Thursday, July 28, 2011

Here and Half Way Around the World

Today, Mary and Traci went to a church in a remote part of Kenya to conduct a conference for the Tabitha Ministry. Tabitha is a Bible study ministry that also reaches out to help meet the physical needs of those involved, when the individual shows an exceptional indication of responsibility and integrity. Today’s sessions were for tribal women who are leading Bible studies in small primitive villages.

The women can participate in a rigorous scripture memory program that, when completed, earns them a Bible in their own language. In the picture, the women are happily holding up the rewards of their dedication to learning the assigned verses. However, they not only learn to recite the verses, but they have learned to assimilate the truth of the verses into their lives. Their faith is based on those verses.

Mary came back hoarse because there was not an adequate audio system, so she had to speak loudly throughout each message. She was tired at the end of the day, but she said:
“Had a wonderful day with 300 Bible study leaders of Tabitha. It was so encouraging to hear them report that they remembered my messages from last year. Music to a teacher's ears! Thanks to those who are supporting our ministry here.”

And thanks be to God whose word says: faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (Romans 10:17)...both here and half way around the world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Showers of Blessing

For the remainder of the week, Mary and Traci will be in remote locations in Kenya, visiting the Tabitha Bible study ministry, and speaking to leaders and hospital workers in the area.

Yesterday the scene was the home of one of the Bible study organizers. In the photo, the lady of the house welcomed everyone to her home, all decked out for the festive occasion. But at the set starting time, hardly anyone was there. Little by little women arrived from across the valley and kept coming, and kept coming...and kept coming. After an hour or so the room was filled to capacity, women shoulder to shoulder, front touching back, squeezed in for food and to hear Mary speak. Her message encouraged them, but they were in store for another blessing. It rained! It poured. It came down in buckets for about an hour! Hallelujah!

After yesterday's blog, you can understand the importance of that downpour. It didn't mean the drought was over, but it did refresh all who came. They left with smiling faces and hearts brimming. It was a good afternoon together. They will meet up again tomorrow for a big one-day conference with over 300 of their friends. Maybe it will rain again tomorrow too! I hope so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Power Outage Means Trouble Ahead

The concert of prayer shown in the photo was the way Mary closed the conference in Nairobi. It was timely to devote the session to prayer, in view of the hardships these women are facing. Although our recent blogs have presented reasons for praise as Mary ministers in Africa, today we got news that sobered us. Mary sent us a message that in Kenya, notice has just gone out that there will be planned power outages beginning Wednesday, due to low water levels.

That is more than just an inconvenience. The lack of rain from a prolonged drought has been causing food shortages, leading to severe malnutrition in certain sectors, and even death. And food prices are climbing fast, with a 60-80% increase in the last 2 years. The low water levels, in turn, impact hydroelectric productivity. The lack of electrical power leads to all sorts of business struggles, and households face yet another challenge. All of these factors lead to critical health issues, and the downward spiral continues. The dominoes are falling one by one, as failure in one domain brings about crisis in another.

That one short paragraph over-simplifies the situation, of course. But it does make us think about the troubled lives of the people Mary ministers to there. It also reminds us that she needs protection, discernment and strength as she continues her journey, now made more complicated by the lack of electrical power. The power outages impact the airport as well, so please pray that Mary's flight on August 2 will be able to depart as scheduled.

As I said at the beginning, Mary ended her Nairobi conference with a concert of prayer. That helped the women tap into the one true source of power to meet life's challenges. The electrical power outages may bring trouble, but they can also be a reminder to turn to God himself for power in daily living. Let us join them and pray for God's help for the nation, as well as for Mary's outreach there.

You've Earned a Certificate

Mary closed the conference in Nairobi Friday. They commemorated the day by awarding a certificate to each one who had 100% attendance. However, the "award" that Mary earned is receiving notes like this: I just really don't know how to express to you my gratitude. I am so sure you came to speak to me. I have been going through so much and one thing I can surely testify is that God's timing is always the best. I have learned so much and I am really ready and willing to allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into being the woman that God created me to be. The topic on the book of Ruth left quite a great impact on me. God bless you.

Well, God has blessed Mary. It's a privilege for her to be able to make the long trip, teach dedicated African women in ministry, be God's mouthpiece with transforming power, and have the backing of sincere women back home who pray and donate funds to make it all possible. See Africa 2011 for the back story.

She will take a couple days to rest and re-group, and then be off to another location for other speaking opportunities. You can follow along using her itinerary.

If you are praying as she travels and attending the conferences in spirit, then you have become an honorary attendee. You can claim the certificate above. Congratulations!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nairobi News

The conference Women of Excellence that Mary is leading in Nairobi is an effective leadership training seminar for women in ministry. Yesterday Mary taught "When You've Been Wronged" about how to deal biblically with the pain of the past. Some of these women have suffered great injustice and abuse and have dealt with issues that do not have obvious solutions, so this was a significant message.

Mary ended the session with a challenge for those who wanted to show one step in the process as they faced these matters personally. As at a funeral, (see above photo) they could come forward to bring a flower to place on a symbolic "coffin" to express their commitment to "bury the wrongs done to them in the past." Mary writes: It seemed to be very meaningful to them, and we praise God for some breakthroughs that many women had.

These days have been fruitful, and Mary has been able to see some of what God has accomplished. Your prayers have contributed to that. She has also been pleased to make contacts throughout the city that will be helpful for future ministry there, for example finding a trustworthy driver, connecting to a Bible-centered church, and working with a well-equipped printer. These are just a few of the details that are important to her safety and effectiveness, so we are grateful for God's provision. Join us in praying for these and the other elements essential to support her as she and Traci continue their journey throughout Kenya. But especially, please pray for the spiritual impact of their efforts. Maybe you could even ask a friend to join you in praying and in following along on the journey spiritually. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sharing the Joy from Uganda

Mary has now moved on to ministry in Kenya. Her first stop is Nairobi, where she is already leading another 4-day conference that began yesterday. She and Traci are enjoying the fellowship of the team there, pictured above.

But we are still hearing from women in Uganda who were touched by the messages Mary and Traci presented there. Here is a word from them:

  • I have learned a lot from your presentations, especially from the Book of Ruth, the definition of Ezer and to know I am an ezer-warrior. I saw clearly our position in our homes, church and communities. I now feel confident and bold for I am an ezer-warrior. God bless you.

  • Thank you so much for taking time to prepare and for choosing good messages that touch our hearts. Since the time you began to come here, you have encouraged me, equipped me and I will use these messages to teach women in Southwestern region of this country in our January conference.

  • The Word of God is powerful, and it is a joy to see it transforming the lives of those who hear it. I'll post news tomorrow from Mary in Nairobi.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    What We Heard About Uganda

    Before Mary left Uganda, she sent us this word about the conference there:

    After my presentation on Ruth, an Ezer Warrior, there were several women who expressed how it had given them an entirely new understanding of the story of Ruth and Naomi. One older woman made the comment that it was a good lesson to all the mothers-in-law. Many times there are serious conflicts between mothers-and daughters-in-law because the mothers-in-law are very critical and demanding. She challenged the mothers-in-law to be like Naomi!

    It is rewarding for Mary to be used by God to teach the Word to women who are eager to learn and diligent to apply the truth to their lives. As you can tell, they will take these lessons home and will be "Timothys", ...reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2.) So Mary's contribution begins a ripple that spreads out far across the country.

    Next destination: Kenya. Pray with us that God will accomplish His purpose in the conference in Nairobi this week. Itinerary for Prayer

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    What Is Happening In Uganda Today?

    Mary is in Uganda, ending the conference today that I told you about yesterday. Her travel associate is Traci Mason. Her presentation yesterday, Overcoming Obstacles and Moving Forward, challenged the women to identify their obstacles and not allow them to keep them from doing what God wants them to do. After the message, a young woman stood to give a testimony:

    Yesterday I received a request to do a job for someone, but I felt that it was just too much for me. But my husband encouraged me to do it. Then, this morning, when I thought about it again, I was afraid I really couldn't do it. So I decided I would call them today and tell them I couldn't. But after hearing Traci this morning, I knew God was speaking to me. I realized I needed to overcome this obstacle of fear, and now I'm not going to make that call. I'm going to do what they asked me to do, with God's help.

    What a joy to receive that kind of immediate response to a message! I know God is at work through Mary and Traci, so let's praise Him together for what He is doing.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Where is Mary?

    Mary is ministering in Uganda this week. Right now she is teaching a 4-day conference for women called Women of Excellence. The Christian Working Woman provides this ministry through the donations of people like you, our supporters. I thought you might appreciate reading this note one of the women attending handed to Mary yesterday:

    God used you three years ago to heal my bitterness about being single. I got married last year, thank God, but I had found peace in remaining single, if that was God's will for me. Thanks for reminding me that being married to the wrong man is worse than being single. You are a perfect picture of God's restoration.

    It's encouraging to see this example of what God is doing through your gifts. I hope it lifts your spirit today. Check in another day for an update on Africa 2011.

    Next week Mary will be doing the same thing in Kenya, so please follow her with your prayer support.