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We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and season. We spent the day with family having the traditional meal and the Sri Lankan side brought American dishes this year too, I think they would still have preferred rice and curry though.
Before we started each person spoke of what they were most thankful for and most of them mentioned family first. How often we take family for granted whether physical or church family. Over the years I have grown to love church family as much as my own physical family. How we are blessed to have both!
It doesn’t seem possible that Christmas time is here I know I’m not ready. I do love this season as we can remember the birth of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus. What a demonstration of love for us to leave the glory he had with the Father, taking the form of a servant, Philippians 2, and then to give his own blood for our forgiveness.
In our devotions just this morning we read Mark’s account of the crucifixion and how grateful we were for what Jesus did for us. This was his purpose in coming not to be the continual baby in the manger.
We pray you will have a great Christmas season filled with gratefulness, God’s blessings and joy unspeakable!
We want to say thank you for your continued love for us and this ministry throughout this past year. You’ve show your love to us by your faithful prayers and financial support. We are blessed to you so many faithful supporters!
May God richly bless you this Christmas season and in the New Year as well!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
NEW PREACHER TO JOIN WITH US
Our nephew Niranjan has been doing a great job filling in until we could find a new full time preacher. He and his wife Sona have been working very hard to salvage and restart the work there. But with a full time job during the week and living 20 miles away it has not been easy for them.
We are very happy to let you know that we have a young preacher who is planning to take on the Onthachimadam church!
Our new preacher is not new to us. He is the younger brother of our preacher’s wife at Periya Neelavanai. His name is Greshon, I think that’s spelled right we’ll find out for sure. He basically grew up in the Periya Neelavanai congregation and was involved in the ministry there during his teen years and early adulthood. He just returned from three years of Bible College in India and really had the desire to work with his brother-in-law Vijay there in Periya Neelavanai.
We suggested his taking the Onthachimadam ministry and at first he was double minded, Vijay wanted him there in Periya Neelavanai as well.
We called Vijay and asked him to consider allowing Greshon to go to Onthachimadam. At first he was hesitant but said he would pray about it and discuss it with Greshon as well. Two days later Vijay called and said Greshon wanted to go and also with Vijay’s blessing. His words were, “this will be the best for the kingdom that Greshon go to Onthachimadam”. What a blessing Vijay and Ananthy are in our ministry. Greshon is actually the third person they have discipled and brought into ministry with us.
Greshon is currently teaching Christianity at the main school in Koddai Kallar and will continue to do this as part of his ministry. He is engaged to be married, most likely this next year, to a young lady who lives in Koddai Kallar but attends Periya Neelavanai church. Kayjini is very involved in the Sunday school ministry there already so is well acquainted with the work involved in that aspect of ministry.
Please pray for them both as they make plans to begin working in Onthachimadam in January.
CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS PLANNED
All the churches have their dates set for their individual Christmas programs. December is the end of the school year and they have a month off from school as well so it works well for us.
Rani, our preacher’s wife in Koddai Kallar, has been doing lots of planning and getting information to us concerning gifts, number of children and all the other aspects of the programs.
The Christmas programs are a big part of the Sunday school program and also a great way to get into the homes of parents who are not Christian and share with them the message of Jesus Christ.
We don’t know yet but this will involve between 500 and 600 children. Regardless it’s quite an undertaking to put on the these programs get gifts purchased and ready to present on the day of the program.
The programs always have an evangelistic message given, usually by one of our preachers, the Christmas story acted out by the children, Bible readings, songs by the children the youth and sometimes even adult choirs, and lots of dances, they do love to dance!
Please pray throughout the month for these programs that there will be a harvest of souls for the Kingdom. Pray for the staff as it is a very busy and difficult time for them as well.
RAINS HAVE BEGUN
Not only is it Christmas time but it’s also monsoon season for the East coast. We’ve spoken to our kids and staff as well and they have told us that the heavy rains have been coming fairly frequently. This is normal but makes it more difficult especially for the kids to come to Christmas program practice.
On top of all this there has been lots of talk of another tsunami this year. Don’t know exactly why but everyone seems to be on edge wondering if it will happen again. Even one well known preacher has predicted a tsunami will hit before the end of the year. We don’t know but God does! Lots of plans have been implemented by the government since 2004 when the tsunami hit so hopefully some of these will help out.
Please pray for an easing of stress over this and protection if it does happen.
We mentioned last month that Shanthi had restarted her chemo treatments. Prior to beginning them her CA125 number was 495. Two weeks ago when we went in it was down to 112 so a dramatic swing in a lower number it even surprised our doctor. She is doing well not much for side effects the steroids keep her awake the first day or two but beyond that not much.
She still feels good and is able to do most anything around the house and going out for church, Bible studies, and other outings.
Thank you for your continued prayers for her our God is good!
I know this sounds like a broken record but we still have no new news on our petitions. The notice they were to send before November 7th never came. And I get no response from them concerning it or anything else, even though I’ve used the email on their website.
We are frustrated beyond belief with the waiting and it seems there is nothing we can do. Please keep praying that soon we have the approval to get their visas.
- For the Christmas programs to bear fruit, safety for children and staff, God to be glorified!
- Praise for our new preacher Greshon who will begin his ministry with us at Onthachimadam in January.
- Protection from monsoon rains and possible tsunami and easing of tensions concerning this possibility.
- Praise for Shanthi’s good report and progress.
- For our kids petition to be approved.
I realize it’s early but we want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I have always loved this time of year cooler weather, harvest time, seeing family and friends, and eating some of my favorite foods. While all these things are fine and good they are not what is most important to remember at Thanksgiving time.
We are so blessed in our nation to still enjoy so many freedoms some countries do not have. Abundance of food and readily available products of all sorts which much of the world only dreams of.
Truly we are blessed as a nation but even these things are not as important as remembering how blessed we are to know Jesus Christ and to know we have eternal life!
In our nation having the opportunity to worship and assemble freely without fear is such a blessing.
I hope that you can spend some time reflecting on how God has blessed you throughout this month not just on one day.
A blessing that Shanthi and I enjoy is having you as a faithful supporter and partner with us in this ministry. Knowing you are praying for us, our coworkers, the programs in our churches, our children, and every part of the ministry is such a blessing to us! Also the faithful financial support that enables us to carry on this work and reach as many as possible in Sri Lanka with the knowledge of Jesus Christ. You are a blessing that we thank God for each day!
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving season and be blessed abundantly by our Father in heaven!
REMOVAL OF OLD BUILDING ALMOST COMPLETE
This past month we hired men to tear down the old house in Periya Kallar which has served as our church building and preachers quarters for the last few years.
With the new church building complete and in use for a few months now and finally getting the preachers new quarters completed it was now time to remove the old building.
We hired a mason who has worked for us in the past and we have salvaged as much as possible. All the roof tiles, some rafters and beams, door and window frames are being sent to Thannamunai and will be used on the preachers quarters there.
The bricks have been removed so as to save as many as possible for other future projects in fact some will be utilized to build a baptistery in Periya Kallar. These are better bricks than can be purchased now. All the mortar, broken bricks, broken roof tiles and fill sand have been taken to Onthachimadam to help stop some erosion alongside our property. And the large foundation stones will be reused as foundation again when we build the new building at Onthachimadam.
We just spoke to our preacher a couple of days ago and almost everything has been demolished and just some clean up remains. Now there is a clear view of the new building.
Getting this done has not been an easy task as the monsoon rains have come early this year and this has hindered days when they could work. We also didn’t want the rafters and beams to get too wet as they are old and dry and would soak up moisture easily. The rafters are made from what is called satin wood which is a very strong wood very pretty as well and is now used only for furniture making. The satin wood was very plentiful years ago when this building was built but not now. We actually have to get a government permit to transport it from this site to Thannamunai and Onthachimadam to be reused.
First on the agenda for the cleared area after leveling is to replant a mango tree and a couple of coconut tress to replace the ones which had to be removed for the new building construction.
Your faithful prayers and support have made it possible for this project to be completed!
PREACHER DOWN BUT NOT OUT
Another thing that hindered the demolition at Periya Kallar was that our preacher David, contracted dengue fever. This is a very dangerous disease carried by a specific type of mosquito. Very much like malaria but more severe.
They caught it early which did help. He had to be hospitalized for a few days but is recovering well by God’s grace and healing!
His illness followed his 7 year daughters in which she was hospitalized for a week. I don’t think they ever figured out what was wrong with her but she is doing well now also.
But both of these illnesses slowed progress on the project.
PORUTIVU PERSECUTION PERSISTS
Last month we mentioned the problems being faced by Kushiya and the new church at Porutivu. There are still those who are making threats and also throwing stones on the roof of the house where they meet breaking the roof tiles. They have been told they have to leave the property by the home owner, but of course now one wants to give or rent their property to them for fear of damage that could be done.
We really need a place where they can meet freely and that can be protected. Please pray that God will give protection to Kushiya, the believers, and Sunday school children as they continue to meet. Pray for God to provide a good place that can be purchased and a small building built for the church and Sunday school meetings.
STILL LOOKING FOR A PREACHER
Our niece Sona and her husband Niranjan are still doing the ministry work at the Onthachimadam church. Things continue to go well and some of the people who had stopped coming to church after the former preacher left are returning to the church.
Niranjan works a full time job as a chemist for the Water Supply Board 25 miles from there so they spend a lot of time having to travel so this in itself is a time consumer and a drain on them both. But their spirits are good and they are still happy they can help out in this way. Each time we talk they are busy visiting believers and making new contacts.
The preacher we were considering is still being considered but we don’t know if it will work in that culture. A young unmarried man visiting women in their homes is not good and really frowned upon by the people so a tough situation.
OUR CHILDRENS APPLICATION FOR VISAS
During this month I emailed USCIS through their website as we had not heard anything since the notice in September. Their reply then was that the application had been forwarded to the Kansas City office but we had not heard anything since. After I sent this latest email we received another email stating that by November 7th we would be given another notice of what will happen next, this could be approval and that we need to be fingerprinted or it could be another denial. This is what we know as of right now. What we think should be simple and easy just hasn’t been.
I must say this has been such an ordeal and it frustrates not only us but our kids too. It is somewhat easier for us to deal with the waiting as adults than for them.
Please pray for the approval to come so we can complete this and get them here.
This past month Shanthi had to restart her chemo again as her CA125 number was going up again. Not what we wanted to hear but God is still in control.
We pray in faith believing that God is going to completely heal and she will free of cancer very soon.
Shanthi still feels good and by God’s grace didn’t have much trouble as far as side effects go. Please continue to pray believing God for healing her.
- Praise that the demolition at Periya Kallar is almost complete and also for the healing of David our preacher and his daughter.
- Protection for Kushiya and the church members at Porutivu and for their faith to remain unshaken. That God will provide a meeting place where they will be safe.
- For full time workers at Onthachimadam, praise that things are going well at the church. Strength for Niranjan and Sona as they are doing the ministry there.
- Our children’s approval and completion of the process.
- Shanthi’s healing, praise she is feeling good still with very limited side effects.
We hope and pray all is well with you and yours and that you are working faithfully for our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is one of those months that has been busy but not much new to report on as far as ministry is concerned. Some months are like that.
In all the hustle of life we all need to take the opportunity to reflect on how we use our time. We can get busy with life and miss the real opportunities God gives us to serve Him through serving others, blessing Him by being a blessing to others.
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:17
Sometimes I catch myself complaining about how busy I am and I need to stop and thank God that I can be busy and pray that I will be a blessing to others.
I’m reminded of the old song lyrics, “Only one life so soon it will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Laying up treasure in heaven I guess would be a good way of putting it. Invest our lives in others for the glory of God and we are blessed!
We are always thankful for you our supporters in prayer and finance. You are a blessing to us and our coworkers who labor in Sri Lanka. We pray that God will continue to bless you for the blessing you are to us. I know I say basically the same thing each month but this truly comes from our hearts. We are blessed to have you as our partners in this ministry!
Because of Christ,
Steve and Shanthi
SEARCH FOR FULL TIME WORKER AT ONTHACHIMADAM
This past month we’ve had two men who were interested in serving with us at the Onthachimadam church. One we pretty much didn’t think would work out and in fact before we even really started discussions with him he took a ministry elsewhere. So we say it must have been God’s will for him to not be with us.
The second young man has been to Bible school training not to a formal Bible College. He’s from our area and in fact a somewhat distant relative of Shanthi’s. Lots of people in our area can lay claim to being her relative.
He even went and preached on the 24th and from what we hear did a very good job. He has been working part time in ministry south of us about an hour drive but wants something full time and closer to home. He gave up a good career, being convinced God wants him in full time preaching ministry. Many times it’s the opposite situation in that there is nothing else they can do so they get into ministry so this is at least promising.
The only real draw back we see is he is single and that church has a lot of single women in it. In the States there wouldn’t be much wrong with that but in Sri Lanka everyone would be suspicious of his motives in his going to homes visiting people and meeting new families. Right now there isn’t really anyone who could go along with him.
We haven’t closed the door on this but are continuing to pray. Please do pray for wisdom in this matter as we need to find someone soon who can work full time at the Onthachimadam church.
Shanthi continues to feel good for the most part although her ulcer from years ago has acted up giving her some stomach pain. She also, along with most everyone in our area, suffers with allergies. This year they seem to be bad for everyone but she struggles with them especially due to her asthma.
We go back to the oncologist in a couple of days so please pray to and thank God for how he has been at work in her.
We continue to thank God for her healing praying in faith believing in God for it.
Our kid’s Petition
I wrote last month about our petition for Prashanth and Tharshini and how their paperwork has been transferred to the Kansas City office. Since then we have heard nothing new. Each day when I open the email or Shanthi goes to the mail box we are expecting to see the next notice, and praying to see good news.
This has been such a frustrating ordeal but we are still trusting in God for good news and that soon we can report we will go back to Sri Lanka to pick them up. Please keep praying for them and us.
David and Kathy return home from Mission trip
I just spoke with my brother David this morning and he and Kathy have just returned Sunday from Barbados. They spent two months there working with Windward Island School of Evangelism.
He sounded good and said they had a really good trip and good time teaching and working at the school. Thank our God for their good trip and safe return home!
CHRISTMAS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
I know I don’t even like to think about it but Christmas will be here before we realize it, this year has flown past! Depending on Shanthi’s treatments, our kids petitions we may or may not be in Sri Lanka for Christmas.
As you may remember from years past Christmas is a big evangelistic push for us as each church has a program and the kids get gifts. Many of the children’s parents come for the program and they are not Christians so the Word of God is planted in their hearts.
Usually we accompany this reminder with a plea for extra funds to cover the expenses of the Christmas programs. I am very pleased to tell you that we actually have the funds already in place to support the programs. If however you want to give for Christmas it is always appreciated and will be used for that purpose.
Please pray that God will use these programs to build His kingdom in Sri Lanka.
STILL LOOKING FOR PROPERTY
I mentioned last month the struggles being faced by Kushiya in Porutivu and also he is looking for a place for the church to meet. This is still ongoing but we are confident that God will lead us to the right place either to meet temporarily or to purchase as a meeting place.
- To locate a full time worker for the Onthachimadam church and for the building approval to be finalized.
- Search for a place for the Porutivu church to meet, to rent or purchase.
- Shanthi’s continued health and for our kid’s petitions to be approved.
- David & Kathy’s safe return and praise for a good trip to Barbados.
- Christmas programs in December to glorify God and for seed to be planted in the hearts of all who attend the programs.
I think fall is here at least by our weather here in Joplin it has been beautiful!
But when I think of how nice we have it here my mind goes to those in Texas who have endured such a tragedy. If nothing else we can all pray for these families who have been affected by this disaster and if possible send funds to organizations that we know will use the money wisely. They will be recovering for many months maybe even years.
We’ve had an enormous number of phone calls this month well Shanthi has anyway I get the translations. This has been due to VBS going on in all our churches more on this later.
We were able to get both our nieces who came from Sri Lanka into MSSU this fall and they love school but were not prepared for the amount of homework they have. Both are excellent students so should adjust quickly. Our nephew decided to wait until the spring semester to enroll giving more time to get things together including funds for school.
Tomorrow we take one of the families to Fort Smith Arkansas to get new “green cards”, long story but first and last names were reversed on the originals and has that created hassles should be okay now with new cards being issued.
With all that is going on in our lives we still often thank God for you our supporters in prayer and finance for this ministry. You are such a blessing to us and it is so wonderful knowing that people care about us and our ministry!
May God continue to bless and use you where you live.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL OVER FOR ANOTHER YEAR
You would think by that we had done all the work ourselves but we didn’t have much to do except sending materials and encouraging each church in their program with phone calls. I know our coworkers are sighing with some relief though.
All nine of our churches each held their own program and we have learned that there were 690 different children who attended their local church program. We are praising God for this! Any of you who have been involved in a VBS program know how much work is involved in organizing and putting on a program. For a couple of churches this was the first VBS in their village, Porutivu and Thannamunai.
Some of the churches were hiring transport for the kids so they could come, others who had a vehicle spent lots of time bringing kids and taking them home each day.
The most important thing about VBS is the contacts made as we always have new kids who come and then our coworkers have an opportunity to get into these homes to encourage the children and plant seed in the hearts of parents and other family members.
Please pray that there will be a harvest of souls for the kingdom from all these programs!
PREACHER THREATENED AND STONED
Our coworker at Porutivu, Kushiya, held his VBS program and was having good numbers of kids coming. This is a new church plant and has been going well for a few months now even having some baptisms.
One day during VBS some young men came and threatened him saying he couldn’t have this program. The next day he held VBS anyway and they chased off the kids and threw rocks at Kushiya, not much fun there that’s happened to me before.
He went to the police and filed a report and the police came that same day and found these young men and told them not to bother Kushiya again and if they did they would be arrested. The police came to see the program the next day and how the children were enjoying it and asked the young men what they were doing to try and make a difference in these kids lives. They even said that if they were not on duty they would stay for the entire program they enjoyed it so much! How our God works and moves to our aid in times of need!
The biggest problem is the home owners, who are now living abroad, have asked Kushiya to leave the property as they are afraid that these young men would do something to damage their home. So Kushiya and the church are looking for a property of their own that can be purchased and build a small building.
Shanthi continues to do well other than allergies have hit her hard this year. We go this next week for another check up. Please continue to pray for her that all is well.
When we pray we are thanking God for his healing and continued blessing of restoration for her.
Now about our kids petition as it’s called. We received a notice last week that their cases had been moved to a new office and that it now has jurisdiction over them this turned out to be in Kansas City. We received the notice which said the, “initial review has been completed”. While this doesn’t sound like much when we applied the first time two years ago the first notice of any action was that it was denied. So to hear we have passed the initial review we take as good news! Also Kansas City is where you go to have finger prints taken which is part of the process so we are again believing this is good news and thanking God for what He is doing. We still have more to be done but we know God is in control of all this and He will be glorified!
I failed to mention last month that my brother David and his wife Kathy are teaching at W.I.S.E. in Barbados and will be there until the first of October so pray for their safety, health, and strength to teach and encourage the students. He called and told me they were busy as he had to cram three months of teaching into three weeks. Kathy is trying to get a garden planted and growing to help feed the students but not having much success as yet.
MAHILOOR PREACHER INJURED IN ACCIDENT
Our preacher in Mahiloor, Sutha, was riding his motorcycle to get supplies for their VBS program which started the next day but never made it back home. He was involved in an accident and ended up in the hospital and required over 40 stitches in his face and mouth even inside his mouth. This meant he had to stay in the hospital for several days and consequently missed their VBS program. He is back home now and doing okay but can’t eat anything solid and will probably be that way for some time.
- The church in Porutivu to find as new place for worship services and protection for Kushiya.
- Praise for the 690 kids who came for VBS. Pray that the co workers will get into the homes of these children to share the Gospel.
- Our preacher Sutha to heal quickly for the accident and be able to return to work in the ministry.
- Shanthi’s health to continue and our kids petition to be approved soon.
- Full time worker for the Onthachimadam church. Building plans approval to be completed as well.
Lots has happened this month some good some not so good so I guess life is normal for us here. Just can’t believe June is gone already and we’re into summer.
Now Independence Day is upon us. I always loved the Fourth of July especially the fireworks and still do for that matter. Getting together with family for a meal which seems harder to do every year and playing some games which is definitely getting harder to do!
I usually reflect on that day of the freedoms we enjoy here in our country in comparison to so many of the countries I’ve been in during my life. While our nation struggles in so many areas especially in honoring God we still a great nation.
Shanthi and I pray everyday for our nation and our leaders that God would forgive the sins of our nation and to give wisdom to our leaders to turn our nation back the God honoring Bible standards our country was founded upon. But it doesn’t depend solely on our leaders but on us as Christians to stand for truth even when it’s not popular, or even accepted, because God’s truth is truth end of story!
I feel that we do need to pray as never before for our nation to be united, and to stand for God’s truth for the bettering of this nation. Without His guidance and intervention we will surely fall.
We want again to say thank you to you our faithful supporters in prayer and in finances you are such a blessing to us. We thank God for you and we ask that our Savior would bless you and use you to His glory where you are.
God bless you and God bless our nation!
PREACHER LEAVES ONTHACHIMADAM CHURCH
This is one of the things which was not so good that happened less than two weeks ago.
For six and a half years we have been working with Illangovan and Susila as they served in the Onthachimadam congregation. There have been some difficulties with them in the past but nothing that I would classify as unsolvable.
We got word from three of our other preachers and also some messages from church members that there were problems there.
We had tried to contact Illangovan several times but were not able to. Finally through another of our preachers we had him come to our home so we could call there and discuss what was happening.
What we had heard from several sources was he was spending all his time at another location where he wanted to start another church 20 miles away. While this sounds good on the surface it was very detrimental to the Onthachimadam church as several members had left and from we heard no attempt was made to resolve the problems. Church members were not being visited even when they called him and asked for special prayer for sick family members. Other preachers we did not know were coming to the Onthachimadam church and holding services another thing we expressly tell them not to do without prior permission.
When we asked him about this new location he denied anything was going on but we knew he had already rented a house in that village in which to live and hold services. When it became obvious to him we knew the situation he then tried to lay blame on others and us for his actions, we had even been told that he was telling others we were not giving him his salary and several other things.
The problem many preachers have there is the temptation to run here and there to various locations and pick up a few believers in each place and say they have started a church. Most times the ones they pick up have already left another congregation so they are easy to get. We have always been opposed to this and it is even stated in the ministry guidelines they receive and must sign that they are in agreement with this that they will work only in the area they have been assigned.
I told him that there were two options, one leave the other location and continue to work in Onthachimadam with us or two if he didn’t want to do that he could resign working with us.
He then proceeded to tell us he had brought his resignation letter with him that night so he had already made up his mind as to what he wanted to do but thought if he could convince us otherwise he could continue to draw salary from us and another person we found out who was supporting this start up in the new village. So we accepted his resignation.
This was hard to do as he is an excellent preacher and hard worker and we hated to lose him in the ministry, but we cannot tolerate deception. This was a difficult decision but we feel the best for the health of the church.
Our niece, Sona and her husband, Niranjan, who are very capable, have taken on most of the responsibilities of the church now until we can find a permanent replacement.
They have already been visiting the members and some who had left say they will come back so this was a good move.
I could have filled the entire newsletter with everything that has gone on and was said but no need for that. What we do need is special prayer for the church to heal and that God will use Niranjan and Sona to rebuild relationships and grow the church.
YOUTH PROGRAM HELD IN ERUVIL
Usually every quarter the youth from all our church get together for a special all day meeting at one location. It’s good for them to realize that there are other Christians and also to have fellowship and fun with them.
This last time it was held at the Eruvil church. We have rented a house that has a church meeting area which had not been functioning for a few years in Eruvil for our own church and this is where the youth meeting was held.
There was good attendance and those we have spoken to said it was a good program.
Our own son Prashanth went and won a prize in for being able to come up with names of Christian songs from only the first word, kind of like name that tune.
We received lots of pictures and have included one hopefully you can see the youth, pictures were not clear. It also gives them the chance to lead in worship and develop skills and encourages commitment in their faith.
Anyway we are praising God for how he continues to work in our youth.
SHANTHI’S HEALTH AND KID’S VISAS
She had another treatment and everything looks very good by God’s grace! Another treatment on the fifth of July and then a CT scan and she should be able to stop the treatments. Shanthi is feeling very good which is different than in the past. She never felt bad just not up to really doing anything or eating much. That has all changed now and is out and about helping her family with translations, job searches etc. and we even get to go out and visit friends and family.
Also no new word on our kid’s visas should be any day according to the processing times on the internet. Please continue to pray for both of these situations.
- The church at Onthachimadam to heal and for us to find a new preacher. Niranjan and Sona as they serve temporarily.
- Praise for the good youth program held this month. For our youth to grow in faith and love for Jesus Christ.
- Our other coworkers in ministry to do the work, making disciples for Christ. And faithfulness to God, their churches and to us.
- Praise for Shanthi’s good reports for complete healing.
- Our kid’s visas that the approval will come soon so we can continue the process and get them here.
We’ve had three graduations in our family here in the States this month one from fifth grade, one from High school, and one from college. I think we’re done for a couple of years now.
Graduations are a time of mixed emotions, joy that a mile stone has been reached, sadness as we know some of the people we have been in school with we may never see again.
One day we will all “graduate” from this life into eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t read anything about sadness or parting in that graduation day in the scriptures though. How we are to long for the return of our Lord when time will be no more. Can we truly say “Maranatha”, Come, Lord Jesus!
The more I talk with people the more convinced I am that most don’t look forward to that day for various reasons but one of the most common is “I’m not ready”.
Just a couple of weeks ago at church I made comment to a gentleman there about looking forward to heaven and he seemed truly shocked and asked if I was sure about that. My immediate answer was, I look forward to it more every day!
We’ve gotten involved in the life of a lady just recently here we barely know. She is dying from cancer, is a Christian so no fear for herself but is very much in fear for her brother, whom we also met, who is not a Christian. We’ve prayed with them and hopefully shared some peace and comfort for her and planted some seed in his mind to think about as well. Two different futures if nothing changes in his life.
We need to redeem the time, speak up for what we know is truth. For some it can mean the difference between heaven and hell.
This past month I’ve thought a lot about the ministry in Sri Lanka and that things are going fairly well there. But I think the most about so many there who don’t know Jesus and may never have the opportunity to hear of his saving grace. We’re ready to go back just need for a few things to be tied up here.
As always we are reminded of your faithful prayers and support for this ministry. We could not carry on the work without your involvement and partnership with us! We pray often for you and ask for God to bless you for your concern for us and ask that he use you where you are to his glory!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
MORE GOOD NEWS ON SHANTHI’S HEALTH
Shanthi had two treatments this month and again by God’s grace she has gotten more good news. Her CA125 is now down to 15 and her hemoglobin is up to 10.3. So we are thanking God for his healing power and you for your continued prayers for both of us.
We have had opportunity to share with others in the infusion center, hope for healing and also for their faith in Christ.
One of the nurses commented to us that one young lady who was having a severe reaction a month ago, asked about us as we had gone over to her and her husband and prayed for and with them. We’re on different schedules now so we don’t see them. But we thank God he gives us these opportunities to encourage. By the way the young lady is doing well with her treatments now.
Keep praying for God’s complete restoration for Shanthi and soon we will be doing just check ups and be able to go to Sri Lanka for a time.
OUR KIDS VISAS
We did find out by going online that applications dated September 2016 were being processed as of March this year. So two months have passed now. Our applications were sent in November of 2016 so hopefully we will hear something soon.
The process usually takes six to eight months according to the U.S. embassy in Sri Lanka, and we are now in that time frame.
One of these days and we hope very soon we’ll be able to write that everything is working out and that it has been approved but another month has passed and still no word. Please continue to pray with us that we will get a positive notification soon.
LONG DISTANCE PROBLEMS
No we’re not talking telephone lines I wish it was something that simple.
We’ve been having some difficulty with our bank in Sri Lanka. They have been depositing our wire transfers into our checking account not the savings account. As I’m the only one who can write checks on that account there is no way to access the money from here. It took several days to finally get to the bottom of what had happened.
Even though the mistake was theirs we had hoops to jump through in order to get the money transferred into the correct account so it could be withdrawn for construction expenses and preachers salaries. All this has taken over a month but finally it is done. The problem is this is not the first time they have done this.
It is so difficult trying to deal with these types of things when we’re half way around the world and eleven hours difference in time!
We’re just thankful it has been resolved and the money is there.
Due to the fact that there was a shortage of funds the construction has not been completed in Periya Kallar as we had hoped. Now, Lord willing, they can complete the work.
APPROVAL FOR NEW BUILDING DENIED
Another problem arose with the approval for the building plans at Onthachimadam. In short it was not approved and the reason given was they have a building already and in order to build a new one they will have to get approval from the Hindu Cultural Affairs Department.
Well we can clearly see Satan’s hand in all this. This church has been a thorn in the side of the Onthachimadam Hindu temple board since its beginning. And anything they can do to make things difficult they will. Strange that any building the Hindus want to put up is fine and no problems even building bigger and different buildings in different locations.
Pray that God will destroy the power of Satan in this attack and we can get the approval. This building is over do as the church has out grown the present structure.
PERIYA NEELAVANAI CRUSADE A SUCCESS
I wrote about this briefly last month but we could not get in touch with our preacher Vijay. Shanthi finally got to speak with him and he was so happy with how God had worked in the crusade! He sent a few pictures which showed the building was packed and lots of men had come which is unusual.
Vijay also said that 95 people either accepted Christ or rededicated their lives to Christ during the crusade. Hopefully those who accepted Christ will indeed follow through with this initial decision and be baptized. There are always lots of people who come from other churches so we’re not sure how many from our church made decisions for Christ.
Pray for steadfastness and courage to truly follow Christ for these who made decisions!
OUR CHURCHES SUPPLY SCHOOL TEACHERS
One of the subjects taught in school in Sri Lanka is religion. So in each school where parents have requested there are teachers who teach whatever religion is asked for, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The problem is there are very few Christian teachers and in order to prevent Hindus from teaching Christianity we get teachers from within our churches to teach at the school.
In the two schools in Koddai Kallar we are supplying Christianity teachers Lusani and Prashanthini. The pay they receive is a very small amount and actually comes from the church but helps to encourage them.
If these young women didn’t teach the students who are Christians would either be taught by Hindus or not at all otherwise. So we feel this is an excellent way to encourage our Sunday school kids and youth.
Please pray for these young ladies as they teach the word of God at the schools.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL SET FOR AUGUST
Each year our VBS program seems to get bigger which is a good thing as more children are impacted by the Gospel.
It is set for August once again as that is a vacation month from school in Sri Lanka. Please pray for the workers, children, parents and successful programs.
- Thank God for Shanthi’s continued good reports and complete healing and approval of our kid’s visas.
- Thank God we were able to get the money situation corrected and ask God to intervene for approval of the Onthachimadam church building plans.
- Faithfulness for our coworkers and God’s blessing on them.
- God’s blessing on our school Christianity teachers
- VBS in August God to be glorified above all else.
Wow what a month this has been I just got used to dating things for April and now it’s over such is this life. Hopefully we’re all looking forward to that day when time will be no more anyway. I know I’m looking forward to life without clocks, schedules, appointments, and calendars.
Our weather here can’t decide if it’s winter, summer, spring or what. First it’s hot shorts and t-shirt then so cold the furnace runs and we wear coats again. As I’m typing this we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm and have received almost three inches of rain in the last twelve hours and this on top of about four inches last week not a dry spring!
We’ve been busy this month lots of doctor visits and tests for Shanthi and her family members, I still drive for many of these as most don’t understand what the doctor is saying or they don’t have a vehicle and the ones who do aren’t available.
I continually remind myself that while we’re here on this earth for these short years we are to be busy but not busy bodies. So many people we are in contact with each day don’t know Jesus and who will tell them if we don’t? We claim to have peace in trials but it seems most of us don’t want to share how we have that peace with others.
This past month we’ve had several opportunities to plant and water seed in different people’s lives, we’ve not seen any results yet but we pray for these we have spoken with.
We’ve been blessed in several ways this month and one of them is in knowing that so many of you are praying for us and the ministry. One thing that continues to encourage us is when people tell us they are praying. Without these prayers we would not prevail in life or ministry. We are also blessed to have so many who support this ministry financially. We ask our father in heaven to be a blessing to you as you are to us, knowing he will supply all your needs according to his great riches in Christ Jesus.
We pray for God to bless you as labor for his glory where you are!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
We give thanks and praise to our God for how he has blessed in Shanthi’s health over this last month. We know many of you are very concerned along with us about her situation and God has been working things out in marvelous ways.
We just went to the hospital last Monday the 24th for another chemo treatment and blood tests. Shanthi’s hemoglobin has steadily risen over the last two months even with the chemo treatments it’s now at 9.9 still not normal but up 3 points from two months ago.
Then as she was receiving her chemo the doctor came in with the news that her CA125 test was 28, below 35 is the normal range, (I said 40 last month which is not correct). Needless to say we had a little praise party right there in chemo infusion unit! We know God has done a wonderful thing!
Two months ago the doctor wasn’t giving much encouragement or hope for Shanthi’s health but God is in control not the doctor or the drugs! The amazing thing is these improvements began before she started this round of chemo!
Thank you all for your continued prayers for both of us, God is at work!
In a week we will know more and begin to make some decisions for future treatments and check ups and even our return to Sri Lanka.
OUR KIDS VISAS
We still have no official word that these have been approved yet. Again we are praying in faith believing that God is working these things out. I must say it has been difficult to keep a positive attitude at times and to trust in God but it is he who can do the impossible and he is in control of this as well!
It’s been five months since we made this new application and the normal time is six to eight months we are told. We pray it will come sooner than that though.
While we’re talking about the kids Tharshini completed her Ordinary level in school and passed 7 of 9 subjects not great but great for her! She is our daughter who was so near death from starvation when she came to us and it did affect her ability to think. So we are happy she at least passed these subjects.
Prashanth just finished term tests the first week of April and did not do well which is unusual. The only thing we can come up with is stress over not getting the visa to come here yet which has really thrown him into a tail spin. Please keep praying for God’s intervention.
CRUSADE AT PERIYA NEELAVANAI CHURCH
Just last weekend the church at Periya Neelavanai finished their yearly crusade. In years past this has brought in new people and new brothers and sisters in Christ has been the result. We’ve tried throughout the week to contact the preacher Vijay but have not had any success as yet, to see how things went this year.
They put lots of effort into this beginning with three weeks of fasting and prayers prior to the crusade. Then usually four days of actual crusade at the church.
We’re confident that God will bless this effort of theirs and use it to his glory and to build his kingdom.
During this month the Periya Kallar church was able to get the necessary sand to finish the plastering work on the preachers living quarters and it is done! All that remains is finishing the interior toilet and they can move in. After that they can demolish the old building that sits in front of the new church building and quarters.
They had said that all the plastering sand was going to Colombo for construction and what sand that was available was way over the normal price of course.
God worked it out so that they found a supplier who gave the sand and only a little higher than the normal price so we thank God for his working this out.
The Thannamunai church also was able to get sand but they have not begun their plastering work as yet. Hopefully within the next week or two they will begin to plaster the building we built a year ago. Then we will see about completing the preachers quarters which they had begun before we met them.
Also the plans for the new building at Onthachimadam have been sent for approval to those in authority and we should hear back on them soon as well. This was after the forms were mailed to us we reviewed them, signed them, and mailed them back to Sri Lanka. This took over a month just for this process but there was no other way to do it.
Please pray that we can get the plastering work completed at Thannamunai and begin construction at Onthachimadam this month.
CHURCH REPORTS SHOW GROWTH
I mentioned this last month that the churches were showing signs of growth and again we got encouraging news this month as well. When we see the monthly reports we are encouraged as we know that God is working in our coworkers to carry on the ministry work even while we are absent.
We see this as growth as well. In years past when we came home to the States most everything was put on hold until we came back including evangelism and discipling, so we are encouraged to see them reaching out and doing the work when we’re not there.
- Praise for Shanthi’s great health reports and her health to continue to improve.
- God to intervene in our kids visa situation and we can get the approval soon.
- Construction at Periya Kallar to be completed, Thannamunai plastering work to get started, and Onthachimadam to begin construction.
- Praise in advance of reports for good outcome at Periya Neelavanai crusade.
- Praise for continued maturing of our coworkers and growth in the churches.
Spring has arrived well at least it’s cool, wet, and early flowers have been blooming for a week or so. I can remember when I was younger we always looked forward to this time as we got a week off from school for Good Friday and Easter. Now it’s sad for me as kids today get a week of “spring vacation” with no mention of either of the days which used to be so important to almost all Americans.
It was also special as it was time to finish getting fields ready to plant but with that came things I didn’t like so much mainly cleaning the chicken house, sheep barn and hog barns before the fields were worked. Ah the “good old days” they sometimes weren’t so pleasant at all!
One thing we always looked forward to was getting new clothes to wear on Easter Sunday. We might get jeans, socks or underwear for Christmas but Easter was different. Then we would get new shoes, dress shirts and trousers and if there was enough money a new suit that was when everyone wore a suit and tie to church, well not the girls, and especially on Easter we wanted to look our best.
The joy of spring and Easter is not nice weather, new clothes, school vacation, farm work or anything else so mundane it should be the greatest celebration this side of heaven!
One phrase that seems to come to mind for me each Sunday but especially on Easter is “No Condemnation”, what joy that should bring to us as those redeemed by the blood of Jesus! How thankful we should be that we no longer need fear death or punishment if we’re in Christ!
We also thank God for you our supporters you are such a blessing to us! We ask for God’s continued blessing on you for your prayers and financial support for this ministry.
Because of Christ,
Steve and Shanthi
PORUTIVU CHURCH PLANT GOING WELL
Last month we mentioned that our coworker Kushiya had begun a new work in the village of Porutivu. He left the Samanthurai ministry as most of the members were originally from Periya Neelavanai and have now moved back there.
Shanthi spoke with Kushiya a couple of times during this last month to see how things were going. We were somewhat concerned as he had started there a few years ago and it failed.
God has blessed his efforts this time as he reports he already has 4 people who want to be baptized and about 10 adults coming for Sunday services. The only thing we can say is God’s timing is perfect. The first attempt to start a work in this village was evidently not God’s time. Please continue to pray for Kushiya and the new believers.
We are truly praising God for what He is doing in Shanthi! Since writing last month she has made more improvements. This past week we saw the doctor again and she received another treatment. Her hemoglobin continues to come up was up slightly from two weeks ago and the CA125 test showed 80 which is less than half of a month ago, normal is 40 or below.
We are giving all the praise to God as we are convinced it is his power not that of the doctors or the drugs that has turned this around. Please thank God for his healing power and continue to pray for Shanthi’s complete restoration.
BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS
Maybe I should say lack of progress as we’ve run into some road blocks at both Periya Kallar and Onthachimadam.
At Periya Kallar what we lack is the interior and exterior plastering, (stucco), on the preacher’s quarters which requires very fine sand. Right now there is so much construction going on in Colombo that all plastering sand is going there and the cost if you can pay is three times what it was six months ago. So we are unable to complete the preachers quarters.
We are trying to get approval to dig sand from the back of our Onthachimadam property as that sand will work for plastering. Problem is that transports sand from one district to another with a police check point between and requires a special permit. Pray we can get this approval.
At Onthachimadam they required Shanthi’s signature on the plans drawn by the official there, actually Shanthi drew them he just copied it onto the official document for approval. So they sent them here and she has now signed them and we will get them returned to Sri Lanka so that construction can begin soon hopefully. We already have the blocks made and building sand is no problem to purchase.
Onthachimadam church has outgrown the building they have presently and is definitely in need of this new building. The building will look almost identical to the Periya Kallar building with the exception that the preacher’s quarters is attached in a different way due to a narrower land size.
I feel like a broken record but we are still waiting on immigration here to approve the documents so we can proceed with getting the visas finalized and the kids here.
No one is more frustrated by this than we are but we can get no new information from immigration other than “it’s in process”. Preventing illegals from coming in is only part of the problem with our immigration system.
Please continue to pray for God’s hand to move this process along quickly.
SHANTHI’S FAMILY ARRIVED
On the second Shanthi’s brother Ajith, his wife and two daughters arrived here so we’ve been busy again getting them settled into home, schools, paperwork, and trying to find a job.
The biggest problem just came up this past week as Vithya, who is diabetic had a sore on her foot little did we know how bad it was. They had been treating it in Sri Lanka but the doctors there had miss diagnosed and treatment actually made the problem worse. So after two doctor visits so far this week to find out it was a diabetic ulcer and have all the dead tissue cut away and her foot put in a pressure relieving cast hopefully she is on the mend but will have a long way to go. She goes back tomorrow for a dressing change and check up with the doctor. What a way to start out a new life in the States. Please pray for her also as she is not a Christian, that this will help her see Jesus for who he is and she will accept him!
- Praise for the new work in Porutivu and for Kushiya to continue his work faithfully.
- Praise for Shanthi’s health turnaround from just a couple months ago, all the praise to God.
- Construction completion at Periya Kallar and approval so we can begin at Onthachimadam.
- Our kid’s visas and Shanthi’s family to adjust quickly.
- All our coworkers for God’s blessing and their faithfulness.
Well our weather here has been crazy we have winter then summer and now back to winter with even a chance of snow flurries in a day or so. One thing we can always count on though is the love of our gracious Lord! His love is constant and never fails! We are so blessed to have a God who is also our Father. When all seems to be crashing down around us we can always trust in Him!
We are also so blessed to have supporters who are concerned for us as well as our ministry. We receive so many cards, emails and this is such an encouragement to us.
It has not been easy staying up with the ministry things when we’re halfway around the world. Shanthi is stuck with making phone calls and discussing things as it’s too difficult to try and translate conversations over the phone. But overall things are going well.
We want to thank you for your continual prayers and also financial gifts that keep things going. We have been blessed and pray that our God will continue to bless you as well.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
For several weeks we had been getting news from the doctor which was not very encouraging and even depressing to be honest.
The CT scan showed the cancer has been advancing and so once again we had to change chemo drugs. In his own words this combination of drugs is generally not as effective as what she had already received, not very hopeful in other words.
She had one treatment and two weeks later went in for the second treatment. She was already scheduled to have a blood transfusion as her counts were dropping again. When we saw the doctor two weeks ago her hemoglobin had come up enough that she didn’t need any blood still low but not bad, this was the first time in months it had done that. They also ran the CA125 test to see if the cancer had responded to the treatment. While we were still in the chemo infusion unit the doctor called and told us her numbers had dropped 52 points! This was great news, no need for blood and cancer numbers down!
Additional news since I started typing this, today Monday the 27th we went for Shanthi’s third treatment. Her hemoglobin is up to 9.0 without transfusions and her CA 125 number has now dropped another 135 points down to 168!
All the nurses in the infusion unit came over to see her and give her hugs and they too were thanking God for what he is doing in her.
We’re praising God for what he has done. Shanthi is feeling better than she has for several months, still tired from low counts but no side effects, and her appetite is back she so is enjoying eating again!
The only explanation we have is God is at work and He is in control not the doctor or the drugs.
Also on the 6th she had a new ureter stent placed as the previous one had closed off, should’ve lasted longer but the new one is working properly.
We have asked for months even years for this and now we are thanking God for healing. Please continue to thank God for healing and for continued restoration!
BAPTISM REPORT FOR 2016
We finally got the ministry reports from our coworkers in Sri Lanka, all but one anyway, concerning the number of baptisms they had last year.
There were 25 people who were immersed into Christ in 2016 from five churches. Four churches had six each and one church had one.
The Thannamunai church has not reported as yet but said they have several people who are ready to be baptized. Three other churches are still fairly new with only a few adults coming to services.
I must say that I was a little surprised there were not more baptisms you know preachers we always want more. We are thanking God for these who have been added to the Kingdom!
From their ministry reports the churches attendance records show growth in numbers just need to get that into the baptism column I guess.
We do hope that you will pray for our coworkers to continue to focus on evangelism and making disciples for Christ.
PREACHER STARTS NEW WORK
Our young preacher Kushiya has left where we was working in Samanthurai and moved to Porutivu. The families he had in the church were originally from Periya Neelavanai and have now moved back there.
He had attempted starting a ministry in Porutivu a few years ago but was run out of town. Since then he had started visiting people again and by God’s working encountered a man who was very sick the doctors said they could do nothing for him. Kushiya prayed for the man and God has healed him. So this man and his family wanted Kushiya to start a church in their home in Porutivu which he has done and now has four families coming for worship services each week.
SHANTHI’S PERSONAL FAMILY NEWS
We wrote about one of Shanthi’s brothers last month needing a job and God has provided a good job for Parijith so this is a real praise as he had become very depressed! Continue to pray as one brother in law still needs a job.
Also this week another brother along with his wife and two daughters will arrive from Sri Lanka. This is the final family that will be coming to live here.
All of the other families have been here for a year and still have a long way to go to adjust to life in the States.
A real praise is that five now have vehicles and four have driving licenses this makes my driving duties a lot easier. Teaching them to drive was a new and sometimes hair raising experience for me though, I don’t know if I was cut out for that or not.
By God’s grace all are doing fairly well.
OUR KIDS VISAS
So many ask us about the progress of getting our two children here from Sri Lanka and we appreciate your concern. All we can say is we have sent the paperwork in and we are waiting for the answer from Homeland Security to proceed with the rest of the process.
Literally there is nothing we can do but pray and we do! Even if we call which we have in the past, we get no information other than “it is in process”.
Last time around we even had our U.S. congressman try to help and he tried but said there is nothing he could do further.
It is so frustrating when you can’t get information and the process is lengthy.
Please pray that soon we will receive the approval to proceed to the next step.
NO NEWS ON THE CONSTRUCTION APPROVAL
You may recall last month I wrote about presenting our plans for the Onthachimadam church building for approval. We’ve not heard anything but this is normal as it takes time to go through all the channels and get the approval.
We don’t think there will be any problems in getting the approval it just takes time. Hopefully within the next month or so we can get started on the building as the rainy season is now fairly well over.
We had another wedding although not from our family. Rasathy is a young lady who has helped care for our children off and on over the years. She has been with them since we left last January helping with cooking and household work. Now God has blessed her with a good husband and she has moved out of our home.
We hated to see her leave as it made it easier for Pushpalogini to leave each day to do her ministry work. Please pray for God’s blessing on Rasathy and her husband.
Our four children, whom we have had since 2004, are being well cared for by Pushpalogini and also supervised by our preacher and wife in Koddai Kallar as they live just across the street.
- Continued growth in the churches and praise for the baptisms last year.
- The new church in Porutivu and Kushiya to be faithful in the work.
- Shanthi’s family that is coming and those here already to have good jobs.
- Shanthi’s health to continue to improve Praise for how God is healing!
- Approval for construction of the building at Onthachimadam.
- Our kid’s visa to be approved.
- Rasathy and her husband and their new marriage.
It seems we just finished Christmas and New Years a few days ago and already it’s February! Time is quickly flying by. I must say I’m looking forward to warmer weather, never thought I would say that I guess my blood is too thin even for the mild winter we’ve had so far.
Our month has been filled with doctor appointments, treatments, trying to find jobs for a couple of Shanthi’s family, and lots of phone calls to and from coworkers and family in Sri Lanka.
One of the things that I never tire of though is reading emails, notes, cards from our supporters telling us they are praying for Shanthi and me. We are so encouraged to know so many think of us and pray for us.
What makes it even more wonderful is in knowing that our loving God and Father hears everyone of them! This trip home has been difficult for many reasons but it is made easier knowing that you lift us to the Father.
We also thank God for each of you and pray that he will continue to bless and use you where you are to his glory and honor. We are blessed to have such great support in prayer and in finances from you and we truly give God the praise for what he is doing!
May God bless you richly for your being a blessing to us.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
NEXT BUILDING PLAN UNDERWAY
We have actually stopped the building work in Periya Kallar after Christmas so they could focus on visiting the children and their parents and further share Christ with them. Now very soon they will begin again and complete the preacher’s quarters. Mostly the finish work is all that is left to do.
They have had so much rain this month that they wouldn’t have been able to do much exterior work anyway. We got some photos of standing water at Onthachimadam church property what a mess! This is where we plan to begin the next building project.
Shanthi spent quite a lot of time drawing new plans for this building. We had hoped we could simply use the same plan as at Periya Kallar but because of different lot sizes it just wouldn’t fit. So she drew new plans for the church at Onthachimadam. They are basically the same as far as the church building itself the main difference is we couldn’t “L” shape the quarters onto it and had to place it behind offset to one side. Sounds simple enough but it really wasn’t.
We scanned the plans and emailed them to Sri Lanka so they could be presented to the public health inspector as he must approve the drawings so we can begin building. Hopefully within the next month or two if it dries out we will begin construction.
The church at Onthachimadam has continued to grow and they are in need of a larger building already. They are now averaging about 40 adults and youth and that same number of Sunday school kids this is almost double of what they had when we left a year ago, so the building they have is crowded!
Things actually went fairly well at Periya Kallar even though we were not there to personally oversee the project, but it required daily phone calls and some times many times during the day to make sure things stayed on track.
Please pray for God’s blessing on this next church building project.
This past month there were two weddings at the Koddai Kallar congregation. One was our nephew, his parents and two younger brothers had immigrated here last March, so of course neither we nor they were able to attend.
He had been engaged to a Hindu girl, Pirinda, for about three years now. She had agreed, along with her mother, that she would become a Christian before they were married.
All went as planned and Pirinda began attending church a few months back and was baptized. But this was done without her mother’s knowledge as the mother didn’t want her to become a Christian even though she had agreed to it.
The mother was told weeks prior that it would be a Christian wedding as Pirinda was now a Christian and her mother was not happy about that.
The day of wedding came and as they were walking out the door dressed for the wedding the mother, and Pirinda’s twin sister, began shouting and calling down curses in the name of her god on her own daughter. Needless to say it was not as pleasant a day as they had hoped.
We just found out yesterday that the mother has since apologized to Pirinda our nephew and all our side of the family who were there and heard the things she said.
The other wedding is a girl who has been living in our home for the last year helping care for our kids her name is Rasathy. She had been with us off and on over the years helping in our home and she is like one of our own daughters.
She is 31 years old and had refused several other proposals brought by her uncle because none of them were Christian men. Her new husband is a nominal Christian man and we have been told he will be coming to church this week so we were very happy to hear that.
Please pray for these two new couples as they each have difficulties to face with their non Christian families.
This month has been a roller coaster of emotions first getting good news and then bad news, but God is still in control!
We go back to the doctor on the 30th to get the results of the last CT scan which should reveal whether the new chemo is working, which is the good news / bad news. At first they thought is was doing the job and then other tests said no so we are really up in the air as to what is taking place.
We are praying in faith believing that God is working her healing and we even thank him that his great unstoppable power has already brought healing! We ask that you pray this way as well.
We won’t know what is next until we talk to our doctor on Monday so please pray along with us for some good news.
MORE FAMILY COMING
One more brother of Shanthi’s along with his wife and their two girls will be arriving the first week of March.
Now we get to start over again with all the things we did with the others. Hopefully it will go a little easier as the other family members will be here to help out too. But there will still be lots of things that we will have to do.
The waiting is the most difficult part of this process and that is all we can do right now besides pray.
We still have no word on the approval yet so keep praying for that. This is actually something that weighs heavily on Shanthi and so that doesn’t help her situation any. We are confident that God will work out everything for our good!
CHURCHES ARE GROWING
I had hoped to have all their reports before this newsletter but as we aren’t there to push them along in this we don’t have them.
What we do see is that the churches are showing growth and we are getting the same reports about the churches that haven’t sent their reports as yet.
We are thanking God that we have workers who want to see God’s kingdom increase and doing their best to see that happen.
Please continue to pray for all our coworkers and the church believers.
- Shanthi’s health and our kid’s visas to come through.
- New building plans for Onthachimadam to be approved and we could start building soon.
- Completion of Periya Kallar quarters and old building to be demolished.
- The newly married couples to make Christ the focus of their homes.
- Continued blessing on our coworkers and more growth in the churches.
- Jobs for two of Shanthi’s family members here and safe arrival of her other brother and his family.
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 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.
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.
- Our kid’s visas so they can travel with us.
- Shanthi’s last chemo treatment is scheduled for January 17th (she is doing very well).
- Continued growth in the churches. Praise for growth we’ve had.
- Praise for Good Christmas programs which did reach out to the lost.
- 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
firstname.lastname@example.org Ph. 417-624-7078 Fax: 417-624-7085
Copyright 2009 Lamplighters World Ministries