Lamp Lighters World Ministries
December 2011 Newsletter
The Christmas season is now upon us but the year has gone by quickly and I don’t know that I’m ready for it to be Christmas time!
I was thinking the other day of when I was growing up and the anticipation leading up to Christmas day and the things we would do that day.
Every December on a Sunday afternoon our family would load up and drive about twenty miles to a Christmas tree farm we never even thought of having an artificial tree. In my mind a can feel the crisp cold air and the wonderful smell of pine that saturated every thing. We never picked the ones that had already been cut but would go up and down the rows of trees until we found the perfect tree. Then dad would cut it down and we’d drag it back to the office where we would pay for it and then tie it somehow to the car with baler twine we had brought along and take it home to decorate.
I remember the anticipation of waking up Christmas morning to run downstairs and check our “stockings”, which were nothing more than one of the socks we pulled from our dresser drawer. These had been safety pinned the arm of the sofa the night before, we didn’t have a fireplace to hang them from, so that mom not Santa would fill them up.
When we emptied them, out would come oranges, apples, nuts in the shell and maybe a few pieces of candy, all of which had been sitting on the kitchen counter in full view for a few days prior to Christmas.
Then came the time for chores to be done, the cows and pigs had no regard for our wanting to celebrate a special day they simply wanted fed. Then back to the house for breakfast which consisted of platters of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, cinnamon rolls and mom’s homemade eggnog, (it wasn’t until much later in life I learned that other people put alcohol in their eggnog). The whole family would gather for Christmas breakfast even brothers and sisters who had married and moved away would be there.
After all this was finished we would try to cram as many as could fit into the living room, there was never enough space for everyone and some would have sit in the kitchen close to the living room doorway.
Then dad would read the Christmas story and we would sing Christmas carols for what seemed like hours, and then we would have a prayer.
Finally we got to open gifts. There were so many they wouldn’t all fit under the tree, as there were eight of us brothers and sisters, then some had husbands or wives and their own children.
Most years we got new clothes as that was what was most needed, but there was always the hope there would be toys in one package.
We loved the family, the special foods, the gifts, the shortened outdoor chores, but what was always at the forefront for us was this is the day of our Saviors birth! With all the anticipation, joy, excitement, family, food and gifts Jesus was always at the center of the day!
It’s so sad in our country today Jesus is scarcely thought of let alone celebrated. Our thoughts and plans for the perfect tree, day, meal, or gift, consume our time, our money, and our energy and these have crowded Jesus from the center. He has been left at the curb, like discarded boxes and torn gift wrappings.
How tragic it is that “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” with all the unbelievable savings, now get more attention than the reason we should be celebrating.
Who could have ever imagined that sleeping all night on a sidewalk, standing in lines for hours, enduring traffic jams, being pushed, shoved, and herded like slaughter cattle and pepper spraying fellow shoppers “to clear a path to the bargains” would become the norm in celebrating Christmas!
Who would have thought that continuing legal battles would be fought over the placement of a Nativity scene on public property.
It seems Jesus is no longer the “Reason for the Season”. The greatest gift ever given is no longer accepted, wanted, or joyfully celebrated.
When you celebrate Christmas this year I hope that Jesus is kept at the front and center of all your plans. I think the best way to do this is to be like the shepherds, and tell everyone we meet the wonderful news, a savior has been born! If ever there was a time we need to share the message of hope I believe it’s now let’s share Jesus this year!
Merry Christmas to you from Steve, Shanthi, and Penny
The churches in Sri Lanka have told us the plans have been made for their programs starting December 18th.
We really covet your prayers for these programs! This is a time when family members will come to the church because their children have been coming to Sunday school and will participate in the program.
This gives us the opportunity to share the Gospel message with them and how much God loves them!
It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort for these programs but the real work comes afterward, when the preachers and workers follow up with the families.
Christmas is one of the greatest outreach opportunities we have to share Christ.
Many of you have shared special gifts for us to purchase much needed clothes and other items for the Sunday school children for which we thank you and praise God! This is much like the “cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus”. We have always seen new families come to Christ in the weeks following Christmas and we anticipate the same this year.
Thank you again for your support and please do pray!
ANGELS ARE REJOICING
We received the report from our preacher in Onthachimadam that this past month they had seven people accept Christ and were baptized into Him. We are praising God along with the angels for these new souls.
Several were some of the teenage youth who
have been coming from early childhood to Sunday school so it’s wonderful
to see them respond to the message of Christ and be reconciled to God
SMALL CRUSADE AT PERIYA KALLAR
Selvakumar our preacher reported they had a small crusade at Periya Kallar and several new people and families came and they are now busy doing follow up with them.
Included in this was an uncle of Shanthi
who is a member of the Hindu temple board who we have been sharing with
and praying for literally for years, he even came forward to be prayed
1. Jesus to be exalted in the Christmas programs and people to come to Christ through this effort.
2. Rejoicing over the new brothers and sisters we have at Onthachimadam.
3. Continued strength and health for the preachers and workers through Christmas.
4. Our return to Sri Lanka January 19th.
5. Rejoicing for the
financial response for the Christmas programs.
Lamp Lighters World Ministries
We finally have made our last scheduled trip and now we have a couple of months to try to accomplish a few things around our home in Joplin and to do a few things to help out some others as well. Hopefully some time to do some tractor restoration! Several people have asked how that project is going but so far it hasn’t gone very far in fact almost nothing has changed since I got it here. Replacing the storage shed and trying to organize it, cleaning out fence rows and replacing and rebuilding fence have taken most of the spare time so far.
Thanksgiving Day will be upon us before we know it! I know I’m looking forward to spending time with family and enjoying an abundance of food and fun.
We have so many things we can be thankful for in this country and so many things we take for granted. I hope that we all will spend some time reflecting on how God has blessed us this past year and truly giving thanks for all he has done.
One of the blessings we thank God for is for you our faithful supporters. Each day in our personal prayer time we thank God for how He continues to provide for this ministry and to thank Him for placing it in your hearts to pray for us and also to give financially. You are a blessing to us and to all our preachers and churches in Sri Lanka. Your prayers and gifts are what enable us to accomplish what God has set before us to do and we thank Him for the partnership we have with you in this ministry.
It’s not too late yet to get involved!
We made mention last month of our Sunday school Christmas programs and the giving of the gifts to the children. The response so far hasn’t been what it usually is but we are confident that God is going to provide enough for us to do it!
This is not just a gift given to the children but opens doors for us to share Christ, the greatest gift, with other family members through the Christmas program itself and also later visits in their homes.
We will be purchasing gifts for about 650 children so if you can and desire to help with this you can “memo” your special gift for “Christmas”.
WE FINALLY DID IT
We have set a date for our return to Sri Lanka and have already purchased our tickets. The date of our flight is January 19, 2012.
We are looking forward to going back and Lord willing spending another two years in Sri Lanka working with the churches.
CONTINUED PRAISE FOR VBS
This is some old news but we finally got all the reports for VBS from all our preachers. We feel there was good attendance and new children in all the programs.
Please continue to pray that our co workers will work at meeting the families of the kids.
Both the Periya Kallar and Koddai Kallar churches in particular, have added children since VBS who are in regular attendance on Sundays now.
KODDAI KALLAR CHURCH ADDS NEW SUNDAY SCHOOL
In their September report to us our preacher has written they have now established a second satellite Sunday school program in a different area of the village. It is actually very close to the Catholic Church in town.
One of our faithful church youth lives in this area and has been helpful in getting this new Sunday school started.
Because of the close proximity to the Catholic Church sometimes we get some flack for trying to steal their church members.
Also some of the Catholic parents will allow their children to participate in the Sunday school but then when they get a bit older refuse to allow them to join the youth program so this is a difficult situation. Please pray for God to work in the hearts of the people in this new area of the village.
NEW TEACHING MATERIAL FOR CHURCHES
One of the things we try to do while here is to find teaching material that can be adapted without a lot of trouble to use in Sri Lanka. This is not limited to the Sunday school programs but includes continued education of our preachers and workers, college student material, youth and VBS.
The biggest problem we face is not quantity of teaching material but material that is readily adaptable to Sri Lankan culture, non Christians and those with limited understanding of the Scriptures. Most VBS material especially is geared for the U.S. culture and availability of craft materials etc. which just doesn’t work for us.
While we were in Illinois this past month we were discussing this with the preacher Jack Wingate and his wife Karen in Roseville.
Karen, as we found out, has actually written lesson books which will give us at least three years worth of weekly Sunday school lessons that can be adapted to our youth as well and also resources for VBS type lesson books which we can use. She expressed to us it has been a life long dream of hers to be involved in overseas missions. Now through her writing she will do just that!
We praise God for how he has provided once again for the needs we have though other Christians!
DRAWINGS FOR NEW BUILDING
While we were in Ohio a long time friend of ours showed us some plans that he uses in his ministry of building church buildings in Haiti. We are always looking for ways to improve our buildings and cut costs which continue to rise.
We’re thankful to Sonny Lykens for sending us a copy of the plans for the steel trusses and building layout as well.
1. Our preachers and workers as they labor for the kingdom in Sri Lanka.
2. The Christmas programs to glorify Christ and to be a time of growth for the churches.
3. More workers to join with us in the work.
4. New Sunday school plant in Koddai Kallar.
5. Believers to be faithful and a desire to grow in knowledge and faith.
October 2011 Newsletter
Here we are in October and at least for us we’re having some cooler weather finally, and looking forward to leaves changing colors in the days ahead.
As far as personal things on the last day of September the new storage / shop building is up only thing lacking is the garage door and it’s supposed to be put in a couple of days and electricity which may have to wait awhile. This seemed like such a long project but actually was only two months. But this has definitely encroached on my tractor restoration time!
Shanthi was called to work at Labarge where she has worked other times and she was excited to go back to work there again. With the money she makes we help her family members so that we don’t use ministry money for those needs. We put one of her nephews through computer programming school there and now he has a good job. His mother is a registered nurse and his starting salary is higher than what she makes, shows the demand for programmers there as well.
Shanthi has continued her driving practice but now with the job don’t know when she’ll get enough practice time for her to get her license.
We had a busy September with traveling to visit churches and October looks to be busy as well.
Each morning during our prayer time we pray for you our supporters. Your partnership with us in this ministry is vital to our success. With your faithful prayers and God’s continued blessing we are making an impact on the lives of hundreds of people. Your financial gifts not only pay our salary but the salaries of the preachers, purchasing property for buildings and the buildings themselves. As you partner with us you are blessing many people you will most likely never meet on this earth and this is the wonder of the kingdom of God the sharing of yourselves so that others may know Christ! May God bless you as you labor for his glory and honor.
CHRISTMAS IS FAST APPROACHING
I know maybe you don’t like to be reminded that the end of the year is just around the corner, actually neither do I. But it is a fact unless Jesus comes back first and that’s okay too!
As we have done for several years now at Christmas we purchase Christmas gifts for all the Sunday school children in our churches.
For the children who have been coming all year long and been in attendance for 80% of the Sundays we give a new set of clothes, shirt and shorts for the boys and skirt and blouse for the girls. For many of the children this is very much needed as most are from very poor families. We then have three other categories for gifts based on their attendance including those who have just been coming for a month or two but every child who has come receives a gift.
Last year we distributed over 650 gifts and this year it looks like we will do about the same amount.
Every year the clothes have been getting more expensive, still cheap compared to the States, and the Sunday schools have been getting larger which is a good thing but it makes for an increasingly expensive project.
This is one of the best things we do as this shows the children and their parents we care about them! We have had non Christian parents come up to us and thank us for the gifts given their children, making statements like “ the temple never does anything like this for our children”, and it also encourages the children to continue coming to hear the word of God each week.
If you want to help with this project financially mark your gift to go for Sunday school Christmas.
PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH GROWING
Each month our preachers send ministry reports to us and it’s encouraging to read of progress and also the challenges that they are facing.
The Periya Kallar church which has been holding worship services for a little over a year has had several baptisms in the last couple of months for which we are praising God! They also show an increase in the number of youth and Sunday school children.
This church originally started out as a Sunday school program and met in several different places and was started by Pushpalogini.
Now that we have a couple working there and a place we won’t have to move from, hopefully for another year, there is a sense of permanency.
One lady who was baptized is the mother of a young man who came as a Sunday school child and now his older sister is coming to church and wants to be baptized also. Their mother is now helping with the Sunday school program. I mention this just to illustrate how we reach the parents and family through the children’s Sunday school program.
Selvakumar our preacher and his wife Devi have called briefly a couple of times and they are excited about the growth and attendance increase and they sound very happy with the ministry. Please pray for their continued enthusiasm and the growth of the church.
I will add that Pushpalogini will be going back to work in Periya Kallar to help them start a satellite Sunday school in another part of the village this month.
SITUATION WITH GANGS NOW OKAY
Last month we wrote about the gangs kidnapping and mutilating the breasts of girls and ladies they caught. We’re happy to report that this seems to be under control now and things are pretty much back to normal.
This was a real concern especially for the young girls in our home going for tutoring classes and our Sunday school teachers who would be out visiting, coming for training or holding the Sunday school sessions.
So we appreciate your prayers for this matter and praise God for his intervention!
This is a real matter for prayer for the girls in our churches and all churches in Sri Lanka for that matter. Because fewer young men are Christians than girls there is a real shortage of Christian young men for mates.
We do emphasize and encourage our girls to wait for Christian young men to marry but sometimes they don’t. Family pressures, social pressure all play a part in this.
It is especially difficult to find young men who are not only Christian but also are working in ministry and are committed to serve God full time.
Right now we have four young ladies who are serving God full time in ministry with us who are not married.
Because of the culture it is almost essential that they be married in order to be most effective in their ministry. This is a real matter for prayer.
Recently a young man who is working in ministry has been suggested for Pushpalogini and he may relocate to work with us and become a husband also.
Pushpalogini is very much attached to us and our ministry and has said she will not leave us to get married the young man must come here and join with us.
Three of our Bible college graduates are also in need of husbands, one is engaged to a young man who graduated from the same Bible College the year earlier and they will be married when we return to Sri Lanka next year.
Please pray for God to provide Christian husbands for all these young ladies.
1. Praise that the gangs are no longer a threat.
2. Praise for the growth in the churches especially Periya Kallar.
3. Our workers to be faithful and busy in the work of ministry.
4. More workers to join in the harvest of souls and more people to come to Christ.
5. Christian men who will be good mates for our girls already working in ministry.
Financial Report 7/1/11 through 9/30/11
SUPPORT General Fund:
Special Projects 6,124.02
SUPPORT General Fund-Other 31,396.15
TOTAL INFLOWS 37,537.02
OFFICE EXPENSES-Other 45.00
TOTAL OFFICE EXPENSES 1,392.48
National Evangelist 2,380.00
Stephen Bycroft (inc. Oct.) 10,500.00
TOTAL PAYROLL 12,880.00
Household Expenses Sri Lanka 1,000.00
TOTAL WIRE TRANSFER 1,000.00
Wire Charges 35.00
TOTAL BANK CHARGES 35.00
Food, in States travel 16.60
Other expenses 150.00
TOTAL TRIP EXPENSES 612.06
Uncategorized Outflows 0.00
TOTAL OUTFLOWS 15,919.54
OVERALL TOTAL 21,617.48
While this looks like a large balance $6,124 is designated for special projects and our tickets back to Sri Lanka will be approximately $4,000. This leaves us with about one month worth of operating expenses.
September is here with hopes of some cooler temperatures! Fall is actually my favorite time of year, harvesting of crops, leaves changing colors and all never grow old to me! But I don’t care much for raking the leaves.
Our kids at home will begin their last term of the school year in a few days. They did fairly well on their exams for which we were happy but there’s room for improvement.
This month I’ve been working on tearing down and replacing our storage shed in the back yard. Between the leaking roof and termites it was time for it to go. Even with the heat it has gone fairly well and I hope to have the new building in place within another week or so.
Shanthi just passed her written driving exam again. She did this several years ago but never got her license, so while we’re here she wants to do this. We’re going to begin some driving instruction and she has arranged some lessons with a man who used to work for the state driving license bureau as well for more training.
It seems our time here is going vary rapidly but to be honest we’re ready to go back to the work in Sri Lanka. We will be here until January and then plan to return there for more harvest, building of the Kingdom, and training. All the physical things we do on this earth while they may be beneficial, important, necessary, and enjoyable, will never last. When we reach heaven the harvest time will be over, the buildings there will never need replacing, no need of a license, and we will rejoice with sweet fellowship with our Lord Jesus!
We do thank God for your prayers and support for this ministry! We know that God will bless you for the blessing you are to us! We hope that when we see you we are an encouragement to you as well.
God bless and use you to his glory where you are.
PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT TO BECOME A REALITY
For several years we have wanted to purchase playground equipment on some of our church properties where we have the space. There are a few reasons for this.
Most of the villages do not have playground areas available and the ones that do it’s just an empty lot. With the equipment the children who live close to the churches will have swings and other items to use. But there is another reason. As the children use the equipment we hope for opportunities to witness to them of the love Jesus has for them and then in turn to share with their parents.
We have seen several parents who express their thanks to us for helping their children with the Christmas gifts we give so we hope this will be another way we can show the community that we care about the kids well being by offering the use of the playground.
We have three churches where we have enough space to do this but the money has always seemed to go to other projects first. When we came back this time we decided we would try to raise the money to at least buy some equipment. So this became the project at two of the VBS programs this summer. We really hoped we would get enough to buy one set and maybe a little more.
God was so good to us in this in that the children raised enough money to purchase playground equipment for all three churches! There was also some added incentive in both VBS programs and a few preachers lost their hair or got bombarded with eggs.
All in all we thank God for the generosity of the kids and adults who gave for this project and on our return to Sri Lanka will implement this plan soon!
VBS PROGRAMS IN SRI LANKA A SUCCESS
Although we’ve not been able to contact all our preachers those we have talked with said that the VBS programs were successful.
Onthachimadam has planned an additional VBS in one of the housing subdivisions where they have a Sunday school as the parents got upset last year when we transported the kids to the church building for VBS.
And the Mahiloor church had additional programs as they have several areas where they have Sunday school and the children couldn’t come to the church.
We spoke with Rani, the wife of our Koddai Kallar preacher, who is our Sunday school superintendent for all the churches. She had gone to most of the programs at least for a day assisting as well as making sure that things were done properly. She is a real asset to us in the Sunday school ministry!
The three preachers we were able to contact all said they had good attendance, now they need to do follow up with the kids who came and with their parents. This is the reason for this program to give opportunity to reach the entire family for Christ.
WALL TO BE BUILT AT PERIYA NEELAVANAI CHURCH
One of the other projects we had for our first VBS here was to raise money for a wall around our church property in Periyaneelavanai. While this wasn’t very glamorous for the kids it is definitely something very necessary.
A wall protects the property line better than a fence as fences tend to lean trees grow and the line gets blurred or even in some cases moved intentionally. Also it protects flowers and trees from cows which are ever present wandering the roads looking for something to eat; you build a wall or fence to keep them out not in. And it keeps children who come more secure as well.
We were really blessed once again as more than enough was raised to build the wall around the entire property, God is so good!
WOMEN AND YOUNG GIRLS AT RISK
We just learned a couple of weeks ago of something so horrendous that is taking place you can’t believe it is true. There are small gangs of masked men roaming through the villages in the Eastern province capturing young ladies and girls and then cutting off their breasts. When we first heard this we couldn’t believe it ourselves. Since then we have heard so many stories of attacks and attempted attacks on people we know that we are sure there is validity to the stories.
It was reported that one woman died from the wounds before she could get medical attention.
Many think the government is behind this as retaliation against the Tamil people for not siding with them against the United Nations statement condemning the government for human rights violations.
Whatever or whoever is doing it the women and girls are very much in danger please pray for the young ladies especially the ones in our home and churches.
1. For the remainder of time we have here to be productive for Christ and an encouragement to our supporters.
2. The preachers and workers to do follow up after the VBS programs.
3. Protection for our kids, believers, and villages from the attacks against the ladies and girls.
4. Praise for the good attendance at the VBS programs.
5. Praise for the money for the wall and the playground equipment.
We do hope that you will pray for them and that they will remember
what we have taught them and that they will glorify God with their
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
1. Our preachers, their families and the churches in
Sri Lanka to continue to labor for God’s glory.
Our greetings to you from Sri Lanka for the last time this year. When most of you receive and read this we, Lord willing will be back in the U.S.A.
There were times when we thought the day for our departure would never get here quickly enough, but actually the time has gone past so quickly. As always there is still much more we would like to do before we had to leave, I guess that's just our nature.
We do give praise and thanks to God for what we have been able to do. And we thank him for you our supporters who make this ministry possible. Your prayers for us for strength and endurance and your financial gifts as well are an offering to God, to Him be all the praise and glory!
As we return to Joplin it is somewhat with sadness as we are leaving our children here behind once again, and so much more work of ministry left unfinished.
We are also sad due to the tornado, which devastated the town. Getting information has been difficult and we have viewing pictures and reading about it daily for a week now.
Our own home escaped damage but we've learned of several friends and Christian family who have lost their homes or did receive damage. Being so far away does not really reduce the shock and sadness we feel. We have been and will continue to pray for all the families who were affected by this storm.
We hope to
see you very soon as we travel about on our return!
OF SUNDAY SCHOOL BUILDINGS COMPLETE
We had made the decision a few months back to divide our Sunday schools into more age specific classes. While it is still far from where it needs to be all the Sunday schools are now divided at least into two groups. In order to manage this change Mahiloor and Onthachimadam churches needed better facilities. Both of these churches now have new Sunday school buildings.
The one in Mahiloor is a permanent structure, which replaced the hut built there four years ago. It needed replaced anyway and so we took the opportunity to build a structure on the backside of the existing church building. It has access into the church building as well so it can be used as a staging area for Christmas programs in the future.
The building in Onthachimadam is a temporary building but will be usable for a few years if necessary. We didn't want to build anything considered permanent as we are hoping the church will continue to grow and we can build a new worship center and preachers house when we return to Sri Lanka. When we do build the structure now used as a worship center can be used exclusively for Sunday school purposes.
Along with the Sunday school building we made several improvements to the worship centers of both churches.
In Mahiloor we changed some electrical wiring, added more lights, and doubled the number of fans which both were very much needed.
At the Onthachimadam church we plastered the interior walls, insulated the roof to cut down on heat, installed trusses, which made it possible to remove the center posts allowing easier viewing of the screen where we project songs.
With the new Sunday school building we were able to move the interior front wall to allow more space in the worship center, which was also needed, as the church continues growing.
went pretty well and quickly without too many problems incurred for
which we are thankful.
FAMILY CAMP A
Time will only reveal all the changes to people's lives, which is what we hope for with these camps. Already we see deeper commitment in the lives of some of the church members and our preachers have reported this as well.
There were several non-Christians who came for the camp and some have begun coming to church now for the first time.
Our young people have gained a new enthusiasm and are going out doing visiting and witnessing in their respective villages.
As an added bonus
everyone got to enjoy much cooler weather than what we are experiencing
in the Batticaloa area right now and some beautiful scenery as well.
You'll have to wait for the pictures when we visit your church.
The first week of May we spent at the Bible College where we have four girls enrolled. We always enjoy this time and I think we grow as well while we're there.
It is a difficult week but God gave us the grace necessary to do it. I actually enjoy teaching more than preaching but this really puts that to the test as I taught between 6 ½ and 7 hours each day! Then some days there were additional discussions after the classes.
Shanthi decided not to teach this time so I began teaching the Gospel of John.
Of course you can't get through it in one week but I was able to give some new insight in some of the teachings of Jesus, and give them challenges throughout the week to consider their motives for entering full time ministry and some of the situations they will face.
At the end of the week we were tired but it was one of those good tired feelings. The students and the principle all expressed their appreciation for our coming.
By the way all eight
students, the principal, his wife, and small son joined with us for our
1. Our preachers to remain faithful and do the work while we are away.
2. The children in our home for God's protection and leading in their lives.
3. Safety as we travel home to the U.S.
4. New Bible college year and three students from our Mahiloor church who will be joining school in July.
5. Wisdom and strength for our returning students to work with our ministry here.
6. Our travels in the
States and presentations in the churches.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We’ve been having strange weather (even for us!) since the first of the year. From what I hear and read your weather is strange also. It has turned hot which is normal, but we continue, at least for now, to get periodic heavy rains, which is very unusual--but what to do, it’s the weather!
We had a very good Easter this year--two of the churches had small crusades held at their respective church buildings and had good crowds for them and several people who were non-Christian came which is the main intent (more on that later).
Our kids had their first term break, which was a little shorter than usual due to excessive rains and missed school days earlier. School term here goes from January through December, basically three months of classes, then a month off. I’ve somewhat gotten used to this and really I think it may be better than the system we use in the States. We took everybody to a beach about two hours from here for a nice swim and then lunch and ice cream; they loved the day! I was worn out just from driving but the kids had a good time.
As we are down to our last month here it just doesn’t seem possible that two years have passed. During this time we’ve had lots of challenges. Through all of them we’ve been reminded by so many of you of your prayers on our behalf. I hear people tell us “all I can do is pray for you”, and I say great! If you’ll do that God will take care of the rest, and we firmly believe this!
We thank God for your prayers and support for this ministry. We serve an amazing God and he will always accomplish His will in and through us if we are willing to be used, no matter what country we’re in. Please know that we pray for you often that God will bless you for all you do for us.
READY FOR FAMILY CAMP
Our family camp will be May 15 through 18, leaving shortly after church for a seven hour bus ride (I’m not looking forward to that). We are going back to the same place we went last year, which everyone really enjoyed. It’s up in the mountains and is much cooler there even though the mountains are not that tall.
We have special speakers lined up for teaching, preaching, and workshops, including a few separate sessions for youth and children. The focus this year is on being God’s family--both in our personal family and church family.
This is a
good time for our church members to get away form their regular routine
and focus on God’s word for a couple of days. We should have about 120
in attendance, which is not everyone, but the expense keeps some from
coming and some can’t get time off from jobs. Pray that the people will
truly come and allow God to speak to them during this time.
CRUSADES DRAW GOOD CROWDS
The churches in Onthachimadam and Periyaneelavanai both had crusades during Easter week. While there were people from other churches that came there were also several non-Christians who came.
Onthachimadam had a one-day meeting on Good Friday, which they held outdoors in front of the building. The youth did a short version of the trials and crucifixion in which our own Vijay played the role of Jesus.
Periyaneelavanai had their meetings on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with crowds big enough they set up chairs outside. This was a sight as we have just completed the building and actually it’s bigger than any other we have, but even it wasn’t big enough! There were several who accepted Christ, but no baptisms as yet which often seems to be the way it goes here. The people agree with the message, they realize their need for Jesus, but getting baptized is a big decision for them (too much to go into in this small newsletter).
Periyaneelavanai had several baptisms on Palm Sunday and Mahiloor had three baptisms on Easter Sunday. For these we give praise and thanks to God!
BACK TO BIBLE COLLEGE
The first week of May Shanthi and I are going back to Bible College to teach. We’re looking forward to doing this although the timing for us is not so great since we are in the middle of planning our return to the States. We are MORE than a little busy right now, but this was the only time we could work it into the school’s schedule before we leave.
We had begun with some teaching on the life of Christ the last time we taught, and hope to continue that. When I was in Bible College I took eight semesters of Life of Christ, so it is rather doubtful we’ll finish in one week! I plan to focus on the Gospel of John--I’ve taught it before to our staff and I think would be of most benefit to the students.
The school year ends in July, but the school has said they will wait until we return for the graduation ceremony, which was nice of them.
As of right now we have three and possibly a fourth person to begin the two-year training in September of this year. Please pray for the graduates as they will return and begin working in ministry with us, and also pray for the new students who will begin their studies in September.
1. For our staff to continue to carry out their work in the villages.
2. For the Family Camp later this month and those attending to grow in their faith.
3. For our graduating Bible school students and those who plan to begin at the school later this year.
4. Those who accepted Christ to be faithful and to be baptized soon.
health and for strength over the next busy month.
1st QUARTER FINANCIAL REPORT
TOTAL SUPPORT RECEIVED: $24,558.38
National Evangelists $2200.00
Trip Expenses: $2960.52
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It seems it was just last week that I wrote the March newsletter, I can't believe another month has slipped past (time flies when you are having fun??)! March is a busy time for family and staff here in Sri Lanka--Shanthi and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, and we celebrated some birthdays in our home as well as among the ministry staff. March is also the end of the first school term so there was extra study time for the kids, and Shanthi has been helping the two younger ones especially as they seem to struggle more with concentrating on the work at hand.
Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my health. I am still not 100% but so much better than I was, there is just no time to rest and recuperate. It did have an affect on my ability to speak as I was coughing so much I couldn't teach or preach for a couple of weeks.
when we write to you we thank God for your faithful prayers and finances
for the work here. We pray for you often and recognize that there
are always so many needs for yourselves personally and other ministries
so we give thanks to God that you have chosen to support us in our work
here. We pray that God will continue to bless and use you in your
work for His glory.
One of the things which consumes a fair amount of our time are the funerals. This month there have been several in our village (they seem to come in bunches). When a person dies the funeral is a usually a quickly arranged affair due to the heat, lack of proper embalming, and the funeral is held at the family's home so it's understandable. Usually the day after they die the funeral is held. So if it is a neighbor or relative of a church member etc. our schedule gets interrupted in many ways and for days.
First is a visitation of the family, which occurs as soon as you are informed of the death. Sometimes the body will still be lying where the person died. Then usually the next afternoon is the funeral, and depending on the family it can be either very simple or quite elaborate and long. The family will be in mourning for 7 days. If they are employed they don't go to work, but will usually stay at the home of the person who died. Friends and family will stay there with them 24 hours a day so they are not left alone. Others will bring in all the meals and tea for everyone staying in the home (not just the immediate family) as culture says they can't cook at the home where the dead person lived. On the eighth day the family invites all who came for the funeral and helped and anyone else they want to come for what used to be known as “alms giving,” but now it's a meal hosted by the family for everyone else. Then on the 31st day after death there is another time where everyone is called together to remember the person who died with more ceremonies and a meal. This is the short version of a funeral here, so you can see that if we involved ourselves completely this is all we would do.
We've had several funerals at the end of last month and during this month, so lots of time was spent visiting families and going to funerals. One of these was preacher Vijay's wife Ananthy's grandmother. She was 84, not in good health, and they had been expecting her death so it wasn't a surprise, but it still has been difficult for them as they were very close to her. Ananthy's parents are also doing a preaching ministry in a small village a couple hours away from where they live so it has affected a lot of people.
Please keep this family
in your prayers.
This is the next big event for us here and will be held in May. We will hire buses to drive into the mountain area and spend three days at a Christian retreat center for Bible study, sermons, worship, and prayer time. The church people are really looking forward to this again and even though it's a month and a half away they talk about it frequently.
Pray that the time will
be a real time of growth spiritually for our churches.
LOTS OF MOVING
Our preacher Selvakumar and his family moved to Periya Kallar this March. They were very anxious to get there to be able to do ministry more effectively. They had been living in the Koddai Kallar church in the upstairs quarters, and staying with them were Illangovan and Susila who were living in a couple of the spare rooms, so the place was a little crowded.
Hopefully this week the house in Onthachimadam for Illangovan and Susila will be finished and they also will be moving out. We've been involved in lots of the cleaning, repairing, and painting last month and this month as well.
We have always stressed
that we want the preachers to live in the village where they work.
Many preachers of other churches don't do this and I can't see how they
can properly do the work if a major part of their time is spent
traveling back and forth. This was proven when we completed the
quarters in Periyaneelavanai and Vijay and family moved there. The
church had an almost immediate jump in attendance and conversions.
Pray for both these families and their ministries as they continue to
adjust to life and work here with us.
CHANGES FOR SUNDAY SCHOOLS
We've split the Sunday schools into two age groups. This simply hasn't been possible until now due to lack of facilities, teachers, smaller number of children etc. We kept all the kids from age 4 through 14 in one class (kind of like the old one room school house I'd guess). With the growth in attendance over the last two years we felt it necessary to divide them into at least two groups for now. With this there will have to be additional sheds built in Mahiloor and Onthachimadam to be able to make this change.
We've already seen a small increase in numbers but more importantly the lessons can be taught in a more age specific way. Also more people are getting involved in the ministry work of the church.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR SUPPORTERS
Speaking engagements for
Steve and Shanthi are filling up quickly! If your church or group
would like for them to come and share about the ministry in Sri Lanka
please contact the office at 417-624-7078 or e-mail to
as soon as possible!
1. Our staff to honor God with their ministry work and more people to come to Christ.
2. The Bible College students as they will return home in a couple of months to begin ministry work with us.
3. Our kids and all the church kids to do their best in the term exams.
4. Completion of the Sunday school sheds this month.
5. For our health as
we're pressed on every side and time for us here is short.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our weather has taken a drastic turn as the rainy season lasted longer and was more intense than usual, and now it has turned hot earlier than usual. So goes life I guess!
Things seem busier than ever, some of which is simply because we’re down to the last few months before we leave Sri Lanka. There is always more that we want to do than we have time for it seems, but God’s grace is enough! We are so grateful to God for you and your continued blessing of prayer and finances for this ministry. I am reminded of the following scripture passage:
Galatians 6:9,10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
My guess is that only after we are all in heaven and you personally meet some of your brothers and sisters in Christ from Sri Lanka that it will become ever clearer the role you had in their salvation. May God continue to bless you for the blessing you are to us.
Yours in Christ,
YOUTH PREPARE TO GO TO BIBLE COLLEGE
We have two young ladies from the Mahiloor church who will be attending Bible College in Valai Chenai next August when the new school term begins. We had hoped for a couple of other students to join them, but for now they will not be joined by any others from our area.
We will also have the four young people presently at the school returning after their two years of training to rejoin us in the ministry.
Please pray for the new
students and those returning as we consider where to place them for
NEWS FROM TRINIDAD
Rennie sends a letter and report each month. To be honest not much changes in Trinidad. We are somewhat encouraged as Rennie tells us that there are some new people coming to services (some are “backsliders” from other churches and some are non-believers), so continue to pray with us for that ministry.
NEW STAFF JOIN MINISTRY
This month we brought on Illangovan and his wife Susila. They are both originally from the central mountain area (the heat here is a real shock for them), but had moved to this area last November from Colombo. Another pastor friend who was working with the Gospel for Asia Bible School in Batticaloa recommended them to us. Both of them are Bible college graduates, and seem to have servant’s hearts and a desire for evangelism. They also love to do children’s ministry and have already made some suggestions as to things they have done in the past in Sunday school programs that they would like to implement here. So we think they will fit right in with our program here. Another nice plus is he speaks a little English, at least enough so that I can carry on a conversation with him.
Until the house they will live in is prepared they are living in the Koddai Kallar church upstairs in some spare rooms. It is not the best of situations but makes it easy for us to discuss things with them.
We have decided to give the Onthachimadam ministry to them. This was difficult for us because part of their past experience had been to plant a church in the “up country”. We have been praying that God would lead the proper people here to take on this ministry as well as someone to start a new ministry in Eruvil, another village not far from us where very little work has been done. We had some other options but felt at least for this time that Onthachimadam was the best place for them.
Please pray for them as they adjust to a new area, to their ministry (and to us)!
Illangovan and his wife Susila
Selvakumar and his family- Periya Kallar Church Minister
RESTART OF TRAINING PROGRAM
After three months off for various reasons--schedule conflicts, Christmas, sickness and floods, we restarted the full day discipleship training program. This is usually well attended by our youth and a few adults.
We especially encourage our Sunday school teachers to attend. Our teachers visit the Sunday school children so many times they have the first contact with parents and older siblings. So we teach foundational subjects so that they will have answers and can be a witness when they go out. It’s somewhat difficult as we have a wide range of participants. Some have been Christians for several years and some are very new to Christian concepts, and sometimes they will miss a month or two and then return, so it’s a challenge trying to teach them.
Those who participate say they really enjoy and learn from this so this is a program that we hope to develop even further when we return to Sri Lanka next. Maybe we will even start our own Bible college if God leads us to do that!
1. New staff to adjust quickly to the villages where they will live and work.
2. God to open doors to new areas for ministry.
3. Wisdom for the best placement for our returning Bible College students in ministry.
4. God’s grace as our time here is short, three months left before we return to the States.
5. Continued growth in the churches.
Part of the reason January went by so quickly is because of the rain (sounds silly doesn’t it). In our area we received more rain in 12 days than we usually do in an entire year. The entire Eastern Province was flooded and this brought lots of challenges to us. The schools were full of displaced families so school was dismissed for an entire week. Many of the families in our churches do day labor but because everything was flooded they had no work. No work means no food for most of them.
We, along with our preachers, assessed each family and gave relief either by food or in cash (some we don’t trust to give cash because of their extended family members).
The Periyaneelavanai church became a refugee center. Thirty-five people lived there for a week and ate their meals along with others who would show up from the school after the food ran out there. We received some welcome support for all this through the Sri Lankan churches in the Netherlands and Belgium where Shanthi’s brother-in-law ministers.
Mahiloor church was completely cut off to us by chest high water between them and us. The church and preachers house remained dry but water surrounded them.
We had water 10 inches deep all around our house; it came up to our porch step but never came into the house (praise God for that) and was like that for five days.
With all this we were able to show our church people and others also that we care about them.
We again say thank you for all you do for us by lifting us to God in your prayers and by sending the finances necessary to do the work here. May God continue to bless and use you for His glory and honor where you are.
We went to Colombo this last week and while there we booked our flight home--we will arrive the night of June 2nd. The cost was up some but not like we had expected (of course there are always surprises at the airports). So that means we are down to the last four months of our stay here. It doesn’t seem possible--the time has gone quickly and seems that there is so much to get done before we leave!
We’re looking forward to being back in the States but are already discussing things we need to do when we get back to Sri Lanka.
With that in mind if you want us to come to your church please contact the office in the States so we can begin to schedule trips. We’ve already scheduled one VBS program in June so let us know as soon as possible.
BIBLE COLLEGE GRADUATION
We just found out that the two year Bible college training will be completed May 30th. Our four girls have truly grown in spirit and knowledge and we are looking forward to using them in the ministry soon after their graduation.
We already have three or four new young people who want to begin their training for service when the next term starts in mid June.
Please pray for our graduating students and for those who will be entering school.
FAMILY CAMP PLAN IN PROGRESS
This May we will have another family camp. We’re hoping to do this every year with the churches. We saw some growth spiritually in the church members from the camp last September. We’re headed back to the same location as it worked out pretty well and everyone wanted to go there again.
WORKERS BRING NEW LIFE
We had prayed and hoped that bringing a family to work in Periya Kallar would revive the ministry there and it seems that God is in the process of doing just that.
Many of the youth who had stopped coming to services have returned, and there are more children coming regularly to Sunday school. We held a joint youth program for all our churches in January and had five from Periya Kallar when usually there is only one or two (if any attend at all).
The church will begin meeting in a new location once again but this house has a huge living room, big enough for 60-70 people to meet easily, and we get to use it rent free for two years. The preacher and his wife, Selvakumar and Vasantha Devi and their family will be living there as well, moving in this next month after some painting and minor repairs are done.
Please pray for God’s continued blessing on their efforts to win the lost in that village.
NEW COOK AT OUR HOUSE
We have always struggled with having enough time to do the work we need to in the churches, and some of this is due to cooking chores. God has brought a lady to work with us here and already this has made a big difference for us. With all the children and others who drop in at meal time, cooking takes a lot of time out of our day, so she is a real help to us.
1. Bible college students who will graduate and new students who will attend.
2. Periya Kallar church to continue to grow, Selvakumar and family.
3. More workers to enter into the harvest field in this area.
4. Family camp plans for greater spiritual growth in the church members.
5. God’s leading as we return to the States in
FINANCIAL REPORT OCTOBER-DECEMBER, 2010
OVERSEAS PROJECTS $15,105.00
TOTAL EXPENSES $20235.69
Precious Brothers and
Sisters in the Lord,
The old year is past and with it many memories of how God has been working in us and in this ministry. To be honest this has been a difficult year for us but God has been with us in every situation. Not every difficulty was removed, but His grace was sufficient for each trial and challenge!
Here is our prayer for you as we begin this new year, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
You have been such a blessing to us throughout this last year by your prayers and finances, and for that we give praise to God and ask for his blessing on you!
Love in Christ, Steve and Shanthi
After all the programs were finished we all had a collective sigh of relief! All of the programs were good; the children loved it, we had good attendance (even overflowing in most places), and the true message of Christmas was proclaimed. Christmas is a lot of work, but it is worth the effort as we see more interest shown and appreciation from the parents, and seeds are planted and watered. So from them we look to God for a harvest of souls for His glory and kingdom.
At Onthachimadam we had some unexpected excitement to say the least! Our small building was packed and overflowing. With all those people it was hot and stuffy in the building. One mother of a little girl in Sunday school had brought her baby to the program; this was the first time she has ever come. It so happened that the baby was sick with a fever and was screaming though the first half of the program. She finally worked herself into such a frenzy she had a seizure! Of course this interrupted the entire program with people shouting and trampling each other trying to help and see what was going on. Our preacher Vijay took them to the hospital and she was admitted. The baby spent that night and the next day in the hospital and was released and is now fine. That was an event to remember!
The following pictures will give you a little “inkling” of what our Christmas programs are like!
Onthachimadam Nativity scene
Onthachimadam Children’s Choir
Onthachimadam Children Dancing
Periyaneelavanai Gift Distribution
-DEDICATION OF PERIYANEELAVANAI BUILDING-
During all our many Christmas programs we held the dedication for the newly completed Periyaneelavanai building. The work was completed just 2 days before the dedication (and had to be because there was no other place for their Christmas program)! The building is really nice with tile floor (which the church members paid for themselves), but right now the building is too big. We are trusting in God to bring more souls over the following months and years.
Dedication Service at Periyaneelavanai
Periyaneelavanai Completed Church and Living Quarters
We call her Nona, but her name is Pushpalogini and she is such a blessing to us at home and in the ministry as well. She has been involved in a Bible school training program for the last year, attending a few days each month, and she has really grown from it. We know God will use this for His glory. The graduation was held in Colombo on the 28th but with everything else going on at home and in ministry we weren’t able to attend.
Please pray for Nona, as she will be transferring back to Onthachimadam to work with the ministry there.
MONSOON SEASON IS HERE
This is our rainy season and it has been doing that! We had pretty good weather during all the programs and now it seems to be making up for lost time. We have wet clothes literally everywhere in our house (and that is with fans running continuously trying to keep things dry)! Some of our believer’s houses are flooded, and there are large ponds everywhere. This is all normal but it does make life more difficult for everyone.
TRINIDAD PREACHER’S BROTHER DIES
Our preacher in Trinidad, Rennie, emailed to tell us his brother Yacub had a heart attack and then the next day emailed again to say he’d had a second attack and had passed away. Yacub has worked along with Rennie from the beginning of the church, and was making plans for evangelism and tent meetings for this coming year.
Please pray for comfort for the entire family at their loss--Rennie especially as he really looked up to his brother Yacub.
1. New pastor Selvakumar and family to adjust quickly as they begin work in Periya Kallar.
2. Comfort for Rennie and family at the loss of his bother Yacub.
3. Continued growth in the churches and more souls to come to Christ in 2011.
4. More workers for the ministry, especially in Onthachimadam.