Dr. J. L. Williams was an evangelist and teacher who traveled around the world in apostolic ministry as God led and enabled him. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, he mentored key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures. He was relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships. J. L. went home to be with the Lord on December 28, 2016.
Dear Friends and Family of NDI,
Merry Christmas to you and your family. Like me, you are probably in some degree of preparation for the celebration of this glorious event. And like me, you all may be struggling with keeping everything in perspective and reminding yourselves that Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s keep working on that!
J.L. asked me to write this special prayer letter for the next phase of his 20 day trip to Africa. He has just finished assisting with the sports’ camp in South Horr, northern Kenya, with our long-time partner, Stakwell Yurenimo. Hundreds of players from at least 10 tribes gathered for a week of competition in soccer, basketball and volleyball. Besides providing food and accommodations for the teams and coaches, Stakwell took advantage of the wonderful opportunity for evangelism, as well as lessons in sportsmanship, HIV-Aids education and tribal reconciliation. Look for J.L.’s report on this annual December event soon.
As you read this, J.L. has just arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Perhaps you have seen reports from the northeastern parts (in and around Goma) of this war-torn country on the nightly news, in magazines or on-line. Some, like the Dec. 1st issue of Newsweek, call the DRC, “Africa’s Other Holocaust” – the first one being Darfur. It is estimated that more than 5 million have died since 1996 in violent and brutal clashes between the government army and rebel forces. No one is exempt from the slaughter inflicted by both sides for the rights of the DRC’s vast mineral wealth. The army and the rebels have not only been responsible for killing each other, but also for the rape, looting and destruction of their own countrymen and women.
Although the 5 million is just a guesstimate on total deaths in the last 12 years, it would be harder still to estimate the hundreds of thousands who are presently homeless, refugees, malnourished, sick and traumatized. Yet, in the midst of all of the horrific statistics, the church of Jesus Christ survives as an agent for peace and restoration. NDI is assisting our partner, James Byensi, who has a passion to see the Congolese come to Christ, and for peace to come to his beloved country. He knows first hand of the consequences of all the killing because he and his wife have a house full of children, orphaned because of the slaughter of their parents. Every day is a struggle, as you can imagine.
While in the city of Bunia, J.L. will be participating in a conference for about 1,000 pastors and church leaders. He is looking forward to bringing hope and encouragement from God’s word to these faithful men and women. Along with James, he will share the teaching time with Dr. Jim Seymour, executive director of Accumulated Resources of Kindred Spirits (ARKS). NDI is also partnering with ARKS through self-help projects, to facilitate Congolese men, women and their families get back on their feet when their homes and livelihoods were damaged. These efforts have been recorded in Jim’s latest book, Operation Bunia. In addition to the conference and seeing the results of these projects, J.L. will visit some of the churches NDI has helped rebuild after they were partially destroyed. Finally, he will check on the progress of the renovations to the Nyankunde Hospital, a place that has been bombed before.
Komanda Brethren Church with a replaced roof that was blown off during the war
Nyankunde Nursing School undergoing reconstruction
At this point, you may be thinking, “Is J.L. concerned for his safety?” “Is Patt afraid for J.L.?” If you are asking either of these questions, let me answer. First of all, J.L. is seldom concerned for his safety. So, he gives me special permission to be the official nagger when necessary (I enjoy that role!). As far as my fears, I am reminded of what Elisabeth Elliot said, and I am sorry that I can’t remember the book I am quoting from. Her words encourage me whenever I am tempted to give in to fear: “If the call is clear, then the dangers surrounding it are irrelevant.” I can assure you that J.L. has a clear call from the Lord! I am also reminded of something that I first heard from Jim Seymour. Several years ago, he was telling us that many of his friends were warning him of his then up-coming trip to Africa by saying, “Don’t go there! You could get killed!” We have adopted his response: “Hey, don’t threaten me with heaven!!”
But, beside all of these words, I am strengthened and comforted from God’s word in selected verses from Psalm 37…just this morning. “Do not fret because of evil men…Delight yourself in the Lord…do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes…the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”
We, here at New Directions, are most appreciative for your faithfulness in supporting the work we believe God has called us to do. I want to personally thank you for your prayers for J.L. and the team, that God would be glorified and His will accomplished in the DRC. We praise the Lord for His goodness and for your support that make possible all of NDI’s on-going opportunities for the Gospel, for all the wide open doors for ministry throughout Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
A blessed Christmas to you all.
Gratefully yours in Christ,