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September 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

Warmest greetings to everyone. We pray all is well with you. We continue to be blessed and privileged to be able to converse with you. My prayer always is that news of our lives here will encourage, educate and strengthen those who read it.

Our last letter read like a travel log, and may have seemed boring to some. I apologize if it was. I tried to hit the high notes of a long and tiring journey, mentioning by name many of those who have lovingly supported us over time. We appreciate you each and every one.

We were welcomed back with shouts of joy and relief. It gave me a foretaste of a welcome we look forward to in heaven one day, were we hope in faith to be reunited with so many we love and miss. We thank those who labored hard in our absence to see things ran smoothly. Chima took the lead and everyone cooperated to see that things went well.

Since our return the Lord has blessed us with a number of additions to the church family here. Some were young men, three couples were older. All had been attending for some time and Nkiru and others had especially been talking with them. I do not know why their hearts were ready now and not in earlier periods. But we thank God that 12 precious souls committed themselves to a life time of fellowship and service to our Lord, and accepted His saving grace in the watery grave of baptism. Now is the difficult part of continuing to disciple each person, as we strive to encourage and mature each other.

The kids are back in school, and we are always thankful for that privilege. David, one of the new disciples helped sew new uniforms for everyone. We were able to get new second hand shoes for everyone, plus school bags, etc. so that everyone could have what is necessary to look good and do good with their studies. It is always an adventure to take the kids out for school shoe shopping, and a lot of work went into new uniforms. It is your kind gifts that make this possible, and we thank you for it.

One person that got a new start in a new school was Naphtalie. He told me once his whole life had been spent being passed from one person to another. He has lived with us for the past seven years, and has been such a positive addition to our family during this time. He has an aunt in Canada who has been trying for quite some time to get him a visa to come. And finally it happened. It has not been an easy process, but every thing was provided by God’s time and grace. Thankfully, he has the chance to do a senior year in a Christian high school in Beamsville, Ontario and our love and prayers go with him.

Another cause to rejoice was that our daughter Jodie and her husband Patrick welcome baby Hunter Hailey into this world without further complications. He was safely delivered by CS, and weighed in at 9 lbs., 4 oz and 20.5 inches. Prayers were answered, and after a long and worrisome period, the young lad is now ready to take his place in the family. Thank each of you who supported his birth in prayer, and we remain grateful that we were able to spend a little time with them this summer.

Since our return things have not been easy for the average person. A new government took over in May, and stopped to a great degree, a subsidy on fuel. This caused fuel prices to climb overnight 300% with everything else quickly following suit. Some staple foods such as rice and flour have climbed over 500%. With the rainy season in its final stages, major roads have become almost impassable, and coupled with the fuel increase, have made transport costs soar. This affects everything. We have become the second highest country in Africa with food insecurity. Almost 50% of young people are unemployed. The US state dept. has issued a level 4 security alert for much of Nigeria, including our region, meaning it is not too safe to travel around. And the list could go on and on.

So how does this impact our daily lives? Well, first of all it drives more people to us to seek for help. We make up food packs of rice and noodles and not much else to hand out to those who need help. It also means that previous donors from here have less to give. By virtue of your kind gifts, we are able to share the compassion of Christ to those who need it most. It seems overwhelming at times, but we have to be reminded that God is a limitless God, and will provide for any task He has given us to do.

One other factor at play is the exchange rate at which we change your gifted dollars into the local currency, the Naira. The rate currently is heavily in favor of the dollar, which helps us keep afloat, but it continues to push prices up. It also means that currency, even the local one, is harder to obtain. This causes us to spend more time standing in the line at the bank, multiple trips, etc. The trips to the bank, means more cost, more security risks, and definitely more stress. Pray for us to have more strength, wisdom and patience.

So what does the future hold? No one can say for sure. Our only hope and trust is God, as He holds all of us in His loving Hands. In darkest moments, we have to learn to trust in the One who calmed the storms. He knows what lies ahead and has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

We would be pleased if you would join us to pray for wisdom to know what God wants us to do and which direction He wants us to go. Recently a giant in the church here, Br. Otoyo, who established and ran a Christian vocational high school since 1971, fell in the bathroom and later died as a consequence. His daughter lives in Virginia and has no plans to come and run the school. It was proposed to hand the school over to the government. I would hate to see that, considering the strong Christian legacy of the school. The family has not yet decided what to do, and will not do so until after the funeral in December. Would this be a new place for us to serve? Only God can know. It would be a big challenge in a new direction, but also a great way to serve more young people and present them with the truth of Jesus. We trust and pray.

Let me end on a cheerful note. One, Jilinda has finished her 5 year university course in Medical Lab Science. She is currently on her one year mandatory youth service, serving here in Rivers state. We are thankful for His patience and mercy. Also, James has announced his wedding plans, which hopefully will take place at the end of December and the first week of January. He will do his traditional wedding in the bride’s home in Anambra state. Then they will come here to Port Harcourt for a “white” wedding. James was the first child to share our love and home, so we are glad to see this progress.

Again, we thank you for your love and strong arm of fellowship. I stand amazed at how God has worked through all of us to reach others with the good news of the Gospel. We struggle to remain faithful and active to the end. May He continue to strengthen all of us, and use us for His purposes.

We love you all,

Cliff, Nkiru and family

Blessed to see the harvest after years of sowing.

Naphtali left us to take up a new life in Canada. God bless this fine young man as he continues to grow

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