2019
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DECEMBER 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
            Can’t believe December is here and Christmas is upon us but I do enjoy Christmas time for lots of reasons!  I’m listening to Christmas music right now as I type.
            Most of all the birth of Jesus, who came to this earth to be our Savior!  He gave up the glory and honor he had in heaven and became a human being and eventually died in my place and yours what an amazing thought!  Sad but so many things distract us from this central thought.  If we had not needed someone to save us Jesus would have never been born.  Indeed He is the reason for the season!
            I want to thank you again, as I do each month, for your prayers and support for the ministry.  It’s been a rough few months for me personally and I’m sure there will be rough days ahead.  But it is made easier by the knowledge of so many praying for me, our kids, and the ministry!  God’s peace and grace are amazing!
I know that you are concerned about my well being and the continued financial needs of the ministry. I pray for God to bless you for your sacrifices and his blessing as you labor for his glory where you live.
Pray your Christmas season is filled with times of reflection on God’s goodness and grace, wonderful memories and great hopes for the future made possible by Christ, have a blessed Christmas!
Not a lot of new things going on in the Sri Lanka ministry but will share what I have as far as news.
                                                                        Because of Christ, Steve

MONSOON RAINS HAVE COME

This is the time of year we have our rainy season in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and this year is no exception.  I’ve spoken with the kids and some of the staff and they say the flooding has begun as it has rained steadily for a few days now.  This definitely hinders the practices for the Christmas programs as well as the programs themselves, as well as church services but it can’t be avoided.
I remember last year we were in the middle of construction at the Onthachimadam church and God blessed with good weather so we could get it in the dry before the major rains started, that was such a blessing.
As difficult as it is to deal with the monsoon is necessary especially for our area.  The excessive rains clean the small lagoons and streams as well as the river that flows through our village.  If it weren’t for the monsoons the well water in the area would soon become unusable and life would be so much more difficult!  So there is a blessing in the difficulties, so much of life is like this.

 

CHRISTMAS PROGRAM DATES SET

            All our churches have set the dates for their Christmas programs and they have begun practices for them.  Please do pray for safety for the children as they travel to and from the church buildings to go to practices.
            I say it every year but it’s true everyone wants to celebrate Christmas.  Many do it out of misunderstanding or for the wrong reasons but everyone loves Christmas!
            These programs not only are fun for the Sunday school children but the Word of God is shared with all who come to the programs.  We always share a gospel message not just the story of Jesus’ birth.  For most of the programs there is standing room only in the buildings where the programs are held.
            All the children receive gifts of clothes and other items from the church made possible by Lamp Lighters.  And for several years now we have given special gifts and recognition to the children who have come faithfully to Sunday school 90% of the Sundays during the year.  They receive back packs and school supplies as well as the other gift.
            Refreshments are served which is always a mess but they don’t seem to mind at all.
            This is an important time for us as many parents come who are not Christians and they hear the truth of Jesus and his love for them, some for the first time.  In past years we have people who begin coming to church and accept Christ as a direct result of these programs if only one comes to Christ it’s worth it don’t you think?!
Please pray that God will work in the hearts of all who come and that there will be positive results of people coming to Christ through the Christmas programs.
Pray for the children’s safety, the preachers and Sunday school teachers who prepare and practice with the children.

 

MINISTRY REPORTS

            Every month our preachers submit a report from their respective churches.  Things like new attendance, attendance of adults, youth and Sunday school children.  The number who take the Lord’s Supper; this helps them to see if there are indeed non Christians in attendance.
            We have seen some growth in our churches this year hopefully we’ll have a baptism reports next January for this year.
            I can report that two of our churches are averaging over 100 adults and youth not counting Sunday school children in those numbers.
            Periya Neelavanai has had this number for well over two years and continues to grow and Mahiloor now which these were the second and third churches we planted.
            Please thank and praise God for how he is at work in these two villages especially.

 

PERSONAL NEWS

I speak to our kids every week and they are all doing well by God’s grace.
            Vijay is still searching for a job and living at home.  He goes to the beach each day to pull in fishing nets not an easy job and not much pay but at least he gets some income.
            Sowmiya is enjoying being back studying in the university which opened over two months late due to strikes by the teachers.

            Tharsha is awaiting results form her exams which by God’s grace will improve and give her better opportunities for university placement.
            Tharshini and Prashanth are busy studying English for when their visdas finally come through.
            I had to file additional and some of the same paperwork with NVC again.  For some reason they asked for a copy of Tharshini’s original birth certificate with English translation, this was no easy task.  At least we did have a copy of the Tamil and got eh translation.  At least I know NVC is working on them!
Please continue to pray that this is all finished soon I can go to Sri Lanka and bring them here.

 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For the Christmas programs to be successful in sharing the love of God with the children and their parents.  That we will see people who accept Christ because of these programs.
  2. That people will be protected during the difficult monsoon rains.
  3. Praise for the church growth that we are seeing.
  4. God will raise up more workers for the harvest.
  5. Protection and guidance for all our coworkers their families and the churches.

 

 

NOVEMBER 2019

Dear Coworkers in Christ,
            Fall has to be my favorite time of year.  To see the color of the trees, which several close to home are beautiful this year, the coolness of the mornings and warm sunshine.  I’m also reminded of my growing up years, harvest time, football for which I am paying the penalty of engaging in now, and time with family around the Thanksgiving table.
            In our nation we have so many blessing from our Lord, many of which we just take for granted or attribute to our own labor; it is easy to forget to be thankful.
            Losing Shanthi has been extremely difficult but I’m beginning to be able to thank God for the 22 years we had together, the joys we had, for the inspiration she was to me, the faith she lived and demonstrated to so many over the years.
            As we enter into Thanksgiving time I hope that it’s not just a one day experience or celebration but becomes an attitude that we live out every day of our year.  How better to honor our Lord than to live our lives in thanksgiving!
            This month has been sort of a slow month for news coming from Sri Lanka not much to share.  Maybe just a normal month if there is such a thing.
            I also want to say thank you to you for your many prayers and your faithful support for this ministry.  I thank God for you and the blessing you are to me and the ministry.
May God continue to use you to His glory in your labors for Him.
                                                Because of Christ, Steve

 

CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER

            I know you don’t need another reminder it’s just hard to believe Christmas is just a few weeks away.  I’ve been to several stores here in town where the Christmas trees to buy and decorations have already been up for two weeks. 
            I’ve spoken of Christmas in Sri Lanka before, and it is widely celebrated by all, I’ve even had Muslims wish me a “Happy Christmas” as they say there.
            But Christmas in Sri Lanka is still held in honor by most and especially as a Holy day by Christians. 
            We always strive to be evangelistic in our Christmas celebrations there.  All our programs have a gospel message given and even an invitation many times for people to accept Christ. There are always lots of parents and older siblings who come for the programs so there are many who hear or are reminded of why we celebrate Christmas.
            And all the children receive gifts which are appreciated and which even sometimes causes the parents to think of how they are blessed by this Christian God and not their own gods.
            As I said last month our finances are good for Christmas this year but if you would like to contribute toward the gift giving that s fine.  We will not have as many as usual due to the discontinuing the satellite Sunday schools but we will have new children this year with the new churches that were not going last year at Christmas time.
            Above all else please pray that God will work in people’s hearts, for them to understand their need for Jesus and that the programs would bring glory to him.

ELECTIONS THIS MONTH IN SRI LANKA

            I always dread election time but not for the reasons we have here.  There are no constant TV ads, mailings, phone calls etc. like here but just the uncertainty of the outcome.
            There seems to always be the underlying problem of election corruption and fraud going on, and even suspicions of murder etc. and we think it’s bad here.  One time the opponent to the president mysteriously was found guilty of crimes that landed him in prison.
            The problem is that for months, sometimes longer, the government seems to be destabilized and even when it functions there are riots, strikes,  protests and all sort of things going on because people aren’t happy with how things are going.  The answer it seems is that the military is sent to bring peace and order again.
            This will be a presidential election this year and there are many concerns over those who are running for that office.  They really need our prayers!
            Pray that God will bring in people who will be just and fair and have a genuine concern for the well being of the people of the country.  Even though the majority is not Christian for them to have Godly values, God has used non Christian leaders for his purpose in the past, check your Bibles.
            But it is a big concern for the safety and the future of the country so please pray!

PERSONAL NEWS

            Sowmiya our oldest daughter is enrolled in university but the university hadn’t reopened due to the teachers strike.  It has finally opened the 21st of this month almost two months lost.  So now they will try to make up for lost time which makes it difficult for the students.  I asked Sowmiya how things were going and she said all she has time for is studying and can’t complete all she needs to do, very frustrating for her.  She is an excellent student and loves to study so that’s a good thing.

            Vijay our oldest has a job prospect but it won’t happen for a couple months yet so he is spending his time pulling fish nets at the beach not very profitable but at least he can do that.  Pray God will provide a proper job for him, and also our nephews who are looking for jobs too.

            Tharsha has a big exam Nov. 3rd she is trying to improve her Advanced Level scores from last year which will hopefully give her some better options for university studies. 
            She also struggles with migraine headaches which don’t make it easy for her to study for long periods of time.

            I was able to finish and send Tharshini and Prashanth’s visa applications in the first part of the month.  This was no easy thing and was delayed by the website not working for several days.  Then it took me five hours to fill all the paperwork and attach all the documents they requested.  Everything they ask for they already have, which is another thing I don’t understand.  Please pray that everything is in order and that their applications will be accepted.  If all goes well they should be called for interviews at the U.S. embassy there in mid December according to the website timeframe.  After that if all is approved they will get their visas within a few days and then be able come here.

            I’m considering and praying about when to return to Sri Lanka.  There are definitely things in the ministry that must be addressed as well as personal legal matters too.  So trying to figure out the best time to go so I can take care of those things and bring the kids here in a timely manner is weighing on my mind.  Please pray for me for wisdom on these decisions. 

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For our coworkers to be faithful in carrying out their ministry, for their strength, health and wisdom, especially for the plans for the Christmas programs and God to be glorified.
  1. For the elections in November that there would peace and those elected would be blessed by our Lord.
  1. For the well being of our kids.  Blessings on their studies and for Tharshini and Prashanth’s visa applications to be approved without any problems.
  1. Wisdom for me to make a decision as to when will be the best time to return to Sri Lanka.

 

 

OCTOBER 2019

Dear partners in ministry,
            The outpouring of support from our supporters has been truly humbling and amazing!  I have received so many cards, phone calls, text messages, emails, and memorial gifts during this past month and it has been so encouraging to me.  Thank you for your love and concern for me, our children, and the ministry too.
            For me personally the past month has had lots of ups and downs in trying to adjust to a new life in almost every way it has not been easy.  I’m sure there will be many more adjustments in the weeks and months ahead.
            Our children are doing fairly well in spite of the shock of the situation for them.  It’s been hard to encourage them from half way around the world, but they are doing okay. 
            This past weekend they held a memorial prayer service and then our family prepared and provided a meal, which is according to the culture there.  They had prepared for 500 people which I thought would be too much but they ended up serving 450 people a meal that day, a testimony of the number of people impacted by Shanthi’s life over the years.  When I talked with the kids Sunday night they were all very tired from serving all those people.  Just so you will know Shanthi’s family provided all the funds for the meal.
            Even though Shanthi’s passing still consumes much of my thinking the ministry is still priority for me.  Things are going well, all things considered, and I have spoken to almost all our coworkers, some I haven’t as they don’t speak enough English but messages have been relayed to them from me. 
            I want to thank you for your prayers and support for this ministry.  There will be lots of adjustments on the part of our coworkers as well but your prayers will make the difference in their lives and ministries too.

                                                                        Because of Christ, Steve

FOLLOW UP AFTER VBS

            I’ve said many times that VBS is a big program for us each year.  The reason is not only do the children hear more in-depth Bible stories and are involved in lots of fun things but it is a way to reach out to the many families who are not Christians but send their kids to Sunday school and VBS.  I’ve encouraged all our coworkers numerous times to be busy getting into the homes especially of the non Christian families and all have assured me they are doing that very thing.
            In years past we have had parents, of the children who came to VBS, give their lives to Christ.  I wish I could say all or even most of them do but that’s not the case.  But we praise God for the ongoing impact of the Gospel in so many lives. 
            Even though the numbers were down this year we are confident that God was glorified and He will work in many hearts and lives. 
Shanthi’s passing came right in the middle of the programs so it was not easy for some of them to conduct the programs and keep their focus on what VBS is all about. 
Please continue to pray for decisions to be made for Christ in the weeks ahead as our coworkers continue to reach out to these families.

 

HOUSE CHURCHES DOING WELL

            I’ve mentioned a few times the new house churches that have been started by our preacher in Mahiloor, Sutha and his wife Jino; she is also a niece of ours.  These have been meeting for a few months now and are doing well by God’s grace.  These were not necessarily new plants but believers who had come to Mahiloor for prayer meetings and had asked Sutha and Jino to come to their area to meet with other believers.  So they did and things have grown from that point.  They have the services on Sunday afternoons and evening at these new churches.  Average attendance of adults and youth are 15, 20, and 50.  They have baptized several in these locations as well, so many are new Christians.
            I’ve tried to include a few pictures of some of the meetings that Sutha sent me but can’t seem to get it to work today for some reason.
Please keep these believers and workers in your prayers.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING SOON

            Plans are already underway for the annual Christmas programs in the churches.  This is our largest children’s program each year. And is also a big evangelistic push for the ministry.  Almost every year we gain a few new believers because of the impact these programs and the Sunday school program.  Also the programs encourage many of those who have not been active or faithful to return to church.
            Due to the satellite Sunday schools mostly being closed there won’t be as many children involved or gifts to be given.  The churches for the most part will be responsible for the programs and gift costs.  The smaller churches Lamp Lighters will help with their program expenses. 
            Our funds are in good shape and we actually do not need extra for the Christmas programs this year.  If you want to give a gift for them that it’s okay but by God’s grace we’re in good shape this year.
            Please pray for souls to be impacted by these programs and that the children will be reminded of the love of God for them and their need to follow Jesus.

PERSONAL NEWS
           
            I received the police clearance certificates and other documents from Sri Lanka for Tharshini and Prashanth this past week.  So I attempted to go online and fill out the applications etc. only to have another problem, it won’t take my payment which of course is the first thing that must happen.  So after several attempts on different days at different times I sent an email to the National Visa Center.  They will reply to my problem in 7 days so one more delay after another.

            Our daughter Sowmiya entered University this year but there have been numerous delays getting started and completing the first semester.  This included a strike nation wide of all the teachers, who wanted more pay so instead of starting on the 9th of September they will supposedly start on the 30th of September.  This is very frustrating to her and all the other students whose education is being delayed.

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2019

Dear faithful supporter,
This has been I can say without doubt the most trying month of my life. As probably all of you know my wife Shanthi passed from this life into eternity on August 14 th . This came very suddenly actually as one month prior she was still doing alright not good but okay.
I lost my wife, my best friend, my prayer partner and ministry partner all at once.
Shanthi fought a good battle against the cancer she was diagnosed with 5 1/2 years ago. You have faithfully prayed along with us for her healing, and strength. She was faithful to her Lord and was an encouragement to so many in the face of the trials she faced. Even the nurses in the oncology department and her doctor at the hospital came and shared with her how she had encouraged them by her constant smile in spite of how she may have been feeling. During and after her treatments she would speak to others who were going through treatments, about Jesus Christ and pray with them.
She loved her Savior Jesus more than anything and now she will be with Him through all eternity. Her faith in Jesus sealed her victory over death! She loved to read the Word of God, praise, sing and pray daily and now is able to do it perfectly!
I’ll never forget early in our marriage I told her I loved her with all my heart, she corrected me by saying, “no you must love Jesus with all your heart, I’m happy to take what’s left”.
God did not choose to heal her on this earth but she is enjoying full healing and strength once again and especially the joy in being with her Lord and Savior Jesus.
Thank you for your love and kindness as so many of you have sent messages, cards, flowers, and memorial gifts but most of all I thank you for your prayers!
Thank you for your prayers not only for Shanthi and myself, our children, but especially for the ongoing ministry in Sri Lanka. And also I thank you for your financial support for our ministry. May God continue to bless and use you to His glory where you are.

Because of Christ, Steve

VBS COMPLETED FOR THIS YEAR

After lots of planning and hard work by everyone I believe our VBS program was successful again this year. Attendance was definitely down from years past due to most of the satellite Sunday schools being stopped after the Easter Sunday bombings. This is still a concern for so many of the parents and also the houses where these Sunday schools met that they did not want the children to come.
There were ten different programs in the towns and villages where we are working. We had a total of 578 different children involved with an average attendance of 324 children, this is about 200 – 250 less than usual. Still we are praising God for all who did come. Please pray that the Word planted in them will grow and produce a harvest.

MARRIAGE OF A COWORKER

Kireshkaran our coworker who works in the Onthachimadam ministry was married this last August 7th . He had been engaged to a young lady, Kegini who is from the Periya Neelavanai church, for several years. She waited for him while he finished his four year ministry degree at a Bible college in India. Kegini has served in teaching Sunday school, worship leading, and worked with the youth for many years in Periya Neelavanai.
Kireshkaran has been working with us for almost two years now and is doing a good job. The attendance has steadily grown and he has encouraged some who had fallen away to return to church.
They are now living in the Onthachimadam preacher’s quarters and serving in that church together.
Please pray for a long and fruitful ministry there in Onthachimadam.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

I’m sure many of you have lots of questions as to the future of the ministry, actually I do as well and I don’t know that I have many answers right now. Here is the plan right now and there are so many twists and turns involved it’s difficult to say anything with certainty right now.
I am definitely planning to return to Sri Lanka as soon as possible, things at best will be quite different and difficult as Shanthi was my translator for all my preaching and teaching efforts.

I will no longer be able to get a two year resident visa due to Shanthi’s death; I will only be able to get a three month visa which I should be able to extend for another three months but no guarantee of that, so I’m back to where I was twenty years ago.

As soon as I get a Police report on the kids from the Sri Lanka police, which will be another two weeks, stating they are not fugitives from the law, I can proceed with the actual visa application. I need to wait here in the States until I can get some kind of
confirmation that it will go through before I go. If I go and there is a delay in their visas I might end up having to leave the country due to my visa restriction and make a return trip when things are settled, which I do not want to have to do.

My heart is to continue doing ministry there and be as involved as possible. The last thing I want to see happen is for the ministry to falter or fail. I know God’s kingdom will continue and I want to see our part of it flourish! God knows how all this is going to work out and His will is going to be accomplished.

There are so many questions I have in my mind as to how all things are going to work and right now I cannot think clearly enough nor is it possible to make many decisions.

PRAYER CONCERNS

1. Pray for my mental and emotional healing from the loss of Shanthi.
2. Pray for wisdom in decisions that must be made in the next few months and plans for the future.
3. For the visa process for Tharshini and Prashanth to go as smoothly as possible.
4. Praise for the number of children who came for VBS.
5. Thank God for the faithful workers who put on the programs.

 

AUGUST 2019

Well the newsletter is late again as you can see and you will understand why when I explain.  This will be a very brief letter to inform you.
This has been a turbulent month highs and lows but God is always faithful to us and grants us strength to carry on.
God rejoices with us in our joys and He is always there as the Divine comfort we need in the difficult times too.
The ministry continues on even in our absence and some of the churches, especially the new house church plants are showing remarkable growth so praise God along with us that people are coming to Christ.
The situation in Sri Lanka is still not what you would say completely stable but much better than it has been.  Still there is much fear in people’s hearts and keeps some from coming to attend church services. 
We want to thank you all for your continued prayers and financial support for this ministry.  Without your prayers to our God nothing would continue to grow and also your finances help us to pay our preachers and coworkers. 
May our God richly bless you for your faithfulness to this ministry.
                                                            Because of Christ,   Steve and Shanthi

VBS IS HERE

This next week our churches begin their VBS programs.  There were 26 who came for the training in July and now they will put into practice what they have learned.
Please pray that there will be safety and that souls will come to Christ, and God will be glorified!

AT LONG LAST

Literally for years you have been praying along with us about our children Tharshini and Prashanth.  On July 1st we finally received the approval of the petitions to move forward with visa applications for them.
We were thrilled when we got this news.  Now we are waiting on the next forms that are to be filed so the visas will be issued and we can bring them here.
Thank you so much for your prayers for this!

HEAVY HEARTS BUT WANT GOD GLORIFIED

On July 26th Shanthi went in for a CT scan to determine what was going on what was found was not good.   The immunotherapy she had been taking was not working and the cancer spots on her liver had grown dramatically.  She was admitted to the hospital to get her system somewhat stabilized and determine what could be done.
She was discharged on Tuesday the 30th to come home under Hospice care.  There is nothing else medically that can be done, there is no more chemo, not even experimental that could help.
So we are still praying that God will miraculously intervene and heal her.  I don’t know what else to say but please pray for her healing and for my strength.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Pray for the VBS programs to be successful in Gods eyes and bring souls into the kingdom.
  2. Praise for the approval of our petitions and that soon we can get our children here.
  3. For God’s healing hand to rest on Shanthi and bring her back from this.
  4. Strength and wisdom for the days ahead.
  5. God to be glorified in all things!

 

JULY 2019

After the rains now comes the heat of summer!  Along with that though comes the Fourth of July which I have always enjoyed, well except the late night fire crackers and bombs and such when we’re trying to sleep.
            I remember when I was still young and had bought some firecrackers I was in the back yard setting them off one at a time as there weren’t very many.  I was just about to light the fuse when a loud bang went off behind me.  I was so engrossed in my little explosions I hadn’t noticed my dad come up behind and toss a cherry bomb in the grass a few feet away.  My first thought was how did that fire cracker go off I hadn’t even lit it?  Dad of course got a pretty good laugh at my practically jumping out of my skin!
            But with all the fun, food and fireworks comes the reminder hopefully that the Fourth is indeed a celebration but also a time to reflect on the many who sacrificed and died that we could be free.  Still today so many of our young men and women are fighting in foreign fields to ensure that terror attacks don’t become the norm for our homeland.  Even with our troubles and problems as a nation there is no nation where I’d rather live.  We do take our freedom for granted too often I think at least I know I do.
            More importantly we have freedom in Christ we can celebrate.  Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are not free physically but still are free from sin and the power of death.  We take this freedom for granted many times also, even when we have the weekly reminder in the Lord’s Supper, we tend to forget don’t we.
            Let’s take some time this Fourth to remember the freedom we enjoy in this nation and also the freedom we have because of Jesus Christ!
            We thank you for your faithful prayers for us and this ministry and for the financial support that is given that we can continue the work in Sri Lanka. May our gracious God bless you abundantly for your faithfulness to or ministry.

                                                                                    Because of Christ,
                                                                                    Steve and Shanthi

VBS ONLY ONE MONTH AWAY

            By the time you read this our annual VBS training days will be over.  They did it a little different this year and slightly earlier than usual in order to give more time for the teachers to prepare for their programs in August.  All the VBS programs are in August as that is when schools are out for a break.
            They are doing evening training as it makes it easier for those who work or husbands work and they have small children at home to attend the sessions.
            Everyone who is involved in VBS comes for the training even those doing songs, crafts, recreation and refreshments.  Everyone understands what VBS is all about that it’s not just a program where the kids come to have fun but that this week can literally change their eternity!
            There was some concern and rightfully so about should we have VBS this year.  Already most of the satellite Sunday schools have stopped meeting due to fear from bombing attacks.  While I do understand this there will still be a good number of children who will come for VBS.  Most likely not as many as usual though.
            Please do pray for safety for everyone and for children’s and adult’s hearts to be changed by the gospel lessons they will hear.


MORE BOMBS FOUND AND ATTACKS THWARTED

            There have been several reports of more bombs in villages where we work and elsewhere, some planted in schools.  These were found before children came to school so no one was killed or injured.
            One Sunday morning this past month a car came speeding toward the front gate of our Periya Neelavanai church.  They had people stationed at the gate and quickly closed it and the police nearby came running.  The car stopped turned around a sped off in the direction it had come from.
            Almost all churches have police or military presence for services but the government has now announced that they will be stopping police presence this next month.
            In all our churches there are members of the church who stand at the door and anyone unknown is stopped and questioned and no one is allowed to enter with any kind of package of back pack.  How do you know if it is someone who truly is seeking a better life in Christ or an imposter bent on killing and harming people?  So the situation is still pretty tense in our area.
            Shanthi just read yesterday on Sri Lanka news that Indian intelligence has reported there will be another attack in a large city in Sri Lanka soon.  They had reported the first bombings and no notice was taken by the authorities.
            She also read that the head of the military, I believe it was, and the Inspector General of Police have now been arrested due to their lack of alerting any government officials or the public prior to the Easter Sunday bombings.
            As I said before, all the fear and bombings are far from being over.

ATTENDANCE ALMOST BACK TO NORMAL IN CHURCHES

            The attendance in the regular services of the churches has rebounded during this month.   Most are back to almost normal attendance numbers.  The satellite Sunday schools though for the most part have stopped as these are held in peoples homes and for fear of their home being bombed no wants a church meeting in their house, can’t say as I blame them.
            There have even been some baptisms take place, maybe the bombings were enough to shake some people out of a false sense of security that they had plenty of time.  So we thank God for how he continues to work in peoples hearts.
Please continue to pray for safety of the believers, coworkers, and our properties to be protected.

PERSONAL NEWS

            Shanthi has stopped chemo and has begun immunotherapy treatments.  We had done testing for this several months ago but the drug company said they wouldn’t supply the drug, saying they didn’t feel that it would be helpful.  After our doctor approached them again they immediately said they would and even supply it at no charge!  Our God is amazing!
            Immunotherapy works with your body’s immune system to target the cancer cells and nothing else.  Chemotherapy just kills cells regardless of what they are. No steroids are used so it makes it possible for Shanthi to sleep the night of treatment too!  Only side effect is she has some itching sensation but nothing else. She has had one treatment so far but we don’t know how many she will get.  The spots on her liver had gotten larger so we had to try different chemo anyway and we and our doctor think this is a positive thing to do.  Please continue to lift her in prayer for healing and even this itching to go away.
            Our oldest son Vijay was supposed to get a job at a garment factory but that didn’t work out.  We just found out today he is going to work at a chicken processing plant about 5 hours from our home.  So it sounds like he will be moving there to work.
            Sowmia’s university finally reopened and she is back to school just in time for mid term exams and in one month term exams even though she has had very few days of instruction.  She has considered trying to transfer to another school but this is very difficult to do.
            Tharsha is studying to retake her Advanced level exam in August.  They allow you three times to try to improve your scores.  So she wants to do this in hopes she will get higher enough marks to get into university.  The other aptitude tests didn’t help in securing any schooling so we feel this is a good decision for her.
            We heard from immigration directly concerning Tharshini and Prashanth’s applications.  They were expedited on May 24th.  But they still can’t give any time frame stating there are so many other applications expedited before ours.
            The lady who called us is the one we spoke with when we went to Kansas City.  She had taken my cell phone number and said she would call when she heard any news and she did.  She said to wait 30 – 45 days and if we hadn’t heard anything to call her back and she gave me her direct phone line!  God has placed some good people in our path!
            So mid July we should hear something, please pray for a positive response.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For our VBS training for teachers and all other involved in the VBS programs.
  2. Safety for our believers and the children who will attend VBS in August.
  3. For God’s protection of believers coworkers, and church buildings.
  4. Praise that attendance is getting back to normal and for the satellite Sunday schools to restart.
  5. For Shanthi’s treatments, our children’s safety and schooling, and petition approval for Tharshini and Prashanth. 

 

 

JUNE 2019

            We have survived the flooding rains and tornado threats so far during May.  Many in our area were not so fortunate though, flooded houses, damaged or destroyed homes from wind even our church we attend flooded as the sump pumps decided to stop running mid downpours.  These things are what make life a challenge at times as we all face similar situations.  But God is still on the throne and He is good all the time!
            Lots of personal things to write about this month and several items concerning the ministry as well which we’ll share later.
            This month we celebrate Father’s day and of course we honor them but we should also be aware of our Father in heaven who also deserves honor.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in “life”, honoring God may slip through the cracks.  Hopefully you aren’t guilty of that.
            As I think back about my own father several things come to mind:
He loved to be with family, even in a crowded, very loud, small house at Christmas time, he loved to see his children!
He loved to laugh and sing silly little songs while working, to remove some of the occasional drudgery of the job, some of which I still remember. 
            He worked hard to provide for us, not easy as a small farmer and having eight kids.  We rarely had an overabundance but always enough, not always new clothes but we were dressed well especially for church.  No new cars, or farm equipment but good enough to get he job done.
            He was fair in his discipline, even though he could speak harshly or even when we received a good swat it was enough to get our attention and cause us to change but never too much.  And he always made sure we knew he loved us regardless!
            He demonstrated to us by his own life, actions, and teaching that belonging to Jesus was what was most important in life.
            For these and so many other things I thank my Father in heaven for giving me an earthly father to point me to eternal life.  Hopefully you can say the same.  If not you fathers can decide you will be that example to your own children and grandchildren!
            We have had many emails cards and prayers for us and the churches this month following the horrible attacks on Resurrection Sunday in Sri Lanka.  For these we say thank you!
            We also thank you for your continued financial support to us so the ministry can continue.  May God bless you for your partnering with us in this ministry!
                                                Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
 

SITUATIION IS CALMER BUT FAR FROM SETTLED

            Since the bombings on Resurrection day there has been a flurry of activity from the government politicians, military and police to try to get the situation under control.  So many arrests were made, bomb making materials and weapons caches found, and even three ISIS sponsored training camps located and shut down, two of these were about 15 miles from where we live.  Even with all this the situation is not what we could say settled.
            A large percentage of school children are not attending school out of well founded fears.  A bomb was located in one school in Periya Kallar one mile from us but was found and detonated before the children arrived.
            Many universities are just now reopening but not all of them.  The one our daughter Sowmiya attends has still not announced when it will reopen.
            There are police and military personnel stationed at schools and churches island wide including our churches.  Even with this we have seen about a 20–25 % decrease in attendance of youth and adults and even higher percentage among Sunday school age children this month.
            And now it is all being politicized to the benefit of the Muslim community believe it or not.
            There is still a great need for prayer as it would be impossible for the government to find everyone involved and everything in one month’s time.  Fear is a powerful deterrent especially for new Christians.
            What we must remember is that God is in control!  All is not lost!  Even with all this there have been baptisms at one of the new church plants, Thambiluvil, this month.
            None of our church members were directly affected, nor any of our church buildings attacked for which we thank God!
            Please continue to pray for God’s protection, arrest and punishment of all those involved in these bombings, and the government to be fair in their dealings and decisions.

VBS IS COMING

            Even though there are still many fears our VBS programs will go on as usual in August.  Preparations are already being made for each church location to hold their program.
            As we have done in the past there will be training programs for all involved in the VBS for teachers and helpers in July.  This needs lots of prayer maybe more than usual due the situation in the country.
            VBS is an important program as we get the children more involved and taught the word of God.  And many families are exposed to the Gospel, some for the first time.
            Please keep all this in prayer over the next three months until we can report of how God has blessed in VBS!

PERSONAL NEWS

            Shanthi continues with the chemo treatments and is doing fairly well.  These drugs do fatigue her much more than the previous treatments as it takes about a week for her to recover. 
            She also was able on May 16th to get the cataract surgery redone on her left eye.  This had to be postponed due to high eye pressure and low blood counts but it’s finally done and she is doing better each day.  We did have a bit of a scare as the day after surgery when they removed the bandage from her eye she could not see anything.  This was because a blood clot and formed directly over her pupil not allowing any light to enter the eye.  This clot is dissolving but just makes recovering longer and more difficult.

            Vijay is still without a job it seems every where he turns there is another block.  He has been doing some mason labor work and fishing with another man who has a small boat and nets but this is hopefully not long term.
As I said earlier our daughter Sowmiya is still waiting for her university to reopen after the bombings.  This is a predominately Muslim area and Muslim students and faculty.  This has been very frustrating for her as the entrance into university was delayed for all students for almost a year and now this further delay in her studies.
            Tharsha has been doing tests during the month and was selected for an interview for “hotel management”, this would be a very limited scope in Sri Lanka, and we will have to see if anything else materializes for her education.
            On May 2nd we drove to Kansas City to meet with immigration to see if we could expedite our petitions.  We went with a letter from us concerning the bombings and situation in Sri Lanka and also a letter from Shanthi’s doctor concerning her health.
            We met with a lady there who actually showed concern for our situation unlike previous visits, and she went beyond what she was required to do.  She sent our letters to the office where the petitions are being processed and spoke with the supervisor concerning our petitions; she did not have to do this.  At the end she said this should move them to the top of the stack and asked for my phone number so she could inform of any changes.
            We were also contacted by a congressman in Illinois who then contacted immigration on our behalf.  This was because a cousin of mine sent out requests to anyone and everyone who would listen to try and help us out.
            We just heard from immigration a couple of days ago that indeed they would expedite our petitions, but they could still not give a time frame.  But at least things are moving in the right direction.  Thanks and praise to God for what he is doing!

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For peace in Sri Lanka, fear to be removed, the government to continue to look for and arrest all involved in the attacks.
  2. VBS training in July and the programs in August.  A harvest of souls among the children and their families.
  3. Praise that ins spite of the unrest God’s word is still having an effect on lives and praise for the baptisms.
  4. For our staff and coworkers in Sri Lanka to faithfully carry out the work of ministry.
  5. Shanthi’s chemotherapy, our children’s education situations, the petitions to be expedited and we would be able to bring Tharshini and Prashanth here soon.
 

MAY 2019

            Well the weather during April fooled me a few times.  I set our house plants out on the deck thinking the temperature would hold steady but it didn’t.  Got a little too cool for them and now they are all trying to replace leaves that fell off.  Moved them back outside just today as it is raining and they needed watering anyway.  Such is spring.
            We spoke with our kids today and it’s raining there, which is unusual for them, April, May, and June are usually hot and dry.
            We observe Memorial Day this month; I hesitate to say celebrate, to honor those who have given their lives in the armed forces in service to our country.  Literally millions have given their lives so we could have the freedoms we enjoy. We tend to forget those who died so it is fitting that a day is set for us to remember.  I hope you will spend some time thanking God for our freedoms as we remember those who died to provide them for us.
            The greatest sacrifice however was given by Jesus who gave us freedom from sin and death and eternal life!  What a wonderful blessing that is and it is an event we can celebrate.  In fact Jesus gave us the way to remember and celebrate our forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper.
            How easy it is for us to forget that great and perfect sacrifice so it is good to have that reminder our sins are forgiven and that Jesus is coming back; “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.
            Speaking of remembering we want to say thank you again for your prayers and support for this ministry!  We do remember you often in our prayers as you are such a blessing to us.  May our Lord continue to bless and use you for his glory where you are.
                                                Because of Christ,   Steve and Shanthi

AN EASTER WE WILL NEVER FORGET

            What a jolt for us on Easter Sunday morning as we got up to listen to voice messages and read text messages from Sri Lanka and then to turn on the news and see and hear of the horrible bombings that had taken place.  We were expecting reports of joyous celebrations in our churches and good wishes from our kids and family and co workers but that was not what we got.
            Immediately we called but couldn’t talk to everyone as very quickly the government had shut down the internet, Facebook, etc. and for a short time even cell phone service to keep rumors from spreading, but we did find out that our kids, family, and church members were all okay but very shaken up to say the least.
            The church in Batticaloa which was bombed is only about 20 miles from where we live and work.  We know the preacher there but not any members personally.  Although Shanthi’s sister, who immigrated here 3 years ago, was a member of that church.   She knew people who had died and were injured and some lost limbs.  Slowly as reports began to come out did we find out more of the story.  39 dead and 25 of those were Sunday school children, and assistant pastors and families killed, their senor pastor was away on a trip at the time.
            None of our churches were affected but, the police did come to our church in Periya Neelavanai and stopped the service after only 20 minutes due to fears of further attacks.  We’ve found out since then there were more bombers with bombs ready to be set in the area so it was a good precaution.
            Two men had entered our church in Mahiloor before the service started.  They have a policeman who is a member there who felt something was not right about them and had them go outside the church and then sent them off.
            These two churches very easily could have been targets as they are both having an effect on the Muslim communities and have Muslims come to various services.
            Even early on ISIS was suspected and as we know now it indeed was behind these attacks.  I just heard on the news today that the head of ISIS, Al Baghdadi, praised the attackers for what they had done.  How deranged the minds of some of these people are to think killing innocent children and people is a good thing!  
            Several bombers and locations with bomb making materials have been found in our area some as close as Periya Kallar where we have a church and is one mile from where we live.
Most of these attacks were primarily against Christians so most churches island wide cancelled services this last Sunday.  Our churches chose to have more private prayer services in homes rather than at the church buildings.  The police contacted all our preachers to say they were willing to post policemen at every church for services in the future we’re glad they were willing to do this.
            Some of the attacks were targeting tourists mainly foreigners.  Our fears are that everyone in our area, including many Muslims, knows exactly where we live and why we are there and our church is directly across the street, so we feel our children are at risk even though things have quieted down somewhat.
            We don’t believe this is over yet as there have been so many arrests made and so much material found the police and military could not find them all this quickly.
            The internet and all those things were just reestablished this morning and schools are set to reopen on May 6th.
            This entire situation still needs lots of prayer!  All churches, preachers their families island wide, and our family, children and churches are still in harms way.  Please continue to pray for their safety.

CRUSADE PLANNED AT PERIYA NEELAVANAI

            Our church at Periya Neelavanai had planned their yearly three day crusade following Easter Sunday but due to the bombings postponed it until the 5th, 6th and 7th of May.   While we think this is still a bit close to the bomb events we have to admire our preacher Vijay and the members to trust God and go ahead with the plans.
            Their crusade does have some benefit as non Christians do come but the net result is still low.  It may not be as good as in years past as people may stay away due to fear of possible bomb threat.
            Pray for God’s protection and for good results to come from the crusade.

PERSONAL NEWS

            Shanthi is still getting her chemo treatments once a month but these drugs really fatigue her more than any others have.  Before she would be tired for 2 - 3 days but now it is 6 - 7 days.  Other than fatigue no other side effects for which we praise God.
            She is scheduled for cataract surgery on May 16th again this all depends on her blood counts being in good shape so on the 15th we go in for blood work.  We both want to get this taken care of and are trusting that God will bring it to a good conclusion.

            On May 2nd Shanthi and I are driving to Kansas City to immigration again to see if we can expedite our petitions.  They say they will do it on humanitarian grounds (war in the country) so the situation in Sri Lanka may actually help us in this matter. 
We are also presenting a letter from her oncologist stating her inability to travel and that the separation from our kids brings added stress to her, which definitely it does.  We filed our petitions in November of 2016 and it is supposed to take 7 – 9 months.  Pray that this goes well and that indeed it will be expedited and our children’s petitions granted quickly.

            Sowmiya our daughter will return to university on the 6th of May.  She has decided to stay at a hostel there as the bus travel is getting to be a too much.  Then she can study with other students and come home on weekends.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For those responsible for the attacks in Sri Lanka to be brought to justice.  And peace to be restored to the nation.  Greater tolerance for Christians to result from this.
  2. For those who lost loved ones in the attacks that God will comfort them as only he can.
  3. Safety for our children, family, coworkers and church believers.
  4. The crusade at Periya Neelavanai to honor God and that there will be fruit for the Kingdom come from it.
  5. VBS training in July and the programs in August.

 

 

APRIL 2019

            Spring flowers are blooming in our area with the promise of warm temps to come.  We have lots of jonquils in our yard and they are really blooming this year, makes all the weeds in the yard look better too.
            As Resurrection Sunday approaches we are reminded of the Lord’s promise of eternal life and our own resurrection one day!  What a wonderful thought!
I’m reminded each spring of the “renewal of all things”, which our Lord will bring about one day.  I wonder am I really ready for that?  Personally yes, but for the sake of so many others I’m not ready as they are not ready.
            God declares that, “He is patient not wanting anyone to perish but that all would come to repentance”.  This is what keeps us working to bring more souls into His kingdom while there is still time.  Even though it is difficult for us as we’re away physically from our coworkers and churches our deepest concern is that they focus on sharing the Word of God and making disciples for Him! 
           
            Shanthi spends quite a few hours weekly sometimes even hours daily checking on the ministry and how things are going with internet phone calls.  But how we long to be back there in person!  Please keep praying that God will make that a reality soon!
            We want to say thank you as we do each month.  You are such a blessing to us, praying for us, the ministry, our family and on the list goes, and you faithfully share with us in finances.  You truly are a blessing to us and thank God for you!
May our Lord bless and use you where you are to His glory.
                                                Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

NEW CHURCH PLANT GROWING ALREADY

            Last month I shared how our coworker in Mahiloor, Sutha, had started three house churches.  One of them meets in the Batticaloa YMCA building on Sunday afternoons.  They have had good attendance and they have already had some baptisms.  I’ve shared with you a couple of the photos he sent.
            You also can rejoice with us and them as you also share in their coming to Christ.
            Please pray for these new believers as Satan will most assuredly be working to discourage them from their walk with Jesus.                                                                      

ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IN MINISTRY

            Our preacher in Periya Kallar has been doing a great job rebuilding the ministry and visiting new people.  But now, actually this has been going on for a few months, the former preacher has started his own church with support from an Indian business man, and is working very hard to draw away people from our church even telling them that our church has bad doctrine.  Of course they don’t stop to realize they were the ones doing the teaching and preaching so where did the bad doctrine come from?
            This is nothing new it happens all the time, much easier to steal sheep than do the work to raise them up yourself.  But it still is one of the problems faced in ministry.
            This has been a really frustrating thing for John and Jenny as they are young and never experienced anything like this before.  We advised them just keep working, praying, let these people know that they are always welcome to return to the church, keep working to evangelize new people and God will bless his church.
            The sad thing is Christianity gets a bad name all the way around, because non- Christians are always watching.
            Pray for John and Jenny and the problems they are facing in ministry.

NOT TOO EARLY TO PRAY FOR VBS

            August sounds like a long way off but it will be here before we know it.  Plans are already underway for our teacher training days and for VBS dates to be set.
            We sent some VBS material from here by Fed Ex; it goes through customs much easier but is rather expensive, it made it there by God’s grace and protection.
            Rani, our Sunday school superintendent, will do the translation and prep work for the training sessions and also train people from our other churches as co directors on how to do things properly, she really does an excellent job of this.
            VBS always draws large numbers of children from the communities and they hear the Gospel message on their level, even some of the parents attend and hear, some for the first time, about who Jesus is and why He came.
            Please start praying now for proper preparation, good cooperation from the staff, good attendance, and children and adults to come to know the Lord through the VBS programs.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Continued growth in the churches and for the new believers.
  2. VBS training and programs in July and August
  3. Steadfastness for our coworkers in spite of difficulties of ministry.
  4. Shanthi’s treatments, surgery date, our kids petitions and God’s blessing on them.
  5. Everything to work out so we can return to Sri Lanka soon.

 

 

MARCH 2019

Winter seems to still be here but not much we can do about it just go on with life. Hopefully things start to turn better soon.
Life is filled with unexpected events, some we enjoy others we don’t like so much. This month we had to get our vehicle repaired again and it was to the point it’s not worth what we are spending in repairs. So I did online and physical searches locally for a
different vehicle which we found and purchased in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Didn’t really want to spend the money but felt in the long run was the best thing to do. So was a bitter sweet experience to say the least, have another story about such things later in the
newsletter.
One thing that is always dependable is our God. He is always faithful, steadfast, unmovable, unchanging and filled with love and compassion for us. Knowing him as Savior and Lord is never a bitter/sweet experience. We can always trust Him regardless
of what else is going on in our lives.
Over the last few years we’ve been thrown a lot of curves it seems but, God is always there to strengthen, guide, bless, encourage and change either us or our circumstances. What a wonderful God we serve!
We are so blessed to have you as a partner with us in this ministry. You faithfully pray for us, encourage us and support us through cards letters and your finances. We thank God for you and ask Him to continue to bless each of you for your partnership with us!
Whatever you do whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of or Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi

CHARMED EXPERIENCE

This past month with all that has been going on here and at our home in Sri Lanka, Shanthi contacted our nephew, who preaches at the Mahiloor church, to have a fasting and prayer time at our home there in Sri Lanka.
During that time of prayer he saw that there had been charms buried on our property again. They went into our yard dug them up, prayed over them and opened them up. Inside were all the typical things, primarily a small copper sheet inscribed for death and destruction for Shanthi.
We’ve shared these things before of how people do these charms to us and our family trying and discourage and destroy, which is Satan’s domain,. This is nothing new but it is a reminder that we are definitely in a continual spiritual battle, our fight is not
with flesh and blood.
If for no other reason than this we need your prayers! But we know that you do lift us up for God’s protection, guidance, blessing and healing, please keep praying!
We are convinced that it is because of God’s faithful people praying that these charms have limited effect on us our family and ministry.

BITTER/SWEET EXPERIENCE

Just a couple of weeks ago the preacher’s son in Koddai Kallar sent us a couple of photos of our son Prashanth leading the Sunday morning worship (holding red mic.).
We are definitely thrilled to see that our children are taking an active part in the ministry there knowing that God is using them to His glory. It was such a joy to see the pictures.
At the same time it was rather saddening as we were not there to experience this personally. But we still praise God for how He is working in our children even when we are separated form them!
There is so much going on right now in all five of our kids lives and they really need God’s wisdom and guidance for proper decisions to be made. It’s tough for us to parent over a phone call but that’s the way it is right now.


NEW HOUSE CHURCHES STARTED

Our preacher at Mahiloor, Sutha, has now begun three new house churches recently on his own with two young men holding services in two of them. One meets in Batticaloa on Sunday afternoon at the YMCA building. They were having several people come from Batticaloa, which is about 20 miles north of us, to Mahiloor for services and Saturday fasting and prayer so they felt it would be good to start a weekly service there in Batticaloa. Please pray for these new starts that God will be glorified in all things! We’ll try to keep you informed of what happens in these new plants.

PERSONAL NEWS

Shanthi has started a new round of chemo as of 2-27. This is actually a combination of the first to drugs they used in Sri Lanka in 2014. Both were some what successful so our Dr. said lets see if they will work again. They warned it could be very harsh but so far today no need for any nausea medication. She’s just tired which is normal after a treatment as the steroids keep her awake the first night.
She also saw the eye Dr. and a date has been set for the cataract surgery to implant the lens on March 19 th . So we are thankful the healing has taken place and now look forward to the final surgery for the left eye.
Our son Vijay has been looking for a job with not much success. He finally found a job in Colombo, eight hours from home, as a mason laborer. Not great pay and now today we hear they cut the salary almost in half and the work load is double sounds like
the Israelites in Egypt, bricks without straw. Vijay never complains about hard work, but he said that was enough and is now back home. Please pray he finds a decent job in our area.
Sowmiya will start university on the 11th of March. She is excited but already the “ragging” which is the torment from upper classmen has started. They tell them what they can and cannot wear, where to sit, what to eat, and there are repercussions if they don’t abide by the rules from the upperclassmen. Our nephew had gone to university in Jaffna and the ragging grew so severe they have closed the university and sent students home.
It’s not just fun and games. So please pray for her as she begins her schooling.
Tharsha is taking aptitude tests in various places literally all over Sri Lanka to get acceptance into a field of study in a college. Her marks in Advanced level were not as good as needed to get into university so she is looking into other possibilities.
Tharshini and Prashanth are still awaiting news for their petition approval. We are to the point our attorney said the last resort is to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government. All this does is force them to make a decision there is no assurance they would approve it, they might deny just as easily then would have to start all over again.

PRAYER CONCERNS

1. Continue to pray for us our children and family for protection from Satan’s attacks.
2. For the new house churches started last month. And the young men who are leading two of them.
3. Coworker’s faithfulness to the task making disciples, fulfill their goals they set.
4. Shanthi’s health, eye surgery, new chemo, kids petition approval.
5. Things to work out for us to return to Sri Lanka soon.

 

FEBRUARY 2019

I sure hope the ground hog does not see his shadow I’m tired of cold weather, and we haven’t had it as bad as some of you!  But whatever the case we’ll get through it.
            It has been a busy month for us personally and for the ministry as well.  The New Year is always busy with reports and such from our co-workers and goals set for the ministries in the upcoming year.  To be honest record keeping and goal setting is not their strong suite but they are doing better at it than in years past.
            We were making some tentative plans to go to Sri Lanka at least for a short visit but those fell apart after Shanthi’s cataract surgery failed in December.  We’re still waiting to get the surgery redone, we see the Dr. on the 1st to determine if it is healed enough to do it, then another couple of months to heal from that. 
            If nothing else we are learning to trust more in God and wait upon Him, which is not always easy to do.
            We are so blessed to have you as our partners in this ministry.  You have waited patiently with us as we have been in the States longer than usual.  You continued to pray for us and the ministry, sent notes and cards, and your support has been a wonderful blessing as well.  With our God’s working, your faithful prayers and finance we could not accomplish anything.  We praise and thank God for you and your involvement in this ministry.
            We pray that God will bless and use you where you are.
                                                                       
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi 

CONSTRUCTION ALMOST COMPLETE AT ONTHACHIMADAM

            We have been so blessed that the rains held off our masons, carpenters, and other trades involved have done their work in a timely manner so that it is almost complete.  Our young preacher Kireshkaran has done an amazing job of keeping things organized and going especially since he has never done anything like this before in his life.
            Most of our co-workers and the masons told us to wait until the monsoon rains stopped and then begin.  But we decided to start and go as far as we could and pray that God would hold off the rains, which He did!  It seemed that everything just fell into place scheduling the different trades everything was on time.  Maybe we should be absent more often during a building project!
            They should be finished with the ceramic tile floor and finishing up the ceiling as well this month.  Kireshkaran sent a couple of pictures but not enough detail to see what was going on other than the outside is painted.  By the end of February it should be completed. 
We are looking forward to seeing it in person, hopefully soon and also hearing  the plans for a dedication service.
            Thank God along with us for this blessing of a new building and preachers quarters.


MEET OUR CO-WORKERS

            I thought you might enjoy seeing photos of our co-workers hopefully I will be able to type in identification so you will know who they are.  You might even save it so when we ask for prayer for a certain preacher or worker you can see their faces and better identify with them yourself.


Sutha & Jino Seronica and Ebijen,        
Mahiloor



Sydney, Rani, Mano, Vino, Nisha   
Koddai Kallar



Vijay & Ananthy, Asha, Jeevanee, Hephzibah, Paul
Periya Neelavanai


 

John & Jenny Amson
Periya Kallar


Kireshkaran
Onthachimadam


Kushiya
Porutivu



Pushpalogini
Eruvil, Kurumenvely


          

PERSONAL NEWS
    
Shanthi has continued to feel good for the most part.   Her blood counts have remained at a good level and are stable.  The CA125 has crept up over the last couple of months though but not dramatically high.
            She has finished this round of chemo and is scheduled for a CT scan on the 7th to see more definitely what is happening.
            As I said earlier she goes to the eye doctor on the 1st and we hope to hear they can schedule the surgery soon.  The biggest issue for Shanthi is she can’t read for any long period of time and she loves to read her Bible anyone who knows her knows that this is a real frustration for her!

            We have not received any news about Prashanth and Tharshini’s petitions.  Our attorney was to contact the Ombudsman office this week but she has not responded to my emails as of today anyway.
            Tharsha is looking at options for university or other schools, and courses of study.  Several options are open pray she seeks God’s wisdom.
            Sowmia is waiting for her university entrance; it’s supposed to open the first part of March which is much later than it should be.
            Our oldest Vijay, as you may remember was going through the divorce proceedings which have not been easy for him or us.  He is supposed to sign final papers next week.  He also is to start a new job working in Colombo, decent pay and benefits, just wish there was something close to home for him but at least he has a job, this is getting more and more difficult in Sri Lanka.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. Our co-workers to do what is necessary on their part to achieve the goals they have set.
  2. For a marriage partner for Pushpalogini, Christian workers her age are difficult to find.
  3. Completion of the Onthachimadam building.
  4. Shanthi’s complete healing form cancer, and the cataract surgery to be scheduled and to go well this time
  5. Wisdom for our children and their decisions, approval of the petition for Prashanth and Tharshini.

 

JANUARY 2019

            I remember playing hide and seek as a child, and the one doing the seeking would count down to zero, while supposedly hiding their eyes, and then shout, “Ready or not here I come”.  That’s how I feel about the New Year I don’t know that I’m quite ready for a new one but there’s no stopping or changing the fact it’s coming, unless Jesus gets here before midnight on the 31st!  In some ways that would be preferable, but there is so much that we still want to do in Sri Lanka and the ministry work there. 
            A lot has happened in the country this past year, two changes in government, and you thought it was bad here, new laws, and inflation is really hitting the country hard.
            In ministry we’ve lost three preachers with their families, one by death and two by resignation, and one worker, as well as the ups and downs of ministry to deal with over the phone and email which is not easy and Shanthi deals with most of that.
            But regardless of governments, setbacks, and difficulties God is still on the throne!  We look forward to how we will see God at work in Sri Lanka in this New Year!
            We are so thankful that we have great prayer warriors who lift us in prayer to the Father who gives us the strength to carry on.  We also have so much faithful support financially that enables us to keep on receiving as salary, paying preachers, funding programs, building projects and some social work thrown in as well.
            We are blessed by you all and we say thank you from our hearts for all that you do for us!
            This year we may face many challenges but we see opportunities for growth and Gospel outreach as well.  And the best part is we know we have Jesus on our side and His power, grace, and strength is sufficient!
May God bless you for what you do for us and bless as you continue to labor for him where you are.
                                                Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi 

 

CONSTRUCTION AT ONTHACHIMADAM

            We are so grateful that God kept the rains at bay while construction was going on.  Though still not done the building is in the dry, windows in, plastered inside and outside, concrete floor in the church is down and wiring is done.  Even though it is unfinished they were able to hold the Christmas program in the new building which is a real praise the old building was just too small.  Now the new building seems too big but we’re confident that God is going to fill it up quickly.  Look for Christmas program picture in the newsletter.
            We’re going to put ceramic tile on the floor as we have in the other buildings looks so much nicer and easier to keep clean too.  And we’ll put in a suspended ceiling as well. With concrete floors walls and clay tile roof you get a lot of echo when sounds bounce around the inside so this helps a lot.  They may have to wait until spring to paint as the cement needs to dry thoroughly. 
            Thank you for your prayers and support that God held back the rains to get this much needed building built.

 

GROWTH OF THE CHURCHES

            Just as a reminder we have seven churches in different villages that we have started since our work began in 2000.  They have a combined average attendance of about 300 adults and youth not counting Sunday school kids or satellite Sunday schools if you add in the kids the number more than doubles. 
As of a few days ago the total number of those who accepted Christ and were baptized this past year was 69.  We are very happy to see this and praise God for what he has done.
            A couple of locations have struggled this year, Porutivu and Kurumenvely but they are still holding on.  Not many adults come and no baptisms in these locations.
            Porutivu is a strong Hindu village and our young preacher Kushiya has had lots of opposition and threats as well as the believers to stop having services but they continue and God will bless their steadfastness!
            Kurumenvely is where we lost our coworker; she simply was not doing much of anything and even falsifying her ministry reports.  Now Pushpalogini has taken it on rather than see it completely close up along with the ministry in Eruvil and she is doing a good job of restoring the work there.  They even had a Christmas program for the Sunday school children.
            Please continue to pray for these churches and the workers who faithfully labor to lead people to Christ.

CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS

            The attendance for the programs was good and as I tell our coworkers now the real work of ministry begins.  That is getting into the homes of the Sunday school kids to share Christ with their families.  Please pray for them to carry this to the next level!
            I’ve included a few pictures from several programs hope you enjoy.  Note there is a picture of the interior of the Onthachimadam church, blue tarp on the concrete floor and no paint inside but happy they got it to that point and could use it!


Koddai Kallar Youth Choir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Onthachimadam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Periya Neelavanai Nativity Scene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periya Neelavanai Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERSONAL NEWS

            Shanthi is still having chemo each week but her numbers are good so we are praising God for that. 
            On Dec. 4th she had cataract surgery but it didn’t go as planned.  After removing the cataract and lens from her eye the pressure in her eye went so high they could not get the new implant to stay in place, the doctor worked for 1 ½ hours without success.  She will have to wait for her eye to heal and then try to implant a lens again this will take about 2 months to heal.  The biggest problem is she can’t read well so isn’t able to spend as much time reading her Bible as she did and wants.

            Sowmia, our oldest daughter, is finally getting her university appointment and is supposed to start in March.  A very long delay this is all due to the government.

            Our daughter Tharsha did her Advanced level exams in August and they finally got the results, she got three passes, which is not great, but still she can qualify for some course of study in college.

            Prashanth did his Ordinary level exams in December so is done until they get the results to see if he can go on to Advanced level.  We’re still hoping he and Tharshini will be here before then!

            Still no word on Tharshini and Prashanth’s petitions other than the same overloaded system and please wait patiently, not so easy after over two years.

PRAYER CONCERNS

  1. For our coworkers to follow up with the families after the Christmas and share Christ with them.
  2. Praise for the 69 baptisms this year.  Pray they will all remain faithful.
  3. Praise for good weather which allowed most of the work to be completed at Onthachimadam.
  4. For Shanthi her chemo treatments and her eye to heal properly so they can do the implant in a month.
  5. Praise that Tharsha got good enough test results to continue her education in college.
 



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.
 


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