai Kallar and found out the needs of the students, we plan to do so in Mahaloor and Periyaneelavanai. This is not only a real help for the schools but a good way for us to build a good relationship in the community and use it as a means of evangelism.
We have distributed school bags & notebooks in two of the schools, and will do so in the third school. Along with these items one school said they needed desks for the teachers and student. They have 13 teachers and only 3 desks and chairs. The teachers have no place to sit and grade papers. Even though the government is supposed to supply these items they have refused to do so in spite of repeated requests by the principal. We have decided to provide these items and again build good relationship within the community.

Some Things Aren’t Always As They Seem
Last month we reported on property in Koddai Kallar we were wanting to purchase. God had other plans evidently as there wasn’t a proper deed, so that was the end of that. We have decided that we will utilize the property across the road, which is Shanthi’s personal property that she purchased before we were married. We will try to purchase the adjoining property so that we will have room to expand when needed. Even though it is smaller and not on the main road like we wanted, it will work, as the people are already accustomed to coming there for church services. We will continue to look for somewhere to build a Medical Clinic.
We have had so many difficulties in locating property for the churches. Each time we think something will work out it doesn’t for any number of reasons. In spite of this problem we believe that we have a property in Periyaneelavanai. Nice location and on the main road. A small building is already on it and sufficient for the church to meet in after roof is replaced.
Just yesterday we looked at property in Mahaloor and believe we have found some on the main road, centrally located in the village. It has a house which the preacher will be able to live in and the property is big enough to build a church building on it. Please continue to pray for these plans.

More Medical Camps
We just completed a three day medical camp in Koddai Kallar, Periyaneelavanai, and Mahaloor. The clinic was held by an American doctor, Greg Phillips, and two nurses from the U.K. During this clinic we treated 245 people. And by the time you read this we will be holding another three day clinic with the two nurses and a Sri Lankan doctor.
The turn out for these clinics remind us of the need for good health care facilities. Mahaloor has a clinic, it is open 2 days a month and it is reported that many times the doctor doesn’t even show up.
A lot of dehydration as the hot months have come and the people simply don’t drink enough water, which also creates other problems. In their defense getting sufficient water to drink is very difficult as most have to walk to 100-gallon tanks along the main road that are filled with the purified water.
The government still has no long-term plans for the water situation or even the medical needs of the people. They seem content to let all the relief organizations do what they should have done themselves, but that is another story.

Churches and Sunday Schools Continue to Grow
We are still seeing more and more people come to the services in Koddai Kallar and Mahaloor. Periyaneelavanai is more difficult as our church members are more scattered and they have no place to meet, this compounds the problem. We are having over 100 children 12 and under in Koddai Kallar and 130 in Mahaloor. This had it’s own set of difficulties for us to overcome, but God is good to help us with this and He continues to work in the hearts of the people.

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God Works in Ways We Can’t Always See
The last several weeks we have had a young man, Niranjen working with us helping do paperwork and distribution records. He simply came and asked us if we needed any help so we put him to work giving him a small stipend for helping us.
Evidently his being around us and seeing what we were doing had a powerful impact on him. About 3 weeks ago his mother came and spoke to us saying that he wanted to become a Christian. Since that time he has been coming to church and prayer services, even giving a testimony last Sunday during worship how God has been working in his life. What an amazing God we serve!

Distribution of Relief Items Continues
We continue to help with needed items for people in our communities. We have distributed mason tools, carpentry tools, fishing nets, kerosene lanterns, and hope to give sewing machines in the near future.
And as we mentioned before food as needed mainly to our church people now. We also are continuing our milk program for children 5 and under in Koddai Kallar.

Future Work Team Planned
This past month Bob Thatcher came to visit, he is the “point man” for Commit Ministries based in Hawaii. Bob lives in Oregon and works for an engineering company based in Colorado. He has been working as a contractor in Iraq for the last year overseeing different construction projects.
Commit Ministries is planning to send a construction team here to work with us in our area in July either to build homes or to help us build church buildings. Bob was a real blessing for us to have in our home for few days and is very interested in the work we are doing here. Please pray for his safety as he has returned to Iraq and for the team arriving in July.

Short Intermission
A really long story that I will try to make short. We originally needed to leave the country due to our one year visa expiration. So we purchased tickets to go to the Netherlands for a few weeks of rest, visiting Shanthi’s family and the ministry work in the Sri Lankan churches there.
Shanthi had already applied for dual citizenship here and received it just a few days prior to our departure. Along with this they gave me an extension so we didn’t need to leave the country, which would have been really difficult to leave at that time.
But now we need a break as our stress level is extremely high, therefore we are going to go ahead and leave in May for 2 to 3 weeks for some much needed rest and relaxation.

News from Trinidad
Rennie tells us that they had a successful VBS and is seeing new people coming to worship services. He also mentioned that some of the regular members are not being faithful in their commitment to Christ.
We had raised one half of the cost for a church van and he writes that the church has now raised the other half. He will purchase the van for church uses.

Prayer Requests:
1. Property purchase in all three villages.
God’s continued working in and through us to accomplish His will.
More people to come to know Christ.
Our co-workers, Vijay & Ananthy, Sydney & Rani, Rennie & Christine, Raji.

January—March 2005
Office Expenses $ 2,567.26
Payroll:
Personnel 10,824.00
National Evangelist 1,415.00
Orphanages 2,700.00
Total Expenses $17,506.26
Total Support Received $20,024.57
Total Tsunami Support $54,103.80

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  APRIL 2005 NEWSLETTER  
 
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Another month has quickly slipped past, well quickly in some cases much slower in others. The needs have changed over this past month from tents, food, and household items to different types of tools needed for employment, and more permanent housing solutions. Too much has happened again to try and relate everything but will try to hit at least some of the high points.
Before we get into it though we want to thank you for your prayers and support of this ministry. We know many of you have sent extra gifts especially for the Tsunami relief and we thank God for your willingness to do this. We pray for God’s richest blessing to be on you!

Steve & Shanthi

UNEXPECTED THANK YOU
This week one of the village chiefs of Koddai Kallar came with a letter for us. In it he expressed his thanks to us as a church for all the help we have given to the village people throughout the tsunami. He also expressed that the Hindu Temple Board, of which he is a member, also wanted to thank us for all we have done. They said that it has been the Christian people who have reached out to the people of this village in this time of disaster. Before he left our house, he asked us for a Bible.
We are making an impact for the cause of Christ in our village, by God’s grace and strength!

WEARING DIFFERENT HATS
This past month we have found it necessary to change how we are functioning. We have found that trying to do the relief work, purchase necessary items in Colombo, distribute them in this area, look for properties to purchase, as well as the ministry work in Koddai Kallar was just too much for us physically as well as emotionally.
We have decided it is best for us, at least for now, to focus on the relief situation. We are going to allow Sydney and Rani takes the ministry responsibilities here as well as continues the Sunday School program in Mahaloor.
This was a difficult decision for us, as Shanthi and I want to work in the evangelism and ministry here. As it was we were so divided in our attention we couldn’t do a good job at either so felt it best to change things until some of the relief work eases up.

PROPERTY SEARCH CONTINUES
We have located a large property in Koddai Kallar, which can accommodate everything we want to do. This property was not for sale earlier but now the owners have agreed to sell. It is much more expensive than we wanted to spend, but post tsunami prices for land are 50% higher. This is in part due to people wanting to relocate away from the seaside, and with limited property available to begin with prices have risen sharply all along the coastal area.
The property has a small house with a well and toilet and is situated on the main road, which is a big plus. It is big enough for the church building, medical clinic, children’s home, and preacher’s quarters without being crowded.
We are considering a two-story structure as this will save land space and allow for future expansion.

OFF TO SCHOOL WITH A NEW BAG
Another relief item we have purchased and distributed are school bags for the children. Many of the kids lost their bags in the tsunami and were using plastic bags to carry their books and supplies to and from school. Two other organizations, one was UNICEF, had said they would provide bags but never did, so we decided this was something we could do.

MEDICAL CLINIC PLANS COMING TOGETHER

After Dr. Andrews’ visit we were even more convinced of the need for a permanent medical facility in Koddai Kallar. We have actually been thinking of this for the last couple of years and have been praying God would open the doors for it to become a reality. I know this may be a surprise to most of you, as we never really mentioned this before, but has been something we’ve wanted to do as well as something that is really needed in our community.
Through this clinic we will not only be able to care for the peoples physical needs but also share the love of Jesus Christ with them as this will be an outreach ministry through our church. Even though medical treatment here is free this is a very practical way to evangelize the community.
The village leaders we have spoken with about this are very excited and willing to cooperate in any way they can to help us make this a reality.
We have two Christian organizations in the States who have stated they will assist in the setup and operation of the clinic. One has already begun the process of shipping supplies and equipment here for the clinic.
We are returning to Colombo this week to meet with the president of Hospital Christian Fellowship to try to coordinate our efforts and locate Christian staff for the clinic. Pray that God will continue to open the way for this to become a reality.

MILK PROGRAM UNDERWAY
The last two months we have purchased and distributed milk powder here in Koddai Kallar for children 5 years and younger. Proper nutrition is a major problem for most of the families here and this is a very practical way to help meet some of this need. The women really appreciate this program and they see our concern for them and their children.

BACK TO WORK
Several people have been coming asking for help in purchasing tools they need to practice their chosen vocation, including masons, carpenters, fishermen, tailors and seamstresses.
We have purchased and distributed hand tools for 6 carpenters and 5 masons in the village. The biggest expense was for fishing nets costing a little over $2,000. We were able to locate 60 good quality nets in Colombo most of the shops only had very poor quality nets available, and have distributed them to many but not all the fishermen in the village. As fishing is the main source of income for the village and also the main source of food we thought this was money well spent.
Just this morning one of the fishermen sent about 2lbs of nice fresh water shrimp for us as a thank you for giving him a net. His wife and children have also been coming to church and Sunday School for about 4 weeks now.

PRAYER REQUESTS
We can continue to reach out with compassion to the people of this village.
More people to come to Christ in Sri Lanka.
Our co-workers, Rennie & Christine in Trinidad, Vijay & Ananthy, Sydney & Rani, Raji, and the kids in the children homes.
Property purchase, medical clinic plans to continue to progress.

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  MARCH 2005 NEWSLETTER  
  KODDAI KALLAR CHURCH GROWING

We are extremely happy that the church here is growing at a rapid pace following the tsunami. The last two Sundays we have had over 75 children and 30 adults. We have outgrown the living room in our home and have built a tent across the road for a temporary meeting place. I guess if Israel could worship in a tent for forty years in the desert we can too, although I don’t want it to take forty years to build a permanent building!

Along with this we are planning to split the children into at least two groups to make it easier to handle and do a better job of teaching having them in more age appropriate groups.

NEXT PROJECTS

We have already been supplied funds to replace water lines at the school in our area and we have committed to build new toilets for the school as well. These were not actually damaged in the tsunami but when we asked the principal what we could do to help this was what he asked us to do. The funds for this project were raised by school children in Joplin and Carl Junction, MO.

We have also purchased milk powder which we will distribute before you read this letter. The nutrition of babies and children here is really lacking. This is a project we want to continue on a long term basis. This will cost close to $2,000 per month, but is an excellent way for us to show our concern for the young families in the community and share Christ with them. Money has been given to start this program.

We are looking for a new property for the Periyaneelavanai building, but so far have not been successful. Even though our property still exists it is too close to the ocean and NO ONE would come and NO ONE who lived in the area is going to rebuild on their property because it is too close to the ocean now.

We also see a great need for medical attention here in our village. We would like to establish a clinic in Koddai Kallar. There is no clinic here now and anyone wanting to see a doctor must travel to another town consequently many who need to see a doctor simply do not go.

We want to build permanent church buildings in the villages of Koddai Kallar and Mahaloor. We have lots of things we need and want to do, so please pray for God to provide everything necessary to accomplish HIS will!.

NOTE: Check out the website for a more detailed list of projects and needs.

TRAMPLED FLOWERS

We have been distributing almost all the relief items right from our home for a few reasons. One, there wasn’t a good place to do it with any kind of control. Two, it made people aware that the relief was coming from the Christians in the village. Three, we needed a place to store things that was safe.

This was not without it’s own set of problems though. One of which was a lot of destroyed flower beds, broken flower pots, and 5 pairs of flip flops went missing. But I guess we can lose a few of these things in order to help people and expose some to the Gospel for the first time.

The distribution has gone fairly well although we have had lots of people come for relief who were not really affected by the tsunami. Trying to screen these out without cresting a riot has been difficult to say the least. But the process has gone fairly well and we have been able to help a lot of people with items that were needed.

Since the beginning we have distributed food, clothing, water, tarps to use as tents, kerosene lanterns, kerosene lamps, cooking utensils, pots and pans, along with 750 woks with lids and 1,000 kudam. This last item was something we had heard many people asking for. So we went to Colombo for a few days bought and transported them here for distributing. A kudam is a round water pot with a small neck holding about 3 1/2 gallons. In this situation it has been essential as purified drinking water is being trucked in and put in 100-200 gallon tanks around the village. So most of the people have to walk and get water everyday with their kudam. It has been really satisfying to see so many people using something that we gave them. They took up a tremendous amount of space in the house before we got them into the hands of the people.

I must say that we have had and needed lots of help from family members and co-workers in the ministry to do the distributing.

WHERE DID I PUT THAT GAUZE?

One of the groups that came was a doctor, a scuba diver and a photojournalist, quite the trio to say the least. All three helped to put on much needed medical clinics here and in Mahaloor. Dr Andrews from Cushing, OK, Dee Norris from Cincinnati, OH and Daniel from New York all helped in many ways not just with the medical clinics. Dee climbed down into our well and scooped out around two feet of sand so we could lower the pipe for the pump that fills our water tank. Daniel helped with the clinics and distributions.

We held the clinic in Koddai Kallar for 4 days in two different weeks and one day in Mahaloor. Due to time Dr. Andrews wasn’t able to stay longer, but said he would like to come again and will try to recruit other doctors to come.

We ran the clinic out of our living room with medical supplies in boxes and trunks around the room. So finding things was a little frustrating, but we managed. Dr. Andrews treated over 225 people here and 75 in Mahaloor

We received the medical supplies from two different sources. One source was from 2 other Americans who came for a short visit, Keith Colley and Jane Collett both from Dallas, TX. They brought 10 big boxes full of medical supplies which had been donated. They didn’t stay long enough with us to see the supplies actually put into use as they left before the others arrived. What a huge blessing it was for them to bring those supplies!

A big trunk loaded with antibiotics and other drugs came through another organization “American Heart” Bill Henry from Florida headed this team. They put Dr. Andrews in touch with us and sent the drugs to us so we could hold the clinics. We received all the medical supplies before we knew Dr. Andrews was even in Sri Lanka and planning to come to help us! God is amazing in how HE works things out.

“American Heart” also sent tarps, ropes, water purifications filters, plastic sheeting, and bottled water for us to distribute, which we have been doing.

Lots of organizations and individuals that we didn’t know before the tsunami have become important instruments in our ministry and God has blessed us with new friendships and several new supporters.

Much more could be said about all that has happened, but there is simply not enough room to do it in this letter, especially all the events surrounding the people who came to visit with us.

We thank and praise God for how he has worked through them and us this past month to touch people in our community.

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LAMP LIGHTERS WORLD MINISTRIES  February 2005

 
 
Update:  Friday, February 11, 2005.
Phone Call:  Steve had positive news.  The Koddai Kallar church has doubled in size since the Tsunami.  They are erecting a temporary structure across the street from Steve & Shanthi's home to hold services in.  The did have about 30 kids attending Sunday School and last week they had 57 show up.  Also one of the Hindu men in the village who has been an opponent of the ministry, his daughter came to Sunday School last week.  So Steve said they are seeing God's work. 
Also a Doctor from Cushing, OK.  Dr. George Andrews has visited and set up a clinic there at Steve & Shanthi's.  He held a two day clinic last week and then he had to return to Colombo.  They had to turn away lots of people, so Dr. Andrews is returning again later this week to hold another clinic for them.  The clinic was much needed by the local people. 
He has found some property to purchase for the Periyaneelavanai Church. They are waiting on the owner to make the purchase final.  It will be late summer, early fall before any construction can be started.
I asked about Vijith's family (this is Shanthi's brother who was here in the States for awhile) they are doing well.  Their home did not suffer any damage.  The boys are back in school and doing great.  They have continued to visit with Steve in English.
Please continue to keep Steve & Shanthi in your prayers, they are receiving very little sleep.  They hold a huge responsibility over there taking care of the needs of the Sri Lankan people.
 
  HOW THE TSUNAMI STOLE CHRISTMAS

          Usually Christmas time is a very busy and happy time here with the actual celebration continuing for a few days afterward.  This year Christmas was drastically changed and will be imbedded in minds for the rest of our lives!

          We had enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Day worship service in both churches and were looking forward to the 26th worship service as well.  Little did we know how things would change for us and our churches so quickly.

          We were in the middle of our worship service when people came to our gate shouting the “sea is coming” into the village.  We did not understand what was being said and didn’t understand what was happening, but reports kept coming from reliable people so we had a short prayer and dismissed the service.

          My first thought was that since it was a full moon and tides are highest on full moon days that this was what was happening.

          Our village is actually an island with a river behind and a large lagoon between us and the sea.  Separating the lagoon and the sea is a beach head.  During the monsoon season the lagoon fills to the point where a section of the beach head washes out and the river then flows into the sea.  This had already happened and so I thought the high tide had forced the water backward and the sea had come into the lagoon and overflowed the normal banks coming up to the main road through the village.

          All the people were running toward the opposite side of the village to find two story houses to get into for safety.  A elderly husband of one of our church members, was still at home which is located just in front of the lagoon.  So Shanthi and I went to the main road to find him and bring him with us.  When we go to the main road, the water had already receded so I was further convinced this was just a high tide situation.

          We found the gentleman and he was fine but refused to come with us saying he would stay there.  So we went on down the road to check on the homes of other church members.  We walked to the edge of the village where the causeway crosses the river and were talking with some of the church members.  They were concerned but not harmed in any way.  Just then the shouts of the sea is coming started again we looked toward the sea and saw the second wave rolling over the beachhead.  This is a sight I will never forget!  The beach head was at least 30 feet high with 25 coconut trees on top of it.  The wave was completely over the tops of these trees.

          We began to run and went down the first cross lane and continued to run just as the water from the lagoon was coming up onto the main road.  We ran just ahead of this water down the lane toward the middle of the lane it goes up a small hill so when we reached that place I took a glance back but kept running.  I could see the water rising as it came into the village.  When we reached the other end of the street we turned and kept running.

          Everyone including the 5 children we care for, Shanthi’s sister and her 4 children and some of the others who were at our house were going down the street trying to find a two story house to get into.  All the houses we walked past were standing room only, literally hundreds of people crowded onto the second floors of uncompleted homes also.  So we continued down the street and finally found everyone safe at a house with some room still available at the other end of the village.

          Only then did we begin to take time to try and figure out what was happening.  Nothing like this had ever happened in the village before.  They had seen cyclones but nothing like this.

          We found a three wheeled taxi, hired him to return us to our home.  We arrived there to see that the wave had not reached our house.  We quickly gathered a few items locked the door and returned to the two story house where we stayed for the rest of the day and that night.

          Shouts continued to be heard, “the sea is coming again”, about every 15 to 20 minutes, this went on for about 3 hours.  We honestly thought it was something just happening to our village.  It was only then that someone listening to a battery powered radio heard that there had been an earthquake in Indonesia and this had caused the Tsunami, did we realize this had affected the entire island.  How quickly our lives were rearranged by what had happened. 

VIJAY, ANANTHY AND THE PERIYANEELAVANAI CHURCH

          By about three in the afternoon we had found everyone safe in Koddai Kallar and our thoughts turned toward the church in Periyaneelavanai, the preacher, his family and the church members.

          Around 4:30p.m. one of our church members told us Vijay the preacher in Periyaneelavanai was walking down our main road along with his wife, Ananthy, but none of the rest of their family was with them.  We left everyone at the two story house and went after them.  When we got to the main road we couldn’t believe our eyes at the destruction there.  Almost the entire section of the village across the main road closest to the sea was gone.  We could hardly walk down the road for the debris everywhere.

          We never did catch up to Vijay until they had reached their home about three miles away.  When we began to talk with them we found out that their 1½ year old daughter, Jeevany,  Ananthy’s 21 year old brother, his wife, Ananthy’s 16 and 9 year old sisters had all perished in the waves.

          The entire area where the church had been was washed away including our newly completed church building.  Vijay had no idea of how many of the church members were alive at that time.

          We stayed with them for about three hours; all the while other family members arrived to hear the news.  We had to get back to Koddai Kallar before dark as the causeway had washed out in three places and we had to wade through knee deep water to get home.  We didn’t make it before dark but God helped us across and we arrived at the 2 story home to see everyone distressed over us not getting home before dark. 

MONDAY THE 27TH

          We met with Vijay and went back to Periyaneelavanai which took almost two hours to cover the three miles.  Destruction was everywhere to be seen. 

          We spent several hours hoping to find survivors or news but found nothing.  We finally heard that Jeevany’s body was lying in a certain place so we went there and found her body and had a burial service at that spot as there was no way to transport the body home as roads and bridges were washed out.

          We saw there was nothing left of that area of the village or the buildings.

          Vijay related to us the story of what had happened to them but this only became clearer several days later.  He and his wife had been washed by the wave over a half mile away, they were then caught by a succeeding wave and washed out to the road a mile away from the beach where they were rescued by some Army who placed them up in a tree for safety.  We began walking home and arrived there at 8:30 that night.

          Tuesday and Wednesday were basically a repeat of Monday, continuing with the search of bodies. By Wednesday because of the rapid decay we could not identify anyone except by clothing or jewelry.  We found no other family members or church members.

          We have finally confirmed 24 children and adults of the church perished in the waves.

          This has been just a very brief report so much happened it is impossible to share it all with you.

          We, our home, and the church members in Koddai Kallar were all spared.  In fact not one person in Koddai Kallar died in the village.  I believe this is due to the lagoon slowing the flow of the waves and limiting the damage.  If it had not been for the lagoon and God’s grace, Koddai Kallar and we would no longer be here.

          I visited with Raji, and the orphanages in Trincomalee and Jaffna were spared from damage.  Only one sixteen year old girl from the Trincomalee church lost her life in the wave.  The major concern now is that most of the Trincomalee Church people are living at the church because they have lost their homes.  So Raji is helping as much as possible to feed these people until they can return to their properties. 

WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW

          Along with trying to bring some comfort to Vijay and church members we have been very busy trying to help with some relief for the two villages.

This has been hampered by no electricity; until we finally got it on the 19th of January, no phone, and extremely limited and difficult transportation.  We were completely cut off to transport out of the village for two weeks except by small boat and walking. 

We have been carrying in food and other items since distributing it to any in need.  We have also purchased numerous water jugs and lanterns for the people. We have been able to share with many people the love of Christ in a very real way to them.

          Hopefully next month we will have photos to share with you.

          We have also found out during the past month our preacher in Trinidad, Rennie John’s mother died.  We were sad to hear this but know she is safe in the arms of Jesus.

The above was received by fax from Steve on January 26, 2005.  One month after the Tsunami.

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 Phone Call with Steve on Jan 14th:
 
 

Steve now has a cell phone; he can not make any international calls, but can receive them. They are doing fairly well, they have had too much food given to them so they are sharing with other Sri Lankans, as for water they have to go to the neighbor’s house, fill their containers, bring it home, and put it through the water purifier. Their well has salt in it, so at some point he will be re-digging his well. He presently has eleven people living with him, including the five kids and four other villagers who lost their home. He said their home is full, but everything seems to be going okay.

I asked him where he was when the tsunami struck. This is his story, they were in the middle of their church service, when someone came in and said the sea is coming. They ended their service and then Steve & Shanthi went to check on an older couple who were not at church and live down by the water. After visiting with them for a while and seeing that the people were okay, they started back toward home. They were standing on a bridge looking at the water that the first wave brought in, when Steve looked up and saw the second wave coming; he said it was way over the tops of the palm trees, which are 20 to 30 feet high. Steve yelled at Shanthi to run, he said they ran up a pathway with the water 20 yards behind them all the way. He shared that he had never seen anything like that, and hoped he would never again. The couple they visited were washed from their home, but hung onto a tree. They survived; the woman lost a toe, and was supposed to come home from the hospital on Friday. Steve says the damage the water caused is unreal. So much destruction.

Steve then was telling me about Periyaneelavania, that village lost almost everything, over 285 homes were destroyed. The church building that was just finished in December was built with 12 inch columns, made of concrete and steel. These columns were snapped off at the base and then broke into pieces. The foundation is all in pieces. Steve took some pictures which he is going to try to send to me (the last mail they received was on January 6th, so he doesn’t know when I will receive it). The government has said we can not build on the same property again. So Steve told me that the cost of land and to build a new church building will cost around $15,000.00. Besides the 11 people in his home, Vijay and his wife (Periyaneelavania Church preacher) and been with Steve a lot since this all happened. Steve said he and Shanthi are exhausted and feeling the stress, but they know God is looking out for them.
A causeway to the mainland was opened on Friday, so now Steve is able to get needed supplies easier than using the ferry, which was the only way across to the mainland. Saturday Steve was going into Batticaloa to purchase tents, lanterns, and water jugs for the local people of Koddai Kallar. He is getting the people the tents so they can stay on their own properties and not have to live in the Relief shelters. He was very thankful we had the money for him to go do that.
Steve asked that at this time we only send money to him, another organization had a truck load of used clothing sent to them and it cost them $500 to get it out of customs. Also items that the people working in customs wants, they keep it for themselves and then you never do see it. Wiring money directly to Steve is not a problem. So if anyone asks just send money to Lamp Lighters World Ministries.

As far as people or teams visiting Steve, he has also asked that no one come at this time, it is very hard for him to get to Colombo (where the airport is) and with eleven people already living with him, and no water or electricity. It would be extremely difficult to keep more people. The other problem he has is for interpreters. Shanthi is the only one around that can interpret. He said that maybe in a few months, things will change and it might be possible to host a team then. As far as rebuilding the church and homes, he can hire workers there for $10 a day and they do a good job for him. And right now those people could use the money.

I asked about the Orphanages. He said he has not been able to get to Trincomalee, but from what he hears that the kids are safe and not much damage to the buildings. There does remain a problem with the orphanages and that is they are extremely short of staff. The Jaffna Orphanage has 33 kids in it and the Trincomalee one has 18. He wanted to send the five kids he has in his home to Trincomalee, but Raji (the administrator) said she can not take them at this time. She really needs additional people to help her. This needs to be a major prayer request, because Steve said there is even more orphans now needing homes.

Things are improving for them, but they still need our prayers. He wanted to let everyone know that they really appreciate the prayers they have received and to please continue with those prayers.

Melanie

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 January 9, 2005    Update on Steve & Shanthi Bycroft
 

Sunday Morning we heard from the “Big White American”. This is what the radio and news people are calling Steve. He has done several interviews with them; this is because he can speak English. He reported several things so I am sending you all an update.

Relief aid finally reached them last Wednesday and Steve said they were very thankful for the aid; they were in need of water. All of the wells are gone; they will have to dig new ones. Steve has been put in charge of the relief distribution there in Koddai Kallar area. The Relief workers have also set up a Communication Center only one mile from Steve’s House. So this is how he was able to phone home. The only way they are getting the relief is from helicopters, all of the water ports are closed. Steve also stated that only 1/3 of the Koddai Kallar is now standing, the rest is gone.

He and Shanthi report that all of Shanthi’s family is safe. This includes the five children that they have living with them. He has not been able to visit the orphanage yet, but what he hears is that everyone there is safe, too. We praise and thank God for keeping his people safe during this tragedy.

We do need to keep Vijay and his wife in our prayers. Steve did confirm this morning that they lost all of their family, children, parents and other members. This will be a trying time for them and we need to continue to pray they will be able to feel God’s comfort during this time. Vijay is the preacher at the Periyaneelavanai Church. This church was washed away in the tsunami, and now the government will not let us rebuild on this property, because it is now only 300 feet from the coast. So Steve will be looking for new property before we can start the rebuilding process.

We here at Lamp Lighters want to thank each one of you for your prayers, phone calls, and the gifts we have received. We thank God for each one of you. We do ask that you continue to keep Steve, Shanthi, and all the Sri Lanka people in your prayers.

In Christ,

Melanie Hiler

 

Sunday, December 26, 2004 — The largest earthquake to strike the globe since 1964 has caused devastating tsunami waves that have killed thousands in south Asia. The 8.9-magnitude quake hit December 26 off the coast of Indonesia, triggering these extremely large waves that have brought massive flooding, damage and loss of life in the region.

Waves as high as 20 feet have crashed into the coastal areas near the Bay of Bengal. Among the worst affected countries are Sri Lanka and India, as well as Indonesia, Maldives and Thailand.

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Lamplighters World Ministries primary goal is to go to countries where the gospel has not been preached, or limited work has been done to establish Churches in those countries.  Founders Steve and Shanthi Bycroft work with the people of Sri Lanka.
 


Lamplighters World Ministries, 2641 East 6th Street, Joplin, MO 64801-1636, USA 
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