09/26/2015: Shoes of Iron & Brass

Shoes of Iron & Brass

Senegal

 

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25.

This is a most precious and glorious promise from God that I have claimed as the days pass, here in Senegal. With so many changes going on in the world and the difficulties of our neighboring African countries, there are times when we are tempted to be afraid but we must remember that the promises of God are sure and that He has us in hand. These promises have sustained me here before, during, and after the Ebola scare.

It is one thing to hear about Ebola in other places but when it crosses the border, that is when the rubber meets the road! What will we do if Ebola comes our way? Death becomes something close and perhaps inevitable. But God has shown me that He is closer and His grace and mercy are like Him: ever-present. Difficulties will come but our loving and kind Heavenly Father will give us shoes and enough strength to go through them all.

When the news arrived that a young man infected with Ebola had come into Senegal, fear and panic gripped the population. People were enraged that he would sneak into the country knowing that he was sick and also because he did not tell his extended family whom he was visiting that he was sick. It is truly in a crisis that character is revealed. Calls came from several quarters to kill him, and neighbors wanted to burn down the house where he lived. People became suspicious of foreigners and the tension was palpable. Hand sanitizer bottles were put at the entrances of public places and people stopped greeting each other with the traditional handshakes and kisses. At church, the normal greeting after the service was suspended and remains so until now. Even communion was suspended.

Relations between Guinea and Senegal became strained and the Senegalese government closed its borders with Guinea. Fortunately, the young man recovered and no one else became sick. Senegal returned the young man to Guinea and everyone relaxed somewhat. Still the danger is not past. Mali has had a few Ebola cases linked to a Guinean marabout (religious leader) who died in October. Since then Mali has refused to close its borders with Guinea and, to date, Senegal has not closed its borders with Mali. Mali is land-locked and relies on the ports of Senegal, Guinea, and Ivory Coast for a lot of its imported goods. Also closing the border would be a violation of an important Malian principle of diatiguiya (JAH-tih-GEE), which is the belief that hospitality to friends and even strangers is obligatory.

Nurse Jean Sambou (with stethoscope) and Lala (on right, in white shirt) doing blood pressure screenings.

On the brighter side however, this gave us an opening to talk to people, both in and out of the church, about God and faith, the last days, and the health message. Crisis reveals character but it also opens a field for labor. People are looking for answers and we have answers for them. I did presentations at church on many different topics including how to improve the immune system, the dangers of fear, the blessings of faith and trust in God, the necessity of honesty, and the importance of sanitation and hygiene for the prevention of disease. Many people have lost their lives because other people were not honest about their exposure to the disease.

In the village, we recently held health presentations that were very well received. Jean Sambou, the young nurse who helped me when I had dysentery came for another visit and did the presentations in Wolof. We also did blood pressure screenings one Sunday morning. During the screenings, we found several cases of hypertension in women. I will do another presentation just for the village women on managing stress in January. Jean got sick with typhoid fever right before he left to go back to Casamance but has since recovered, praise God.

Otherwise, life continues in Senegal. I have been spending a lot of time in Dakar recently because of employment obligations and there is a rich field of labor here. When I am in Dakar, I stay with my oldest daughter and her family. The health message has been a blessing to the downstairs neighbors who have had a few health challenges, as well as the night guard of the apartment building next door.

I always keep charcoal on hand because over the years I have found that inevitably someone will need it. One morning, I saw the neighbor’s young son lying on the floor near the front door of his apartment as the family was preparing to go out. When I asked his mother what was wrong, she told me that he had been vomiting and said his stomach hurt. I ran upstairs and brought down some charcoal for him. Mom took it with her to give him when they arrived at their grandmother’s house. It worked and a few days later the father stopped me to say that the baby was constipated and asked what they should do.

Another time, my daughter was talking to the night guard and realized that he didn’t look well. She asked him if he was sick and he told her that he thought that he had dysentery. She came upstairs and asked me for charcoal. She put some in a cup of water and gave it to him to drink. She also gave him some in a bag. He was happy to see it because he had used it when he lived in Russia but didn’t know the name of it in French. I talked to him a few days later and he said that he felt much better and thanked me again for the charcoal.

The author (left) with village children.

A former colleague opened a school in Dakar and asked me to teach a couple of classes for him. I accepted because there are still many things to finish at the outpost. I never look for work, so I assume that when someone calls me God has provided. Now I see that I am being introduced to a totally different kind of student—young people from Guediwaye and Pikine, the very popular parts of the Dakar suburbs. One class was comprised totally of young men who asked me to change the time of a Friday afternoon class. I told them that I could not, which led to a discussion of the Sabbath, Adventism, dietary laws, and the Koran. I look forward to sharing more truth with this class because they seemed genuinely interested, especially when I told them that keeping the Sabbath holy was also required by the Koran. Please pray that God will give me wisdom and the right words to say when our class meets again.

Please continue to pray for our water situation. Things just seemed to have stopped for several months. As much as I tried, and with all the phone calls and visits with officials I made, nothing moved forward. It has been frustrating, but in the midst of it all I keep holding on to the promises of God. Several weeks ago, I believe that God gave me a nugget of hope. One night I dreamed that I could not drive on the road because it was all dug up and I had to drive on the side of the road in order to leave the house. I was confused when I woke up because I did not understand. I now believe that God was showing me that water is coming and that the road was dug up for the pipes.

Last week, I ran across the project manager who explained to me that the sub-contractor had some problems and had stopped working. Now the company is back to work and should be finishing up their contracts. This is good news but I am still praying for the Lord’s direction and intervention. Man’s word is one thing but the Lord’s word is above all.

It is my sincere hope that we all may come to that place of absolute faith and trust in God that will help us hold on to Him no matter what—tribulation, distress, persecution, Ebola, you name it—that in all these things we can be conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord, and that as our days are, in this sinful world, our strength shall be. God bless and keep you all!

 

By Deborah Ndione. Senegalhealthproject@live.com. Support for this work can be sent through Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.


09/20/2015: 13th Sabbath Offering Project Reminder

New Church 
& Worker Salary

Ethiopia

 

Elder Deasta.

Desta Boke was working as a leader in evangelical churches in Ethiopia. After a chance meeting with a Seventh-day Adventist gospel worker, Desta learned about the Sabbath. He searched the scriptures for himself, having found that the leaders at his old church could not give him answers from the Bible. Eventually, Desta embraced the Seventh-day Adventist message and was baptized.

Today, Desta is an evangelist and brought in almost 40 new souls into the church within one year, with many others taking baptismal classes. Many of these people came from his former church, and as a result, Desta and his work has been reviled and persecuted. Having come from a church that meets in a large building, it has been challenging for the new Seventh-day Adventist members to meet under a big tree on Sabbath. Desta was a paid worker at the evangelical church, but now works for very little or no wages, despite the fact that his prior church has promised to double his former pay, if he returned.

This 13th Sabbath, please remember Desta Boke, his ministry, and the people of Ethiopia in your prayers.

Monetary blessings are also needed, and so if you are led to help these people build a church of their own and pay Desta a fair wage, please mark your donations: “13th Sabbath Offering.”


09/19/2015: Reuben Teske

Reuben Teske

A Tribute

 

Reuben Teske was a man who “died with his boots on.” He was 90 years old on January 24, 2015, but was still working for the Lord when he passed away on March 13. Reuben founded Cornerstone Publishing about 17 years ago. Over the years he may have put out more literature to more countries and more people than any other ministry. Prior to the inception of Cornerstone, Reuben worked worked for 40 years as an accountant and systems analyst for Boise Cascade, a major corporation. He retired from Boise Cascade at age 62, but he certainly was never idle. His wife Jean operated a beauty shop for 25 years.

Reuben built grow boxes next to their house.

In the past, Reuben Teske was a man of many ventures, which were very successful in making money. He bought businesses and houses and fixed them up and resold them. Hardly was he done with one project when he was beginning another. It is unknown how many houses he and Jean lived in, but there were a lot. You would think a man who was onto one project before he was really finished with the last one would have had many jobs and many employers, but Reuben held one job until his retirement. It was the same with his work for the Lord. Although he had many jobs in the Lord’s vineyard, he continued to have the same employer: Jesus was always his boss. Before they began publishing the Three Angels’ Messages, Jean and Reuben operated a cherry orchard together for ten years until the Lord sent a cash buyer in His timing and price—a miracle to be sure.

Even before they started Cornerstone, Reuben and Jean were very active in their community. They covered the local neighborhoods, passing out National Sunday Law, The Great Controversy, and other Seventh-day Adventist literature. The publishing work had humble beginnings in Oregon, but that was the start of a remarkable journey. Early on, a few people took several weeks off and distributed 70,000 copies of Earth’s Final Warning, a 16-page booklet, from door to door in Portland, while covering Alaska and Idaho by mail at the same time. This grew into sending literature to the world. The first printing of 50,000 grew to 950,000. Future printings were as many as 8 million. Earth’s Final Warning was just the first of many tabloids.

Jean and Reuben (center) with Gabriel Simpson of Figi (left) and David Vaipulu of Tonga—recipients of Cornerstone tabloids.

Eventually, Cornerstone Publishing was formed—a non-profit ministry of Seventh-day Adventist laymen who have accepted the commission of our Savior to spread the message far and wide to hasten His coming. Cornerstone accepts no salary, no traveling expenses, or stipend. All donations are used for printing to send truth-filled messages around the world, as well as a monthly four-page newsletter.

Reuben and Jean, despite sacrificing for the ministry in these expenses, also gave a great amount of their own money to the ministry, the amount of which may never be known. The sale of their cherry orchard financed some of the large printing press runs in the beginning. God certainly provides for His ministry and His workers.

Reuben had a love for the message—the Three Angels’ Messages. His project-oriented attitude was seen all throughout his life in God’s service. He seemed to always be thinking. Even before one shipment was completed, Reuben was starting on another printing or another project.

Reuben had a very sharp mind and an unmatched memory. Even the day of his death he was on the phone to several people trying to make sure Cornerstone would get at least one more printing accomplished. Reuben didn’t only have a sharp mind, he also had a loving and caring heart. Many times throughout their lives, he and Jean helped friends and family members financially, or whenever people had dilemmas—for Reuben was particularly good at figuring out solutions to problems. God needed somebody at the helm of Cornerstone to take care of all the many problems that come up when shipping millions of tabloids to many countries in many different languages. Reuben was God’s man.

Another thing Reuben was good at was finding the right person to help with a project. He had people to coordinate the receipt of shipments in many places around the world; people to translate the tabloids into many languages; people to format the tabloids; and people to edit the tabloids and newsletters. He even drew Ron and Margie Carter up from Southern California to be his partners, neighbors, and friends. Reuben had a way of drawing people into his work. That was a God-given gift.

Reuben with a loaf of bread he made at a Three Angels Historic Church cooking class.

As of this past spring, approximately 402 containers have been shipped to different parts of the world in many languages. Each container holds 630 boxes and each box holds 750 tabloids for a total of 472,500 tabloids per container. Do the math to find out how many tabloids have been shipped since the beginning of the ministry and you will be astonished. Praise the Lord!

Anyone who is familiar with Reuben’s work has heard stories of many churches and villages and families and individuals who have started keeping the Sabbath and learning all the Seventh-day Adventist truths because of the tabloids. It is safe to say that the Lord has truly blessed the work of Reuben Teske.

“Those who labor for souls must attain to a deeper, fuller, clearer knowledge of God than can be gained by ordinary effort. They must throw all their energies into the work of the Master. They are engaged in a high and holy calling, and if they gain souls for their hire they must lay firm hold upon God, daily receiving grace and power from the Source of all blessing. ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’” Titus 2:11-14. Acts of the Apostles, 205.

Editorial note: Vance Ferrell of Harvestime Books is taking over as the new head of Cornerstone Publishing, working closely with Ron and Margie Carter.

 

By Margie Carter and Jeff Bell. Margie: wa9647@gmail.com. Jeff: jeffbell30@yahoo.com. Cornerstone Publishing: Ron and Margie Carter, 3249-C Old Baldy Road, Rice, WA 99167. 509 722-3990.


09/05/2015: Gunnel’s Last Days

Gunnel’s Last Days

Sweden

 

“Do you have a dog? Are you interested in dog food?” It was a cold, rainy, and very windy day in the marketplace. Before it was even ten o’clock in the morning, most of the vendors had already returned home, having realized that the storm was not abating. Giannantonio, Aaron, and I had decided to sell our vegetables, health food, and books at the market that October day in 2011. Since we had paid and traveled an hour to reach our destination, we did not want to return home. I found the lady beside us rather annoying, as she continually stopped people and asked about their dog or cat. She was selling pet food and I feared that her behavior would prevent people from stopping and lingering at our table. Later in the day, we moved to another spot more protected from the wind, but we were still able to hear the pet food merchant. She was quite persistent, and was one of the few, if not only, vendors that remained with us throughout the day.

A young Gunnel.

This particular market occurs once in the spring and once in the autumn, and each year I met the pet food merchant there, and I learned that her name was Gunnel. I think it was the autumn of 2013 when I presented her with a brochure on the life of Christ. Later—it must have been the same day—she came by and kindly gave me a copy of her book. She was a Christian and had written a book on practical Christianity called One Step at a Time. After this we became closer friends, still meeting occasionally at the market. I also visited her once and gave her something to help the arthritis in her hands.

One autumn, we began to give monthly Bible lectures on Sabbath in a coastal city about 25 minutes away from where Gunnel lived. We invite people to a free meal and then I lecture for about an hour to the non-Seventh-day Adventist visitors. We invite people that we meet in the market. Although our group ranges from only one to six attendees, the Lord has blessed our meetings. We are hoping, planning, and praying to continue this monthly meeting regularly as long as we are able. Last autumn, we invited Gunnel to join us. To our great joy, Gunnel came to the meetings in both November and December. She informed us that she would not be able to attend in January or successive meetings, for various reasons.

In the middle of January, when my wife, daughter, and I returned from a trip abroad, I called Gunnel. Sadly, she was in the hospital. “May we come and visit you?” I inquired. “Yes, you may! That would be wonderful.” As we visited, we learned that she had cancer. We had “smuggled” a glass of vegetable juice into the hospital, which she enjoyed imbibing. We read from the Bible with her and prayed.

As we departed, we did not know what would happen in the future. Gunnel was going to return home the next day. How would she manage? Would she be able to care for herself? My wife and I are very busy. By God’s grace, we try to manage our time to accomplish as much as possible, but we never seem to have enough time. It is often a challenge to know how to prioritize our daily schedule. In any case, a few days later on Sunday, we felt compelled to visit Gunnel. My wife and daughter stayed with her for about two hours while I was away at a Bible study. We made her some vegetable juice, cleaned her home, and helped her in any other way we were able.

We invited Gunnel to consider coming to our health and mission center where she would be able to rest, receive therapies, and have the opportunity to regain her health. We found out that she had had cancer for several years, having had two or three operations, radiation, and chemotherapy. The reason she had checked into the hospital this time was due to blood in the urine and feces. While in the hospital, she began to vomit and was still vomiting when she returned home.

Over the next few days, we kept in touch by telephone. On Wednesday, we offered to come by and help her more. We mentioned to her the possibility of coming home with us, so that we would be better able to care for her. When we arrived, we realized that her case was more serious than we had imagined. Clearly, she was too weak and sick to properly take care of herself, and doing the simplest activities was exhausting. We agreed that she should come back with us to Stenshult after we had cleaned her house as good as it could be in a few hours.

My wife and daughter moved over to the ministry base to care for Gunnel that very evening. Gunnel had a good night and ate three small meals the next day. Nonetheless, she began to vomit again. Even just taking her pills or drinking water would trigger this reaction. Over the next several days, Gunnel continued to decline in strength and ability. Despite this, she remained strong in Jesus, keeping a thankful, appreciative, hopeful, cheerful, and loving spirit. When she began to eat again, we were so excited; we distinguished a red color returning to her cheeks. Each day we hoped that she would be able to eat and drink at least a minimal amount. If the cancer had not been enough to break her body, the surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and medication had almost crushed out every life force.

The team that ministered to Gunnel.

Gunnel so thoroughly enjoyed her time with us. She had been essentially a loner her whole life, having never married, and was the only professing Christian in her family. Lilian read to her daily from The Ministry of Healing, and we often sang, prayed, and read from the Bible with her. Since Jesus loved her through us, she really desired to remain with us. Because of her pleasantness, we had the same feelings. We found out that the doctors and hospital had done all they could do for her, so, in a sense, she had nothing to lose by being with us. I arranged for a nurse and doctor to visit her, in order for the local medical community to be aware of our intentions and plans.

The work became overbearing for my wife, especially when she needed to help Gunnel two times during the night. Somewhat reluctantly, we invited the health care service to send caregivers two or three times during the night. We indeed wanted to do this work ourselves, but we did not have the appropriate help. We did, however, ask them to not come on Sabbath, trusting that God had a special blessing for us. We were thankful that they were able to assist Gunnel for three nights, while my wife and daughter continued during the day.

On a Friday, around noontide, she began to complain of stomach pain. The visiting nurse gave her a dose of medicine, which made her unconscious. We finished our Sabbath preparations and wanted to sing and pray with Gunnel. Around 5:00 pm, after my wife and I turned her from one side to the other, liquid came out of her mouth. Finally, we managed to start singing again and one of the hymns we had sung earlier in the week was En liten stund med Jesus (A Moment with Jesus) by Lina Sandell. Before finishing the hymn, Gunnel quietly breathed her last breath, calmly falling asleep a little more than one hour into the Sabbath.

There were a lot of emotions packed into those 17 intense days with Gunnel. We shed tears, partly of joy that Gunnel was a believer in Christ and that her suffering was ended, and partly of sadness for losing a good friend and because sin and death are so cruel. We do not know how Gunnel responded to the Sabbath and other teachings, but she seemed to always bear a genuine joy and love for Jesus. When I think of this special experience, I cannot but praise, bless, and thank my God. There were no less than ten different people in the health field from the community that visited our health center and were positively impressed with the work that we are doing. We could also see how beautifully Jehovah had timed so many minor (yet major) details in the previous five months with Gunnel. Truly this experience reminds me of the Matthew 25, Luke 10, Isaiah 58, Revelation 3 work that the Lord has called His people to do in this late hour. It is a work for all ages and all countries. Let us pray that the Lord may send us into the labor. Dear God, forgive us of our selfishness and indifference.

 

By Jay Krüger of Stenshult Health & Mission Centre, Öxabäck, Sweden. jay.krueger@telia.com. www.stenshult.org.


08/29/2015: God is Faithful

God is Faithful

Philippines

 

My name is Jun Salazar. I am 39 years old, and I live with my family in Bawing General Santos City in the Philippines. I was born to a family who are members of the Iglesia ni Cristo Sunday Church. They believe both that Jesus is only human and not God, and that only their group will go to heaven. This group is one of the wealthiest churches here in the Philippines. It has millions of members because their doctrines are very easy to keep. We were not allowed to bring Bibles inside the church and were not allowed to ask the ministers about anything that we found in the Bible that made us confused. Our only obligation was just to sit and listen. I grew up with a lot of vices because the church allows it. I smoked, drank liquor, and used marijuana. The only rule was that the blood of animals was not allowed to enter into our bodies. But everything else was ok.

Jun Salazar and family.

Because my father is a baker, he taught me how to bake. During my high school life, when my mother died, I stopped going to school and worked as a baker. I only worked because I had to pay for my vices.Because I was young, it was natural to love exploring other places and I applied at a bakery in Falls, Masiag. While I was there, I did not attend our church because it was too far away. There are only two churches near the bakery: a Hope Charismatic church and a Seventh-day Adventist church. I did not bother to find out if either one of them were true because I knew that Iglesia ni Cristo is the only group that can go to heaven.

As the years went by, I met a lot of people who came into the bakery. The Seventh-day Adventist pastor Timoteo Piedraverde and his son, Brother Temtem, often came. They were conducting a house-to-house Bible study, and they visited me. But I had a heart of stone and the first time they came I did not want to hear them, even if their message was from the Bible. When I asked them questions, they answered me from the Bible, but when they asked me questions, I could not answer them from the Bible. I noticed that tears were falling from my eyes: I felt shameful for not having a knowledge of the Bible.

I did not really understand God’s plan for me, but I decided to worship on the Sabbath and I felt complete. I now know how to open the Bible because the people in the church are teaching me. At first, I felt awkward to take the Bible to church because I never had before. I felt shy and thought that everyone who knew me before would look at me and laugh. But eventually I found that I wasn’t shy to bring the Bible with me.

I did not accept baptism for many months. When my family and relatives heard that I was worshiping on Sabbath, they persecuted me. They get very mad at me and when I visit them they argue with me. Because I already knew a little bit about the Bible I was able to answer their questions. As time passed, I eventually became baptized, even though I knew my family would be angry and might disown me. I became an active member of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Falls, Masiag. When my employer noticed that I was always absent on Saturday, she asked me about it. I told her that I have a rest day on Saturday. She did not give me the day off, so I decided to stop working as a baker.

By then I knew that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the true church. They are the remnant people of God who take the true message to the world, so I knew it was my obligation to share the message with others, too. I decided to first share it with my family, but sadly they just argued with me using their own words, not the Word of God.

As the years passed, I became a volunteer missionary. When I have money for transportation I go wherever there is a church that needs encouragement, or to support preaching in other places, and to help conduct house-to-house Bible studies. I am amazed that I became a soldier of Jesus Christ because, when I look back into my past, I was a man who was full of vices and prejudices. My wife, who takes care of our two children, is also very supportive of this work.

We had a little business that sustained our needs: a mini-grocery store. At 4:00 am we cooked rice cakes to sell to the stores and restaurants. This income helped to support the Lord’s work, for it provided gasoline money for my motorcycle, and also fed my family when I had to leave them for many days. But sadly, a tragedy occurred: our house and store were destroyed in a landslide. We were not able to rescue anything out of the store, but I was thankful to God because my wife and children were safe: that is more important to me. I know this is just a trial that God’s people encounter.

Some of our neighbors encouraged me to focus on the business rather than on my work for God. But I said to them that the reward for doing the Lord’s work was eternal life. Matthew said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.

As a human, I cannot deny the fact that I have felt discouraged about what happened to us. But according to 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” So my wife and I still continue cooking rice cakes, but the grocery store is at an end.

The author's Bible study students at their baptism.

We are trying to build a church in Bawing General Santos City. We have asked churches in other areas to help by contributing funds to purchase materials. There are only three of us trying to build the church and we do it without pay, as long as there is rice to eat. My wife and I decided to build our house in Bawing, near to where the church is being built, so that we can help do the work of the Lord. Because of the loss of our business, we have a lot of debt. My wife asked my permission to go abroad so that she could work and help support the Lord’s work. It was hard but seemed to be the only way we could become stable again. But while my wife was completing the requirements to go abroad, she developed a disease in her pancreas. I believe that it is not God’s will for her to go abroad and I pray to the Lord that He will heal my wife. I also pray that people who have an abundance of blessings can help, even in the smallest way, so that the Lord’s work can continue to go forward and many souls will be ready when Jesus comes again.

 

By Jun Salazar. Support for the work in the Philippines can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.

 


08/22/2015: God’s Open Ears and Ready Replies

God’s Open Ears and Ready Replies

Laos

 

Do you and your church come together for united prayer? If so, you undoubtedly see answers from God and can relate to Lay Pastor Terad Banjam’s* amazing experience.

Pastor Banjam.

Terad Banjam, of the Hmong people, has planted four churches in the Vientiane province of Laos. These four churches already have 107 members and are still growing. One day, while on his way home from attending an Adventist Southeast Asia Projects (ASAP) training meeting, which focused on united prayer and the Holy Spirit, his heart was burdened. He thought, “I’m working hard for God to bring people to Him, yet I still have many relatives of my own who do not worship God!” He knelt down right there in the pathway and cried, “God, if you are willing, please save my many relatives who do not know you yet. As you know, many of them are controlled by Satan and they need to believe in You. Please convict their hearts through the work of your Holy Spirit.” This simple prayer was followed by many more persistent pleas.

Pastor Banjan had been teaching his church members about prayer and praying unitedly and they were learning quickly. He told them that he did not have the answers to all their problems because they were too big for him to solve, but that their problems were not too big for God. They could bring them to God in prayer. Every morning from five to six and every evening from six to seven, believers came to the church to pray. They praised God and confessed their sins. They asked Him and they thanked Him, day after day. What happened? God came down and worked on their behalf. One by one, members went to those they had offended and apologized. Forgiveness was the outcome and a sweet unity developed. Members started asking Pastor Banjam, “We want to learn how to witness!” As the church members grow in their relationship with Christ, they are also learning how to give Bible studies and share their faith.

Not long after prayer became an integral part of Pastor Banjam’s life, he saw God begin to answer his prayers for his family. One late afternoon as he walked home from the rice fields with two of his brothers-in-law, he felt a strong impression to ask, “Would you like to know more about the God who made the heavens and the earth?” They looked at him and said, “Yes, we would like to know about your God.” This made Pastor Banjam’s heart leap with joy. He shared a little more right then and set up time to begin Bible studies with them. Finally, they started attending church and continue to attend each week.

He had another opportunity to share God with his family after he was miraculously healed from a cancerous tumor in his neck. His family saw the tumor growing and fear grew in their hearts as Banjam steadily lost weight and strength. It looked like Satan had the upper hand and was winning the battle for his health. This experience tested his faith but he kept praying. Finally, Pastor Banjam totally surrendered his health over to God. At that moment, God took over and he started down the road to recovery. Through prayer, natural remedies, and a change in his lifestyle, the tumor completely disappeared. This not only impressed the doctors who planned to operate, but it touched the hearts of his family members and opened their minds to consider a healthy, plant-based diet and Banjam’s “healer God.”

Pastor Banjam's Village.

Word spread beyond Pastor Banjam’s village of his powerful God. On the other side of the mountain, the parents of a 15-year-old demon- possessed boy contacted Pastor Banjam. He heard the desperation in the father’s voice. “We brought Sxengveu to the shaman, to doctors, the temple, and fortune tellers to heal him but they could not help him. Can you?” Pastor Banjam pitied them because they had spent $10,000 with no cure. A young believer from his church accompanied him and they set off on a day-long, 100 kilometer trek to the village, in the middle of rainy season.

Before they arrived at the village they knelt down and prayed. This village was anti-Christian and quite hostile. The village chief allowed them to visit the boy but instructed them that they could not stay long or he would call the police. Laos is still a communist country where proselytizing is forbidden. Pastor Banjam went to the home and saw an emaciated boy. He prayed for Sxengveu, offered a few words of encouragement to the family, and headed back home.

After two months, Pastor Banjam went back to visit this little village a second time. Sxengveu’s father shared the exciting news that every day after his visit his son grew stronger and now was healed. These animists saw God at work with their very own eyes. Pastor Banjam told him that it was God, not he, that fought off the devil. Because of this special healing, many families have invited Pastor Banjam to their homes, wanting to hear about his powerful God that heals.

The village chief now tells his people to decide for themselves who they will believe in and apologized for his hostility. He told Pastor Banjam, “If you see anything good that should be done for the people, do not hesitate to do it.” Twenty-three people in the village decided to get baptized and worship together each Sabbath.

Pray that many more people throughout Southeast Asia will come to God and unite in prayer.

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

 

By Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako of Adventist Southeast Asia Projects (ASAP). jeanette.yeboah@asapministries.org.

www.asapministries.org. PO Box 84, Berrien Springs, MI 49103.

 

*pseudonym


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.


08/16/2015: 13th Sabbath Offering Project

New Church 
& Worker Salary

Ethiopia

 

Elder Deasta.

Desta Boke was working as a leader in evangelical churches in Ethiopia. After a chance meeting with a Seventh-day Adventist gospel worker, Desta learned about the Sabbath. He searched the scriptures for himself, having found that the leaders at his old church could not give him answers from the Bible. Eventually, Desta embraced the Seventh-day Adventist message and was baptized.

Today, Desta is an evangelist and brought in almost 40 new souls into the church within one year, with many others taking baptismal classes. Many of these people came from his former church, and as a result, Desta and his work has been reviled and persecuted. Having come from a church that meets in a large building, it has been challenging for the new Seventh-day Adventist members to meet under a big tree on Sabbath. Desta was a paid worker at the evangelical church, but now works for very little or no wages, despite the fact that his prior church has promised to double his former pay, if he returned.

This 13th Sabbath, please remember Desta Boke, his ministry, and the people of Ethiopia in your prayers.

Monetary blessings are also needed, and so if you are led to help these people build a church of their own and pay Desta a fair wage, please mark your donations: “13th Sabbath Offering.”

 


08/08/2015: Catastrophe

Catastrophe

DR Congo

 

“While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. ‘The earth mourneth and fadeth away,’ ‘the haughty people … do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.’” Isaiah 24:4, 5. Darkness Before Dawn, 33.

Health Centre Dikanda.

Heavy rains hit the Sankuru region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition to the torrential rain, strong winds brought every activity to a halt. The storm left more than 200 people dead, an indefinite number of people injured, and caused massive destruction. School buildings and hundreds of homes were badly damaged or destroyed, families were forced to live outdoors, Christians lost their places of worship, and schools closed their doors, at least temporarily. These were the sad results of a natural disaster. Thanks to the efforts of the Provincial Governor, the situation has been improving daily.

The health center staff attended to all who came.

By God’s grace, the Health Center of Dikanda suffered only minor damages, but many of our brothers and sisters who had suffered injuries came to our place for care. We thank you and everyone who helped with donations that allowed us to serve our brethren in need. Several wounds became infected due to a lack of adequate materials and medication, because of your gifts, we were able to improve the conditions.

A tragic situation occurred when a wall collapsed and parts of it came down on a poor woman who had had a Caesarean section shortly before the rain started. The wound opened again and the situation became very serious. God blessed our efforts and the life of this woman was spared. There were many other cases, but I couldn’t document them. We need a camera to take pictures when necessary. We are located in a village and there isn’t a photographer available to take pictures.

Hundreds of families brought their injured loved ones.

We took care of 351 injured people in two months. Thirty-four patients were transferred to Lodja for x-rays and seventy-seven had to be sent to the hospital right away. The results of the treatments of malaria and several other problems were very encouraging: 388 patients were tested positive (blood test with examination). Several days later, 360 of them returned for another blood test, which confirmed the total absence of malaria-causing parasites. Five people who had not properly followed the instructions were not cured.

“Many have expected that God would keep them from sickness merely because they have asked Him to do so. But God did not regard their prayers, because their faith was not made perfect by works. God will not work a miracle to keep those from sickness who have no care for themselves, but are continually violating the laws of health and make no efforts to prevent disease. When we do all we can on our part to have health, then may we expect that the blessed results will follow, and we can ask God in faith to bless our efforts for the preservation of health. He will then answer our prayer, if His name can be glorified thereby. But let all understand that they have a work to do. God will not work in a miraculous manner to preserve the health of persons who by their careless inattention to the laws of health are taking a sure course to make themselves sick.” Counsels on Health, 59.

The powerful storm caused many injuries and infections.

We are confronted with many problems at the Health Center: poor standards of hygiene, inadequate supply of good drinking water, and food shortages. The illnesses are clearly related to these issues. We must alert the people, inform them about the risks of poisoning, of allergies and parasites, and of using industrial products in their foods. We need more surgical instruments, an electricity generator, ultrasound and radiology devices, and more emergency supplies. We are also looking for means to bring a surgeon to Dikanda. Thank you for every bit of help!

“Brethren and sisters, will you today pledge yourselves before God to pray for these workers who have been chosen to go to other lands? Will you pledge yourselves not only to pray for them, but to sustain them with your tithes and offerings? Will you pledge yourselves to practice strict self-denial in order that you may have more to give for the advancement of the work in the ‘regions beyond’? We feel moved by the Spirit of God to ask you to pledge yourselves before Him to lay by something weekly for the support of our missionaries. God will help and bless you in doing this.” The Review and Herald, November 11, 1902.

 

By Samuel Disasi, RN, director of Health Centre Dikanda. Support for this work in DR Congo can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.

 


08/01/2015: Apa ou Pale Creole?

Apa ou Pale Creole?

Haiti

 

“I will bring the blind by a way that they did not know; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things will I do for them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16.

Not far from where I live, yet closer to where the baking project ministry is stationed, there lies a Haitian barracón—a large, sub-divided hut for Haitian farm workers—nestled right between. Stricken with poverty, obscure, and odd-looking, this Haitian village is tenderly regarded by “Papa Bondey,” an endearing term, which means “Father God.” Divine workings began to develop in an interesting way, allowing an evangelistic series, entitled “Aun hay Esperanza” (There is Still Hope) to reach the members of the Haitian community at large. Three nationalities came together to reach these people, but, as is often the case, many challenges were met along the way.

A Sabbath morning altar call.

The first challenge was finding a translator for the American pastor coming from the United States. We had only three people to choose from, myself included. Although I was willing to do it, it would not have been the ideal situation, given that I was also going to be in charge of many details of the meetings, including the children’s class. But it turned out that God had already provided us with a translator, thanks to a contact our local pastor had with a young, bilingual Dominican pastor!

Our biggest challenge came when one of our youth abandoned the faith just a week before the crusade started. The mournful pain was felt by each of us and the atmosphere in the community had the strange aura of a funeral parlor. It took much of God’s grace to carry us through the planning and activities.

Transportation for our American guests was our third hurdle. Three people were flying in from New York and another five from Virginia. We were under the impression that we would need to make two separate trips to the airport, because the ones coming from New York could not arrange same day and time of arrival with those coming from Virginia, for the simple reason that the first three did not know the other five! But, miracle of miracles, they all flew in on the same day, with just an hour difference in arrivals! With the major barriers torn down, the crusade got on its way.

The first night’s meeting was attended by a large crowd. Numerous Haitians attended the succeeding presentations. It was providential that the main speaker was Haitian-American. This made it easier for the Haitians to intermingle on a friendlier level.

Sabbath afternoon Bible study group.

Each afternoon, the crusade workers would go on the half-hour walk to visit the Haitian village. Words of encouragement, answers to biblical questions, and medical screenings were given in an effort to meet their needs. We then initiated a Sabbath afternoon Bible study group right on the side of the road facing the barracón —truly “highway ministry” in action. The group study lessons were in English, translated into Spanish, and then into Creole for the benefit of the Haitians that could not understand Spanish. We praised God as we saw Him touch people’s lives. At the end of the crusade, two of these precious souls rededicated their lives to Jesus, while a third Haitian lady converted from her faith to God’s truth, and three Dominicans were also baptized into the Advent truth.

The first eight Haitians in our community receiving Creole Bibles.

As we worked in this endeavor, we were pleasantly amazed at the cohesiveness of the crusade team in spite of the differences in languages and cultures. Each morning we convened together for worship, seeking God’s help and guidance for the work being done. We ate together and worked together. Each felt as if we had known each other for years, realizing, of course, that only the love of Jesus can bond people in such a unique way.

Once our friends returned to the United States, we continued to hold the Bible study group every Sabbath afternoon. To our surprise, a couple of our American brethren that had returned home made contact with an American ministry, which donated Creole Bibles. Though it took more than a month to receive them, we uttered words of thanksgiving for the manna—40 Creole Bibles!

Baptismal candidate Carina with Pastor Brutus.

The crusade was only the beginning for the work that is still underway. Since there was a consistency of interest, we officially started meeting as a branch Sabbath School. We met under a tarp in the backyard of an unconverted soul who voluntarily offered his place for the meetings. Although he does not attend the services, his common-law wife does. Please pray that God’s Spirit will move upon his heart and break the strongholds that weigh him down. Meetings are held in Spanish, with translation in Creole. There are some other Haitians studying the Bible with members of our ministry. Presently, three would like to commit their lives to Jesus, but there are some impediments interfering. We pray for God to work out these details and loose the bonds keeping souls from committing to the Jesus. We claim the promise that “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37.

Even though no one in our ministry could speak His word in Creole to the Haitians at the barracón, it was no challenge to God, for you see, Bondye tou pale nan kreyól —God also speaks in Creole! May each of you be endowed with His Spirit to do His biddings at the appointed time.

By Nelly Severino of Nutrition, Education, & Salvation Ministry (NES). estherdj@gmail.com. NES Ministry, PO Box 582, Antlers, OK 74523.