Mission Update: Greece

By Ryan Lee

From the time its doors opened in 1892 until its closing in 1954, Ellis Island was a gateway to freedom for immigrants from nations such as England, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavian countries seeking a fresh start in America. The Statue of Liberty standing tall shined as a beacon of hope for displaced families looking for a new beginning. An inscription on a plaque nearby featured the poem New Colossus, welcoming all who craved liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Whereas most large monument statues were erected to symbolize a great victory or even to deter enemies, the Statue of Liberty stood tall as a giant welcome mat. In the 60 years Ellis Island was open, over 12 million immigrants passed through on their way to becoming American citizens. In many cases, immigrants were given a new name—their American name. Some of these immigrants stayed in New York. Some traveled further west, but all of them began a new life, in a new home, with a new name.

Ellis Island was just a gateway, a portal for them to pass through. Immigrants poured through the doors of Ellis Island like a river flows through a valley. The island is one of the most important landmarks in American history. It’s this history that helped to shape a nation that stood for life and liberty. And as Mark Twain once put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Now, over 60 years later, another group of people are fleeing their native countries in search of freedom. Except this time they aren’t immigrants—they are refugees. Instead of fleeing from western and northern Europe, they are fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Iraq. And rather than the gateway being Ellis Island, the gateway is Athens.

The Refugee Crisis, as it’s come to be known, began around 2009. Men, women, and children from Muslim backgrounds are fleeing their war-torn homes, running for their lives to escape oppression and violence. As they head to Europe, 80% of all refugees fleeing the Middle East and North Africa come through Greece. Athens is the gateway city and the epicenter of what is known as the refugee highway.

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Over 90% of the refugees who pass through Athens must cross the Mediterranean Sea. Smugglers will often take the refugees’ life savings in exchange for passage. Unfortunately, many of these crafts are overloaded with refugees and abandoned before arrival. In 2017, approximately 4,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. If a refugee is fortunate enough to make it to Athens, they most likely arrive penniless, their only possession the clothes on their back.

Because of the economic situation, there are not a lot of opportunities for the refugees. Athens is busy, yet not a lot of people are working.

Many refugees, after trying to find a life in Athens, realize that the best opportunity for them is by trekking deeper into Europe. So, much like Ellis Island, refugees pass through Athens like a river. It’s in this river where we meet Larry and Cathy Bowles.

The Bowles are missionaries from Oklahoma who spend the better part of each year (as long as their visas will allow) in Athens. Larry, a retired firefighter, and his wife Cathy began their mission work in Athens with a mindset to evangelize to the Greek people. When the refugee crisis began, they realized it wasn’t the Greeks who God had called them to minister to, but the Muslim refugees. And because of the nature of Athens and the fact that these refugees are only staying in Athens a short time, the Bowles realized they must change their strategy. They not only needed to shift their focus from Greeks to Muslims, but they also realized that God was calling them to go further than evangelism. They had to disciple.

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How, though, do you disciple a person who you know will be leaving you in a couple of months? The first step was simple: meet their physical needs. Larry and Cathy and their small team met any and every refugee they could, providing food, water, blankets, clothing, and healthcare. They showed Christ’s love by meeting the physical needs first, which opened doors to share with them who Jesus is. To their surprise, they found that many of these refugees were curious and actually eager to learn about who Jesus is. They realized quickly that this environment was ripe for discipleship.

Again, the hardest part of their quest to make disciples was the short time the refugees stay in Athens. Before these people left Greece, Larry and Cathy wanted to embrace them in love and tell them about Jesus. But they didn’t have time for a Biblical studies school; they needed something more short-term, more intense. And thus, the AcroCenter was born.

The AcroCenter was started as a discipleship training program. The Acro (Athens Christian Refugee Organization) Center works in cooperation with and serves as an extension of three major evangelical refugee outreach organizations currently operating in Athens. It exists to provide the opportunity for deeper Bible training and focused discipleship with new Christian refugee believers while they are still in Athens.

With the understanding that they didn’t have much time with the refugees, Larry and Cathy developed a 5-week, 60-hour discipleship course to teach people not only about the Gospel, but also who God truly is as a person. It’s extremely intense, but it has been very effective with the Muslim refugees who are seeking a relationship with God. The program is designed to meet new refugee believers where they are educationally, while providing a solid foundation of sound Biblical training and discipleship. This training gives them a strong grasp of scripture and equips them not only to live a life for Jesus, but to teach, evangelize, and make disciples of their new fellow countrymen (not only while they are in Athens, but also wherever the Lord moves them as they pass into other countries within Europe and beyond).

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There are many challenges in doing this work. For instance, when refugees first come to the AcroCenter, they are given a Bible. Even this is a foreign concept to them as most refugees are fleeing a place where owning a Bible is illegal—and in some cases, punishable by death. From the very start, their worldviews are shaken. Most have grown up in a religion that is defined by domination and control, where rules are maintained by fear, intimidation, and harsh punishment. With Jesus, however, they are met with love, grace, mercy, and hope.

The motto of the AcroCenter is “We are looking for those who are looking for Jesus.” And when you think about it, that’s every refugee. They fled Islamic oppression in search of what Jesus provides even if they didn’t realize it at the time. Only in Christ can they experience true transformation and real deliverance from the tyranny of Islam.

One of the most uplifting stories of this ministry is Larry and Cathy’s exit strategy. They believe that God will build His church through His people. Who better to disciple a Muslim refugee than a former Muslim refugee? Larry says it as plainly as it can be said, “We can equip them, but it should be they who lead, not us.” With all the refugees pouring into Europe through Athens every day, it’s very possible that Muslim refugees will be who God uses to disciple Europe.

Just like Ellis Island was for over half a century, Athens has become a gateway to freedom for millions. And as the Statue of Liberty stood as a welcoming beacon for immigrants seeking refuge, perhaps the Acropolis will be a symbol of the strong tower that is the name of the Lord. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Emma Lazarus wrote The New Colossus in 1883 to raise money for the Statue of Liberty. It then became an invitation to liberty. While no one is building statues or writing poems for the Refugee Crisis, Jesus has already given his invitation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” —Matthew 11:28

To learn more about Larry and Cathy’s mission work in Athens, please visit their website at: acrocenter.org.

Russia: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Natasha Podryachikov

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If you remember, one of our sisters in Christ, Sashulya, ended up in the hospital with some extreme pain in her stomach. Thanks be to God; not only did the surgery go well, but recovery also was speedy. She will go back to work this week. We appreciate all your thoughts and prayers about Sashulya.

December was an amazing month! I was so excited to see that God blessed us with many opportunities to share the good news with people this season. I host annual Christmas celebrations at the local girl’s school and at church. This year was not an exception,  and there were several changes which I was excited for. This year at school, I was allowed to host this party for all grades. To my surprise, there was a big group of elementary kids. The teachers also helped  me with the preparations for this event.

It was a pleasure to see that all these kids were looking forward to this party. During story time, it was nice to see how the children all had open hearts for God. I talked to the principal afterward, and it was great to hear that they started putting my Christmas celebration officially on their school calendar.

This year the church also had many children that brought their friends as well. The members of the church actively participated in hosting the Christmas event.

This was the first time that Dennis and I noticed how we did not need to lead and host the party. The adults initiated in areas where they were confident. During the celebration at church, the main point of the story about Jesus was: our God is a God who is giving and sharing what He has. Everyone was so inspired that after the party they gathered and discussed the plans they had for the ministry and the church, which was very exciting.

On the horizon, we have an upcoming seminar on financial management,  a three day getaway that concentrates on edification and encouragement, and an outreach in Kazakhstan held by the church in Degtyarsk. Please pray for these works. The house church in Degtyarsk prays for more members, and our friend Oksana prays for the growth of God’s Kingdom in Uralmash, and also in her home country of Uzbekistan.

Because of Christmas, we were able to give other people and friends blessings and spread the Word of God.  I would like to thank everyone who helped with their continuous support and giving. You bless us every Christmas, and we are thankful for this.

The Gambia: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Lawrence Oshioreame

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Since the inception of this congregation in 2000, the Lord has laid it in our hearts to embark on agricultural projects as a means of sustaining Kingdom work and reaching out in a more effective way. By taking the Gospel to those outside the Kingdom, we are helping to better the lives of those in both spiritual and physical ways.

This vision has been shared among sister congregations here, and it was applauded. But, it has also appeared unattainable due to all the financial involvements, actualizing all the elements, and implementations.

The congregation sees agriculture as one of the most effective ways to support and sustain Kingdom work in Gambia. The Gambia is predominately Muslim, and it is hostile to the acceptance of the Gospel. Poverty is widespread. This Muslim-dominated background slows the pace of numerical growth in the Kingdom, and the poverty level affects many who become Christians in their living. Thus, the strength of their giving in worship service is greatly affected, too.

1. Our Vision:
A. To set up a standard poultry project with chickens of more than one species, as well as layer and broiler chickens. These layers would produce eggs daily, which would be accumulated for sale, and the broiler breeds would be prepared directly for sale.

For example, having about one thousand layer chickens will produce slightly above a thousand eggs daily, because there would be a few exceptional cases that some would lay two eggs daily. The layers can be sold after months of laying eggs and replaced with new grown layers.

Market target: Local markets such as the tourist industry and the general public.

B. Have an orchard of Moringa trees (never-die trees) that would produce seeds yearly, which can be sold for medicinal purposes. Or, another option is to grow cashew trees. Its fruit can be used to produce wine and the seeds for export to the USA and Europe.

C. Set up an irrigation farm to produce vegetables throughout the year for the local market, and possibly for export as well.

2. Our Mission:
A. Buy sizable land within local communities, especially outside a major city where Search for Truth is being broadcasted.

B. Acquire equipment for the poultry project, and establish a steady source of buying chicken feeds according to their kinds. (ii) Later, discontinue the purchase of chicken feeds and produce it for security and cost effective purposes.

C. Construct a bole hole so that there will be constant supply of water for irrigation farming even during the dry season.

D. Seek partners to collaborate with us for the initial sponsorship of finances and materials.

3. Beneficiaries (Church and communities/individuals and non-Christians):
A. The church is the first beneficiary of these projects, in the sense that it will create employment for some indigenous church members who fit the job descriptions. It will help raise steady funds for scholarships and benevolence in general.

B. It will cater for evangelism mechanics, such as necessary logistics to operate and push the Gospel to areas targeted.

C. It will help to employ workers within the local communities where the projects are sited.

D. It will help to operate with benevolence in various relief activities, dependent upon the pressing needs of people or prospects for evangelism nationwide.

E. It will help to provide scholarship for needy children outside the Kingdom as a way of taking the Gospel to the lost. There will be obvious criteria used to ascertain the beneficiaries of this work.

F. It will help to support preacher’s allowance.

G. It will help to build new church buildings.

H. It will help to support Mission work outside The Gambia as the Lord leads.

4. Current Status of the Vision:
By the grace of God we have acquired some plots of lands in some local communities. Such as 200m by 100m x 200m by 100m at Mbullum, 100m by 100, x 100m by 100m at Somita.

Secondly, a few communities are willing to sell plots of land if we establish a school for the community so that their children will not have to travel long distances to go to school.

5. Current Challenges:
A. To raise funds to register the properties from occupancy ownership to leasing levels.

B. Fencing of the properties for security, and to do some local planting of crops to raise money gradually for the main projects. Fencing will protect the crops from animal intrusion and destruction.

C. Raise funds for the main projects to begin and to serve the overall goals.

Senegal: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Arnold Dzah

 

I lack words to describe the penetrating power of the radio program. God continues to break harder grounds through the radio programs here. We’ve now fully entered the university campus nearby where students call to ask pertinent questions. We receive  questions such as, “Why do we still follow Christ when he promised that somebody is coming after him? Should we listen to that person?” Your guess is as good as mine, since such a question can never be answered on the radio.

Though Islam is tolerant in Senegal, we don’t want to provoke them. We are mindful that the station may be closed down or we may be stopped from preaching. We asked the one who asked the question to visit us in order to discuss it together.

We have five university students attending the Bible school here in Dakar. We’re so grateful to God. I received a call from a village I can’t even find on the map (Domgor), where a gentleman introduced himself as a listener. He has told us that he is  not alone in listening to our programs, so he is inviting us to visit him. Additionally, if possible, we will organize an evangelism event for this next December. And if we can preach in their local language, Djola, many more will be interested.

We pray that we can be assisted to satisfy this request. This is not the first time we received such a request coming from the Djola-speaking people. They are another huge population in the southern part of Senegal.

We’re so grateful for all the support we receive from World Radio in support of our preaching programs. May God continue to bless you.

Sierra Leone: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Michael Amara

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Greetings from Bo, Sierra Leone. We are glad that God Almighty has given us another opportunity to proclaim His Kingdom around the world. I am grateful that I am a chosen vessel for The Great Commission. We thank all our sponsors for their contribution and encouragement as we partner together. May the good God continue to bless them throughout 2018 and the years to come.

One Kingdom has been a source of blessings to our people and the Churches of Christ in our localities. May we be blessed in our efforts for His purpose in this life. Gracefully we say Happy and Prosperous New Year  for 2018.

We thank God for the provision our sponsors have made for the beginning of this year. Please be informed that the next quarterly agreement has been made with KISS 104. To God be the glory.

Peru: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Rodolfo Casas

 

Each day, the church becomes better known through the radio program, relying on  sound doctrine and exposing the Gospel. In these last two months we have been emphasizing everything related to the family, since it is a great need of our people. Our brothers  and sisters are sharing the program, and many people have begun to take an interest in teaching.

Sometimes they call us asking us simple questions, and when we give them Biblical answers they say they never knew such things.

We want to express our gratitude for all the efforts and love that keeps the Gospel going through the radio program Con la Biblia Abierta to Peruvian. We are grateful that the church is making itself known and Christ is being glorified. The members of the different congregations here also feel edified with these Biblical teachings, and we have had several baptisms recently.

Thank you very much for making this program a blessing. God continues to prosper and sustain you.

Philippines: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Daniel A. Oliva

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Radio evangelism is a great way to share Christ here. Church members in Malasigue, Pangasinan and Gerona, Tarlac are inviting me to teach radio/WBS contacts in their hometowns. I have am planning to visit these places and teach both members and nonmembers of the church. Please, include these in your prayer list.

A ‘seeker’s class’ was started at Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija in the Military Reservation in December. Along with brethren from Cabanatuan City, we taught a lesson on unity. I encountered a problem, because one of the children is deaf-mute, but she can read the Bible. I have to re-learn my sign language lessons to be able to communicate with her. We in the Philippines are ever grateful for helping. God bless.

Egypt: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Alfred Habashy

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Last August, Francis and I went to Bremen, Germany for the second time to continue what we have been started in March 2017 among the Arab refugees. We answered the second call from the Church of Christ in Bremen. The work among the refugees is growing. Their numbers have doubled, and the church members work hard to reach the Arab refugees around them. Brother Rudy the preacher, his family, and Elsa (she is a missionary and has lived in Germany from more than thirty years) do a great and outstanding job. They urge and encourage each member in the church to disciple others. Moreover, Elsa and Michaela (Rudy’s wife) do excellent work with the Arab ladies. They teach, visit with them, and help them to finish gaining legal status.

Francis and I spent eight days there. Brother Doug from Sunset joined us for only three days. During the day, we went to visit Arabic Muslims refugees in their camps, praying and encouraging them in their houses. At night we had a great teaching time at the church. We studied three topics from the Bible and Koran:

1) Has the bible been corrupted?

2) The incarnation of Christ.

3) Who is Jesus?

Their responses were over our expectations and imaginations. The attendances every night were not less than twenty men and women from different ages. The majority of them were very receptive. Despite this, there were some strong discussions (although not harsh). We had a wonderful time before teaching to sing Christian songs together. This visit was so successful, so fruitful, so powerful, and full of joy and love. Ultimately, in my last session, we ended up with splendid success!

After I finished my lesson in the last day, I asked, “Who is Jesus?” All of them in one accord with loud voice answered, “Jesus is God!” Wow, what an amazing and wonderful seed planted in the minds and hearts of more than 20 Arabic Muslim refugees. We fully trust that the Lord will confirm The Word in their minds and hearts.

In September, I went for a month to teach for the first time in AIBI School in Athens. God gave me great opportunities with the students I was teaching, especially among the Arabic-speaking groups.

At AIBI I taught two classes: Bible History and The Life of Christ. The students are from different countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Also, they are from different background, some Catholics, some Pentecostal and others attend to the church of Christ.  I had a great time to studying individually with some students as well.

Athens is a great and ample field to reach many Arab refugees from several Arab countries. Moreover, it is so open to proclaim the truth freely. I met with many of them. All of them are open-minded, so acceptable, and very receptive to The Word of God.

In Cairo, we had our second 2017 book fair. Let me recap the 15 days of this fair quoting Jesus’s statement to His disciples, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” This is true! We encountered many Muslims who came before and got a Bible. Over 85% of them told us they are reading the Bible secretly, regularly, and daily. They also had some questions and need help to understand. Moreover, during this fair we have been able to hand out about 8,000 New Testaments with other Bible stories for kids and Jesus films as well. Our distribution these last three years has surpassed 47,000 Bibles.      

I started a new group to study the Bible every Saturday before our weekly prayer meeting with some of those who need and ask for help. This group is completely different than any other Bible study I’ve conducted before.  There are 15 young men and women. Nine are Muslims, two from the Coptic Orthodox Church, and four from the book fair team. I experience great challenges with this group. Two weeks ago, two of these Muslims had been baptized unto Christ.  However, they refused to take any photos during the baptism.

As for our church, three families lost their young ones within the past two months. It is a tragedy! It is very sad and a mourning time for the whole church. We will miss them so much. Our hope is that they are all now in a better place with Jesus. Please pray for these families to get rest and comfort from The Lord.

Our youth meeting on Friday is growing as well. This small group started a Christmas caroling to praise and celebrate Christmas songs with the church on January 7th, as all the eastern churches celebrate Christmas on that day. They rehearse twice a week with great enthusiasm for this unique event.

Finally, Hala, Joly, Andrew, and I send you all our love and the choicest blessings from heaven this Christmas. May you have a brilliant Christmas season! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!  And New Year brings new hopes and aspiration. Have a fantastic year filled with peace and health, with lots of love and loads of wealth, wishing you all a Happy New Year.

My family and I are grateful for each one of you for your love, prayers, and support. I always like to end my report with the same request that Paul made of the New Testament churches: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” —Ephesians 6:19.

Uganda: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Waibi Robert

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It is hard to express in words the encouragement the church ministry brings to people. We have shared God’s word, the deep spiritual walk, and the power it brings about.

At Lwanda Church, we regularly fight addictions, loneliness, temptations, and share our spiritual experience. We inspire hope to people who are harshly being tormented with bad habits, diseases, sickness, and demons.

For Super Sunday and the Radio Evangelistic Ministry, I addressed real issues in the lives of faith. The theme of the teaching was ‘Building a godly character.’ The number one step to building a Godly character is humility. Jesus is always the best example for humility; he was gentle and humble (Matthew 11:29).

Some have been rebuked who have become prideful with their gifts that God has given. He informed the congregation that, “man is an instrument in God’s hands and all we have is God–given.’

God’s love for us never changes. Our invitation is open to whomever may be interested to join us morally, spiritually, and financially. Through your gifts, struggling brothers and sisters will be able to receive the encouragement and hope. We will be happy to share these blessings with you.

Cuba: 4th Quarter, 2017

Roberto Pino García

 

Due to the recent storms, the power system across the country has been affected by the fall of trees, poles, electrical lines, walls, and the penetration of the sea. Many neighborhoods are without electricity and drinking water.

In Havana, Brother Libernys, preacher of the congregation of Vedado, lives with his family in a 3-story building, and the tanker has been contaminated with seawater. The cistern was wiped, but they have no water and electricity service. Others in the same area are in similar situations. Thank God that they have gas and can cook with that fuel.

On the Hill, our brothers Roberto Betancourt and charity partially lost the roof of their house. They could replace the shingles, but they are different from the other houses in the area. The roof is in very poor condition. Also, our sister Emilia, who is 88-years-old and lives with her disabled daughter, recovered some tiles of the ceiling, but not completely.

In Matanzas, several families were affected; the structures of the houses suffered from landslides and fallen roofs. Similar disasters occurred in the congregations of Versailles, Santa Ana, and Maria Jesús. Crops were affected and they are working to recover what they can. Jorge and Dayami’s house ceiling was affected. Unfortunately, their house is in a very bad state, and by the mercy of God, it resisted the winds of these storms. Other brothers in the area have also been evacuated. Brother Tony has sent us photos that illustrate the situation.

 In Villa Clara, Brother Noel reports to us, who suffered strong winds for nearly 14 hours. Several brothers lost the roofs of their homes, and I have not had communication with some others there.

In Sancti Spíritus, Brother Alexander González informs us that they were 4 days without electricity, and his house in particular had damage to the windows and the rear of the house.

 In Ciego de Ávila, Brother Kadir informed us that there are 3 affected in Ciego de Ávila, but they have not had news of Morón or Guayacanes.

In Camagüey, Brother James reported that they have regained electricity after 3 days. A house of a marriage lost its roof, and a local church in Santa Cruz del Sur sustained roof/wall damage.

I have not received news from other territories, but I wish to unite us all in prayer and hope that recovery arrives as soon as possible.

Blessings,
Roberto

Nepal: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Asee Darla

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In Nepal, one of the students wanted to come to Nellore (India) for further studies, but because of the bad weather conditions, they are afraid to travel to reach Kathmandu. Whenever the weather is clear for their travel, I am waiting to arrange their trip.

We are constantly praying and encouraging to all of our students to continuously spend time praying, thinking, and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. Sanjay is in constant touch with them in Whatsapp and other media facilities. The students are eagerly waiting for get together for studies and fellowship.

Philippines: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Daniel A. Oliva

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Rains continue and two typhoons just passed by Northern Luzon. Many areas were flooded and experienced landslides. By God’s grace, we are still safe in Baguio City. My wife Minda and her sisters are still in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental to attend the funeral of her mother. Alvin Luther, an American missionary who married a Filipina and put a church and school there, shall give the funeral message.

I have started a new seeker’s class in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, in the house of Minda Barbo. Most of them are young people (high school age) and are eager to learn God’s word and become disciple–makers. Helping me are Jun Abaya and Andy Mabesa (both volunteer workers of Cabanatuan Church), who make use of their private cars and money to help in the Lord’s work. Praise be to God that we have such brethren today.

I recently came from a three day summit meeting of old preachers from Tagaytay City, held at the Christian Development Centre. We reviewed the 21 Ecumenical Councils of both the Western and Eastern churches, the Muslim conquest of Europe and other parts of the world, the Reformation and the Restoration movements, and the essential differences in Churches of Christ with other religious groups. Our purpose is to be able to understand other groups and how to bring them to Christ’s fold in the most effective way. Sponsoring this quarterly meeting is Isidoro Cayton (a Christian businessman based in Tagaytay City).

Soon I shall be going to Cabanatuan City again to continue seeker’s classes in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, and Kalikid Sur, Cabanatuan City. Please include these studies in your prayers. Always, we thank WFR Church, the World Radio people, One Kingdom, and all the benefactors of Word Radio evangelism. God bless you all, brothers and sisters.

Kenya: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Charles Cheriyot

 

We are getting rain in most areas, but a few regions are still in need of food. The rain is not sufficient, and the crops they have planted have yet to mature. We have implemented training for farmers on how to produce short–season crops. We are still needing to reach out to families in the northern regions such as Eldoret, where the rain is bad.

In Nakuru, the crops fail due to lack of enough rain, and the people there still need relief. We have exhausted the relief we got from the good people in your ministry. We are also wanting to set up a training facility in Nakuru or Eldoret. 

The election here is over, but tension and challenges linger. We are waiting for the courts to make a ruling soon. More reports coming soon.

India: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Asee Darla

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In India, we are continuously encouraging our regular students to learn more about the Kingdom. Last month, we received 39 new responses and 47 previous responses. I traveled to Nagarjuna Sagar for a two-day Bible seminar and personal studies with two families that are preparing to get baptized. 

My daughter, Sowjanya, and John Lee were so happy to have me in their ministry. We have problems continuously with our government, and there are indications that we will have more problems in the future. I am grateful Brother Ben is making efforts to bring Sanjay to the U.S., and I pray we will receive help.

I am eagerly waiting to meet our family there and be with you to encourage each other by our faith. If every thing goes well, we will meet soon. We love you and feel very comforted whenever we think about you.

Mission Update: Russia

The following is from an update letter we received from Dennis and Natasha Podryachikov, two Russian Christians who live and work in Yekaterinburg with their two daughters, Arina and Karolina.

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Dear friends and supporters,

Update About Sasha
Recently, we sent out an urgent prayer request about Sasha, one of the guys from our study group in Degtyarsk. Sasha is Anya’s husband, who got into a terrible car accident. He has already lost his right arm, and the doctors have put him into an induced coma.

Anya later sent both of us a message saying, “Dennis, good afternoon! I have to share the wonderful news. I called the hospital, and Sasha’s consciousness is still weak and he is confused, but he has begun breathing independently!”

On Saturday, the doctors permitted Anya to spend most of the day with Sasha. He is now conscious, but still very weak. Natasha and Anya have been checking in daily, and Natasha noticed that Anya is excited about so many Christians all over the world praying for her, and grateful for God working in her Sasha’s and lives.

We are thankful for each of you, our prayer warriors! Thank you very much for lifting this family up in your prayers! May God’s will be done for them.

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Other Updates
Dennis continues to meet with Tolik and Dima. Tolik looks for ways to expand God’s Kingdom in the nearby town of Polevskoy. Dima requests prayer support, as his girlfriend and he are looking for dates to get married.

Sasha and Sashulya invited Dennis to counsel them on questions about family planning, since they are deciding on the next steps in their lives. Sasha is not a Christian, and it was a big step for him to allow Sashulya to invite Dennis for counseling.

Oksana asks prayers as Sitthora has decided to move to Moscow. As a mother, Oksana is very worried but Sitthora is 18 and decides what to do with her life. They have agreed to keep in touch by phone on regular basis.

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News from Natasha
I have some wonderful news. We finally started Bible classes for toddlers this summer. I cannot express all the enthusiasm that the church had from these classes. To be honest, we did not even expect God to use these classes in this way.

But, let me start from the beginning. I have been wanting to have these classes for a very long time. When we lived in America, I was going to Bible classes with my children like all the other moms. I had never seen anything like this before in Russia.

Even today, we still do not have any classes for toddlers. When I was learning how to teach children at a Bible school here, they did not cover toddlers, starting only with three-year-olds. I cannot stop being delighted with how God is using our experience in America to bless children and their parents in Russia. Preparation for these classes took a long time—even though we had all the materials, it seemed

that we had difficulties with everyone’s schedules. Each child and their family had their own busy lives, and sometimes they had to deal with tough situations. After I asked you to pray, our first class happened. The kids loved it from the start. The mothers told me that their children sang the songs we had learned in class throughout the week.

My goal was to not only conduct these bible classes by myself, but also to teach the other mothers to do the same. To my joy, this idea excited the mothers, and they have already started to conduct the classes themselves. 

On the last class, we had a mother and her child join us from Syktyvkar. At that time, they were visiting their family in Degtyarsk. I encouraged them to start a ministry such as this at their church. I am looking forward to seeing what God can do through such ministry. 

Last month, we had also renewed the Women’s Bible classes. The main idea was to learn how to obey the Lord and to know how kind He is to us, as well as to understand His plans for us. I wanted to encourage them to follow Jesus. In my opinion, they needed to do this so badly right now. Many of the women said that they needed emotional, spiritual, and physical support.

I was especially happy to see that Tatyana had returned home from being absent for a while. Tatyana and I are excited to work for Jesus together. Please pray that God will bring fruit through our work. I would also like to ask you to pray for the kids in our church, that God will keep them pure and holy.

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Family News
Our daughter Karolina turned 14. She is now taller than her older sister and her mom, but not as tall as her dad. Karolina now can get her citizenship passport in Russia.

Dennis’s parents came for a short visit. They took Karolina with them, while Natasha and I will take Arina to college. She will go to Lipscomb, and Natasha and I will accompany her there and help with settling down.

With love,
Dennis & Natasha