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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration at your home. We didn’t have turkey but we did have a couple of special things we don’t normally have. But the best part of the day was we all went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. Most thoughts were about family which was nice to hear from our kids!
This got me thinking about the family of God. How thankful are we for those with whom we will spend eternity? Do I spend my time criticizing or complaining about them, or do I thank God for them even though they have faults? It’s easy for us to talk about loving others and God’s forgiveness, but not such an easy thing to do this with others especially when they irritate us to no end with their actions or speech. So I determined I needed to make some changes in how I thought about and acted toward others. Maybe if we all spent a little more time thinking of ways to thank God for others around us, including their faults, we could begin to understand a little better God’s love for us.
We are especially thankful for you our partners in ministry who faithfully pray for us and send finances for us to do evangelism, training, teaching and building projects here. Also we want you to know that we pray for you as well that God will continue to bless and use you to his glory there where you are.
We pray that you will have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
In Remembrance of the Greatest Gift,
Steve and Shanthi
CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
We purchased and assembled school bags and books for lots of kids and the preachers and wives are busy buying clothes and bagging them for gifts as well. But this is not just about giving gifts to the Sunday school kids. We have always and will continue to place great emphasis on the workers getting into the homes to meet the parents and other family members to share the gospel of Christ with them. We don’t want this to just be another program but to be used as a way to win people to Christ.
Many times over the years we’ve had parents thank us for what we give their children and have had some who accepted Christ and are now faithful Christians. I wish we could say all of them accept Christ but that’s not true. Please pray that souls will be changed by the message of Christmas, salvation has come to man!
We just returned home today from Colombo and Shanthi’s fourth chemo treatment, and there is wonderful news! When she had the surgery In July and before the first treatment they did a blood test called CA125. This test in some way determines how active the cancer cells are. The normal range is 35 or below, Shanthi’s was at 384. Just before the first treatment one month later they did the test again and it was 1389 so the cancer was growing rapidly. After three treatments and three very long months of waiting we did the CA125 test again and it registered 104! So by God’s grace the chemo is working and doing its job! Her doctor was pleased to see this as well.
We are praising God, not just the medicine or the doctor for this news! We are thankful God has given men knowledge on how to treat sicknesses, but we pray in faith believing God will end this cancer. It has not been easy to continue in that way I must say. There have been a lot of anxious days over the last three months as we waited and wondered what was happening.
Shanthi continues to have almost no side effects even though this is a much more powerful drug this time. There has been a little fatigue for a couple of days following the chemo and then she’s fine. Everyone comments on how good she looks and acts. This of course is a great way to give praise to God
Please continue to pray for her and the next two treatments in December and January. Whether they can give them depends on her blood levels which are still good again by God’s grace. If they drop and the treatment has to be postponed she won’t be able to complete all of them here before we come home.
We’ve finally set the date we will be returning--January 23rd. This was due to Shanthi’s sister whom she sponsored back in 2002 and her family as they got their visas and have to be in the States no later than February 4th. Of course we need to be there when they arrive (actually we’ll all be on the same flights along with one of her brothers and his family as well).
We got some good air fares and good connections with enough time to process the visas in Chicago and then fly into Springfield, which is unusual that the cheapest flight got us that close to home. We’ve also booked the flight for our two kids, Tharshini and Prashanth. We still have no word on their visas so we did this totally by faith that God will work it all out. When Shanthi and I were first married I had to leave Sri Lanka on a certain date and of course wanted her to come with me. Too make a long story short, it was a very similar situation--she didn’t have her visa either, but we booked her ticket right along with mine and prayed God would bring the visa in time. We literally stopped at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo to get her visa on our way to the airport. Hopefully we won’t cut it that close this time!
Immigration is a real train wreck and we’re finding this out with Shanthi’s remaining family member’s who are still struggling with paperwork after more than a decade, but God will provide. Please pray that God will send the visas for our kids in time for them to come with us.
A SHORT STORY
Many times we are amazed at how God works in people’s lives even though we may see no hope of their accepting Christ.
Navaratnam is a carpenter who lives in Koddai Kallar. Two of his children had come to Sunday school for several years, and in fact his daughter, Lusani, is now one of our Sunday school teachers. We had shared the Gospel with him, his wife and their other daughter many times but always got the same answer. “My kids can come to church but my wife and I will never come.” All that we could do was pray that God would somehow soften their hearts.
About two years ago, due to lack of work here, he decided to go abroad and work as a carpenter. During this time his wife found a lump in her breast. Of course this caused great alarm for the family. She was scheduled for surgery but before the day arrived one of our church members asked her, “why don’t you come to church and have our pastor pray for you”? At first she was reluctant to go but about that time they had a crusade at our Onthachimadam church and so she went to the crusade. She went forward for prayer not really expecting anything to happen, but God had a different plan.
When she went to the hospital for the scheduled surgery they ran more tests and the lump was gone. She called her husband who was still abroad working to tell him what had happened. She began coming to church and he began attending church where he was. About a year ago I baptized her into Christ. Navaratnam is now back in Sri Lanka and he and his wife faithfully attend the Onthachimadam church praising God and singing the songs as if they had known them their whole life.
God works in ways we often don’t understand and can use life’s circumstances to bring about the desired change in people lives!
- Visas for Prashanth and Tharshini so they can accompany us in January.
- Praise for Shanthi’s good report and pray her blood levels stay high so she can finish the treatments.
- God to continue to work through our coworkers.
- Christmas programs to glorify God and people to come to Christ.
- God to work out everything for Shanthi’s family visas and houses and jobs for them when they arrive.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s fall in the States, which I believe is my favorite time of year. We do hope that you have some colorful leaves to enjoy! We also hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving season to enjoy with family and friends. Boy do I miss turkey and dressing!
We have come into our monsoon season, which normally begins this time of year with a few gentle showers during the nights, which leads to heavy rains later. This year we’ve gotten heavy rains almost from the beginning. We’ve had rain day and night now for five days straight. This makes it difficult to dry clothes for sure! But the rains are a welcome sight as our well water was getting pretty low.
It’s also the time of year we start getting ready for the Sunday school Christmas programs. Plans are already underway for this, so please be praying for good weather and attendance for all the church programs.
With all that’s going on we continue to lift you up in our prayers and thank God for all you do for us. We’ve gone through some tough days and I’m sure they’re not over, but God’s goodness sustains us. It is such a blessing and encouragement for us to know that we have people praying for us, the ministry, and our children. We also thank you for your faithful support for the ministry work we are doing here. May God bless you abundantly for all you do!
With “Thanksgiving” in our hearts,
Steve & Shanthi
I DON’T LIKE SPIDERS AND SNAKES
We seem to have an abundance of things like this here, including scorpions and centipedes, so we’re always on the lookout for these creatures. This past month we had two snakes in our yard (well actually three if you count the two legged type snakes). One was a small snake I’ve seen before and they are poisonous. Our dog saw it first and began barking which caused the kids to go and see what was going on. They came and told me, I went out and found it behind a few bricks stacked along our wall. One good kick on the bricks was enough to finish him off. The other was a big snake--he went through a hole in the wall before I got there, but from the description it was a non poisonous type which eats rats. We see them fairly often as we have a lot of rats.
The two legged snake we didn’t see but they left behind a charm buried next to one of our trees. It seems as soon as we find one they come and put another one in its place. You would think they would grow weary of doing it. This is a reminder to us that Satan won’t give up trying to destroy Christians and our influence whether in Sri Lanka or the States or anywhere in the world. As the Word says, his aim is to steal, kill, and destroy all that is good, but his doom is certain!
STILL NO NEWS ON THE VISAS
We continue to pray that God will send the kid’s visas soon. This would give us time to figure out all the other things in order for us to return home. We do know we will most likely return home some time in January with or without the kids. Shanthi had sponsored her brothers and sisters 14 years ago to get visas to come to the States, and the first of her family now have their visas and must be in the States before February 4th. So we need to be back home before they arrive.
Another situation affecting the timing of our return is Shanthi’s chemo treatments (we will be in Colombo over Halloween weekend for her next treatment). The last one is scheduled for January 30th which doesn’t leave us any time for her to recoup from the treatment (which does take her energy for a few days) before we would need to leave to meet her family in the States. Please keep praying for her healing and strength! Also a big thank you to all who have sent cards and emails for her birthday as well as for her healing. They have been a real encouragement to her to know she is being remembered.
So many things are involved personally in timing our departure, not to mention the issues of ministry which are of concern to us as well.
Please pray that God would intervene and the kid’s visas would come.
CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS ARE COMING
We are honestly doing well financially as far as the gifts go this year as God has blessed us through your faithfulness. If you would like to send a gift especially for the upcoming Christmas programs mark it as such and send it to the office in the normal way. We are giving gifts of clothing again as they are always appreciated. In addition we will do what we have done the last few years--giving special gifts to those with perfect attendance and also to those who came over 90% of the Sundays. These programs give the opportunity for our workers to get into the homes of the children and speak with the parents and other family members concerning Christ.
- God’s continued protection for us, our family and co workers.
- Christmas programs to glorify Christ and be a time of outreach to families.
- Shanthi’s treatments to go well and for no side effects.
- Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas to come soon.
- Our plans to return to the States in January.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here we are in October already. This year seems to be slipping by quickly, and this has been one of those months where we have been busy every day with something but when we look back we wonder what have we done. Most of this month has been consumed with just life things I guess.
We have been getting a little bit of rain which is a reminder that rainy season is only a month away if it comes at the normal time. In fact while I’m typing this it is gently raining. We thought we would get a heavy rain last night--had thunder and some lightning but no rain. But we did have a power outage which lasted over three hours during the night. So sleeping was a little difficult as the humidity was very high.
Before we get to the reports (such as they are) we want to say thank you to all who have sent cards and emails with wishes for Shanthi and confirming your prayers for her health. This means so much to us knowing that the folks back home are thinking of us and praying for us!
We also want to say thank you for the prayers for the ministry work. We have to rely on God more than ever as we can’t do lots of the things we normally do. Your financial gifts as well are a blessing to us from God. We are confident He will bless you for that as well.
We pray that God will continue to bless and use you there in your ministry.
With grateful hearts,
Steve and Shanthi
Tomorrow morning we leave for Colombo for the second of the six chemo treatments. As soon as we arrive we have to go to the hospital and have blood work done so we will have the results when we see the doctor that evening. If the levels are good we may not have to have Shanthi admitted and they can give the chemo on an outpatient basis but that remains to be seen. (Note from Penny—just got a call from Steve and they were back from Colombo. Shanthi was able to be treated as “outpatient” which saved over $350 on the hospital bill. Thank you for your prayers!)
During this past month we have made several trips to the Batticaloa hospital. One was to have more fluid drained from her abdomen, an additional one and a half liters, which added to the six and a half that had already been taken in Colombo gives a total of eight liters of fluid drained from her abdomen so far. Another visit was for a blood transfusion she needed. The staff is well trained and very caring, but the facilities are somewhat primitive and what should have been a two to three hour transfusion ended up taking literally all day! We had left home at 7:30 that morning and returned home at 6:15 that evening--lots of “reasons” but the fact is the staff in the hospital is not well organized. After the fluid removal and unit of blood Shanthi did begin to feel better and is now doing okay. She has lost her hair again which is probably the most troubling part of the whole thing for her.
The government hospital in Batticaloa cannot get the same chemo drug so we were going to have to purchase it from a pharmacy in Colombo and have it sent here (anyone for socialized medicine?). This was the deciding factor whether Shanthi did her chemo here or in Colombo.
People here have a different view of anyone who has cancer, so lots of things are said which seem to make their way back to us eventually, some even by our coworkers and church members, so that is quite troubling. To put it simply some see it as a curse from Satan, others as a curse from God--either way you should be avoided so that curse doesn’t rub off on you.
Please continue to pray for her complete healing and also emotional strength to handle unkind things that are said.
CONSTRUCTION AT THANNAMUNAI CHURCH
There has been progress but not as quickly as we would like to see. Our mason has had some trouble with his workers so work slowed down a lot. We’re almost ready for the steel for the roof members to be put on. We chose a steel structure as the timber these days is very poor quality and actually ends up costing more with extra labor and time.
It won’t be a “complete” building; most will remain with no plaster on the walls but will be much nicer than what they have now.
We’re also using aluminum casement windows for the first time. They look nice, work well, no maintenance as far as varnish or paint, and are cheaper than wood windows.
Please continue to pray we can get this finished before the rains set in.
We’re still awaiting the approval for the Periya Kallar building--more paperwork, which means more delays. Hopefully we will get this all finished and can begin site preparation and maybe even some building before the rains. As much as we need the rain it sure makes construction tough! But God will work everything out according to his plan. Please pray that we can get this started soon.
OUR KID’S VISAS
We still have no word from the Appeals Board even though we should have had their answer by now. So we keep praying and looking for the approval every day. We never in our imagination dreamed it would take this long but God has purpose in this too. Keep praying that we get their visas soon and can begin making some plans to come home.
- Shanthi’s healing and safety in our traveling to Colombo over the next months.
- Souls to come to Christ through the efforts of our coworkers.
- Building construction at Thananmunai to be completed.
- Approval for Periya Kallar church so we can begin that work.
- Our kids visas.
Note from Penny—Shanti’s birthday is November 1. If you would like to send a card the address is:
Koddai Kallar E.P.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We’ve made it through the hottest summer months and now it’s just hot and dry, although we‘ve had a couple of rains this month which is always welcome this time of year. It is strange how we fret over something that is out of our control, but still everyone does talk about it.
Our kids have been on school vacation this month, and having them around all the time has its moments but overall the experience has been good.
We have been overwhelmed by the number of emails and cards sent to us this month! Quite a few for my birthday, which by the way I’ll not be celebrating next year(the big 60), but even more get well and encouragement cards for Shanthi. It’s been so wonderful to know so many of you are praying for her healing and strength! Dealing with this to be honest has not been easy, but with God’s strength and so much encouragement from all of you it has made it easier! We are trusting in God and his promises and know that He is in control of everything that happens.
We want to thank you for your prayers for us and the ministry here. We could not make it without God’s help and your support in prayer! We also thank you for standing with us financially as your gifts enable us to be here and work for God’s glory. Thank you for your partnering with us in this ministry.
In His loving faithfulness,
Steve and Shanthi
JUST SO YOU WILL KNOW
The satanic charms we find just keep coming. We find one, get rid of it and then find another. In less than a week after I had written last month we found another charm buried in a small pile of fire wood. Satan’s attacks are continuous--he won’t give up but neither do we. God will continue to protect us from these regardless of how many come, Isaiah 54:17, “no weapon forged against you will prosper”!
VBS PROGRAMS FINISHED
As I write this the last VBS programs have finished. There were a couple of changes in the scheduled dates, but you prayed for them nonetheless.
This year attendance was off somewhat. We still had good numbers but not as many as expected. Here are a couple of reasons:
Right in the middle of the month we had Parliamentary elections, which are a big deal. This interferes with every aspect of life and ministry (I’m just glad we don’t have them every year). The former president was running a campaign to take the Prime Minister’s position which seemed to add to the uneasy feelings in the area.
The schools always have Grade five scholarship exams in August as well as Advanced level exams. But due to the election uproar the scholarship exam was later than usual which meant that age group didn’t come for VBS as they study for the big test day. Then Advanced level was split into two sessions, because of the election, and actually is still going on.
So these kids weren’t able to bring their younger brothers and sisters as they have in the past so attendance was lower. Each church did report a good number of new kids that came though.
Please pray that the seeds of truth that have been planted will grow in these young hearts and the hearts of their parents as well.
The new building at Thanamunai is going fairly well even though we have not been able to be there in person as much as we would like. They are laying the block walls and pouring concrete columns this past week and will be next week also. Hopefully the trusses will be put in place within a couple of weeks and the roof can be installed, then doors and windows after that (sounds simple doesn’t it). We’ve done enough buildings and I’ve done enough construction to know rarely does anything ever go simply! But the progress is continuing and should have the building as finished as we are going to be able to do before the rains come in three months.
The approval for the new Periya Kallar building has hit a couple of snags. They seem to add more paperwork every time one thing is done, but we should have it before the end of the month and can begin the work there as well.
We are heading for Colombo this week and Lord willing she will begin chemo treatments. We thought that we could do it locally but turned out the disadvantages outweighed the advantages so we’ll be making the trips to Colombo again.
Please pray for God to make the treatments go as well as last time as she had no side effects other than losing her hair. Pray also that the treatments will be successful in removing all cancer.
KIDS VISAS AND FAMILY VISAS
Well we just received word today, that the kids visa paperwork has been given to the Appeal Board (which actually should have happened five months ago). Pray that all goes well and that very soon we will get the approval and can make plans to return home. Also Shanthi had applied for family visas for five brothers and sisters back in 2002. We got word last year that they could now make the application process.
Between our kid’s visas and the family visas I’ve gone through two reams of copy paper and many more forms were filled out on the computer and sent by email. The whole thing has been quite taxing to say the least.
One sister now has her visa (including her family) and another brother has his interview next week in Colombo. So there’s more Sri Lankans headed your way!
- Shanthi’s treatments that all goes well and the cancer is finished once and for all.
- Praise for the VBS programs and the outreach to the families.
- Construction to continue as smoothly as possible.
- Approval for the building at Periya Kallar so we can begin the work there soon.
- Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas to be approved.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
What a month this has been! Hot, no rain, dust everywhere, sick children, we’ve been sick, and on the list goes. But God is good all the time! We hope and pray that life and what you are doing for the Lord is being blessed abundantly.
Whenever we face struggles it is always good to remember these things:
God is faithful to his people (Hebrews 13: 5,6), trials develop Godly character (James 1:2-4), God will always bring good out of what we many times see as something bad (Romans 8:28), every trial that comes on this earth doesn’t compare with the glory awaiting us (Romans 8:18). I had just finished sharing a sermon in all the churches during June about facing trials and how to grow through them. I think God was preparing us for what we would experience ourselves.
Through this month maybe more than usual we’ve been reminded of God’s love, your love for us, and your love for His kingdom as we have received so many emails and notes expressing love and assuring us of your prayers for us. We thank God for your faithfulness in prayers for us, this ministry, and your financial gifts which help us do the work here. May God continue to bless you as you labor there for His glory!
In His eternally faithful love,
Steve and Shanthi
AUGUST IS VBS TIME
This month we will have nine VBS programs in the churches and house church locations. There is a program every week throughout the month in each of the churches. We’re expecting and praying for 1,000 total to be in attendance this year. So much preparation has gone into this with teacher training days, meetings, and lots of prayer. Each church is planning a 24 hour prayer chain just prior to their VBS week.
We try to emphasize to all our workers and anyone involved in VBS in every capacity that having this program is not an end in itself. This enables us to reach into the families and community with the truth of Jesus Christ.
This year the theme is, “I am special to God”. Please put this on your daily calendar to pray for souls to come to Christ. Here’s a list of the dates so you can pray for that church and the preachers and workers.
3 – 7 Koddai Kallar: led by Sydney and Rani
Mahiloor: led by Sutha and Jeno
4 – 8 Barathi Puram (house church): led by Pushpalogini and Shanthy
10 – 14 Periya Kallar: led by David and Ajantha
Samanthurai (house church): led by Kushaya
17 – 21 Kurumenvely (house church): led by Vijaya
18 – 22 Eruvil (house church): led by Pushpalogini and Shanthy
24 – 28 Onthachimadam: led by Illangovan and Susila
25 – 29 Periya Neelavanai: led by Vijay and Ananthy
NEW SEPTIC TANK AT PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH
This may seem like rather unpleasant news but we had to install this new tank before we could start the construction of the new building. The old soakage pit, a cistern with no bottom, was all the way across the property from the toilet and right where we need to put foundation for the church building. We also must replace the well as it was tested and is polluted with ecoli, but that’s another story. Pray we can start this project before too long.
NEW CHURCH BUILDING IN THANAMUNAI
Over the last several months we have become acquainted with a preacher and wife who are working about 30 miles from us in Thanamunai. To make a long story short they needed a building desperately. What they have now is a cobbled mess of bricks and blocks, rusted galvanized roof sheets, rotten wood, sagging beams and cracked floors.
So we prayed about this and decided to help them build a new building. It will be slightly larger than what they have now, made of cement blocks, steel trusses, (which we found used for less than half price of new), corrugated cement sheet roofing, with aluminum windows and doors. We’ve checked and found that maintenance-free aluminum is cheaper than wood windows and doors. No wood varnish is available here that will withstand the sun. It’s doubtful we will fully finish the building for them, but it will be much better and more usable than what they have now.
Many of you are already aware of our news concerning Shanthi’s health. We went for a routine checkup only to find she has tumors, and blood tests show that cancer is present. This was a real shock to us to say the least as all previous tests were good and she was feeling well.
What we’ve found out is the surgery she went through last year didn’t go far enough in removing tissue (too long to explain it all here). She is scheduled for surgery July 28th to remove the tumors, so that will be over by the time most of you get this. Then she will go through another round of chemo treatments.
In God’s plan and timing this is evidently why my visa was renewed without any objection, and why we have not received the visas for the kids, and on the list could go as to why we’re still here. As medical treatment here costs 10% of what it is in the States we will stay here for this.
God can still intervene in all this and that is how we are praying. If he does not heal miraculously He can use the doctors and medicine to do so. If Shanthi has to go through chemo pray that it will go as well as last time as she had no side effects then. And pray it will be 100% effective. Please keep us in your prayers!
Latest update: Shanthi’s surgery went well. The doctors removed 2 large tumors and tissue. One tumor was behind the bladder, and the other was lower in the pelvis. The doctor also removed spots that were on the liver. The surgeon told us that tumors, tissue, and spots were cancerous, but that he believed that all the cancer has now been removed. Praise the Lord for this good news, but we are still waiting on a prognosis.
THE SCRATCHED RECORD
Some of you will remember in the old days, playing a record that has a scratch on it and how it would play the same phrase over and over until you bumped the player or moved the arm. But I’m not talking about scratched records, just a repeat of Satan’s evil as we found more charms on our property. It seems to be the same thing over and over. But God is good and He has protected us from these, and He will always do so! This charm was supposed to bring separation between Shanthi and I, as well as financial troubles. But our God is stronger than anything our enemy Satan can throw at us! Praise God with us for His all powerful protection!
- VBS programs in August and continuing outreach afterwards.
- Shanthi’s health concerns: praise for successful surgery July 28th and pray that upcoming treatments will be easy (if necessary at all)
- Construction of the new building in Thanamunai.
- Tharshini and Prashanth’s visa approvals to come.
- Praise for protection from Satan’s attacks.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We wish you a very Happy Independence Day! We thought we would be celebrating it there with you this year (but as you can tell already that didn’t work out as we had hoped).
The more news I read the more I’m afraid that independence for most means “I can do whatever I want whenever I want.” Many it seems have lost sight of the fact that our freedoms have come at a great price and that we are now responsible for making sure that they stay intact. Our country needs lots of prayer in case you didn’t already know it. One thing our national freedom reminds me of is the greater freedom we enjoy because of Christ. That freedom also came at a very great cost, His very own blood. And it is our responsibility to make sure everyone knows that they can enjoy this freedom by making Jesus their Lord and Savior.
It is because of this that we are here to share the freedom in Christ with the Sri Lankan people. You are a part of that by your faithful prayers for us and the financial support that is given so we can be here. We pray God will bless you abundantly for partnering with us! We also pray that you will take time to thank God for the freedom you have in Jesus and in our nation.
Forever Free in Christ,
Steve and Shanthi
MAJOR CHANGE OF PLANS!!
As I wrote last month (which seems just a couple days ago) we thought we would be back in the States by now as my visa expired June 28th. We had been told that a Residence Visa would only be extended once which we had already done in 2013. That was when we found out about Shanthi’s cancer and her need for surgery and treatments.
Late in May we had considered several options: both of us returning with the kids (as that was what we prayed would happen), both of us returning and leaving the kids behind, my returning alone and leaving Shanthi here with the kids and continuing the ministry by herself, and on the list of options went. Finally we made some phone calls to immigration here and eventually got to speak with the Deputy Controller who said that now the Residence Visa can be extended an unlimited number of times. What a relief that was!
So we made the trip to Colombo and went to Immigration where I received another two year extension on my visa. We are still working and praying for the kid’s visas to come very soon, and as soon as they do we’ll make plans to return to the States. In the mean time there is much to be done here.
BUILDING IN PERIYA KALLAR
I can’t remember when we have struggled more with a decision of whether to build or not than we have with this building. Honestly what helped us was in knowing we had more time here after the extension on my visa.
We had discussed with the preacher and wife different options and were ready to simply build a temporary structure and wait until we returned to Sri Lanka to build an actual church building. After lots more prayer we have decided to build now and be done with it. Things are situated in such a way that we can leave the existing building and only remove a portion of the back porch (as I would call it). This allows the pastor and family to continue to live there and for church services to continue at the same location even during construction.
We are now in process of drawing plans for the worship building and pastor’s quarters. This has to be approved before we can begin construction. The first phase will be to relocate the septic pit, no easy task in itself, and the well must then be moved as it will be too close to the new toilet pit. We knew that when we initially began looking at what to do.
There is also a very large mango tree that will have to be cut down (which I really hate as it provides lots of shade and of course lots of mangos) but there is literally no way around it—the tree must go!
We’ve already gotten approval to move the toilet pit which will now become more septic tank than soakage pit which is a good thing. We will have bricks and sand delivered in a day or two and begin that work. As soon as we get the drawings approved we’ll start building the church building. We’re planning a 24’ by 50’ building which will include a large room on the back for the Sunday school to meet. Our block machine is already on site and we have a crew ready to begin making blocks as soon as approval of the drawings is complete.
Please pray for this project that all will go well and quickly.
VISAS FOR OUR KIDS
Well the simple answer is we don’t have them yet and it is in process. Here is a little better explanation.
What we do know is that the appeals which we filed are still in the California service center and have not been sent to the Appeal Board yet. According to immigration’s own time table they should have been sent to the Appeal Board within 30 days after receipt which was February 3rd.
Our congressman, Billy Long, has sent a letter to Immigration and the applications have been flagged “with Congressional interest” which should move them to the top of the stack. The young man in the congressman’s office has stated he has pushed as much as he can without making enemies (which is easily done and then you get nowhere with immigration).
A political side issue here, we need to force Congress to not just reform immigration, it needs a total overhaul! Yes immigration is over loaded but it is this way because of policies put in place over the last few administrations. To put it in Biblical terms we’re reaping what we have sown, both in immigration and in Congress.
Honestly we’re convinced that the only way this is going to be approved is if God intervenes, and that is exactly how we are praying and asking for you to pray this same way!
VBS QUICKLY APPROACHING
Our VBS programs are planned for August during school term break. Rani, the pastor’s wife in Koddai Kallar, has been busy with three helpers planning a three half day training session for all the VBS workers from all the churches which will take place June 30, July 1 and 2, so it will be over before you read this newsletter. We are using a combination of lessons from Sunday school material we were given and purchased when we were home last time with the theme of “I am Special”.
With eight different programs August is going to be busy. I don’t know if we’ll be able to attend all of them or not, but we’ll do our best and hopefully have a few pictures in September’s newsletter.
BAPTISMS AT ONTHACHIMADAM
On Father’s day we went to the Onthachimadam church and they had four baptisms that day, so it was an extra special Father’s day.
Two of the baptisms were older adults, and their accepting Christ was special for us. Both of these ladies we personally had been working with for over ten years. Both of these ladies had children who came to Sunday school and are now young adults; one became a Sunday school teacher in the Koddai Kallar church. This is why we place such an emphasis on the Sunday school and VBS programs as they are such a great evangelistic tool. Sometimes (as with these two ladies) it can take years before family members accept Christ, but it DOES happen! Praise God along with us for these new believers in Christ.
- Construction of the new building at the Periya Kallar church.
- VBS training and programs and for further outreach to the families afterward.
- Visas for Tharshini and Prashanth to come soon. (They pray every day for them).
- Praise that I was able to extend my visa.
- Praise for the new souls saved through Christ.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here we are at June and I’m still trying to get used to it being May--this month has flown past. We spent some of our time this month filling and filing paperwork for Shanthi’s brothers and sisters for visas. Shanthi had applied for them in September 2002 and now they are approved to apply. There is such a backlog on visas they have waited for 13 years now to get them. Pray that all goes well for them and their plans to immigrate.
We continue to thank and praise God for your faithful prayers and support for the ministry. We are amazed at how God blesses us and provides all we need to reach these people for Christ. It is an enormous task, and what we are doing with our churches gets overwhelming occasionally. Knowing there are people like yourselves lifting us to God makes a huge difference, maybe more than will ever know, until you reach heaven and meet some of these people for the first time!
We are so thankful that God provides for us through your generosity so that we can live and work here. May God richly bless you for the blessing you are to us!
With Grateful Hearts,
Steve and Shanthi
THARSHINI AND PRASHANTH’S VISAS
Still no word on our kid’s visas and getting information is next to impossible. What we know is that as of mid May the appeal documents had been transferred to the California Service Center from Texas where we were supposed to send them. Honestly we don’t know if this is good or bad news. The papers were supposed to be transferred within thirty days to the appeals judge who (to our understanding) is in Virginia.
What we are praying is that maybe they (SOMEONE please) are actually reading the documents this time and there will be no need for extra delay for the appeal and the visas will be granted. Even when they are granted we still have to go to Colombo for interviews at the embassy, and then the embassy actually issues the visas there, so still lots to happen in a short time.
Please continue to pray God will intervene and there won’t be any delay in the kids coming with us the end of June.
BAPTISMS IN TWO CHURCHES
There were five baptisms this past month--two from Koddai Kallar and three in Periya Kallar. We were present at Periya Kallar for that Sunday service and I assisted in the baptism service. I want to share briefly about a couple of people who were baptized.
The first young lady had been coming to church for a couple months. She had originally come to a prayer service and asked to be prayed for as she was going blind and the doctors had said there was nothing they could do. Evidently someone had done a charm against her. The first time we met her, which was about a week later, someone led her into the church by the hand and her eyes were clouded. She expressed she was confident that God would heal her eyes, and He did! She has fully recovered her sight and even reads the Bible passages aloud during the service time. God is amazing!
Another lady is a widow with two teenage girls. She had been married to a Sinhala man so she became a Buddhist and raised the girls in Buddhism. She also had come to a prayer service and asked for prayer. Over the weeks David our preacher continued to pray and share God’s word with them. Now the mother has accepted Christ and been baptized and the two girls are coming to church regularly!
The transforming power of the Gospel message is still at work today in people’s lives!
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
No I’m not referring to a wedding in this instance but to another charm we found on our property. Old because I’ve lost count of the number of times this has happened, new because this one was quite different than the others.
Sutha, our preacher in Mahiloor and also our nephew had said he felt God leading him to have a fasting and prayer in our home. So we set a day and he brought his wife and a couple of youth from the church. God did reveal to him the location of the charm which happened to be in a drainage pit for our downstairs shower and washing machine.
Someone had taken an egg, poked a small hole in one end inserted two snake embryos, some blood, and five pepper corns. Then all this was sealed along with small copper plates in a ball of concrete about the size of a baseball. After finding it and praying again we broke it open to see what was inside. Wow what a stench! The plates indicated that it was so we would become sick when we left and not return to Sri Lanka (this was represented by the two snake embryos) and the pepper corns were for each of our kids living with us.
Our Lord God has protected us once again from all the attacks of Satan! “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and this is their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17!
SOME SAD NEWS
Just a few days ago one of the teenage girls at the Samanthurai church hanged herself. Our understanding is the school principal had humiliated her in front of the entire student body saying she was a whore. Satan used the opportunity to discourage her to the point she felt she had no future. We were shocked to hear the news but it was a reminder for us to be more vigilant in prayer for the believers as so many are still young in their faith.
- Our children’s visas to come so they can come home with us.
- Praise for the new believers who were baptized this last month.
- Praise for God’s protection over us from all Satan’s attacks.
- Strength, health, and wisdom for us and our co workers.
- The family in Samanthurai grieving over the death of this girl.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here in Sri Lanka May is a month of special holidays--May 1st is May day honoring labor, May 3rd and 4th this year marking Vesak Full moon which is when Buddha attained enlightenment according to their teachings. Consequently the kids have a few extra days off from school.
It has gotten very hot now which is normal for this time of year but it came on rapidly, not gradually as it usually does. I got my “summer time” haircut the other day and it is short! Now I’m afraid to go out in the sun for fear of sun burning the top of my head, as if that was all I had to be concerned about.
Our time here is growing short as we plan to return to the States mid to late June, Lord willing with the two kids along with us. Please keep praying for their visas to come through.
You have been a blessing to us by your prayers and financial support which enables us to do this ministry. We can never over emphasize how much this means to us. It seems that Satan is always looking for ways to undo what God is doing and we need your prayers for us and our coworkers to be faithful and to continue doing what we Know God wants done.
May God bless you for all you do for us and may He use you there to His glory.
With grateful hearts,
Steve and Shanthi
Our churches in Periya Neelavanai and Onthachimadam both had three day crusades this past month. These actually took place on the same weekend but we were not able to attend due to both Shanthi and I being sick. Each church has new families that are now attending, as well as several baptisms in both crusades for which we praise God! We’re encouraged by seeing these new believers in the churches. Please pray for their growth and faithfulness.
PROPERTIES AND BUILDINGS
I believe we mentioned the need for some kind of building at the Periya Kallar church as the number of believers continues to grow. We’ve been praying for wisdom and discussing with the native minister and his wife, David and Ajantha, their thoughts about the best way to go. We’re still not fully decided on the best plan as yet but are leaning to a temporary structure built alongside the existing church where the church can meet. To try to remodel the interior of the existing house had too many problems associated with it.
We would love to just build an entirely new building but with limited time here to oversee the building, and since it would involve moving the church and the preacher with his family somewhere else during construction, there are simply too many problems with this plan.
The temporary structure is not the complete answer either, but at least it could be done fairly quickly and without disruption to the meetings and preacher’s family.
We have looked at two different properties for the Eruvil church; one we really liked in that it was just bare land in a good location, but now the owners say they have decided not to sell. Translated that means they think they can get a higher price.
The other property has a nice house on it and lots of space to build a church building later but they simply want too much money for it.
So we continue to look in both villages and pray for God’s providing a good property at a good price.
VBS IN AUGUST
We’ve set dates for training the VBS staff even though we will not be here. Rani the preacher’s wife in Koddai Kallar serves as Sunday school superintendent for the churches and will be doing the training--she always does an excellent job. They will have three half days of training for the lessons and crafts that will be used. All the churches have begun signing up their helpers and volunteers and making the necessary plans for their programs.
VBS is a good outreach time as lots of parents come with their children to the daily programs and so they hear the word of God along with the children. Please continue to pray for the VBS programs this August.
- Visas for Tharshini and Prashanth to come soon.
- Praise God for the new believers and souls won during the crusades, for their growth in Christ.
- Property purchases for Eruvil and Kurumenvely and building construction in Periya Kallar.
- August VBS programs and also the staff training days.
- Faithful husbands for all the young ladies doing ministry work with us: Logi, Shanthy, Vijaya, Delani, Premmi.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We want to wish you a very Happy Resurrection season! If ever there is a time we as Christians should rejoice it is especially for the fact that our Lord was raised from the dead. Just recently we have been studying in some of the churches concerning the importance of the resurrection. No other faith system has a God who came to earth, died and then was raised back to life. We hope that you not only enjoy the season but truly appreciate what God has done for us in the resurrection.
Our weather here has turned hot (which is normal) but this past month we’ve had some unexpected heavy rains which are always welcome, even though it does bring some inconvenience. And spring here means that some of Shanthi’s favorite fruits are now in season so she will be enjoying them.
On the 7th we’ll be heading for Colombo for a checkup with Shanthi’s cancer doctor. We’re confident that all is well but this is what we have to do to be certain, so please pray for our trip and the doctor’s reports.
We thank God for you and your prayers and financial gifts to the ministry here. It is such an encouragement to know that our Christian family is praying for us and to know God is providing all we need through his people. May God bless you richly for the blessing you are to us!
With our hope in the Resurrection,
Steve and Shanthi
TRAVELS TO HOUSE CHURCHES
Now that Shanthi is doing well we’ve added more to our schedule. We’ve begun visiting some of the house churches, some which are fairly new and some which started as a Sunday school program. So far this is limited to a Sunday morning or afternoon worship service. We hope and pray that this will grow into discipleship training sessions in the future.
Our desire is to be an encouragement not only to the church believers but also to those who have yet to make a decision to follow Christ. This means that our rotation time among the churches is longer, but we feel this is important for us to measure the growth of these small groups, to encourage them, and to see if it will be feasible to buy property and build church buildings in these locations.
PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH
This is one of those blessings which is difficult to see. The church here has grown rapidly, and consequently the old house where they meet is already too small. When we first began meeting there we removed a couple of walls to enlarge the meeting area which has served well. Now we need more space. We think we can remove a few more walls without harming the integrity of the building itself, but it is an old building (it was built before the time of concrete use here). The other option is to move the preacher and his family to a temporary home, move the church to another location nearby, and then demolish and build a permanent structure to be used as both church and parsonage. This is a tough decision to make as both options have pros and cons. We’ve been disappointed on other occasions of building something in anticipation of growth that failed to materialize, and we don’t want that to happen again. Everything seems to point toward continued growth, but we don’t want to be hasty in our decision.
PLANS FOR AUGUST VBS STARTED
We’ve begun making some plans for VBS in August. One of the big hurdles to cross here is getting our preachers (and everyone else for that matter) to begin to plan early for special programs. The culture here is such that you set a date for a program and when it arrives you react to everything that happens. So part of our training of preachers and workers is to get them to see that early planning is a good thing and makes the program easier to manage with all the unexpected things that do come.
We have Rani, our Sunday school trainer, overseeing it once again and she is looking through lessons to find some that will work for VBS. She always does a good job training the teachers and helpers and we don’t have to do much as far as oversight which is nice. We’re doing a five day program again this year, which was a real accomplishment last year! Please pray for the outreach to parents as well as children from this program.
STILL NO WORD ON VISAS
Well, we are dealing with the government so it’s no real surprise we haven’t heard anything about Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas. We were informed when we filed the appeal that after 30 days the Immigration people would present the paperwork to the board of appeals (which should have happened around March 10th) and then they would decide the case. This has been one of the most frustrating ordeals I have ever gone through in my life! But God’s will is going to win out in this!
My visa expires late June and our plan is we will come back to the States then, Lord willing with the kids in tow. All we ask is that you continue to pray God will see to it that their visas are granted and all our plans will work out.
- For the VBS programs in August and outreach to the families.
- Wisdom as to the expansion or building a new building in Periya Kallar.
- Continued growth in all the churches, we’ve had several baptisms of late.
- Preachers and workers to continue to reach out to the lost.
- Visas for Tharshini and Prashanth.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I can’t believe we’re already into March--the year is going by so quickly! But this is just a reminder to us that “time” is short. There is so much more that we want to do and accomplish, but no one knows when this life ends and our labors are over. We continue to praise God for how he is working in and through us here and with God’s help and strength we will continue to do so.
Every month it seems like the proverbial scratched record (I know some of you don’t remember those things, maybe I should say the chattering CD) in which we say thank you. I hope you realize it is meant sincerely from our hearts. We never forget to ask for God to bless, guide, and strengthen you as our supporters. We could not accomplish anything here without the added prayers of so many of you as well as the financial support to do the many physical things that are necessary. We continue to ask God to bless you and use you there where you are to his glory!
In Christian Love, Steve and Shanthi
SOME CHANGES TO THE MINISTRY
We have spoken to all our preachers concerning the financial support we give them, as well as to the churches, teaching them from the word of God on their responsibility to support their preachers. These changes, I’m happy to say, have now begun for two of our churches here. Koddai Kallar and Periya Neelavanai have both undertaken a portion of their preacher’s monthly salary. What we give to each one has been reduced by 25%. Over the next three years what we give will be further reduced until the church takes full responsibility for their preacher’s salary. This is called growing up I guess. While at first it was somewhat of a shock to the preachers and churches (some think we should give all financial support indefinitely), I believe that most of them understand from God’s word their stewardship responsibilities.
All our existing churches and any new workers will be put on a six year plan so that within that time frame they are self supporting--at least for the preacher’s salary. What this helps us do is to have available support for new workers to start churches in new locations. So as God provides workers we’ll have enough finances to support them.
Over the last months it has become evident we need to find permanent locations for two of our newer churches. Eruvil, where Pushpalogini works, has outgrown the small one room house they have been using. Even though the property owners have been very gracious to allow us to be there we need to find another place we can call “home”. Logi also works in Barathi Puram another small village which is near by, so we would like to find a property centrally located for both groups to come.
Kurumenvely, where Vijaya (another of our single girls needing a husband) works, also needs their own property. Over the last couple of years they’ve had to move a few times for various reasons, so to give a sense of permanence we need a property there as well.
We think we have enough funds saved up for these purchases, but what we need is for you to pray we can find good properties for reasonable amounts to meet the current and future needs of these churches.
VAN STILL IN THE SHOP
Well one month later our van is still in the shop (and you thought mechanics there were slow)! Actually the engine work is finished and according to our mechanic it is running very well. We ended up with a complete overhaul--pistons, sleeves, rings, bearings, clutch, head and valve job, timing belt and new synchronizers in the transmission for those of you interested. Basically anything inside the engine itself was replaced.
The van had a few places on the body in need of repair and painting so it’s now at the body shop and has been for about ten days now. The problem is all the work is basically done outdoors including painting. Almost from the day it was taken to the body shop we’ve had rain or cool cloudy days which have hindered progress on the body work and painting. But I’m not going to complain about the rain! It’s bad for the painting process but good for our well. In fact we’re all a little amazed at how much rain we are getting for this time of year.
So our travelling has been more limited, and somewhat more difficult. We’re back to depending on the local three wheelers (small semi enclosed three wheeled taxis) to get us to town and to the churches for services and studies. The drivers are not what you would say dependable; even when we prearrange days and times it seems we’re always waiting for them to come pick us up, and we have been late more than once getting where we needed to go. Hopefully this week the van will be finished and our transportation can get back to a little more normal.
NEW LOOK AT TWO CHURCH BUILDINGS
This past month by gifts given specifically for this purpose we installed ceramic floor tile at Koddai Kallar and Mahiloor churches. Not only is it prettier than just a concrete floor, it is easier on our feet since we go barefoot indoors, and it is much easier to keep clean. We’re thanking God for those who gave for these two projects which are a real blessing to these congregations.
NOT MUCH FUN
We’ve had more computer trials this month--our ten-year-old computer has finally given up completely. We already had a used computer we purchased a few years ago so our kids could learn some computer skills, but that has now been taken over by me so I have an office computer again. Thankfully we were able to salvage the hard drive from the old computer so all my files are still here!
- Evangelistic outreach of the churches and eyes and hearts to be open to the Gospel.
- Strength for us and our co-workers to carry on the work.
- Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas to come through.
- Successful property searches in Eruvil and Kurumenvely.
- Our van to be completed.
- Praise for the new floors in two buildings.
(The appeal to Immigration about the kids’ visas was received in time, we just have not heard anything back from the government yet.)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Have you ever had one of those months where you say “what else could go wrong”?? I’m sure most of you have. We’ve had one of those months, but God is still on the throne and in control and we continue to give Him praise! There have been good things that have happened as well, but there is the tendency in us to focus on the negative sometimes, and this is what Satan wants us to do. We cannot give in to these feelings as powerful as they may be--to do so means we believe that God is helpless and that He is unconcerned about what is going on in our lives.
“God is in control” is so easy to say, and we may even be slightly flippant sometimes using this phrase. We all must get to the point where we fully trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5, 6 reminds us of this need for trusting God; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
As we have gone through some of the trials this month it is such a blessing to know that so many people are praying for us, to the One who can make a difference! We do thank you for your prayers for us, and please continue to do so! We are also grateful for the blessing you are to us financially so that we can continue in the work here. We ask God to bless you for your continued support. May God continue to use you to his glory and purpose wherever you may be.
Trusting always in His power,
Steve and Shanthi
YEAR END WRAP UP
Sometimes I neglect to give you some information as to how things are going. We all say ministry is not about numbers but I feel every number represents a soul, so it is important!
In 2014 through our coworkers two new house churches were started. One began in Mahiloor Munai (Munai means south) by Sutha and Jeno who work at the Mahiloor church. There had already been a Sunday school program there, but the village is so spread out, and with several youth and adults attending, it was decided to begin this new house church. Also Vijay and Ananthy started a new house church in a town known as Eleventh Colony. Vijay had a few people coming from that area to Periya Neelavanai, but with very limited bus service it was not an easy trip, and it was also quite expensive, making it quite difficult for these people to attend services regularly in Periya Neelavanai. Both of these churches are new this year and need special prayer. By God’s grace they will continue to grow.
Also for the year we had a total of sixty seven baptisms--the largest number was from Mahiloor and Mahiloor Munai (thirty-two). Many of these had been believers and worshiping for a long time, but due to lack of proper spiritual leadership of the former preacher, they had never surrendered to Christ in baptism. So praise God along with us for these victories!
SHANTHI’S CHECK UP
One of the great blessings this month was when we went to Colombo for Shanthi’s check up. The blood work was good, although still slightly low on blood count but improved over last time. The doctor was pleased with how she was doing. The only problem that appeared was an elevated cholesterol reading. The doctor wanted her to go on medication to lower her levels, but overall everything was good.
NOW SOME BAD STUFF
Coming back from Colombo we had problems with the van. It overheated but it didn’t register on the heat gauge so it was only after the damage was done I knew something was wrong, and it really went wrong! It wasn’t until the engine was torn down that we knew the full extent of the damage. I won’t get into anything technical but we will end up now having to do a complete engine overhaul.
Even with this God was with us and blessed us! We broke down right in front of a Christian’s house and he helped us greatly. We were only about three miles outside Batticaloa, instead of breaking down in the remote area we had just come through a few minutes before. Our mechanic in Batticaloa was available and he came and towed us back to his garage. He then gave us his van so we could drive on home.
In all fairness the engine was due for a rebuild. They just don’t last forever even though we would like them to. We were hoping it would get us through our stay this time but that was not to be.
KIDS VISA DENIED
Many of you are already aware of this from our email to pray more earnestly about the visas, but here is a little more information.
We can and will file an appeal, and by the time you read this newsletter that will be done.
We had to make five trips to Batticaloa Courts (three with our lawyer two without) in order to get more documents or typed documents from the courts. This was exhausting in itself.
We have to get some documents translated into English and then take them to Ampara 40 miles away, to send them by Fed Ex to immigration. We’ve used the Batticaloa Fed Ex office before but they don’t deliver to Colombo daily. The last package we sent sat in Batticaloa for five days before being sent to Colombo. And this, by the Appeal document statement, must be at Immigration before Feb. 11. It sounds easy enough but it seems nothing is easy here!
Penny and another good friend Bob Fancher have already contacted our Representative Billy Long to see what his office can do to help in the appeal. They have contacted us directly and as soon as the appeal is there they can begin their work to help us. Maybe those of you living in his district could make a phone call to the Joplin office to thank them for helping us--the more people they hear from the better I think.
Please continue to pray God will give the victory in all this!
- The new believers and two new house churches to grow.
- Continued growth in all the churches we have started, God is definitely at work.
- Praise for Shanthi’s good check up--no cancer and improving blood counts.
- God to intervene in the appeal for Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas. And for all our kids.
- Our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health
2014 Financial Report
2014 General Fund: Support $98,865.72
: Interest 3.10
Total Income: $98,868.82
2014 Expenses: Office $2953.63
Payroll: National Evangelists $10,496.30
Stephen Bycroft $30,000.00
Bank Charges: $334.20
Special Projects: $29883.70
Total Expenses: $76,667.83
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We truly hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas season filled with God’s love and the joy of knowing Jesus who came to this earth to be our savior!
We were very busy with all the church programs and family visits and are still trying to get back to a somewhat normal routine and pace, but so far it hasn’t come to pass. Even without those things it seems there is always more to do than there is time. I think you probably feel the same way about your life’s schedule too.
As we close out a year and begin the new so many thoughts come to mind--challenges, rejoicings, sorrows, successes, and failures but through it all, our Lord has never failed us and He has been with us all the way. That is the joy in knowing Jesus!
We want to again thank you for your prayers for us and our ministry. We depend upon God’s people to lift us to His wonderful care, and strength is drawn in knowing you are concerned about us. We always thank God for how he continues to provide for us in all our financial needs through you! We know the sacrifice you make to help this ministry and God will bless you for what you do, but we want to thank you as well.
As we enter into this New Year together in ministry may we each look to our God for strength and wisdom for each day. May God bless you as we labor together for His glory!
Wishing You God’s Blessings This New Year,
Steve and Shanthi
First let me say a huge thank you to all who sent funds for our Sunday school Christmas programs again this year! It is such a blessing to be able to do this each year and to see how God blesses through the Sunday school programs. To be honest I can say I really wasn’t worried about this as you always come through! God bless you for your gifts!
We had seven different programs from the 13th to the 23rd of December, and this in itself kept us jumping as there was something happening almost everyday. We had good attendance in all but one program, but not quite the numbers of years past. The weather didn’t cooperate with us for some programs, and so people just didn’t come out. Periya Kallar was the last program and had the lowest turnout. It poured all day (almost the entire town had standing water), and it rained all through the program, but all the kids showed up and they had a very good program in spite of the weather. I just wish more of their parents had been there to see it.
As in years past we gave gifts of clothes to the children in the Sunday school. There are different levels and the gift they received is based on their attendance in Sunday school. We learned long ago that lots of kids come for a few weeks to get a gift and then don’t come again until next Christmas time. So we recognize that and gifts are given accordingly. We have also done something again to really honor the children who have come for every Sunday school meeting. In addition to the regular gift they receive a certificate and a new school bag with school notebooks, pens, erasers and such. The children who have come for 90% of the Sundays also receive a certificate and the school supplies. These children are recognized and it is announced to all why they are receiving special gifts. What we hope is that the parents will see this and, maybe even from a bad motive, make sure their children come regularly. What we’re happy about is that these children are hearing the word of God and by his grace will become faithful Christian leaders and workers in the churches. The children and the parents truly are grateful for the gifts of clothing they receive. Many could not or would not have any Christmas gift without this program.
In addition to our Sunday school program we also helped four area schools with their Christmas programs giving some school supplies as gifts for the children.
Thank you again for your generous gifts which make this program possible and is such a blessing to so many children.
STAFF APPRECIATION LUNCH
We started this about three years ago to honor and thank our co workers. It’s not just for staff but their families also, and those who have helped teach Sunday school faithfully through the year. We order the lunch from a local restaurant, sing some songs, play some games and we give them a small monetary gift. Everyone has a good time and this gives us a chance to express our appreciation for their work and encourage them to continue their work in the ministry. We pointed out that several of our Sunday school teachers and one co worker all started out as Sunday school children. So we reminded them not to think lightly of what they are doing for the Kingdom!
This year we had two special presentations (one was actually two years late, I’m not very good at remembering these things). Our preacher Vijay and his wife Ananthy who serve at Periya Neelavanai have now worked with us for twelve years, so they were recognized for ten years (two years late). Also we recognized Sydney and his wife Rani who serve in the Koddai Kallar church for ten years of service.
It really doesn’t seem possible that this much time has gone by but it has, as Shanthi and I began working here in 2000.
OUR KIDS VISAS
All I can say is we’re still waiting. All Immigration will tell us is it is “in process”. I will have to say this is one of the biggest frustrations for us in simply not knowing. We know God has a reason for the delay and trust when he says, “all things work together for good”, but the waiting and not knowing is tough! Please continue to pray for the approval to come through soon so we can make our plans to return to the States!
- Thank God for our coworkers, especially those who have worked with us for ten years or more.
- Praise for the good Christmas programs in spite of bad weather.
- Pray for the preachers as they will be setting goals in January for the coming year.
- For faithful husbands for the young ladies who work with us in the ministry.
- For a quick approval for Tharshini and Prashanth’s visas.
Lamplighters World Ministries
primary goal is to go to countries where
the gospel has not been preached, or limited work has been done to
establish Churches in those countries. Founders Steve and Shanthi
Bycroft work with the people of Sri Lanka.
Lamplighters World Ministries, 2641 East
6th Street, Joplin, MO 64801-1636, USA
firstname.lastname@example.org Ph. 417-624-7078 Fax: 417-624-7085
Copyright 2009 Lamplighters World Ministries