I am primarily an evangelist and teacher who travels around the world in apostolic ministry as God leads and enables me. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, I mentor our key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures, just as they continue to mentor me. I am relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships.
“…they sailed back to Antioch,
where they had been committed to the grace of God
for the work they had now completed.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
By God's grace, Patt and I arrived back home yesterday from our 'Asian Kingdom Adventure Trip' to Nepal and India. While Doctor Luke reports that Paul and Barnabas “…sailed back” to their home church at Antioch to report to them that they had “…completed the work,” we just “flew back” home with the same sense of spiritual completion. As a result, our hearts are overflowing with SO MANY experiences we want to share with you from the time we spent with all of our beloved partners in those two countries.
It had been our hope to send you more 'field reports' along the way. But due to our busy daily and nightly schedule – along with irregular Internet connections, we were unable to do so. Therefore, in the next couple of weeks we will be sending out a series of reports in smaller “bite sizes” about our visits with partners and their projects.
These future reports will have a special emphasis on our Children's Ministries since we especially focused on them during this trip. We will report individually on each one, so you will have a better perspective of the location and uniqueness of each home:
I think you will be greatly blessed and encouraged as you see the immediate and long-term impact of your prayers and support for these precious children. You make our holistic ministries possible to '...the least of these' to whom the Lord Jesus said His Kingdom belongs (Matt. 19:14).
Pastor Gyan, J. L. and Pastor Dinesh.
While we will feature the children in this series of reports, we will also share brief updates about some of our other key national partners. A good example is two of my spiritual heroes, Pastors Gyan Sunawar and Dinesh Sunawar, a partnership that began in 1996. They are the 'yaks for Jesus' who pioneered the 'Everest Base Camp Outreach' (EBCO) that has resulted in taking the Gospel all the way to Mt. Everest Base Camp.
Together these two men and their team have planted over 300 churches among the unreached in the high Himalaya Mountains. (Please click here to read Pastor Gyan's personal testimony).
It was a special joy to have Patt with me on this trip. Her presence always greatly multiplies our impact because of her personal time with the women. She will be sharing some of her insights from the trip in the days ahead – so be watching for those.
Pray now that we will quickly rebound from our jet lag in order to get caught up with things on the home front with our children and grandchildren, as well as with our other national partners…
For His Kingdom & Glory,
JL & Patt
PS: We are especially thankful to those of you who continued to give during the two weeks we were in Asia. Your giving helped us “…complete the work” on the trip and to return fiscally strong.
“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching,
and fellowship...to the breaking of bread and the prayers…
And the Lord added to their number day by day
those who were being saved.”
(Acts 2:42, 47)
Greetings, Dear Partners, from Kathmandu!
After our delayed departure from the States due to problems with Patt’s India Visa, we finally made it to Nepal! Although the Visa was finally approved a week later than our original intended departure date from home, we made it through fine after a brief stopover in Delhi to visit our Anugrah Children’s Home and other partners.
The next morning after our arrival in Nepal, I had the opportunity to once again preach at the Aradhana Church (Aradhana means “worship”). It has been “ground zero” for me ever since my first trip to Nepal back in 1989. God was so gracious in bringing me back here again to my “home church” in Nepal.
We were given such a grand welcome that it was almost embarrassing! As you can see from the pictures above, we were presented with so many leis of flowers and scarves of honor that we looked like racehorses that had just won the Kentucky derby!
As always, the church was filled to overflowing in spite of unseasonable monsoon rains that had flooded many roads. “Aradhana” means “worship,” and the service lived up to its name. The music and worship are about as close to heaven as you can get in this life!
In spite of jetlag and lingering fatigue from my recent radiation treatments, I was still able to preach the morning message on “The Kingdom of God,” with Pastor Hanok translating.
Before and after the service, we met many old and new friends.
In the above picture, Patt stands with one of the oldest saints in Nepal, who is also one of the first several known Christians in the country. I am with Pastor Man Tamang, who was severely persecuted for his faith, and jailed for his persistent evangelism.
There is so much more to share but time does not permit since I must move into another very full day of meeting with partners and visiting projects. Thank you for your prayers...we are doing exceptionally well in every way and are overwhelmed by the love and fellowship of our dear Nepali friends and partners.
More to come…
JL & Patt
“…we made every effort to see you…but Satan stopped us.”
“…having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word
in the province of Asia…they tried to enter…
but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
(I Thess. 3:19; Acts 16:6-7)
Dear Ministry Partner,
For the past several days, Patt and I have been relating to Paul and his companions' struggle when they were “…kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” While they were seeking to travel and minister in Asia Minor, we have been seeking to minister in Asia Major – or India! But, Patt’s visa kept being delayed.
It seems she was randomly pulled from many applicants for an “extreme vetting.” The Indian Consulate went through her records with a fine-tooth-comb. There were multiple phone calls, emails, exchanges of information, disclaimers signed – but only more delays. From our previous email you know that we ultimately had to cancel our pre-purchased tickets and postpone our trip to some future unknown date.
Finally, late Friday afternoon just before the Consulate and Visa Service closed for the Labor Day Weekend, her visa was granted – but only for one year. However, it was sent overnight and, by Saturday morning, she had her passport and visa in hand! Praise the Lord for this direct answer to prayer! Our thanks to those of you who interceded for us and sent emails and texts of encouragement. They meant more than you know.
Now we are scheduled to fly to India on Tuesday, and then on to Nepal. We will be gone for 2 weeks – the same amount of time as before. Fortunately, we had left some flex-time on our September calendars – so we, as well as our beloved national partners in India and Nepal, could adjust our schedules accordingly.
As our schedule and conditions permit, we will send you brief reports and pictures along the way. As always, we have a very full and diverse itinerary – so please keep us on your spiritual radar screen for prayer coverage until we return home around Sept. 20th.
And as the verses above remind us, it is often difficult to clearly discern why there are times when Satan is allowed to “…stop us” when we are serving the Lord. Is it the “unholy spirits” who are blocking our way – or are we being “…kept by the Holy Spirit” from our goal? At these roadblocks, or detours, we must always ask: Is this “Satan stopping us” or is it the “…Spirit of Jesus” redirecting us – just as He did with Paul and his team? Paul’s redirection and “new direction” led him to turn from Asia Minor and preach the Gospel in Philippi, or in what is now Europe. As a result, the Gospel came to Europe and America! Aren’t you thankful?!
In His Sovereign Love,
JL & Patt
Dear Ministry Partners,
As you know from our last eNewsletter that went out this morning titled: “GOING BACK TO SCHOOL AROUND THE WORLD,” Patt and I were supposed to fly to India tomorrow/Thursday. However, by late this afternoon the Indian Embassy in Washington still had not issued Patt a VISA. We had been working for several weeks on this through a VISA Service. As we have done many times in past years, Patt filled out all of the necessary forms. But there was delay after delay...more papers to be filled out…a waiver to be signed…constant runaround. By the end of the day today — still no visa!
So the bottom line is that we will not be flying to India and Nepal tomorrow as planned. Obviously God is still sovereign. Why He has allowed this postponement at this time, we do not yet know. But we have to continue to “…wait on the Lord” and rest in His perfect time and will in this.
Thanks for praying for the trip – that will still eventually take place at some future time. But due to other commitments, it will probably be postponed until the October/November time frame. We will keep you updated as the Lord gives us more revelation and illumination about this “closed door” for now.
Resting in His Sovereign Love,
JL & Patt
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
It’s back to school time again! All over the world, children are starting back to school – that is, if they are fortunate enough to get to go to school. In America, “summer vacation” is over – an annual phenomena that most children in other countries never experience.
This coming Labor Day Weekend is generally our official transition from summer to fall and from vacation to education! Although breaks and holidays in other countries occur at different times than ours, vacation is over for most and it’s time to go back to school.
Whether you are a parent or grandparent, you are probably involved directly or indirectly in this annual back to school migration. If you are like Patt and me, you’ve already gone to Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Target to buy school supplies for your children or grandchildren – or for some needy children in your church or community.
Ever since the beginning of the New Directions back in 1968, helping needy children has always been a high priority for us. That’s because education is a way out of ignorance, superstition, poverty and unemployment. Whether in Haiti, Africa, India or Nepal – we have always done all we could to help children go to school.
Unlike America, education is not free in most Developing Countries. And where there is “public education,” the teachers are generally inadequately trained and the facilities are usually overcrowded and unfit for learning. Books are scarce. Pencils and paper for each student are non-existent. Electricity and sanitation are a rarity. And empty stomachs override hungry minds.
In earlier years, we carried or shipped “backpacks” filled with school supplies to needy children in other countries. But increasingly customs, duties, corruption and airline fees have made this impractical. So, we began to buy and fill the backpacks locally – which is much more cost-efficient. It also contributes to the local economy.
Also, since school fees and uniforms are generally required in other countries, most poor parents cannot afford them for their children. As a result, good education becomes a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. A chance to go to school is something that millions of parents and children can only dream about. Without the partnership and patronage of someone from the First World, education is only an illusive dream.
But that’s where you come in. Across the years, we have had different “Child Sponsorship Programs” that enabled needy children to go to school. Most of these children continued to live at home and were sponsored in a local school by an American patron. Others were part of one of our “Children’s Homes” for orphans, semi-orphans or extremely needy children. (We will do a special feature on these Homes in the near future.)
And, through the decades, we have seen scores and scores of children educated from Kindergarten though High School. Some have gone on to the university, nursing schools or to Bible College and Seminary. In a later report, we will share some of these wonderful “before” and “after” stories of these children whose lives were changed for time and eternity through these sponsorship programs.
But in this “Back To School Report,” we want to give you an overview of some of our many “adopted children” who, because of your prayers and partnership, are receiving a good education – and Christian nurture at the same time.
So, here we go, “back to school” with our beloved children in various countries. I will keep my commentary brief and let the pictures do the talking…
ECI HAPPY HOMES…
The oldest educational partnership we have for children is with the Evangelical Church of India (ECI), headed until recently by Bishop Ezra Sargunam (now retired). Bishop Sundar Singh now capably leads ECI. In partnership with them, we built a “Happy Home” and school in honor of my parents who had gone to India as missionaries before I was born. This one home led to several more being built in following years in other parts of India.
The "ECI Happy Home" in Tondiarpet, outside of Chennai,
built in India in honor of my parents, Clarence & Edith Williams.
Giving school supplies and rewards to bless and encourage the children.
One of our next "Happy Homes was this one built in the
slums of Kolkata (Calcutta). It is now being rebuilt and
relocated to the Campus of the ECI Seminary.
Many of these children were destitute and slept on the streets.
The 2 little girls pictured at right lived at the train station.
Destitute children like these are our motivation for the
Children's Homes and educational programs.
ANUGRAH CHILDREN’S HOME…
This Home for needy Nepali children who are a part of the Diaspora of more than 500,000 people – mostly living in horrible slums in and around Delhi – was founded by Tabitha Tamang. Her father, Pastor Bharat Tamang, is one of the pioneer pastors working among the Nepali Diaspora. This Children’s Home is part of the church we helped him build outside of Delhi to minister to the ever-growing Nepali community.
Each school year we help purchase new school books and uniforms.
Without these, the children would not be admitted to local schools.
Off to school with Tabitha, about a block from
the Children's Home...so they are able to walk
to school just like I did as a boy!
BETHANY CHILDREN’S HOME…
Sister Sarita Pradhan, one of the pioneer evangelists and church planters in Bhutan, established this unique Children’s Home. Just like the Angurah Home is primarily for Nepali Children from the slums of Delhi, the “Bethany Children’s Home” was established for orphaned or neglected children from Bhutan – the “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Since Bhutan is primarily a Buddhist theocracy, open evangelism or conversion to Christianity is strictly forbidden by law. Recently the King – who is greatly loved and revered by the people, has allowed a measure of religious freedom. But becoming a Christian is still highly frowned upon and the church is still largely “underground.”
Because of Sister Sarita's strong spiritual and motherly
influence, each of these children have become
strong believers. And their daily devotions beginning
at 6:00 AM is an experience just short of heaven!
The children have excelled academically and athletically,
in addition to excelling spiritually through Bible Study and worship.
Many of these precious children will become the next generation
of Christ's witnesses inside Bhutan as pastors, teachers,
nurses, and Christian business people.
As we say "goodbye" to these Bhutanese children,
Patt and I will soon be saying "hello" to them through
a personal visit in September. We will bring back
a fresh update after our several days with them.
This wonderful ministry, founded by Murli & Usha Menon who first welcomed me to India in the early 1980s, is another of our oldest partnerships in India. Ever since the beginning of their ministry, they have had a special passion and compassion for needy children – especially the little girls they rescued from female infanticide. They have also adopted poor or uncared for children from the slums who were “rag pickers.” It has been our joy to partner with them in many ways across the decades – especially in the development of their beautiful “Impact International Campus” in Coimbatore (please click here to see the latest ministry newsletter about their precious children). Their Children’s Homes, as well as their Bible College, are located on this lovely and spacious campus.
Murli & Usha's beautiful daughters - each a "living miracle" of God's grace
who were snatched from the jaws of death.
Murli & Usha have one of the most beautiful and
well-equipped campuses to receive foreign guests
that exists anywhere in India. Some of the girls are
shown here with my brother and sister-in law,
Ed and Becky Williams. The campus is a wonderful
place to go do VBS with the children, teach in
the College, help in the further development
of the Campus, and learn about the beautiful
Murli will be back in the States the last of September, and for
most of the month of October. He would love to visit your church
to share more about his ministry. Just contact us, and we
will put you in touch with him.
HIMALI CHILDREN’S HOME…
This is one of our earliest Children’s Homes in Kathmandu. I am pictured here with Sashi who came to the home as a very young child. She has just graduated from the university with a degree in microbiology, and her story is one of those we will share with you about in a future report. Sashi helps the home’s founder, Sister Laxmi Tamang, with bookkeeping and with sending reports to our ministry.
Sister Laxmi has been a faithful leader since the home’s beginning. Sadly, her husband abandoned her a couple of years after they established the home. Like the children she so selflessly serves, she is no stranger to pain and heartache! But through sheer faith, sacrifice and perseverance, she held onto her commitment to keep the Home open for the sake of the children.
By God’s providence, I heard about her plight through Pastor Hanok Tamang, on one of my trips to Kathmandu. So by faith we stepped in and took up the monthly support – without any partner or patron. We have continued to sustain this home month-by-month by God’s grace from our General Fund. And we were recently able to renovate a large building we had built years ago that was damaged by the earthquake, and make it the new home for Laxmi and the children. Patt and I will visit it next week when we are in Kathmandu and give you a fuller report upon our return home.
As with all of our other Homes and educational programs, new text books,
paper, pencils and pens must be bought every year for the children as
they advance to the next grade. Their schools do not supply textbooks
as they do in America.
Sister Laxmi not only feeds their spirits with the Word and their minds with good
education, she also cooks nourishing meals every day for the children. This
week they enjoyed their first meal in the new building we just renovated for them
under the supervision of Pastor Hanok Tamang.
As you can see, the children excel in academics, athletics, and art!
The children send their personal "thank you" for your prayers and support!
Sister Laxmi was recognized and honored by Hindu
Government officials for the excellent work she is
doing with the children of the Himali Home.
This is an unusual honor for her as a Christian
who operates an overtly Christian Children's Home.
The children in their new "Study Hall." We will buy tables for the study hall when
we get to Kathmandu this coming Labor Day weekend.
CHAMPA CHOELING TIBETAN HOME…
As we say “goodbye” to the wonderful kids at the Himali Home, we say “hello” to the Tibetan young people of Champa Choeling – which means “Place of Love.” This home was established decades ago by Pastor Nima “Pala” (father) Tshering, and his wife Amala (mother). They are pictured below this past year before Pala went to heaven at the age of 100 and 6 months (please click here to see the reports on his historic “100th Birthday” and home going to heaven).
This Home is very crucial since the Tibetan people continue to be some of the most unreached and unresponsive people on earth. Missiologists say that there are only several hundred known Christian Tibetans in the entire world. And this home is the spiritual “ground zero” for many of those Tibetan believers.
Pala’s son and daughter-in-law, Yacob & Linda Tshering, have been at his side ever since the ministry began. So they have taken up the ministry baton passed on to them from Pala. They will continue to build on the solid spiritual foundation of this historic ministry that is one of the few known indigenous Tibetan ministries in the world, and that was founded by Tibetans for Tibetans.
These Champa Choeling young people are
pictured above in thier more western clothes.
Below, they are are in their traditional
Tibetan dress for special services and events
at their indigenous church that meets in the home.
These young people have been in this home since they were small children.
So they have been brought up in spiritual and academic discipline. As a result,
they have excelled in the school they attend in Kathmandu.
Because Linda Tshering is also a respected and acclaimed schoolteacher,
she is able to give the children and young people the extra tutoring and
mentoring they need in order to excel in every way.
Please pray for these wonderful children and young people
of Champa Choeling, that God would call and commission
many of them to the country of Tibet/China, as well as
to the vast Tibetan Diaspora in Nepal, India, Europe,
Canada, and America.
ADVENTURE SCHOOL IN KIBERA SLUM…
After visiting our beloved “adopted children” in India and Nepal, it is time to jump on our jumbo jet and fly to Africa. The trip will take about 5 hours. After this flight we will land in Nairobi where we will visit the Kibera Slum. With approximately one million people in one square mile of squalor, it is considered the largest slum on the African continent. Many years ago we started working in this horrific slum through feeding programs for needy and hungry children. This quickly morphed into “informal schools” where the children could receive some basic education.
One of the very first “Street Boys” we started working with at that time was George Odhiambo. He came to our program only because of the free food we were providing every noon. We were serving one hot meal a day to as many children as we could. The program started with a dozen Street Kids, and soon grew into the hundreds!
Soon after George got his stomach full, his heart opened up to the Gospel. As a result, he accepted Christ. Along with several other Street Boys, he started sleeping in the slum church where we were working. Over time, George went on to complete Primary School, High School and Bible College. He was then ordained as a pastor.
While George could have escaped the Kibera Slum due to his education – he went right back and started his own “Christian Adventure School.” And he still lives in those same slums today in order to be near the several hundred children he ministers to daily. My former staff partner at NDI, Larry Warren, continues to support the teachers at George’s school. (I am honored to serve on the board of Larry’s ministry, Leadership International).
We continue to help out with things such as schoolbooks and special events, like their recent all-day trip to a National Park. For many of these kids, it was their first time to ever be out of the slum! We also have the joy of helping sponsor their annual Christmas Party (please click here to read about last year’s party).
George Odhiambo, the "Street Boy" who returned to the very slum he grew
up in, and continues to be God's "salt" and "light" - giving hope to children
who are where he once was.
Kibera Kids are eager to learn - just like George was!
The new textbooks we recently helped George purchase for his school children.
These smiles show why Patt and I continue to do all
we can to bring the light and hope of the Gospel
to dark places like the Kibera Slum! Perhaps one
of these kids will be the next George Odhaimbo
who will reach his generation fo Christ!
From the crowded Kibera Slum of Nairobi, we fly to northern Kenya in the “African Bush.” There we will visit again with our beloved Samburu friends and partners, Stakwell & Francesca Yurenimo. Since I was just there recently, they are all fresh on my heart and mind. While Stakwell and Francesca have 3 beautiful girls of their own, they have adopted a number of other needy tribal children. So, in the typical extended African family, they have a small tribe of their own!
Some of the older students are now finishing Secondary School. A few have gone on to college, have graduated and become teachers. So we are thankful to be partnering with them in the formal and informal education of these children.
Francesca is a teacher in the local Primary School in South Horr. So these children
receive good teaching at school and at home.
Some of my wonderful Samburu grandsons!
Thanks to those of you who give regularly to help with the
education of these beautiful tribal children.
Before getting on our bush plane and flying back to Nairobi to catch our international flight back to the States, I want you to meet two of the older Samburu students, Mbaruka Lekalayo (left) and Silvana Lempirias. Both have now completed Secondary School and are headed for college.
Mbaruka has just finished his freshman year in Agricultural studies. He plans to return to the Camp and help us develop the farming and gardening projects. He needs just $500 to pay for the rest of this year. Silvana needs $800 for her first year of Nursing School. She too hopes to return to her tribal area to help out medically.
If God would enable you to join with Stakwell, Francesca, Patt and me in helping them take advantage of this educational opportunity, we would be very grateful. And since they both plan to return to their Samburu Tribe, you will be making a long-term investment in the spiritual, social, agricultural and medical development of this wonderful group of people!
Thanks for “going back to school” with me, and with all of our “adopted children” in India, Nepal and Africa. I hope you have been blessed by this longstanding and ongoing commitment to help needy children get a good education in their own countries, cultures and contexts.
Patt and I hope that you have been blessed, encouraged and challenged by our brief visit to these Children’s Homes and educational programs we have visited together. Through the monthly or periodic giving of our American partners, we continue to support 149 children at a cost of $6,020.00 per month.
Quite frankly, no one in their right mind would be running these kinds of educational programs in other countries to help needy children! But I have never been accused of being in my right mind! The cross-cultural complications are just too great – not to mention the intense spiritual warfare involved. But across the decades we have seen too many of these children’s lives transformed for time and eternity to stop ministering to them in spirit, soul and body.
We are so thankful and humbled by those of you who give regularly for the support of these Children’s Programs. It’s a long-term investment. But this monthly support pays their school fees, buys two school uniforms and new shoes each year, buys books and school supplies, feeds them every day, gives them medical attention when they need it – all within the context of Christian love and compassion.
However, since several of these programs and many of these children are not sponsored, we struggle every month to send them the funds they need to stay in school. While we do not sponsor children individually, partners can direct their gifts to specific homes. As the Lord leads and enables you, please give as you can to change the spiritual and physical destiny of needy children. They are the ones of whom Jesus said: “…the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
In His Holistic Love and compassion for them,
JL & Patt
PS: When this eNewsletter lands in your inbox, Patt and I will be departing for our long 16-hour non-stop flight to Delhi. We covet your prayers for this trip that will be divided between Nepal and India. We hope to be able to send you updates along the way. Thanks for your prayers and partnership.