2009 Newsletters
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DECEMBER 2009


We hope that you had a very blessed Thanksgiving day! We explained to our kids a little about Thanksgiving day and the traditions that surround it, and that evening we celebrated with macaroni and meatballs. Not quite turkey with the trimmings but still it was special and the kids loved it!

Now it’s time to get ready for Christmas. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share the love of Jesus Christ in so many different ways. Two of the local schools have already asked us to come and be the Guests of Honor for their Christmas programs. How things have changed as just a few years ago they would never have given us a second thought, and usually the Christmas programs at the schools were not promoted in any way. The Gospel makes a difference in the lives of people, and whole communities are affected! Please don’t misunderstand--these communities are far from being Christian, but now we are recognized and accepted as part of the community.

Your response for the Sunday school Christmases has been overwhelming! This was the year that we had the greatest need. Since we have so many new Sunday schools and so many children the expenses are far more than ever before. But you have responded by God’s grace in such a wonderful outpouring, and we are amazed! We are confident that God will bless each of you who gave special gifts for these programs.

Truly we do give thanks to God for all he has done for us through your financial generosity and through your continued prayers!

We pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas and that you will keep Christ at the center of all you do!

POLICE COME TO OUR HOME

Actually about three months ago two policemen came to our home. Of course there is always the uneasy feeling when they come, even more so here considering the war.

What they wanted was to see if we could help them with a project. They wanted to help some of the poorer students in two of the schools in Periya Kallar with some school books and bags. So we agreed to do it and they set everything up for us. We purchased the items necessary and we had the two programs.

This served several purposes. We got extra exposure in Periya Kallar as the Christian church. We helped some poor families with the gifts which we hope will lead to opportunities to share Christ. We were able to give testimony to the love of Jesus Christ during the programs (with many parents in attendance as well). And it gave us some good relationships with the police in the area which is always nice to have!

Please pray that these gifts will indeed lead to a harvest of souls for God’s glory.

Shanthi giving a book bag to a young school girl.

YOUTH HAVE BIG PROGRAM

Each full moon, known as Poya day here, is a holiday--no schools, businesses, etc. are open. We have used this as an opportunity to get our youth together for programs each month. This past month we did something a little different in that we had an overnight program which was held at the Mahiloor church on Sunday the first and Monday the second.

There were many challenges, especially since it was raining and the electricity kept going off.

We had over 80 youth who came and participated in the program with lots of new faces in the crowd. We were there Sunday night and I spoke for the first session. The theme was coming out of darkness into the light. My lesson was on listening for the call of God with application for Christians and non-Christians as well.

It was a great time and we think that our youth groups were spiritually fed and led, as well as having a lot of fun. They all said they wanted to do this every year so we think it was a success.



MONSOON RAINS COME EARLY

This year we have been very dry until just three weeks ago. Then the rains came and they were heavy and island wide, which is also unusual. We normally don’t get the heavy and continuous rain until mid December so now we are wondering what December is going to be like! It has slowed some, and we have even had a few days with sunshine, but the rain clouds never leave the sky.

Our new property at Onthachimadam wasn’t filled yet and so it has flooded, but at least we got some of it filled before the rains came.

With the rains come crocodiles as they go into the newly flooded areas to raise their young. For them it is a great boon, but not so for everyone else. We have seen at least one crocodile in the water on two different occasions at the new property. This has been a concern even with our other property over the years. Please pray for safety--especially for the young children coming and going from the church.

STILL NO APPROVAL

One of the most frustrating things we deal with here is how slowly things move most of the time.

We still don’t have the approval to begin construction on the Periyaneelavanai church. We can’t seem to get things off and running so please continue to pray that God will see that the approval comes through.

Now with all the rain it would have been difficult to build, but we still would like to get started.

MORE CHARMS FOUND

And we’re not talking lucky charms. We come under Satan’s attacks in so many ways. The latest example? Someone hired a witch doctor to make a charm to bring a demon against us and then buried it on our property. This is a very common practice here.

This past month Shanthi had a dream one night in which she saw three banana trees growing in a certain way. The next morning she told me about it and then went out into our yard and saw the three trees she had seen in her dream. We uprooted the trees and found two charms, one of which had been inserted into the trunk of one of the trees. Now for us as Christians these things hold no fear because we know that “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world“! We praise God for how He continues to protect us from all Satan’s ways.

PRAYER CONCERNS

1. For our preachers and coworkers here and in Trinidad.

2. Approval for construction in Periyaneelavanai.

3. Christmas programs to be successful and bring glory to God and souls to Him.

4. Safety for all our Onthachimadam members and children from any crocodile attacks.

5. Our home and family here from Satan’s attacks.

NOVEMBER 2009


      Our internet has been out for almost a month now so if you've sent an email with no response that's why.  Things just don't work the way we want them to many times.  Makes us remember that the things of this world are only temporary and the things that many times frustrate us won't last into eternity. 

      We've heard there has been some good response for the Sunday school kids Christmas programs and we thank you and praise God for how he is providing the necessary funds for these programs and gifts.  This really is an important program for our churches as it provides needed clothing and school supplies to poor families, it gives our preachers new contacts with families whose children come for Sunday school, and it promotes good will in the community as well.

      Every month we write to thank you for what you are doing to help us and we hope that you don't think these are simply words and nice sentiments.  We truly do thank God for your support in prayer and finance and we do pray for you daily.  We want God to bless you for how you are a blessing to us and also to use you in His work there where you live.  

PROPERTY BEING FILLED FOR FUTURE CHURCH  

      We have written about the property we purchased in Onthachimamdam and also how we needed to fill the front portion where the church would be built.  After the village road project was completed we were given several loads of fill dirt free of charge, which really helps out.  The only frustrating part is that when we requested the fill we had to send a letter on letterhead and a copy of our land deed to prove it wasn't for our own personal property or gain.  This we did and got the approval to receive all the excess fill from that area for the church property.  Problem is the dump truck drivers would give it to anyone who asked them and gave them 500 rupees per load, so we only got about 1/3 the amount we should have.  Anyway we still praise God for his provision of what we did get.

      Our preacher is already asking if we could put up a temporary meeting place on the new property once we get it all filled so that people will get used to coming to that place instead of where we are presently meeting.   We also like this idea and pray that we can get the remaining fill and funds to do this before Christmas and the monsoon rains come.   

ONTHACHIMADAM PREACHER COMES UNDER ATTACK  

Our preacher George and his wife Vathani have had a tough start working with us.  Within the first few weeks they have lost 2 family members to death.  One was Vathani's step grandmother, and the other her step father.  Here the tradition is that on the 31st day after a death you have a small service and give a meal to family and friends. 

      On Vathani's grandmother’s 31st day anniversary we held a prayer service and ate lunch.  I spoke with her step father for quite some time about spiritual things and what his plans for the future were.  He spoke English very well, so it was easy to converse with him.  Two days later early in the morning we got a phone call that he had died.  What a shock to us and to the family as well!

      Now the rumor is that he didn't have a heart attack but that he was beaten to death by the family members and this was all led by our preacher George.  This is more evidence of how Satan uses these situations to try and destroy the work being done for God's glory. George even came to us saying he would like to work somewhere else as there is so much talk like this that people assume it's true.

      George and Vathani really need your prayers right now and we need wisdom to guide them through this time.  We have told them to wait and see if this rumor dies out, but if it doesn't we will need to relocate them to a different area.  We do have some new areas where ministries could be started but that still leaves us without a preacher in Onthachimadam.  In addition to this they had to move to a different house than the one we had helped them get.  You may or may not believe what I'm about to tell you but I can assure you this is real!  They wanted to move because there were demonic spirits at work in that house.  One night as they were about to fall asleep their 3 year old suddenly was thrown from the side of the bed across the room.  Many other things like that continued to happen until the children would no longer go to sleep for fear of what would happen next.  So they finally moved to a different house and things are peaceful again.  The ghosts and goblins of Halloween aren't much fun when you live with their reality!  

CONSTRUCTION AT PERIYANEELAVANI STILL ON HOLD  

      We had been told that the approval to begin construction was within two days of completion when we wrote last month, and to date we still don't have it.  Now we have lost 2 months due to these delays and it's doubtful now we can get a new building built at least to the dry stage before the Christmas season comes (and the rains with it).  We are really frustrated with this situation but know that God's purpose and plan is being accomplished.   

      In addition to this the plans drawn by the Technical Officer were not much like the drawings Shanthi had submitted so we may have to make some alterations when we get started.  Really frustrating as Shanthi is an architect by trade and fully capable of drawing a better plan than what this guy did.

      Our preacher Vijay is so anxious to get started but can do nothing about the situation.  Please pray with us about getting this approval and getting started with the construction.  

OUR KIDS

      We don't write very often about what is happening with the kids in our home.  Not much to write I guess as it is mostly just raising kids and working with them on their school work. 

      They are doing much better with the school subjects now.  We have found a young man who is doing a very good job tutoring the children, which is a must as the schools do not teach them much.  Along with this I do some English teaching, Shanthi does some teaching, and Sona, Shanthi's niece, also works with them so it's good to see some improvement!

      Vijay, the oldest boy of the five over which we have legal custody, has said he wants to get into full time ministry.  Ordinarily we would be thrilled but we think there is a different motive.  He is 3 years behind the age he should be in school and so we think this may be a way to get out of regular school.  The problem is in January when the new school session starts he will turn 18 and is no longer under our control, so he can do as he pleases legally anyway.  We continue to try to get him to understand that Bible College is just another school where he will have to study and read and do homework and projects, and that ministry is not just another job but is a heartfelt calling from God.

      We've had so many problems with Vijay over the years but his attitude is so much improved you wouldn't know he was the same young man.  For this we truly praise God, but don't know if he is really committed to a life of ministry or not.  

POSSIBLE NEW WORKERS  

      Several of our native ministers have told us of young men they know who are truly committed to ministry and may be looking for a ministry to work with.  We are simply praying that God would give us wisdom and his direction as we may interview these young men about coming to join with us in our ministry.  There are so many possible locations we could send preachers to, but we definitely look for God to lead us in these decisions.   

PRAYER NEEDS   

1.  For George and Vathani and the ministry at Onthachimadam.
2.  All our co workers in ministry here and also Trinidad
3.  Approval for construction to begin at Periyaneelavanai
4.  Our kids (especially Vijay) for wisdom
5.  The Christmas programs to honor and glorify God and bring new people into the
      Kingdom.

OCTOBER 2009

Fall in the States has always been my favorite time of year. The colors of the trees-- and being raised on the farm the gathering of harvest. I really miss those things while we are here in Sri Lanka, but here also we are involved in a different type of harvest. It’s summer almost year round here and has been unseasonably hot and dry this year. It’s not just me--everyone is complaining about the heat!
Our well, by God’s grace, has held up although some of the people are really struggling as they don’t have enough water and the wells can’t be used. The new water supply, installed last year, has been very intermittent for the last month, going for days with no water available. When we do get water it’s only for a couple of hours, and many times pressure is so low it just dribbles into a bucket. So water is constantly on our minds of late.
There is a big road project going on which has been much needed for years. The Chinese government is providing the funds for widening about 60 miles of road, some of which goes through our village. When it is complete it’s going to be nice, but right now it’s a mess!
We continue to thank God for you and your faithfulness in prayer for us, and your financial support for this ministry. You are never far from our minds and hearts as each day we thank God for using you to be a blessing to us. We are constantly reminded of the fact that through your gifts to us we are able to continue the ministry here. May God continue to use and bless you as you labor for Him there.

Yours in the cause of Christ,
Steve and Shanthi



NEWS FROM TRINIDAD

We don’t often have much to report about our church in Trinidad, but this month we received some more information from the church there.
Rennie had taken a part time job working at a local gas station to supplement what we send him each month. With the group coming from Barbados holding a VBS for the children, an evangelistic crusade, and working to build a church parking lot, Rennie was forced to quit this job, so he has asked that we pray for him to find another job.
We still don’t have much information as far as the VBS and crusade other than they went well.
Rennie also stated that the crusade tent which they were in the process of making has now been completed and is ready to use.
They have started a worship service in another location but I don’t know where it is in relation to the location of the church. Yacub, Rennie’s older brother, is leading this group. There is the possibility of his brother in law Jerry working with him in another location. Please pray that these Bible study/worship groups will soon commit themselves to Christ and become a part of the kingdom.


CHURCH SHOWING SIGNS OF NEW LIFE

We wrote last month about George and Vathini and the ministry in Onthachimadam. They have really been working hard to bring back those who have left the church, and to reach new people.
This past week they have started an adult Bible study in a new area not far from the new church property. On the first week there were 10 adults who came for the study so they were happy. We are thrilled at seeing how quickly they have jumped into the work of ministry here with us.
George has said they want to start another new Sunday school program in another small housing development where no other church is presently working.
After the tsunami several groups of homes were built, suburbs we might say of Onthachimadam, but at present we’re the only church doing much as far as working among these people.
Here again Shanthi and I can’t take the credit; our coworkers have taken the initiative to do this!

            
George, Vathini and their family


CHRISTMAS IS COMING

For some of you that’s the last thing you want to hear. We mention it only because of the amount of time for plans and funds etc. for the Sunday school Christmas programs. Over the years these programs have done more for good will and evangelism probably than any other program we have, so it is very important to us!
This year we will purchase gifts of clothes and school supplies, as well as provide the food at the programs for over 600 children (not counting adults who come as well) in all our churches. Even with things being relatively inexpensive here this still adds up to a large amount of money.
Our native churches last year helped with some of the expenses for their own children, but we have several new Sunday school programs and not enough church members giving offerings to cover the expenses so we still must help financially.
We spend about $5-$6 per child for the gifts; this does not include the food at the program itself. If you would like to help with these programs please do so as soon as you possibly can so we can make our plans accordingly.


BIBLE COLLEGE STUDENTS DOING WELL

This past week we went to visit the Bible college students and to introduce them to George and Vathini. The students had left for school before this new family had come to work with us.
All the students are in good health and in great spirits. They all say how much they love the school and comment about how much they are learning about themselves and ministry as well as the Bible lessons.
We continue to thank God for these students and their desire to serve God with us full time in ministry and ask you to please continue to pray for them.


PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Continued growth in the churches here and in Trinidad.
2. For our workers to be faithful in carrying out the work of evangelism.
3. The 10 students in Bible College as they continue to prepare for their ministries.
4. For the Christmas programs to bring new families to the churches.
5. Health and safety for us and our coworkers.

3rd Quarter Financial Report

INCOME: $24859.72

EXPENSES:
OFFICE: $ 1079.63
CHURCH PROPERTY: $18975.00
TRIP EXPENSES: $ 1000.00

PAYROLL:
NATIONAL EVANGELISTS: $ 1580.00
STEPHEN BYCROFT: $ 7500.00

TOTAL EXPENSES: $30134.63

SEPTEMBER 2009


So much has happened this month I can't fit it into one newsletter.  So I'll pick a few highlights I guess and you'll just have to come for a visit and we'll tell the rest. 

      This past month our kids have been out of school for the end of the term.  To be honest I'm ready for school to start again, but I have taken the opportunity to teach some English to them.  When they study it in school they learn to read and write somewhat, but there is little comprehension.  It has been a challenge for me as English was not one of my better subjects.

      Two of the oldest have been doing their Advanced level exams.  Both said that the exams were easy, time will tell I guess. Advanced level is like senior year of high school and junior college rolled into one.  They study for two and a half years for the exam and the results determine if they will enter university.  Only those with the highest marks country wide enter the universities as there are not enough schools, and so not enough available places for students. 

      I also want to say thanks for all the birthday cards and wishes that were sent. I had a busy but good birthday; one of our nieces from another town got married that day so we went for her wedding and lunch.

      With all that has been going on we have always remembered to thank God for you.  You are a blessing to us through your prayers and financial support and we thank God for you.  We understand the difficult financial situation in the States and even with that you faithfully give to this ministry.

       We also pray that God will use you to His honor and glory in whatever area of ministry he has placed you.   

                              Yours in the cause of Christ, Steve and Shanthi 

THE OLD IS GONE, THE NEW HAS COME 

      One of our workers, Asirvatham and his wife Grace, resigned from the Onthachimadam ministry as we wrote last month.  We never really got a straight answer as to why.  Now they have joined with another ministry here in the area which explains why they decided to leave our work!

      Their ministry was not doing well when we returned to Sri Lanka,  and we had met with Asirvatham a few times to discuss the problems, and to try to find out what needed to happen.  Basically it came down to the fact that he wasn't doing what the work of the ministry required. 

      God knew all this was going to happen (even though we didn't) and He had someone already prepared to take their place.  Within one week a young couple came to us from the central part of the island saying they knew God had been leading them to the East to do ministry for about five years now. 

      Brother Rajeswaren, (better known as George, that's a name you can say), and his wife Vathini have three children and came to us in the middle of August.  Already they have jumped right into the ministry wholeheartedly, and many of the people who had left the church have now returned, as well as several “first time” contacts.  They have a real heart for children and youth which fits right in with the way we do things.  We are thanking God for the blessing these new workers are to our ministry.  

TRAGEDY STRIKES MAHILOOR FAMILY 

      One of our church families which we have written about in the past had a tragic event this past month.  While the husband was fishing he was attacked and killed by a crocodile.  This was actually the third time he had been attacked.  About two years ago he lost part of his hand and two fingers to another attack.  His wife had lost her sister to a crocodile attack three years ago.

      We had the funeral at the home, which is traditional here, with many of the family members criticizing his wife for having a Christian funeral (even though he and his wife are Christians, the extended family are all Hindus).

      During the time while they were singing songs, Indarani, his wife, stood along with all the church members who had come and sang along with them.  In spite of her great loss she was still able to praise God, and she gave testimony of her faith in God to her family.  Please remember Indarani and her family as they adjust to a different life.  

PROPERTY FOR ONTHACHIMADAM CHURCH PURCHASED 

      God has provided a property for the church in Onthachimadam, but not the property that we were even negotiating on last month when we wrote; that purchase fell through.

      It is one acre, has main road frontage, is somewhat narrow but will work for the church building and preacher's quarters.  At the back of the property are about 50 small coconut trees which within a few years will bear coconuts.  We're not going into the coconut business, but it will help the value of the property if someone comes to buy a piece of land later.

      The road frontage needs filled but God has even provided for this.  The road is being widened and the Road Development Authority has at least verbally said all the excess they scrape from along the road will be dumped on our property.  So if they are true to their word that expense will be much less.

      Before we can fill the property though we will pour concrete bases and columns for the future buildings so that we won't build on filler sand.

      Even with the extra expenses we got such a good deal on the price that we are still ahead.  Praise God for His wisdom leading us to the best possible property for the church! 

CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN SOON 

      The plans are being drawn right now for the building in Periyaneelavanai.  Even though Shanthi is an architect, she wasn't allowed to draw the plans due to typical government “gotchas“.  The man who approves all the building permits has to draw the plan in order for it to be approved.  I guess it will mean one less fight in the long run (HOPEFULLY!).  The plans should be done within the next week and then we can start the building. 

      We're going to build the preacher's house first, without interior walls, so that the existing church building can remain intact and the church members meet in the house itself until the old building is demolished and the new one built.  Please pray that this project will go smoothly and we can finish before the December rains come.  Also pray that God will supply all the needed funds for the project. 

TRINIDAD REPORT 

      Rennie sent an email to us saying that they were putting in a small parking lot next to the church as the road in front is too narrow for any parking of vehicles.  Some place was needed to park the church van, and there are now several members coming to church who drive cars. They were needing some funds for this project, and also for some repairs on the church van.

      Rennie also said that the church from Barbados came to help with the parking lot and held a crusade and VBS program this past month.  We're still waiting for a more complete report on this. 

PRAYER REQUESTS 

1.  Praise for new workers, George and Vathini in Onthachimadam.
2.  Praise for the new property for the future building in Onthachimadam.
3.  For Indarani and her family.
4.  God to provide necessary funds to complete the Periyaneelavanai building.\
5.   All our workers and for more people to accept Christ as Savior.   

AUGUST 2009


Dear fellow laborers in Christ,

After being here for two months I guess we are feeling somewhat frustrated at what we perceive as an inability to accomplish all we had planned. In fact some of our plans have been set aside for now due to some of the circumstances that have occurred in the last few weeks.

We are confident in God’s timing and direction and are so grateful for your continued prayers! So many sent sympathy cards for Shanthi as well as cards to encourage us in our trials here, and we greatly appreciate them and the personal notes you send us. It is always a comfort to know that you keep us lifted up to God!

We do not want to seem too negative, because there are some positive things that are happening!

We are so thankful to God for all your support through prayer and finance. We really can’t express in a letter how much this means to us, but we do thank you and pray that God will continue to bless you and use you in His service.

Yours in Christ, Steve and Shanthi

PROPERTY PURCHASE FALLS THROUGH

We previously wrote to you that we have been negotiating for a property in Onthachimadam for over a year now. All we can say is it must not have been God’s will for us to have that particular property because the owner sold it to another party on the day of the funeral of Shanthi‘s father. Anyway we know that God will provide the proper place for us at a good price. (We do have another option that is a good property and has a good location, but the price is just more than we feel it is worth at the present time.)

Property values have dropped here in the last few months primarily due to the fact that most of the NGO’s (non government organizations) who came to work “in country” after the tsunami have finished their work and left Sri Lanka. That financial boon for the general population is over and now people are returning to a semblance of normalcy once again. Many natives are leaving for middle East countries on work visas as there are very few construction projects here, which means fewer jobs available overall.

Labor and material costs have come down as well (except for the cost of cement), so this will help us when we start construction in Periyaneelavanai.

COUPLE MOVE FROM MAHILOOR TO PERIYA KALLAR

John and Thyananthy who have been working in the Periya Kallar ministry for over a year now have left their home in Mahiloor and moved to the house where the worship service is being held in Periya Kallar.

They came to us and asked us if this would be a wise move, which actually thrilled us! It demonstrated their commitment to the ministry. Their statement was, “we can do so much more if we live there and don‘t have to spend time traveling.”

The house they are moving to is not plastered inside or out, has no doors or windows, and only sand for a kitchen floor, but the owner said he would finish the house, and we have promised to help with some of the expenses.

The day after they moved in they invited all the staff for a breakfast and prayer time to dedicate the house and themselves to the ministry.

TEN YOUTH LEAVE FOR BIBLE COLLEGE

Another dream of our ministry is to send our youth to Bible college to continue the work of evangelization in this area. The third week of July we were blessed to send ten of our young people to Bible College in Vellechennai, which is about a two hour drive from our home. We had at least one young person from each church go (five from Mahiloor alone!). Vellechennai is an independent school that utilizes both local teachers as well as foreign instructors who come for a few weeks at a time to teach.

This is a two year training program. Three months will be spent at school, then three months of practical training working with their own home churches. All of our youth were already involved in different aspects of ministry, mainly the teaching of Sunday school, but this training will help them “branch out“ into other areas of service.

We’re praising God for them; please keep them in your prayers as this is the first time they have been away from home for this long of a period, and life suddenly became completely different for them!

 

10 New Bible College Students!

 

PREACHER RESIGNS FROM MINISTRY

Our preacher in Onthachimadam, Asirvatham, has resigned his ministry with us. He and his wife Grace have been working with us since March of 2006. We really do not know why he is leaving us, but we do have some thoughts which might explain his actions.

It is possible that he will begin working with another church in the area (which could offer him a better salary and living arrangements), but we do not know this for a certainty. We do know that Grace has been living with her parents since the birth of their second child six months ago, and it is very likely that they do want a more accessible home for Grace and the two children now (their Koddai Kallar residence was on the second floor and could only be reached by steep stairs). We had discussed living arrangements with him, and in fact we had found three different houses for them, but for Asirvatham there was always one problem or another with these homes.

It is also important to note that during the seven months we were in the States, Asirvatham’s ministry in Onthachimadam had fallen apart, basically due to lack of interest on his part. While we are sad to see part of our “family” of ministers leaving our work here, we do believe that it is the best possible course to follow for God‘s plans at this time.

We are not without a minister, however. Pushpalogini, who pioneered the Onthachimadam ministry and has been working in Periya Kallar, volunteered to return. And for that we are extremely thankful.

PRAYER REQUESTS

1. God to provide a new preacher or couple for the Onthachimadam church.

2. Construction to begin at Periyaneelavanai church property.

3. College students to adjust quickly and commit themselves more fully to God’s service,

and that their families (most of whom are not Christian) will see the dedication of their children.

4. For God’s wisdom and strength for us as we work here.

5. Our staff to become more committed to evangelization of the villages.

July 2009

 

Dear fellow laborer in Christ,

We are back in Sri Lanka and it is good to be back in our home and with our ministry here! We are physically well, although the flights seem to take longer each time we make one. But as soon as we arrived we began to encounter problems of all sorts. Of course this is not really anything new, but it seems that the challenges are greater than in the past. We came with all kinds of plans as to where to start and what to do, but all that has gone by the wayside (at least for the moment). I am reminded of James 4:13-17 and Psalm 127:1--we can have great plans and intentions for our ministry, but we will succeed only if our plans are aligned with God’s will. And as always Satan is right there trying to undermine and destroy anything that will increase God’s glory!

Now more than ever we are grateful for your prayers! We are seeing God intervening and giving us peace in very difficult situations. So we especially thank you for your prayers! We are also deeply grateful for your ongoing financial support for this ministry as well, without which we couldn’t accomplish anything that God is leading us to do! We do pray for God’s blessing on you as you continue to labor along with us in this ministry.

Yours in Christ,

Steve and Shanthi


PRAYER REQUESTS

1) Our time in Sri Lanka to be productive and totally within God’s plan for us.

2) Property purchase in Onthachimadam.

3) Building construction to begin soon in Periyaneelavanai.

4) Workers to continue faithfully doing the work of ministry.

5) Health and strength for us and our kids.

6) More souls to come to know Christ.

 

FIRST ONE THING, THEN ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER. . .

In both the States and the Netherlands I preached a sermon about being transformed by trouble. When we arrived here, and every day since, I have been reminded of the points of that sermon. I guess God was preparing us in advance for what we would face. I am not complaining, but I do want you to know that God IS at work here, and how much we are convinced that this is where He wants us at this very moment!

To begin--when my brother-in-law picked us up at the airport and we saw the van I was somewhat shocked. Numerous scrapes and dents from encounters with gateposts and Sri Lankan traffic, which in hindsight should not be too surprising! And then the “hits” really started coming!

Sona, our niece (who stays in our home), has had surgery twice now to lengthen the bone in her left leg. The lower pins holding bone together actually stick through the skin of her leg. These pins had come loose, and because of ongoing infection the doctor in Colombo told us that a new bone graft would have to be done which would require a two month hospital stay. This would mean that Sona would miss her school exams in August, so we opted for a temporary fix--removing and relocating the pins, but no bone graft at this point. Surgery was successful, and after 3 days in the hospital Sona was released on Friday night. I had arranged for some mechanical work on the van the next day, so we planned to leave Colombo early Monday morning.

THEN early Saturday morning, we received a phone call saying Prashanth (the 7-year-old boy who lives with us) was very sick and was being taken to the hospital immediately. (In Sri Lanka, thanks to its socialized medicine, family members must remain with the patient 24 hours a day to provide everything the nursing staff does for you in the States, as well as to provide all meals!) So we packed our things and loaded up the van. Meanwhile Sona realized that one of the upper pins in her leg was loose again--what to do?? Since there were no doctors available until Monday, we got in the van and headed home. Just outside Colombo rain started pouring down, and when I turned on the windshield wipers--nothing! So I drove for 90 minutes with no wipers until the rain finally let up! We arrived home at 7:30pm, unpacked the van and headed straight for the hospital. Prashanth was being treated for a viral infection which was causing severe diarrhea, vomiting and fever. The doctors had started IV fluids and antibiotics (which would continue for the next 3 days). Nona (the caregiver for the children while we are away) was already with Prashanth, so we returned home that night and returned Sunday morning with the meals for the day. We all took turns staying with Prashanth , and the doctors were planning to release him on Tuesday morning.

THEN late Monday night we received a phone call from Shanthi’s uncle--her father was ill and had not eaten for several days. Since it would be very difficult to get through the government’s security check points this late at night, and after being assured that her father was not in imminent danger, we decided to wait until Tuesday morning to visit him. Early Tuesday Shanthi received the call that her father had died at about 6:30am. I immediately took Shanthi to her father’s house, then left to pick up Prashanth from the hospital. After I dropped him at home, I returned to Shanthi where we began the funeral preparations. There are no “funeral homes” in our area, so everything must be done by the family, including the embalming process (which is done in the back yard). The funeral was held on Wednesday afternoon, and it is the custom for the next 7 days for friends and family to visit the home--in this case it was our home! People brought vast quantities of food, which was greatly appreciated, but also caused problems of its own! There was so much food that we could not possibly use it all, so we invited family, friends, and neighbors to eat with us all day long, every day! And still we could not use it all, so we began to pack food to send to other homes. For 7 days our house was filled with people from 7:00am to 10:30pm--it was chaotic to say the least!

The biggest problem for Shanthi through this troubling time was her father’s spiritual condition at his death. Her father was a Methodist all his life, but he never had a “real” faith in Jesus Christ. He was a heavy drinker, had abused his first wife (Shanthi’s mother) and kids, and had finally abandoned them totally to marry a second wife. As a result, most of Shanthi’s siblings had little to do with their father. There was a ray of hope, however. Shortly before we returned to the States last October, he had told Shanthi that he was “reaping what he had sown” earlier in his life, and that he had stopped drinking and had asked God to forgive him for what he had done. Of course we do not know the condition of his soul and whether he was actually repenting, so it weighs heavily on Shanthi’s heart.

This, then, has been our first partial month back in Sri Lanka. Things are just NOW seeming to get to some normalcy, but everything is far from settled! This is why we asked for urgent prayer! We have literally been under attack in every way, shape, and form since our arrival at Colombo! We know Satan does not want us here and is using everything he can to discourage and sidetrack us from our ministry here! But we also now know that God is with us and His purpose will be done in our lives and in this ministry.

ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE

Upon our arrival in Colombo we learned that most foreign visas were being denied--in fact a member of Canada’s Parliament had just been refused entry to the country and had been sent back to Canada on the next flight out! Needless to say I was a little nervous about my visa, but I had no trouble getting my two-year papers at all. This is proof to us that we are exactly where God wants us to be, and His will be done!

Prashanth is doing well and is very happy that “mommy” and “dada” are back home! If he is awake his time is pretty much spent right by my side (which I greatly enjoy)! The other kids are happy to see us as well, but do not have the outward show of affection as Prashanth.

The church in Mahiloor is growing rapidly. They are now working in seven different areas holding Sunday school programs involving over 300 children each Sunday. We are also looking at several properties in Onthachimadam which are better suited for a new church building. Please pray for these endeavors!

June 2009

Lamp Lighters World Ministries

Dear fellow laborer in Christ, 

      We’re back home from the Netherlands but, only for a few more days as we leave for Sri Lanka on Thursday June 4th.

      We have mixed emotions as always when we get ready to leave here just as we do when we leave there to come to the States.  It’s always a bitter-sweet day.  We don’t want to leave family and friends here but are anxious to return to see family and friends there.

      We know that is where God wants us to labor for the time being and we have no trouble at all in seeing what needs to be done usually it’s more of where to start first.

      You may have seen Sri Lanka in the news especially of late with the governments declaration of the end of the civil war and the death of the LTTE leader Prabakaran, but everything is far from over and the issues that started the war are still unresolved.

      Several people have asked us our opinion of the news reports but honestly we just don’t know what to think as no independent reports or confirmation is getting out.  All the news comes only from the government sources only and sometimes they are not trust worthy.  And most Tamil websites are filled with speculation and rumor as well.

      Regardless of what the situation is or what the future holds there is ministry work to be done and we’re willing to go and be involved in it.  We strive to glorify God in what we do in ministry and to labor faithfully in the harvest. 

      We are always reminded to pray for you, our supporters, each day for the blessing you are to us in prayer and finances.  We thank God for the partnership we have together with you.  God is using you to enable us to share the truth of Jesus Christ in a country that desperately needs to hear about Him.

      We ask that God will continue to use you and bless you as labor for Him in your own ministry as well.

                        Yours in Christ, Steve and Shanthi 

                  NETHERLANDS TRIP A SUCCESS 

      We had a wonderful time in the Netherlands and in Belgium working with the Sri Lankan churches started by Shanthi’s brother in law and sister.  It was somewhat tiring as well but worth the effort!

      Each week we had 3-4 days where we were able to rest and do a little sightseeing then the weekends were hectic!  We would have 3-5 meetings from Friday night through Sunday night.   Many of these are in different towns anywhere from a 1 ½ to 2 ½ hour drive from Arnhem where Nijen and Jeythini live, (Shanthi’s brother in law and sister).

      None of these Sri Lankan churches have their own buildings but meet in other churches buildings, store front buildings, school buildings and homes. 

      The evening Bible studies usually start at 7 PM and last for 2 to 2 ½ hours then we would drive home and eat dinner after our arrival.  Sunday services last from 3 to 3 ½ hours.  Needless to say by the time Monday rolled around we were ready for some rest.  A couple of times we had midweek services as well but it was worth it all.

      Though we didn’t see any baptisms we did have several in almost every service who would step forward and recommit themselves and some shared testimonies as to how the Word we shared with them made a difference in their lives.  Not that my messages are that powerful but because the word of God is powerful and it had an impact on them!

      One gentleman’s testimony in particular helped us know we were getting through to the people.  His testimony was that here he was a Sri Lankan who had left his home country only to get a better life for himself.  Here was an American who left his own country to go to Sri Lanka and put up with the discomforts and problems of living there in order to share the Gospel.  He went on to say that he now feels God is calling him to return to Sri Lanka and get involved in the ministry of sharing Christ with those lost and outside of Christ.

      Most of the Sri Lankans in the Netherlands are from the north where the war has been the worst for the last year.  Many still have family in the war zone and some had no idea about their families’ condition or whereabouts if they were still living or had been killed in the bombing that had taken place. 

      The churches are growing slowly and we went to two new cities and had meetings there.  These were further north than we had ever been before so we saw another new area of the Netherlands.

      I guess the best testimony was how the people shared with us in financial gifts.  In the past they have always given us financial gifts to be used in the ministry but this time the people gave enough to almost cover the cost of our plane tickets, a real blessing to us! 

      Many of those who gave were unemployed and living on a small government welfare check and could not afford to give us an offering but they did anyway, trusting God would provide for them!

      Everyone was asking us to stay longer or to come back soon and stay there to do ministry.  We hope that we will be able to return there soon and continue ministering to the people. 

      Pray with us for the Christians there to reach out to others including the Dutch people with the message of Jesus. 
 

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            Worship service in Assen  

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          Steve, Shanthi, Jeythini, Shanthi's sister 

                  NEW ADDITIONS IN SRI LANKA 

      We haven’t heard for sure yet but our preacher in Onthachimadam, Asirvatham and wife Grace were to have a new baby this week.

      We got confirmation she was in the hospital while we were still in the Netherlands.  Ladies are admitted a few days before their delivery date because travel to hospitals is usually long and difficult and they would never reach it in time if they waited until they actually go into labor.

      Also our worship leader, Jeeva, who helps oversee, train and lead worship in all our churches has just delivered a baby boy.  They named him Hezekiah.  He joins Hannah, Hasmuth, Hahmi and Hahni.

      They are doing well although Jeeva is still having some pain as she also had a large fibroid tumor removed at the same time.  Please pray she will recover soon and be able to return to the work of ministry.

      Please pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby. 

            PERIYANEELAVANAI CONSTRUTION PROJECT BEGUN 

      We had sent word to Vijay the preacher to move the block making machine from Mahiloor to the church property in Periyaneelavanai.

      They have done this and hopefully they have begun making blocks in anticipation of beginning the new building when we return.

      The building needs replaced as it is in bad condition and the temporary enlargement and repairs of the old building won’t be sufficient as the church continues to grow.    

                  PRAYER REQUESTS

1.  Safety for our travel and stay in Sri Lanka.

2.  Those displaced by the war in the north about 250,000 are living in refugee camps.

3.  Churches to continue to grow, members to be faithful.

4.  For us to see clearly what God would have us do during this stay in Sri Lanka.

5.  Christians in the Netherlands and Belgium to continue to grow and reach out with the Gospel.

May, 2009

Lamp Lighters World Ministries

By the time most of you receive this we will have been in the Netherlands for about two weeks. It was an uneventful flight which is good, but we did have some trouble on arrival in Amsterdam. Shanthi’s brother in law and sister were told the wrong arrival area for our flight by the airport staff which was quite a ways from where we actually came out. So after making several phone calls and leaving voice messages on cell phones and answering machines and wandering around we finally managed to meet up. We will be here until May 25th when we return to the States.

It’s really good to see our family here as well as the people in the churches, how the children have changed since we were here last!

Weather here has been very nice so far but it’s still spring time so anything can happen. We were actually expecting it to be somewhat cooler but we are not complaining!

When we return to the States we will only be there for one week and then we are off to Sri Lanka, Lord willing for another two years. Our flight to Sri Lanka is on June 4th and we arrive there the morning of the 6th. We are really looking forward to being “home” again and seeing everyone, especially the kids in our home.

We so appreciate all you do for us by lifting us up in your prayers and by giving your finances. We do consider you our partners in sharing the Gospel message and we pray for you each morning. May God continue to bless and use you to His honor and glory.

CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR SRI LANKA

We were talking to a preacher friend of ours before we left the States concerning the war situation. Some of you I’m sure have seen some of the news releases on television recently, and you can see that the people there need your prayers. There are tens of thousands of people who are now homeless, and hundreds of innocent people are being killed each day in the North where the fighting is the worst.

The government blames the LTTE and they in turn blame the government for what is going on and it is difficult to say as the government is not allowing any outside news media into the area. Whichever is the case it is far from a good situation.

Pray not just for peace but that God will work in the hearts of these people and soften their hearts due to what they have gone through and that many will come to know Christ. Pray that preachers will be able to minister to their needs during and after their displacement.

We remember that when this happened in the East two years ago how God opened doors for us to share His love by meeting physical needs and then able to share the Gospel with them. Many seeds were planted and we still pray that God will bring a harvest of souls from that experience.

NEWS ON ANTI CONVERSION BILL

We really have nothing new to report concerning the possible passage of this bill into law. The government is really keeping this quiet which is frightening enough in itself.

What we have heard is the president of Sri Lanka has declared that once the war in the North is finished he will “make this a Buddhist nation”. Now the only way to do that is by not only eliminating all Christians but also all Hindus, and Muslims, and I’m sure he will start with Christians as they are the smallest group to deal with.

We see how Satan continues to try to deal a death blow to Christianity there but we know our God has other plans! Satan will not give up his territory without a fight and must realize we ourselves cannot overcome him. But the power of the cross is sufficient for any battle!

Please continue to pray that God will intervene in this situation and not allow this bill to become law.

SOME SAD NEWS

I mentioned a few months ago one of our faithful church members in Koddai Kallar who doctors diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. This disease affects the nervous system and then the muscles from lack of use begin to atrophy until the person is bedridden. After about two to three years death is certain.

His name is Jeyasekaram, he is married and now has two little girls one newborn and the other is five years old. He is a painter by trade and we have hired him for several of our projects in the churches and our house as well. He is also a faithful member of the church and rarely misses coming to the Monday morning Bible school we hold each week. He is involved in the evangelism work in the church and is responsible for bring several people to church who have now accepted Christ.

They called us before we left the States and have even called us in the Netherlands to tell us that the disease has been confirmed. It has taken this long to arrange the medication to come from India. Jeyasekaram of course can’t afford it as a three month supply is about $1,200. This is more than he would make in a year.

This medicine does not cure the disease (there is no known cure), but will slow its progression. We have decided that we will help them with this medicine for as long as he needs it. We also want you to join us in prayer for Jeyasekaram and his family that God would heal him of this terrible disease as this is his only hope!

SO FAR IN THE NETHERLANDS

We were here a couple of days and then began visiting the churches Shanthi’s brother-in-law and sister started and work with. On Friday evening we travelled to the city of Assen which is about two hours away. There we taught a Bible study and then returned home around midnight.

On Saturday morning we left home at 8:00 and drove two and a half hours to Antwerp, Belgium. This was a fasting and prayer service that lasted from 11:00 to 4:00. After the service we had a good meal (we have really missed eating curries as I’ve been dong most of the cooking in the States), and a great time of fellowship with the Christians there. They had a few first time visitors which was really good and they were welcomed by the church members. We met a young man there from south India working for a software company in India. He travels to different countries, troubleshooting and getting everyone trained with the system. He spoke excellent English which was a plus for me. We got back home around 8:30 that night.

Then Sunday morning we were free as the service in Arnhem, where they live, isn’t until 2:00. I preached and Shanthi translated for all these services. We got home around 6:45 ate supper and then dropped! With jet lag and being so busy and no real routine for us to settle into we were tired to say the least.

But everywhere we went the people were so happy to see us, and all were begging us to come again soon and for us to visit them in their homes. So strange how a service can last three or four hours and the people want more, and in the States we’re so time bound that if the service goes five minutes past the hour we’re upset.

SPECIAL BAPTISM IN KODDAI KALLAR

We had shared Christ with a middle aged man in our village whose sister is one of the faithful members. What gave us the opportunity was that he had cancer of the throat. He definitely wanted God to heal him but was hesitant to accept Christ as Saviour because “what would the people in the village say if I became a Christian”. This is a very common excuse people use. His sister continued to work on him as well as our preacher Sydney.

The doctors had given up and even said there is no use in continuing any treatment, but our God intervened and healed him. It has taken about two years now but he finally accepted Christ and was baptized this last month by our preacher Sydney. Pray that God can use him as a powerful witness to the rest of their family who are still Hindu and to the village as well.

PRAYER REQUESTS

  1. For our time n the Netherlands and Belgium to be productive for the kingdom of God.

  2. For God to intervene concerning the passage of the anti conversion bill.

  3. For the people affected by the war, and for many to come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour.

  4. For Jeyasekaram and his family as he has ALS.

  5. For the new Christians, there have been several in the last couple of months in Sri Lanka and also Trinidad.



APRIL 2009
            LAMP LIGHTERS WORLD MINISTRIES

Dear Fellow laborer in Christ,

We’re drawing close to the time we are to return to Sri Lanka. It seems our time here has been so short and we have truly been blessed while here as the fellowship with family and friends in Christ has been wonderful!

At the same time we’re anxious to get back to the field and see family and friends in Christ in Sri Lanka! We have purchased our tickets and will leave here on June 4th. Pray that God will bless us with another two years there to serve him.

We have also extended our trip to the Netherlands from April 20th – May 25th.

For the most part things are going well in the ministry with a few problems but nothing new in that. The biggest problem has been with the lady we hired to help care for the kids in our home. She hasn’t really fulfilled what she said she would do and actually as I write this she has left and gone home. So this places the burden of care on the two oldest girls in our home, Sona and Nona. They are very capable but it is difficult for them at best, as Sona is still limited in what she can do because of her leg surgery and Nona because of her work in the ministry. We’re trying to locate another lady but that is tough to do long distance. In the meantime our girls and Rani, the preacher’s wife in Koddai Kallar, are looking after them. So you can pray for them and that situation.

We always thank God for your continued interest in and support of our ministry through your prayers and finances. Each morning when Shanthi and I pray we thank God for the blessing you are to us and ask His blessing to be on you as well!

There is no way we can bless you but we are confident that our God can!

We remain yours in Christ, Steve and Shanthi





UPDATE ON ANTI CONVERSION BILL


We haven’t heard much different than what we shared last month. The only thing we know is that it is before Parliament now and this time they are moving very cautiously.

There has already been lots of opposition from churches and Christian based organizations in the country. The government’s position is, “that the Christian community is misunderstanding the intent of the bill”. It seems fairly obvious that government’s intent is to make it illegal for conversions to take place and for Christianity to spread.

We can easily see Satan’s work in this. There is such fear in the Buddhist government that Christianity will take over when you consider that less than 2% of the population is Christian I don’t see why they are so afraid… other than that I know the power of the Gospel!

Please continue to pray that God will intervene in some way that this bill will not be signed into law!



PLANS TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION ON CHURCH


We have already contacted our preacher Vijay in Periyaneelavanai that when we return we want to begin construction on the new church building and parsonage in Periyaneelavanai.

We have been able to save up enough money over the last several months so that we can begin the construction but it remains to be seen if there is enough funds to complete the project as construction costs have continued to rise.

The first step is to move the block making machine from Mahiloor to the Periyaneelavanai church location along with the small building for material storage.

Then they will start making cement blocks for the buildings. We have about 2,000 blocks already which were moved from Mahiloor to Periyaneelavanai but we will need about 8,000 blocks. The blocks we already have had been made in anticipation of another tsunami house but this project never materialized, and our “neighbors” were taking the opportunity to help themselves to the blocks.

Whenever we have begun a construction project there is always opposition from the community. There are threats made against the construction workers as well as the preacher and church members and even vandalism to work done. It seems no one, except us, wants a church building built so we need your prayers that things will progress without much problem.

We now have masons and carpenters who are members in the Periyaneelavanai church so pray we can use them and there won’t be any misunderstandings develop during construction. This always seems to come up as they normally don’t like to take instruction they like to build things their own way.


TEACHING MATERIALS SENT TO SRI LANKA


We were able to purchase six more of the flannel graph sets we use to teach Sunday school and had them shipped to Sri Lanka. This was much easier than for us to try to carry them when we go and Fed Ex delivered them right to Batticaloa where a preacher friend of ours lives so he can pick them up for us.

We needed more sets as all of our churches have more than one Sunday school program in fact the Mahiloor church currently has five Sunday schools. So we needed more sets as there just wasn’t enough to go around.

By the time you read this they should be in Sri Lanka but please pray they will arrive safely and intact and that God will bless their use!



BAPTISMS IN TRINIDAD AND SRI LANKA


In Rennie’s ministry letter this past month they had one baptism and expect two more within the next couple of weeks. He also seems to be doing more evangelistic and pastoral calls which we feel is a positive result of our trip there.

The church at Periyaneelavanai in Sri Lanka also reported that they had three baptisms this past month. Please pray for these new believers and that God will raise them up to be strong witnesses for him!



PRAYER CONCERNS


1. For our trip to the Netherlands April 20 – May 25.

2. Our kids and for a new lady to help care for them.

3. Our return to Sri Lanka June 4th.

4. God to stop passage of the anti conversion bill in Parliament now.

5. More people to come to Christ in the villages where we work and for new areas to open up.  

FINANCIAL REPORT JANUARY – MARCH 

INCOME   $26,559.15
EXPENSES    
Office      $1,725.20
Projects   $1,599.00
Trips       $6,088.36
Payroll    
Evangelists   $2,920.00
Personal      $7,500.00
TOTAL EXPENSES   $19,832.56

MARCH 2009

LAMP LIGHTERS WORLD MINISTRIES

MARCH 1, 2009

Dear Fellow laborer in Christ,

      Some of the early flowers are blooming and tree buds are beginning to swell which reminds us that spring is just around the corner!  I’m ready for warmer weather.  We have had a difficult time this trip adjusting to the cold temps even though most of the time they have been mild.  I was thinking the other day it has been 5 years since we were in the States during winter so that gave our bodies time to adjust to the heat of Sri Lanka and made it feel colder to us than it actually was.

      Our schedule has been busier over the past few weeks visiting supporting churches and will continue to be so over the next month.  It has been good to see many of our supporters and to share what God has been doing in our ministry over the last couple of years.  And we love the fellowship with the saints!

            In difficult economic times it’s always good for us to remember that all we have belongs to God anyway, we are simply stewards of it, and our faith is increased by honoring God through continued faithfulness in our tithes and offerings.  We can trust His promise to provide!

      We remember you in our prayers thanking God for your continued support of us and pray that God will bless you abundantly.  God has been good to us in that he has blessed us with supporters who care not only for the ministry but about us as individuals as well.  We do thank God for the blessing you are to us as you support us with your prayers and finances. 

ANTI CONVERSION BILL UP FOR VOTE AGAIN IN SRI LANKA 

      A few years ago we shared with you that Sri Lanka was following India’s lead and planned to implement their own version of what was known as the “anti conversion bill”, making it illegal for anyone to be involved in the conversion of a person from one religion to another by any means of coercion, this being interpreted in many different ways.

      What happened then was that churches were burned, preachers threatened, beaten, and some even killed, this all before the bill had even been signed into law.  But before it was signed then president George Bush intervened by saying that a fundamental right in a democracy was for freedom of religion and that making this law was not what a  democratic government should do.  If it was signed the United States would be very reluctant to continue and would most likely stop financial aid to Sri Lanka, so the bill was never signed.  This made headlines in all Sri Lanka newspapers, even though no one heard this in the U.S.

      Now the bill is up for a vote again this week in Parliament.  Things are different now, Sri Lanka has other financial allies such as Iran and China, so the threat of financial loss is not as big of a concern, and there is a new administration in the U. S. as well.

      This is a major concern for our ministry in Sri Lanka if this bill is signed into law!  Anyone convicted of breaking this law would be imprisoned for a minimum of seven years.  So of course we are concerned for our own safety as well as the safety of our preachers, church workers and church members. 

      We need your immediate and continued prayers that this will not be signed into law, that there would be no violence against our preachers, families, churches, or buildings.    

TRIP TO TRINIDAD 

      This past month we took a quick trip to Trinidad to visit the church we support there.  We were joined by Jim and Helen Boman who are long time friends and supporters of our ministry and some of the first to go and make the contact in Trinidad.

      Over the years they have continued to support, visit and pray for the ministry in Trinidad.  They were instrumental in raising funds for the property and building which is built there.

      The church in Penal, (pronounced Pee noll’) has struggled for several years with ups and downs of growth.  We went down with the intent of encouraging them and to see if there were areas we felt that Rennie could improve in building the ministry.  The reasons for their struggles are varied and would take pages to try and explain and in fact I don’t know that I fully understand it all myself.  But Rennie and Christine, the preacher and wife, continue to do the ministry.  They have two boys, Nicolas is eight and Daniel is five.Your browser may not support display of this image.

      When we met with the church the first thing we noticed was that most of those we had known from years earlier were no longer in the church and there were several new faces.  Most of these have not come as new converts but from another church where the preacher was caught in immorality.  These new people do seem to be more on fire to see the church grow.  Many of the earlier folks seem to have had more of the idea of “what can the church do to benefit me”, rather than, “how can I get involved in helping others and the program of the church”.  This may be an oversimplification of the situation but just my take on it.

      Both Jim and I sat down with Rennie after we had been there for a few days on different occasions and talked with him.  We did make several suggestions for changes and also shared with him our concern that the church continues to struggle with real growth.  He was receptive and said he would implement the new ideas and suggestions.

       Our financial support for Rennie has gone on years longer than we had originally agreed to do.  So we have decided that we will begin now with a three year reduction in his salary.  This will give him time to build the church and the church in turn will realize that it is their responsibility to support the preacher not someone else’s, ownership responsibilities.  And we shared that if the church didn’t meet all his needs he would need to take a job to support his family.  This was a difficult decision but necessary we felt for the good of everyone involved.

      Please continue to pray for them and that the changes in strategy will help grow the church in Penal.  
 

PRAYER CONCERNS 

1.  That the anti conversion bill will not be signed into law.

2.  Our preachers and their families in Sri Lanka and Trinidad.

3.  Our trip to the Netherlands to work with the churches there April 20 – May 11

4.  Planning our return to Sri Lanka.

5.  More people to accept Christ. 

WEBSITE UPDATE

We’re still not quite finished with the website though many updates have been made.  We will be posting new photos of staff and other things with a description very soon.


FEBRUARY 2009
 


Dear fellow laborer in Christ,

            We’ve made it through January without too much trouble, except we still haven’t adjusted to cold weather!  I guess we’ll most likely complain when we get back to Sri Lanka about the heat there but it would sure be nice right now. 

            Even with cold weather we do enjoy the changes in season one thing we don’t have there.  Today I’m reminded of God’s creative mind as I look out the window the ground is covered with 3 inches of snow.  Not only is it pretty to look at but it serves good purpose for the earth.  I’ve often wondered if there will be snow in heaven.

            We have been in touch with everyone back in Sri Lanka, kids and preachers and things are going well as can be expected, no major problems anyway.

            We know God is watching over and working there even though we’re gone and that does give us peace.  It is difficult to be away from all of them though.

            As we always do we thank God for you, your prayers and support.  You are a blessing not only to us but to every adult and Sunday school child in our churches in Sri Lanka.  There will be people in heaven that you helped bring there because of your partnership with us in this ministry!

            We thank God for the blessing you are to us and pray He will bless you for your love for us and for those who have not heard the Gospel message.

 

            PLANS TO GO TO TRINIDAD

 

            On the fourth of this month we are going to Trinidad for one week. 

Jim and Helen Boman of Joplin will be going along with us.  They are good friends and supporters of the ministry and have taken a lot of interest in Trinidad.  In fact Jim was one of the men who went several years ago and made the first contact with Rennie and his brothers.   Since then Jim and Helen have made several return trips to work and teach, and they helped raise money and gave money to buy the property and build the building in Penal.

            Even though we are there only a short time we hope to encourage the church and Rennie and Christine in the ministry.

            We just received the report from them and Rennie said he was sick in bed with a virus over the holidays but is now doing okay.

            The church averaged 25 adults for December which is a real improvement!  Please pray that God will continue to work in the hearts of the people that they will be faithful in the months and years ahead.

 

            VISITOR FROM SRI LANKA IN JOPLIN           

 

            This past month a preacher friend of ours from Sri Lanka came to Joplin and stayed with us for about a week.

            He has five names but everyone calls him Jeya, pronounced Jay-ah.  He came for a seminar which was held in Nashville, TN and then came to see us after it was over.

            He has his own ministry with five branch churches

            We took him to meet some of our family and friends while he was here as well as to do lots of shopping for his family before returning home.

            He helps us in many ways in our ministry by looking after some of the things while we’re gone.  He teaches the Monday Bible School in Koddai Kallar for us, and transports our niece to Colombo for her doctor visits when necessary.

            He brought masons to finish the work on our house after we left and put tarps over the roof, since it leaks, during the rainy season.

            Overall he’s a good friend and brother in Christ.

            We hated to see him go but he was anxious to return home to his family and ministry.

 

            TRIP TO NETHERLANDS PLANNED

 

            We’re off once again to the land of windmills and tulips.  In fact while we are there the tulips should be in bloom which we are looking forward to seeing.

            We will be there for three weeks April 20th through May 11th.

It’s been over two years since we were in the Netherlands and Belgium to work with Shanthi’s brother in law and sister and the churches he has started there.  We try to get there each year but it just hasn’t been possible.

When we go it will be somewhat different this time as many of the church members have left the Netherlands and are now living in England.  Problems of them finding employment and getting permanent residence in the Netherlands and such so they left.  We don’t know for sure all who left but we are looking forward to being there again to see the churches and working with them.

Please keep this trip in your prayers that God will use us to His glory while we are there.   

 

WAR IN SRI LANKA CONTINUES IN THE NORTH

 

We hear lots of different reports of what is going on but the government has reported that the last area where the LTTE was holding on in the North has now been captured by the Sri Lanka army.

We honestly don’t know how this will effect us in the East but it most likely will have some negative effect for the Tamil people on a whole, time will tell though.

We do know that there are thousands of people who have been displaced from there homes and areas by the war, just as they were in the East about a year ago.  Pray that God will use this as a time when the Gospel will be able to go forward and not hindered.  And that Christians in that area will be able to minister to those who are affected by the war.

 

UPDATE OF OUR FILES

 

We have had a few people who have recently changed homes or email addresses.  If you have done this recently please inform our office so we can make sure the changes are made in our records and you won’t miss out on the newsletter.

 

 

 

WEBSITE UPDATE

 

It has been awhile since the ministry website was updated other than the monthly newsletter so we’ve made lots of changes.

Within the next couple of weeks you should check it out should be new photos, maps with village locations and descriptions.

 

 

 

PRAYER REQUESTS

1.      Our trip to Trinidad Feb. 4 – 11 with Jim and Helen Boman.

2.      Our trip to the Netherlands April 20 – May 11.

3.      Those affected by the war in Sri Lanka and those who minister to them.

4.      Our coworkers in ministry in Sri Lanka including Jeya and his ministry.

5.      Our kids at home while we’re away from them.

 

 


JANUARY 2009
 


Dear fellow laborer in Christ,

We want to wish you God’s blessings for this New Year! It just doesn’t seem possible that another year has passed so quickly and that a new one has started. What has been done cannot be undone and so we press on with renewed desire to build God’s kingdom on this earth.

There are many questions in our minds as to what this year will hold politically, financially, and spiritually in Sri Lanka as you do here in the States, but we know that God is in control of all things and His will is being accomplished even if we don’t understand why some things happen as they do. Each of us needs to commit ourselves to faithfulness to Him regardless of what comes!

We look forward to this New Year in partnership with you in this ministry. There are so many things we would like to do and accomplish and though we do make plans and set goals it is always with God’s will in mind. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (NIV) This is our greatest desire that God be the one who builds this ministry. We never want to be promote ourselves or this ministry as though we were doing it all ourselves. We fully recognize how weak and limited we are and our total reliance is upon Jesus Christ and His unfailing power!

You have been faithful in prayer and finances for our ministry for which we thank you. We also give God thanks for you and we pray He will bless you throughout this next year as we labor together for Him.

Yours because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

TRINIDAD MINISTRY

We are happy to report that Rennie and Christine and the church family in Penal are doing well. We get a monthly report from them as to how they are doing and how things are going in their ministry.

They report that there have been some new people coming for the services and one that has accepted Christ and been immersed into Him. They also say that there are a few more who are considering giving their lives to Christ.

We have been more specific in what we expect them to do as far as evangelism as well as other areas of ministry and this seems to be helping get them out and do more visiting. There has been an increase in attendance during 2008 mainly among Sunday school children and youth which is primarily because of a greater emphasis being placed on these programs. They held an all church fellowship recently which Rennie says was well attended and everyone really enjoyed doing it.

The church has a van which they use to transport most of the people to and from church services. It was in need of repairs once again so we sent some extra money this past month to help with those. I might add that the church raised half of the money themselves. They are going through the same economic problems there which seem to be the rule for everywhere right now. Only one other family in the church has a vehicle they all depend on bus transport which doesn’t come to the area where the church is located.

Please continue to remember Rennie and Christine and those assisting them in the ministry and that God will bless their efforts and supply their needs financially as well.

 

CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS SUCCESS

Each church held their own Christmas program and everyone said that the programs went well and were well attended. There were lots of parents and family who came to see the children perform songs, dances, and of course Christmas plays about the birth of Jesus.

We didn’t hear if there were problems as far as rain, which is always a concern as this is our monsoon season, but only the Onthachimadam church would have held their program outdoors this year. Last year we waded through almost knee deep water to get to the church for the program.

These programs are not only lots of fun for the kids but also give opportunity for outreach to new families and friends. This year there are even larger numbers of people who came as every church has more than one Sunday school. Mahiloor presently has 5 so they were drawing from a larger section of the villages.

Several of our supporters sent extra funds in the last couple of months to help with the expenses of these programs for which we say a big thank you!

 

NO LETTER, NO SCHOOL

Last month we shared with you about the 9 young people from our churches who want to attend Bible College this next year. We said there were issues concerning the timing of the school opening and their facility, but what we have encountered is a problem of another type.

In the Eastern Province, where we work, the government is establishing lots of new regulations which typically make life more difficult than before. Now every person in a household must be registered with the local police station and have identification as to who they are with them at all times. This includes us when we are there and any visitor, even if they are originally from that village, must go to the police station and register with identification and a letter from the area where they live. All this is of course is to supposedly help in the government to crack down on the terrorist groups still operating in the area.

What has happened is that the local village chiefs in Periyaneelavanai and in Mahiloor are refusing to give the youth the letters that they are known to them and that they live in their villages. Consequently these youth cannot go to college this next year as planned as they must have that letter from their local village chief to take to the police station where the college is located.

It all comes down once again to the fact that they do not want to assist Christians in any way with anything, but especially if it means they are going to be training to do ministry work and telling people about Jesus Christ.

The youth from Periyaneelavanai have pretty much given up the idea of being able to go this year and are now planning to go the year after, 2010.

Pray that there will be peace for all of Sri Lanka and that the government will relax the restrictions placed on the people so these youth can go and receive the training they desire.

NEW EMAIL ADDRESS

Please take note of our new email address here in the States:

lamplightersworld@att.net

Please replace the old address as very soon we will no longer receive mail through that address.

PRAYER REQUESTS

For the government travel restrictions to be lifted, and the Bible College to open.

For our workers safety as they travel through police and Army check points daily.

Continued growth in the churches.

Provision of funds for properties and church buildings, Periyaneelavanai, Onthachimadam, Periya Kallar.

More workers to enter the labor with us.

 

If you would like for us to come and share pictures and other testimony about the work please contact us soon so that we can get our schedule done and make our plans to return to Sri Lanka.


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 
Email: lamplightersworld@att.net Ph. 417-624-7078    Fax: 417-624-7085
Copyright 2009 Lamplighters World Ministries