Dear Friends and Partners,
J.L. asked me to share my thoughts about the past 5 days and Luke’s return. I’m not saying I speak for everyone, but this is my perspective today: Friday, August 2.
April 30, 2012 was the day Luke went home from the hospital last year. August 1, 2013 was the day Luke went home from the hospital this year. Almost 16 months to the day.
While there are still no exact answers as to why he had a repeat of the streptococcus bacterial meningitis, we do praise the Lord that he came home!
You can imagine their joyful reunion in their own house about 7:30 last night. Luke has a PICC line so he can continue the antibiotics for at least 2 more weeks. He is still quite weak and needs assistance with many tasks, but he is very happy to be back home. Please pray that he will have a speedy return to his active self.
It’s been an exhausting experience for each one of us, in different ways. There is something quite numbing about traumatic events and illnesses. Those of you who have been there, or are in the midst of it now, understand. A bone-deep weariness. A heavy sadness for all the pain and suffering. For all that was lost…yet struggling to believe in all that will be gained, in God’s time.
Margaret Feinberg, in The Sacred Echo, gives the illustration of Elijah the prophet who was near collapse with fatigue, disheartening thoughts and depression in I Kings 19. God used a series of natural and supernatural events to prepare Elijah for an encounter with Himself: the unfaithfulness of the Israelite people, the influence of the false prophets, then the wind, earthquake and fire. I love the next part. “Our outrageously generous God provides for this torn-up prophet physically with food, emotionally with friendship, relationally with a wingman, Elisha, and spiritually with encouragement. God whispers life back into the prophet.”
Perhaps that’s my greatest request for prayer for Jonathan, Julie, Luke, Owen and Joy Yael…that God, out of His great mercy and love, will strengthen this dear family spiritually, emotionally and physically…will infuse life, strength and hope back into them. Thank you for joining me in this prayer.
Surely, all of this has not happened in vain. May it make us more sensitive and caring to those around us who are in need of a listening ear, a prayer, a friend, a meal.
Wearily grateful for Jesus,
Lord, give me eyes
that I may see.
Lest I, as people will,
should pass someone’s Calvary
and think it just a hill.
Dear Friends, Family and Partners,
Two men were born in different states and never knew each other. But their choices in life dramatically affected the generations that came after them.
The first man was only a child when his father died. His young widowed mother struggled to support her son and decided to remarry to secure a financial future for her and him. But she didn’t count on the fact that the new husband would not want another man’s son in his house. With much sadness, she was forced to send him away to live with relatives, with aunts and uncles. This was especially hard for him because he had to help support himself by working in the local mill while continuing to attend school. What kind of man and father would he grow up to be when his two immediate male role models had either died or rejected him?
The second man was also a child when his father died. Prior to his death, his mother had married a widower with one daughter. Too soon she discovered that he still loved his first wife and always kept her portrait above their bed. When she began to have their children, she named each of her boys after one of his names, hoping that would turn his heart toward her. But it never did. After he died unexpectedly, she was forced to take in laundry, cook and work odd jobs to keep the family together. The young children were left to themselves much of the time. What kind of man and father would the youngest grow up to be when he had little memory of his own dad?
But they weren’t abandoned – The Father was watching over them. He saw each step as the first man accepted Christ at a young age and worked his way through high school, college and seminary. He eventually became a pastor, married and had a daughter. After his wife died in a TB sanitarium, and desiring a ministry companion for himself and a mother for his 4 year-old daughter, he remarried a second time and had four more children. Against many odds, he worked hard to be the husband, father, spiritual leader and tender shepherd to his blended family.
The Father saw each step as the second man chose education, but with no regard for God, as a way out of the poverty in which he had grown up. He too worked his way through high school and college. He too married and had four children. He tried various professions from bricklayer to selling feed to farmers. He finally found his niche as a teacher and eventually a college professor. Thankfully, he accepted Christ at the age of 37, which dramatically change the trajectory of his family. Against many odds, he worked hard to incorporate the new Christian principles he was learning into his role as husband, father, spiritual leader and tender shepherd.
Maybe you have figured out who these two men were. The first man was J.L.’s father and the second man was mine.
Stories of boys becoming men are repeated all over the world. It is a difficult journey for them at best, but made more so with the continual decline of the importance of the family and the absence of the support that men need to be husbands and good dads. Even much of our media presents them as laughable and clueless, especially those who choose to support their families, who play with their children, who lead their families in devotions.
And if it’s hard here in the USA, where we are supposedly the enlightened ones and are at the top of the world’s heap, imagine those living in Third World situations! They have even less guidance in being good fathers. That is one of the things we have tried to support and make possible, for men in developing countries to get spiritual training so they can be Godly leaders in their homes and ministries, and be engaged in self-support. Remember to pray for the many Dads that are supported through your partnership with us at JL, Patt & Friends. Here are just a few: Rev. Simon Mkolo, Pastor Yacob Tshering, Pastor Chavannes Jeune, Stakwell Yurinemo, Brother Komivi Ayiboe, Evangelist Yaw Asante, Pastor Gyan Sunuwar, Bishop Ezra Sargunam, Rev. Wilbur Outten, Rev. Chinkosoi, Pastor Santosh Ramdam. (More men and their stories can be found on our website.)
I would also like to applaud all men who have been “like a father” to younger men and boys who are not their own. Thank you for doing your best, as God has enabled you, to guide and direct those under your care. I hope each of us will encourage all men to be faithful in their fatherly roles and may we be diligent in our prayers for them, finding ways to make their lives as role models easier instead of harder.
Each generation of fathers in Christ can be an improvement on the generation that preceded them. J.L. and I are grateful for our earthly fathers who persevered in being our protectors and defenders, who gave us glimpses into what God the Father is like. And to those closest to me who have incorporated what they learned from their Dads and have now gone on to be great Dads themselves – like J.L., my two brothers, Tom and R.J., on my side of the family, and our sons, Joseph and Jonathan, in the next generation – I thank the Lord for you and honor you on this day!!
And finally, to the perfect Father, who so wondrously weaves our lives together, who connects us in His love with His great power and mighty strength so that none of us is missing (adapted from Isaiah 40:26), we bow in gratitude and awe to Him!
"I thank my God every time I remember you.
In my prayers for you, I always pray with joy..."
Would you like to do something extra special in memory of, or in honor of, your Mother? How about giving a gift to another mother in the Third World? These deserving mothers in developing countries might be widows, single moms or pastors' wives. JLPF gives the following gifts:
We would love to partner with you this "Mother's Day" by being a conduit of blessing to a needy Mom in a Third World Country where we minister. Click here to bless a needy mother on May 12th. For your convenience, we have provided a gift card for you to download and print.
Love in Christ,
Want to be a pack-mule for Jesus?
A generous partner has given us dozens of winter coats. I know, I know, this is springtime. But we don’t have room to store them until winter and they will be greatly appreciated, as an early gift for the cold weather, by our Nepali refugee partners who have been resettled in the Atlanta area. If you or someone you know is headed from Burlington to Atlanta in the near future and has room to take one or more garbage-sized bags, please contact us: 336-213-2990. We, and they, thank you!
“Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…”
There was a wide range of emotions for me as the Kenya trip came closer to reality. I was really looking forward to seeing Stakwell and Francesca, and their daughters: Wendy and Meribell again. Here’s a great picture of them on Easter Sunday morning and one of me with Francesca, her mother and the girls. Such a wonderful family!
I had a lot of my normal anxieties about the conference, the relevancy and cohesiveness of the teaching sessions and how our women would relate to each other and the Samburu women. For those of you who know me, you’re not surprised! But I was also anticipating how exciting it was going to be to see the Lord work out every detail and how the donated money from various people (and the money that had been given in honor of my 70th birthday) was going to be used to help the tribal Samburu women and those at the Sports’ Camp.
In the end it was so like God to weave Himself throughout everything and bring glory to His name – certainly no surprise on that account! But, here were some of my anxieties and how they were resolved.
Please watch the slide show because it gives visual expression as to how God worked abundantly above all I had imagined.
There were two more (of many) spiritual highlights that I want to report on. First, Marilyn’s husband, Jack, used an EvangeCube to present the Gospel message to the women during tea time. There was a palpable presence of the Holy Spirit as almost 40 women responded.
And second, on Easter Sunday morning we had the added surprise of seeing Chairlady. She was the first woman convert in Kurungu and we hadn’t seen each other in years. She looked at J.L. and me and said, “I’m old now. And you look old too!”
Next to the Lord and my dear J.L. (who both so lovingly yet firmly guide my steps), I want to thank the ladies who helped make such a difference in the success of the conference. Marilyn, Janet and Tierney quickly bonded with the women. It was a pleasure to have women along who were naturally friendly and out-going, who didn’t shy away from the language or cultural differences, who eagerly engaged the women and children, were good teachers, singers and sharers (and Tierney Farrell the awesome photographer!), who didn’t complain about the “adjustments” of living at the center, who ate what was put before them…well, the list could go on. We give God all the praise for orchestrating such a great team of women to work with!
Another well-deserved thank you goes to Stakwell and Francesca and their camp staff (12 in all) who worked so tirelessly to see that we were taken care of! Such sweet and thoughtful people devoted to doing all things well for the Lord, whether in the kitchen, garden, housekeeping, building or maintenance – they were great!
A final thank you to those of you who stood with us in prayer and with your financial gifts. It really was a group effort, as each contributed his or her part of the puzzle that made it possible for the whole picture to become…well…whole. We needed each other – and we must have each other – to accomplish the work God had called us to do. So, my heartfelt appreciation for your partnership with us, doing together what we never could have done separately.
Please be watching for future reports on the trip that will include camp projects by the men, the Easter Sunday service and time with the warriors (morans). There is still so much to share!
Gratefully in Christ,
Patt and Meribell enjoy a swing together!
Dear JLPF Friends,
We have been following the news coming out of Mali with great interest, especially since the aggressive push by the French to expel the Jihadists from the North. Please read the latest perspective from our partner, Dr. Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, so you will be better informed on how to pray for them.
ANTICIPATING THE RETURN
Since January 17, 2012, the northern regions of Mali live in fear and insecurity. Famine, desolation and precariousness have settled. Populations, victims of harassment, abuse, exaction and all kinds of brutality moved towards the southern regions of Mali, during the attacks by the MNLA rebels and other Islamist groups. Tens of thousands of our citizens and hundreds of Christians have been forced to leave their areas of residence or usual intervention because of insecurity for other destinations often uncertain.
A few weeks ago, the entire Mali was in turmoil when we learned with dismay the progress of Islamists to the south. For us who fled our homes and our cities in recent months, the victory of the Islamists over the armed forces and security has aroused painful and excruciating memories. My family and I had the feeling of living a second exodus. Our mind was full of intrusive memories of looting and destruction of our homes and institutions ... theft, intimidation, threats, physical aggression, terrorism, rules of life contrary to the habits of the people, isolation, desecration of our places of worship and churches, prohibition practice of other religions outside of Islam.
All these memories have suddenly vanished and turned into a dream when we learned with great joy the French army intervention to stop the progression of the various armed groups, drug traffickers and Islamist terrorists. The whole nation had been released. What was commonly called the Northern crisis or the crisis in Mali comes to know an early settlement. They were scenes of jubilation and joy through the streets of our cities and countryside. Liberation and the future of the North became the favorite subjects in homes and places of conversation. Phone calls to congratulate each other and pray for the conquest of the North. This joy and happiness experienced their peak with the liberation of Gao and Timbuktu. “We were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing...The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Psalm 126)
Joy and happiness were found on all visible faces. Our heads are big with projects and hope for our people, our hearts are filled with ambitious plans for our ministries and institutions. Regained freedom is a shared feeling. The euphoria was widespread even contagious. Despite the regained freedom, the joy seems halfhearted to the idea that the Kidal region, considered the bastion of terrorism is still under occupation. The signals sent from the French army do little to encourage optimism because we are all persuaded that the establishment of a lasting peace inevitably passes through the pacification of the region of Kidal. How long?
With this new situation, we face two major challenges. First is how to promote peace, reconciliation and healing between children of the same soil or country. Division and hatred have settled on both sides. Humiliation and bullying are still alive and living in the thoughts; feelings of revenge are still palpable. Secondly is how do we prepare for the return to our homes when we know that everything has been destroyed. Our churches have been vandalized, our homes looted, our libraries burned and our schools have become landfills. Everything must be rebuilt. In this crisis in Mali; Church and Christians were the most affected, but their fate was silenced by the national and international opinion in favor of manuscripts and mausoleums. To our amazement and dismay, we met with many people who do not know or do not want to recognize that more than 800 Christians were expelled from the North and robbed of their possessions which were auctioned.
How to consider the return and reconstruction in such circumstances? This is the great unknown or the most difficult question that arises to one and other. To these Christians, the burden is very heavy to carry.
We are anxious to return but there are many unknowns. For our part, the return will not be immediate. There are simply big reconstruction efforts to undertake at all levels. This reconstruction is not only physical, but moral and spiritual. It must lead and foster a climate of peace and justice. We look forward to the start of administrative services, the restoration of the authority of the state, the operation of hospitals and banks, the reopening of schools for our children. We plan to finish our academic year in Bamako and then we can calmly consider our return to Gao for the next academic year of the Institut Biblique de la Boucle when minimum conditions of life are met.
In the meantime, let us pray together for peace in Mali and reconciliation between the children of the country to be a reality. Pray for lasting social cohesion, for harmonious development and for the blossoming of the nation of Mali.
Dr Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara
Institut Biblique de la Boucle