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March 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

 

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He that has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Phil 1:3-6.

 

I cannot think of a more appropriate greeting, taken from Paul’s letter to the brethren in Philippi with whom he had such a close bond in their labor together in the Lord. We recognize the same closeness, and your many efforts made on our behalf. We do pray for you and for the Lord to continue to be glorified in all we do together. May His strength continue to sustain us.

 

Since last we wrote the situation economically has continued to worsen. Inflation runs over 35% with little salary increase for most folks. We are trying to increase wages for the faithful workers who stand with us, but each day seems to erode any gain. The seemingly endless line of folks coming for help runs from early day to well into night. The mental strain seems almost unbearable at times, as you struggle for faith and wisdom. I understand more and more what Jesus went through when so many thronged around Him that He did not have time to eat. Even when He tried to get away for a time of reflection and rest with His disciples, He was followed. His family thought He had taken leave of His senses. And perhaps that is true to an extent. It makes no worldly sense to do what He did. Yet He did continue to humble Himself as a servant, even to the point of His sacrificial death. We strain to follow in His footsteps.


In this time of crisis, as we did during the covid emergency, we have begun to share meals 5 days a week. On Sunday our services have grown to where we have 220 to 250 in attendance, so that is our biggest meal. Other meals are not small either, so it strains every aspect to do this. I do not know how long we can or should serve in this way, but my loving wife reminds me how difficult it is for her to eat well, knowing brothers and sisters in the Lord are not eating at all.


Pray for God to direct and enable us as we seek to be His servants.

 

The preacher for the largest and fasting growing church in India, which has grown from less than 30 members to over 300,000 said the key to their rapid growth was by sharing the gospel, which brought people in and living the gospel which kept people in. There is a lot of wisdom in that statement. As we have tried to share the gospel message, more folks are responding. We have had 56 baptisms in the last 8 months. Our effort to share love and fellowship will hopefully help bind us together as family. Some come no doubt for what they might gain physically. Hopefully we can help them understand the need to strive for the Living Water and the Bread of Life, so that their real hunger can be satisfied.

 

One special gift allowed us to share food packs was from our friends Fred and Peggy Massey in San Antonio, who celebrated their 87th birthdays and their 67th wedding anniversary during this period. We thank God for their fellowship over the years, and the hundreds of folks who were given food thank Him as well. We pray for God’s blessings to continue to sustain them in the later stage of their lives, and the challenges unique to this time of life.

 


Another couple that has shared with us in various ways are Robert and Jan Towell, from Round Rock, Texas. They have lived a long and active life in God’s service, Bob having accepted to responsibility of being a Shepard in two different congregations during his lifetime. After having an active retirement, and helping expand the ministry of World English Institute, Bob Towel passed to his eternal reward in March of this year. His legacy was well remembered in a memorial service led by family members, which is a high tribute. His loving and faithful wife of almost 70 years, is now alone in their home and could certainly use prayers and encouragement. Her address is jrtowell@aol.com

 

I have mentioned in times past that security is a major issue here, and made worse by the economic difficulties. Almost daily we learn of a kidnapping or violent theft, or mass killings. You no longer feel safe on the roads, or at night. Yet somehow we always think it affects someone else, somewhere else. Over the years I have been robbed at gunpoint twice, been shot at twice with the wind of the bullet close enough to hear zipping by my ear. These and other unpleasant experiences make us aware of how fragile and uncertain life is.

 

We had another such incident last Friday night, though it did not affect us directly. One of our older sons, Sonny, came to our room saying there is trouble outside. One of our neighbors had bought a new car, and four young men tried to take it by gunpoint, little more than 100 feet from our door. The intended victim decided to ram his new car into the kidnappers, which incapacitated two of them. Crowds rallied round ready to administer swift justice. Already they had broken bones and other serious injuries. Folks stoned them and soaked them with kerosene, ready to light fire to them. I and others pled for the crowd not to shed blood, but to wait for the police. One young man, his body broken, begged the police to shoot him to relieve him of his pain and embarrassment. On our way back behind our 12 foot walls and barbed wire, we met a young man, armed with a machete, rushing to join the violent mob in dispensing “justice”. We advised him to return to his home with his knife, and not have blood stains on his hands. He bowed his head and headed home, but turned to thank my wife. “Thank you, Mamma,” he said.

 

I sometimes wonder why I came to this place and why we have stayed 31 years. I see some purpose encapsulated in this one simple story. We met someone on his way to shed blood, spoke to him to repent. He did so, and turned to say thank you. None of us know the full impact of our lives. Like the Towel’s and the Massey’s, many have passed before us showing the path that Christ shared with them. For a little brief moment we tried to shine that light as well, in a world that seems to grow ever darker. May the Good Lord find us ever useful for His purposes, and ever able and willing to share His love.

 

Thank you once more. We love you. Keep plowing till the end of the row.

 

Cliff, Nkiru and family

 

 

 

 

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