Category Archives: Uncategorized

How does God weave us into His story? Repentance

I am currently reading a book about the Biblical account of Ruth and Naomi by Paul Miller (son of Jack Miller) entitled “A Loving Life: In a world of broken relationships”. In this book he says, “Repentance involves a returning to… (the story) …my Father has given me. I stop creating my own story and submit to the story that God is weaving.”

Naomi ran away from Israel and the difficulties she faced because of famine and poverty. Twelve times in the first chapter of the book of Ruth the author used the word return or (shub) which according to Miller can mean repent. By returning, Naomi and Ruth were woven into the story of their greatest descendant Jesus who died to open the way for us to return to God as His children.

Dr Tim Rice and Justin from Luanda Angola. Justin speaks Portuguese and English and even less French then I do.
Dr Tim Rice and Justin from Luanda Angola. Justin speaks Portuguese and English and even less French then I do.

This week I met Justin pictured here with me in the selfie. (Photo and story used with permission) He traveled 780 miles from Luanda, Angola to Vanga Evangelical Hospital for medical care. The most important problem on his list of difficulties was spiritual distress. He had walked away from God and didn’t believe God loved Him or would show him the way to care for his family and their needs. I shared with him the truth found in the Bible, that God did love him and Jesus paid for his sins and opened the way for him to find new life in the grand story of redemption God was weaving. That day we prayed together, and he rededicated his life to following God’s plan for his life.

I was so encouraged to hear him say, “I am so glad God put you in my path.” I found the Portuguese (the language spoke in Angola) version of the Bible online and printed out the following 4 verses: Romans 6:23, 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, and 2 Peter 1:3-9.  After reading and memorizing these verses, the next day he told me, “I saw my solution in the Bible.”

What a joy to have God continue to weave us into His wonderful plan. Pray that we continue to return to the story God has given us. Ask God to help us to NOT walk away from His story for our lives when times are difficult or when we face opposition from without or  internal struggles with our own selfishness and pride.

Tim and Kathy Rice
Christ followers in Vanga Congo

Luanda to Vanga
A google map route from Luanda to Vanga. Probably not the actual route Justin took.

#GivingTuesday 2015

This is a reminder that today 1 December 2015 is #GivingTuesday.  In last month’s Newsletter I mentioned we were overspending the amount of money we had budgeted to help patients in need.  Well, the trend continues.  We are constantly confronted with numerous extremely poor patients with urgent needs for medical care.  In November we helped 112 patients donating an average of $17.50 per patient for a total of $1959.57

Will you overspend your giving budget so we can help the sick here in Vanga Congo? I am sending a couple of more stories below.

Thank you for praying for us.  If you have comments, just reply to this Newsletter as the email goes to our email ricetd@gmail.com.  If you would like to support the work in DRC, follow this link to our CongoHealthConnection.org website.

Tim, Kathy and Nancy Rice

Over budget again?   
Since we arrived in Vanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, we have had a steady stream of desperately ill patients asking for help paying for their medical care.  The cost of medical care here at the hospital is kept as low as possible so that is easier for people to find the money from family and friends.  Even though the cost of care is very low, with 90% unemployment and day-to-day subsistence living, the available funds are also very limited.
          Let me share some more stories with you:
Thank the Lord for the 17 year old girl on that left.  She came with her Aunt who is a nurse at the Vanga Hospital asking for money $141 for an abdominal surgery.  I wanted to be sure this surgery was absolutely necessary.  In talking with the other doctors we decided to repeat her abdominal ultrasound.  The results of the ultrasound showed findings for abdominal TB and not the findings of cancer.  The patient and her Aunt were very happy with this new information and the much better prognosis.    We helped her avoid an expensive surgery and begin the medication that with God’s help will cure her. (TB lymphadenopathy)
This young Congolese boy, Moses, is playing with my hat while I visited with his mother at the Vanga Evangelical Hospital. His family could not afford her medical care. We helped pay her hospital bill and provided some funds so the family could eat. We are praying for a miracle healing of his 37 year old mother who has lung cancer.
 
The wife of the man on the left needed a c-section.  They did not have money to pay for this surgery.    Thanksgiving morning the hospital nurse on the right brought me this man along with his goat.  They asked me to buy the goat for $75 to pay for his wife’s surgery.  I bought the goat with money from our personal food budget and our workers are looking forward to having a little goat for their Christmas dinner this year.  Thank the Lord that the c-section went well and the mom and baby are both healthy and strong.
The work here continues to need financial support so we can teach doctors and nurses here as well as meet these kinds of financial need.  Thank you for being a wonderful part of the demonstration of God’s love here in Congo.  If you would like to support the work in DRC follow this link to our CongoHealthConnection.org website.  

Tim Rice
Medical Missionary at Vanga, DRC

72 year old with severe neck pain

image

Reply from our radiologist consultant in St. Louis about this xray:
I suspect this is just long standing degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease.

Is it cultural to carry heavy things on her head? (My reply…Yes. That is why she has such severe neck arthritis. )

Spinal TB is usually a more focal process, at least in America.  Certainly could be a component of osteopenia.

Degenerative changes in her neck are severe so she could certainly be having serious problems from that including pain or neurologic symptoms (numbness, tingling, weakness, spasticity)  from central canal stenosis, cord compression or nerve compression.

Two Reasons–deux raisons

Why did Jesus come to Earth and die on the cross?

  • Pourquoi Jésus est venu sur terre et mourir sur la croix?

Colossians 1:19-20 Oui, Dieu a voulu habiter totalement dans son Fils, et il a voulu tout réconcilier avec lui, par son Fils et pour son Fils. Par le sang que son Fils a versé sur la croix, Dieu a fait la paix sur la terre et dans les cieux.

  • tout réconcilier avec lui,
  • Dieu a fait la paix sur la terre et dans les cieux.

The good news is that Jesus came back from the dead on the third day.

  • La bonne nouvelle est que Jésus est revenu d’entre les morts le troisième jour.

Jesus was resurrected on the third day.

  • Jésus est ressuscité le troisième jour.

 

That is good news.  That is the gospel.

  • C’est la bonne nouvelle. Voilà l’évangile!!!

 

What is so good about the good news of the gospel?

  • Vraiment, ce qui est si bon à propos de la bonne nouvelle de l’évangile?

 

Does the gospel make a difference in my life?  What difference does believing the gospel make today?

Est-ce que l’évangile à fait une différence dans ma vie? Quelle différence cela fait de croire à l’évangile aujourd’hui?

 

Does our belief that Jesus died on the cross make a difference in the lives of our patients and neighbors?

  • Est-ce que notre conviction que Jésus est mort sur la croix fait une différence dans la vie de nos patients?
  • Est-ce que notre conviction à fait une différence dans la vie de nos voisins?

 

In what way does believing that Jesus died on the cross change how I act today?

  • En quoi cette croyance change ma façon d’agir aujourd’hui?

 

There are two reasons the gospel makes a difference in my life.

  • Il ya deux raisons pour lesquelles l’Évangile fait une différence dans ma vie.

 

The first reason the gospel is good news is because I am a sinner.

  • La première raison c’est que l’Évangile est une bonne nouvelle parce que je suis un pécheur.

 

Yes, I am a sinner.  The great news is Jesus came to save sinners.

  • Oui, je suis un pécheur. la bonne nouvelle est que Jésus est venu pour sauver les pécheurs.

 

Jesus came to save big sinners.  Not just little sinners who forgot to read their bible once last week or little sinners who forgot to pray before they ate a meal.

  • Jésus est venu pour sauver les grands pécheurs. Non seulement les petits pécheurs qui ont oublié de lire leur bible une fois la semaine dernière ou les petits pécheurs qui ont oublié de prier avant de manger un repas.

Marc 2:17 Jésus ayant entendu cela, leur dit: Ce ne sont pas ceux qui se portent bien qui ont besoin de médecin, mais les malades. Je ne suis pas venu appeler des justes, mais des pécheurs.

I am a worse sinner then I want to admit.  Actually we all are worse sinners then we want to admit.  Pride is the sin that caused Adam and Eve to eat the fruit in the garden.  The gospel is that Jesus came to save sinners.

  • Je suis un bien plus grand pécheur que ce que je veux bien admettre. En fait, nous sommes tous plus grand pécheurs que nous voulons l’admettre.
  • L’orgueil  est le péché qui a causé Adam et Eve de manger du fruit dans le jardin. L’Evangile c’est que Jésus est venu pour sauver les pécheurs.

 

My pride is a sin separates me from God and from others.

I want others to think I am intelligent.  I like to be respected. I like to do well in my studies.   I have done well in my studies for many years.    This last year I studied French in Albertville France.  I failed the first semester of French.   My pride and shame made me want to hide from others.  Shame made me angry at God.   Why didn’t God help me do better?   Instead of hiding from my failure I can admit my failure. I realized God loves me a sinner.  Because of God’s love and forgiveness I can admit my failure.   God’s love helped me continue even though I failed my French class.

  • Mon orgueil est un péché qui me sépare de Dieu et des autres.
  • Je veux que les autres pensent que je suis intelligent. Je tiens à être respecté. Je tiens à bien faire dans mes études. Je l’ai bien fait dans mes études pendant de nombreuses années. Cette dernière année, j’ai étudié le français à Albertville France. J’ai échoué le premier semestre en français.
  • Mon honte m’a donné envie de me cacher aux autres. Mon honte m’a mis en colère contre Dieu. Pourquoi Dieu ne m’a pas aidé à faire mieux? Au lieu de cacher de mon échec, je ne peux qu’admettre mon échec. Je me rends compte que Dieu aime un pécheur grâce à l’amour et au pardon de Dieu, je peux admettre mon échec. L’amour de Dieu m’a aidé à continuer à apprendre le français même si j’ai échoué à mon cours de français.

The gospel was good news to me.  Therefore the first reason the gospel was good news for me is because God loves sinners.  God’s love for sinners does not end when he forgives them. The second reason the gospel is good news is God wants to fix the broken things in this world. The second reason is God also want us to join him in fixing the broken things in this world.

  • L’évangile était une bonne nouvelle pour moi dans cette difficulté. Par conséquent, la première raison que l’Évangile était une bonne nouvelle pour moi, c’est parce que Dieu aime les pécheurs. L’amour de Dieu pour les pécheurs ne se termine pas quand il leur pardonne.
  • La deuxième raison pour laquelle l’Évangile est la bonne nouvelle c’est que Dieu veut fixer les choses cassées dans ce monde. La deuxième raison, c’ est que Dieu veut  aussi que nous participions avec lui dans la fixation des choses cassées dans ce monde.

Paul gave instructions to the person that was stealing. (Ephesians 4:28) First, stop stealing.  Second, you must work hard.  Third, you must give to the poor.   This is the reason the gospel is good news.  God helps people stop doing bad things and start helping the poor.  The Bible says we are to love the poor, the alien, the exile, the person of the wrong tribe.    The Bible says when we don’t give ten percent of our income to God the Bible says we are stealing from God. (Malachi 3:10)  The Bible says why not giving 10% is such a big problem.  When we don’t give 10% then there is no food in God’s house for the poor.

God does not eat the food in his house.  The poor people eat the food.

I am so encouraged when I see manioc being given at church.  What a great opportunity for this food to feed the poor in the community.  Our friends in Pakistan collect a small amount of rice each week and bring it to the church to feed the poor.

  • Paul a donné des instructions à la personne qui avait volé.
  • Tout d’abord, arrête de voler.
  • Deuxièmement, vous devez travailler dur.
  • Troisièmement, vous devez donner aux pauvres.
  • Ceci est la raison pour laquelle l’Évangile est bonne nouvelle. Dieu aide les gens a arrêter de faire de mauvaises choses et a commencer à aider les pauvres. La Bible dit que nous devons aimer les pauvres, l’étranger, l’exilé, la personne de la mauvaise tribu. La Bible dit que quand vous ne donner pas dix pour cent de notre revenu à Dieu, la Bible dit que nous sommes en train de voler Dieu.
  • La Bible dit pourquoi ne pas donner 10% est un gros problème. Lorsque nous ne donnons pas 10% alors il n’y a pas de nourriture dans la maison de Dieu pour les pauvres.
  •  Dieu ne mange pas la nourriture dans sa maison. Les pauvres gens mangent la nourriture.

  • A Vanga, Je suis très contant quand je vois le manioc qui est donné à l’église. C’est une grande occasion pour nourrir les pauvres dans la communauté. Quand j’étais jeune nous avions un petit jardin. Nous avions donné 10% de la production à l’église. Nos amis au Pakistan recueillent une petite quantité de riz chaque semaine et l’amene à l’église pour nourrir les pauvres.

When Jesus announced his ministry in Luke he said his arrival was good news to the poor.  The poor in this world suffer a lot when things are broken.  The Bible says because of Jesus all the broken things will be made right.  That is why the gospel is good news to the poor, alien and exile.

  • Quand Jésus a annoncé son ministère il a dit à son arrivée était une bonne nouvelle pour les pauvres. Les pauvres dans ce monde souffrent beaucoup quand les choses sont cassées. La Bible dit que grâce à Jésus toutes les choses cassées seront refaites correctement. Voilà pourquoi l’Evangile est une bonne nouvelle aux pauvres, les étrangers et les exilés.

How does this apply to me?  Why is it good news to me that God wants me to join him in fixing the broken things in this world?  Because even though I did not pass my French exam God wants me to teach in Congo. Even though I do not speak good French God wants me to do good things with him here in Congo.  God is using my limited French to help here in Congo.

  • Comment cela s’applique à moi? Pourquoi est-ce une bonne nouvelle que Dieu me veut avec Lui pour réparer les choses cassées dans ce monde ? Parce que même si je n’ai pas réussi mon examen de français, Dieu veut que j’enseigne au Congo. Même si je ne parle pas bien le français Dieu veut que je fasse des bonnes choses au Congo. Dieu utilise mon français limité pour aider les Congolais.

.We need a Gospel that is actually good news for sinners and the poor, not just good news to a few fairly good people that are our friends.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. – Jesus in Matthew 25

  • Nous avons besoin d’un Evangile qui est en fait une bonne nouvelle pour les pécheurs et les pauvres, et pas seulement une bonne nouvelle à quelques  bonnes personnes qui sont nos amis.
  • Jésus a dit: Car j’ai eu faim, et vous m’avez donné à manger; j’ai eu soif, et vous m’avez donné à boire; j’étais étranger, et vous m’avez recueilli; 36 j’étais nu, et vous m’avez vêtu; j’étais malade, et vous m’avez rendu visite; j’étais en prison, et vous êtes venus vers moi.

There is a difference in your life because you believe the good news of the gospel.   We all are worse sinners then we want to admit and God loves and forgives sinners.  Second, God’s plan is to use us to fix the broken parts of this world. That is the really good news of the gospel.

  • Il-y-a une différence dans votre vie parce que vous croyez lea bonne nouvelle de l’Evangile. Nous sommes tous plus grand pécheurs que nous voulons bien l’admettre et Dieu nous aime et pardonne les pécheurs. Deuxièmement, le plan de Dieu est de nous utiliser pour fixer les pièces cassées de ce monde.
  • Voilà la très bonne nouvelle de l’Evangile.

Spring 2017 Dollar for Dollar matching gift opportunity

Just like in Spring 2015 and 2016, the Spring 2017 matching gift opportunity has started.   It will end when ever the matching funds are depleted so act promptly.   International Ministries will match dollar for dollar all gifts given in response to this opportunity.  So each dollar you give goes twice as far and does two dollars of work in our ministry in DRC.

The details you need to know are:

– Any gift received in response to the matching gift opportunity after March 15 will be matched 100% until matching funds are depleted. There is no minimum or maximum gift (up to the dollar amount available to be matched which this year is $50,000).

– The opportunity will end  when the matching pool is depleted.  The sooner you give the better chance to have your funds matched.

– This matching gift effort is meant to encourage new donors, resumed giving of prior donors or increased giving of established donors. The matching gift opportunity is designed to stimulate over and above giving of current supporters. An individual could give a one-time gift, which would be doubled, and then choose to continue or start to support a missionary on a recurring basis, but those recurring gifts will not be matched.

Through International Ministries 

– The surest way to participate in this program is by making a gift on-line by credit card, or making a gift by phone by credit card.  Donations need to be mailing a check to International Ministries, it must be clearly noted in the memo of the check that the gift is part of the “Matching Gift Opportunity for Rice-Congo” (either through the response form, the memo line of the check, the special webpage that will be set up, or during the call to make the gift).  International Ministries mailing address P.O. Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA 1948

No more STIFF NECKED lab workers–By Katherine & Wayne Niles

“The nice thing about these units, they don’t give you a STIFF NECK!” said Mr. Kabata having finished assembling a new microscope.

The most common diseases in the tropics are diagnosed with a microscope.  Malaria, intestinal parisites, gardia, dysentary, turburculosis, and others are definitively diagnosed by seeing the affending culprit (often hundreds of them!) on a microscope slide.  Hence laboratory technicians (or ‘techs’) and their microscopes have been essential to providing health and healing at even the most remote health centers in Congo.

Mr. Kabata carefully unpacking microscopes for assembly. We had wooden boxes made for them for safe storage wherever they would be used.

You may recall that during our trip speaking in churches in Michigan last october (using funds many of you provide to support our work) we purchased four microscopes from World Wide Labs in Kalamazoo.  Many of our hospitals and health centers use ancient, primitive, almost unusable microscopes hence replacements are in constant demand.

Katherine and Dr. Lay look on as Mr. Kabata tries out a new microscope (well, poses for this picture actually).

In January we made a trip to Vanga to, among other things, deliver the new microscopes to Dr. Lay who pleaded for them for the Vanga Health Zone he supervises.  He in turn gave them to Mr. Kabata, the Health Zone lab tech supervisor, for assembly.  Mr. Kabata has years of experience working in hospitals and health centers and now supervises and trains the 25 lab techs in the Vanga zone.

Mr. Kabata demonstrates using a classic diagnostic microscope in the tropics, note the mirror below that can be turned in any angle and direction to pick up needed light.

It was rewarding watching him deftly unpack and assemble the microscopes with the care and delight of a skilled craftsman.  These microscopes came with LED lights powered by a small solar panel and battery pack so they can be used at night (and recharged by day).  Until recently, microscopes all over the tropics have depended on a sunny window so a mirror could reflect sunlight up through the specimen.

The greatest advantage of these new microscopes is the two angled objectives so you can look through them at a comfortable angle with BOTH eyes.  The standard unit used in Congo since forever has required closing one eye and craning your neck to look straight down into the thing.  You can imagine the effect on your neck as you sit for hours in a busy health center looking at specimens.

These microscopes, donated in Jesus’ name, are now being used daily to combat disease among some of the world’s neediest children and adults.  It is so rewarding to work with Christian brothers such as Dr. Lay and Mr. Kabata in the challenge of providing hope and healing in this world.  Please know that you also are ‘making a difference’ in your gifts and support to us and to American Baptist missions.

God bless you and thank you.

Katherine & Wayne Niles   Nileswk@gmail.com

Donate on line at http://www.internationalministries.org/missionaries/84

Or send a check to: American Baptist International Ministries  P.O. Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA 19482   Put “on-going support for Wayne & Katherine Niles” on the memo line.

What is a Health Zone?

A health zone is kind of like a county except the designation is not political but only for health purposes.  Health Zones originated in Congo and are a result of pioneering work by Christian missionary Dan Fountain, MD  to provide health to the entire population.

Essentially a health zone is:

  • 200,000 persons, more or less
  • Supported by a Reference Hospital
  • That is surrounded by 10-50 Health Centers scattered throughout the Health Zone
  • These Health Centers are located such that no one has to walk more than a day to reach a Health Center.  Ideally no one is more then 1-2 hours from a Health Center as is the case with the Vanga Health Zone that consists of 52 Health Centers serving the 250,000 persons in the Vanga Health Zone.
Congo superimposed on the US. The blue lines are the paved roads. There are hundreds of rivers and lots of sandy, muddy, awful dirt roads. Most rural folks get around on foot or by bicycle, hence the need for a scattered, decentralized health system to make health care accessible to everyone.

 

This is a diagram of the Nsona Mpangu health center, an area about the size of the state of Rhode Island.

In this diagram the red dots are some of the villages, the grey huts are Health Centers, and there are five Reference health centers that are better equipped and the central Reference Hospital at the former American Baptist Nsona Mpangu mission station.  The health centers are staffed by a nurse and a lab tech.  The nurse would be trained much like a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant.

Health Centers may have once been called ‘dispensaries’ but they do far more than dispense medicine. Health centers treat 80% of the illness in their area and also promote good health in the population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Centers  activities include:

Curative care

  • Diagnosing and treating disease
  • Referring patients to the reference hospital for complicated cases
  • Assuring a local supply of medicines is always available

Preventive care – it is far cheaper to prevent disease than treat it

  • Holding vaccination clinics in surrounding villages
  • Holding prenatal clinics in surrounding villages
  • Holding preschool clinics in surrounding villages (following under-five’s growth in height and weight to catch illness or malnutrition early)

Promotional care

  • Promoting the use of mosquito nets against malaria, latrines against intestinal diseases
  • Encouraging communities to protect their water sources – assuring safe, potable water reduces the incidence of intestinal diseases in a village by 30%.
  • Encouraging communities to use proper sanitation (latrines for every household, proper trash disposal, controlling free ranging animals)
  • Promote family planning – Congo has one the most horrifyingly high maternal death during delivery statistics in the world.  Spacing, reducing the number of pregnancies a women has, is lifesaving.

Each Health Zone has a central office staffed by a Physician who supervises (visits) all the nurses in their health centers to collect statistics, provide medicine, see that the routine work (vaccinations and clinics) is happening properly in the zone.

Health Centers (and their nurses) are supported by community organizations that provide them with a house, garden, and assist in the work of the center.  For example they would announce the next vaccination visit planned by the nurse in a village and assure families with children needing to be vaccinated were present at the appointed time and place.

Here is the current (2015) map of Congo’s 512 Health Zones. The colored zones are co-managed (along with the government of Congo) by church groups because they originated out of Christian mission work in the Congo beginning as early as the late 1800’s. The pink zones are co-managed by Protestant churches, the blue zones by Catholic churches.

 

 

Because the zones are population based, they vary in size from a few city blocks to the size of a mid-western state in the US.   This document was modified from original source at this link.  

You can learn more about the history and development of Congo’s Health Zones on line at:

http://www.sanru.org/reports/Churches_and_Health_Care_in_DRCongo.ppt

The presentation linked above dates from around 2006 but has tons of interesting pictures.

 

Power, love, and a sound mind (repost from potterlogged.blogspot.com)

By Shannon Potter

Have you ever experienced this? Even as I was trying to put together my thoughts on the topic, I felt like it was happening. Spiritual warfare is not something many people talk about, and I’m not trying to sound super spiritual, but there is a reality that we cannot see. It is powerful. It is discouraging. BUT, we do not have to be captive by it because God has promised to be with us through it all.

I wrote several of the items which have been on my mind recently which have been sources of discouragement, with full intentions of writing the encouraging items next. As I was writing, however, my heart started to grow weary, I wondered whether this would speak to anyone or if they would think I was crazy. So I switched tasks and started to study my French. And then get on Facebook and check my email. I just wanted to get away.. from my discouragement, from the spirit of fear which pervaded. But as I checked my email, I realized that a song by Shane and Shane was playing in the background of my mind: “Be near, oh God, be near, oh God of us. Your nearness is to us our good.” Gently, my God was encouraging me to continue, I believe. And even as I was telling Ryan that I couldn’t blog about spiritual warfare because I felt attacked, WHAM, the verse in 2 Timothy 1:7 came to the forefront of my thoughts.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.

And I knew I could go on. I should. And I would finish my blog. So here goes.

Some items of discouragement:
http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/02209/EBOLA-OMAHA_PATIEN_2209845f.jpgThere has been another death in the family. Dr. Martin Salia, a wonderful surgeon, served his people in Sierra Leone and lost his fight with Ebola last week. Why would the Lord take him home when there are only 6, now 5 surgeons, helping to treat and serve the entire country?

We heard that one of the only ways to get free education in Congo is by joining a local mosque. Our friends who were in Kinshasa during the time when this system went into effect said that the percentage of people who considered themselves Muslim soared. I support free education, but if one must convert in order to obtain that free education, I find it heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because it puts such a difficult decision on parents, heartbreaking because I wish there were more options, heartbreaking because it feels so forced. How would a mother and father feel if their children could not get educated based on religion and their poverty? New City Fellowship, a multiracial Christian church in St. Louis, supports several schools in Kinshasa that help feed and educate students who come from impoverished families. I wish we could do more.

During a discussion, it came up that ISIS is currently making around $1 million a day in oil sales. And blatantly and boldly killing people. (I have avoided the news surrounding them because it just causes fear and sadness within myself).

A very nice young couple here at our language school, pregnant with their third child (under 3) sit next to me in class. They recently lost their grandfather, who not only was beloved, but also their biggest supporter. That, along with the news that several of their donors stopped giving to them has created a deficit in their monthly support. Now, they have until December 1 (one week) to raise $15,000 in one-time support. Otherwise they will have to quit school, fly back to the US, and then have their baby and try to raise support again to come back.

Ryan had a setback this week in that he felt like he was nearly healed from a muscle injury (hyper-extension) in his leg and on his first day back, felt it pull again. This is particularly hard when sports are such an outlet for him (have been most of his life) during times of hard study. And it is a great time for him to be immersed in French as all of his teammates, the refs, and the opposing teams speak solely in French.

Sometimes it feels like the Enemy is winning. There are times when we feel we are at the frontlines.

Some items of encouragement:
Last week I spent the morning in a personal spiritual retreat, listening to worship music in French by Paul Baloche. We also went to an English! time of singing worship songs to God. This really was uplifting to my spirit.

20141116_170734[1]We attended the baptism of a sweet older French lady in our church here. The place was packed and standing-room-only. What a great celebration of a new life in Christ!

We have had several people write personal emails or Facebook messages over the past couple of weeks which have been very timely. One of our home churches is sending us a Christmas care package 🙂

It has been such a blessing to be around the other students who have done and are going to do some pretty cool things in the world. One couple has lived in Brazil for 25 years and are learning their 3rd language. They have quite a bit of wisdom to share. One gal lived in Niger for 8 yrs and will now be living in Paris. Some are families with 4 or 5 children and we can watch how they teach their children to live without normal comforts, go to an all-French school. Several children are very talented in musical instruments. Soon, we will be going to Cameroon, North Africa, Togo, Congo, Niger, Chad, and places in France. I guess the main feeling I get when I am around people with such varied dreams and experiences is that I am a part of something bigger than myself. And that gives me great encouragement to feel a part of that. Even as I dig into the nitty-gritty of the French language, that vision of us going out from this school and making a difference in the world in the name of Jesus gives me great hope.

So there, I finished it. My ups and downs are sometimes just a normal part of living, but sometimes the intensity of the discouragement or the promptness or improbable-ness of the feelings (such as feeling hope in the midst of terrible circumstances) helps me to know that this may be spiritual warfare. Let me end with this quote:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one…. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble of hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate use from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Paul in his letter to the Romans