Dry Bones

Dry Bones

New relationships grow from an original Bible study contact.

“The souls of those whom we desire to save are like the representation which Ezekiel saw in vision – a valley of dry bones…We are to preach the word of life to those whom we may judge to be as hopeless subjects as though they were in their graves. Though they may seem unwilling to hear or to receive the light of truth, without questioning or wavering we are to do our part. We are to repeat to them the message.” Review and Herald, January 17, 1893.

A few months ago, Mama Evans expressed an interest in the Bible. She attended church and asked many questions. “Why don’t you dance and jump in your church?” she asked. “Why do you worship on Saturday, when everyone else does on Sunday?”

It was a joy to see that she was searching for answers. Suzan and I began to study the Bible with her. She could not understand how God could love her, but expressed her appreciation for His mercy.

“I need Jesus Christ,” Mama Evans spoke with clarity. She confided to us that she had many sins, and wanted to be rid of them. When we invited her to tell Him directly, she knelt down and invited Jesus to come into her heart and make her clean. Suzan and I were thrilled! We had never before had this kind of response from her village.

One day, Mama Evans asked us to pray for her. “Mother does not want me to go to church,” she explained. Then suddenly, she stopped attending. For two Sabbaths in a row, we heard that she went to a “grave celebration” up in Idege. This is where a new grave is erected to appreciate the dead for a supposed service—in this case, financial benefit thanks to a compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit. The event involves drums, dancing, feasting and alcohol.

We found that on most Sabbaths, Mama Evans was not even home. “She went drinking with friends,” her mother would explain.

On one occasion, Suzan found Mama Evans carrying timber. “Money is getting rare,” she answered Suzan’s inquiry. “I have to work.”

Eventually, we no longer visited her. Clearly, she was not interested in Christianity. Then one Sabbath, I felt the conviction to visit again. When we
arrived in the village, we found her mother, Bibi Alberto, sitting outside with two other elderly ladies, and a younger man I had never seen before. The alcohol on their breath was strong. A faded kitengelay in front of them, full of sorghum for the next batch of alcohol. They would use anything to make the deadly brew—maize, sorghum, bamboo and even bananas!

Bibi Alberto explained that Mama Evans had just left for the tavern. It was out of the question to go to that terrible tavern, with its loud music and promiscuous
men and women. What should we do? I looked at Mama Edita, Mama Olefa and Bibi Alberto sitting in front of us. They were pitiful—dirty, smelly, inebriate. I
felt some repugnance. These ladies had heard our message before, and would not give up their pombe!But how would Jesus feel towards them? I remembered what I had read about the valley of the dry bones that morning, and took heart. God didn’t want us to give up.

We opened the Bible and read to them. With the help of Suzan for translation, I told them about the deep and unconditional love of God for them, and the sacrifice of His Son to save and restore us. All agreed that they faced fears, and needed forgiveness for their sins.

“I could give up the alcohol if I wanted to,” the young man said. “I’ve just never heard what you are saying. Continue talking,” he urged. “I do not know to do anything else but drink.”

I talked about how much Satan hates them, and tries to keep them from the salvation in Jesus Christ through diverse means, alcohol being one of them. “I want to accept Jesus Christ so that He can bring me to Heaven!” came the response.

The ladies, with whom we had already shared these truths, knew that this would mean the end of alcohol drinking. “Do not stop talking to us,” they petitioned. “We might not understand now, but one day we will. Come back.”

Later that day, it dawned on me that we might not drink alcohol, but we are all intoxicated with sin, whether it be pride, rebellion, selfishness, self-exaltation, doubt or unbelief. God must repeat the message of salvation to us over and over again, until we reach the point where we love Him so much, that we will turn away from our sin. Until this happens, we must hear the story of Jesus again and again.

1. Colorful piece of cloth
2. Locally brewed alcohol


Location: Tanzania

Author: Nadege Vande Voort and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188 [at] gmail [dot] com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

How You Can Help

Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in their home villages.

Share this story and ask others to pray, too!

Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check with “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” in the memo to:

Outpost Centers International
5132 Layton Lane
Apison, TN 37302

For online options, visit www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Select “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” from the drop-down menu.


03/03/2018: Rescuing Ayane

Rescuing Ayane

Beaten and given alcohol to drink at three months of age, Ayane was in danger until she found grace and peace in a new home. 

How can this be so complicated?” I turned the small square of cloth over and over. I shook it, sighed, and threw up my hands.

Just a few weeks ago I would never have dreamed that I would be wrestling to put a cloth diaper on a 17-month old baby. When we first heard about the tiny girl, we knew we could not ignore her plight. She lived in a village six hours away, and her mother had lost her mind. As a young girl, she had been horribly mistreated by her own parents. Her father punished her by holding her hands in the fire, causing her to lose one finger and severely deforming two others. Her mother beat her mercilessly and forced her to work in the fields. It was little wonder that she was incapable of caring for her own baby.

She stopped breastfeeding little Sina (which means “she does not have” in Swahili) when she was just three months old. Instead, she fed her whatever happened to be lying around – mostly alcohol. We heard that she even put a rope around the baby’s neck and carried her that way. She drenched her in cold water, and started beating her. The baby’s bibi (grandmother), an alcoholic herself, did nothing. Most of the villagers agreed that the baby was in danger, but no one intervened.

Amazed at the apathy of the villagers, my husband Elisha and I decided we would rescue the little girl ourselves and try to find a stable Tanzanian Christian family to raise her. We called the chief of the village for two days with no success. My worry multiplied and grew. What if we arrived too late?

I scrubbed my dishes a little too vigorously and prayed, “Lord, this baby is Your daughter. We are willing to rescue her. Please, if You will, open the door for us to reach the chief.”

Peace filled my heart and I continued with my day. Not long after, Suzan, our sewing teacher, told me she had talked to the chief and that he would make arrangements with the bibi.

The bibi gave away her granddaughter as if she were nothing more than a bag of dirty laundry. Nobody looked back to say goodbye, to kiss her forehead, or give her one last squeeze. Our friend Kori, who picked up the baby for us, almost cried.

When the tiny girl arrived at our home, she looked around with large, scared eyes. Her tummy stuck out so far, we worried it would pop when she laid on it. Her malnutrition showed in her abnormally light brown and patchy hair. Our hearts broke for her suffering, and we immediately decided to give her a new name – Ayane Salome, which means “grace and peace.”

After only a week, Ayane started laughing and smiling. And boy could she eat! I blended rice and beans and enriched it with ground cashews, coconut cream, avocados, olive oil, etc. I watched with delight as her little legs fattened, her cheeks rounded, and her hair darkened to its original black.

I must admit that I gave up on the cloth diapers. Our life is very different now. We have just as much work as before, and we worry about Ayane. She becomes more attached to us with each passing day, and we have not been able to find a suitable family for her. I do not know what will happen to her. But I do know that she is God’s little princess, and that He will help us as we seek to understand His will for her life.

 

AUTHOR

Nadege Vande Voort

Nadege and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188@gmail.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

 

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in Tanzania and for Ayane’s future.

Share this story and ask others to pray, too!

Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check, with  “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” as the memo to:

Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302

For online options, visit:
www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Click on “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” under the  ministry tab.


11/25/2017: Encounter for Love

Encounter for Love

A worker at London Heathrow Airport receives a reminder that God is real and loves him.

His name may be John, Henry or Pulla; we never found out. He looks like he may be from the Philippines or somewhere in the Pacific Islands. Short and stout, he could have been a rugby player, except that middle age has softened his muscles. Friendly would not be the term to describe him; he does not even wear a pro forma smile. Everything about him seems to shout, “Do not mess with me!” He is well-suited for his job.

We are at gate B44, Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport in London when we are ushered to this agent who takes care of overweight cabin luggage. We join the line of people before him. A man raises his voice at the agent, who sends him away; another one lowers his voice and starts bargaining. We hear the agent: “This is not a marketplace here. You cannot handle with me. Get on the side if you do not want to pay.” The next lady in line says she has no money and is also sent to the side.

Now our turn comes. Even the outspoken, sharped-tongue Caribbean lady that I can be knows better than to argue—even if I find it quite unfair that the three airlines we are taking to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania have different hand-luggage policies! The verdict falls: We must pay £120. Elisha reaches for the credit card, and the agent starts typing things on his computer, but I cannot quite keep my tongue. Mustering up a soft and humble voice, I express how unfair it feels that we must pay when the other airlines we’ve already flown today had not bothered anybody.

Without looking up, he explains that for flights to Addis Ababa, where we will be transferring planes, they have had a lot of problems with people carrying the same amount of weight in the cabin as they had checked in, making it hard to know how much weight was in the plane. Now we understand.

Suddenly the agent lifts his head. “I am not going to make you pay the full amount,” he says softly.

“Thank you,” we tell him. “Praise the Lord.” 

“I used to believe in God,” he tells us.

“What happened that made you give up your faith in God?”

“This job here. You see, everybody who comes here hates me.” His voice sounds bitter. 

I pause to think how to phrase my thought. “It seems to me that this would be exactly why I would hang on to God,” I tell him. “You see, His love for you does not change. So if everybody hates you, the only thing that will keep you from becoming bitter and dissatisfied is the assurance of God’s love for you. And He does love you. You need this. Do not throw it away.”

“What are you doing in Tanzania?” he changes the subject.

We explain that we have been missionaries there for a few years. He gives us our papers, boarding passes and credit card back. “I gave you a missionary price.” Looking at the receipt, we see that it’s true.

Yes, God loves us, and He smiles when we bring hope and love into other people’s lives. We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will bring our unsmiling agent the desire to receive God’s love into his heart.

Author

Nadege Vande Voort

Nadege and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188@gmail.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

 

 

How You Can Help

Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in Tanzania and in all their travels around the world.

Share. Look for people like the unfriendly agent to share God’s love with when you travel.

Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check, with  “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” as the memo to:

Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302

For online options, visit:
www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Click on “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” under the ministry tab.


07/22/2017: Go Home! part 2

Go Home! part 2

A missionary returns home to Tanzania after successful cancer treatments in the United States.

By the time we met with a specialist in the States, the growth in Elisha’s abdomen had enlarged and become painful. A blood test revealed that the tumor marker AFP* was extremely high. “I am pretty sure this is cancer. You need to remove that mass as soon as you can,” the specialist told us. “I have a free spot for tomorrow morning. We should go ahead with surgery.”

When we requested some time to think about it, the doctor said, “All right, I’ll step out for one minute and you can think and decide.”

We prayed a short prayer for guidance and decided to go ahead with the surgery.

On the way home, I tried several times to call Eden Valley Institute, a lifestyle center in Colorado. Finally a therapist there called us back and assured us that Eden Valley had dealt with several cases of cancer, with a good success rate. “We cannot guarantee success for every person who comes to us, but we have dealt with cases like yours before. We have a cancer session starting in four days.”

Now we were confused. What should we do: a lifestyle session or surgery? Which would be more effective in Elisha’s case? “Lord, please help us with Your wisdom and guidance,” we prayed. At length we canceled the surgery and headed for Colorado.

The program began with a 2-day juice fast. Elisha went through fever baths, oxygen therapy, exercise and a special diet. Yet, at the end of the two weeks, the growth had gotten bigger. The idea was hard to accept, but with much prayer we went back for surgery, thankful that his immune system would now be built up and ready to heal from this invasive measure.

The day of the operation, the surgeon removed a 3-inch tumor from Elisha’s body. A CT scan performed a few days later detected no cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Praise the Lord! 

The final diagnostic, the AFP blood test, brought good news and bad: While greatly reduced, the number still came in too high. “You probably have some microscopic cancer cells that could not be seen with the CT scan,” the physician warned. “In your case, chemotherapy is advised.” We wanted to give the natural treatments more time to work, so we asked the doctor if we could repeat the test in a few weeks. He agreed.

We continued with the diet prescribed at Eden Valley as well as water therapy, exercise, rest and lots of prayer. At the next blood test, the AFP level had dropped quite nicely, although not quite back within the normal range. We counseled with a few doctor friends and they advised us to continue what we had been doing, seeing that the Lord had been blessing our treatments.

With Elisha back on the road to health, another burden pressed on our hearts: our mission home in Tanzania. We had been absent for three months and really wanted to go back. After prayer, we decided to do one last blood test and then go, trusting the Lord to help us be wise and careful with our lifestyle in Tanzania. That final blood test showed another decrease in the AFP. We’re so thankful!

I noticed something throughout the ordeal: Elisha never lost his composure. One day I asked him whether he had been afraid when he received the diagnosis. He thought for a little moment and answered, “No, I was never afraid. I know the Lord is in control of my life and He knows what is best for me. Because He loves me and cares for me, I do not have to be afraid.”

That night I did not sleep. I kept thinking of the times when God had given me trials for my spiritual growth. I had worried, I had become anxious, I had blamed God and asked “why” and “why me.” I had taken myself out of God’s protective hands and ended up in the darkness of doubt, unbelief and dismay. In His goodness, the Lord had always managed to bring me back, but because I had not learned my lesson, the trial had to be repeated in some cases. Oh how I pray that I will learn to trust the perfect will of God so that when greater tempests come, I will be prepared to trust all the way through!

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3, 4.

* A fetal blood protein that is elevated when some cancers are present.

AUTHOR

Nadege Vande Voort

Nadege and her husband
Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188@gmail.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Pray for Elisha’s health, and ask God to keep him and his wife in perfect peace as they continue their mission in Tanzania. They appreciate your prayers!

Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission via Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302 or www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Please mark your gift “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission.”


07/15/2017: Go Home! part 1

Go Home! part 1

A missionary is told to go home to the United States as soon as possible.

We followed the doctor into a private room that looked like a chapel. “Sit down,” he motioned. From his demeanor, we could sense this wouldn’t be good news.

The doctor took a deep breath and displayed the result of the ultrasound he had just performed on Elisha. “I cannot really tell you what the problem is,” he said in his Italian accent. “I know one thing: You should go back to Europe or the United States as soon as you can for a biopsy. I do not know of any pathologist in the whole country who could help with this.”

I looked at Elisha. My heart thumped so hard I imagined its pounding must be visible on my chest, but Elisha’s face betrayed no extra emotion. “You do not have an idea of what this is?” he asked quietly, no sound of fear or panic in his voice.

“No, this is not my field. But I know you should go home soon and have this checked out.”

Quietly thanking him, we left the room. As we waited in line to pay for the consultation, the doctor we had just seen walked by and waived his hand toward us. “Just go, you do not have to pay.”

We left the hospital without a word. There was not much to say. Three months before, a sudden growth had appeared in Elisha’s lower abdomen. We had called a lifestyle center in the United States and described the growth and the accompanying symptoms. They had prescribed turmeric to reduce inflammation, hydrotherapy to increase circulation and a charcoal poultice every evening to draw the toxins out of the growth. We had followed the recommendations, but the growth had not disappeared. The word cancer had crossed my mind many times and I had lifted up my prayer, “Lord, let it not be cancer.” Yet I hadn’t truly believed that my otherwise healthy, active husband could have cancer.

The three months since the growth’s first appearance had been extremely busy. At last, three days after graduation, the campus had become empty and quiet. We both felt urged to go to the hospital by an inner intuition we recognized as God’s still small voice. Knowing that some of the physicians lacked competence, we had prayed that the Lord would lead us to a helpful doctor.

The Italian doctor we had just seen was only visiting the hospital on a mission trip. God had provided a skilled doctor for us to see before we had even thought to pray for one! Now this visiting doctor had asked us to go back to a country with better facilities.

Back home at our quiet campus, we called our travel agent in Oregon. “I do not think I can find anything cheap,” he told us. “This is December and we are entering the red season when tickets are outrageously expensive. But give me a few hours and I will call you back.”

We did not have the money for expensive tickets, but the doctor’s serious counsel still rang in my ears. “I will stay behind and you can go and have this checked,” I told Elisha.

“Let us pray about it and we will see,” he answered.

A few hours later, an e-mail came in from the travel agent. “I am very astonished: there is a very good price on a ticket for a departure in three days. I had to double-check it, but it is indeed the correct price.” Five days later, we landed in Chicago, happy to have been able to travel together.

(Continued on next page.)

AUTHOR

Nadege Vande Voort

Nadege and her husband
Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188@gmail.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Pray for Elisha’s health, and ask God to keep him and his wife in perfect peace as they continue their mission in Tanzania. They appreciate your prayers!

Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission via Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302 or www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Please mark your gift “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission.”


04/22/2017: The First Claim

The First Claim

Tanzanian children experience God’s love
through shoes and clothes.

School shoes for Latifa and church shoes for Maulidi.

Editha is a Seventh-day Adventist young lady not yet 30. While she was in secondary school, a man raped her in a vain attempt to rid himself of AIDS. As a result, Editha not only contracted HIV but also gave birth to a baby girl she called Latifa.

Although she failed secondary school, Editha went on with life, thinking little of her disease. Leaving Latifa with her mother, the young woman moved to the big city to work as a maid. In 2016, she started feeling very sick and losing weight. Returning home, she went to the doctor to receive the dreaded “prolonged life” medicine. Soon, she developed vitiligo, a skin disorder characterized by the patchy loss of skin pigment. Now that her disease was obvious, nobody would hire her.

Today Editha lives in the village near us with her mother, her younger brother Maulidi and Latifa. The family survives off their little field high up the side of Lukinga Mountain, about an hour and a half of hard hiking from their home. Although we do not have much work for Editha, we want to help. Since it is not our policy to hand out money, we give Editha a little work in the school garden with the team at https://rkcconstruction.com/services/patio-covers/.

Despite her sad past, Editha is always smiling. She enjoys visiting people to encourage them and pray with them. Although her mother does not attend church, Editha, Latifa and Maulidi come each week. For months, they wore the same dirty, worn shoes and clothes they wore all week. Editha’s clothes were twice too big for her, Maulidi’s toes poked through his shoes, and Latifa had long since outgrown her outfit.

Latifa receives new shoes for church.

A few months ago, when Latifa arrived early for a wedding at our church, we remembered the clothes we had at home, sewn by our students to be distributed to orphans. Taking her to our house, we pulled out four outfits and asked Latifa to choose one for the wedding. We also gave her a little straw hat and some skin cream.

Later that day, we saw Editha at the wedding. Tears pooled in her eyes as she told us how Latifa had gone home and said to her grandmother, “Bibi,1 look at this beautiful dress wazungu2 gave me! God loves me, Bibi!”

Soon after, we bought church shoes for Latifa and her mother and a pair of pink tennis shoes for Latifa to wear to school. At Kibidula, a friend allowed us to choose clothes for the whole family from donated clothing received in a shipping container. We found several items they needed, including shoes for Maulidi.

The next time Editha came to work, we showed her the bag of clothes and shoes. The puzzled look on her face changed to surprise, then shock. Lifting her hands toward Heaven, she said, “Thank you, God.”

After Editha finished work, we called Latifa and Maulidi and opened the bag. Smiles shone on their faces. “Mama! A sweater! I have been wearing the same sweater every day for months.” Latifa pressed it to her chest. The children probably had trouble sleeping that night!

Later that day I read: “The poor and suffering who believe in Jesus Christ have the first claim upon our thoughts and ministry. They have the first claim to words of consolation and gifts of comfort. . . . It is the duty of every human agent whether rich or poor to be a channel through which the Lord can send His beneficence flowing to the needy, the oppressed, and suffering, for whom He died.” The Home Missionary, December 1, 1894.

Not only is it a duty, but it brings great joy!

 

Authors
Elisha and Nadege Vande Voort
The Vande Voorts operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged Tanzanian youth. harvester2188@gmail.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.

 

How You Can Help

Be the hands and heart of Jesus! Perhaps someone close to you needs consolation or gifts of comfort. Allow Jesus to reveal His love through your actions!

Pray for Elisha and Nadege to be channels of God’s love, not just “missionaries.” Pray that they will continue to have Jesus’ heart for the many in need.

Donate to Eden Valley through Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302 or www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Please mark your gift “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission.”


01/07/2017: Witness for Truth

Witness for Truth

A Tanzanian girl goes to school to learn a trade, but finds a treasure of far greater value.

“If you go to that church even once, I will put you on the bus and school will be over for you.” Grandfather snarled. “Nobody will become a Seventh-day Adventist in my house!”

Albina
Albina

Albina lowered her head. “I am ready to give up school and go back home if that is what it takes for me to follow my convictions. My decision is based on what I have been reading in the Bible, not my school.”

Evenings full of Bible study had prepared Albina for this confrontation. Weeks back, when she had attended the satellite Bible seminar hosted at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an angry priest had forced a pledge from her that she would never enter the church again. “You were baptized in our denomination and that is enough for you!” the priest had shouted. Albina’s grandparents, owners of the local bar, had let her know that the priest’s displeasure could mean the end of their business. Under pressure, Albina capitulated.

Yet something had begun in Albina’s heart. She had come to Eden Valley to learn to sew, knit sweaters and weave baskets so that she could go home and help her widowed mother survive—but she had begun to find something even more valuable than these skills. In her second-year reading class, she and the other students had been reading the final 18 chapters of The Great Controversy. Surprised to learn that God’s Law is still binding, Albina wanted to see it in the Bible. She had read her Bible evening after evening while her grandparents kept busy selling alcohol. The next day she would come to class full of questions. With the other girls in the class, she had begun to pray, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” Psalm 119:18.

Albina and a friend at Eden Valley.
Albina and a friend at Eden Valley

Now Albina knew that she wanted to follow what Jesus taught in the Bible. “This is the way; walk ye in it,” a still, small voice seemed to whisper in her ear. “Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you.” “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” Isaiah 30:21; Deuteronomy 5:33; John 14:15.
At last, Albina again told her grandparents that whatever the consequence, she was going to follow the God of the Bible. When she promised to help her grandmother with the Saturday chores on Friday, her grandparents gave in. April 16, 2016, Albina came to church for the first time. We praised the Lord!

When the diocese called upon Albina to explain her desertion, she stated that she had read in the Bible many things that were opposite to what she had been taught in their church, and that she had chosen the church that obeys God’s Word. Stunned, the priest granted his permission for Albina to change her confession.

September 10, 2016, Albina was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist along with 17 other Eden Valley students. That day, she changed her name from Albina to Witness. The Lord has impressed our hearts to send her to Kibidula, our big sister ministry about six hours away, to attend a 5-month evangelism and health program that will ground her in the Bible and help her become a more efficient “Witness.” Please pray for her and the other students who have chosen Jesus, that they may witness for truth in this land of spiritual darkness!

Elisha and Nadege Vande Voort

This missionary couple operates Eden Valley Foster Care Mission in Mago, Tanzania. Contact: harvester2188@gmail.com


10/15/2016: Petro’s Dilemma

Petro’s Dilemma

Tanzania

Tears ran down Petro’s cheeks. “You do not understand! My father will take me out of school if he finds out I am still a Christian!” He turned his face away to hide a fresh stream of tears.

Petro
Petro

Fifteen-year-old Petro had come to Eden Valley Foster Care Mission several weeks before, but only now had we heard his full story. While staying at his grandfather’s home, Petro had become a Christian. His father, who still practiced witchcraft, had vowed to disown him if he didn’t give up his beliefs. One day he came at Petro with a knife. Lifting it up, he shouted, “I will kill you if you don’t give that up!”

Petro looked up at his father calmly. “You can kill me if you want. I will not give up Jesus.”

His father’s eyes bulged, and the knife fell from his hand. “Obstinate boy,” he muttered. “I will no longer pay for your education.”

For a whole year Petro tried everything he could to fund his own education. He made and sold charcoal, he sold grilled corn at the bus stands and did anything else he could think of to earn a few coins—but eventually he found that these jobs did not pay. Not only that, but in his struggle to support himself he used up the time needed for his studies, and began failing. Dropping out of the government school, he tried again to earn money to at least attend an artisan school. No success—he was exploited by people who paid almost nothing.

Weary of the struggle, Petro devised a ruse: He would go to his father and tell him he had renounced Christianity—but he would still keep his faith in his heart. At Petro’s verbal denial of faith, his overjoyed father decided to send him back to school. Government school was out of the question since Petro had fallen so far behind. Private school was much too expensive. However, Petro’s father had heard of one private vocational school that might be affordable—and his own sister was working there as a cook. After inquiring about the price, Petro’s father sent him to our school—not knowing that our school is Christian!

Eager to learn carpentry, Petro arrived at Eden Valley Foster Care Mission full of hope. When he discovered that his new school was run by Christians, he was even more delighted. Then, a few weeks after his arrival here, Petro’s story came out. We knew we would have to confront him about the deception.

Taking Petro aside, we told him about God’s commandment against bearing false witness. We explained that for Christians, there is no ethical lie—no small lie for a good cause.

Devastated, Petro protested that we did not understand. Tears rolled down his cheeks as we spoke together about “the exceeding greatness of [God’s] power” for the upright, explained in Ephesians 1:19. We spoke about the uncompromising attitude of Daniel’s friends before Nebuchadnezzar, and of Jesus’ presence with them. “God does not change, Petro,” we assured him. “He is the same today and is willing to intervene for you. But He can do it only if you stand on the principles of His Kingdom.”

At last, Petro conceded. We prayed with him for God to grant him wisdom. Then we handed him the phone so that he could call his father.

“Baba,” Petro said into the receiver, “I want you to know that I have never renounced my faith and I am in a Christian school.”

The voice of his father came through loud and harsh. “Petro! Do not tempt me today!” Then his father hung up. We tried to reach him again, but he wouldn’t answer. Petro hung his head low as he walked back to the dormitory.

Kneeling together, we both asked God for a manifestation of His love and power in the life of this young man who had taken his stand for truth. Since we couldn’t expect his father to pay tuition anymore, we prayed specifically for a sponsor for Petro. Furthermore, we prayed that the father would allow him to stay in school, since legally he could come and remove him anytime. At age 15, Petro was still considered a child.

A few days later, the Lord provided a sponsor for Petro. Better yet, his father never came to force him to leave. We praised the Lord! When he was sure that he could stay and we would not send him home for lack of payment, Petro’s childlike joy returned and he set about learning all that he could. Although not the brightest academic student, we found him strong and hard-working with his hands. When Petro’s grandfather came to visit, our hearts warmed to see Petro reading the Bible with him. A little faith hero!

Taking a break
Taking a break

Since his father does not support him financially, Petro takes chores from staff members on weekends or after school—working in gardens, cutting firewood, and doing little jobs with Elisha. This enables him to buy personal necessities and save for the bus ride home for school break. Although normally he is hard working, we did catch him taking a snooze once in the heat of the work! It was 11 am when we found him sprawled on the grass—but after an hour he resumed his work as if nothing had happened. When we asked him if he had a good nap, he gave us one of his bright smiles and scratched his head in embarrassment. We didn’t blame him—it was the day after our school’s graduation, and all of us had lost sleep in the preparation and cleanup.

Before leaving for home on break, Petro asked to buy one of the baskets the girls had made in their craft class, saying, “I want to bring a present to my mother.” For his father, Petro brought a stool he had made himself. It’s beautiful to see Petro’s love and forgiveness for his parents after all he has been through.

Petro is one of hundreds of children Eden Valley has been able to help—children who due to their social status have dropped out of secondary school. Eden Valley Foster Care Mission seeks to empower these young people to lead successful, self-sufficient lives and to give them a personal experience with Christianity. With one Seventh-day Adventist Church member for every 1,818 inhabitants in our region, our team’s goal is to see these young people return to their villages equipped to support themselves and impact their communities. Will you join us in praying for Petro and others like him, that they may become bright witnesses for God in Tanzania?

By Nadege and Elisha Vande Voort of Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania. harvester2188@gmail.com. Donations can be sent to Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302, marked “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” or made online at www.outpostcenters.org. This quarter, donations may also be sent to Mission Projects International marked “13th Sabbath Offering.”


08/13/2016: Gift from God

Gift from God

Tanzania

 

How happy his parents must have been when he was born! Not only was he their firstborn, but he was a beautiful baby boy—a double blessing worthy of the name Gift. Two younger siblings followed soon after, and joy filled the family for those first few years. Then tragedy struck. Gift’s father died, leaving his mother to raise her small children on her own. She had no employment—only a small plot of poor soil to cultivate. Selling produce at the market brought only meager earnings, and money grew more and more scarce. Then another man came into the picture: a divorced father of three. Gift’s mother married this man and soon gave birth to another child. However, life with her new husband was not the same as it had been with Gift’s father, and the mother started drinking pombe (corn alcohol) to help her forget her ungrateful life.

Gift on graduation day.
Gift on graduation day.

Meanwhile, Gift progressed well in school. After primary school, he passed the test to go on to secondary school—a hurdle only about 20% of the nation’s pupils ever cross. Sadly, after his first month of secondary school, Gift’s mother told him that she could not afford to pay the school fees. Gift quit school and remained at home until he heard about a trade school held by missionaries from America. As the fees were much lower than the government schools, his mother agreed to pay so that Gift could become a good artisan.

Fourteen-year-old Gift began his carpentry training at Eden Valley Foster Care Mission in March 2014. He was happy to be in school again, and staying in the boys’ dorm was so much better than being at home with a slovenly mother with a haggard face and slurred, abusive speech.

Then one day, Gift came to our house with red eyes and a straight face. Fixing his eyes on the floor, he spoke in a sad voice. “Mother wants me to quit school again,” he said. “She said, ‘I have been paying school fees for you and now I do not even have money to buy my pombe! I want you to quit school and find a job as a shopkeeper. I do not want to pay for you anymore.’” Once a precious Gift, this firstborn son had become a mere burden!

We looked up Gift’s student bill, and already his account was behind three months. However, Gift wasn’t finished explaining. He said that he had spoken with his aunt in Lupalilo, about one hour’s brisk walk from the school. Since the school fees simply cover room and board, Gift was ready to move in with his aunt and walk to school every day. He couldn’t pay his bill, but he truly wanted to keep attending school.

We looked at each other. Was the story true? We looked at Gift. He seemed sincere. A deep sadness overshadowed his face. We finally asked him to come back three days later for our answer. Our hearts were torn. In Tanzania, rejection is the daily bread of most children. Babies are adored as the joy of the family; but as soon as they can walk, they are forgotten as another baby comes along and then another. Too often, dirty toddlers and children are left alone while the mother slaves away in the garden and the father spends her earnings in the bar.

After praying and discussing Gift’s situation, we decided to keep him in the dorm until at least the end of the school year, giving him some work around campus to help with his bill. When we told him our decision, he looked at us and whispered, “Thank you.”

Gift in his first year of carpentry class.
Gift in his first year of carpentry class.

Unfortunately, Gift’s story is a very common one here. That’s why our school is dedicated to orphans and vulnerable children. They all have a story to tell. Quite a few of our students are not able to pay because of their family situations, but if we sent them home, our classrooms would be mostly empty and the school would become useless. Our cook, carpentry teacher, mechanic teacher, sewing teacher and two Bible workers are paid largely out of donations to the student sponsorship program that Gift’s predicament inspired us to launch. For just one dollar a day, sponsors allow a child who can’t pay room and board to be educated at our school. Sponsors make a life-changing difference not only in a young person’s life, but also in that young person’s community.

December 6, 2015, our second-year carpentry boys graduated. Among them was our quiet and laid back Gift, now 16 years old. After the graduation celebration, he came to ask us to thank the sponsor who had helped him complete his two years of carpentry training. We had never seen Gift so cheerful and talkative!

The next day, as Gift left to go back to Ilevelo, his village, we said a prayer that the Lord would keep him and continue the work He started in him through our school. Most of the boys, having received their own set of carpentry tools at graduation, start a little business at home building stools, chairs, cabinets, window frames, sofas, etc. to sell and make a living. We did not expect anything different from Gift, but God had bigger plans for this young man.

Gift, with Elisha, receiving his carpentry tools.
Gift, with Elisha, receiving
his carpentry tools.

When Gift returned to his home, he realized that he was the only Adventist in the whole village. The closest Seventh-day Adventist Branch Sabbath School was two hours’ walking distance from his village—one way. Gift decided that his village needed a church! Going to the local public school, he asked to be allowed to teach Bible classes. At first the school director refused, saying that Gift did not have credentials; so Gift showed him the Bible certificate he had received from Eden Valley Tanzania for completing our 24-part Bible studies.

“Why do you want to teach Bible classes?” the director asked.

“I want to make converts for my church,” Gift answered.

Strangely enough, the director decided to allow Gift to teach two hours per week at exactly the same time as the Catholic Bible teacher held classes. Any students who wanted to would be allowed to attend—but the director stated that he doubted anyone would come to Gift’s class, because none of the students shared his faith.

Thus it was that Gift started teaching twice a week with no curriculum but his Bible. After a month of teaching, he had more students in his class than the Catholic Bible teacher had! Better yet, one of the students is now attending the Branch Sabbath School two hours away. Needless to say, the Catholic teacher is furious. Gift recently called us to ask for prayer as well as for materials to assist him in teaching—picture rolls, Bible study sets, pamphlets, etc.

At a time when we are so close to the end, it is beautiful to see the Lord use whoever will work for Him!

“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:27.

 

By Elisha and Nadège Vande Voort of Eden Valley Foster Care Mission. Donations can be sent to Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302, marked “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” or made online at www.outpostcenters.org.

 


08/15/2015: Even So, Come Lord Jesus

Even So, Come Lord Jesus

Tanzania

 

We met Bibi at the end of an afternoon of outreach. In Tanzania, very old women are called bibi, which means grandmother. We had visited about five different homes and were on our way home. On the way back we heard, from a distance, some happy voices and loud laughter coming from an ordinary-looking mud house on a little hill. As we passed under the windows the putrid smell of pombe (a fermented drink made from fruit and/or grain) filled our nostrils. We looked up to see toothless middle-aged and elderly women sitting around tables of the local bar; they were laughing and jesting together with men. They looked at us and we greeted them with “Mapembelo.” “Mapembelo va bene!” they merrily greeted us in return. What a sad sight.

A few miles later, a lady stopped Baraza and exchanged some sentences with him. “She wants us to go and visit her old mother. Shall we go?” he asked. Why not? We turned to the left and entered a little poor-looking, but very clean courtyard. An old lady was sitting on the ground. She seemed to be in her eighties—but age is so difficult to evaluate in this country where hard work and grueling lives, poverty, and diseases have their heavy toll, especially on women. Baraza stooped down and greeted her, “Shikamo!”(a respectful greeting to the elderly) and she turned her face towards him. Her eyes were aged: a gray-white ring at the edge of the cornea told us she is over 60. Her eyeballs have sunk backward into their orbits. Her vision is no longer very sharp.

Bibi and Baraza.

She took a closer look at Baraza and her eyes lightened with joy. “Oh, you are here! You came!” she exclaimed happily, grabbing Baraza’s hand. She launched into a soliloquy punctuated with deep sighs. After a little while her daughter joined us and offered us some tiny benches to sit on. Baraza introduced us to this bibi who eagerly shook our hands. Baraza explained to us in English: “We had been visiting Bibi for about two years. She was interested in Bible studies and we shared the Bible with her for all this time. But we always found her with a bottle of pombe and she was mostly drunk during the studies. We tried to tell her how bad this was for her overall health, but week after week the bottle was always there, a faithful companion at her side. She told us to pray for and with her. We prayed with her for a long time but she would not stop buying the pombe. So finally after two years we gradually stopped the visits. She just told me that a few months ago she had a terrible vivid dream in which she saw her whole house on fire. Somehow she associated this with her spiritual life and it frightened her so much that she stopped drinking, cold turkey. She has not put a drop of pombe in her mouth ever since. She called all her family members to tell them that she was no longer a drunkard.”

“Then,” Baraza continued, “she asked her daughter, and others who came to visit, to find this little man who was teaching her the Bible and praying with her. She was so persistent that they eventually asked the local priests of the different churches nearby to come and see her and pray with her but she refused to pray with them. She wanted this short man and him only [Baraza is only about five feet tall]. Time passed and today her daughter saw us and insisted that we go to see her.”

“Ndio [yes],” says the daughter acquiescing. “Mother stopped drinking and does not even want to see a bottle of alcohol. This is amazing to us.” She picked up a few small stones from the ground and threw them at the chickens that feasted on corn drying on a little table in the corner. Bibi looked at Baraza and smiled. “Now I want to go with God. You have tried so much to tell me about Him and His love for me. I asked Him to be in my life and now He is my Father,” she said in a childlike way. A current of joy flowed through us. What a simple and beautiful testimony! We might give up on people, but God never does—praise Him! What an encouragement and an incentive to continue praying for our loved ones who are wandering far from God.

The attention of the daughter returned to us. “Mother would like to go to church but she cannot walk anymore.” We then prayed with her and left. The following Sabbath, we decided to go and have a little time of church with Bibi. We had read a verse during the week and thought we would share it with her. It was a rainy day and Bibi was inside her little hut with another bibi and a younger woman. We were offered little benches to sit on and barely fit in the tiny room. In the corner was a fireplace—three stones and some pieces of wood. The room was dark but we can see with the light coming from the open door. This seemed to be the kitchen, the social place in homes here in Tanzania. Elisha attracted my attention to something moving, “It’s a rat.” But looking closer we saw about five guinea pigs. Knowing that in such a poor setting Tanzanians do not have pets, we conclude that this must be some kind of…food. Better chase that thought away. The floor was uneven and so sitting was difficult, but we all managed. Bibi was happy to see us and we exchange a few greetings.

She wanted us to sing and so we took out our Swahili songbook and sang “Yesu Kwetu Ni Rafiki” (What a Friend We Have in Jesus). Then we told her about the Bible verse, turning to Isaiah 46:3, 4: “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: and even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

Bibi laughed loudly. “He is my Father, my Father…” she repeated. The discussion continued and led us to speak about life after death. We read Revelation 21:1-4. We talked about the New Earth that God is going to make for us. Bibi was thrilled. No more death, no more suffering, no more pain (she touches her poor limbs). “Bibi, you will be able to jump again like a calf in the prairie.” She chuckled and then asked, “But what will we eat there?” We tried to describe the different fruits and food that we have not yet experienced but often think about: the juicy mangos, the fresh pineapples, the creamy avocadoes, and so many other delicious things. “And what will we wear?” asked Bibi again. “We will have shiny white robes and a crown of gold.” Bibi touched her old kitenge that has seen better days—it is now all faded and worn out. She laughed and clasped her hands. Sitting on my left hand was the other old lady; she looked at Baraza, our translator, with eyes ready to devour each word coming out of his mouth, but was silent.

Bibi asks again, “But who will we speak with? What will we be doing?” We told her about all the saved of the previous generations starting with Adam and Eve and Abel, until our time. “They will come and ask about our testimonies, about how you overcame pombe, Bibi; about how God led you out of this terrible sinful planet into His marvelous light. And there will be the angels. You will meet your guardian angel who accompanied you all the days of your life; and beings from all the other planets that Jesus Christ, God Himself, created.” “Ohoooooooooh!” sighed Bibi. “I wish I could die tonight to go there. Oh, how I wish I was there!” We explained to her that even if she died tonight, she would not go directly to heaven. “You will go there, Bibi. When Jesus comes back again, He will call out of the graves those who have died in Jesus, and the living ones will go to Him and they will all go to heaven together.” Bibi had been taught that when you die your soul goes to heaven or to hell depending on how you lived your life. “Mother will sleep well tonight,” said the daughter.

The room was now so full that even a fly would not find enough space to move its wings. The daughter, another lady, and some children had joined us during the course of the discussion. The child on my right was sound asleep. For a little while everyone was silent. We were all enjoying a taste, in our thoughts, of what it will be like when we can see Jesus and live with Him. Some sighed. Bibi’s eyes were shining with joy.

It was time for us to part again. After a closing song we prayed together. The rain had stopped and nature seemed to be cleansed from all the dirt of the week. The trees around were shining, dressed in a new deep green garment. Birds were singing. Our hearts, too… “When we all go to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be; when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory….” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

 

By Nadége Vande Voort of Eden Valley Foster Care Mission. harvester2188@gmail.com. Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.