14 May 2014

14 05 2014

It is strange knowing that Nigeria is regularly in the international news. The fighting, kidnappings and terrorism have been going on since we arrived in 2009. It gets worse in different areas of the country at different times. 276 girls taken at once is horrific and deserves international news and we are so thankful that help is coming from other countries. However, it will take God’s miracle to change how the government, military and police operate here. I don’t want to expand for obvious reasons but it can easily be discouraging when we look at changes needed on a grand scale. Fortunately, God shows us that we are here to share the Gospel and God’s love one person at a time. He has had to remind me of that countless times when I am ready to throw in the towel and get on the next plane home.

For those who ask about our safety, we are in constant prayer for staying safe, and knowing when it will be time to leave. Jos is in Plateau State in the middle of Nigeria, bordering the north/south division. Northern Nigeria has had the most problems with terrorist activity. There has been no activity in Jos since 2011. Fighting among tribes and villages over land and religion has been ongoing in Plateau State for many years and we are constantly being updated on areas to avoid. Ironically in January, one week before returning to Nigeria, Stanwood High School had a lock down because a previous student showed up on campus with a gun. It made me realize we are safest in God’s hands and His will for our lives no matter where we are in the world. We are soooo appreciative of your prayers and encouragement!

While this difficult stuff is going on we try to carry on as normally as possible. Although at Sunday’s monthly worship night, led by Gary’s worship band, we all held hands and prayed for the safe return of the kidnapped girls to their families.

Jordan attended the yearly long-awaited Junior/Senior Banquet and Cypress attended her 8th grade Banquet. Isabell celebrated her 12th birthday with a fun party, and will be performing with the middle school band at their concert on Friday. There are only 2 weeks of school remaining so Gary is busy with AP tests, library system changes, sound for the many end of year events; concerts, baccalaureate and graduation.

I have been continuing to venture to the downtown prostitution hotels to talk with the women about God’s love and His better plan for their lives. It is soooo sad and difficult. Many have children and families they are trying to support in a village. Expectations on the first-born child to take care of their parents and their own children are huge. Their desperate need is heart breaking and they are fearful of stepping away from the money. Some become drug and alcohol addicts and some have become hardened after being in the industry too long. We go in the morning hours to avoid busy working times, but alcohol is abundant and men are coming and going in the run down, closet size rooms as we talk to the girls. It can be discouraging when we don’t feel we are making a difference, but we are reminded that we are bringing Christ’s light into dark places. We pray with them and hope that one day they will find the courage and God’s strength to choose differently.

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29 January 2014

31 01 2014
Sarah wears out the young boys who live at Grace Gardens.  Their future has brightened because their mothers made a commitment to change their life and follow Jesus.

Sarah wears out the young boys who live at Grace Gardens. Their future has brightened because their mothers made a commitment to change their life and follow Jesus.

After several years of not having time or energy to see the tough ministry my friend does weekly in the brothels of downtown Jos, God has given me the time, courage, and willingness to help evangelize to these women in need. Today my eyes were opened to a huge industry and the dent we can make in it by helping even one woman (or teenager) make a decision to leave prostitution. Unfortunately each weekly visit does not have the women flocking after us to change their lives. More than anything else I was struck by the bondage they are in. A few seem like they want to change their life but fear, money, and I am not sure what else, keeps them from actually doing it. I would have thought that they would jump for a chance to live somewhere more pleasant (the ministry of Grace Gardens), to learn a trade such as hair dressing, sewing, or jewelry making, and to experience the love of God. But the spiritual battle at hand is huge. After visiting 3 ‘hotels’ no women wanted to come with us and see how their life could be different. However, we prayed with them, shared the gospel message, and gave them the phone number to call if they changed their mind. It is my prayer that we will see changed hearts and lives in the future.