07/29/2017: Cheer in the Care Center

Cheer in the Care Center

A tiny church with no musicians develops a successful care center  outreach program.

 

It’s so boring here on weekends,” Merlyn complained. “Nothing ever happens then.”

When my friend Karole told me about Merlyn’s remark, my heart went out to her. Merlyn lives in the nursing home in Kahoka, Missouri, the town where I attend church. How many others in that care center felt the same way? How many of them didn’t even have a friend like Karole to come and visit now and then?

“I know people who have a nursing home ministry in other towns, and it can be a real blessing,” Karole confided. “Do you think the Kahoka Church would be interested in doing a monthly program for the residents of the care center?”

A tiny church with no musicians develops a successful care center outreach program.

We were interested, but we had a problem: Our church is very small. We rarely have more than ten people attending services on Sabbath—and we don’t have any musicians in regular attendance. Although we felt willing, we did not know what to do or where to start. The thought of starting such a ministry without musicians and with so few volunteers felt daunting!

Karole promised to ask around for ideas, and in her research she discovered the Sonshine Society, a non-profit, non-denominational organization that promotes care center ministry by recruiting workers and providing training and materials. Among the many resources offered are two different large print hymnals with accompanying soundtracks on CD. The recordings include both instruments and voices, and the songs are played a bit slower and in a lower key than most conventional church music, making it is easier for residents to sing along.

The Sonshine materials were just what we needed to get started. Now, we look forward to our program every month. We start with prayer and a short Bible reading. Next we have our song service: usually about ten songs interspersed with inspirational stories and poems. The residents really enjoy singing along.

Before closing with prayer, we ask for special prayer requests. Afterward, we enjoy visiting with each person. We generally have 20 or more attendees, which is about one third of the residents. It is such an encouragement to see their faces light up when we arrive. One Sabbath as we came in, a sweet lady clapped her hands. “Oh, you are here! I knew this was the day the singers came.” We love our afternoons at the care center!

Residents follow along in the Sonshine hymnals.

The Sonshine Society reports that at least two million people currently live in care centers, and projections show that over 50 million current United States residents will spend their final days in a nursing home. As we take the closing message of the gospel to “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” we should not neglect those hidden away from society in their hour of greatest need. Revelation 14:6. Most nursing home residents have had to reduce their material possessions to what fits into three dresser drawers. Sometimes this happens in a matter of days. They now know what “temporal” means and are ready to listen to things eternal. 

If our small group can do care center ministry, anyone can! Already our example has inspired the other two churches in our district to start their own care center ministries. We’re so glad! We encourage you to get started in this ministry as well. We found out that it’s easy—and the audience is so appreciative. What’s more, we know that our ministry makes Jesus’ heart glad, for He told us, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40.

AUTHOR

Beverly Francis

Beverly served as bookkeeper for Mission Projects International for 15 years. She helps proofread Mission Projects magazine and looks for ways to minister in her daily life.

 

YOU CAN, TOO!

The Sonshine Society aims to see a consistent Christian witness in every care facility in North America. You can order their reasonably-priced materials by phone at (425) 353-4732; or download the order form at www.sonshinesociety.org and mail it to PO Box 327, Lynnwood, WA 98046-0327.

Once your care center ministry is established, consider acknowledging birthdays and holidays with a card, a gift or a special song. For example, at Christmastime last year the Kahoka group gave each attendee a gift bag with small comforts such as lotion and chap stick; and they always acknowledge birthdays with a song and a card. As appropriate, spiritual literature could also be shared.


07/01/2017: Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Is it possible for Seventh-day Adventists to build bridges of friendship with Muslims? The divide between Christians and Muslims seems to grow wider each year. Yet Jesus is the master bridge builder! He bridged the gap between fallen man and Heaven, and He has placed Adventists in a position to connect with Muslims in ways that no other Christian denomination can.

Several facets of our unique faith resonate with Muslims. The 6-day creation, avoidance of pork and alcohol, our nearness to the end of time and the great judgment—these beliefs are just a few of the connecting links our Biblical faith gives us to Muslim ideology.

So how do we open discussion with Muslims? As a first step, it helps to learn their traditional greeting, “Assalamu alaikum.”1 This Arabic salutation, which means “May peace be upon thee,” is almost universal among Muslims. On a recent trip to Texas, I had the chance to use it.

We had flown all night and needed a ride to our hotel. Calling a taxi, I soon met our Middle Eastern driver. I decided to try out my Arabic. “Assalamu alaikum!”

“Wa alaikum assalaam,” 2 he answered. “Who are you? Are you Muslim?”

“We are Seventh-day Adventists,” I replied, “and we don’t eat pork or consume alcohol. We worship one God and don’t worship with images. We believe in the resurrection and that we are living in the last days, and we are followers of Isa al-Masih!” 3

This all seemed new to him, and for the next 40 minutes we shared a delightful dialogue. After quite some discussion he asked me, “So is Jesus the Son of God?”

It seemed too early in our friendship for this hot topic—a theme Muslims love to argue but which usually leads nowhere. I knew we needed to connect first on points of agreement. So I responded, “I read the Qur’an and it tells me that Jesus was born of a virgin and that He was holy or righteous from birth.”

The driver thought a moment. “Yes, it does say that,” he nodded. Then he went on to a different subject. Thus the Lord gave me more time to establish a relationship.

One question I usually like to ask Muslims is, “What do you know about the judgment?” The driver and I had a lively discussion on that theme. He affirmed that Muslims fear the judgment with great anxiety. When I asked him why, he said, “One does not know if the scale of worth places him on the right side or not.”

“Do you think God is for you or against you?” I probed.

“I am not sure,” he said. “It is all about the scale and balances. If you have done enough good works, you may be in His favor. If not, the outcome is not good.”

I assured him that God is doing everything possible for him to come through the judgment—that He is desperately trying to save us. Then I encouraged him to listen when God tries to get his attention, to earnestly pray for direction and thank Him in advance. I could see that these were new thoughts to him.

When we finally arrived at the hotel, I had several tracts ready to offer. Our driver accepted them all, assuring me that he would read them!

God is using every avenue He can to bring the gospel to Muslims. Jesus paid the ransom for them. It matters not so much what men have done nor where they are, but what they do when light from Heaven shines into their lives. Will you pray for tact and wisdom to allow God to use you to reach out to this massive people group?

1 Pronounced ah-sah-LAH-moo ah-LIE-koom. Also spelled a salaam aleikum.

2 “And may peace be upon thee.”

3 Jesus the Messiah. Pronounced EE-sah al-mah-SEE.

Rudy Harnisch

Pastor Harnisch is the Adventist Muslim Relations Liaison for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. 250-254-2524; sdabooks@gmail.com

 

Get Involved.

As the Muslim population increases in America, what will you do to reach out to your Muslim neighbors? If you don’t know where to begin, contact Pastor Harnisch. He can point you to resources to share with Muslims, or even hold a weekend seminar in your church.

Pray.

An estimated 1.6 billion Muslims occupy our planet. They need our prayers! Will you ask God to send light into their lives?


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.”


12/10/2016: Surprises

Surprises

in Senegal

This summer, as in years past, about 95% of our neighbors observed the holy month of Ramadan—because 95% of Senegal’s population is Muslim. During Ramadan, believers abstain from food and beverages, including water, from sunup to sundown. Since the religious calendar follows the moon cycles, the month of fasting comes eleven days earlier each year, and these last few years it has come during summertime. The heat makes going without water even more difficult for adherents.

Although Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam, many people don’t look forward to it. Physical difficulties aside, the religious holiday has become highly commercialized, much like Western holidays. Extravagance is expected at the evening feasts, so people actually spend more money on food than usual. Fasting all day also makes drivers jittery, and traffic accidents increase. Depending on the destination, I often prefer to take a taxi rather than fight with the traffic. Narrow roads combined with speed and poor judgment make for hazardous road conditions, especially at night. Still, God is on the throne. We put our lives in His hand daily!

Table for vacation Bible school activities.
Table for vacation Bible school activities.

During early summer, we worked at the outpost to construct a covered courtyard with easily accessible restroom facilities for outdoor ministry activities, including our August Vacation Bible School for the village children. The Children’s Ministry department of the West Sahel Union provided materials for 30–50 kids. Please pray for the village children as we continue to reach out to them!

At our rental house in town, I have set up the garage with used and donated furniture so we can comfortably host classes and Bible studies. I also plan to display a few natural remedies for sale there in a tall cabinet I was able to obtain. Already I am having wonderful experiences in the ministry garage studying with two ladies.

Claudine is Congolese and loves to talk about the Bible. I gave her a Bible a few months ago and we have looked at several subjects together. One Thursday she stayed at my house for over four hours studying about the spirit, soul and the state of the dead. The next week, we started talking about unclean meats. She resisted some, so I didn’t force the issue. I just told her to read Leviticus 11.

Esther is a Jehovah’s Witness who visited me while doing her own door-to-door evangelism. I invited her and her daughter in and we had a productive, friendly study about the divinity of Jesus. During the study, she saw that Revelation 1:11 was different in her Bible than in mine. I told her to look at other Bible versions to see what the verse said, and she promised to do so. When she came a second time with her niece, we talked about the soon coming of Christ. Recently she called hoping for another visit, which I was happy to arrange. Please pray for Claudine and Esther. I can see that they love the Lord and want to know Him better.

Challenges abound, but God is so good. We had firsthand evidence of His protection this summer. My son Malcolm had gone to the school to do some tutoring. Meeting his older sister there, he polished off her leftover lunch from a Chinese restaurant. Then, after tutoring for an hour, he went out for a game of basketball. During the game, his body started itching, but he ignored it until he realized it was getting worse and his face was swelling.

Garage where classes and Bible studies are held.
Garage where classes and Bible studies are held.

His sisters had been working at the school’s summer camp that morning. Niassa, his older sister, had left after the activities ended. Then, after walking a few blocks, she decided to return to the school. His younger sister Janie usually did some tutoring after summer camp, but had decided to skip that afternoon. Now the girls were relaxing together in a classroom.

When Malcolm started itching and swelling, he ran to find his sisters. By the time they saw him, his face appeared to have doubled in size and his eyes were almost swollen shut. Niassa had done some medical missionary training at academy and recognized this as a medical emergency. As they rushed out of the building to hail a taxi, a lady sitting on a bench near the entrance saw Malcolm’s face and offered to drive them herself to a doctor near the school. 

On the way, my daughters called to tell me what was going on. Immediately, I began praying for Malcolm. Having just finished a tutoring job myself, I took a taxi to be with my kids.

When Malcolm arrived at the doctor’s office, his tongue had swollen up and he was having trouble breathing. He said he felt like he was passing out. The doctor rushed him inside and gave him two shots. When I arrived about 10 minutes later, the swelling was subsiding, although Malcolm was still itchy and agitated. We put a wet towel on his back to calm him, and the doctor observed him for a couple of hours. Then he sent us home with contact information for an allergist who could help us find out what Malcolm is allergic to.

This experience shook us all. Malcolm had had an allergic reaction about 18 years before when we ate in a Chinese restaurant while visiting Maryland. I had ordered vegetarian food and specifically asked them not to use any fish sauce, but the next day Malcolm broke out in hives and later his tongue started swelling. We took him to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital where a kind doctor gave him some Benadryl and told us to get some from the drugstore. I felt quite ignorant to learn that all we needed was Benadryl, but it helped me understand the Bible verse that says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.

I was a very new Adventist then, but that experience began my journey of becoming a medical missionary. I had been reading the Spirit of Prophecy and I felt the truth pulling at my heart. From then on I vowed to learn more about health.

Now, 18 years later, living in a foreign country, the situation reoccurred in a much more serious manner. It was a surprise to everybody but God. When I think about the series of providences that happened that day, I feel awestruck and profoundly grateful to our God who sees and knows everything. Both my daughters “just happened” to still be at the school, but of course we know that God arranged it. God also stationed a lady who owned a car in my children’s path so she could be ready to take Malcolm to a doctor she knew with an office close by—closer than the doctor’s office my daughters would have taken him to in a taxi. God is so good!

Every morning I entrust all my loved ones into God’s care, and He has never failed me—not even during the hectic season of Ramadan. We can trust our Heavenly Father. He is our only confidence! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

   

By Deborah Ndione. senegalhealthproject@live.com. Contributions to this project may be made through Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058, or online at www.missionspro.org, marked “Senegal.”


01/09/2016: All in His Time

All in His Time

Senegal

 

It has been a while since I have written. I have been going through some personal challenges and upheavals, but God has been good throughout! I am writing from the United States. I had been planning to visit my oldest son and his family for a couple years but it had not worked out. Early in the summer, however, I was able to go and it was just in the nick of time. My two-year-old grandson was diagnosed with a Salmonella infection in his leg bone and had to be hospitalized. There were some complications, but God heard our prayers and the doctors also reconsidered their decision and discharged him after five weeks instead of six.

Damaged roof tiles.

During this same time, I got a call from Senegal and was told that it appeared that someone had tried to break into my house through the roof. Several roof tiles were damaged and needed to be replaced. I was crushed that someone would try to burglarize my house. The rainy season would be starting any day and we had to scramble to borrow money to buy and install the tiles before the rain came. We did get the tiles but unfortunately the day Doudou, the mason, was supposed to install them, it rained. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to move the furniture from under the damaged tiles so things did not get too wet.

 

But the mystery remained: who would try to break into the house? Soon we had the answer. Aljouma, the man who delivers the water saw Doudou on his way to replace the tiles. He said that a group of monkeys had been in the area and he had to chase them from off my roof. Well, that was a relief! I was so happy to hear that it was the monkeys and not a person trying to break into my house. It seems that monkeys used to be very common in the area. Now that people are buying lots and building, they are losing their habitats and are becoming more of a nuisance.

As an update, we are still waiting on the water pipes to be installed. It seems that the Gotcha Covered Contracting sub-contractor is now the reason for the delay, which makes us realize we should have hired the team at http://www.oceansevenroofing.com/sherman-oaks-spray-foam-insulation/. Before leaving Senegal, I was calling regularly only to hear the same story: there is a shortage of pipes. Please pray that the shortage will soon be over. We have been waiting for over two years now. Lack of water really limits our gardening options because buying water is so much more expensive.

Also, please pray that God will send some mature Christians to help with the project. Many people have passed through but a few have come for reasons that are sometimes dubious. Sad to say, at other times they have been outright dishonest. Poverty and sin can breed a mentality that seeks to take advantage of others, especially foreigners.

Keeping the rain off the floor.

A major drawback has been finding reliable individuals with whom to partner in the work who are not driven solely by money. Because I have to spend a lot of time in Dakar working to get the finances to help support the project, things do not get done as they should and resources are misused and/or wasted. Although teaching English is helpful, it can be financially stressful waiting 2-3 months for your salary. This situation has caused me much distress and has sent me back to the drawing board and to my knees to better understand God’s plan for us here.

 

Several years ago when I was working at Advent Home, I had an interesting dream. In the dream, I was in Africa and I was showing my brother my vegetarian café/health food store with treatment rooms. Since that time, I have kept the idea in the back of my mind. The Spirit of Prophecy counsels us to start hygienic restaurants and health food stores with treatment rooms in the cities as a form of evangelism. This should be coupled with a sanitarium in the country.

For several months, as I was contending with these personal challenges, the idea came back to my mind. At the same time, due to other family issues, the need to rent a place in Dakar became evident. As I was looking for a place, the idea in my dream was foremost in my thoughts. Wherever we rented had to have enough space for a massage and treatment room and a shop.

In Senegal, it is commonplace for all kinds of businesses to run out of a garage whether those businesses are tailor shops, boutiques that sell food or clothes, restaurants, or beauty salons. After several weeks of searching, I found a house that seemed to be just what I needed. It had a garage and an extra room with a bathroom inside. I started thinking about and planning how to set up the shop, and what products we would need, etc. Twenty-five years ago I operated a health food store but I realize that this shop will be a bit different.

Due to financial constraints, it will be small, but it will carry healthy food products such as whole grains and local rice. We will sell mostly locally-acquired products, along with charcoal, essential oils, and the natural personal care products and natural remedies that I make. I also plan to offer fresh veggie juices and smoothies and, eventually, salads, soups, and simple sandwiches and wraps. And most importantly, I want to have a library of our books and tracts that people can read onsite or borrow.

“I had been feeling troubled earlier because it seemed that I was not moving forward as quickly as I hoped. Still I have to remind myself that it is all in His time.”

On my arrival in the States, I started making lists of the things I needed to purchase like essential oils, charcoal, and containers that I cannot find in Senegal. After making my essential oil list that came to over $300 I wondered where I would get the money. To my amazement, a family friend who was totally unaware of my plans brought me more than 30 large bottles of essential oils. Praise God!

I also wanted some medical supplies like gauze for poultices, rubber gloves, and bandages for the treatment room. As I was explaining what I planned to do, another family friend gave me several bags of supplies along with an electronic blood pressure monitor. I believe that the Lord is confirming the path I am taking!

Time is short and the Lord is telling us to be about His business. I had been feeling troubled earlier because it seemed that I was not moving forward as quickly as I hoped. Still I have to remind myself that it is all in His time. That does not mean that we should dawdle and be idle but we should also refrain from running before the Lord. We need to pray without ceasing and like we have never prayed before. He wants to bless us but as He has shown me, we must be in His will not in our own.

Please continue to pray for the Senegal Health Project that it may be an effective right arm of the gospel as well as salt and light in Senegal.

May 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.


01/02/2016: Illuminating Darkness

Illuminating Darkness

Uganda

 

There are vast numbers of witch doctors in Africa. Satan works very openly in Africa, controlling society through fear and the love of money. In my home country of Australia, he works more subtly, especially within the remnant church, causing disunity and weakening our abilities to finish the work for Christ. The great controversy is being carried out all over the world in various ways. These are some stories that explain the evil power they hold over the people.

One time, two young men from overseas visited a village witch doctor. Because they did not believe in his power, he asked, “What do you want me to do to prove it to you?” They said, “Make a goat come down from the ceiling.” A moment later, a goat floated down from the ceiling and stood before them. Satan’s power is very real.

Thousands of children disappear without a trace every year. Many of them are sold for body parts to prepare a strong medicine that people buy to make them rich. Body parts from albinos are believed to have the greatest power. A group in Tanzania has been organized to provide special protection for albino children.

But there is good news. Through His servants, God is fighting the evil spirits in Africa. Just two months ago in Uganda, my friend, Pastor Oworinawe Alex, was leading a public evangelistic campaign with his team in the village of Kiburara. Our church had never been there before and a great spiritual darkness lay over the people like a blanket. During the meetings, a mother brought her 19-year-old daughter Kiconco, desperately seeking to relieve her of evil spirit possession.

The girl’s mother Mary has been a leader in the Anglican church for ten years. She is a widow with three children. In 2013, the demons attacked one of her girls and killed her on the spot. The next victim on their list was the second daughter, Kincoco, who began suffering from attacks while studying in secondary school. Every time she tried to attend school, they prevented it by attacking her. Kincoco’s three aunts were also affected and they hid themselves in the bush and behaved like mad women.

Mary was desperate and tried everything she could to help her daughter. She took Kincoco to the witch doctors first, then she took her to the clinics for medical treatments, then to the Catholics for prayers, then to the Pentecostal church—but no help was found. She then heard of the meeting of this new, unknown church and decided to seek help from us. The pastors prayed for her and commanded the spirits to leave her in the name of Jesus. The spirits struggled violently in Kincoco and left. She told the pastors there were many evil charms in their home. Our pastors went to her home to look for the charms and found most of them, but the girl told them that the worst one was still there, so they went back and removed it.

Something strange happened at the following Sabbath service. A calabash (a bottle-shaped gourd) filled with herbs, fell down from the ceiling and hit the preacher. The calabash was burned together with the other charms. The people heard the demons cry out and promise never to return.

Our workers decided to visit Mary’s home. She also invited the local village chiefs, several local people, and the district authorities to witness what had taken place, since even the aunts had returned in peace and joined them. Pastor Alex reported that people seemed to go wild over the miracle and were told by the authorities to join our church and live in peace from evil spirits. People now look to our church as a savior of the village and have promised to leave the other churches after witnessing what God did for Mary’s family. Many are waiting for us to build a place of worship for all of them to join.

The evangelistic campaign lasted three weeks and ended with a baptism. Mary, Kiconco, and others were baptized. Our workers are visiting house to house, praying and studying with people to help them understand God’s love and power, and leading them to seek Him first. The new church family now worships in Mary’s peaceful and safe home. Pastor Alex asked me to help them build a place of worship since they do not have the money to do so and the local mission cannot help. Pastor Alex tells us that Mary’s family continues to be well and has had no more demonic attacks. The village is at peace for the first time in several years.

In another story, Pastor Alex reported that they had been having a hard time finding a place for visiting speakers to stay. One day, someone located a lodge with a pub. This pub was known by people as “Sodom and Gomorrah” because it employed more than 25 sex workers. When Pastor Alex and his team stayed there, they became a laughing stock. But since there was no other lodging place, they had to move in. Sleeping was very difficult, due to the loud music, dancing, and drinking.

They decided to talk to the manager. He called in the owner and Pastor Alex told them what the public thinks about the place. On a Thursday, a staff meeting was called, including the sex workers. They shared their problems with our preachers and asked them to pray for them to leave their vices. Everyone promised to attend the meetings, and they did. On Friday, the manager closed down the pub for Sabbath and that place of drinking was turned into a place of worship with Friday night vesper services, welcoming the Sabbath with all in attendance!

Various people spoke up and thanked them for accepting them, unlike other religious people who despised them. Some church members decided to employ some of the girls and provide a home for them. The owner asked Pastor Alex to help him plan a new business that will please God.

Pastor Alex asks us all to join them in praying for this powerful revelation of God’s power in the remnant church, that many will finally be harvested into the Kingdom as the Holy Spirit continues His wonderful work for that area and many other places. We see His hand leading His work as we try to become His hands and feet, reaching many more for the true biblical Christ and draw people away from pagan traditions and false representations of Christ that are preached in other churches.

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 18:9-13.

 

By Thor Pederson. thorp@lpcb.org.


12/26/2015: The Gospel & Rattlesnake Roads

The Gospel & Rattlesnake Roads

Oregon, USA

 

John Day is a small town about five hours from Portland, Oregon, and three or four from Boise, Idaho. It is a rural area with a few churches, most of which are struggling. One of these is a small independent Seventh-day Adventist church that meets at the Mt. Vernon grange. The church I was working for in Portland wanted to help them and so they sent me here for that purpose.

When I got to John Day, I began going door to door and found a couple of people interested in studying the Scriptures with me. Then, on the second day, I met the pastor of the local Presbyterian church, and he is interested in hosting a prophecy seminar for his church. A couple of days later I had my first scheduled Bible study with an at-home mom named Brenda.* Her kids were excited to have a visitor. A woman from our church, whom I asked to accompany me, seemed to have a good time with the children while the study was going on. Brenda is now out of town for several weeks, however, but she has already said that she would continue studies upon her return.

A deer greeting the author on one of his daily journeys.

At the beginning of my first weekend here, the church had a booth at a local health fair where hundreds of people were able to receive literature! And even though the focus of the event was health, the Lord graced me with the opportunity to share the gospel. One woman walked right up to me at the booth and said, “I won’t take a book, but you can give me your spiel.” I was so delighted to share the gospel that her request overwhelmed me. We began talking and it turns out that she goes to a church that’s pretty liberal, so she’s never been confronted with the law before. She thought she would go to heaven because she was a “good person.” The Lord used me to point her to the law, asking her questions that exposed the sin in her life. Then when she realized how full of sin her life truly is, I was able to point her to her Redeemer, and she was able to understand the true meaning of Calvary. She didn’t right then and there repent and turn to Jesus, but she did tell me she would consider what we had talked about, and even took a copy of Bible Readings for the Home. Please keep this woman in your prayers. She lives out of town, but God’s grace may touch her, as she was actually open to the message.

There were two other people who asked some questions and were able to hear the gospel, but unfortunately, they weren’t open and mocked the preaching of the cross. This is fine because they’ve had a chance to hear the gospel so I pray that they will be saved someday, but if not, then they cannot say that they have not heard.

The following week, the Lord sent me all over the community and granted a few Bible studies. There was one study with a woman who lives right across the street from one of our church members, and although the two don’t seem to know each other very well, they are friendly. Melanie* had told me that she is a Roman Catholic who hadn’t ever really studied. She had lots of questions, so I asked if she would like to have a Bible study. When she asked if that would save her, I had to be honest, so I told her that studying with me, in and of itself, wouldn’t save her, the only One who can do that is Jesus Christ. I went on to explain a little bit about salvation as a free gift. She was touched and very excited to start studies and the next day, when we began studying, she was very excited to learn! Tomorrow, she and I are having our fourth study and she is really coming along! Melanie asks lots of great questions and is quickly learning from the Scriptures. Please keep her in prayer.

One of the rattlesnake roads.

There are a lot of roads here that I begin to travel down, hoping to find someone with whom I can share the gospel, only to find that the road doesn’t lead anywhere and the only creatures I can witness to are the rattlesnakes, of which live in abundance in this area. I don’t always see them but I hear their rattles in the dry grass, sometimes more than one at a time. I told my best friend about this and she says that it is very kind of this community to build snake highways, but we agreed that the reptiles probably aren’t interested in the gospel message. These roads have turned out to be a blessing, though, because I am able to have some time to just walk and pray while working.

One day, while traveling down what looked like it was going to be just one of those rattlesnake roads, I came up to a house on the end of a hill. A woman named Polly* lives there and she has problems with her ankles. Polly enjoyed watching a televangelist and asked me to watch one of his videos. We had a long conversation about some of the things he teaches that sounded unbiblical and she said that she was sure she was misrepresenting him. I decided to watch the video while I was eating dinner that afternoon but it was so full of error I could only watch half of it! The preaching was almost out-and-out attacking the Bible. I was concerned and talked to Polly, but she didn’t want to start Bible studies unless her friend (who also watches this program) could attend, too. She later decided she didn’t really want to study, but is always happy to have a visitor, so I’ve been going back from time to time. Today, I left her a The Desire of Ages, which she says she’ll read. I’m praying that the Lord will convict her to start studies. Please pray for Polly.

Presbyterian Church.

A couple of weeks ago I met with the Presbyterian church about doing a seminar, which their pastor really wants to make happen! When I went up front and talked to the church they all seemed to be interested, too. But it was July 5th and most of their board members had family over so they didn’t want to stay to schedule anything. I am praying that God will move upon their hearts. They’re having me return next month to talk to them again. May God spread His message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people!

There are many other things which are worth mentioning, but the other highlight I will mention is a study that the Lord scheduled for me with a gentleman close to the home where I’m staying right now. When I arrived at his home, his roommate came out and wanted to join us, which I of course encouraged him to do! They were both so interested that they said they’re going to talk to their friends about joining us, too. Please praying for Doug* and Roger.*

Most of all please pray for me and my ministry, I have a very high calling to meet and I need more of Him daily!

 

By Kevin Hughes. hugheskevin117@gmail.com. 360 931-8536.

 

*pseudonym


08/09/2014: Attending to Special Needs

Attending to Special Needs

in the Dominican Republic

 

The Saviour’s work was not restricted to any time or place. His compassion knew no limit.” Ministry of Healing, 17.

What a privilege it is to collaborate in the saving of humanity in whatever capacity the Lord sees fit, for the needs and woes of humanity are varied. In Isaiah 55:8, our Heavenly Father says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” God’s ways can, at times, not only be challenging, but also take us on a totally different path along His vineyard than when we started out.

Fresh bread from Severino’s bakery.

By His grace, the Lord has been leading us, step by step, toward the establishment of a small baking ministry to reach the needs of the poor in our community in a unique way. For the past three years, this small missionary project has been expressing Jesus’ loving care to souls through personal efforts such as aiding the sick, helping to add a tin roof and a cement floor to a shack, helping to feed the hungry, presenting health lectures to a women’s group, and constructing an outhouse for a widow, among other things.

Working the dough machine in the bakery.

Almost two-and-a-half years ago, a small evangelical school invited us to do a two-hour presentation on nutrition.  Although we touched on all the eight laws of health, our focus was nutrition.  The principal of this school had become interested in healthy eating because of a contact made by one of our church members.  After the nutrition class the principal and I kept in touch, and we accepted a second invitation to return to the school to do a four-hour educational workshop for the school personnel. The topic was “Identifying the Special Needs Child” and how to fulfill their specific educational needs.  Deuteronomy 32:10 was our foundational verse and we included quotes from the book Education. The Lord worked everything out in a harmonious way. We also provided a simple vegan breakfast, featuring our whole wheat bread from our bakery.

A precious child with special needs.

During a short break in the workshop, we socialized with the school personnel and discovered how desperately they needed the information being shared.  We could tell that the Holy Spirit was talking to their hearts as they expressed genuine desire to make changes in their educational practices.  They also realized that parents needed instruction on child-rearing and discipline.  We’ve accepted the call.  By God’s grace, we will go back to work with the parents. And not only this, but the principal informed me that she and the school cook have decided to buy our bread so that the children will start eating whole wheat bread at the school! The school principal is aware of the fact that good nutrition is an essential need for the developmental growth of children. To the glory of God, she stated that the staff and faculty are implementing in their classrooms much of what they learned in our workshop.  Please keep this little school, its personnel, and student body, in your prayers so that God will open their minds to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

This Christian school principal has been used by the Lord to make contact with a public school principal who has requested that the “Special Needs” workshop to be brought to her school. Praise God!

There is an alarming lack of correct preparation on the part of teachers in this country on how to effectively work with children with special needs. This lack is sometimes greater with parents. Please pray that Jesus will continue to use this ministry to make a difference in this type of work in the Lord’s vineyard.

Calls of different needs, such as mothers wanting their children to be taught how to read and write properly, come to our doors.  Just recently, our ministry conducted a weekend lecture series on true education for a Seventh-day Adventist group.  We were able to go more in-depth on the topic of identifying the special needs child, as well as other topics such as principles on how to set up homeschooling and how to network with homeschooling parents and students. Wellington, one of the young men that works in the bakery, led out in the Friday evening youth meeting.  He touched on Moses’ education.  Our weekend visit ended with a Sunday morning short devotional from the book Ministry of Healing.  We have been asked to return to do another educational presentation.

“Having received the faith of the gospel, the next work of the believer is to add to his character virtue, and thus cleanse the heart and prepare the mind for the reception of the knowledge of God. This knowledge is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. Through the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ, are given to the believer ‘all things that pertain unto life and godliness.’ No good gift is withheld from him who sincerely desires to obtain the righteousness of God.” Acts of the Apostles, 530.

The local people ask for our help.

A Haitian mother in our community had approached me with the request of teaching her 9-year-old daughter how to read and write.  Francesca, the daughter, comes to my house twice a week.  By the grace of God, she is an eager and quick learner.  Francesca also attends church with us every Sabbath and comes home with us afterwards to eat lunch.  May God give me wisdom so that we can continue working with her.

Another young mother, this time a Dominican, has also come to me asking if I could tutor her son.  Although he’s in the village public school, his reading and writing skills need some help. This mother had at one time been receiving Bible studies and she’s hoping to start them again.

While we are aware that we are not able to meet all the needs that come to our doorstep, we do want to help reach souls in practical ways, and then bid them follow Jesus.

We not only want to thank our Lord Jesus for using us in a small, though different, way to reach souls, but also you, our co-laborers, for your prayers and support.

“In placing among them the helpless and the poor, to be dependent upon their care, Christ tests His professed followers.  By our love and service for His needy children we prove the genuineness of our love for Him.  To neglect them is to declare ourselves false disciples, strangers to Christ and His love.”  Ministry of Healing, 205.

Keep close to Him.

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

 


06/28/2014: God’s True Healing

God’s True Healing

Honduras

 

As we mentioned previously, we saw the effort and desire that Elder Orlando and his wife Dolores had to raise their children in a quiet, Christian atmosphere, and we at Maranatha Medical Ministries (MMM) decided to build them a house on the Outpost property. Orlando and Dolores have been very active and diligent in all church operations, and are faithful in outreach and Bible studies. Having the opportunity to help them in this way was a blessing for us as well. We now have a solid, complete Christian family living at the Outpost.

Orlando and Dolores and boys at their new home.

As always, construction began slowly. But in time, the house began to materialize. Orlando made 3,000 bricks by hand. The blocks were then covered in concrete. Even though Orlando does not know much about construction, he kept busy doing whatever he could to help with the work. We would often see him running up the hill with a load of sand in his wheelbarrow, or carrying cement bags on his shoulders. He did not just sit back and watch the house being built, but worked hard to help build the house that God has given to him.

Construction has now ended, and the house is just about complete, it only needs windows, some painting, and other minor touches. Orlando and his family have moved in and they are very happy! I can even see a different attitude in their children. They have begun landscaping and planting a garden, and they enjoy the peacefulness as they sit on their steps and listen to the babbling river below. We pray that this new home and new setting will bring an even closer walk with God for them and their children.

Hard at work building a new home for Orlando and family.

Recently I received a call from my spiritual daughter Elsy, who works with Radio Redemption in Jutiapa, La Ceiba. They needed help with a church outreach program in a new community, and so she wondered if we could come and help. I told her that we would do whatever we could do to help, and would somehow fit it into our already full schedule, the same way that she fits us in when we need her.

So early one Friday morning, Rene, Ruby, and I packed our things and headed for the six-hour drive to Jutiapa. The next day Sabbath morning, Rene woke up with a sore throat, so I had to speak for him during the church service. On Sunday, we set up at a school buiding. I set out to do the consultations, and Rene and Ruby did the dental work. Even though it was early when we arrived, there were already many people lined up, waiting to be seen. We prayed and began our work.

Elsa Willis conducting health screenings.

From 8:00 am to almost 3:00 pm we ministered to all those that came, with their different needs. Here in Honduras, one of the greatest needs is to simply drink water. If they would just do that, the majority of their illnesses would disappear. I had one consultation after another, and as weariness and hunger set in, I thought about Jesus and the multitudes that followed Him, and how no one who came to Him went away without being helped. That thought kept me going as I counseled with the people. I took a moment to check on Ruby and Rene, and they too had lines of people waiting for dental care. I am thankful that our young people at the Outpost have learned that they have been saved to serve, and that they do it with love. By about 3:00 pm my voice was about to go and the pastor insisted that we stop. He said a word of prayer and thanked us all for the help. We, too, were thankful to the Lord for the privilege to serve.

Over the years we have had hundreds of patients come to us for treatment, using God’s natural methods of healing, and God has blessed abundantly. But there are times when major surgeries are needed which we are not able to perform. But God’s people should never turn a blind eye to anyone in need. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17.

Large tumor on Jose's leg.

A few months ago, José, a young man from the mountains, came to us for help. A former patient had told him that we had helped her even though the hospital had not been able to. She sent José to us for help. José had a large tumor in the posterior muscle of his thigh. He had already been diagnosed and told that the tumor needed to be surgically removed. But, of course, José comes from a very poor family and he cannot read or write. Trying to get help for the surgery was almost impossible for him.

We told him to come and stay at the Outpost for a week so we could find out more about this tumor, which was becoming very painful. While he was there, we strengthened his body with vegetable juices and fresh fruits. Rene applied poultices and hydrotherapy treatments.

Jose recuperates with the help of Elsa and MMM.

We ran back and forth to the city to make arrangements for the surgery, which was not free. But between the church members, the restaurant and the ministry, we were able to collect adequate funds. We know God does not place people in our path so that we can simply show our kindness to them. God wants us to always tell of His love and mercy, and His desire to save them eternally. So, in addition to the health treatments, José took part in our daily worship service and enjoyed the beautiful music provided by our volunteers. His mother would often join us, and so she also heard the truth from the Word of God.

The day finally arrived, and I drove José and his mother to the clinic in the big city. The surgery was a success! And because his body responded so well through the procedure (thanks to God’s natural remedies), he was permitted to leave the clinic the very next day.

José returned to the Outpost to rest and receive some post-op treatment, but he is now at home with his family. He is ever thankful for all for the help he was given, but we always direct the gratitude to God, for it is He who gives the help that we need. It is God who provides the true healing that we need. It is God who gave His life for us that we might prosper and be in perfect health: mentally, physically, and spiritually. Please remember José in your prayers. May he continue to seek the Lord and follow His counsel.

 

By Elsa and Joe Willis of Maranatha Medical Ministries. Send correspondence to: Maranatha Medical Missionaries, 
PO Box 390, Keysville, VA, 23947. Donations can be sent via Paypal, through their website: www.maranathamedical.org.

 


07/14/2012: A Season of Blessing and Thanksgiving

A Season of Blessing and Thanksgiving

Honduras

 

“Every gospel minister should be a friend to the poor, the afflicted, and the oppressed among God’s believing people. Christ was always the poor man’s friend, and the interests of the poor need to be sacredly guarded…. Love, sacred, refined love, is to be exercised in behalf of the poor and unfortunate.” Medical Ministry, 310.

Maranatha Medical Ministries (MMM) is God’s ministry; He has allowed us, Joe and Elsa, to manage the operations of this ministry, but make no mistake, God is in charge! It is He Who has sent us here to Honduras and Who has called us to be His ambassadors of love and compassion to the poor; and for more than twelve years, we have been right here where God has placed us.

Every year, during the holiday season, while most of the world is engaged in self-pleasing activities, MMM strives to draw attention to

“Love Baskets” are prepared for the needy.

God—to His love, His mercy and His many blessings. This year, we decided to do something a little extra special—in addition to preparing our usual “Love Baskets” for the poor in the mountains, we decided to have special services at our House of Prayer. It so happened that God arranged for Pastor Aaron Baker and a few of his members from Light Bearer’s Mission to volunteer with us during this festive time of year. They may have thought that they were coming to enjoy the warm weather, relax and enjoy the mission experience for two weeks, but God had other plans. When volunteers come to us, we take advantage of all of their skill and talent. With all of these volunteers here, our outpost was full of talent.

We began with a re-consecration and communion service on Sabbath, December 24. What a blessed time this was!

The following day, we made up lots of very beautiful “Love Baskets” for the poor. Our volunteers were so excited, they spent all day buying the needed items to put into the baskets, and they especially enjoyed adding a little something extra for the little children.

“As we see the necessities of the poor, the ignorant, the afflicted, how often our hearts sink. We question, ‘What avail our feeble strength and slender resources to supply this terrible necessity? Shall we not wait for someone of greater ability to direct the work, or for some organization to undertake it?’ Christ says, ‘Give ye them to eat.’” Ministry of Healing, 49.

When it was time for our outreach—you guessed it—we loaded up the truck, and headed up the mountain. Our first stop was the village of Mountainita. The drive up to Mountainita is always quite an experience in itself. Our American volunteers loved bouncing around on the back of our pickup truck, though. That is something they are not permitted to do in most parts of the United States.

Little children were overjoyed to receive stuffed animals as gifts.

Upon reaching the little village, we noticed that nearly all the homes, (wooden adobe shacks), were locked up and vacant. We had forgotten that this time of year is coffee picking time. Everybody was out picking coffee beans. Our hearts sank. We felt we would not be able to give anything to these people who are so much in need. Just then, a little girl came running out of one of the shacks. She greeted us with the most beautiful smile you could ever see. We then met her grandmother, who is loosing her eyesight and stays home to care for her grandchildren. We sang songs and encouraged them in the Lord. We gave the grandmother a beautiful “Love Basket,” and gave Luci and her younger sister stuffed animals. Luci was so excited—it was like giving her a million dollars, only better! The grandmother was so happy and thankful for our visit. Just knowing that someone had taken the time to come to their home and show kindness and love meant the world to them. After spending nearly an hour with them, we sadly had to go. We had more stops to make and many more “Love Baskets” to hand out.

Throughout the week, Pastor Baker conducted a week of prayer, which focused on the parables of Matthew 13. What a blessing this was! The messages brought not only a deeper understanding of God’s Word, but renewed conviction to all of us.

The following Sabbath was filled with many joyful activities, all centered on giving praise and thanksgiving to God.

Morning service began with the church choir singing a beautiful musical piece arranged by John Dysinger and his family, who have recently returned to Honduras to minister in La Zona for three months.

We are very thankful to have the Dysinger family with us. The Lord has truly blessed MMM with so many Christian volunteers dedicated to soul winning. The Dysingers are a true missionary family. It is not easy to bring a family of six into a third world country for the purpose of ministering to others, and what a blessing they have all been to the La Zona community and to the church.

“In choosing men and women for His service, God does not ask whether they possess worldly wealth, learning, or eloquence. He asks, ‘Do they walk in such humility that I can teach them My way? Can I put My words into their lips? Will they represent Me?’ God can use every person just in proportion as He can put His Spirit into the soul temple.” Ministry of Healing, 37.

One very special treat for the Sabbath service that week was children’s time. For some time, every Sabbath afternoon, Elsa and our volunteers have been going up to Cerro del Torro, giving Bible studies, singing
songs and helping the little children
with scripture memorization. These many trips and Elsa’s hard work have not been in vain. Four of the children have done so remarkably at memorizing the Bible that Elsa brought them to church this week for a
recital. This was their first time coming to church, and they were a bit nervous, but they recited more than a dozen memory verses, with very little coaching
from Elsa. We are so proud of these little ones and pray that one day soon they, too, will be part of our church family.

“In the children who were brought in contact with Him, Jesus saw the men and women who should be heirs of His
grace and subjects of His kingdom, and some of whom would become martyrs for His sake. He knew that these children would listen to Him and accept Him as their Redeemer…. The Saviour regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing. His heart is drawn out, not only to the best-trained and most attractive children, but to those who by inheritance and through neglect have objectionable traits of character.” Ministry of Healing, 43, 44.

The Sabbath ended with a beautiful wedding ceremony and a baby dedication. One of the men we have been studying with, Emilio, since giving his heart to the Lord, had decided to make things right with God by marrying the woman he loves, the mother of his baby boy. Once again, Pastor Baker came to the charge and conducted one of the most meaningful wedding ceremonies I had ever witnessed. Times of refreshing such as these you wish would never end; but we know that God has many more blessings in store for MMM and for all who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

May God use you, dear friends, to be a blessing to someone today. Remember, you are the only Jesus some may ever see. You are the only words of life some may ever read. May others see Jesus in you. Maranatha!

 

By Joe Willis, Maranatha Medical Ministries, Honduras. Donations can be sent to Maranatha Medical Ministries via Paypal from their website: www.maranathamedical.org.