Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Painting the World!

Isn't that what we want to do?  Paint the world?  To leave splashes of life and beauty everywhere we go? That is what we pray we have done in the last five years since we joined our ministries in Nigeria. We pray that God has been in full color in our lives, clearly seen and experienced by all who spend time with us.
We are returning to the US as a family (minus Daso who will return to her biological family) after     2 1/2 years in Nigeria.  Oh, Lord, we pray your color spreads, that what you have done through us brings light and life to many!

This morning, though, Zach actually got to begin painting the world on the wall of our children's Sunday School classroom.  What fun to think of leaving behind this physical representation of what we hope our lives are about!

Friday, June 23, 2017


About 45 children came for Thursday Bible study yesterday, and here's what they did!

Keep praying for these young people as they quiz, and that the quiz coaches will regularly meet with them in the next week to prepare for July 2nd!

Pray that the truth of the Scriptures they've learned and the Bible stories will sink deeply into their hearts.
Praise God for the faithful teachers that come and devote themselves to these little ones!
There are three age levels.  This is the middle group.

This is Mariama's group.  Ms. Maria did a great job of singing, telling stories, and loving them.

The teenage group has the most questions on 2 Timothy, all our Bible stories learned, and the Bible verses.

Happy is a good name for this girl on the left, and she's a good quizzer too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lessons from Luke

Karen Jackson in 2005
The teachers laughed, giggled, and shouted as they competed on teams to answer the review questions of the Bible story I had told them during the training.  Children stood at the doorway and windows smiling widely, wondering at these childlike teachers!  My prayer is that they will have that same delight and more as these teachers teach them the “Lessons from Luke” Curriculum. 
It gives me such joy to be training in this curriculum.  What, you might ask, makes this curriculum so special?  8 years ago, I remember a dear friend of mine, Karen, at her desk in Bamenda writing lessons she and her husband, Chris, prayed would be transformative in the lives of children, leading them into a deep relationship with Christ.   She worked in Cameroon for 19 years, knowing the risk it was to her body in spite of a rare illness that gave her continual pain and half the energy that a healthy person would have.  I never knew a more joyful woman. Today, that friend is with her beloved Jesus, but her husband has continued to work in Cameroon, training teachers to impact the lives of children through the power of God’s word.  The Cameroon Baptist Convention has adopted this curriculum for all of her 1,000 churches, impacting thousands and thousands of young hearts.  I’m glad to be part of Karen’s legacy, and Chris’ continued heart work.    
I have two more mornings with these teachers before we leave.  Please pray that the Thursday Bible study teachers of ECWA Gigiring Hwolshe will be excited about teaching children effectively and will put into practice the methods that are being taught.   Pray that all of Hwolshe (our neighborhood) will know Christ better as a result of these committed Christians walking with these children as they learn to walk with Jesus.


Purple, green, and blue are the colors we’ve bought to decorate the children’s classrooms at the church before we leave.  This is so exciting and fun!  Our main artists will be the teenage class.  I pray that we are able to finish it well and that it will be a joyful place for the children to learn! 

Can't wait to post pictures! 

Bible Quiz

July 2nd is the big day for the Thursday Bible study kids who have been studying for a Bible quiz (mostly in English) in ECWA Gigiring Hwolshe.  We have been learning stories and Scripture songs over the last year which will form the questions they will answer with the prize of a Bible for the first three quizzers in three different age brackets.  The teenage class has been challenged with a variety of questions that come out of 2 Timothy, which they have been studying (and hopefully memorizing). This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, so please do pray with us for this special time.  The Pastor has given us the whole sermon time for this activity, a unique privilege on our last Sunday in Nigeria this year.
I praise God for such a supportive church family, the teachers who have sacrificed their time to be there, and every child who has learned God’s stories.
I pray that the Bible quiz will not just be questions and answers jammed in their heads, but life truths that they live for the rest of their lives. 
I pray that as I recite 2 Timothy, the children present Scripture songs and learned Bible stories, that the word of God touches many people's hearts and challenges them to engage in new ways! 

Some of the teachers of Thursday Bible study

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2 1/2 Weeks!

Writing that number made me double check the calendar because it barely seems long enough to cover half of what I wrote I wanted to do before I left on a list I made two months ago.  
However, that’s what we have!  Yes, in 2 ½ weeks, the four of us (Mariama, Zach, unborn pikin--"child"--and I) will board a plane to the United States. We will say goodbye to Daso after spending an afternoon and evening doing special things in Abuja with the Aunties (Auntie Mary Jane and Auntie Nnena).
What you can pray with us during this time:
  • That we finish the numerous projects: painting the children’s classrooms at church, teaching the Lessons in Luke to Bible study teachers, preparing with the ladies of Beautiful Me for the rest of the year, our scrapbook with Daso, packing the house so others can live here, visiting a couple more SLRG groups, and creating more special memories with Daso).
  • That our family stays physically healthy during this time
  • That Mariama will feel loved and secure during this time
  • That Daso will know that we love her, and can be sufficiently prepared for a time apart
  • That the baby inside of me will continue to be healthy

Dazzling and beautiful

Yeah right! Whoever told us her hometown was 8 hours away was definitely an optimist. Oh, well, we arrived on Thursday morning, and, after checking in with Daso’s family, went with her father and Auntie Mary Jane to two schools where Daso may go next school year.  They were as different as can be.  

The second school was not just dazzling on the outside, it was also impressive on the inside.  It exceeded my expectations of what I thought was possible, and, though I didn’t get to witness a classroom because they are on midterm break, the scattered classrooms left by busy learning made my heart happy…not just because they were scattered and Daso would feel right at home.  No, there were science posters, paper mache volcanoes, painted gourds (a cultural symbol), inspirational posters on the walls. I saw interactive learning had taken place in every classroom we entered.  Mary Jane said she wanted to be 11 again.  I wanted to move there myself. They had drama club, press club, and other extracurricular that will make Daso dizzy with possibility.

Praise God for this answered prayer. Daso will need to take an exam to enter so they can place her in the appropriate classroom.  You can pray that she will be able to show what she knows and as she goes to school, will be confident in who she is so she makes friends who are confident and joyful as well.

I have asked a young woman I met while there to be Daso’s mentor.  I’m waiting and praying for an answer to this request.  If she does not agree, we will keep praying that God will show us the right person.
Probably my favorite moments at her family home were sitting outside, taking in Mariama playing in the sand with other children, Daso getting her hair braided, eating tuwo (corn mush) with sauce, and discussing the important and the mundane with Daso’s mother and Auntie Mary Jane.  We also swam in a very mossy pool, went out to a bakery for food and drinks, and celebrated her oldest brother’s 14th birthday with balloons and cake made on the stovetop in a “local oven.”  
Yes, it was a beautiful and successful trip.  Thank you for praying with us as Daso (and us) transition in the upcoming weeks.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

What God is teaching us

John and Fittokka model a call to set an appointment
One of the things I have asked the most for is prayer that God will teach us what he wants during this month.  One day I jotted down a few things that were shared.  I was really encouraged that God is answering this prayer!
Every morning, each of us shares what God has been teaching us recently.

What God is teaching some of our new colleagues in their own words:
  • Yesterday some of us struggled to book an appointment.  Yet, you can see hope, courage, trust in the Lord.  Jer 17:5.  “Cursed is the one who trusts in man… who trusts in mere flesh… they will not see prosperity when it comes.  Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the waters.  He does not fear when the heat comes... And never fails to bear fruit.” I was encouraged by my colleagues’ courage.
  •  Maybe I never noticed this Scripture on the wall before.  Ps 46:10.  “Be still and know that I am Lord.  I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the earth.”  It is a privilege for God to use us to create awareness. Also to be used by God to translate Scriptures for the nations.
  • If you have the right attitude, no matter how intense the thing is, you will succeed.  When practicing the photo album, I was about to give up.  Praise God for our coach, she will still say, “You are really doing well!”  But I said to myself “No, even I, I know what I am doing is not right!”  We need to humble ourselves to learn under any other person. 
  •  My brother was determined that somehow God will use him, so he kept on making calls, even though none were agreeing to a 5:30pm appointment.  I was encouraged that no matter what we should try our best!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Helen and the prison ladies

We have a new colleague.  Her name is Helen.  She is ready to serve God wherever he leads.  But what of the hundreds of opportunities is God really calling her to?  We leave in four weeks to go on furlough, so Helen and I are exploring opportunities she might have while we are gone to do Scripture Listening and Reading Group training . We would like to run an informal one before I leave. Our most recent exploration found us at the prison, where Helen observed a discipleship class with about 14 prison ladies led by another local ministry. 

Please pray for Helen as she discovers what area she is to focus on in her ministry here, and praise God with us for this very willing colleague who will partner with faithful Nigerians as they grow in the knowledge of God’s word and equipping others to do the same.   

John 3 in their hearts

They stood, they began in Rigwe.  They said the whole chapter of John 3 in their language.  Wow. 

The leader had been in a training that I had done a few months ago on listening Bible studies.  He hadn’t played the audio Scriptures, sat in a circle, or asked the questions and given time for responses.  He wasn’t using the method I had taught, except that the students knew the six Bible study questions in their language.  It was a moment to say, “You give what you have, and you leave it in God’s hands!”

The things we give to people are often morphed into something else and in this case, it is God’s word being memorized and answers to the Bible study questions being taught rather than discussed.  This man runs six different Bible studies--three in his village, and three in a different village three miles away.  He goes there by foot, over the beautiful hills and now lush green landscape.  What a love for Jesus and his word he must have to walk, teach, give what he has to those God has put in his realm of influence.

The fact is, with my method, those youth wouldn’t have memorized John 3.  Please pray for discernment as I go around and visit different groups.  What does God want me to bring to the group, to the leader?  In this case, I took a picture of these remarkable youth, meeting three times a week, and memorizing John 3 in two weeks, and told them I’d tell their story.  They smiled, nodding in agreement, dark brown eyes shining. 
Here they are.  Please pray for them, that as they grow, the words they have memorized with go deeply into their heart.  Pray for their leader that he would make use of the audio Scriptures he has available to him.  Pray for the Rigwe community, that we would partner well with them and the unchained gospel would impact lives for Christ.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Ministry Partners!

The elder (left; he's an elder in his church)
It is hard to believe that the month of Discipleship Ministry Partner Development is almost over.  At the end of the first week I asked you to pray for the people we met on our first appointment, an elder and a seminary student.  God answered our prayers, and they agreed to be monthly financial ministry partners!  Not only that, on the same day we had a third person join our ministry team unexpectedly!  We had arranged to meet him the next day, but when he saw us on Thursday he joined for the appointment as well and also joined the team!

Our surprise ministry partner and his wife (middle)
Since then we have met with about 250 people, and many of them have agreed to be ministry partners as well.  Thank God!  Everyone we met seemed thrilled to meet us, and many said things like “your visit is an answer to prayer” or “I really appreciate you coming by!”  Many have given us the names and numbers of those we can meet, so we still have many in Jos who we can share with about the great need right here in Nigeria for language development and Bible translation.

The seminary student (by my left) and some of his family
Please pray with us on Friday and Monday, the last two days we will go for appointments before the end of the training.  Each of our new missionary colleagues has booked two appointments on Friday and three appointments on Monday.  This means in just two days, we hope to still meet another 55 people!  Please pray for each of these people, that they also will appreciate our visits, that they will be bold to commit to monthly financial partnership, that they will feel free to give us the contact information for others we can meet, and that they will be faithful in their commitments!

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intenti...