Our News

For your prayers…

I have told a few you about a few people and just wanted to give a quick update about how they are doing…

Sterlina- My wee friend from Milot who was in Port on 12th Jan. She had been told her whole family were killed and so after being in Milot they sent her to live in an orphanage in Cap Haitian, I have been going to visit her every couple of weeks. I was out last week and she just found out her family are actually all still alive, her dad is ill but he was ill before the earthquake, her mum was hurt in the earthquake and is still healing and all 6 of her brothers & sisters are fine, they are also all together in Port right now. She spoke to her family on the phone, her mum said to her, I already have 6 kids who I cannot look after, I cannot do anything for you, you would be better staying where you are. I asked her what she would prefer to stay somewhere where she is well looked after with food, clothes, somewhere to sleep and school to go to or be in Port with her family where none of that is guaranteed. She just told me she didn’t know. I’m not sure what she was thinking though. But she is having a hard time, having grieved for her family who she found out are now alive but she has no way of seeing them.

Berlota- He is the young guy I met who had fallen out of a tree and had been lying at home and developed a huge pressure sore on his lower back. He is still in Milot, they cleaned out the wound, give him anti-biotics for infection, and are changing the dressing’s every day. I had a chat with him the other day about the future what he thinks will happen. Education, especially health education is very limited in Haiti and he really had no idea he would ever be able to walk again. I had to explain to him why not and what he could do once his back heals. He has been sitting up by himself over the edge of the bed which is great. There is a plastic surgeon out in Milot this week and they may do a procedure to help it heal much quicker. Please continue to pray for his healing. Also praise God for someone from home who has donated money to pay for his medical bills…..God provides. Especially when we obey him, the first time I met Berlota I knew I couldn’t not do anything yet I had no idea who I was going to pay for things, immediately God provided a way without me even doing anything or asking anyone.

Auguste- This is the lady I met with the sore hip. I sent her to Milot hospital to get an orthopaedic opinion. She is really in a bad position, she has had infection in her hip probably for a couple of years and her hip replacement is not in a good position at all which is why she is in so much pain. I spoke to the doctor (he was an American) he explained even if she lived in the states it would be very difficult to find a hospital to give her the treatment she needs. Our only option here in Haiti is painkillers and some antibiotics which will maybe probably not do much. She has 5 kids and I have been trying to talk to her about a way to find some sort of work to do. Even though that is going to be really difficult, but she has to otherwise I have no idea how she will live. Please pray for her as she accepts there is nothing we can do here in Haiti for her from a medical point of view. Also pray God will give us a way to find some sort of work for her to do.

Ashkala- Its really her mum I would want you to pray for, her name is Myrlene. She came to see me today to let me know her husband who had been really sick for a couple of years just died on Wednesday. I had talked to her about two weeks ago and she told me she thought he was close to dying. Then she told me she took ashkala over to an orphanage on Friday. She told me not because she doesn’t love her, because she wants the best for her, and maybe by putting her there they can look after her well and provide better medical care. Myrlene is really an amazing lady, I told her if all the things that had happened to her I do not know how I would be sitting there talking to me. She replied ‘it is only by God’s grace that I am able to sit here and talk to you. I used to go to church then I left but as all these happened to me, I had 4 children and they have all died, just ashkala who is still alive but she is suffering alot, but everytime I see her I give God thanks for her because out of all the children I had have she has lived the longest. I came back to the Lord, began going to church again and God has given me so much strength to keep going. It is only by God’s grace that I am alive today, that I am able to come and talk to you today.’ Myrlene has had such a difficult time and everytime I see her or talk to her she never asks me for anything other than to pray for her which is unusual for Haiti really. She is such an example of faith, so many people in the same situation would question God why he was letting her suffer so much. Yet she does not look at it like that, She is a strong strong christian and an amazing example of God’s faithfullness and strength.

Family matters

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:24
Steve recently shared with me something that came out of a discussion in the “Conflict Resolution” intensive class at SEMBEC, which just finished last week.  The students were asked to think of implications of the verse above, and one of them said:  “Honouring and respecting our in-laws”.  A second student asked:  “Why?  I cannot see that from that text.”  Steve gave the first student the opportunity to explain further.  Her reasoning went this way:  “As children we are to honour our parents (Eph. 6:1-3).  When one gets married, the husband and wife become one.  As a daughter or a son we are still to honour our own parents.  But when we become one with the spouse, we must show the same honour to the spouse’s parents too.”

Wow!  Here there is new light on this matter!  Plenty of times we children find it hard to follow this commandment – the new generation always seems to think they are more right than the previous ones.  Let alone honouring our in-laws – people that are very different from us, maybe with different values or culture!

A few days ago we saw some photographs of the 90th birthday of Steve’s father – nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters in-law, all together celebrating this wonderful milestone in Charles’ life.  In my heart I wished we could have been there, that my boys could have appeared in the photographs with the rest of the family, that we could have celebrated with them, I wished we could have expressed to him what an example of a Christian man he is to us!  We did it over the phone.  We rejoice with him at a distance, we prayed for him during the day and told our children about their Grandpa.  They long to see him and Grandma again!  We pray God will grant this blessing to all of us.

The Builder and the builders

Samuel will finish school next Monday, Joseph this coming Saturday and Benjamin finished today.  He has a graduation photograph and excellent marks.

Steve gave his last lecture for this academic year last Thursday.  For him it has been non-stop teaching since January.  For me it has been mainly non-stop studying.  At the same time, I’ve tried to do promotion work for SEMBEC with a non-existent budget.  This, believe it or not, has actually given me the advantage to get to know leaders of the churches in Cuenca in a way that could not have been done if we had extra money to invest in nice paper and expensive promotion.  I don’t know how many students will come to SEMBEC because of that.  I believe that God will take me to those he has chosen to study there, which means that I still need to move and not only wait for students to march into the building.

Our staff for next year are Tom, Susan, Jorge, Clayton, Steve, Lilia, Narcisa, Adriana and myself.  Classes will restart in September, but work for the lecturers continues over the holiday period, with preparation.  There’s also work being done in the second and third floors and the roof of the building.  So far only the first floor and 2 classrooms of the second floor were finished and in use.

Remember us in prayer:
– that the staff will find the right balance between resting and preparing for lectures.
– some staff will do some travelling during these months, as part of their ministry.
– safety for the workers of the building.
– that former students will have their eyes open to see how they can serve in God’s Kingdom with what he has given to them trough SEMBEC.
– that current students will have opportunities to serve in the churches and apply what they have learned so far.
– that future students will hear and obey God’s voice calling them to deeper committment to him.
– that God will speak to the pastors so that they will be happy to support spiritually to people from their churches that come to study to SEMBEC.
– Above all, that the Holy Spirit would hover in SEMBEC (the building and the people).

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.  … In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleepd to1 those he loves” (Ps. 127:1a,2).

A year on…

We have been reflecting a lot this weekend on the fact that this Sunday last year we were being prayed for in our church just before we left for training in the States and before leaving for our year in Costa Rica. We have so valued everyone’s love and support over this past year. So many people have given sacrificially in order to get us to the mission field and we appreciate you all so much. 

These past 11 months in Costa Rica have been hard work getting to grips with Spanish but we have appreciated having the privelege of living in this beautiful country and of being given the opportunity to acclimatise to the Latin American culture.

We leave for Mexico on 19th August so are counting down the weeks now. We’re really excited about joining our team in Mexico and of being reunited with old friends. It is going to be heart wrenching leaving friends here but we know God is leading us to the next chapter of our lives and we can’t wait to get stuck into the work in Mexico City.

We hope in a year’s time to return to the UK for 6 months to re-connect with you all and give you a formal report before heading back to Mexico again.

Midsummer

There was a wonderful John Buchan novel called Midwinter, which I read aeons ago and which has now almost totally gone from my memory. Katuska recently picked The Thirty-Nine Steps off the bookshelf, and was lost for a few days in swashbucklingly unlikely tales of espionage and heroism. Then in the last day or two she’s read Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place – vastly more exciting and moving than anything Buchan ever dreamed up. I wonder if this is the time of year for getting lost in a good book.

As for me, I just have to guess it must be about midsummer. You can’t tell from the weather; it drizzles a lot and gets chilly at night, but there’s nothing to give shape to the seasons, like an 11pm sunset or strawberries and Wimbledon. The truth is I’ve got one class to go (Conflict Resolution, tomorrow night) and a few more scripts to mark from my Old Testament class – and that will be it for the academic year; hang up the gown and head for the sun.

Except that I won’t be heading anywhere for a while, since the boys still have school for a couple of weeks and music school after that, and even if they didn’t, we’ve made some pretty big plans for next year in SEMBEC, so before long I’m going to be busy preparing my next set of classes. But not before all the fuss about the World Cup is over.

Making plans in the mountains

The next few weeks will be extra busy in SEMBEC. No complaints, just plenty of prayer requests! This Saturday, 22nd May, Katuska’s sister Ingrid will travel from Guayaquil to give a workshop on “Children’s Praise and Worship”. From the number of enquiries we’re guessing we’ll have more people attending than at previous workshops; a good number of students have offered their help to make sure things run smoothly.

The following Saturday, 29th May, is the day of SEMBEC’s Assembly. This is the annual business meeting: time to hear reports of the past year’s activities and plans for the future. It’s a good opportunity to see some of those who don’t live in Cuenca but are interested in the work of the seminary. Please pray that these supporters will be able to attend the meeting and hear the plans for the new academic year.

On Monday 7th June SEMBEC will open its doors to the Fellowship of Pastors of Cuenca. There will be a Communion service followed by breakfast. It should be a great opportunity to raise SEMBEC’s profile in the city. We plan to present each pastor with a file of promotional material as well as giving them a good breakfast. We hope to create new openings in churches where we’re not so well known; and, later, to make follow-up visits to those churches, to speak about how the seminary can serve them through the training it offers. 2 Tim. 2:2 explains our calling: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” Our prayer is that God will open our eyes to see those reliable people….

We love doing what we do

While Samuel, Benjamin and Joseph have been busy in their schools and music classes, Steve and Katuska have been doing the same, but with SEMBEC’s work.  Steve is delighted to have a class of 8 students taking Old Testament, three of which are new.  We love our “old” students, and wish them success and blessings in their ministries, but when new students join us in SEMBEC, they refresh us wonderfully.

For the next academic year, starting in September, SEMBEC will offer a new one-year programme.  It will offer a more practical training, for those seeking to serve as Sunday School teachers and support the work related to Pastoral Work and Church Planting.  It is a full-time programme and we pray that God will send the students that are able to commit themselves to it, ant that He will provide them with the finances required.

Part of the preparation involves to find teachers, plan the new academic year, set up a blog for SEMBEC, visiting churches, establishing links with pastors, reconnecting with old students, etc.  Now, I love doing the background work, finding ways (not always new ones!) to promote the activity that SEMBEC does.  It gives me such joy when other people start asking about SEMBEC:  “Are we having an “Intensive Course” after this module?”, “When is the next Saturday Workshop?” or “Let me know when you will offer a Youth related workshop” or “Can you give me more of these flyers, please?”  It is like when I’m getting close to the beach, and my feet don’t touch yet the sand or the water, but I can perceive the sea breeze on my face.  That’s how I’m feeling about SEMBEC, I’m looking forward to witness the powerful ways God will use SEMBEC – students, teachers, admin staff, guest speakers, the lot! – to bless Cuenca and the surrounding areas.

During the five past Wednesdays, 5 new leaders from the Upper Room church and I met to learn about “Participative Bible Study”.  This is the kind of Bible study I was using when leading a Ladies Meeting last year.  I find this method really good, as it makes everybody to read a passage several times, the leader is really a guide, not a teacher and after a few weeks everybody has been exposed to the teaching of the Bible.

Again, I was blessed to see how these new leaders “got the hang of it”.  I trust the Lord, that if He can use me, He can use them too!  This is just a small part of the big jigsaw of all the associate churches of the southern part of Ecuador.  They’ve deviced a church planting project and they are working together to reach the unreached areas down to Peru.  Their blog (in Spanish) is http://ministerioaustro.wordpress.com/.  As OMS missionaries, we are delighted to see that they are showing plenty of initiative; and we will support them in every way we can.

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Abigail and Joshua

On Christmas Eve we welcomed two new members to our family -Joshua, Thomas and Abigail Rose! They are such blessings from God and we feel so privileged to be entrusted with their care! Abigail was born first at 12.28pm weighing 6lbs 13oz. Joshua was born 1 minute later weighing 5lbs 12oz. We would like to thank all of you who prayed for them and for us.

Charity shop

We are opening the Charity shop to fund community Developement Projects in Mozambique. If you have any bric-a-brac, books, clothes, furniture, toys that you would like to donate they will be gratefully received! Just drop them into 69 Church Street, Antrim.