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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the happiest season of all” so the Christmas song goes. Just what is it that makes it wonderful and happy? Is it the gifts, cards, shopping (ugh), trees with lights, decorations, feasting, family, carols on the radio, TV shows, on the list goes. What is it about Christmas that makes us happy?
One of the things I’ve learned about the Tamil language is that they only have one word for both happiness and joy. Happiness, it seems, depends on our circumstances, if things are good we’re happy when things aren’t so good we’re not happy. Happiness can actually wear away it is short lived. Joy on the other hand comes from a recognition that God is in control, that regardless of what is going on in this physical life nothing is going to separate me from God’s love and my eternal salvation is secure because of His grace, which is sufficient for all trials! With only one word in Tamil for happiness and joy it makes it difficult to express the idea that we can be going through rough times and still be joyful.
I do love Christmas time, but a lot of people don’t. I think it may be because they’ve lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas, JOY! Most people will acknowledge that Christmas is the birth of Jesus but that’s about as far as it goes. There is no real understanding of the importance of that birth! No joy knowing my sins are forgiven, I’m bound for heaven, God’s strength will see me through all the struggles of this life on earth.
Our prayer for you is that you have a joy filled Christmas season and a truly joyful 2019!
We continually give thanks to God for you for your prayers and financial support of this ministry. Without either we could not accomplish what we are doing!
May God bless and use you where you are for His glory.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
ONTHACHIMADAM CHURCH BUILDING TAKING SHAPE
By God’s grace the rains have NOT prevented the construction to continue!
We have been thrilled that very few days have been lost because of rain delays.
This is monsoon season and by now it should be raining most every day even days in a row with downpours but God has held off the rains in our area and our crews
have continued to build. We’ve been told that it has been raining all around the area but not right there! God is good all the time!
The walls for the church building and preachers quarters are done. By now the trusses should be up and the carpenters can begin the beams and rafters and after that the roof tiles will be put in place. This is big as even then if it rains they can do interior work on the building, electrical, windows, doors, interior wall plastering, concrete on the floor and floor tiles.
Please continue to pray they can complete the roof system before the heavy rains do come.
SCHOOL’S OUT, PRACTICE FOR PROGRAMS BEGINS
The schools have completed their term tests and year end tests so school is out for the year. This is the end of the school year except for the students doing their Ordinary Level exams, our son Prashanth is one of those. But for all the younger kids they are done.
We have found it necessary to wait until school is over before beginning practice for the Christmas programs. Too many kids were not studying for the exams by coming and waiting at the church even hours before practice was to begin.
The Christmas programs are usually well attended by family members who don’t come to church as well as church members. This makes for a great time to share the Gospel and every program has a Gospel message presented by one of our preachers.
The kids love to sing and dance especially dance, the Christmas story is acted out in drama, refreshments are served, and the kids all receive a Christmas gift.
Your generous support makes all this possible to fund and we do see results of people coming to “Christ because of the Christmas programs so we feel it is well worth the expense and work involved.
Please pray for a harvest of souls, for the preachers, their wives, Sunday school teachers and others who are involved in presenting these programs.
CHURCHES ARE GROWING
There have been several baptisms this month especially in Mahiloor. One Sunday they baptized fifteen people. Periya Neelavanai has also had some baptisms and Onthachimadam as well.
Praise God with us for the continued growth and for the preachers to continue to disciple the new babes in Christ.
Shanthi has continued with her chemo treatments this month. Her CA number has dropped down to 54 but has gone up to 63 during the month which is still great. She also had a CT scan this week which showed the tumor has reduced in size and the spots on her liver and lungs have also reduced so we are praising God for how he continues to work! Our doctor is even surprised by who things have gone and gives us another chance to plant and water seed. Pray for his wisdom and salvation!
As she improves we are hoping to make some plans to go to Sri Lanka for a visit early next year.
We have been enjoying really nice weather the last couple of weeks and the trees in the area are turning beautiful colors. I was afraid we wouldn’t see much color this year but we are blessed to see this wonderful part of the fall season!
This month we go to the voting polls to elect our government officials. I truly hope you will take the time to go and vote. We have this right and responsibility to vote for Godly values which our country desperately needs!
We also celebrate Thanksgiving this month. Much of what our “new history” teaches leaves out the reason for this holiday and the original settlers, the pilgrims, who came to this new world to escape religious tyranny.
Hopefully you will gather with family and friends to celebrate all that God has blessed us with in this country. I think it’s great we can set aside a special day to give thanks to our God!
Every month we express our thanks to you our supporters as well for how you bless us and the ministry with your prayers and finances. We do thank God for you and ask His blessings to be on you for all you do to help the Gospel go forward in the country of Sri Lanka. You are a blessing to us and so many whose lives have been changed for eternity in Sri Lanka. One day you will get to meet them face to face and I’m confident they will thank you personally that they can enjoy heave because you helped to get them there!
Again thank you and may God bless and use you to his glory where you are!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN
Last month I shared how the rains had come early and we were afraid that construction on the new Onthachimadam building would not be started until next year when the monsoons stopped. God has been gracious and stopped the rains and we have begun building. In fact only a few days passed after I said that they got the masons there and started building. They have the walls up to lentil height, the top of the windows, and have begun pouring the beams and columns. They have lost a few days just recently though as the rains have returned but at least we have started!
The steel trusses have been ordered and should be ready by the time they get the columns and beams poured. The carpenter has been arranged and as soon as the trusses are up they can install rafters and nailers for the roof tiles. If we get about two more weeks of dry weather we could possibly have the church building in the dry and be able to do wiring, interior plastering, and set windows and doors even if it is raining, but that would be a miracle as rains usually start in earnest about this time. Please pray that there will be enough days without rain that work can continue.
Also most of the unfinished work at Periya Kallar baptistry tank, wall plastering and driveway has been completed.
NEW GOVERNMENT IN SRI LANKA
Just this last week we learned that there is a new government in Sri Lanka. The government is made of several parties which have to form coalitions in order to get control of the seats in Parliament. If some of the coalition partners back out and leave the main party it all collapses and a new government is formed.
The word we have received is that the former president is now the new Prime Minister of the new government. There seems to be lots of unrest all over the country and people are very uneasy to say the least as to what will happen next.
Please pray for the churches, our coworkers and their families as they adjust to the way things are now.
CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS BEING PLANNED
Last month we mentioned that Christmas would soon be here and that the programs and lists of kids being put together. Some of you have sent financial gifts specifically for the Christmas gifts which we do appreciate!
We have just found out today as I write this that we have almost 20% of the Sunday school children have been in attendance 90% of the Sundays or more! This is a higher number than last year, as memory serves me, so we are very happy to relay this information on to you.
Our Periya Kallar church has decided to have their program on Christmas day which is different, but we don’t need cookie cutter churches. John is planning to have a Christmas meal for all the Sunday school children and their families after the program. Pray that these plans will go well and that this will further the efforts to win the lost in Periya Kallar!
We finally got word about the biopsy report last week but it doesn’t look like the immuno therapy drugs will be of benefit. We had hoped it would as taking pills would be much simpler and would made it easier for us to make plans to go back to Sri Lanka.
The strange thing is the drug company sent word that the drug they have Shanthi on now would not help her at all. When all this began a little over a month ago her CA125 number was 600 normal is 35 or below so we were concerned about that. A week ago her CA125 number was 94 so much for the drug not working. But we shared with our doctor the drug may not work but we know God is at work! His reply was, “well something is working”, he is not a Christian but a very good doctor.
Thank you for your prayers please keep praying for Shanthi’s healing and that we can plant more seeds in the heart of her doctor.
We went to Kansas City on October 2nd to meet with immigration. Lots of things went wrong on the trip. We were on track to be 45 minutes early for the appointment but due to road construction we lost 20 minutes. Then taking a wrong turn we ended up further away from our destination another 20 minutes lost. In the mean time we had something going wrong with our vehicle and I couldn’t determine what it was so we drove on to immigration and ended up 15 minutes late.
Thankfully our attorney was there and was speaking with the immigration officer when we came in.
What we found out was that on September 12th our kid’s files had finally been assigned to an officer, instead of just sitting in the office somewhere in a stack of files, so that was good news! Our attorney suggested we give them 30 days and then we would file with the Ombudsman to see if their office could hurry things along.
We come out of the office to see a river of antifreeze running across the parking lot from under our vehicle, although this was not what was giving the earlier problem. So three hours later a new water pump, our wallet much lighter, and diagnosis of the other issue we headed for home.
Our home church and others came to the rescue and covered all the repair costs which was such a blessing! And the other issue was also repaired.
We did file with the Ombudsman office on October 16th but their response was not so encouraging. They said normal processing time was 45 days but now due to the “high volume of applicants” it is 90 – 120 days. Please continue to pray!
Construction to continue at Onthachimadam and rains to hold off.
Christmas program plans to go well and there to be a harvest of souls.
The new government in Sri Lanka protection and peace to be the rule.
Our own elections for Godly women and men to be elected.
For Shanthi’s complete healing and our kid’s petitions to be approved soon.
I think I’m getting my wish for an early fall. We’ve not had much really hot weather and it is nice outside, hope it continues.
It’s been kind of a hectic month, seems things just run over the top of each other so I guess life is pretty much normal for us; doctor appointments, tests, treatments, cars that need repairing, shuttling family, work projects on occasion and on the list goes.
It would be easy to get side tracked about what is most important. It’s been said by others, “don’t allow the urgent to keep you from what is most important”. I think that goes especially for our spiritual lives. It’s just too easy to let the busyness of our lives to sometimes distract us from what is most important, being involved in God honoring activities.
For Shanthi and me every morning starts with coffee, Bible reading and prayer individually and then together including praise time and prayer. We feel this is the best way to start our days even when there is so much going on we might think we don’t have time this morning. If you don’t have a family prayer time you are really missing out on a great blessing and a time to focus your attention on the one who will go with you throughout every event of the day! I would encourage you to start a devotion time if you don’t’ already.
Another blessing we thank God for is you our supporters! We thank God for you for your prayers for us and the ministry and also the financial support you give. We are confident that God will bless you for your involvement in this ministry, and we thank him for how he blesses us through you.
We’ve had a few setbacks this month but we know God is in control!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
TOO MUCH RAIN
Last month we wrote how we had finally gotten the approval for the Onthachimadam building construction. It took a year to get the final approval but we have it.
The problem now is it’s late in the season and the monsoon rains have already begun although not daily yet. So just when we think that we can get started building it has all come to a halt once again.
This is one of the difficulties in not being there depending on staff to do things in a timely manner.
Our preacher there, Kireshkaran, is young and has never had to do anything like this before so getting other staff to coordinate with him and explain things along with our phone calls just takes a long time, but they have been trying.
They are saying the monsoon is coming early this year. Maybe I shouldn’t have been hoping for an early fall here as it seems to have had an effect half way around the world, Ha ha.
Even with this they are supposed to start working this weekend if all goes well and no more rain. Just pray the rains will hold off long enough to get some fo the work done soon before the rains really get going!
One of the difficulties of being away is we depend upon everyone to do the work that needs to be done and on time. We thought everything was pretty much finished with the building in Periya Kallar only to find out several things were left undone.
John has been doing a great job in the ministry at the Periya Kallar church and now has informed us that the two brick perimeter walls, which were existing prior to building the new building, had not been plastered, that the baptistry tank had not been built, and lots of broken brick and cement are still in piles around the church yard.
While this would not normally pose much of a problem now with the rains we can’t do much of this work either.
They are now moving the broken brick and cement into the area in front of the church to make a walkway from the gate to the front porch on the church. Our previous preacher did this to the front of the living quarters so he could have a nice walkway but not for the church, such is life I guess.
John calls us each week to give reports which we definitely appreciate! And he and his wife are working hard doing the visiting which for them is the priority and that is great!
IT CAN’T BE
It doesn’t seem possible that Christmas is less than three months away, that seems like a long time but it will be here before we know it. I was in one of our local lumber yards just yesterday and two entire isles were nothing but Christmas decorations so they know it’s coming soon! I don’t like the commercial side of Christmas but I’m afraid it’s here to stay.
I write each year concerning the Christmas programs in all the churches and how they have had a positive impact for the Gospel. This is a big push every year as parents of Sunday school children will come for the programs because their children are involved. Most of these people are Hindu and need to know about Jesus.
The programs main focus is of course on the birth of Jesus and a Gospel message is always preached so they will always hear the plan of God’s salvation for mankind through Jesus.
Some of our churches are now big enough they cover most of the expenses for the Christmas gifts for the kids some are not. But God has been good to us through our supporters this year and we’re actually in good shape financially to cover the remaining expenses.
If however you do want to help specifically with this you can by putting a message on the memo line of your check “Christmas”.
We have seen in the past families that have become Christians and their first attendance was to a children’s Christmas program. Above all please pray that there will be a harvest of souls that comes from these programs.
Well I’m hoping for an early fall season this year! We’ve had unusual amounts of rain for August, just yesterday one and a half inches, but still way behind for the year for rainfall.
With fall season approaching I normally think of harvest, having been raised on a farm. This week I saw a few corn fields in the area that have been picked. This leads me to think of the harvest of souls God will bring from our efforts whether here or in Sri Lanka.
One thing that I constantly must remind myself of is that the harvest is God’s, whether of crops or souls it is He who gives the increase. Our responsibility as Christians is to plant and water, making disciples of Christ, God will bring the harvest. But you will never see a harvest if you never plant a seed!
What if a farmer stood looking at his fields waiting to see if there was a harvest knowing full well he never planted anything in the fields? We would think how foolish he is, it’s not going to happen.
So how can we expect as individuals, or as churches, expect a harvest when we never implant and cultivate the Word of God in the minds and hearts of people?
When we do plant that seed our hearts are thrilled at harvest time to see the people responding by accepting Jesus Christ!
This past month we’ve had reports from a couple of our churches of baptisms; Mahiloor in particular had sixteen baptisms this month and our hearts are filled with joy with the harvest!
You are a part of this through your continued prayers and faithful support! Even though we are not there personally our coworkers continue the work of planting and watering and God is blessing with a harvest. Thank you for your prayers and finances!
May our Lord continue to bless and use you where you are in his fields.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
SATAN ALWAYS TRYS TO DISCOURAGE
Our new preacher John, at the Periya Kallar church, has been doing a great job of visiting and bringing people back to the church and bringing in new souls as well. Consequently Satan has noticed this as well and has brought a discouraging situation.
There is a young couple with three small children in the church, fairly new Christians, but very involved and growing in their faith. Their problem is like so many in Sri Lanka he can’t find an adequate job to support the family. Just within the last ten days he spent money they did not have to travel to Colombo on the promise of a job only to be told when he arrived there was no job. They have been borrowing money to purchase food to live on so the situation was desperate.
The sad part is his wife decided there was no hope and took her own life. We knew nothing of the situation until John informed us of her death. He did not realize how bad their financial situation was either.
Needless to say John was extremely upset by the entire situation not just doing the service but the family’s situation as well.
God’s word promises that all things work together for good, which is a difficult thing to accept and understand sometimes. We might ask how can any good come from this.
John has spoken with the family including her mother who is a Hindu and she stated even though her daughter took her life she knows that what her daughter had in Jesus is what she wants too. She has promised that she will begin attending church now and wants to know about Jesus Christ.
Over all this has been a very stressful situation for John, Jenny and the entire church and they will need our prayers for many things that will follow that must be taken care of. Please remember them, this family, and the church as they grow through this!
VBS IS OVER, WHEW!
I think we heard the sighs of relief all the way from Sri Lanka! It is a huge job to do VBS every year but it is worth the effort!
We don’t have the total counts as of yet but are confident that over 500 children participated in the various programs in the churches. We know for sure 373 from six of the eight churches that have sent their counts to us. Mahiloor always has over 100 kids and Onthachimadam has had good response in the Sunday school programs as well.
Even though the actual programs are over for another year the real work is yet to be done, getting around to the homes of all the children and sharing the word of God with their parents many of whom are still Hindus.
This has always been the purpose behind our VBS programs not just for the kids to have a fun time during school term break but to influence the families with the Gospel message.
We had received materials from our home church here in Joplin, Villa Heights, and sent them FED EX to Sri Lanka to ensure that the package arrived safely several months ago.
I’ve written previously about the training sessions for all the workers and that also went very well.
Rani Simon our Sunday school superintendent heads all this up and does a wonderful job every year!
Please pray for a harvest to be realized from the planting of seed that has occurred.
REVIVED MINISTRY IN KURUMENVELY
You may remember a few months ago we decided that it was necessary to close the ministry at Kurumenvely, due mostly to our coworker just not doing the work of ministry. Since she left and we closed things out we’ve learned even more about her lack of working. It seems that almost all the children coming to her Sunday school were children from other churches, why this happened we don’t know as we constantly tell our coworkers don’t take people from other churches!
Even so we have been praying that God would work something out, we didn’t know what, but really didn’t want that ministry to be a total loss.
Over the last six weeks Pushpalogini, who works in Eruvil and lives in our home caring for our kids has taken up the ministry in Kurumenvely along with Eruvil. The two villages are not very far apart but far enough the kids won’t travel from one to the other.
She even held a VBS program and had an average of 12 children and almost all were from Hindu families. We feel this is pretty remarkable since two months ago we thought all was over with and would have to be revived at some point down the road.
Even though she already has a ministry she also felt that to abandon Kurumenvely was not acceptable. She had an average of 52 children in the Eruvil VBS so she is busy!
We thank God for her willingness to take this on but hopefully God will provide a worker who will take on this ministry soon.
Shanthi had a CT scan the end of July which had mixed results. The tumor on her right kidney is gone and almost all the other lesions in her lungs and on her liver are stable only a slight change in one. But the bad news is a new tumor has come up on her bladder.
Her doctor said evidently this chemo has run its course for effectiveness and it’s time for a change.
The tissue samples from Sri Lanka had not been preserved properly and so the new genomic test gave no results so a needle biopsy was done on the 15th and they will run the test on this tissue sample, now we wait again.
Shanthi still feels good most days just tired as much mental as physical I think.
We continue to thank God for her healing please join us in that prayer!
Vijay our oldest son is till trying to find employment but even the ones which are abroad are few and far between so he’s not having any success.
Sowmia got her university entrance and is happily waiting next January when it starts.
Tharsha got through her Advanced level exams and feels she did fairly well.
We have finally found an immigration attorney in Kansas City whom we had an appointment with on the 14th concerning Tharshini and Prashanth’s petitions.
One of our supporters sent an email referring us to an attorney who then referred us on to the one we met.
She seemed very thorough and about a third of the way through let out a gasp and said I misread the date this has been going on for 21 months now. She then said this is ridiculous it should not have taken this long! To which we responded that’s why we’re here!
Her advice, and then she proceeded to do it, was to contact one of our U.S. senators, which we had done previously but with no results. All the documents were faxed to an attorney who works for the senator and does nothing but handle difficulties with immigration.
So we have renewed hope that things will finally get processed and be finalized.
WE FINALLY HAVE IT
We just received during August the approval for construction at Onthachimadam church! It has taken a year to get this finalized and we hear that things are getting even worse in getting construction approvals.
Pray that we can get started soon and get things into the dry before the monsoons begin in mid October. Maybe even God would hold off the rains until late November!
We’re just happy to finally get this!
- Praise for the good attendance in the VBS programs, pray the coworkers will be busy making new contacts and planting more seed.
- John, Jenny and the Periya Kallar church as they work through the terrible situation of the suicide.
- Praise for the revived ministry at Kurumenvely, for Logi as she works double duty and for God to bring another worker.
- Praise we finally have the approval for construction at Onthachimadam.
- Shanthi’s health, children’s well being, attorneys efforts to be successful in getting the petitions.
I’m getting a slight head start on the newsletter this month so hopefully you will get it before the second week of the month as has been the case the last couple of months.
We’ve been busy with a lot of personal things this month and to be honest not a lot has been going on in the ministry that you are not already aware of, so this could be a short one as well. When we are not there personally we aren’t involved in everyday or weekly things and depend on phone conversations which can be frustrating as well as not very informative. I seem to always think of things after Shanthi has hung up the phone.
With our primary elections this month I’ve been reminded of the privilege and responsibility we have to vote. We get so tired of all the political ads on TV with the mud slinging which follows and think they’re all the same. We can become negative, which I can attest to personally, and think that my one vote doesn’t make any difference but stop to think about that. What if 10,000 other people thought the same thing or 100,000 people or 500,000 do you think that could make a difference in who is elected?
I firmly believe that God is in control and no matter who is elected God’s will is going to be done! At the same time I want to know that I voted with Godly values in mind. I believe that our country has definitely drifted from our Biblical roots and we are suffering the consequences of year’s maybe even decades of apathy on the parts of voters to elect officials who share a like minded faith.
I won’t tell you how or who to vote for just vote for Godly values!
We are definitely blessed by you our supporters for your faithful prayers and gifts financially. We know that you have many other places you could put your funds and also the time spent in prayer could be offered up for so many others. So with that in mind we say thank you from our hearts and may God bless you for how you support our ministry, and may He bless your efforts to serve Him!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
PERIYA KALLAR MINISTRY CONTINUES TO GROW
In the last two letters we’ve spoken of how John and Jenny have been such a blessing to the ministry in Periya Kallar. The reports they send to us of how things are going, the people who are returning to church, some after long periods of time, and new people who are coming.
They shared with us how the church members are excited about visiting and inviting others to come with them to church. So we think things are going well by God’s grace!
Now here’s the newest news of the church. We have been praying that God would lead a full time worker to take up the church or that John would decide to stay on full time in ministry. We didn’t know if he would do this as he has had a full time photography business that has been doing very well over the last few years. He had turned this over to his brother and a cousin I believe it is, to operate while he spent part time doing the ministry. His own admission was it just wasn’t working as they were still calling and visiting him as what to do and how to do things and it was interfering with the time he wanted to spend in ministry.
So John has decided to sell the business completely and to devote himself to full time ministry there in Periya Kallar! We are thrilled with his decision to do this. I know we have been excited about workers before and this too could go badly but, from all we have heard we are convinced this is God’s hand at work. To think that just a couple months ago he was content to run the photography business and be a church member and now sees how God is working in their lives to bring them in to full time work!
Even though they do not have formal Bible College training they are definitely spiritual leaders and have the desire and willingness to step out in faith that God will continue to bless and use them.
It won’t be easy for them as someone will have to buy the business and of course Satan will be close at hand to try and discourage them, but God can take care of these issues as well.
Please be in special prayer for John and Jenny their son and the baby yet to be born.
CHANGE IS IN THE AIR
Several months ago you may remember that one of the pastors we work with, Abraham, died unexpectedly. He and his wife Beulah had been working with us for about a year and a half in Thannamunai. This was a church that he had started on his own and we, meaning Lamp Lighters, helped them to build a new church building.
After Abraham’s death his wife’s son Stanley had stepped in to do the ministry in the church. Things have been somewhat limping along and we have been concerned as to the well being of the church.
We have spoken with Beulah several times and she always said things were going along well but have never been able to speak with Stanley or his wife concerning the ministry. Stanley teaches a few days each week at one of the local Bible training schools in the area.
We have tried several times to speak with him even to the point of sending a message for him to set the time to call using our Koddai Kallar preachers phone as he has the internet facilities so it would cost nothing for the call. After almost two weeks of waiting he’s “so busy he can’t find the time to speak with us”. Along with this there have been missed staff meetings, Sunday school training, and VBS training was attended by only his wife and she came with their infant so she really couldn’t participate in what was being taught.
We really try to not interfere in our preacher’s ministries but we do have guidelines and expectations and for cooperation in certain things to be done in certain ways. We get the feeling that the only reason they want to work with us is for a salary and we’re not much into that! This is very much different than the attitude that Abraham had when he was alive.
Now even Beulah seems to be indifferent in speaking with us.
We have tried but can’t seem to make any headway with them any longer so we have decided to stop support and cut ties with Stanley his wife and Beulah. This is not how we wanted things to go we were hoping that some issues could be resolved and we could continue to work with them but that doesn’t seem possible anymore.
This situation and after losing the preacher in Periya Kallar has made us sad, but we know God has a plan and He is in control.
We share this only because we want to be up front with you as to what is going on in the ministry not just paint a rosy picture that everything is wonderful. Sometimes
things aren’t wonderful and you need to know that as well as the joys and successes that do come.
These types of situations always seem to come with repercussions and somehow the blame always gets shifted to us but I guess that’s just how it will be.
Shanthi just got a better blood report this past week. All her counts were good and the CA125 which has been going up for the last several months came back down by 9 points which is good news! I think this was even a surprise to our doctor. She will go for a CT scan on Friday the 3rd for confirmation that nothing is growing or spreading.
We got the tissue samples from Sri Lanka for the genomic test, but both samples had not been preserved properly so were of no use. If they find any mass large enough in the CT scan they will do a needle biopsy of it and that tissue can be used for this new genomic test they want to perform.
With the results from that test they can better identify the different types of cancer cells and prescribe the best known medication to treat it. We already know the best plan and that’s God’s plan! Please continue to pray for Shanthi for healing and strength.
We made three attempts this month to contact different immigration lawyers for our two kids. Both lawyers we contacted in Kansas City declined to take on the case as it was very complicated etc. so they said, and their case load was too heavy right now. The lawyer we contacted here in Joplin thought we wanted to adopt and misunderstood our original phone conversation that we had adopted and needed help with the visas, so he was out and there are no immigration lawyers in Joplin. So back to the search in Kansas City or elsewhere to try and get some help to expedite the situation.
With each of these situations my frustration level grows to new highs. But our trust is still in our loving Father to bring this about. Our kids are frustrated too and they don’t understand why this is taking so long either.
Our daughter Tharsha takes her Advance level exams in August. These exams determine if she will be able to go on to study in university. She has been doing better with her studies of late. She went through a period of why bother but seems to be over that. Pray that she can maintain her focus and remember the things she has studied when she takes these exams.
Our oldest daughter Sowmiya finally got her university entrance to the one that is just north of Batticaloa. This was good news for us but she wasn’t happy as most of her friends were going to another school in the area. But she found out she did know a couple of other students and also she will be able to live with our niece and her husband in Batticaloa so it’s a short bus trip to school each day.
The government has delayed the announcement for several months more than it should have taken most likely due to shortage of available schools, teachers, and the provision of jobs to previous graduates.
Our oldest son Vijay has struggled since he returned to Sri Lanka. His wife ran off with another man and is now pregnant by him. Vijay wanted her to come back and live with him but she refused to do so. He has finally decided to get a divorce.
He’s still looking for a job in Sri Lanka but there are very few so is also looking to go abroad once again if he can find the right place to go.
Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for him.
- Praise for John and Jenny deciding to take on the Periya Kallar ministry full time.
- God’s blessing on our decision to stop the support to Thannamunai preacher.
- Our other workers as they prepare for VBS this month. For there to be a harvest of souls from these programs.
- God’s continued blessing and healing for Shanthi.
- All that is going on in our kids lives right now and we are not able to be there with them.
Late again you should be getting used to this by now. Each month it seems everything happens at the end of the month and I’m swamped and just can’t seem to get the newsletter out on time. Sorry for the delay because I know the suspense has been killing you!
I’m writing this and it’s Independence Day I can’t imagine the thoughts and emotions that must have been going through the minds of our early nation’s leaders as they made that declaration of independence and sealed it, and their own fates, with their signatures! Wow to think they were literally signing their own death sentence if things didn’t work as they hoped and the colonies got their freedom from Great Britain. But they felt that the chance for freedom overshadowed any personal sacrifice and loss that would be incurred. Over the years hundreds of thousands have given their lives so we can enjoy freedom in this nation.
Do we have that same commitment to our nation today? I wonder if we do. It seems sacrifice has long left our vocabulary when it comes to our nation except those who belong to our military. It’s seems that it is more of what can the government do for me, it owes me.
Sometimes I’m afraid this same attitude can creep into our relationship with our God in heaven. We want freedom, forgiveness, eternal life, but leave sacrifice far away from me, seems to be the attitude any more. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:3, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
We have been called to serve and sacrifice for our Savior and Lord Jesus. He does give true freedom and it came at the cost of His life. How can think we can do any less?
We are mindful of you that you are sacrificing to help support this ministry. I’m sure you can find a hundred other areas in which to spend you money. So we do thank you for your sacrifice and love for God’s kingdom in Sri Lanka. Also for your faithful prayers for us, our coworkers, all the aspects of ministry and our children. May our Lord bless you for what you do for us!
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
VBS TRAINING UNDERWAY
Every year Rani our Sunday school superintendent holds training for all the teachers and workers of all our churches so they are prepared for VBS in August. This year it is, or was on July 4, 5, & 6 since you are getting this late.
As we have said before VBS is a BIG event for our churches. We have seen over the years many families who have come as a direct result of VBS programs held in the churches.
So there is a need for training for all our staff. Remember most if not all of our workers and teachers didn’t grow up with VBS as a child themselves. The only exposure is what they are taught now as they prepare to teach this next generation of children.
Rani selected three workers from three different churches to help with the training of all the rest of the workers. They are Jino from Mahiloor, Jenny from Periya Kallar, and Kayjini from Periya Neelavanai churches. They all went special training and now they work together to teach the other workers and teachers.
There are several benefits from this. Everyone involved in VBS, teachers, helpers, recreation, craft helpers, worship leaders are all involved in the lesson training.
Those who are selected as the teachers for all the others learn what it takes to put on a VBS program, so now we have trained people in all our churches on how to do a proper job in putting on a VBS program. It promotes good fellowship and team work among all our workers and leaders.
If this years programs go as previous years, between all our churches we will have between 500 – 700 young people who will be taught lessons about Christ and how to be a true follower of him, so it’s worth the effort that is put in. Plus it gives opportunities to get into the homes of the families and share Christ with them as well.
All the VBS programs are held in August as this the school term break time. Even though school is not in session there are lots of things going on that seem to interfere, even older children are testing during the month and can’t bring their siblings to VBS etc.
So we need lots of prayer for the teachers and workers to adequately prepare. For the children who come that the Word of God will be planted in their hearts. That the parents and families of the children will also be impacted by the Gospel. And above all that God will be glorified through this effort!
PREACHER AT PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH DOING WELL
We have written about the situation in the Periya Kallar church and that a young couple from our Koddai Kallar church has stepped forward to take on the ministry responsibilities of the congregation.
John and his wife Jenny call us every week to give a report to us of what is going on in the ministry and from what they tell us things are going well and getting back to normal. They report that most of the believers who had left the church have now come back to worship again; some have followed the former preacher. They have restarted not only the church Sunday school but also the satellite Sunday school that meets in a different part of the village.
John reported that they have gotten some of the members who had not been coming for months even years because of the attitude of the former preacher are now coming back.
One lady in particular was in the hospital and John went for a visit not just once but several times. This lady confessed that she had left because she was run off by the former preacher. So she simply didn’t go to church any where but had vowed she would never come back to that church. Because of John’s kindness, prayers and sharing with her she is now back attending the church.
This is one of many stories they have shared with us. We feel truly blessed to have them join us as workers and to be honest we hope and pray that they will stay with us in ministry for many years not just temporarily to fill in at Periya Kallar.
Jenny is one of the VBS trainers this year, so we are thankful for her willingness to take on this added responsibility.
Shanthi continues her chemo treatments, by God’s grace and lots of prayers, is doing well overall. She feels good except tired for a couple of days after treatments.
Her CA 125 number has crept up but has taken several months to get to 92 from 45. The doctor is not generally worried as he says this number can fluctuate without it being a need to change treatment.
The hospital received the tissue sample from Sri Lanka to be tested using this new genomic test that was just introduced recently. This will help with more accurate treatment as it identifies the particular cancer cells she has. Generally it is just trial and error hoping to land on something that works. We should have results from this within this week or next.
Please continue to pray for her healing and restoration.
Our oldest son Vijay has had lots of disappointments and problems over the last few months. His wife ran off with another young man and is now pregnant. Vijay is waiting for her to return so he can file for divorce, as she refuses to reconcile with him. He had come back to Sri Lanka on vacation from his job in Saudi Arabia and now has lost that opportunity to return due to searching literally the island for his wife. He is looking for employment in Sri Lanka or abroad as God opens the door.
Our oldest daughter Sowmiya is still waiting for her university entrance. The government seems to be taking longer than usual, probably due to graduates not being able to find jobs after graduation so just delay entrance and hope more jobs come available; at least this is how it seems.
Our second daughter Tharsha is doing her Advance level exams this August. Her results will determine if she will be able to continue on with education in university.
Tharshini and Prashanth are weary of waiting for their visa approval but still trying to be hopeful. Both are helping in VBS this year at the Koddai Kallar church.
I seem to have no difficulty finding plenty to do and seem to overbook at times which is just normal for me I guess. God is good all the time!
- VBS training and the VBS programs to glorify God and go well.
- Continued blessing on John and Jenny at the Periya Kallar church.
- For all our co workers to devote themselves to the work of ministry.
- God’s blessing on us and our children all that is going on in their lives.
- God to make a way for us to return to Sri Lanka soon.
May seems to have vanished long before I was ready, once again. Sorry the letter is so late this month. Some of you will say, what else is new than to get it late.
We have had a busy month with Shanthi’s treatments, tests etc. and also with the family finding doctors, making appointments, taking them as they still need translators, and dealing with insurance companies. It seems everyone chose May to be sick for some reason.
It seems to work out that as soon as I write the newsletter we get new information from Sri Lanka and so I wait until the next month to share with you and many times things change even before then.
Praise God he remains constant, unchanging, unwavering, and faithful. In the midst of turmoil he is in control, steadfast, and true to us as his children. What a wonderful thought that nothing this world throws at us is beyond his sight and ability to deal with.
Even at times it may seem God has left us, nothing could be further from the truth! Hebrews 13:5 God says; “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”. And Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love Him”. These are a couple of my favorite verses and I repeat back to myself numerous times weekly if not daily.
How great it is to have a God who is aware of everything we face and is there to strengthen, enable, deliver, and loves us enough we can call him our Father!
We are so thankful for you our supporters in prayer and in finance. You are such a blessing to us in both ways as without your prayers for this ministry Satan could run rough shod over us. Your financial support enables us to continue in this ministry work in Sri Lanka. May our loving God bless you abundantly!
PERIYA KALLAR MINISTRY CHANGE
Last month I wrote concerning the difficulties with our preacher there and that entire situation. About three days after I wrote the newsletter we received his resignation letter. This was not how we wanted things to go but God is in control. Our hope was for forgiveness and reconciliation to take place but David our preacher was not willing to listen even to scripture we shared with him.
We had made several attempts to contact them by phone but they refused to answer our calls.
About one week before we received his resignation a young couple in the Koddai Kallar church called us one evening and shared their concern for the church stating that they would take up the ministry if David left the church. They live right behind the church and heard much of what was taking place in the church and preacher’s house as a lot of shouting was going on. They didn’t want to see the church temporarily closed until we could find a new preacher.
So when we received the resignation we called them and they were still willing to take on the ministry.
John and Jenny have a four year old son. Both of them were raised in preacher’s families and so have a good understanding of the scripture as well as the work of ministry. So far they have been doing a lot of visiting and most of the people who left the church; over half of the members had left and gone elsewhere, have come back.
They have been in the homes of the Sunday school children and it is returning to normal as well.
We have reports from some of our other workers that they are indeed doing a good job. John calls almost weekly to report any developments in the church.
The only problem is some of our other preachers don’t feel he should be considered a preacher as he is not ordained and was not working previously in ministry. For us this is not a problem but this is the Sri Lankan mindset.
Please pray for John and Jenny to be faithful and to help the church to heal and grow under their leadership.
WE FINALLY HAVE OUR PERMIT, WELL ALMOST
We have been waiting for months to get the construction permit for the Onthachimadam church building. The government has changed the laws concerning the building of any religious building including temples, mosques, and church buildings.
Finally we got the approval from the Ministry of Religious affairs office just this week. Now it has been sent to our local Health Department, sounds strange doesn’t it, for the final approval of the plans so we can begin. They have to make sure wells, toilets, and drainage are all properly placed.
The only problem is that this is the same office that refused to give us approval for the tsunami houses and church building in Mahiloor thirteen years ago. We still don’t have that approval even though the houses and church have been built and in use since that time. We had been given verbal approval to build but then a new man came in who wouldn’t sign off as he was evidently looking for a bribe, he’s still looking.
Our preacher, Kireshkaran, is excited that we will be able, to get started on with the construction and is now fully involved in the process.
Pray that we will get the actual final approval of the plans for this building soon.
MOTHERS DAY CELEBRATED
Some of our American celebrations are now celebrated also in Sri Lanka and we especially remember Mother’s and Father’s day.
We got some pictures from our church in Mahiloor of some of the mothers who were honored in the church that day.
Every mother in attendance received a small gift from the church. This year they got a coffee cup with a scripture verse on it.
VBS COMING SOON
All our VBS programs are held each August and plans for them are already underway with staff training to be held in July.
VBS is a great outreach time for the churches as new kids come for it that don’t normally come to Sunday school. Please pray for a harvest of young souls!
We still have nothing new concerning our kids visas petitions. We did get an email which stated that due to the large volume of applications all visa applications are delayed. We’ve been hearing the same thing for over a year now so we don’t know what to think. Please continue to pray for the petitions to come through soon.
Shanthi’s health is good. The tissue sample from her surgery in 2014 should be in the States this week or next and the new test they are doing on it will reveal which drugs will work on this specific cancer. Overall she is doing well by God’s grace!
Our staff of preachers and workers to be faithful and busy sharing the Gospel of Jesus.
Final approval of the Onthachimadam construction.
John and Jenny are new workers at Periya Kallar.
Our kid’s visas and Shanthi’s health so we can make firm plans to return to Sri Lanka.
VBS in August and for more workers to enter the harvest field.
One third of 2018 is now over! As I thought about this, my mind went to have I accomplished one third of what I wanted to this year. To be honest I don’t think so. In the ministry in the last few months we’ve taken a few hits so to speak; losing a worker to death, having to close a ministry location, having to deal with problems within another church which are still not resolved as yet.
One thing I have to keep reminding myself of is that God doesn’t see things as we do. We like to see accomplishments, goals met, etc. but God looks at our success as faithfulness in keeping on in spite of struggles and even failures. Have we done that? I would say yes I do believe so.
While things have not been as successful as we would like, we still remain faithful to the task of leading, encouraging, and training our coworkers in Sri Lanka. It is much more difficult to do long distance and we still looking forward to being able to return to Sri Lanka soon! It’s been a difficult month with quite a lot of stress but also we have things to rejoice about!
One thing we never lose sight of is that we are not in this alone! God is at our side giving the victory and strength necessary to carry on.
We also have so many faithful supporters for our ministry in prayer and in finance for which we thank and praise our God and Father! We do thank God for you and we pray that God will bless you abundantly and is using you where you are to His glory!
May we each continue to strain ahead to win the prize in the last two thirds of this year.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
CRUSADE AT PERIYA NEELAVANAI
We mentioned last month that the church at Periya Neelavanai was to have a crusade. I believe this was about the tenth year they have done this and each year it has gotten bigger and they have had more decisions.
We just got the preliminary report from our preacher Vijay about the crusade. He said there are five new families who have started coming to church and 120 people who were delivered during the crusade. We assume this to mean from some sort of demonic possession or oppression. No baptisms as of yet but we are confident they will follow soon by God’s grace.
They had large crowds each night with people standing outside and chairs set up along the side of the building. I included a picture so you can see the crowd.
We’re praising God for what He has done and how His word and the Holy Spirit are changing peoples lives for eternity!
DIFFICULTIES CONTINUE AT PERIYA KALLAR CHURCH
We reported last month about the problems in the church between the preacher, his wife and some of the believers. This is still not yet resolved partly due to the fact that the preacher was in the hospital several days trying to get his blood sugar regulated as it was extremely high. And now they are treating him for heart problems. His ECG came back abnormal and he is supposed to be getting more tests and all may result in surgery of some type.
When we have called to talk he has been too sick to speak with us. So to help resolve the entire situation we have asked some of the workers to go and share some scriptures about forgiveness, repentance, and harsh speech with him and his wife. One was Vijay from Periya Neelavanai and he was preparing for and involved in their crusade this month.
Many of the church members have gone to other churches as a result of the issues and so the preacher and wife are condemning them and the other preachers for accepting them into their churches as well.
Please pray for David and Ajantha for their hearts to be changed by God’s word and for reconciliation to happen soon.
STILL NO CONSTRUCTION PERMIT
We had been told we would have the construction permit for Onthachimadam in April but we still don’t have it in hand. This is just another of the things on our minds that need to be done and we struggle with them!
The church there is recovering from the resignation of the last preacher and many of the previous members have returned.
We have spoken to Kireshkaran and he is happy and working hard to build the church.
Please continue to pray for him and the church at Onthachimadam.
UNUSUAL CHURCH GROWTH
The church at Eruvil has had some difficulties with the property owner so they are looking for a new place for the church to meet again or for a property to buy where we can build a building of our own.
Nidarshan, who is a young man in the church, has expressed a desire to enter into full time ministry which makes us happy but he’s still a few years away from being able to do that.
One thing has happened just recently which will make this decision a little easier. His brother was delivered from demon possession and is now coming to church and he has brought their father along as well. He is so happy his son was delivered from this demon as no one else could help.
Demon possession is something we see and deal with there which we don’t see here.
Please pray for these new believers.
SUNDAY SCHOOL KIDS GO ON FIELD TRIP
The Koddai Kallar church took the Sunday school children on a field trip this past month during their school break.
They went to Batticaloa about 25 miles away to the “Butterfly Peace Garden” which is quite a local attraction and even known throughout the country. They had a good time. One of the things they enjoyed included face painting. We had lots of pictures but here is one of the kids painted up.
- The situation with the Periya Kallar preacher David for forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Praise for the good results at the Periya Neelavanai crusade. For continued growth and more to come to Christ.
- That we would receive the permit to begin building at Onthachimadam.
- For Shanthi’s continued healing and strength. Our kids petition approval.
- Praise for those who have been delivered from the power of Satan and are now looking to Jesus as their Savior.
We pray you had a wonderful Resurrection season this year! Ours was good and we had some time to reflect on God’s goodness and the salvation he has provided us! The church we attend here in Joplin had a Good Friday service which they haven’t had in several years actually and it was a very good service. They had fairly good attendance too and I think this will be revived as a yearly event.
I thought the old saying was, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” but it seems to me the lamb is roaring loudly right now. We got up to 40 MPH wind gusts this morning. Our old house was doing a lot of creaking and popping, kind of like my knees. But things are greening up, flowers blooming, and trees are budding so spring is here.
I think all of Shanthi’s family is especially happy it’s been pretty cold for them this winter and they are definitely tired of no leaves on the trees, I am too!
In Sri Lanka right now this should be the height of summer April and May are normally our hottest months but they are saying it’s still pretty cool, very unusual.
There is a some talk that Sri Lanka will follow India’s example again making it illegal for a person to convert from one religion to another so far God has blessed that this has not happened. We hope you pray for the Christians there as well.
We want again to say thank you for your faithful prayers and support for the ministry. We thank God for your concern not only us but for the lost of Sri Lanka.
May our God continue to bless and use you to His glory where you live and serve!
CRUSADE PLANNED AT PERYIA NEELAVANAI CHURCH
Each year about this time the church at Periya Neelavanai plans a 3 - 4 day crusade which has in the past been a real boost to the believers and also they have had success in sharing Christ with others. Usually there are not many decisions made during the crusade but afterwards with the follow up is when they see some growth.
They take the crusade very seriously, so much so that most of the church has a twenty day fast with prayers everyday at the church prior to the meetings. This is why it is successful. I’ve seen over the years other crusades at other churches, even some of ours, that honestly are a lot of noise and work with nothing to show for it in the end. Accessing the power of God to move in people’s hearts makes all the difference!
Please pray for God to move in the hearts of many in the church and especially those who do not know Christ!
I’ve included a photo from last years crusade.
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
I have always held that we should share with you everything that takes place in the ministry even the sad and disturbing things that happen. This month, in fact just in the last few days of the month, we have had two very disturbing things happen which I will share with you. Please do be praying for both of these situations as neither are yet fully resolved and we need prayers for wisdom in how to best address these challenges.
First of all we’ll address the Kurumenvely ministry.
Vijaya, who we supported through Bible school several years ago and she has been working with us since 2010, in this village is 32 years old and solid in her faith.
Vijaya has struggled over the years with keeping her focus on building the ministry in Kurumenvely. She started out with a Sunday school program but the kids never remained faithful when they were promoted to youth group and would fall away, and no adults were ever won.
Others have worked to help her with ministry but with very limited success.
So the time came for us to pull the plug so to speak. We couldn’t justify paying her a monthly salary basically to teach Sunday school when all other Sunday school teachers are volunteers. So we spoke to her again in the past she would agree and would do better for a time but then revert back to basically going on Sunday to teach 8-12 children. While talking with her we could sense a difference now in her desire and in her attitude and she was in agreement to close out the ministry.
We are hoping that some way we will be able to at least continue with the few kids that are coming and that God will provide someone who will truly work to make the ministry grow. We’re not down on Vijaya and she knows that, but we don’t know what the final outcome for Kurumenvely will be at this point.
Now for the second situation we’ll address about Periya Kallar.
This is a very long story but I’ll try to make it brief as possible. A young man in the church and the younger sister in law of the preacher had a sexual affair. If that were not bad enough it literally has gone from bad to worse.
The preacher and wife have never accepted that the girl was at fault in any way, but have driven the young man from the church. This past Good Friday the preacher had the girl share part of the message during the service. This has offended several of the church members who know what has happened and they feel she should not be allowed to lead in this way, now several have left the church, the police have become involved, and our preacher is refusing to listen to any counsel from anyone including us.
When we spoke on the phone with the preacher it quickly went from us counseling him and saying he needed to teach both the girl and boy about their sin and to repent to his condemnation of us that we are not good spiritual leaders and have no right to tell him how to run his church.
So we are still in the middle of this entire situation. Sometimes things don’t go as we wish they would and sometimes real messes arise that are difficult to deal with from 12,000 miles away! Please pray for wisdom and for willingness to accept the word of God for all involved.
NEW WALL AND GATE AT MAHILOOR CHURCH
Over the years we have replaced the barbed wire fence around the church property twice due to corrosion from salt air. The only wall was across the front of the church so the believers decided they wanted to build a block wall along the lane side of the property and install a new gate.
They raised most of the money for the new gate and wall and now the wall is completed down one side of the property and the original gate was moved into the new wall along the lane to give access to the playground area behind the church.
Lamp Lighters helped with some of the expenses but most was done by the church.
- Wisdom for all involved with the situation at Periya Kallar.
- For God to open a door for renewed ministry in Kurumenvely.
- For the crusade at Periya Neelavanai church the 21st -23rd of April.
- Praise for Mahiloor church taking on the responsibility of their property. And building the new wall and gate.
- Shanthi’s good health and the petition approval for our kids.
Spring is in the air at least today anyway. Our weather this month has been on a yoyo it seems I think many of you have experienced the same thing. But we have rain now after a pretty dry winter and the jonquils are pushing through the ground and even a couple of them have bloomed. How we hope for spring to get here!
In the scriptures the word translated as hope could maybe be better understood as assurance or confidence. It’s not, I hope the weather is good tomorrow, but having the assurance that something is certain.
Hebrews 6:19 speaks of this “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul.” It’s talking about the certainty of God’s promise, the promised savior, and that his blood offered as “the” high priest is all sufficient!
Years ago there was a saying, God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. I have a little problem with that statement I think it should be, God said it, and that settles it. Whether I believe it or not does not change the truth of God as fact!
We seem to have lost this as an anchor for our soul in our society and even possibly in some of our churches. Sad to say many Christians don’t believe that God’s word is absolute truth anymore. “What’s true for you may not be true for me”, is the common philosophy.
If a ship cuts the rope to the anchor it quickly drifts away and is in danger of shipwreck and loss. How we need to get back to that assurance that God’s word is true and we must stake our very souls on it!
We are so blessed to have you as our supporters in prayer and finance! You have been and continue to be partners with us in this ministry. Through all the difficulties of life and ministry we thank God for His faithfulness and yours as well!
May our Father continue to bless your efforts personally to honor Him with your lives.
Because of Christ, Steve and Shanthi
SOME VERY SAD NEWS FROM SRI LANKA
About a week after we sent out last months newsletter we got news that one of our preachers was very ill. Our brother Abraham had gall bladder surgery and seemed to be on the mend. He had sent us his ministry report and goals for his ministry for the coming year and was anticipating a fruitful year of ministry.
Then suddenly things took a turn for the worse. He was back in the hospital with complications from the surgery, had a severe infection and before they could get things under control he passed away in the hospital.
We had just begun working with him and his wife Beulah after we returned to the States. Their church building is the one we built at Thannamunai about three years ago.
He had become a real blessing to our ministry having spiritual maturity and godly wisdom which he shared with the other workers. He was also an encouragement to us praying faithfully for Shanthi’s healing and recuperation.
He was an excellent preacher, very humble, and a man who trusted God in every area of life and ministry.
We heard he was in the hospital and the next day he had died before we could talk with him again.
As far as the ministry is concerned his wife Beulah and her son Stanley are going to continue the work. She is very capable and Stanley has been involved in ministry in other locations. We don’t know much about him but what we have heard has been positive.
Please pray for Beulah and all their grown children for comfort from God and that there will be a smooth transition with Stanley and his family.
Abraham and Beulah taken about a year ago in front of the building we built three years ago.
GOALS SET FOR 2018
All of our coworkers have sent their goals for the coming year. Some are quite ambitious and only God can fulfill them for sure.
This is something we have been working on for several years helping them to understand the need for goals to push us forward and not become satisfied with the status quo.
One of the areas which we have been emphasizing for the last few years is in training up young men who can and will take on their church ministry if something should happen to them. Abraham is the perfect example of this, no one from within the church, other than his wife, capable of carrying on the ministry. I’m not condemning him just using this as to what can happen.
They have all set goals for evangelism as well and for challenging young people in their churches to go to Bible College and enter into ministry.
They also reported that in 2017 there were 39 baptisms; a couple of churches had several in January of this year as well. I actually think that a few were missed as I remember other reports during the year. But we praise God for all who have given their lives to Jesus this last year.
SOME NEW OFFICE EQUIPMENT
We were able to purchase a new color laser printer, as you can see. Those who get the printed copy of the newsletter can now enjoy color photos whenever we print them.
I’ve wanted one for a long time but the cost was more than I wanted to pay. We got a good deal on this one from a local company who can service it anytime there is a problem. It actually replaces two machines the standard printer we used for the newsletter and the printer / copier / scanner machine too. The new machine is much more user friendly, that’s a real plus for me I’m not to savvy with some technology, faster and quieter than the other printer which was getting a little temperamental on occasion.
So far I’m pleased with it and hope we get many years of service from it.
SOME PERSONAL NEWS
Shanthi got another good report from her oncologist this past week, her CA number has gone down five points to 54, not great but good anyway! God continues to watch over her and she feels good and is doing more than she was able to a year ago. Thank you so much for your continued prayers for her healing.
I went to the doctor and on top of being told I was too fat he said I needed to get a couple of lesions removed from my hands, one on the back of each hand, which I did. They both tested benign so that was good news too. The biggest problem is I keep bumping them and pulled the stitches in my right hand but no real problems other than that.
Our niece Krista Thomason and her husband Brian returned from their trip to Sri Lanka to consider starting a small sewing business there. Looks like things are a go right now and they are making further plans to get things started hopefully this next year.
We still have no progress concerning our kids’ petition approval as yet. Please pray for their emotional state as it is really tough for them to understand why it is being delayed, tough for us too!
Since we have the new printer I’ve included a recent photo of the four still at home.
Also Sowmiya celebrated her 22nd birthday February 27th which seems impossible for her to be that age!
Left to right:
Prashanth - 15
Tharsha - 19
Tharshini - 17
Sowmiya - 22
- Praise for the victories of the past year and the goals set by our coworkers. For God to work in all their efforts for his glory and building the kingdom.
- Their discipling efforts and challenging young people to enter into full time ministry.
- Sister Beulah and all the family for comfort and peace at the loss of Abraham. For Stanley as he carries on the work in Thannamunai.
- Shanthi’s continued good health and healing so we can make plans to return to Sri Lanka.
- Our kids petition approval.
- Praise that my surgery was successful and no further problems are expected.
We pray that your new year has begun in a good way by God’s grace! Can’t believe we’re already into February.
We were hoping to have some news from the coworkers in Sri Lanka before the newsletter this month concerning last years goals, baptisms and such but it hasn’t come yet. So next month we should have some year end news and some pictures possibly too.
February is the month we think of those we love and hopefully share with them that we do love them. Love is nota feeling but an action.
Romans 5: 8 tells us how deeply God the Father loves us, “while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. It’s easy to love someone who loves us back but what about those who don’t love us maybe even hate us. Even before we loved God he loved us, how amazing is that! Even when we were in rebellion against him, did not love him, still sinners, He loved us, enough that he allowed his son to die for us. God acted on his love for us, a demonstration of his love.
Hopefully this should encourage and inspire us enough to love others as God has loved us. Let us share the love of God in word and in action, this should be the goal for us all throughout the rest of this year.
I’m convinced that the reason our nation is in the mess it’s in is because we as Christians have failed to love as God loved, bringing others into a relationship with our Savior. We need to do better.
You are helping us to do that in Sri Lanka. We purchase properties, build buildings, pay preachers salaries, fund projects like VBS and Christmas programs all with the goal of glorifying God and winning the lost to Him by showing them God’s love. We need your prayers for us and our staff. We need more staff to reach out in new areas with the Gospel of Christ and you are helping us do this with your support so we thank you!
We pray that God will continue to bless you and use you to his glory where you are. Thank you and God bless you!
Because of Christ,
Steve and Shanthi
SAME GUY DIFFERENT NAME
We shared with you about our new worker at the Onthachimadam church. He was excited to start working in the church and this past month has been very busy visiting and encouraging the believers.
We had told you his name was Greshon, well this is not correct. Even though both Shanthi and I have always spoken to him using this name, and his own family when referring to him it sounded like this but it’s not his name. We found out actually kind of by accident.
Shanthi uses an internet based phone system which allows us free phone calls to Sri Lanka which beats the $1.05 per minute using our phones here.
One day there was a missed call from a Kireshkaran and she didn’t bother returning the call as she had no idea who it was. Next day the same name appears on her phone with a missed call again. This got the wheels turning so she checked with another worker about the number and found out it was Greshon!
We got a good laugh out of it but felt bad that for about 15 years we’ve called him the wrong name. If you say his name, Kireshkaran really fast, as they do in Sri Lanka, it sounds like Greshon. Plus they mix English consonant sounds all they time, kello is actually Hello, I think you get the point.
Anyway so far things are going well some of the old members who were not coming, because Niranjan, who was filling in was not an ordained preacher, have started coming back. New people are getting involved in the Sunday school ministry and from what we hear everyone likes him!
We’re praising God that he has brought Kireshkaran to work along with us and that God is and will bless his ministry in Onthachimadam.
ONTHACHIMADAM BUILDING APPROVAL ON HOLD
Things have gotten really complicated since we spoke of this last. I won’t bore you with everything that has gone on though.
Our preacher at Koddai Kallar took over the plan approval process when our preacher at Onthachimadam left us last year. During the last year changes were made within the government concerning “religious buildings” and getting permits and approvals. It’s not just us they say even the Hindu temples now have to abide by these rules.
Anyway as government goes the approval has gone from one office to another which has taken months. Now it is at the Ministry of Religious affairs office in Colombo awaiting final approval. From what we’ve been told it shouldn’t take much longer until we get the approval and can begin the construction but we really don’t know.
There is a real need for this building as what we built was a temporary building several years ago, then improvements were made but it is simply not adequate for the church and Sunday school, and other meetings and programs.
Please pray there will be no more delays and we can soon begin the construction.
NO WEDDINGS IN SIGHT
We’ve spoken of this before but it bears repeating. We have two young ladies working with us who are not married. This does place some hindrances on their ability to do all the tasks of ministry. Not that they are not willing and capable but just the way the culture in Sri Lanka looks at unmarried women, even if they are doing “ministry”. A couple of proposals have come but nothing seems to work out.
Both of these young women want to be married but there is difficulty in finding a suitable mate. They are beyond the normal age to marry which doesn’t help, they are looking for Christian workers who want to join with us in ministry as well, so this is another obstacle.
We’ve told them both if the right person comes along even if they don’t want to work in our ministry that’s okay just make sure they a committed Christians.
Neither of them says they want to leave our ministry but chances are slim for them to find that type of person.
Please pray for Logi and Vijaya that God will bring suitable young men for them to marry.
SOME PERSONAL NEWS
Still no news on our kids petition approval. This just keeps dragging on with no end in sight. We often wonder what God’s purpose is in the delay but there never seems to be an answer to that question. But God knows what is best and He will bring it all to pass when His time is right.
The kids are really frustrated too with the wait and we can’t give them an adequate answer other than God’s time is the best, keep praying and wait.
Pray for Tharshini and Prashanth and their emotional state and for us too that God will bring this about soon.
Shanthi had a chemo treatment last week; she gets them every two weeks. All her blood counts were good but the CA125 number was up slightly it went from 42 to 59. The doctor said to not be overly concerned about this as it happens sometimes.
It was still somewhat disappointing as we were expecting it to be in the “normal” range.
Thank you all for your prayers over the years and please continue to thank God for his healing power at work in Shanthi.
Our oldest boy Vijay who got married a couple of years ago has returned to Sri Lanka after working in Saudi Arabia for two years. This is so common for them to go abroad to work but still not good for the couple or the culture.
Anyway he’s back in Koddai Kallar and last week they had an official wedding ceremony at the church. Two years ago they simply had a Justice of the Peace registration but no church ceremony. We were sad that we couldn’t be there for the ceremony but hopefully we’ll get there before long to congratulate them in person.
Our daughter Sowmia is still getting well wishes from everyone for being able to enter the university next year. She still gives God the glory and credit for her good marks. To congratulate her we bought her a cell phone of her own which she will need when she goes to school but can use right now to keep in touch with us. She was thrilled we got it for her and she’s already sent a few photos and called us a few times.
My niece Krista Thomason along with her husband Brian just returned from a trip to Cambodia and then they went on to Sri Lanka. They are the ones who have the organization that provides jobs sewing clothes for the women in Cambodia to help prevent their involvement in the sex trade which is so prevalent there.
Now they are making some preliminary plans to start another business in Sri Lanka in our area as 60% of the population in our area lives under poverty level. So they went and met with some Christian friends of ours who live and work in Colombo and discussed the possibilities with them.
Pray for God’s will for this to work out as He sees fit. It would be a blessing for some of the people in our churches to have proper jobs so they can support their families.
- God’s continued working through Kireshkaran in Onthachimadam and for growth in that church.
- For the building approval at Onthachimadam church to be completed that construction would be able to start soon.
- Suitable marriage partners for Logi and Vijaya.
- God’s blessing on our children for the petitions to be approved soon. Sowmia’s university entrance to go smoothly, Vijay and Anusha and their marriage.
- God’s healing for Shanthi and that soon we would be able to return to the work in Sri Lanka.
- God’s will for the sewing business in Sri Lanka proposed by our niece Krista.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
A new year means different things to different people. Some see it a time to make change doing things in a different way. Others a fresh start or a time for personal improvement, weight loss, more time with family or whatever.
Maybe you are one who makes resolutions. Personally I’ve stopped making resolutions as most are broken within a couple of months anyway. Maybe I don’t look at them in a positive light.
Whatever else we may do I think it is essential for us to recommit ourselves to the task of evangelism. Our world, our nation is a mess and it all comes back to the church has not done a good job in telling others about Jesus Christ. What a wonderful message we have but many times we choose to keep silent.
We can all think up numerous excuses for not speaking up but the fact is that’s our job! When we signed on as a Christian we accepted the responsibility to tell others of the saving grace we enjoy through Jesus Christ. No religion, even those which are supposed to be Bible based, can set men free in mind and spirit like knowing Jesus personally! And we can help people enjoy that relationship with Christ.
This is the task we have accepted not just in Sri Lanka but wherever we are. We want people to know about Jesus!
Hopefully each of us will take the opportunities God gives us this year to share his message of love and salvation to any and all!
You have blessed us this past year with faithful prayers and finances and we thank God for you as we know many of you sacrifice to help us in our ministry. May our loving Lord bless you for what you have done for us!
We look forward to this being the best year yet in our ministry in Sri Lanka and with God’s blessing and his strength it will be!
First of all Shanthi’s health situation is good by God’s grace. She is still doing chemotherapy two times a month and her blood counts are good and the CA 125 level continues to drop. This last week it was down to 42 from 495 when she started three months ago. The normal range is 35 or below. The doctor won’t commit at this time as to how many more treatments.
We still praise God for what he has done and thank him that he is healing her and that soon we will be able to return to Sri Lanka to continue the work.
Lots of people have asked when we are going back and I really don’t know the answer to that question. We can go back and she could receive treatment there but the treatment she got there was adequate at best and what she is receiving here has been very good. Plus it would require at least a four day trip to Colombo maybe twice a month so that in itself would not be easy.
So pray she can be healed and we can return as soon as possible.
Our Kids Petition
We are still waiting to hear from Department of Homeland Security concerning our petitions. A few days after we sent the newsletter last month they finally informed us that “due to the high volume of applications ours was delayed”. We’ve been waiting for over a year now with not much progress being made. This has been the most frustrating experience we have ever had in our lives as we can not get any information from DHS. This is also another reason that delays our return to Sri Lanka as we have to be here for the next step in the visa process. Please continue to pray for a positive response to come soon.
Our Daughter’s Exams
Sowmia is our oldest girl she is now 21 and she took her Advanced level exams last August. The results just came this past week. She passed with an A in Political Science and a B in both Geography and Tamil language; these qualify her to enter university next year. Everyone has said “no one gets an A in political science” but by God’s grace she did!
When we spoke with her I told her how proud I was and I knew it took a lot of study time. Her response was, “no it was Jesus who helped me do so well”. People from all over the village have been coming to congratulate her on qualifying for university neighbors, students, teachers, even university professors who live in our village and she has been telling them the same thing. What a testimony to all the Hindus of the power of Jesus Christ! Praise God along with us for how he has helped Sowmia to score such high marks and that she gives God the glory for it!
OUR NEW PREACHER AT ONTHACHIMADAM
Last month I wrote of our new preacher who will take on the Onthachimadam church ministry. His name is Greshon and he grew up in the area and has been assisting in the Periya Neelavanai church with his sister and brother in law.
He was just ordained into the ministry, kneeling in photo, and is very excited about entering into full time ministry on his own with us. Greshon will continue for the time being as the Christianity teacher at the main school in Koddai Kallar as part of his ministry until we find a replacement.
Please pray for him as he has already begun this ministry on January 1st.
CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS ALL COMPLETED
As December is monsoon season this adds to the difficulty many times with practice for and having the Christmas programs. This year even with the rains each program was held without any rain problems!
We don’t have any exact numbers yet on attendance but all said the programs were well attended. Please pray for the families that send their children to Sunday school to be impacted by the Gospel message and that our coworkers will be busy visiting these families.
One thing we can share is that in all our churches Sunday school attendance combined we had 16% of the children who were in attendance 90% or more of the Sundays. All these children received an extra gift of school bags and school supplies for their excellent attendance.
- Greshon as he begins his ministry in Onthachimadam.
- Praise for good turn out for Christmas programs and for our staff to share Christ with the families.
- Praise for Shanthi’s good health, Sowmia’s excellent exam grades and her testimony to others glorifying Jesus.
- Our children’s petition to be approved
- God’s blessing on all our coworkers for this next year.
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
email@example.com Ph. 417-624-7078 Fax: 417-624-7085
Copyright 2009 Lamplighters World Ministries