- 80 New House Churches.
- Hundreds of discovery Bible Studies in progress.
- 136 Full Time Level 2 Trained Workers.
- 12 Trained Level 3 Teachers.
- 85 Pastors and Leaders Level 1 Trained.
- 44 Bible School Students Trained.
- Hope Community Center phase I complete and ready for initial use.
- W. Hill Community prepped and ready for Vocational Training.
- K. Community prepped and title deed secured for Community Development project.
- "Belief of Ishmael" book translated, printed, and being distributed.
- All training materials for Liaison International Center for Intercultural studies translated and distributed to key leaders.
Unfortunately, I had a medical situation that took almost a month to get squared away and when I recuperated enough to go back to work, I went at a full on run until we got on a plane to go back overseas.
We spent some time traveling through the states teaching and training and sharing the successes we have experienced in East Africa with the Body of Christ and several missions teams. We have also still had to do some very serious support raising and fund raising as we are still trying to make up for the loss of a significant chunk of our personal support. We are making gains but it takes valuable time.
After returning from a whirlwind support raising trip through the Midwest, we returned to San Antonio where we received our partners [names deleted]. They arrived just in time for our Ministry Fund Raising Banquet in San Antonio. They stayed with us for a week and then went on to visit some partners in Indiana who sent two teams to Tanzania this past summer.
We raised over $13,000 (PTL) for ministry work at that event which is a great start towards our 2017 budget.
Following right on the heels of that, I had a special event here in San Antonio where I was consecrated as a Bishop in The Lutheran Orthodox Church. Now I know you are probably sitting there with your jaws open, but trust me, this was a God thing. It has already opened doors for several venues of ministry in three countries!
Right after that, we put on a two-day Conference for Oak Hills Church called "Loving Your Muslim Neighbors" and we opened it up for several churches. We had a great attendance and a wonderful time.
But in my typical fashion, the Conference ended at 3PM on a Saturday afternoon and we had a flight scheduled for 4:25PM to fly to Corydon, IN where I shared with a Methodist Church the next Sunday morning. On Monday we drove to Bloomington, IN, where we met with the staff of Aim 4 The World, which is an indigenous mission organization we have served since 1998.
On Tuesday morning we drove to Charlottesville, VA, where we spent the night and visited Advancing Native Missions before heading back to Texas.
School Supplies for Christian Children:
We were home long enough to change suitcases and jump on a plane to go back overseas.
We flew to Kurdistan for a week to do a level two training for the team I have been working with there for the past year and a half.
This trip was different for us in several capacities. Our focus this trip was seeking the Lord as to how we could better serve the Persecuted Church and begin to plan our next steps towards working in Turkey.
As I shared my recent developments with [name deleted] in becoming consecrated with the Lutheran Orthodox Church, [name deleted] became very excited because he has been trying to build bridges into the traditional church world in Northern Iraq. He asked me to wear my clerical collar to all our appointments during the day and he set up several key appointments.
The first appointment was at a Christian School where the people were struggling to live and educate their children. The IDP children who now lived in this village could not afford transportation to get to the school and the school that was in the village had been used by IDP's who had fled Mosul. There were more than 150 people living in this school hall and the bathrooms had been literally trashed. The school was in a state of disrepair and there was no money in this poor village to fix what had been broken. These people had given their best for the IDP's and now they were left with something barely useable. This was a reoccurring theme throughout all the villages we visited. Schools were in disrepair with no money or economy to fix them and no transportation for the children who were displaced to get to the schools.
The "Mesopotamian" Call:
were only 350,000 remaining. The rest had all fled the country. The Christians are in danger of extinction in Iraq. Mosul had previously had Christians there for 2000 years and for the first time since Christianity had existed, there were no Christians in Mosul.
This area is rich in Biblical history. The Apostle "Doubting" Thomas had come to this area to share the gospel and lived just outside of Dohuk where he shared the gospel and from those roots Christianity had remained in the traditional churches to this day.
He invited us to come and to work with the churches in Northern Iraq and literally opened the door for us to move to Northern Iraq and begin to minister to the suffering Persecuted Christian Community.
As we spoke he echoed the same thing we were hearing from all the Christians. There is no money, no economy and no hope for the future of Christians and Christianity without education and economy. The children have no way to get to schools to learn to speak, read and write the Aramaic Language (the language Jesus spoke and is only spoken by Christians) and are in danger of becoming extinct if the western church doesn't do something.
As my wife and I heard this call we both pondered the events of our lives leading up to this moment:
- Coming to the end of our time in East Africa this year.
- God consecrating me as a Bishop in a traditional church.
- Receiving a call to go to Northeastern Turkey where the largest number of unreached people groups are (that is less than two hours from Kstan).
- 4) An open invitation from the Assistant Minister of Religion to work among the Christians in Northern Iraq
- An open invitation from a Chalean Khoury to bring Scripture and Bibles and teach in his churches.
- There are many more events and clear signs that are too numerous to mention in this letter that are pointing us toward our next steps.
I will share one single event that I feel is the key as to how we have arrived at our next decision regarding our future.
I have been working with a group of brothers in Kstan from different backgrounds and training them how to reach their neighbors with bridges of trust that would endure the weight of truth.
As I sought counsel from [name deleted] regarding working in Northeastern Turkey and possible taking a team from Kurdistan who speak the language, know the culture and have a heart for mission, he gave me carte blanch to talk to the team about who might be interested in working with us in Turkey.
During one of our training sessions, I began to detail what our plan was working in the Kurdistan and Turkey in the future and asked the brethren if there was anyone interested in joining our team and we immediately had two Muslim Background believers answer the call.
We are so excited to have a team already in place on the field who I have been training for the past year and a half and are ready to go! God is SO GOOD!!!
It is our plan to return to Kurdistan and bring a medical team and after they leave we will stay for two weeks to get our residence permit and start capacity building.
This is going to require a significant initial effort to get ourselves situated but we anticipate making the biggest push in November of next year to really establish ourselves in country. We are calling this project; Mesopotamia Reconciliation Project (MRP).
Our goals are twofold:
- Work among the Persecuted Church to help stabilize and bring discipleship training to the body of Christ (both Evangelical and Traditional Churches).
- To establish a beachhead for working in Northeastern Turkey with Kurdish nationals from Muslim Backgrounds to engage unreached people groups .
When we finished we flew to Tanzania to meet with the 130 Bishops from East Africa and then we were to go on to do a two week training with our team there.
On the morning we arrived we received a text message that my father-in-law had become extremely ill and the doctors in the ICU told her step mother to call in the family. Needless to say this was extremely disturbing to both of us.
We waited for three days as the messages we were getting were very conflicting. But after the third day we decided that we needed to return home so regardless of the outcome, my wife would have peace in the end.
Her father has, for the moment, made a remarkable comeback. We don't know what the future holds but we do know that the Lord has his hand on her father and has been working nothing short of miracles. We are planning to return overseas on February 20, to complete our tasks. We are planning to stay to August when our term expires. Our goals for the remainder of our time in East Africa include:
- A two week training for Pioneer Bible Translators Scripture Impact Teams.
- Meeting 134 Bishops from East Africa to share the strategy for continuing the movement.
- Completing the Level 3 training and graduating the 12 Teachers.
- Teaching for 2 weeks at the Bible College.
- Receiving several short term teams
- Digging a deep well for the people of [Name Deleted].
We are looking forward to you joining us through the last leg of the East Africa
Adventure and continuing on with us through the Mesopotamia Reconciliation Project.
May the Lord richly bless you ! It's an honor and a privilege to partner with you.
Together we ARE making a difference!