From Ruth's adoptive son, David in Kenya.
"Dear Knox Church , The last couple of months have been very busy and challenging however God has been on our side, I have been able to catch up with my school work , My discipleship classes are still on going and we did Take 7kids for Baptism from the orphanage
I have lately been focused in the Book of Romans and Trust me it has been a blessing
Again I want to Thank you for the Financial support you offer to me, it has been of great,great help and I appreciate ,I always keep you covered in Prayers
Looking Forward to the day I will be in your Church and Testify of our Lords goodness."
Sesame Seeds and Front Row Seats
If you want to cry and shout, you can sit out here in the play room with me. If you want to sleep with the children you have to be quiet.
It sounds like an easy choice, but the four and five year olds, want to do it their way: shout and cry at bed time and focus the attention on them selves. The six and seven year olds find myriad other ways to add noise and disruption to the day.
As you add years, the variations of misbehavior increase. One day, two young boys decided that throwing stones (big ones) at me in the play yard would be amusing. Fleeing down the basement hall and into the laundry room didn’t stop the attack. They followed and filled the hall and laundry with stones. This activity raised the ire of the ‘management’
but they could not find a solution. During my absence the current social worker found a way to have many of the disruptive boys moved out of Home of Hope. They were relocated in sibling groups which meant that we lost some little girls we had been nurturing for years, one especially that we had managed to send to private Christian school.
Much of the summer was spent reading the Gospels in Arabic, and often defaulting to English, (it’s easier.) In the process I began to feel the impact of the size of the crowds, the numbers of healings and rescues from insanity that Jesus was dealing with. And John reminds us that what we are told is only the tip of the iceberg of all that was done. And the One we’re watching is the Creator of the Universe. Take a deep breath. Our Sultan is beyond our comprehension.
Sesame seeds? Well, breakfast is often a rolled flat bread spread with sesame seeds, crushed thyme, salt and oil. The sesame seeds stick to your teeth, and the oil drips on your jeans. Oh, well...
What a bad fire season we had! Although we are close to the coast here, the smoke was still terrible in Abbotsford. We had planned to go on holidays in August to Southeastern BC, and spent two days in Cranbrook, two more days in Christina Lake, then a week in the Okanagan. The smoke persisted for the first few days, but when we arrived in the Okanagan there was a brief rainfall and it washed most of the smoke away. The rest of our time there was beautiful and clear. There was actually a brief brushfire right across the river from where we were staying, exciting! At night we watched the beams of flashlights moving around the hillside as firemen were putting out little blazes. By morning it was completely out.
Please pray for Hil. She fell down from 3 m. It was a serious accident and dangerous because of her back or neck.
But thanks the Lord she is out of dangerous.
Now she is under observation, and she will need a total rest in bed for a week
and is now in hospital undergoing x-rays.
Update: Hil has returned home now, somewhat improved but in severe pain.
It has been a long time since we last sent an update. The summer season stretched us beyond our limits of endurance and has left us utterly drained and empty (both physically and psychologically).
On the other hand, we are truly blessed and grateful to be able to report that God answered our prayers and yours in many and diverse ways.
First and foremost, we were incredibly blessed by the wide range of summer staff that the Lord sent us, some for a few days and some for a few weeks. Each were a great strength and encouragement to us and, in ways great and small, each according to their gifts, they had an impact for Christ in the lives of those God brought to the camps as well as to a number of pastors and church communities (not to mention our own family).
Below is a brief summary of the summer, but we hope to flesh it out in the coming days and weeks with a series of prayer letters full of photos.
It gives us great joy to reflect on what the Lord allowed to be accomplished through the camps this summer. Our first ever International Work Camp was fruitful in many ways, including important divine appointments that took place during visits to the city.
The English Camps were smaller than expected (one was even cancelled), but provided an opportunity for our young team from Singapore to spread their wings and experience leading a camp program; also, an opportunity for Luke to have important conversations about future cooperation in ministry with a local pastor whose family attended.
The kids' Bible Camp was very challenging because it was twice the size of last time (full to overflowing) but with only half the number of staff. However, we are very encouraged by what we are reading in the reflection papers the campers wrote at the end of camp.
We were also encouraged by the feedback we are getting from the four youth who attended our teen Bible camp. Their parents testify to being deeply impressed by the change that has taken place in their sons, including a new enthusiasm to study the Bible more deeply (two of them are believers from believing families, one has a believing mother but is uncertain, the other is a "not-yet" believer from a family with no connection to the Christian faith).
We are also so grateful that, in our absence, the Lord allowed ACC, through the presence and hard work of a special team from Hong Kong and Vancouver, to serve as host to Fukushima Hope/Rainbow Group one last time before that organization disbands next spring. Also that, through the special team, ACC was able to provide logistical assistance to our local missionary colleagues with BIMI.
Back to the present, please pray for us as we plan and prioritize for the coming year. We are having to face the fact that we simply cannot do all the things that need to be done. We are especially going to have to cut back on the time we invest in the physical property of ACC (keeping the grass and weeds cut and culling the brush and scrub trees) because even if we were to neglect everything else and devote ourselves full time to grounds keeping and maintenance, we still wouldn't be able to, on our own and with the equipment we have, get the property into the shape it needs to be in. And there are many, many ministries besides the seasonal camps--enough for at least two or three more couples or single missionaries--that we should, as the Aomori Christian Center, be devoting our time to, including further developing our Living English program, beginning a Sunday evening English language worship service, creating a Bible survey course, introducing a Saturday day camp and Bible School program, exploring student outreach at the seven local universities and colleges, and increasing the number of church visits and speaking/preaching engagements that we do in Aomori and Hokkaido.
Please pray for:
Sept. 2 -- preaching at the Evangelical Church of Aomori (already done, and greatly blessed)
Sept. 23 -- preaching and sharing at Hirosaki Nozomi ("Hope") Church
Sept. 30 -- preaching and sharing at Aomori Baptist Church
Oct. 7 -- preaching at the Evangelical Church of Aomori
Oct. 21 -- preaching and sharing at Hirosaki Nozomi Church
Oct. 30~Nov. 1 -- attending, as a family, the annual conference of Christian Camping International - Japan
Nov. 2 -- preaching at the Evangelical Church of Aomori
Please pray that we will be able to fill some of the remaining Sundays with visits to other churches as well.
Please also continue to pray for our children's education, which is one of the greatest challenges faced by families on the mission field. We will be meeting with (relatively) local colleagues and our Third Culture Kid advisor on September 24 to discuss potential options for supplementing our children's Japanese public school education and providing them with an English language high school education. We continue to pray for a tutor (click here)
God bless and reward every one of you who has supported us!
Click below for my news.
The flight by Air France was smooth, but my head forgot to replace my computer in the bag at security. You can imagine my flight at the gate back to security, and God led me to the same woman who had wanded me, and yes, she had the computer, Then back to the gate double time,
and made it just as they were loading.
The trip from the airport to a hotel here set up for me by my relatives,
proved a blessing, and I crashed right away.
Now to find my way to Home of Hope.
We extend our sincerest thanks for your gifts of prayer and encouragement towards our family this past weekend.
We are humbled by your gifts of fellowship towards us and we are deeply moved by His mercies in our grief.
The Lord in his fathomless kindness provided many poignant moments that we cling to in the gift of memory, probably most heart-wrenching to watch Thomas choose to carry Caleb's little snow white casket with Jess holding on at his side. The autumn sun was shining and a gentle wind blew near large trees. He was with us.
May we share a song that has ministered to our souls and believe in deeply, "He is Always Good".
We share this with you as a gift in return to trust in the indescribable faithfulness of our God as we all journey here...together.
with our deep love,
Don, Mary Jane and family
Ben, Thomas, Jessica, Erin
This afternoon we visited Jacky. She still has back pains. Her stomach pains are gone. Next week she is doing her national exam. On the 19th.I am taking her and Faraja to the hospital in Mwanza.
I have attached a picture of Jacky and her close friends and myself. Mahona took the picture.
We just picked up Baraka who has now finished primary school and Faraja who has a short holiday.
Church plant is going well. We're moving through Presbytery polity now, which is (gratifyingly) glacial in it's progress. But we're crossing all the Ts and stuff. We're getting between 30 and 50 people on a Sunday, which is exciting. Lots of regulars already, plenty of interested visitors and word of mouth seems to be effective.
The Presbytery of East Toronto approved the call of Nick Renaud to a two year term at Knox as Assistant Minister at their meeting last night.
Conditional upon the approval of the Presbytery of Essex-Kent on Sept. 18, and the acceptance of the Call by Nick Renaud there will be a service of Ordination at Knox on Sunday Sept. 30 at 5pm.
Reports have surfaced of an overall coordinated all-out attack on the house church. Attacks are simultaneously taking place targeting regions that previously had quite ‘peaceful’ relationships with local authorities including Lanzhou, Liaoling, Shenyang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hebei, Guangdong, Guizhou, Guiyang, Taizhou, Anhui,… Wenzhou city government just issued another order to stop churches both TSPM and house church from youth and children ministry and further warned of any church connections overseas.
The viciousness far surpasses anything seen before since the Cultural Revolution. The hardest hit now is Henan province with hundreds of churches under attack.
Pastor Shen describes his visit to Henan and writes on Aug 30, 2018,
“The last few days I have been in Henan province to visit the towns of Xinyang, Tongbai, Tanghe, Nanyang and have seen the church under hardship. The whole church is under intense attack. They are able to mobilize many different government departments and utilize all kinds of methods. The public security, the armed SWAT police, provincial, city, town, village, high and low officials come together to threaten, arrest, demolish, seal shut, beat, break, confiscate all kinds of equipment, it is a complete repeat of the “Cultural Revolution”. This behavior has no law or reason, no common sense understanding. It goes against the trend of times! My heart hurts. I am sad and cry out! Late into the night I try to reason but can’t understand. Are these government officials really in an all-out battle internally and externally? They are fighting America with a trade war overseas and attacking the weak kind-hearted Christians domestically. What are they thinking? Why are they doing this? These government departments have so many important matters to attend to but are not doing their jobs. Don’t they have anything else to do? Who has given them this authority? What are their intended results? Can their plans succeed? Is it worth it? Oh, how pitiful is my country! [tears], [tears], [tears]“
Cross Demolitions continue: as the Communist party tightens religious rules yet again, Chinese Christians document ongoing persecution
World Magazine (Aug 31, 2018)
Short clip of a cross burning
Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in China.
Please continue to pray for our friend Rev. Ezra Jin and Beijing Zion Church as they stand their ground.
For a ‘house church’ in Beijing, CCTV cameras and eviction
Reuters (Aug 30, 2018)
Who wants to evict Zion Church Beijing
St. Charles Institute (Aug 20, 2018)
Pray for Rev. Wang Yi from Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu. He has initiated A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith with 116 pastors and elders who have signed this statement.
1. Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God. It is the source and final authority of all righteousness, ethics, and salvation. If the will of any political party, the laws of any government, or the commands of any man directly violate the teachings of the Bible, harming men’s souls and opposing the gospel proclaimed by the church, we are obligated to obey God rather than men, and we are obligated to teach all members of the church to do the same.
2. Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith. We are willing and obligated under any circumstance to face all government persecution, misunderstanding, and violence with peace, patience, and compassion. For when churches refuse to obey evil laws, it does not stem from any political agenda; it does not stem from resentment or hostility; it stems only from the demands of the gospel and from a love for Chinese society.
3. Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government's authority to govern society and human conduct. We believe and are obligated to teach all believers in the church that the authority of the government is from God and that as long as the government does not overstep the boundaries of secular power laid out in the Bible and does not interfere with or violate anything related to faith or the soul, Christians are obligated to respect the authorities, to pray fervently for their benefit, and to pray earnestly for Chinese society. For the sake of the gospel, we are willing to suffer all external losses brought about by unfair law enforcement. Out of a love for our fellow citizens, we are willing to give up all of our earthly rights.
4. For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.
Pray for these brave 116 pastors and churches who have signed this statement as they are now the targets of attack.
Please pray for my mom, she was at hospital for the last 3 days because a problem of hearth, but finally the doctor discovered other problem. We are now in beautiful in San Cristobal.
“We are celebrating that all 4 Kenyan staff members whom we invited to Canada have received visas! Thanks for praying. Now pray that their month-long visit will be safe and productive.” There will be a chance to meet with the team at Knox following morning service on Sunday, September 23.
Greetings again from London! Yes London, which means transitions. This is indeed what we’ve been up to for the last few years as we’ve moved from Tripoli, Toronto, Algiers and to London. Each place has had its opportunities and challenges. Here, Arabic has become the number two language spoken in this city. This, obviously, fits into our experience, and has opened up a number of opportunities.
One of them, mentioned in my last update, is a middle aged Syrian man, father of three, who has lived here over a year and wants to find work. Without an adequate grasp of English he’s struggling to learn it, and that’s where I’ve stepped in to help.
Another opportunity occurred when a friend at church asked us if we’d help an Iranian couple in their 50’s learn English. When we followed them up we met couple who have lived here for over four years and who are still struggling with basic English. Their first language is Farsi/Persian, so it was a privilege to give them the Gospel of John in their language. When I asked recently if they had read it, Hassan said he reads a few pages every day. They are Baha’i in their faith.
Then, there’s an Iraqi family that we’ve volunteered to help through a local governmental organization. They are a refugee family of 7 children who also have spent just over a year here. Their teenage daughter arrived here about three months ago after they had paid a ransom of $25,000.00 to obtain her release from Iraq. The children have been learning through govt. organized classes. Marliese has found this a good opportunity to help them on further. The parents have also been to ESL classes, however, in my last session with them I was asked to teach them the days of the week and the months of the year. That’s where they are.
Interestingly, these people represent a religious mosaic that we usually only hear about on the news. The Syrian is Muslim, the Iranians are Baha’i and the Iraqis Yazidi. As you know Baha’is and Yazidis are persecuted minorities in their countries of origin.
Please pray for blessing as we meet with them. With all three units we have flexible schedules with no fixed obligations, and so we’re also free to dream of short term work overseas, and this is what we’ve been doing.
Recently, we met with a long-term worker in the Middle East and told her of our interest in helping out over there. She connected us with a PI regional leader who told us of several opportunities. Given our desire to work overseas only for a few months at a time these opportunities have narrowed down to Tunisia and Israel. In the latter country there’s an opportunity to help in a Christian school. Please pray for the Spirit’s leading as we ponder which steps to take.
I just made the 11 a. m. flight on Monday from Vancouver with only 14-15 minutes to spare after my flight came in late from Seattle! The flight to Korea was fine, and we arrived in Seoul at 2:09 yesterday (Tuesday). My dear former international students, Paul and Jinny, were there to meet me as promised; they drove me through a torrential downpour to the AIM office, where the director and his wife welcomed us warmly and took us all out for supper.
I had a great sleep last night and today am enjoying an informal orientation – including two meals out - with Dr. and Mrs. Cho, their daughter Haejin, Paul and Jinny. Tomorrow, DV, I take a 5-hour bus ride south to Yeosu, where someone from the Missionary Training Institute will hopefully meet me. On Friday, I’m to have a day’s orientation. The new term starts on our Labour Day, Monday, September 3rd.
Thanks for your prayers, and all the best, dear friends.
As I look back over the last few months since I wrote, my heart is full and I’m so grateful for all that the Lord has done—and very excited about the opportunities opening ahead! There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not deeply grateful for the work to which the Lord has called me—and also enabled by your wonderful support in every way.
The opportunities I have to support three churches with their counselling needs in our post-postmodern, post-secular culture is more than full-time work, especially as new phases open up. I have never been busier! With counselling needs increasing due to secular influences impacting the flock of Christ, it’s exciting to see that the Lord is going before us to raise up an army of lay counsellors! I’m amazed and thrilled that there is a growing interest to read counselling materials (largely from CCEF, translated into German) in the Free Evangelical Church in downtown Munich (FeG) and individuals are themselves forming new reading groups in order to bring their own lives more under the Word of God by the Spirit—to then equip them increasingly to edify others. Besides the first group begun about three years ago, which I join bi-monthly to instruct on various topics and answer questions, two other groups (eager to gain what the others are experiencing!) began in the Spring. And in September a new group is being started by a passionate senior—for seniors! The pastor, Matthias Lohmann, is eager to see these folk more active among the younger set. He has further expressed his desire for everyone in the church to have a better applied understanding of sanctification—lasting deep change at the heart level. The other downtown pastor I work with, Steve Henderson of the Munich International Community Church (MICC), is also eager to have a monthly reading group start in the Fall to go through the same counselling materials (in English)—which I will help facilitate. In the church I attend under Steffen Müller, Gospel Church München, we are also planning an introduction to sanctification and understanding biblical change—these monthly meetings, on Saturdays, are to begin in October. In the groups I’m leading or working with we’re also thinking about introducing David Powlison’s powerful Self-Counseling Project—making the process of personal change concrete! Please pray that these new plans will be Spirit-guided!
Besides these teaching opportunities while counselling I’m mentoring four gifted and passionate women—two are Martin Bucer Seminary students and one is the wife of an MBS student—with more mentees willing to start. As much as possible, I have resolved to no longer counsel on my own, but have someone observing me, to help them gain experience in counselling. It’s a whole new phase of work—and really wonderful! (I had sometimes counselled with an elder or pastor in Berlin, but this broadens the scope!)
With new opportunities expanding, there will be new challenges! How do we give freedom for others to counsel, but ensure that it is being done well—not quenching the Spirit, but ensuring wisdom in the Spirit? Prayer for guidance as we embark on these new paths is very much appreciated!
The needs are truly increasing as the world impacts the church—for example: A mentee and I are counselling a 14-year-old girl (together with her parents) who believes she’s actually a boy... (These interpretations are “out there”—so easy to access!) It seems the young girl, finding she doesn’t fit in well, has grasped at a possibility of “being” that very effectively draws attention to herself... Though what would the life-long consequences be in living out this lie? May she never know! Another mentee and I, as well as a small team including a church-planter, family and friends, are also in and out of a psychiatric ward near the church downtown, meeting with a young, single mother for whom medication is not effective to assuage the guilt from which she suffers. What a relief that there’s amazing grace to be had! And what joy to bring Good News! And what a challenge to navigate wisely with the staff of the psychiatric ward! Our comings and goings are certainly of interest, even of some concern, regarding their patient with religious delusions... In another counselling relationship I’m wrestling with a man divorced more than once who speaks advanced psycho-babble, challenging me to bring the Gospel-clarity of sin and grace gently to his heart and mind. How grateful I am for my psychology background but (especially!) CCEF to understand psychology theologically—as well as your prayers! And there are many more intricate blends of sin, sorrow and secular thought... What grace to be called to have the mind of Christ and His Spirit to guide others!
With all the counselling needs to catch up on after my trip to South Africa and opportunities for teaching lay members, I was sorry not to be able to attend our annual church retreat to the Garda Lake in Italy the end of May, but there was great excitement upon the group’s return about all they had learned regarding the roles of men and women in life and marriage, taught by visiting Pastor Bill White of Grace Church in Greenville, SC.
June marked a personal milestone—six (!) decades as an earthling...! It’s been an incredible adventure—and it’s not over yet! To help me praise and thank God in my reflections, I invited our church family to a garden party that friends helped me host, supported further by a cellist, pianist and soprano, who interspersed my reflections with classical music and hymns as we further indulged our senses with cake and coffee... The downpour after—Nigerian-style!—held off until 30 minutes after my formal program ended! My gratitude for abundant grace given overflows! (Pictures attached!)
Due to the increased counselling needs and opportunities it’s been difficult to get back to the DMin, but now in August I’ve been able to carve out more time—and the passion for this work renews me! At this pace I will need another year to make the necessary changes and additions required to resubmit the work to WTS, but I am excited to also add more of what I learned in South Africa to it. I’m very grateful for your prayers to that end!
It’s usually a great joy for me to see progress in sanctification, whether in larger steps or mini-steps, but, as I’ve mentioned before, there have been some very difficult challenges in three marriages in our small church, which have now resulted in their failures... This is truly heart-breaking for the couples and children in question, and disturbing and disheartening for the rest of the church—and its leadership. No one is an island; we do impact the lives of those around us. Furthermore, our pastor’s daughter, S, has been battling with anorexia at a life-threatening level for the last few months. The family is enjoying a vacation in the States now—please pray they will be revived in body and soul. Fortunately our missionary family, Sam and Lizzie Goodwin together with their three daughters, after a year of home service return this week! We’re happy to have their support again! It’s been wonderful to have the young intern, Timon Kubsch (the son of my former MBS colleague), doing a fabulous work among us—absolutely committed to a faithful exposition of the Word! Since marrying in July, his equally committed, lovely and kind wife—Angelina—is also with us. Please pray with us that the Lord will raise up German elders who will help our pastor carry the flock and be strong spiritual leaders for Bible study groups.
Besides the new teaching and mentoring opportunities beginning in the Fall, the annual Oktoberfest will be held from September 22nd –October 7th. All three churches I work with have a presence there—the two downtown churches are one block from the venue, and our good friends who run the Hofbräukeller (enabling my Biergarten counselling in the summer!) host one of the 14 large tents (theirs seats approx. 10,000). Please pray that the festivities would be protected from all evil—and happy wedding joy (the origin of the tradition!) might be revived in friendliness. Beyond that, after a long absence from my Canadian family—both natural and supernatural, I hope to visit in Alberta and Toronto over Christmas and the New Year. Tentative dates: December 14th –30th (Alberta) and December 31st –January 9th (Toronto). I look forward to seeing as many as possible, and hope to arrange church visits in the coming weeks—though feel free to contact me!
Although secularization advances in Europe, and, from my perspective, unnecessary and alarming concessions are being given and considered for refugees with religious worldviews quite contrary to the German constitution (which is largely biblical), so that the fabric of society unravels from its biblical foundation, I believe we see an undercurrent of the Spirit’s movement and the Kingdom of God advancing quietly as individuals seek more stability, and thereby come to know God more, so that while in the world, they are not of it. As churches and para-church organizations work at a grassroots level, doing good out of respect for God and others, may the kindness of God evidenced lead many to repentance. Please pray that the work I observed in South Africa might also be implemented in Munich. And please continue to pray for revival—a counter-cultural movement of the Spirit of love, goodness and holiness, for the good of the nations and to God’s glory!
For those who knew about Jacqueline and the medical problem I thank you for parying! God does hear our prayers!
Two week ago I had to take Jacky to the doctor's in Mwanza, a 10 hour drive from Tabora to Kahama [kids school] and then on to Mwanza. They found she had a cyst on her ovary and that for her back pain needed physio. After that I took her back to school. Last Tuesday I received a call that she was sick and I had to go again to pick her up. She told me that she had vomited blood so I took her straight to the hospital in Mwanza. They did an endoscopy and found that she has many ulcers. They also checked her cyst and praise God..it had gone!
For the ulcers she has been given quite a bit of antibiotics and needs to take them for several weeks.
We also discovered that the most likely cause of the ulcers is that the little rascal was trading her mandazies for a soda on the weekends so she would have 2 soda's in stead of one. They get the mandazies at 6 am with a cup of tea. So she would only drink tea. Then at 10 am they get porridge which she doesn't like so she would skip that and have an empty stomach until 1 pm when they serve lunch. Yesterday I took her back to school and handed all her meds over to the doctor and we educated Jacky on taking her meals at the right time, even if she does not like the food. She loves her school and was happy to be back.
I stayed overnight in Kahama and had a long sleep. I got home this afternoon and enjoyed a good cup of coffee!!
I thank God for His care and protection ad for the proper treatment for Jacky. Also I am very grateful for getting home safely.