(see Travel Companion)
Sovereign Ruler of the skies
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy Command. — John Ryland
Since our last quarterly update, numerous events in our lives unfolded differently than we anticipated. We did not plan for illnesses, surgery, an ice storm, broken-down vehicles, or the unexpected death of friends — but such is the stuff of life. In the end, after we pray for direction, project carefully, and “use time” wisely, there is nothing to fear from using it differently than we expect. One of the incredible comforts of the Christian walk is knowing that our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15). Our Father’s timing is always best, even when stressful events may swirl around us. Nothing takes Him by surprise. All believers can rest in that truth. This week we enjoyed hearing a hymn (sung here) about this concept written by a Baptist preacher from the 1700s, John Ryland. Different verses of Sovereign Ruler of the Skies are scattered throughout this update.
A TIME TO HEAL
Times of sickness, times of health,
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief,
Time of triumph and relief.
A TIME TO TEAR DOWN & BUILD UP
(see Copying Dad)
O Thou Gracious, Wise and Just
In Thy hands my life I trust:
Have I somewhat dearer still?
I resign it to Thy will.
After an absence of over a year, we knew Verlin would have many services to update, documents and insurances to renew, errands to run, repairs to make, and descend our Toyota truck from being elevated on blocks. The first night back home, he discovered the water pump not working, voltage regulators fried, leaks in faucets and toilets, roof leaks, refrigerator problems, and a washing machine went kaput. Even an old “back-up” washing machine inherited from retired missionaries showed itself to be an electrical hazard as it gave him a nasty shock. Some of these repairs we have delayed for years, but now they must be addressed. While not taking precious space to elaborate, know that hundreds of hours have been and will be spent to get things operational so that we can fully concentrate on ministry without delays when our involvement gets extremely busy again.
A TIME TO MOURN
(see King of Kindness)
Plagues and death around me fly,
Till He bids I cannot die:
Not a single shaft can hit
Till the God of love thinks fit.
Two dear Ivorian brothers were called Home right before and after Verlin returned to Cote d’Ivoire. He suspended activities and rushed to their consecutive funerals in different towns. We will always be grateful for Pastor Jerome Kambou’s influence and kindness throughout our missionary service. He worked tirelessly in FWB leadership and pastored for years to see Christ’s Kingdom expand. Mr. Alfred was one of the first men we trained in Community Health Evangelism (CHE). His radiant smile was contagious, and his excellent appliance repair skills were sought throughout our region. His death is one reason we know we will buy a new washing machine, instead of again cannibalizing parts from old ones. In our sector, no other repairman is known to have the skillset that Alfred did. At his funeral, people mentioned his testifying that he moved to Cote d’Ivoire to make money, but more importantly, found his precious Jesus instead!
A TIME TO PLANT
(see ACST x 2=1 God)
Despite a significant amount of time already spent sorting and doing setup work since returning to Africa, Verlin has connected with crucial persons to hear updates of some beloved Ivorian CHE partners. So far, he has met with seven CHE trainers who have planted God’s Word faithfully with people and seen fruit from their labors. The CHE university team is now working in two new villages. A maturing trainer saw the revival of a disbanded church in a remote village as he trained Christians in the area to use Discovery Bible Studies (DBS). None we know gave up in the face of COVID-19. They simply adapted to the new circumstances, as have many in the U.S. Most reported even more excellent ministry opportunities because of the virus.
A TIME TO SPEND AND SAVE
It is a subject of continual amazement and thanksgiving for us to see the ways the Lord provides. We live frugally for the sake of the Kingdom so that significant, unexpected expenses do not overwhelm our ability to remain steadfast in ministry. As your regular, faithful donations continue, the many repairs we need to cope with right now as we transition back to the field will be manageable. Also, the Lord laid on the hearts of several people to give “above and beyond” for expenses due to the ice storm, vehicle repairs, and the washing machine. What can we say other than thank you?
Please find on page 3 of the linked PDF our financial report for the first quarter of 2021. Together, we almost met this ministry’s budget. This was the second-best 1Q provision by ministry partners that we have received since joining the CHSC in December 2013. Only last year’s 1Q giving was better. Thank you for praying and giving so that thousands more Ivorians will hear the Gospel and experience abundant life in Jesus. All this other stuff—tickets, vehicles, repairs—are simply tools so that the glory of the Lord can cover Cote d’Ivoire even more quickly.
PRAISE & PRAYER REQUESTS
- 🙏 Thank the Lord for giving Verlin excellent travels back to and around Cote d’Ivoire and allowing Debbie safe travel back to Tennessee before two different vehicle breakdowns. We are also grateful that Verlin recovered from a bout of malaria with no complications only two weeks after his CI arrival.
- 🙏 Cote d’Ivoire was recently assigned a Level 4 Travel Advisory due to an uptick in COVID cases (although not nearly as severe as statistics elsewhere) and because of terrorism threats on the northern border. Violent demonstrations and armed robbery are common where we live. We do not personally feel threatened but have learned over decades to be cautious and vigilant. Ask the Lord to not let threats hinder the Gospel’s expansion as CHE efforts spread near the northern border areas.
- 🙏 Pray for our dear friends, the Kambou and Alfred families, who recently lost their husbands and fathers to illness. Ask that they be comforted and confident in God’s provision for every need. Also, lift up two pastors recovering from strokes and a CHE trainer who has likewise developed significant health problems because of nutritional deficiencies.
- 🙏 Keep praying for our younger son Corbin to find a well-suited engineering job in Tennessee within a few hours’ drive of siblings. Ask the Lord to give our daughter Cara continued stamina and insight as she works on her business master’s degree at Vanderbilt for nursing management. Cason, our older son, recently acquired greater responsibility at work due to a colleague’s abrupt departure. Pray for him to have wisdom and strength in the new balance of work and family responsibilities.
- 🙏 Our ministry partner and helper, K., was away from work for almost a week — which was very unusual for him. Gold standard tests for malaria and typhoid came back negative, but he was treated for both! Verlin suspects that he may have had COVID. Many people who present here with apparent malaria, typhoid, stroke, or heart attack may actually be fighting a COVID infection, too, mitigated by their exposure to sunshine and the Ivorian lifestyle. Testing kits and the equipment to read the tests are not widely available in Cote d’Ivoire like in the U.S. As a result, teaching people nutrition, lifestyle, and over-the-counter therapeutic choices to fight the virus is even more important, along with effectively countering of anti-vaccine messaging.
- 🙏 Continue to pour out prayers for the many workers using CHE strategies to bring Christ’s transforming power to communities and the greater society. Pray for their protection, fruitfulness, and stamina.
2021 Budget Info:
Something to ask? Write [email protected]
Andersons Witness in Africa.
It is also a brand of bottled water in Cote d’Ivoire where we serve.
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