On December 20th, I experienced a true “appearance of God”. I’ve always believed in a God, but never knew what it meant to know God. I’ve been walking with a discipleship group of a few guys for some months now and am becoming more knowledgeable of who God is and isn’t. Before this day, I still had my struggles in attaching Jesus to God.
While I was working, almost done for the day, I got a call from my wife with a confused/excited tone in her voice. She explained to me that the parents of one of the kids she babysits gave her a Christmas card when they picked up their child. Not thinking much of it, she thanked them, and got back to the other kids she cares for. A few moments later, she decided to open the card and read it and saw there was money in the card. She said she figured it was an early payment for looking after their son. After counting it, she then realized they had made a mistake, because they had left way more than what was due for the week, $500 more! So she called the parents to let them know about the mistake or to find out if maybe they were pre-paying for a few extra weeks. To her surprise, they told her there was no mistake and that the extra money was her Christmas bonus for taking great care of their son everyday! She told me how this was a huge blessing and she was very appreciative that they would do this.
For a few hours, I pondered why anyone would do such a generous thing. Especially with Christmas just a few days away. Surely they could use it for their family... right? Once I finally got home around 6:30pm, I went to my bedroom to I guess try to figure this all out. Confused and not getting anywhere, I began speaking to God. I asked him if this was Him blessing us and revealing Himself to me.
Rushing to my own conclusions, I brushed it off and said no, no, no. It’s all because my wife is so helpful and has such a huge heart for helping others. It was all because of her, and nothing I do would ever contribute to someone seeing in us a reason to do such a nice thing. JUST AS I SAID THIS TO HIM, there was a knock at the door. I went to see who could be at the door at this time. It was a neighbor from a few houses down in the neighborhood who we know. She was holding a frozen turkey in one hand and a frozen chicken in the other. She handed both to me and said "Merry Christmas" and walked away. I was stunned. We had no dinner plans that night so it was perfect timing.
Just then, I felt a strong feeling, as if God was right there looking at me saying, “Wake up, this is all me!” It couldn’t have been more clear. At that moment I realized, what more am I looking for as proof that Jesus is real and that He’s taking care of not just us, but taking care of and providing for me?
I’ve never struggled with tithing, I don’t share that to brag, but it’s an important part of our story. I started tithing with my first job in high school. No matter how tight our budget was, I knew we couldn’t out-give God. Matt struggled with this though, and so we weren’t giving regularly and when we did give, it usually was less than 10%. I don’t share that as a knock on him; again, it’s an important part of our story.
Our story actually starts about 4 ½ years ago. Our budget was beyond tight. Monthly bills put us in the hole each month. That included only necessities, and did not include expenses that weren’t monthly like oil changes, clothing, haircuts, etc. We began asking God for a specific yearly salary. Compared to what we were making, it was a huge ask. Since we were asking for something big, we decided to show God that He could trust us with the little we had and thus became regular tithers.
We continued praying for this specific amount and continued to show God that He could give it to us by being trustworthy with the little we had. Over the next year, God always provided. We didn’t get the amount we were asking for, but we never went hungry, never missed a rent payment, and always had clothes to wear. I remember looking at the budget month after month and saying, “I don’t know how this is working. We shouldn’t be able to pay these bills.” Yet we were. Fishes and loaves. Thank you, Jesus!
It was both exciting and stressful to see how God was going to provide each month. I thought that my willingness to tithe was evidence that I trusted God. I knew I had other areas to work on, but I really, really thought trust wasn’t an issue for me.
It was about a year after we had started praying for this specific number that we were asked to move out of the house we were renting. The timing was absolutely terrible- we got the notice on the same day we left the hospital with a newborn. We did as much packing as we could but it seemed to never end. Moving day came, and we had several friends and family members over to help. It felt like we were never going to finish boxing up all of our possessions. We filled the biggest moving truck you could rent 1.5 times, plus had several pick-up truck and minivan loads.
At the end of moving day, I was tired and worn out, but mostly embarrassed. Embarrassed that we had so much stuff. Embarrassed that friends and family saw it. It was our last night at the old house, and I was sleeping on a pallet on the bedroom floor. I began to pray and self-reflect.
Why do I have so much stuff? Why am I holding on to it all? What if I get rid of something and then we end up needing it; we don’t have the income to buy it again. I’m holding on to everything because we are poor. If we just made a little more, I could get rid of so much.
God, it’s been a year. Are you going to answer our prayer? We need a bigger income. Haven’t we shown you that you can trust us?
“But do you trust me?”
Whoa! There was no mistaking that voice. It was so clear. I didn’t hear it with my ears, but there was no denying it wasn’t my own voice or my own thoughts. It was direct and firm, but at the same time gentle and loving. And true. Oh, so very true. I thought I trusted God. But now I realized that I didn’t. I didn’t trust Him to provide my every need.
We got into the new house, and I started going through all my belongings. I organized things into keep, trash, or sell. The rich young ruler in the Bible was told to sell his possessions, right? And if we sold it, we could use that money to supplement our income. We were still barely skimping by, and now we had another mouth to feed. But that mouth was also a newborn, and newborns are pretty time consuming. I really didn’t have time to sell anything.
Eventually, other things got in the way of my sorting and the only things I ended up actually getting rid of was obvious trash. I kept creating excuses, some of them were legitimate, like being on bedrest with a new pregnancy and suffering from post-partum depression. But mostly, they were just excuses.
3 years passed. Three years. God still provided every single, stinking month without fail. We were always able to make our rent payment. We always had clothes to wear. We never had to beg for food. There were new jobs and small pay raises, but there were also 2 new mouths to feed. Money was still tight. We still couldn’t budget in oil changes or new clothes for growing children and definitely nothing extra. I still look back and am amazed at how God provided for another 3 years when the math still wasn’t supposed to work.
There were consequences to my disobedience, though. It’s hard to describe why or how, but having so much stuff made me feel like I was prisoner in my own home. Our house was filled with clutter. Piles of papers on the kitchen table, a mountain of fabric and craft supplies in the “crafting corner.” Homeschool books and endless school supplies in our home classroom. It was impossible to find what we needed when we needed it because we had so much stuff. It’s hard to take care of your belongings when you have a lot of belongings to take care of, so things were constantly getting broken or ruined.
Getting 4 young kids ready to go and out of the house was such a chore amongst all the clutter, so we mostly stayed at home. When we did get out of the house, I felt guilty, like I should be at home organizing, but I rarely did organize when we were at home. Inviting people into our home was most definitely not going to happen. Our marriage relationship went through its roughest period too. I was suffering from post-partum depression after Bryant was born, and I know sometimes that just happens after you have a baby, but I also know feeling like a prisoner to my things made my depression a thousand times worse.
Matt and I had countless “discussions” on how we could tame the clutter and what the best method was to get rid of all of our junk. Finding time and getting the children out of the way were our biggest obstacles. He suggested over and over that we just rent a dumpster for a day and throw stuff in without even looking. That sounded ridiculous to me. There were things we obviously did need and that didn’t seem to be good stewardship.
I was getting desperate, though. I wanted out of my prison. I was driving in my car alone, and I know exactly where I was on Shawnee Mission Parkway when I asked God, “What if we did get rid of literally everything? Would we be bad stewards of what we have? Would you really provide for us?”
“But do you trust me?”
Just like before. It was the same exact voice. Still direct and firm. Still gentle and loving. The thought was interjected into my own thoughts in such a way that it’s just not possible the voice was my own.
I lost it and the tears started flowing. For 3 years, God had been waiting for me. Waiting for me to answer his question, “Do you trust me?” He is so patient and full of grace. At any point he could have given up on me, but he didn’t.
God and I spent some time hashing out what he wanted from me and how I could show him that I do trust him. While I know I could get rid of literally everything and God would provide my needs, there are a few items that we use regularly that we’ve decided to keep. As I boxed things up, if I got stuck on whether to keep an item or get rid of it, I immediately asked God for wisdom and asked myself if I was trusting God. There have been some really hard things that I have given up, but I trust God.
So, with the 90-day challenge, we were ready and willing to listen to God and do what He said. Matt and I increased our giving; in obedience, we went from tithing on the net to tithing on the gross. We looked at our budget and made changes to give us freedom to give more. Also, because there is a good life insurance plan through his employer, we cancelled one we had carried for a long time and committed to give that total to the Lord for 3 months as well. We had started packing our stuff to trust to God, but had not actually gotten anything out of the house. So during the challenge we took the back seats out of our minivan and donated at least 4 loads to various ministries and we are still working on getting rid of more.
God has honored our obedience and our trust; On February 5th, Matt will start a new job, working for the city of Shawnee’s Parks and Recreation department and help bring kingdom to our city…. The salary is not what we had been praying for over the past 5 years, it’s more! Thank you Jesus!
We are now a few weeks into the new year and reflecting on last year as we set goals for this one. We arrived in Hungary on April 1st (no joke, we really did!) and have had a wonderful year here. We have spent approximately 6 solid months in language study. We have had an opportunity to visit and minister in a couple of villages, through translation primarily but our Hungarian is getting better and better, and this last time I (Taylor) held a few conversations on my own. We rented a house and bought a car (thank you all so much for your prayer and giving in that).
A few weeks ago, on a Sunday after church, a young Roma man came to our door. As soon as I opened the door he spilled out a great long string of words about as fast as an auctioneer at horse market. I thought "Well, here is a language test for you!" After asking him to slow down, he explained he was asking for money for bread to feed his little brother (he had to explain that fast before people just shut the door on him). I gave him some money and my blessings. As a kid, growing up in Croatia, this was an almost daily occurrence but we were a little surprised to meet someone begging door-to-door where we live in Hungary.
He came again on the following Sunday and has every Sunday since then, about 4 or 5 times. He's a nice guy, a few years younger than me, named Mózes (Moses). Not married, but takes care of his mother and brother. He asked me if I had some shoes he could have, because his were no good. I laughed and said no, knowing full well this tiny guy isn't going to fit into my size 13 shoes. You can't even buy that size here, you have to go to a specialty shop in the capital! He asked again and again for my shoes and when I gave him one to try, his eyes got really wide and he said "maybe something smaller?". I'm going to try to get some shoes for him for the next time he comes, and hopefully continue to build this friendship! Please pray for this guy. Each time we have a small conversation and I'm really enjoying finally being able to use Hungarian on my own a bit, and Mózes is patient enough in talking. Pray for his heart as I love him as Christ loves him. He lives nearby, and this may open more doors for us to minister to the local Roma community.
I want to write on our finances entering the new year, as we do need prayer here as well. I'll quickly give you the numbers so you can get a picture of our needs going forward. We raised about 80% of our needed monthly income before we left. Since then several of our supporters, whether through personal crisis or job losses, have had to stop supporting us. In addition we saw the exchange rate value of the dollar plummet over the summer, meaning some months (including this one) we are seeing as much as a 14% loss in our monthly income.
Our target for support is 4,000/month. Currently our support level is about 2,800 per month. So please pray for us as we continue to raise funds from here. Whether it is through supporters increasing their giving, or by finding new supporters to join us to raise that additional 40%, we do need to see the funds come in. We wanted to ask you to personally to pray if God would enable you to start giving, increase your giving or share our work with others who may join us! Feel free to write to me, I can answer any questions!
As we celebrated Advent and rang in the New Year (ok full disclosure, we fell asleep on the couch at 11:00PM) there was a definite realization- 2018 will be our first full calendar year away from the USA. We look back fondly and remember all of you, our friends who sent us off with your blessings and prayers. We miss you all and miss the States, but it is with a real sense of adventure and excitement as we look forward to God will bring us this year. May this be a year of great growth in the Lord for all of us, and may our work here bring sweet, sweet fruit for the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Also, if you somehow missed it, click here for the quarterly magazine put out by our organization, RBU!
The Lord bless and keep you,
Here are some more pictures from our UNA Clubs and other outreaches:
Mwashibukeni bonse (Good morning everyone),
Ready or not, students will be here on Monday!! This morning is the first day of teacher meetings for this term. We were pleasantly surprised to find out on Sunday that schools will be able to open earlier than expected, on January 22nd. Apparently the number of cholera cases has been static, so the government deemed it ok to open schools. So, here begins my first official job as School Coordinator...leading the teacher meetings. Please pray for us as we begin this school year, and begin to slowly change things at the school. We need God's constant guidance to do HIS work.
Thank you for praying,
Hello prayer friends,
We want to update you about our 6 brothers in prison for their faith since the 20th of Dec. 2017, until today. At first I was told 5, but now it is 6 in total.
Our leader, S-L*, is one of the six in prison. Our team went to visit his wife recently. S-L's* wife was asked by the police to give 16,000 baht (500 USD) per person in order for all 6 to be released from prison. For S-L*, himself, the police charged him of distributing 15 radios to the people to listen to the FEBC Khmu program. The police asked S-L's* wife to go and collect those 15 radios back and bring to the police. S-L* did admit that he did distribute to various churches. I told them to take radios that we left at our house church in Vientiane to give to the police. I told the team to not take it from those who got it from S-L*. We do not want the people who got the radios to be discouraged by the police taking away the radios.
On Jan. 22, 4 of our key leaders went to meet all the wives, fathers, brother, and sisters of those 6 in prison. They encouraged them, showed love, and care. They had a good meal together and brought some gifts to encourage them. Our team reported back that it was a good time, and they were encouraged and saw that our team cares for them, and the 6 in prison.
Please continue to pray for this situation. Will pass along any updates as I get them.
*Name and location have been changed for their protection.
Dear prayer friends in the Lord,
We hope you have a wonderful New Year in 2018!
Please hold up 5 brothers in Christ, who have been arrested on December 30th. They are currently in prison. They were holding a Christmas celebration party. The village just had believers who accept Christ in June, 2017. They were led to Christ by one of our key leaders. These new Christians belong to the H* people group, but oversee by the K* leader.
The recent update we got (Jan. 3rd, 2018) follows these points below:
1. The authorities charged them that they did not get official permission from the village authority to hold a Christmas celebration.
2. One of the H* man showed a Jesus Film on a projector to the whole village, and started to evangelize and witness to the people in public. He also asked people to accept Jesus publicly which is something that is not permissible.
3. Our leader was invited to speak at this Christmas party, and the authorities decided to arrest him also. His wife also attended but she did not get arrested also. It was not our leaders' plan to have Christmas celebration in this village, but he does help oversee the believers in this village.
Right now, we do not clearly know what is going on for sure, and no one was able to meet those 5 people in prison. The thing we know for sure is that the police charged them 2,500,000 kip (10,000 baht) for 4 trucks that those 4 H* leaders brought to the village without permission. Now their wives have to get food for their husbands. Please pray for this situation and will update along the way.
*Name and location have been changed for their protection.
Happy New Year, everyone!
This is a greeting that I still hear quite often, and is usually mixed with the classic Zambian follow-up of, “What did you bring me?” To which I reply, “A smile.” If someone hasn’t seen you since New Year it’s still appropriate, and even required, to greet them by saying Happy New Year. I’ve found that Zambians keep track of who they’ve greeted each day, and with what greeting (there are like 20) so that they can move to the next one when they see you again. Needless to say, greetings are very important. If you don’t greet someone here it’s like a slap in face.
My holiday month was filled with traveling and visiting, but also provided ample time to relax. I was able to spend some quiet time at my flat, host a few student visitors, help facilitate a Christmas program for orphans in Saikolo Village in Kasama, take a day trip to Cishimba Falls, visit a South African missionary family living in Mbala for Christmas, visit a friend from discipleship in Kabwe for New Years before she heads back to Germany, take a ride on my friend’s speedboat, and clean out my new school office. I’m very thankful that my time here has allowed me to make friends that I can visit and spend free time with.
On New Year’s Eve, after my friend and I decided to jump in the pool at 1:00am, we stayed up for a while talking about the year we’ve had in Zambia. We both agreed that we were immensely blessed to have experienced all that we have, and to have felt God’s call in such a clear way. She then challenged me to think of a word to hold onto for 2018. The word “hope” came to my mind right away. I know that this year God wants ALL of my hope to be in Him. Not in what I may be able to accomplish or what I may think will happen in the future. There are some things that God is asking me to let go of so that He can replace them with the simple, yet triumphant hope that I have in Jesus. “And now, O Lord, for what do wait? My hope is in you” Psalms 39:7. My future and what it brings is whatever God wills, and all I have to do is look to Him and follow. I don’t have to wait for anything, I already have Jesus.
And now, I will have much more time than anticipated to meditate on this truth, because schools have been required to stay closed until after January 30th due to an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka. The outbreak has been quite serious. The police and military have been cleaning major cities, even using teargas to clear out some outdoor markets so that they can be torn down. Just yesterday there was a mandatory cleaning day in Mpulungu where all business were closed and required to clean. All the teachers came in to clean, so our school now has the comforting scent of bleach at every turn. There have been reported cases of cholera in some cities close to Lusaka, but it hasn’t reached the lake…Please pray that the outbreak will be contained!
Even though schools are closed, my work as a school leader has begun. I was tasked with organizing the school cleaning day as well as informing the teachers of what grades they will teach this year. I’ve also had to help with the hiring and letting-go of some teachers…Something I never thought would be my job. Through this I’ve already noticed that communication is a big issue at the school. Even though we have roles and responsibilities there are still a lot of things that require a person to just notice that it needs to get done (or that it isn’t right), and to take initiative in doing the job. When I reflect on my experiences as U.S. school I think, “Man, they are so far ahead and function like well-oiled machines.” There’s a lot of work to do here, not only academically but also in ensuing that our school really is a Christ-centered school. The other teachers and I desperately need God’s grace to do the work He has given us.
Please also pray…
-for our school kids. They now have to spend more time in the villages where they don’t always receive proper care or consistent meals.
-for a new fielder.
-that we would have more people called to serve at the lake. Two of our missionaries from Trinidad are leaving after this year, and we are already in need of people as it is.
-for me as I transition into a leader at the school. School hasn’t even started and I’ve already experienced how much can fall through the cracks, and how difficult communication can be amongst the team. I need Godly wisdom.
-for the leaders and teachers of the school during this extended holiday, that we would make the best use of time and continue to glorify God through whatever we do.
In five days it will have been a year since I left home. Feels like a dream to think back to life before Zambia. Thank you SO much for your support through all the ups and downs during this first year of ministry at the lake. I’m so grateful to have supporters and prayer warriors like you!
Since we started the Khmu ministry in 1987, both the radio broadcast and ground work, the Khmu have encountered series of heavy persecution until today. Thank God that He is faithful, powerful, He never forgets and fails His children throughout the 30 years in the Khmu ministry. The total Khmu Christian in Laos were about 6,000 when the Communist regime took over. Many churches were destroyed and Christians imprisoned. Now there are more than 60,000 Khmu Christian in Laos, and more than 300 house churches/churches in 12 provinces! This indicates that God is at work, and may He get all the glory!
From January to December 2017:
1. We have received 2,013 letters from our listeners.
2. There have been about 2,093 people, who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ through the ministry of pastors, evangelists, messages in the USB sticks, FEBC Khmu program, and MP4 speaker’s radios with storage, Inside Seminars, Medical missions, and the work of our team inside Laos. These include other tribal groups that the Khmu are reaching out.
3. There are about 692 people that have been baptized.
4. There have been 22 new house churches being established, including other people groups.
5. We have set up 5 border seminars, a total of 587 people that attended and one more on December 26, 2017. About 90 people will attend. A Total of 677 people.
6. We have distributed about 270 MP4 speaker radios. They are very much in demand.
7. We have distributed 1,560 radios, and 4,430 batteries to pastors, and evangelists at the border seminar to give to their churches/house churches members.
8. We have distributed 493 Laos Bible and 112 Thai Bible to our young people at the youth camp.
9. We have distributed more than 16,000 Bible lessons, and circulated letters written by S* with 7 titles. We give to the leaders at the seminars. They take them back to their home churches to distribute to their church members, and various churches/house churches.
10. We have set up 96 inside seminars in 11 provinces with 8,529 people that have attended. This includes other people groups that have attended: Laotian, Lao Lue, Iumien, Prai, Hmong, Hakha,Bru, most of them are Khmu. We have 73 people in our team, who have graduated from Bible school both in Thailand and inside Laos, who are doing this kind of work for us.
1. Please pray for the 7 families who will be planning to move to a new village. Pray that all things will go smoothly without any problems with the authorities.
2. Pray for the health of K* and me. I plan to see doctor for surgery in January, 2018.
3. We will plan to have 6 students come to study the Bible with me in the beginning of 2018. We plan for them to stay for 1 month, and then study a couple months in Laos with our leaders. We pray this will work out.
4. Pray for our medical mission’s trip that will start on February 9th-15th of 2018.
5. Please pray for our team, especially during December to early January, 2018. They are as busy as they are preaching at many Christmas celebrations all over the country. Pray for safe travels, wisdom, and power from the Holy Spirit.
6. Pray for urban outreach, especially in the city of Vientiane at Thongpong house church. This year they invited 326 people from various business factories in the city to attend the church. 79 people accepted Jesus Christ, and 21 people baptized.
7. Pray for the ongoing persecution cases. Pray that all will stand firm in their faith.
8. Pray for our ongoing financial support. For those who intend to support FEBC International’s Khmu radio ministry, please send your contributions to the FEBCanada office in Richmond, British Columbia.
In the love of Jesus Christ our Lord,
S* & K*
*Name and location have been changed for their protection.
I hope this letter finds you full of joy and expectation in the middle of the wonderful advent season. Our daughter, Margot, is finally old enough to really enjoy and understand all of the traditions and events in Christmas. We celebrated St. Nicholas Day (or Szent Mikulas here in Hungary), light our Advent Wreath, and sing songs together. For us this has been a very special season for so, so many reasons.
These past two months I feel like I must have accidentally signed up for some kind of upgrade. God has poured physical blessings out on some of our needs here. We really needed a bigger home, so we were praying next year we would find one. One whirlwind October later, we are in a new home. We needed a bigger car- preferably a van for both family and ministry. One incredible fundraiser later, we have purchased a van. All thanks to the unprecedented kind generosity of the members of our supporting churches in St. Louis.
Our hearts are full this Advent season. Not only with the joy of decorating our new home in Hungary, but also with the blessed joy of seeing your work in ministry begin to bear fruit in two ways:
1. Our weeks are still full of language study. When we're not studying I'm either creating the children's Bible material or helping teammates with various jobs. As you remember from our last prayer letter, our teammates took my material down to Southern Serbia to host the first major children's outreach in the city of Bor. The outreach was a really great success! There was lots of interest, many children attended the Bible groups and it has sprouted a lot of interest in that region. We have now monthly Bible studies set up there.
The stories that came back from the time really moved us. There was a boy who was about 12-13. Definitely older than our usual kids that come to the Bible Clubs. He was given my coloring book and later that night they found him sitting under a street light, sounding out the words in the Lords prayer. Even as old as he was, the Roma in the area are so impoverished they often do not even learn to read. Another young boy came to the events and so enjoyed himself. The morning after the festivities had ended, this boy came to one of our local teammates there and asked for help getting a bus pass so he could attend school. His parents were so surprised because previously he had insisted on not going to school and his parents did not care to send him. Already the material I am making here is changing hearts, reaching children, getting them interested in a God who loves them and planting a desire in them to learn and grow. Seeing all this happen has really blessed us. It is with thanksgiving I praise God for using us in such a real and life-changing way.
2. Back in Pécs our outreach is still in the early stages. Every Friday, I have begun day-long village visits with one teammate, giving me about 6-7 hours total Hungarian language immersion. As you can imagine my brain is fried at the end of these linguistic marathons. I learn a lot and I'm pleased to be able to communicate some, but I can tell it's going to be a lifetime of learning. These visits have been a really good experience for me. Just getting out and experiencing village life again, interacting, making friends and praying for the people. Now that we have our own van, we are going to be visiting this village very regularly as a family!
There is so much to pray about, both for us and with us. Pray that the children's work would continue to grow and bear fruit.
Pray that our language study would continue to go well as it goes up and down in discouraging "hills". The grammar is a monster.
Pray that the local outreach grows and continues to formulate into something that can really bear fruit. So far we have been met with interest and acceptance and I hope it is the beginnings of a pleasing work here for the Lord.
The Lord bless and keep you,
-Taylor & Helen Moineau
Hello Prayer Fam,
It has very suddenly become rainy season -a.k.a. frizzy hair/flooded veranda season- here in Zambia. This means that it’s not only very hot, but also very humid (at least 75% most days).
It feels weird to say that the school year has officially come to a close…didn’t It just start?! We ended the year with a program for the students and their guardians where each class presented a song and dance. We also had a nativity play, academic and character prizes, a parents vs. teachers netball game, and lots of delicious food. It was a sweet celebration to end the year on, and makes me excited for the year to come.
Now that the work has slowed down, I love getting to look back on this year and remember how God has equipped and provided for the Lake T team, the school, and me. I began the school year trailed by self-doubt. Why would God call me here? How can I teach these kids when they don’t understand me? I have no idea what I’m doing. And even though I still kind of feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, God has proven over and over again that He knows exactly what He’s doing. And there is seriously great comfort in knowing that. He brought me up from a place of surrendering my own inadequacies to being confident in His promise to work through me. He even placed me in a leadership role, can you believe that?!
This year has also taught me a lot about culture. It’s so much more than food, language, and a dress code. There are many cultural intricacies engrained into the mindset of people (especially up at the lake where life is much more traditional than in bigger cities) that affect every day interactions and decisions. There are positives and negatives to every culture, and I’m learning to appreciate all the good things in the midst of new challenges. For example, when people say that relational and task-oriented cultures function differently, they aren’t kidding. When I was preparing for missions I always heard, “the culture is different there so it’ll take time to get used to things.” This is very true, but takes on a whole different light when you’re actually living daily life in a foreign culture. It makes me very grateful that the Gospel is always relevant, and can break down barriers that I wouldn’t be able to touch on my own.
Over the holiday month I’ll have more time to process everything I’ve learned as well as thank God for everything He’s done in me and around me this year. I encourage you also to think about what God has done in your life this past year, and rejoice in His love and provision.
I expect that some of my students will be visiting me over the holiday month as well. Some of the boys like to come over to play games and football, all while listening to Christmas music. But, I want the times that they visit me to be more than just fun and games; I want them to know Jesus. Pray with me that when they’re coming to my house they will really be coming closer to the Kingdom of God, and that they will have a genuine desire to know Jesus. Also pray that God would prompt the ones who need to come to me to actually come. The kids here aren’t used to just going and visiting their teachers unannounced (especially over holiday), so ask God to lead them to my door.
Please also pray…
-that God would give wisdom as I transition into becoming a school leader. There are a lot of cultural differences that will make it difficult, so pray that God would go before me and continue to prepare the way.
-that our team would have a new field leader soon. One that has a heart for Lake T and a pure motivation for taking on the role.
-that God would renew our team over the break and draw us closer to Himself.
-and again, that God would bless my time with students over the holiday month. Pray that God would truly be glorified.
Thanks so much for being a part of this year with me. I can’t believe it’s almost over, and I’m so blessed to have your support and prayers. Sometimes I pause and think, “I couldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the generosity of God’s people.” Know that He is using you in mighty ways here in Zambia and in my own heart.
Have a truly blessed Christmas,
P.S. If you speak Bemba in front of a crowd of students and guardians they will still laugh at you even if you say everything correctly.
Hi Church family,
One of the areas we partner with our community is through Project H.O.M.E. This is a program through the Shawnee Mission School District that partners with Shawnee Mission families that are in need. Here's a recap of the impact you're making.
It was great celebrating with you all last Thursday as we recapped this semester. You all have been hard at work supporting Shawnee Mission families in need and your work is paying off! Here are some of the stats we have for Fall 2017.
- 10 families HOUSED!! (Breaks down to 23 students and 12 adults).
- 18 families prevented from losing housing (31 students and 18 adults).
- 47 total families served (including housed and prevented) through Project Home!!! Services include:
- financial assistance
- referrals & resource information
- food bags, hygiene products & clothing given at PH events
- $23,708 has been donated towards these families! Financial services include:
- rental assistance
- deposit assistance
- debt (past evictions/ utility bills) assistance
- housing application fees
- food/ clothing vouchers
- car repair/ parts
*Not included in the total financial number is the 2006 Kia Sedona that was donated to one of our Project Home families!
- 100% (40 of the 47 who attended Project Home completed an exit survey) answered YES to question one " Did you find attending Project Home beneficial today?" Some survey responses include
"Didn't know there were people and programs out here that are
willing to help and go out of their way to care. I am so happy.
I see a light at the end of the road"
"Very, the guys are amazing the things we talked
about were great :) attended last year & the process
of this is perfect. I love this program, maybe one day
I can volunteer and work with you guys"
"Even though I have many services all in place, it was still
incredibly helpful. I was able to speak w/ CC to learn
about more services"
"Life is so much easier today after meeting with those who
care and are willing to support families in need"
We cannot thank you all enough for all that you do for Project Home. Each of you have truly impacted the lives of these families and have given them hope for their future!
Your friends at Project Home
Hi New City Family!
Here's an update from our missionaries in Central Europe, Taylor and Helen Moineau, that we shared with you at our Turkey Drop Sunday Service.
It’s mango season here. Most mornings I walk to the base and start my day by accidentally hitting my head on the mangoes that hang down from the tree. It’s also the hottest time of year. By the time class starts at 7:30am I’m already sweating, and when I go to bed at night I’m usually still sweating. It’s funny, I was in Kabwe this past week for training and everyone complained about how hot it was, while I was wearing jeans, because it was so much cooler there than Mpulungu.
The training I attended was called the Channels of Hope Facilitator’s Training through AidsLink Ministries. AidsLink is a national organization that works alongside Operation Mobilization to go into communities to eradicate stigma around HIV, provide basic and practical knowledge, and bring the hope that we have in Christ to people living with and affected by HIV. The purpose of this training was to receive practical knowledge of HIV, learn how to facilitate workshops, and challenge our views on HIV related topics so that we would all walk away with a Biblical perspective of how to respond to this epidemic. It was a great training!! I found out that there was a lot that I didn’t know and had my conservative Western views confronted. I walked away from the experience realizing all over again, that as the church we need to respond to people the way that Jesus responded to them; without judgment and with compassion. Basically, how can we love people better, and how can we take initiative in responding to this problem that affects so many in our communities?
When I was asked to reflect on what OM Lake T is already doing, I realized that we’re responding to the problems that HIV creates, but not getting to the root of the problem. We have an orphan school…most of the orphans being orphaned because of HIV, but are we actually doing anything to prevent the spread of the virus? So, now the task becomes figuring out how to take this knowledge and conviction and do something with it. My plan is start with ensuring that the HIV+ students at our school are receiving support and care, and then possibly branch out to lead workshops with the Self-Help Groups that are already in place through the ministry.
Orphans aren’t the only vulnerable children that we work with. We now have a young boy from Nsumbu village staying on base with us because his father wasn’t taking care of him, he wasn’t going to school while in the village, and his mother (living in Mpulungu) said she would poison him if he stayed with her. I thought you’d love to know that the cost of his food is being taken care of by extra support that I have from YOU!! He’s one of my grade 4 students so I’m very happy to have him back in class and well taken care of.
My classes at the school are going quite well. It’s always nice to come back from time away in Kabwe or Lusaka and be greeted by the kids with big smiles saying, “Teacha Selah! Teacha Selah you’re back!” My English classes, although still tough, have been fun and are usually my favorite part of the day. I’ve also got some young readers on my hands!! The kids in my small groups who don’t speak any English and have been stuck on letters for a long time, are finally able to read a few simple words and sentences. As a teacher, it’s always immensely helpful to see some sort of progress, even if it’s small. I get so excited about the thought of kids becoming readers. Reading can open up so many opportunities for their future. Not only that, but they’ll be able to start reading scripture, which will help them comprehend it in a new way. I want these kids to have God’s Word available to them in every way.
Remember in my last email when I said that we are going to be experiencing some leadership changes and have been trying to refocus on our vision? Well, change has come and is still coming. Our field leader has officially stepped down. He’s been on leave since April so that he could focus on the ministry that he actually wants to be doing. So, he’ll still be on our team with OM, but we are looking for a new field leader (and MANY other workers for various vacancies on our team).
Change is also coming to the school. Nothing specific has been said, but I feel it coming. We are in great need of renewed vision at the school. I’ve spent a lot of time observing how things are done here and building relationships, and now I (and a few other team members) feel that it’s time to step up, take initiative, and make some changes. Some changes would be more practical, but overall, I have this vision that the school would be a worthwhile ministry where the students are being discipled and actually receive a high quality education. This means that I may need to rethink how I’m currently serving. I would possibly do more coaching and training with the teachers.
If I’m out of the classroom and doing more professional development and mentoring this could also open up the opportunity for me to spend more time in the villages to coach and train the teachers there. I was able to visit Eggy, the Chipwa teacher, but wasn’t given enough time with him. Ideally, I would spend a few days in the village with a focus on modeling lessons and lesson feedback. Doing this could get complicated though. I would have to arrange transport, food, and places to stay in each village, but I would love to go!!
A verse that has been comforting and yet challenging to me through all this change and decision making is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse gives a good picture of what it looks like to love Jesus. This is what he requires from us. Through the opportunities and challenges how can I do justice, love kindness, and walk with God? I find myself asking this question a lot.
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for…THE BARRELS HAVE ARRIVED!! Y’all, I can’t even express my gratitude and excitement to you. I’m drowning in chocolate, toys, and books. This is the best kind of mail i've ever received. Continue to pray that the blessings in the barrels would be used well and would bring joy and light to the kids. It’s actually an interesting story…I’d been messaging the AmeZam people like nobody’s business trying to make all the arrangements for the stuff to get to the lake. Turns out, it was going to be kind of pricey to get the stuff to Mpulungu. Then, Ivy (missionary from Taiwan) messaged one of the Chinese guys (only she can communicate with them because she speaks Chinese), and it turns out that when the barrels arrived he was in Lusaka and could bring 2 of them up to the lake. This cut the price of getting the other 2 up to the lake in half. On top of that, they arrived the day that a bunch of our disciples were around so they could help carry the tubs to my house. One of them carried the whole tub of books on his head by himself…It was probably to most Zambian thing I’ve ever seen.
I’ve already had some of the grade 4 & 5 kids come over to my house to play with all the toys. They had a blast!!
-for the school planning meeting next week. This is the meeting where we’ll be making a lot of decisions that will affect next year.
-for our search for a new field leader and other staff. Pray that God would provide the right team and leadership for this field.
-for Ivy’s permit. She was able to get a 3-month extension, but still has to see if immigration will approve her 2-year permit.
-that we would take every opportunity to share the Gospel.
PRAISE-My work permit was approved!!
Thank you all SO much for you continued support. I hope you know what difference you all are making in Zambia.
Mushale Bwino (stay well),
Hello praying friends,
We got a report from our key leaders. They told me that all of 7 of the families are firm in their faith, since they all have been released from prison.
The authorities have strictly forbid them to not practice their faith at all, and even not allow them to pray for their meals. Here are some points:
1. They cannot go outside of the village together to pray or worship at their rice field. The authorities are keeping watch over them closely every moment. If they find out that the Christians do the things they do, then they will be arrested immediately again.
2. They have been planning to go to the church thats is in the city. The only problem is that only 2 families are allowed to go at the same time. Not all 7 families can go because of the situation, and its very far also. Almost 50 KM away.
3. The families can leave the village anytime. The authorities will give them the paper to transfer to the new village. This will cost a lot of money for the 7 families. From moving cost, purchase land to build the house, land for farming, and transfer schools for their children, and among other things.
Please pray for the families and what decision that they will take to solve this problem. They need wisdom from the Lord.
Muli shani bonse (How is everyone),
Natotela saana mukwai (thank you very much)!! I have officially received all the barrels and boxes that were sent to Zambia. The process of getting them all to Mpulungu was fairly smooth, although it took a lot of communication and coordinating. Thankfully, we have a friend who works at the bus station who was able to call me when buses arrived so that I wouldn’t have to wait at the station for hours. Buses usually arrive in Mpulungu around 8:30PM, but the night I went to collect my barrel it was more like 10:30PM…and there was only one!! The bus conductor assured me that the other one would be on the bus the next day. He even described what the barrel looked like to reassure me. And sure enough, at 10:00PM the following day I collected the final barrel.
The kids have already come over to my house to play games and do puzzles, enjoyed the toys during school break times, used the art supplies in class, and have had epic soccer games. The kids get REALLY into soccer games here. They get very passionate and argue and always want to play, so another teacher and I have decided that soccer is a very “emotional” sport.
Seriously though, thank you for how you provided for the school, these kids, and me. It’s a clear picture of how Christ unifies His body, and the church in Acts….No one was in need because they all gave what they had.
On another note, we had a 2-hour planning meeting concerning next school year. It turns out that our current head teacher will be heading back into the classroom so that he can begin a distance learning program to earn his diploma. So…I’ll now be co-leading the school with another teacher. This will include: teaching English to grades 4&5, coaching teachers one-on-one in the classroom, leading teacher training sessions every week (hopefully), and visiting the villages much more often. I’ll also be developing a character trait program that will be used in conjunction with our assemblies and student devotion times (REALLY excited about this!!). The other lead teacher will handle a lot of administration details, guardian relations (she’s Zambian so she can communicate with them much more easily), and will be teaching grade 2.
Stepping into a leadership role so quickly is something that I didn’t expect, but at the same time is something God had already put on my heart and prepared me for. I remember going through the leadership sessions back in discipleship and feeling like God was telling me that I better get ready to step up and take initiative. Taking initiative is not my strong point, but something I’m excited to grow into. Clearly, God is guiding this whole process.
We’ve also decided that we will no longer have grade 7 at our school, and six teachers who were with us this year are leaving, or will be asked to leave. There are still three teachers remaining who are not OM missionaries. Two of them are Jehovah’s Witnesses so another teacher and I will lead devotions for their classes, and they will not be leading any after school programs. It’s not ideal to have teachers who aren’t Jesus Followers at a Christ-centered school, but until we can find teachers who are committed to Christ and the school, we hope that they will see the light in us and that seeds of truth will be planted in their hearts.
It was really a great meeting. We all want the Good News II Orphan School to be a model school in the community. We are all passionate about developing the students holistically, and ensuring that we are making the best use of our gifts, resources, and opportunities.
* Please continue to pray that the items in the barrels would be a blessing to the teachers and students, and that we will follow God’s guidance as we prepare for a new school year. I’ll be going into “uncharted territory” as a school leader, so please pray for wisdom, initiative, and God’s grace as I go from here.
Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith “We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
The past 24 years in Thailand we have seen many Christians that have gone through hardships in their lives because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Some have died in prison, sentenced to prison for many years, kidnapped, evicted from their villages, disowned by their parents, and forced to renounce their faith. Presently, the Government has written, and issued a new law that restricts Christian activity. For example, if anyone is invited to go and conduct a wedding, dedicate a new house, conduct a funeral, or preach at another church, they have to get a letter from the head of the village to approve the trip, otherwise they cannot go. To get a letter from the head of the village to conduct religious activities is nearly impossible.
This new law gives more power to the head of the village, whom the majority of them despise the Christians in their villages. Almost all of them are Communist party members, and none are Christians. All of them are taught to hate Christians, and keep watch on their people in the village to not become Christians. Now the Christians, in general, have a very difficult time to do ministry activities from evangelism, church-planting, follow-up, visitation, and other Christian related activities.
The government officials are promoting this new law by calling all Christian leaders, from provincial to the district level to meet and discuss. Christian leaders have expressed that they are very concerned about their right of religious freedom. Many Christian leaders have called me, and voiced their concern with the new law.
Letters from Listeners
Today, there are many uses of media to reach out to the millions of people for them to hear the Good news of Jesus Christ effectively. It is great but we cannot forget the essential root of success depends on the life of the person who produces the content of the message. The content of the message itself is the key point that brings the good result. Many people only know about God, and the people that they working with but might not know Him personally. That is why the messages are not relevant in their daily life that they are facing. “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbubel: ‘Not by might not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) We based on God’s Word more than any other thing! “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing, the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63) Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life.”(John 6:68)
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32) The people need God words more than anything, which can build them up and give them an inheritance.
My daily joy is to wake up early in the morning, and read 8 chapters of my Bible per day. Then have a long prayer, and sit in the studio to record 2 30-minutes programs daily that teaches my people the Word of God. Then write Bible lessons, answer letters from the listeners, and receiving phone calls from the listerns. Many ask me to pray for them and often ask help in many areas. I try to help as much as God enables me to help. Most of the help comes from health problems, kid’s education, persecution, visitation, evangelism, and expanding house-churches.
One key evangelism tool that is very fruitful is the speaker radio that has an 8 gigabyte storage, with over 300 messages. This speaker radio is playing a key role in spreading the Gospel, and more convenient for people to carry around for people to listen. Many people have used this tool to witness to many villages. 5 new house churches were started because of this! A young man, accepted Christ from listening to speaker radio. Now he is on fire for the Lord, and has led many people to Jesus. A church was recently planted at a banana plantation. 25 members of this church plan to be baptized later this year at a main church near them. They asked me for 60 USD budget for their travel cost. This year, more than 500 people have being baptized. Is this not wonderful news?
"Dear X* whom I love, I often go with my husband when he evangelizes, and visits various churches/house churches in our area. We listen to your program together with many Christians in each village. Your messages are so good, and touched our hearts a lot. Some have asked us how, and where we can get radios? Some give money to us, and some do not have money but they give chicken, and ducks so we can order radios for them. We then provide the radios for them, and they are so happy. We are excited that they love the program. The program will help them grow spiritually.” Pastor S* and his wife have been able to start many house churches this year.
“Dear Brother whom I love. I listen to your messages daily. It challenges me to be faithful to God as Daniel and his 3 friends faced. The message on Daniel touched my heart, and my eyes were in tears. I felt sorry that one of my daughters is not really following Jesus as she should. Please pray for her!” K*
"Dear teacher X* whom I love in Christ! I am currently a student. I am so impressed on the message series on “God’s love even though we are sinners” that was from November 25th-27th, 2016. It inspired me to love other people. I am so excited to hear God’s Word through this program. I want to give this offering of 30,000 kip ($3.75 USD) to support this program to be able to continue. May God bless you!" From P*
From January to September 2017
1. We have received 1,420 letters from our listeners
2. There are about 1,630 people, who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ through the ministries of the pastors, evangelists, messages in USB, program, speaker radio with storage, inside seminars, KCC team members work, medical Mission. This includes other tribal groups that we are reaching out.
3. There have been 521 people baptized
4. There have been 19 new house churches being established
5. We have set up 4 border seminars. A total of 487 people attended
6. We have distributed about 270 speaker radios. They are in much demand
7. We have distributed 383 Lao Bibles, and 112 Thai Bibles to our young people at the youth camp
8. We have distributed more than 12,300 Bible lessons and circulated letters with 5 titles. They are given at the border seminar, and sent to various leaders, house church leaders and young people
9. We have setup 61 inside seminars in various villages, and provinces. 5,681 people have attended. This includes other tribal groups that have attended also.
1. Please pray for the Christiana in the village. Pray that they will get strength from God to stand firm in their faith despite the confusion. For their families who do not understand the situation clearly but know that following the Lord is a sacrifice of many things.
2. Pray for K* and me, especially for our health.
3. Pray for our Bible school students. 3 have went back to Laos. 6 are currently still studying and waiting for their 1-year visas.
4. Pray for our planning to have a rotational school, 2 year course, both inside Laos and in Thailand. I will get to be involved in teaching more students. Pray that God will bless and guide us in this plan.
5. Pray 2 more seminars planning to happen this year. One November, and December. We hope to have at least 200 pastors, evangelists, and elders that will come.
6. Pray for KCC team, especially for the new law that the government has issued. We pray that it will not be a big hindrance for our team to do the inside seminar, evangelism, church planting, visitation and follow-up with the ministry.
7. Pray for the needs of expanding new house churches. There are many places that have been asking us to help them find some funds for this project.
8. We have radios to distribute to the people but we need wisdom to distribute them wisely, and to the right hands for effectiveness.
9. Pray for financial support, and if there is anyone intending to contribute to the radio broadcast.
This comes with love from us all. God bless you as you continue to support the ministry!
In the love of Jesus Christ our Lord,
*Name and location have been changed for their protection.
“…produce fruit that proves your repentance.”
How would you respond if they next time you showed up church the pastor said, “Prove it!” Prove that you believe by the way you live.” In essence this is what John the Baptist did. His statement wasn't seeker sensitive!
Here’s some context. In this passage John the Baptist is receiving people who are publicly confessing their sins and then going into the water to be baptized (publicly washed). This act of being baptized was their way of letting God, their family, and their neighbors know that they were no longer going to continue living / acting / thinking in a specific way. They were being baptized to repent, or turning from, a specific lifestyle and turning towards God and his way of doing life.
As John is baptizing he looks up and he sees the religious elite. Some serious church folk have come to see his ministry. How does he welcome them? “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones!”
You probably wouldn’t want to put John the Baptist over your First Impressions Ministry. But, I really like John the Baptist. He’s my type of guy.
Why do us church people think our behavior doesn’t matter? John the Baptist might say to us, "You say your a Christian, prove it! Be the salt. Be the light.”
I’m not preaching a “Saved by Works” type of Gospel. I’m preaching a “I’m Saved So I Do What Jesus Said” type of Gospel. Seriously, you say you're saved. You say you confess Jesus as you Savior and Lord. Great, may we all “produce fruit that proves our repentance.”
Pastor Matt, you’re being too hard. Nope! I’m pointing you to the bar set by Jesus. Let me give you just two quotes from our Leader:
- “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” - Jesus, John 14:15
- “My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.” - Jesus, John 15:8
Just take those two quotes and ask, “What is Jesus saying to me?”
May we be a people who live for Jesus. May we be a people who produce fruit. May we be a people who loves Jesus. When we live like this we honor God! How great is that?
X* persecution on October, 2, 2017
X* is 37 years old. He has 5 children. One child is crippled.
In 2012, he took his family to live in a different village, where he accepted Christ. In 2016, he went back to his village. In the District, the authorities are very strict with anyone accepting Jesus. Whoever is a Christian in this area is not able to stay, since they are heavily persecuted by the authorities. Despite X* knowing about this problem, he kept a low-profile, and kept listening to Khmu FEB program alone.
Until one day, a woman in the village was very ill. X* went to secretly pray for her. She had been killing many pigs, which the witch doctor told her to do because the spirits demand it for her healing. Yet, it was hopeless and she was not cured. Then all of the sudden she was miraculously healed. The people in the village were puzzled. They asked her how she was healed. She replied, “X* told me about Jesus. Then he also prayed for me, and I got healed.”
Then many people came to X*, and asked him about Jesus. He told them about Jesus, and then later asked if they want to accept Jesus Christ. X* then took some of the families to meet the leaders in the church in the city to accept Jesus. (The church is the main church in the city that has much influence to the surrounding churches in the province). All 8 families accepted, 38 people in total. When the village head man and authorities heard of this, they started persecuting them.
The Christians in this village often call me to tell me of the messages on the radio program. They tell me how the messages touch their hearts, and encourage them daily.
· On July 12th, the KCC team went to and talked to the village authorities. The village authorities allowed them to continue to be Christians but the district governor did not care, and pressured them to renounce their faith
· On September 15th, the village and district police took the Christian families, put in them in a truck, and took them to the authorities’ office in the district to force them to renounce their faith.
· On September 29th, the police called X* personally. The police believe that if they can convince X* to renounce his faith, the rest of the Christians will follow his lead. The police and officials gave X* one condition that if he renounces his faith, they will give him a plot of land, because he has no land. Secondly, they will give him cows to raise. X* refused those 2 things that they offered him! He told them that he will continue to follow Jesus no matter what.
· On October 1st, X* went to church to attend the Sunday service. He told the leadership that the next day (Oct. 2nd), "I will have to go meet the police again, and I know they will put me in prison." The leadership encouraged him "to be strong, and do not renounce your faith. God will help you, and we will pray for you. We will not leave you alone. God will be with you!"
· On October 2nd, X* went to the police office. They arrested him, and put him in prison.
· On October 4th, X* wife went to visit her husband in prison. He told his wife that she must be strong in the Lord in taking care of their children. He also told his wife to tell all the Christians in the village to not renounce their faith but continue to be faithful to God. He will also will be strong and faithful.
Please pray for X*, his family, their needs, and all those Christians in the village to be strong, and faithful to God despite this crucial situation.
*Name and location have been changed for their protection.