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DECEMBER 2016

Lamp Lighters World Ministries
December 2016
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, and that you were able to spend some time reflecting upon and thanking God for all your blessings.  We had a traditional meal with most of my family here and all of Shanthi’s family at our local church, this was Shanthi’s family’s first Thanksgiving meal so it was special for them.  Then that evening they experienced their first “Black Friday” sale, we didn’t participate.
            Now we are looking forward to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  We all have our wish list and over the years mine have changed quite a lot from what it was when I was younger, I’m sure the same is true for many of you as well.
            My greatest wish is for more people to see Jesus for who he truly is God’s son and our Savior!  Of course there are other items on my list, Shanthi’s healing, our kids visas, church growth in Sri Lanka, Shanthi’s family here to get more settled into life, just to name a few.
            We do wish you a very Merry Christmas and God’s best blessings for you in the coming New Year!
            What a blessing you have been to us and the ministry throughout this past year!  Your faithful prayers are vital for the ministry to go forward and also financial support so we can live, provide salaries for the coworkers, have special programs, buy properties for churches, and build church buildings.  We are blessed to have you as partners with us in the ministry.
            Please continue to pray for us, our coworkers, the churches, and our children.

NEW WORKERS JOIN US

            Last year we helped a couple doing ministry in the Batticaloa area build a new building.  They wanted to join with us at that time but we wanted to wait.
            Anyway we built a building and dedicated it before we left Sri Lanka.  What we replaced wouldn’t have made a good chicken house so they were thrilled with what we gave them.  We continued to be in contact with them and have decided to bring them on board with us.  They are Abraham and Beulah, a couple years younger than Shanthi and my age.  I don’t have a photo of them as yet but hope to soon.
They are very committed to Christ and evangelism and since we built a building the church has had some new growth.
Please pray for them and their ministry at Thannamunai. 

NEW APPLICATION FOR CHILDREN’S VISAS

We finally received the English translation of the clarification documents from the 2004 court decision just a week ago.  We started this process in March of this year so you can see how long it takes for things to get done over there.
I sat down went through everything we had along with the new documents and filed a new I-130 for Tharshini and Prashanth.
Evidently what immigration was looking for was that we were given legal custody of the children and that they had been in our home under our personal care since 2004.  Even though we sent two and a half pounds of documents it wasn’t what they were looking for. 
The new documents clearly state from November 2004 we had legal custody of them and they have been cared for in our home, exactly what they are looking for.
Now it’s another waiting game for the documents to be processed.  Please keep praying that all will be in order and that approval will be given to issue visas for both of them!

SHANTHI’S HEALTH

Shanthi had good reports the end of September and so the doctor said let’s wait for six weeks and then see if anything else is necessary.
During the wait she developed pneumonia and had to go through the emergency room complete with CT scan, blood tests etc.
We went back two weeks ago for another CT scan and blood work which revealed that the tumor had grown and the cancer was indeed back.
The tumor is located on the right ureter, the tube from the kidney to the bladder, and was preventing the kidney from functioning.  So surgery was scheduled and put a stent inside the ureter allowing the kidney to drain.  She then developed a urinary tract infection and had to take antibiotics, which thank God seem to be taking care of that issue.  On the 22nd she started a new chemo drug which, according to the doctor, has had good success with this type of cancer.  Not what we wanted to hear about more treatments but God is still in control of this situation!
Shanthi tolerated the treatment well except that the steroids they gave caused a severe anxiety reaction, not fun!  All seems to be well now though.  She will go in for infusion once a week for three weeks and then off for a week.
Please continue to pray for her healing which will come from our loving and all powerful Father!

CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS

We’ve had lots of phone calls this month in preparation for Christmas.  The preacher’s wife in Koddai Kallar church, Rani, is overseeing all the necessary plans in our absence.  She does a wonderful job and is a real blessing to us in the ministry!
Many of you have sent money for these programs and this is a blessing for us and them.
Please pray for the programs, which will be over about a two week span, and those parents of the Sunday school kids will hear the Gospel and respond positively to it.

CONSTRUCTION AT PERIYA KALLAR GOING WELL

The preacher is now in hurry up mode to get the building done so they can have their Christmas program in the new building.  I don’t know if that will happen but hope so for their sake.
Things have gone fairly well some issues with the weather but the building is roofed and they were able to do electricity and interior plastering.  The windows and doors are ordered and should be installed within a week, then finishing the floor with ceramic tiles.  They wanted us to put in a ceiling, which does look nice, but we said not right now.  Then a church member, who is a school teacher, said she would pay for the ceiling which will cost about $1500.  So we’re praising God they are seeing this as their own building and that they need to be involved financially with the building. 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Christmas programs to be evangelistic and glorify God.
  2. Our new workers Abraham and Beulah at Thannamunai.
  3. Shanthi’s treatments and healing.
  4. Our children’s visas to be approved soon.
  5. Construction to continue to go well at Periya Kallar church. 

 

NOVEMBER 2016

As I was thinking of Thanksgiving Day later month and I remembered a funny instance which personally I don’t remember but my family has shared with me, I was still pretty young I guess when this happened.  We would often take turns praying before our meals and it was my turn to pray.  I prayed with my eyes open looking at the food on the table and thanked God for each individual item.  When I was almost finished I said, and thank you God for that stuff in that dish over there, even though I don’t know what it is. 
            It’s so easy for us to take for granted the many blessings we enjoy from our loving father in heaven.  We may not even recognize them as blessings at all but just part of our everyday life.
            I think it’s good for us to stop regularly to thank God, hopefully we do each day, but especially on the day set aside to give thanks for our blessings.
            When Shanthi and I pray, almost daily we thank God for you and ask his continued blessing on you.  You are such a blessing to us and our ministry.  Your concern through notes, cards, emails with reminders of your prayers mean so much to us!
            And of course for the blessing of financial gifts which enable us to carry on the work of ministry.
            Indeed we are thankful for you!
            May God continue to truly bless you with abundance in everyway.

                                                                                    Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

PROGRESS ON CONSTRUCTION OF CHURCH

            Shanthi has had to deal with an unbelievable amount of phone calls this month sometimes two or three each day concerning questions of what to do on the building.  This is the difficulty when the one overseeing the construction, our preacher David, knows very little about construction procedures.  I don’t think we will build another building without being in Sri Lanka!  Things do seem to be going fairly well though by God’s grace. 
            This past month the foundation was finished for the church and house, and the block walls built on the church building.  Steel trusses over the main church building were welded and installed.  Then it started to rain which came at the worst time as they were trying to put the wood roof structure up.  They had almost half finished and then had to wait for a week before they could continue.  The rain finally subsided for three days and they were able to finish the wood structure and begin installing the clay roof tiles over the church building.  They still lack finishing the walls and the roofing over the preacher’s house as of now. 
Roofing tiles have had a huge increase in the last year.  One year ago we paid 35 rupees for one tile now they are 60 rupees so almost double.  We may consider insulated steel roofing from here on for the next buildings.
            They are really pushing trying to get the building done in time for Christmas and their programs, that remains to be seen but they may do it.  Still have windows, doors, plastering and floor with floor tile yet to do, plus all the work for the preacher’s house.
            Please continue to pray that progress on construction will continue to go well and maybe without so many phone calls.

UNEXPECTED TRIP TO THE HOSPITAL

            Shanthi had been feeling a little rough for a few days and then had a high fever on the 24th.  We were able to get in to see her oncologist that same afternoon.  They ran blood tests and due to her symptoms, pain in her lungs, he ordered a chest CT scan to rule out blood clots.
            Nothing showed any clots or any pneumonia which is what he expected to see.  Her white blood cell count was way high so that meant infection and with pain in her lungs he gave IV antibiotics that night and a prescription for six days.  At least we were able to go home that night but we were so wound up form the ordeal neither of us got much sleep.  By God’s grace the antibiotics seem to have worked and she is feeling normal again.
On the1st we see the doctor again for more blood work and a full CT scan then another appointment on the 8th to make sure the cancer is still at bay.  If it isn’t then more chemo will be on the schedule.
Thank God with us that the infection was not too serious and responded well to the medicine and pray for good reports when we see the doctor again during the first week of November.

STILL WAITING

The documents for our kids’ visas are still with the translator even though they promised them in one week it’s now been over two weeks and no word yet.
A preacher friend of ours has been looking after this part of the process for us and he will do whatever is necessary to get it done.
Waiting is so difficult to do especially after all this time. 
Please keep praying for the translation to come as soon as it does we can reapply for their visas.

MORE FAMILY TO ARRIVE NEXT YEAR

Some time in January, it looks like, another of Shanthi’s brothers and his family will immigrate here.  This brother is married and has two daughters one just graduated from High school the other is a freshman.  They expect the daughter who graduated to get high enough marks she can enter medical school in Sri Lanka.  I don’t know how that will go after they come here but we’ll see when the time comes.  They are looking forward to being here.     
We are still dealing with all of the ones here already.  It seems there is still a constant transporting them to English classes, work, school, meetings, doctor appointments and even hospital stays, job applications and interviews.   
There are now three with driving licenses and another who just passed his written exam and has a permit so one more to teach how to drive.  By the time I get finished with all the family I should apply as an instructor.  It actually has made me a better driver as I’m now more conscious of what I’m doing, well some of the time anyway.

 

I ALMOST FORGOT CHRISTMAS

Wow time has gone so quickly I forgot to mention last month the Christmas programs in our church Sunday schools.
Each year we have a Christmas program at each church location.  The kids love it as they get to dance, sing, act out the birth of Jesus, receive gifts, and get something tasty to eat.
This has always been a great time for getting into the parents homes as well and share with them about who Jesus is.  They all know the name but actually know nothing about him.
So during the program they hear a Gospel message not just about Jesus’ birth.
If you want to help with the expenses of these programs mark your gift for Christmas.

 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Praise for Shanthi’s good health and pray for good doctor reports next week.
  2. For the translation of the court documents for our kids visas.
  3. Good weather so the exterior construction can be completed on the church building.
  4. Christmas programs to help people understand their need for Christ.
  5. Our coworkers, their families, and ministries. 

 

 

OCTOBER 2016

            Fall has arrived at least by date if not by weather.  Although as I type this it is much cooler than it has been recently for which I’m very thankful.
            I love fall for the farm memories, cooler weather, the decorations, the trees changing colors but I must say I’m not a fan of Halloween.  As a child I can still remember my mother explaining why we didn’t go “trick or treating”.  In fact I can only remember in all those years going one time. 
            As I’ve grown older and understand some of the origins of the holiday I see this as just another way in which Satan uses something seemingly harmless to deceive people.
            In Sri Lanka Halloween is not celebrated and I don’t miss it one bit.  We deal with Halloween in a very real sense all year long.  Fear, death, spirits wandering the earth, evil being glorified is all much too real for us there.  My personal feeling is as Christians we should not be involved in anything like this. 
We’re exhorted in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (NIV)  This is the verse my mother always pointed us to when we discussed Halloween.
            I know some of you may disagree with what I say that it’s just a fun time, but I don’t see much of the verse above included in celebrating Halloween.
            One thing we are continually thankful for is the concern that you have for us and the ministry.  Your prayers are much coveted and appreciated.  And we thank God for you blessing us with your finances through which we are able to do the ministry.
            We pray that our God and father will bless you for the blessing you are to us!
                                                                       
                                                                        Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

PROGRESS MADE CONCERING CHILDREN’S VISAS

            We’re praising God as just about a week ago we finally received the document from the courts in Sri Lanka.  This is a clarification of the original 2004 document which gave us custody of the five children we had in our home from that date until now.
            Now we are waiting the English translation to be finished and sent to us so we can make a new application for visas for the two we were able to adopt, Tharshini and Prashanth.
            We have no explanation as to why everything seems to take so long but God is in control and His timing is perfect.  We made the initial application for this document back in March of this year, so it has only taken six months.
            Please pray that immigration here will now accept this document as proof that the children have been in our custody since 2004 and that the visas will be issued quickly.

SHANTHI’S HEALTH

            This past month Shanthi had two more treatments, and a week ago a CT scan.  This past Tuesday we saw her oncologist and he gave us some very encouraging news.
            The tumor next to her bladder is gone, much less fluid in her abdomen, CA125 test has been at normal level for two months, other spots outside her liver, which had given some concern, have not changed which leads him to believe they are nothing to be concerned about.  So his suggestion was to wait six weeks do another CT scan and blood tests to see then how things are going.  The only concern was her blood levels are not recovering as they had been which is due to the chemo treatments.
            We’re praising God for how He has protected her from the side effects of the chemo and brought healing to her.
            It’s been three and a half years since all this started but God has been faithful through it all.  Even with setbacks and problems his grace has been sufficient!

WHEN ARE WE GOING BACK TO SRI LANKA

            We are asked this question quite often but the simple answer is we don’t know.  The children’s visa application, Shanthi’s health, and the arrival of her family from Sri Lanka have been included in the decision making process.
            We’re still not able to set a definite date but we can say this we will be returning to Sri Lanka soon if all continues to go well.
            We are in contact with our preachers almost every week by email, Skype and Viper, which is some kind of free internet phone call, concerning the ministry work and how things are going.  And I must say most things are going well even in our absence which is a great thing for which we praise God!
            Our desire is to be there to continue encouraging and leading in the work, it’s just there are some things not resolved yet which will allow us to return right now.
Please continue to pray that God will bless so we can make plans to return to the work there.

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS AT PERIYA KALLAR

We received some pictures of the work being done on the building which to be honest are pretty boring, trenches in the ground, concrete pads in the bottom of holes etc., but at least they show us that progress is being made. 
By the time you read this most of the foundation and supporting base columns will be finished and the block laying can begin soon.
The foundation will be filled will fill clay as we had to raise the level due to monsoon flooding which affects the entire area.
One thing which made us sad was we had to remove a huge mango tree and four coconut trees.  While these can be replaced it was still sad to see them go.  Once the building is completed we can plant new trees in front of the building which will give better shade during the afternoon anyway.
This has been a new experience for us directing construction from half way around the world but for the most part it is going well so far.
Pray that all will continue to go smoothly and that before the end of the year they will be in the new building.

BAPTISMS AT SOME OF THE CHURCHES

We are pleased that there have been a few baptisms at Koddai Kallar and Periya Neelavanai churches.  At least some of these are a result of the August VBS programs.  This is what we hope, pray and work toward in those programs.  So we’re praising God for these new saints.
We don’t have an exact number yet but hope to before long. 
The Koddai Kallar church is having a revival, not a program, as new people are coming, and others who had left the church are returning so we are pleased to hear this news as well.
Please pray for the preacher’s wife Rani as she is having shoulder problems, sounds like rotator cuff to me but the surgery there is not very encouraging for a repair and healing as they just don’t have the expertise in that area as yet.  Rani is in charge of our Sunday school teacher training and programs so is a vital part of what goes on in the ministry.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Our children’s visas that soon we can reapply and receive them.
  2. Shanthi’s continued good health and complete restoration and healing.
  3. Our coworkers to continue to faithfully present Jesus in their respective villages.
  4. More workers and leaders to be raised up from within our churches.
  5. Progress on construction in Periya Kallar to go well and smoothly.

 

Contact us to come to your church if you desire for us to come.

Please vote Godly values on November 8th!

 

SEPTEMBER 2016

Sometimes when I begin to type the newsletter I find it difficult to think of things to say.  And some of you would say, I’ve never seen Steve at a loss for words.  Well there are times when you want to share something new and there isn’t much “new” to speak of.  There are times when we don’t get new information or nothing out of the ordinary is happening right then.  This is one of those months.
            But as I was thinking about this, life in general is much the same way.  We look for the new, improved, and exciting, not that there is anything wrong with that, but maybe we miss God working in the ordinary things.  We look for the big events or the extraordinary and don’t see God at work everyday all day in our lives if we just look for it.
            Just a couple of days ago we went to some friends house as they were combining their corn crop.  This brought back lots of memories of fall harvest in Illinois while growing up.  It made me thankful for the Christian parents I had as well as the lessons from life on the farm.  A time of reflection sometimes is all we need to be reminded of God’s continual working even in the ordinary.
            We’ve started visiting some of our churches this month so we’ve kept busy.  It has been such a blessing for us to get out and see former friends and make new ones as well.  We feel blessed being able to go and report what God has been doing in our ministry.
            We do want to say thank you for your diligent prayers for us and for the ministry and for the financial support that you send.  We are so blessed by you and ask our Lord to bless you in ways you can’t even imagine!  Our prayer is that God will use you where you are to his glory and honor.

VBS FINISHED FOR ANOTHER YEAR

            All the churches held their VBS programs during August as the schools were closed for the month.
            We’ve not gotten any complete reports yet, look for that next month, but each church gave us the message that the programs went well, lots of new children came, and that there was good attendance.  So we praise God for what he has done thus far.  Please remember to pray for the followup work for our coworkers to get into the homes and meet the families and share the Gospel with them as well.  This is the main emphasis we place on these programs not just for the kids to get together and have a good time.
            The preliminary reports look like attendance was about the same as last year which was down from years past but was still good.  When we get the actual numbers we’ll know a little better.  But it’s not just about numbers but faithfully sharing the word of God with these children and their families!  Thank you all for your prayers for these programs.

OUR CHILDRENS VISAS

            This month has been one of anticipation and disappointment in this matter.  We had filed an application with the courts in Sri Lanka to give a clarification letter of the original court order of 2004.  Evidently the words “legal custody” is what immigration here in the States was looking for and it wasn’t there, this is why they rejected our application for the visas.
            The judge had said he would give the document on August 1st, then it became August 11th, then it became August 29th.  I guess the third time is the charm as he finally agreed to give the okay for a new document to be written that would include the words legal custody.  As I am writing this our attorney in Sri Lanka is supposed to be picking up this new document.  So God willing they can get it translated into English and sent to us within a week and we can make a new application for their visas!
            Thank you for praying for this it’s taken five months just to get to this point and has been stressful waiting, but God has been good.  Prashanth took it very hard each time the judge said wait some more and we’ve been told his face shows a huge difference!  Keep praying that the rest of this process will go smoothly.

CONSTRUCTION REPORT AT PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH

            We spoke with our preacher David, and he tells us almost all the cement blocks have been made in preparation of beginning the construction of the building.  This has been a little more difficult as VBS was held at the same location and also the preacher along with his baby daughter have suffered from wheezing due to the dust raised from the block making process.
            As soon as we have the blocks ready they will begin laying foundation and then filling as we must raise the level of the building due to the property being slightly low.  Hopefully we will have some photos to share during the process.
            We’ve also decided that while we’re making blocks we will also make them for a new building at our Onthachimadam church location.  The block machine can be moved fairly easily to there and they can get the blocks made in preparation of their new building hopefully within the next few months.
            We’re excited about getting these projects underway with the hope that new facilities will enhance the ministry efforts of our coworkers.  Please pray that this goes as smoothly as possible as there are always difficulties even when we are there to oversee the building process.

SHANTHI’S HEALTH

            As I’m typing this I’m sitting in the chemo therapy infusion center at Mercy hospital.  Shanthi is getting what was to be her last treatment but the doctor said this morning he wants to do one more.  After that they will do another CT scan and then decide what needs to be done whether further treatments or to begin with check ups and monitoring her health.
            She has tolerated the treatments very well, with very limited side effects practically none.  We thank and praise God for this and also we thank you for your prayers for Shanthi and me through all this.

NEW MEETING PLACE FOR ERUVIL CHURCH

            About a month ago we had some trouble at the Eruvil location.  A large group of young men from the Hindu temple came and disrupted the worship service and chased away all the adults and children.  As they were meeting in one of the members homes they were afraid to continue to meet there.  So we began to pray that God would open another location to meet for the services and also to hold VBS.
            God did answer those prayers as we now have a two year lease on a property not far from where we were meeting.  It is actually a church whose preacher had lost his wife and then he gave up his ministry.  Most of the believers went to other churches over the course of the last couple of years leaving the building and property empty.  So we are blessed to have this location complete with a church building and a house.  Please continue ot pray that there will be no more interference with the church meeting here.

 

PRAYER CONCERNS
           
1.  Follow up on VBS children and their families.
2.  Our kids paperwork to come soon so we can reapply for their visas.
3.  Construction process at Periya Kallar to continue smoothly.
4.  Shanthi’s continued improvement and God’s blessing for health.
5.  Continued blessing and protection for our coworkers as they minister in Sri Lanka.
Contact us to set a time for us to visit your congregation.  We want to come and share with everyone who wants us to come.
 

 

AUGUST 2016

Dear Co-laborers in Christ,
            Where has our summer gone?  I had so many plans of things to do this summer and now we’re into the last month and it seems to be filling up fast!   We have done several things and been busy but not always the way we want it to be.  I guess that’s just the way life is.
            Shanthi’s family has had lots of health issues this past month some pretty serious.  One sister in law had been having some chest pain but thought it was acid reflux after some tests she was admitted immediately to the hospital and the next morning had a stint put in one of the main arteries.  It was frightening to know how close she had been to possible death.  She is doing well now by God’s grace just one of the unexpected happenings of life.
            We are reminded in the word of God how fleeting this life is and how we must be prepared for our own death or for the return of our Lord Jesus, neither of which we can predict.  We need to be ready all the time!  The problem is there are so many in our world and many within our own realm of influence who are not ready for either event.  The simple fact is many people we know personally will not make it to heaven and what are we doing about it?
            You have the responsibility to plant and water “seed” in the hearts of people God will give the harvest if we are faithful in doing this.  This is the job of every Christian not just a select few.
            Another way to see souls brought to the kingdom is through prayers and support of this ministry.  You are faithful in this as well and God is blessing our partnership to win souls in Sri Lanka to Christ!
            We are forever grateful for the prayers for us personally and for the ministry and also your financial gifts.  You are being a blessing and helping others to fulfill the Great Commission.  May God bless you as we labor together for the glory of Jesus Christ and the expansion of His kingdom.
                       
                                                            Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

BUILDING AT PERIYA KALLAR

            Our preacher has been discussing with us the beginning of construction for the new building.  This has been somewhat difficult as some of our preachers have no construction experience so explaining things takes some time.  We are now using Skype for most of our conversations so the expense of phone calls is cut way down. 
As I wrote last month the next thing is to begin making the cement blocks.  Look for the drawing of the new building here in the newsletter and for future updates on this project.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL THIS MONTH

            August will be busy as VBS programs will be held in all the churches this month.  We are praying everyday and hope that you will join with us in prayer.  VBS is a major evangelism time not only for the children but also their parents and extended families. 

            Last year the total attendance was down from prior years mainly due to public schools changing their schedules for tests which made it difficult for some age groups to come.  Hopefully that will not happen this year.
            We’re looking for between 600-700 children to be involved in all eight VBS programs.  Please pray for each of these churches, VBS staff, children, and families.
            Onthachimadam           1 - 5;              Eruvil     2 – 6
            Periya Neelavanai       8 – 12;            Mahiloor 15-19
            Koddai Kallar, Kurumenvely, Periya Kallar   22 - 26
            Sammanthurai (don’t have the dates)

KIDS VISAS
            We are supposed to get the letter from the judge on August 1st.  (I’m writing this before then), which states that the original court decision was indeed a custody hearing and that all five children were given to us legally at that time.
            This is why U.S. immigration rejected our application for the two we adopted almost three years ago; the document did not say “legal custody”. 
            The judge agreed to give us the document and when we get this new document, which is a clarification letter, we can reapply and Lord willing within a few months, or shorter, be able to bring them here.
            Our kids are very excited and are praying that this time it will all work out!  Of course we are too.  Please keep this in your prayers as well!

SHANTHI’S HEALTH
            We met with our new oncologist and Shanthi had another treatment this month and is scheduled for another one on the 2nd.  
            She also had a CT scan which gave us some good news, no spots on the liver, lungs are clear, small tumor on the right ureter has shrunk.  Along with this the CA 125 blood test number was even lower in the normal range.  We are praying that this may indeed be the last treatment and we can put all this behind us!
            We are praising God for all he has done and continues to do in bringing her back to good health!

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. VBS programs, for the children, staff and follow up with families.
  2. Beginning of making cement blocks for new building at Periya Kallar.
  3. The court document to be correct and the reapplication for our children’s visas.
  4. Shanthi’s continued healing and that the treatments will be able to be stopped.
  5. Our preachers and staff for faithfulness and compassion for the lost.

 

           

JULY 2016

Dear co-laborers in Christ,
            In just a few days we will celebrate our Independence Day.  Our country has come a long way since then.  Many of the things that have changed are not good in my opinion nor in light of God’s word.  We seem to be straying further from the principles used to found our great country.  I really feel that as Christians we must take a more vocal stance to the direction of our country.  We’ve already lost many freedoms due to lack of Christians standing for what is right.  Doing that is not easy or popular in our day but it must be done.
            Numerous times in God’s word we read of people who stood for what was right many times all alone.  Many suffered for it but our God is very much aware of wrongs done to us.  I would much rather be right with God than to be politically correct.
            I hope this Independence Day you will take time to reflect on how God has blessed and protected our nation and humbly ask God to enable us to stand for what is right.
            We are so blessed to have you partner with us in this ministry.  You faithfully pray and send finances which enable us to continue this work.  We thank God for you and ask him to bless you abundantly for what you do for us and the ministry.
                                               
                                                                        Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

PLANS FOR NEW BUILDING
           
            We had the plans which were drawn up for the church building at Periya Kallar sent to us so we could begin calculating materials for the new building. The church has grown even since we left in January and is crowded so something will need to be done soon.  We were hoping that this project would wait until we returned to Sri Lanka but I don’t think that will happen. 
            Some things have already been done to prepare for the new building.  A new septic system was installed and the old one removed. Also a very large mango tree was removed from the area where the building will be built.  We hated to cut the tree but there was just no way to build anything leaving it where it had grown.  We did have the logs cut into lumber and it was used to make more planks which are used with our block making machine.  So we did get some benefit from cutting the tree down.
We still have our block machine and make our own cement blocks, which we have done for all our buildings.   This actually doesn’t save us money anymore because of higher labor costs but we can control the quality of the blocks we use.  The quality of bricks available is no longer good and there are several small block manufacturing plants in our area.  We still think it is best to make our own.
            The building will include space for Sunday school and also living quarters for the preacher and family.
            Pray for these plans and that things will progress smoothly even though we are not there.

 

 

SHANTHI’S HEALTH

            We continue to thank God for how he has been at work in Shanthi!  We also thank you for your prayers for her.
            She had another chemo treatment June 28th at the doctor’s recommendation.
Her CA 125 blood test on May 31st showed that this level is now normal!  This is not a precise test but more of an indicator of how things are going.  By God’s grace the chemo is doing its work and we are praising God for what he is doing.
            Shanthi still has no side effects other than somewhat tired for a couple of days following treatment which is another real praise, and seems to amaze the doctor and nurses.  Except for one nurse, Paul is the one who gives Shanthi her treatments and is a preacher at a small Baptist church in Kansas.  It’s a real joy to be able to talk with him and know he understands the healing power of God!
            We share with some of the other patients during the treatments, planting seeds of hope in Christ with them, some agree others just thank us and remain quiet.
            Shanthi’s oncologist has decided to retire so we are changing doctors.  He was recognized as the top oncologist in Missouri this year and came highly recommended by the nursing staff.
            Please continue to pray that very soon we will be completely finished with all the treatments and complete healing.

KIDS VISAS

            We are still waiting for a document from the courts in Sri Lanka.  What we are hoping to get is a clarification of the original court order from 2004 when all five children were given to us.  What immigration here is looking for is the word “custody” which is not used in that document. 
When we came home I contacted an attorney here who deals with immigration and international adoptions and he said that if we could get this clarification through the courts that everything should go well when we reapply for their visas.
This process is a real burden and heartache to us and the kids as it is going on almost three years now since we started and should have taken about six months.
Our lawyer in Sri Lanka has met with the judge and is to meet him again on July 4th to get this document.  Please pray that this is completed and we can then reapply for Tharshini and Prashanth to come here.

 

SCHEDULING DATES

            As Shanthi is doing so well and our schedule is freeing up we will begin to schedule meetings at the supporting churches beginning in August. 
If you would like us to come please contact the office by email or phone so we can schedule a time to come.

 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. The building program in Periya Kallar that God will be glorified through it.
  2. V.B.S. training this month and the programs in August.
  3. Shanthi’s continued healing and strength.
  4. The court document to come and reapplication for our kids visas.
  5. Strength and protection for all our coworkers in Sri Lanka

 

 

JUNE 2016

How the time gets away.  I can’t believe we’re already into June.  It seems that every time I think, okay I can work on the newsletter some other “emergency” pops up, so I’m late once again.  Our schedule changes almost daily so it’s difficult to do regular things in a regular way but I guess that’s just life for now.
I often think of Jesus’ ministry here on earth and how so many times he was pressed by time, people, circumstances and ministry etc. and how he always drew his strength from the Father.  We read of times when he would try to get away and when he got there the crowds were there ahead of him waiting and he would minister to them. 
I many times look at these as major interruptions of what I want to do and so my attitude is not what it should be.  The truth is seldom do things go the way we want or the way we think they should.  I have a long way to go to become more like Christ in this way!
We do want to say thank you as we do each month for your prayers and support.  With all that’s happening personally, in family and ministry we need your prayers!  We also thank God for your support which makes the ministry “run”.  We are so blessed to have faithful people who care about us and want others to know Christ enough to pray and support us.
May God richly bless and use you where you are.
                                                            Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

 

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

            Rani the wife of our preacher in Koddai Kallar heads up our Sunday school program and VBS program as well.  All the curriculum is in English as it comes from the States and Rani can read and understand English so she got elected.
            She informed us this week that she had the lessons prepared for VBS and was beginning to training sessions for all the teachers and helpers.
            We have usually two half day training sessions for everyone who is involved in VBS to make sure they understand the lessons and have ideas on how to teach as well as what to teach and the same for crafts.  We provide lunch and tea for them.
Rani does a super job preparing the lessons and this frees us from that part of the ministry.  Please keep her in your prayers for strength and also for healing as she is having some severe pain in her right shoulder which of course does hinder her with the things of life.
Our VBS programs are held for five days and have grown every year since we started.  We have them in August as school is out during that month.
This is also a major outreach as new children come and more parents hear the word as many of them stay and listen to the lessons.  Pray for our VBS programs and the preparations being made.

PREACHERS REPORTS

            We have been in contact with our preachers over the past month by phone, email and Skype, which is great when they have a good connection there which is not usual.  Anyway all is going well by God’s grace.
            When we left Sri Lanka this past January both Shanthi and I felt more at peace than we had ever been with leaving the ministry in the hands of the preachers.  So the fact that things are going well is a reason to rejoice!  This doesn’t mean no problems but it has been much better than times past.
            Even though there are many things we want to accomplish there before we feel we are done this has been one of the main hurdles to cross.
            Because of the focus of our efforts with the preachers over the last couple of years on disciple making they are seeing that by doing so their efforts are multiplied.
            There was a perfect example locally of a preacher and his church where he had failed to disciple anyone to take over the church when he retired.  His wife died which had a major impact on him and his ability to minister; he became more and more demanding of the church members which in effect drove many away.  Long story short the church fell apart, he gave up, and the property is for sale, all because he saw no need to train a replacement for himself. 
            This had a profound impact on our preachers and they all said they didn’t want that to happen to their respective churches.  Pray that God continues to guide and bless our preachers.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

            Last month we wrote about the severe heat wave which had covered most of Sri Lanka.  It finally broke and now they are having enormous amounts of rain.  Lots of mud slides in the central mountains five hours from our area.
            Many lives have been lost and many people now living in refugee camps as their homes washed destroyed.
            We find it difficult here to deal with these types of disasters, consider the people there where government funds are very limited; infrastructure is practically non existent, and so many are in need.  Please keep praying for the people there and for Christians and churches to be able to reach out.

 

SHANTHI’S HEALTH
         
Things did not work as we had hoped but God is in control of all this.  As I wrote last month we had hoped that Shanthi would have her last chemo treatment but when we saw the doctor and his suggestion was to continue with more treatments.
At first we were really disappointed of course wanting this to just be over but what the doctor said made sense.  His opinion was we’re not completely on top of this and to take a wait and see for a couple of months would not be a good thing.  Many times the cancer will not respond as well if too much time lapses before beginning again.  Then you have to switch drugs, schedules and everything else to find what will work.  So this last Tuesday she had another treatment.
Things do look promising though as he CA125 test number was down a little more but still not to the normal range.  Shanthi’s blood levels have remained for the most part decent enough to not interrupt treatments much.  She eats well and we eat a lot of high iron foods.  I must say though I’m growing tired of spinach, I guess I’m not much like Popeye.
We go next week for blood tests and a doctor visit and he may reduce the amount of chemo she gets as things were looking that good to him, so keep praying for God to work as he has been doing through all this.

A STORY OF GOD’S PROVISION

We don’t have health insurance but we are a part of a Christian organization whose members reimburse you for medical expenses which does work well.  In addition to this because our income is low enough we qualified for charity discounts from the hospital 70 % in fact.  Even with that we’ve had some big bills for which the other members of the organization had sent money in the amount of $7,590.
This week while Shanthi was getting her treatment, I went to the finance office as we had received funds to pay bills.  The problem was we had received more bills than there was money.  So I was preparing to tell the lady in the office that we would need some more time to get everything paid.  I showed her the new bills and she was checking to make sure that the correct discounts had been applied to them.  She would look at a bill and say, “this bill is zero balance”, this happened bill after bill. 
Finally I got the nerve to question why they were zero balance she explained that we also qualified for no more $7,600 in out of pocket expenses after we paid that amount everything was no charge.  We had never heard this before and it had not been mentioned in the charity qualification letter.  So God came through once again as we paid only $10!


PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. VBS training and Programs held in August.  Rani’s healing of her shoulder.
  2. Our co workers to continue to train disciples.
  3. Shanthi’s continued improvement and good health.  Praise for God’s provision.
  4. Our children’s visas.
  5. Those suffering from loss of family and houses in the recent mud slides.
 

MAY 2016

Greetings in the wonderful name of Jesus our Lord!  It seems I just finished the newsletter and now it is actually overdue for May.  Sorry for the delay in getting it done and out.
            Our family that emigrated from Sri Lanka consume lots of our time as none have driving licenses so I spend much of each day doing taxi service, which is part of the reason for the late sending of this newsletter. 
They are adjusting slowly to life here but it is difficult for them.  All are now enrolled in English classes for adults through an adult literacy program here in Joplin.  I’ve noticed an improvement in most as now they at least are attempting to speak with me and it is a little easier for me to speak with them.  Please keep praying for them.
            As we speak of physical family we are reminded of our spiritual family too.  While we may not have personal contact with you we do thank God for you very often and for the blessing you are to us and the ministry.  Knowing that the bond we share is far greater than any physical relationship on this earth.
            We do consider you not only as partners with us but family.  You share with us through your prayers for us personally and for the ministry which are essential for the work we are trying to do.  And also financially so that salaries are paid, properties purchased, buildings built, and special programs are financed.  You are such a blessing to us and the ministry and we continue to thank God for you.
            We pray God will bless and use you to his glory as we all seek to honor him with our lives.
                                                           
                                                                        Because of Christ,
                                                                        Steve and Shanthi

UPDATE ON SHANTHI

            On the third of this month Shanthi had her sixth and Lord willing last chemo treatment.  She is doing very well by God’s grace and by so many prayers being offered up on her behalf.
            She has not had only very limited side effects from this chemo.  And amazingly enough her hair is continuing to grow back in even while taking treatments!
            A week ago she had a blood test called a CA125 this is not a pin point type test but gives some understanding of whether the chemo is being effective or not. 
            The normal range is 35 or below. When she started this round of chemo it was 287 I think, but the most recent from a week ago was 67.  So we are thanking God for how he is working in her healing.
Please praise God along with us and continue to pray fo Shanthi’s complete restoration.

 

 

UPDATE ON OUR KIDS VISAS

            Many have asked what has been going on with the kid’s visas.  The short answer is not much.
            I was able to contact an attorney here who deals with international adoptions and immigration and discuss our situation with him. 
            He very graciously spoke with me saying there was no need for me to come in with all the paperwork to discuss it that we could do it over the phone and save the expense of a consultation.
            He shared several things with me.  The main thing they were looking for, as I had somewhat figured out, was the word “custody” in the court order which it doesn’t have but has the phrase “handed over to” which in Sri Lanka has the same meaning and is exactly what they did.  We have custody but that word was missing.  So we have contacted our attorney in Sri Lanka and he is to speak with the Magistrate judge to get a clarification letter stating we have had custody since 2004 of the children. 
            With this letter for additional proof we can refile the application and Lord willing it will go through this time.
            What should have taken six to eight months has now taken two and a half years and we’re not finished yet.
            At least we have more information and direction to proceed.
Please pray that we will get this document and be able to file the petitions again this month.

CRUSADES HELD IN TWO CHURCHES

            We mentioned the crusade at Onthachimadam last month through which there are 10 people now regularly attending worship services.  There were 35 people who made decisions to follow Christ but not all are coming.  Illangovan and Susila are continuing contact and follow up with these people.
            There was also a crusade at Periya Neelavanai.  Vijay and Ananthy reported they had attendance of 250 different people with 55 making decisions and 11 are now coming to church.
            We are praising God for the outreach of these crusades and for the decisions made.  Please pray that more will come in the weeks ahead as these preachers continue contact with the others who made decisions.

PERIYA NEELAVANAI IMPROVEMENTS

            I wrote a couple months ago of the church putting in a suspended ceiling and painting the interior of the church.  We finally have a photo of that we can share.  We think it looks great and the lighting is much better with the can lights in the ceiling.  We praise God as they wanted to do this and did so with their own funds not relying on us to do it for them!


GRADUATION DAY

            Two of our workers have been attending a Bible school for the last year and just recently they held a graduation ceremony.
            Pushpalogini who works in Eruvil, and Vijaya who works in Kurumenvely both graduated.  This was in addition to th schooling both had already received from other Bible schools.
            This reinforces our desire to establish a school that we would oversee and operate to train our workers and others to do full time ministry.
            Please pray for both of these young women as they serve God with us.

HIGH TEMPS BIG CONCERN

            The temperature has been well over 100 for the last few weeks.  This is our hot time of year but the extreme temps are a real concern as it puts people in physical danger.  They are going to school an hour earlier and dismissing at 12:00 as there are no fans in the schools.
It also limits ministry efforts because no one wants to listen to the Gospel when it’s this hot!
 Please pray for protection from the heat

 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Shanthi’s continued improvement and healing, praise for the good report.
  2. That we would get the necessary document for our kid’s visas and complete this.
  3. Praise for the two crusades that more people would come to know Christ.
  4. VBS training will begin soon for programs to be held in August.
  5. For cooler temperatures so ministry won’t be hampered by the weather.
 

APRIL 2016

 

            We hope you had a joyous Resurrection Sunday and celebrated that we will also be raised one day to eternal life!  We had all of Shanthi’s family and some of mine get together on Easter Sunday for a meal a mix of Western and Sri Lankan dishes so it was nice.  We also invited a young Sri Lankan couple with their two kids and they came.  He is a professor of math at Missouri States University here in Joplin.  They are Sinhala and Buddhist so you can pray that we can build a relationship with them and help them see their need for Christ.  And Easter was a good time to plant a few seeds in their hearts!
            Life hasn’t slowed much as of yet for us as two more of Shanthi’s siblings with their families arrived on the 6th and we’ve been trying to get them settled in to life here at least as much as we can.  Things here are so different for them it is a struggle but we’ll get there soon by God’s grace.
            We’re having some warmer weather which for us is really welcome.  No colder than it was we were still cold most of the time.
            We have had lots happening in the ministry this month as well and we are reminded often of your faithful prayers and support which makes it all possible.
            We truly are blessed by God to have people who are concerned about us our family and ministry and make that known to us.
            May God continue to guide and bless you where you are to his glory.
                                                            Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

SOME UNPLANNED CONSTRUCTION

            We just received word from our preacher Vijay who works with the Periya Neelavanai church that they have completed a project on their own.
            Several months ago he had said the people of the church wanted to put a ceiling in the church building.  I said great but they need to wait awhile until we get some other things finished.  Well I guess they grew tired of waiting and now that we’re back here they wanted to do it themselves, which they did.  
            Vijay hasn’t sent a picture yet but he said it looks good and everyone really likes how it improved the look of the church interior.  Previously you saw all the rafters and the bottom of the clay roof tiles which is not the most pleasing thing to look at.
            The people in that congregation are coming around to the fact that they need to take some “ownership” of the property and also the ministry.  Not only did they pay for this themselves but Vijay reports more people are now involved the ministry of the church than ever before.
This is one of things we tried to instill in all the preachers this last year, discipling people in the churches to do the work in ministry rather than it being a “one man show”.
So this report from him was a double blessing, please pray they will continue to grow in their involvement and commitment to Christ.

CRUSADE HELD AT ONTHACHIMADAM

We also spoke with Illangovan our preacher at Onthachimadam and he said they had held a three day crusade which ended on Easter Sunday.
They have done these in the past with varying results but he felt positive about how it had gone.  Over the last couple of years the church has grown in number and spirit.  We had already spoken to Illangovan about future construction and most likely this will begin when we return to Sri Lanka.  Hopefully next month we’ll have a little more information.
Please pray that there will be lives changed for eternity because of their encountering Jesus during the crusade.

PROBLEMS AT ERUVIL

            We have spoken several times with Pushpalogini who not only heads the ministry in Eruvil but also lives in our home and cares for the kids while we’re gone.
            What has happened just recently has dramatically affected the ministry there and not in positive way.  The situation is still not fully resolved but here is what we know right now.
            A young girl who had grown up in local children’s home had been attending a church in Eruvil and had visited ours a couple of times recently.  She was kidnapped by two men raped and then killed.  As if that were not bad enough it turns out that the two men were young preachers in the Methodist church.  One has been arrested but the other is still at large.
            When these types of things happen the people rise up against all Christians in general.  Of course Hindus are guilty of the same type things but the village people use this as evidence that Christians are evil and deceiving people.
            So Pushpalogini is finding lots of opposition trying to do evangelism and ministry in Eruvil.  And she has said she is afraid at times to go there.
            The truth of Christ is so often set back by the very ones who should be proclaiming it, true in any country or culture.

SHANTHI’S HEALTH

            Shanthi has had three of six chemo treatments and is doing very well by God’s grace.  She is not having any nausea, and only slight fatigue, and is feeling good.
            Blood tests this last week showed her white blood cell count was too low for her to receive the treatment but should be able to resume next week.  The tests also showed that growth of cancer cells seems to be stopping so the drugs are working which is a real praise!

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Continue to pray for Shanthi’s treatments and God’s blessing on her.
  2. Protection for Pushpalogini and other Christians in Eruvil.
  3. Praise for the church growth in Onthachimadam and good results from the crusade.
  4. Praise for the new ceiling at Periya Neelavanai church and spiritual growth of the church.
  5. All our coworkers to be faithful in proclaiming freedom in the name of Jesus.

 
 

MARCH 2016

March has come in the traditional way, like a lion, and I can’t get used to the wind blowing like this, I can’t even get used to it being 2016 and two months are finished!  We’ve been very busy with family and trying to adjust to life here again and I must say
it hasn’t been easy, more on that later.
            It is so good to be home and see family and friends here in Joplin although we haven’t had time to see family elsewhere yet.  My sister Penny had so many things ready for us when we got back it made it much easier for the first several days.  I think I’ve done more cooking in the last month than I usually do in a year but that was easy part.
            We’ve received phone calls and emails from lots of supporters this month and it was a good reminder of much you care for us and are concerned for us.  We are so blessed to have supporters who go beyond the sending of finances and demonstrate love for us through prayers and we remember you in our prayers as well. 
            We do thank you for your faithful prayers and support.  We need special prayers for the ministry, as we are back here, that God will continue to bless and guide all our coworkers in Sri Lanka.
            May God bless and use you in your ministry where you are as well.

Family from Sri Lanka
           
As I mentioned last month two of Shanthi’s siblings came back with us to live in the U.S.   It has been a real struggle with everything that had to be done as quickly as possible to help get them settled.
Penny had found apartments just three blocks from our house prior to our coming home but we had to locate furniture and other items for two families.  We have been really blessed by so many people from Villa Heights, our home church, and other churches too that gave money, food, blankets, pillows, sheets, towels, household items and even furniture for them.  It has been overwhelming the outpouring of love in all these gifts!
We had to get Social Security numbers, photo ID’s, jobs, bank accounts set up, kids into schools, more vaccinations, and more furniture for them.  It seemed everyday there was more to try to accomplish than we could possible get done.
God blessed all four adults with jobs all at the same factory which makes paper goods, not great jobs but jobs none the less.  The ladies work morning shift and the men work second shift not the greatest set up but at least there is an adult at home with their kids.
One of the families had a problem with their visa, their medical exam had expired so they had to redo everything they had done in Sri Lanka at a much higher cost and we had to take them to immigration in Kansas City but at least it’s all worked out now.
Both families are now living in their own apartments but we still have to shuttle them around for things as they don’t have driving licenses yet.
On the sixth of this month two more families are coming.  This hopefully will be a little easier as we know what and how to do things this time and with no small children so no schools to worry about.  We were able to reserve two apartments in the same complex as the other families so they will have their own little community from Sri Lanka.  Then in September or October the last family will come.

Shanthi’s Health

            We were able to get in to see the oncologist for Shanthi to have a check up.  We had hoped and prayed that this would reveal that things were okay but it didn’t turn out that way.  This has contributed to the stress of all the other adjustments too.
            What we found out was that even though the chemo had helped it had not sent the cancer into remission.  Through a CT scan we found out there is a spot on her liver and also a possible tumor on her bladder on the ureter.
            After blood tests and more doctor visits she is scheduled to have a port implanted and start chemo therapy treatments again on March 1st.  This past week she had four liters of fluid drawn off of her abdomen as well which did make her more comfortable.  She is feeling okay, just tired which much of that is due to stress with all the things concerning her family coming here.
            We are still trusting in God to bring about complete healing even though we have been shocked to get this news.  Please pray that her side effects will be minimal or nonexistent as they have been in the past.
            We have been blessed to find out we do qualify for financial assistance through the hospital which will cover 70% of the expenses and the balance should be covered by our Christian healthcare organization we belong to.

No News on the Visas

            As I mentioned last month there is the possibility for a review on our kids visas applications but we won’t know until after the 2nd of March. 
            They have turned the corner on the disappointment of not coming with us.  We have spoken with them several times already and they are doing well and praying that it works out this time around.

Preparation work for New Building Continues

In our absence preparation for the new building in Periya Kallar is progressing.   They had to pump and fill in the old septic system and remove a large mango tree which we hated to lose but it sat right in the middle of where we need to build.  We may even be able to begin construction even though we are not there.  Regardless things are getting ready for construction.
The congregation has outgrown the house/church we are using and this is limiting the growth of the church and Sunday school.
Pray that things will continue to progress without great difficulties.

Prayer Concerns

  1. Shanthi’s chemo that she will be free form side effects once again and will receive healing.
  2. Shanthi’s family to adjust quickly to life here and praise for God’s provision.
  3. For good news concerning our kids visas on the 2nd.
  4. Blessing on the progress for the new building.
  5. Faithfulness  on the part of our coworkers in ministry.         

 

 

FEBRUARY 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Valentine’s Day, here is a personal story from my school days of one Valentine’s Day.  In our school at that time we always exchanged valentines within our class.  It was my sixth grade year and there was a girl who was not very pretty and not very popular in my class.  When we all opened our Valentine boxes we had made, after a couple of minutes with everyone reading the valentines they had been given she burst into tears.
Our teacher immediately went to her to find out what was wrong.  Someone had written on the valentine card, I’m happy I’m NOT your valentine, which the teacher read to the entire class.  Of course no one wanted to admit to doing it but eventually it was found out.  Even at that time I thought that was pretty cruel, but kids can be that way.
This story comes to mind many times as I think of how we are loved by God.  It doesn’t matter who we are, what we look like, whether we are popular or not God loves us.  God’s valentine to us was Jesus Christ.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”, Romans 5:8, you couldn’t ask for a better Valentine!  What a blessing we enjoy from a God who wants to love us and desires to be loved by us, regardless of what we have done!
We are reminded of the love expressed to us from you our supporters as well.  It is such an encouragement to know that we have people who pray for us, our ministry, and our needs!  Who also share with us financially so we are able to carry on the work in Sri Lanka.  What an expression of love.

May our Lord Jesus bless you as you continue to labor for Him where you are!

A BITTERSWEET RETURN HOME
           
            We arrived back in the States after a very difficult trip on January 24th, should have been the 23rd but that’s another story.
            We wanted to come home, we need some time to recuperate because of all that had been going on ministry wise, health wise for Shanthi, and in our family as well, over the last two years.  And I should say we are glad to be home.  This time we were gone for four years almost to the day and it was time to come home.
Adjusting to life here will take a little extra time for many reasons.  But it was so difficult for us to leave Sri Lanka as what we had hoped for, prayed for, planned for, and worked for in bringing our kids with us didn’t happen, this is the bitter part of our return.
            Most of you cannot imagine the emotions we went through in hearing the news that our appeal had been denied and this just two weeks before we came back.  Not only were we devastated but our kids were crushed as well.
            Then came the explanation to them of why would God allow this to happen to us and them.  All the children in our home had been praying and fasting for an approval and it didn’t come.  So many others family, churches, our supporters, and friends were praying too.
            God has purpose and plan in everything that he allows!  We firmly believe this, sometimes it’s difficult to understand and there is no answer to the question “why”.  Romans 8:28 gives us a promise that all can hold onto when things don’t go how we want.  “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose!”  Not some things, not most things, but ALL things. 
We may not see the good in this now but God will bring good from it.  His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, Isaiah said.
Because so many were praying we are confident that Satan did not bring this about but God has allowed this for his purpose and his glory.
Still we are sad to come home without them.  But this will not be the end of the story.  We plan to find an immigration attorney find out what we need to do and reapply which we are allowed to do. 
We do feel that we now have documents which answer exactly the original questions raised by immigration but that the appeals board would not consider as they said it was new evidence and they could not consider it.
We know God is at work even now!  Since our return we have received documents from USCIS, immigration, that there has been “Post Decision Action” on the account.  We don’t fully understand nor do they give enough information for us to say this is what it means.  It seems that the appeal board has returned the documents to USCIS for review.  We don’t know what that means but we’re praying in faith believing that it will be good!  Please keep praying for God’s intervention in this!

NEW FACES IN OUR HOME HERE

            In 2002 after Shanthi had become a U.S. citizen she applied for family based visas for her family, they were approved in 2009 and in late 2014 we began the visa application process for three brothers and two sisters and their families.  This has been a long and frustrating experience as well which has added to our stress level dealing with immigration in a different case.
Long story short all five have now received approval to enter the States and two families who got theirs early came with us.  One sister and one brother with their families are now here. 
Our little house is crowded to say the least with eleven people in a three bedroom house makes for tight quarters, but we’re surviving by God’s grace.
Penny had already found and made the preliminary arrangements for their own apartments which are just four blocks from our house and we think they will move into their “new homes” this Saturday.
This is a difficult transition in their lives too leaving jobs, friends, family, and churches behind to start from scratch.
            Then March 6th two more families will arrive, seven people in total, with the same dreams and fears.  One more family will most likely come in October a long story but that is what they wanted to do.
            Please pray for all of Shanthi’s family as they come to find jobs, housing, schools and peace of mind in dealing with a completely different culture, language, and life here.

MINISTRY IN SRI LANKA

            Just because we are here don’t think that everything comes to a standstill in Sri Lanka.  In fact Shanthi and I were discussing before we left that we had more peace of mind with our preachers and the ministry direction than at any other time since we began working there fifteen years ago. 
            We’re excited to see some changed attitudes, renewed efforts to win the lost and bring back some who had left the churches in the past years.  All the churches have shown growth in the last year by God’s grace.  We’re thankful to how God is working in the churches.
            Just as reminder we have five couples working fulltime, and three part time workers in three house churches. 

SHANTHI’S HEALTH
            Shanthi was able to have her final chemo treatment just a few days before we left Sri Lanka.  The doctor there was pleased with how things had gone and we‘re looking for complete restoration of health by God’s grace.
            Her treatment, the stress of leaving the kids, the stress of families coming along, and the extra long trip home have worn her down but she is doing very well.  The last couple of days she is up and doing her regular routine if there is such a thing.
            Please keep praying as we see a doctor here for all the follow up necessary to ensure a complete cure.

COMPLETION OF THE BUILDING
We were able to complete the building at Thannamunai before we left and we even went for the first service to dedicate the building.  It was not completely plastered inside or out but we were out of funds we had designated for that project and stopped. 
I have no pictures as both my cameras have stopped working and I brought them home for repair or replacement.  But hopefully we can get some pictures sent to us for next month.
The congregation and the preacher and wife were so thankful as what they had was not much more than a large shack with a tine roof that leaked.  I don’t know how they endured the heat during the hot months as it was unbearable for me when we went to visit a couple of times.
Thanks to you and to God for the funds to bless this congregation with a much nicer and larger building.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Continued growth in the churches and faithful work of our coworkers.
  2. Praise for Shanthi’s health as she continues to improve and receive healing.
  3. For our kids visas to be realized.
  4. Our other families as they adjust to life here.
  5. Praise for completion of the building at Thannamunai.   

 

 

JANUARY 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We pray you had a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s birth and we wish God’s blessings for you throughout this New Year!
As we begin a New Year we reflect on things of the last year and what we would like to do differently or change in this upcoming year.  Sometimes the list is short, other times it can be quite long and maybe even discouraging to look at. 
In ministry there always seems to be lots of things we would like to do differently or better each year.  We try to instill this in all our coworkers here, sometimes with limited success it seems.  As long as God is glorified and things are progressing we try to keep positive.  It’s so easy to focus on what has not gone well and then we begin to think nothing is going well which is generally not the case.  Whatever list you have, with God’s help it can be achieved if it is first and foremost for His glory.
We also reflect on how faithful you have been throughout the past year in prayer and giving to the ministry.  We thank God very often for you and ask that he will bless you for how you are enabling us to continue the work here in Sri Lanka.

CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS

            Christmas was very busy for us as usual.  I was able to attend all but one of our programs.  The one I missed was held when we were in Colombo for Shanthi’s treatment.  Shanthi didn’t want to overdo so she opted for attending only the one with Prashanth here in Koddai Kallar. He gave the welcome speech which he had memorized in English and did a very good job on it.
 The programs were very different for me this year as I usually speak at all them, but this year I couldn’t since Shanthi does the translating for me.  Overall the programs were fairly well attended with only a couple lower in attendance than in years past, don’t really have any explanation for why though.   Some had several parents that we didn’t recognize, especially at Onthachimadam.  So we’re thanking God for those who did come.
            One report from our preacher in Onthachimadam was that a couple, whose child had been coming to one of the satellite Sunday school programs, told him that they now understood who Jesus was and they would be coming to church in January.  Of course this is what we hope and pray for!  Thank you all for your help to make Christmas here special for the kids and giving the opportunity for the Gospel to go out through these programs.


CONSTRUCTION PROJECT ALMOST COMPLETE

            We wrote in the past concerning the church building at Thanamunai.   The weather didn’t cooperate which put things behind schedule so it is still not completed.  The congregation had a small dedication service (which also was during our time in Colombo--we wanted to go but couldn’t be helped) and the church was able to have their Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in it as well.
            The only thing unfinished are the windows and doors which actually were supposed to be done before Christmas but weather “got in the way.”  The builders promised they would have them in the first week of January.
            The preacher and wife are very happy with the building which is so much nicer than what they have been using.  We won’t do any plastering of the building except the area by the front door and the area behind the pulpit on the inside.  All the electrical is done with new ceiling fans.  Hopefully we will have a couple of pictures to share in February’s newsletter if I can find a camera (both of mine are not working and can’t find anyplace here to repair them).

GROWTH IN THE CHURCHES

           Over this past year all of the churches are showing some growth.  Of course it is not what we would like to see but we’re happy to say all have an increase in attendance over last year.  We’ve noticed also that our preachers are making a greater effort to bring back some of those who stopped coming.  The common practice in churches here is, “they left and we don’t need them”.  We think that finally the years of teaching about grace and shepherding is finally sinking in!  There are still many who have left the churches that need to be reached.
            Also we are seeing some of the people that we and others have worked with over the years (some as many as 12 years ago) are finally by God’s grace coming around to an understanding of their need for Christ and are coming to church.  For this we are thankful as well.
            Please continue to pray for our preachers, their wives, and the Sunday school teachers in our churches.

CHRISTMAS STAFF PROGRAM

            Each year we have an appreciation meal for all our staff and Sunday school teachers and it is always a good time.  We have some games and a worship time and then a special meal, all provided by Lamp Lighters.  We give each a cash gift which is enough for them to buy some clothing for their work in the Sunday school programs, nowhere near the amount considering the time and effort they put forth but to show we appreciate the work they do. 
            Thanks again for all who help financially so we can encourage the teachers in this way.

TRIP HOME
           
            We are scheduled to fly home January 23rd  and we will arrive around 9:30 pm in Springfield.  We still don’t have the kid’s visas, and even though humanly it is impossible, we are still praying to the God of the impossible to make that happen as well.


PRAYER CONCERNS

1)  Our kid’s visas so they can travel with us.

2) Shanthi’s last chemo treatment is scheduled for January 17th  (she is doing very well).

3) Continued growth in the churches.  Praise for growth we’ve had.

4) Praise for Good Christmas programs which did reach out to the lost.

5)  God’s blessing and guidance for the churches while we are stateside.

           
 
 



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