Friday, November 25, 2011

Update from the Pillmans’

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6

These verses have taken on new meaning to us as we anxiously wait for our first born son. With his birth only a few weeks away, we can’t wait to meet him in person. Are you sitting on pins and needles just waiting to share with others the reason for Jesus’ birth? We are looking forward to sending out a birth announcement around Christmas time. Will you be announcing Christ’s birth at Christmas?

It has been so exciting to have three youth from Ecuador attending the AFLC Bible School this fall. What a blessing it is to see youth we helped disciple in the past continue to hunger and thirst for the Lord! As I write, we have two of the youth spending the weekend at our house. It is so much fun to spend time together with them and to practice our Spanish. It makes us anticipate all the more the day we will be leaving for Ecuador.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas just a month apart, it reminds us we that have so much to be thankful for. We are thankful for your prayers and support. We are thankful for the visits we could have with many of you.

We have traveled over 12,000 miles over the last few months and thank the Lord for His safety. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we stick closer to home for the next couple months and prepare for our baby’s birth.

In Christ,

Justo and Tricia

Editor’s note:  For a PDF version of this update including prayer needs, click here.

November Border Crossings

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . . for the Might One has done great things for me-holy is his name.” (Luke 1:47, 49)

image“This is the fulfillment of a dream for me.”  Those were the words of Pastor Milton Flores of Celaya, Mexico when he came to the United States to drop off his son, Milton, Jr., for his first year of Bible school at AFLBS in Minneapolis.

Pastor Milton Flores came to Minneapolis in the late 1980’s to study at AFLTS.  He graduated four years later and returned to Mexico.  He told me that during his time on the campus of the Bible School and seminary he was so impressed with the students at AFLBS that he began to hope and to pray that some dayGod would grant that he would be able to send his own children to study the Bible there.  And now some 25 years later his first son is enrolled as a student and his dad is praising God for His goodness to him and for raising up many friends who have helped supply Milton’s needs through scholarships to the Bible school on his behalf.

These last 6 months have been filled with visits to
churches, camps, a youth convention and special
meetings in several locations.  We’ve been very glad to be able to see many friends along the way and make some new ones as well.

Editor’s Note:  To read more about the Schierkolk’s travels and an update on Adri’s girls, click here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November Update from Paul and Becky Abel

image“He set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace and was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentile(Brazilians).” Gal. 1:15-16

 Since our last newsletter we have traveled many kilometers and visited many Free Lutheran churches in Brazil.  One of our goals for this missionary term is to encourage local Free
Lutheran congregations and pastors.  Although we have not had the freedom to be gone from the Curitiba area as much as we had originally anticipated due to our regular responsibilities with the churches in Bateias and São Braz, nonetheless we have had several opportunities to travel to other churches.  In July Paul went to Campo Mourão where he participated in the winter Youth camp and had time with many of the pastors.
In August he and Pastor Joel, president of the national church body here, traveled to Vitoria, ES, for the installation of Pastor Lauro at one of our churches there. We are thankful to have a godly, enthusiastic man with a supportive family join our little group of Free Lutheran pastors trying to make a difference in Brazil.

To read the rest of the newsletter, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prayers answered...

It's so great to be part of such a wonderful family of faith!

We were overwhelmed by the response of so many of you who sent e-mails or called during the past 24 hours after surgery.  We realize that many others joined with us in prayer today for Christina as well.  Thank you so much!  The surgery was very successful and the doctor was able to repair the elbow without using a prothesis.  There seems to be no nerve damage which is also a big blessing.  The greatest concern at this point is that the wound is still not  totally free of  foreign particles which could cause infection.  Wednesday the doctor will clean the wound again.  Christina is in pain and weary, but she is doing just fine and hopes to have another good night of sleep.  We realize God's powerful healing hand in this whole process and want to honor Him as the Giver and Preserver of life, the One who heals our wounds and comforts our hearts. To Him be the glory!  Let's continue to run to Him for strength and help in time of trouble.  Keep praying!

"Glorify the LORD with me;
  let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him."  Ps. 34:3-5,8

Thankful for you and thankful for God's faithfulness,

Paul and Becky

P.S.  Christina's husband is finishing his medical residency in orthopedic surgery this month in two of the best hospitals in our state. One of his trusted, capable instructors performed the surgery.

Bible Training Ministry in Ukraine

We are so thankful for the team God has rounded up for this important work here in Ukraine. As we serve on this side of the world, we are encouraged to know that we are not serving alone. It is a humbling privilege to be on the receiving end of your prayers, encouragement and support!

As you know, our primary goal is to help start a Bible School for Russian-speaking students. We are working within the Lutheran Church here in Ukraine, where Andy serves in the pastoral role as well.

During our first year, we are focusing on learning Russian and making preparations for the Bible School. Andy serves alongside several other pastors in building the foundation for the school. One of their main tools in building awareness for the school and attracting potential students is the use of Bible Teaching Seminars. Each month Andy and two other pastors travel to a host church in Ukraine for a 2-day (and sometimes more) seminar where multiple congregations are invited to attend. This month's seminar will be in the city of Lutsk beginning November 4. Our whole family will be traveling for this weekend seminar. Isaiah and Moriah are very excited to travel by train. Andy's teaching topics will be "Forgiveness," and "How to Study the Bible." Plans continue to be made for the school, both from the structural and spiritual perspectives. There are many variables involved, and we request your prayers. Pray also that God would raise up future students for this training program.

Ministry highlights from the past month include a three-day seminar in Dnipropetrovsk and Poltava, Andy's installation as a pastor within the church body, Andy's first time preaching (with translation, of course). Andy was able to preach in two village churches, one of which (Youth Center in Petrodolina) is the host for the future Bible school. Interestingly, it was on Reformation Sunday, one of Andy's favorite Sundays of the Church year :)

From the family perspective, we are doing well and thankful for the Lord's daily provisions. We were able to enjoy the beauty of the Carpathian mountains here in Ukraine, as well as the changing colors and harvest season. Below are some highlights from the children. We are also thankful for a growing group of friends from Ukraine, Germany, and most recently, China.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Love in our Lord,
Andy and Monica, Moriah, Isaiah and Josiah

Editor’s note:  Click here to read the full version of the Coyles’ November update.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mercy, a Gift: Thank You!

The following November Missions Devotional was written by Jim Fugleberg

Psalm 118:1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

The words of this verse are an oft-repeated refrain in the psalms.  If Jesus in the New Testament says “verily, verily,” doubling the word to emphasize the truth and importance of what He is about to say, how much more do the multiple repetitions of this refrain emphasize the encouragement to us to be constantly thankful to God, and more than that, emphasize the reason why that thanks is appropriate: That reason is His eternally enduring mercy.

The mercies of God are multitudinous, and in a sense, they encompass all that God does toward us. After all, why should he have anything to do with us?  That He should have any regard for us at all on this tiny, baby-blue ball floating in the outlying regions of one of the myriads of galaxies in a vast universe, is nothing short of incredible.  This is incredible whether God acts toward us with favor or disfavor: why doesn’t He just abandon us?  Why doesn’t He just ignore us?  But God does not.

And happy for us that He does not.  We may wish He would sometimes: when the Holy Spirit bears down on us in the conviction of sin, when the law cuts deep, when we labor and are heavy laden under condemning guilt, when He makes us painfully aware of the need for a correction.  Happy for us that He does not leave us in love with our sin, for if He did, we would have no way out.  Happy for us that He does not provide the option that He should abandon us to oblivion, because, if He did, we in our sinful foolishness would probably choose oblivion over repentance!

But He bears with us in our sins and “it is of His mercy that we are not consumed” (Lam 3:22).  He bears with us while He works to make us childlike and repentant of heart, while He destroys our confidence in our own so-regarded virtues, while He strips us of our pride, while He sickens us of our drawing others’ attention to “I, Me, and My,” as if there was something good, honorable, or special about it, while He brings to a final end any thought of, “I can overcome my sin if I just try harder.”

God delights in mercy, but He must hold back from extending it as long as we would misconstrue His favor as something deserved.  Mercy, by definition, is not deserved.  Therefore we must know our abject unworthiness before we can receive it for what it is.

Before we get to that place, believing is difficult, because it involves rest and trust.  We don’t rest and trust in Jesus then, because we still think there’s something in us we can rely on.

And then when we do come to see our abject unworthiness and are offered the grace of God for the gift that it is, then the difficulty associated with believing is that our sense of justice cries out that we deserve punishment and not mercy.  “How can such a sinner as I be an heir of heaven and eternal life?”

But believing is nothing more than that: believing.  Believing because God says so.  And when we believe it anyway for the simple fact that the Word of God tells us it’s true, and the fact that Jesus satisfied the justice part, then we realize and know in our hearts, “it’s a gift.”  There’s no other way to describe it.

Then “not by works” is clearer than it has ever been.  Then “we know and believe the love God has for us,” and it is wonderful.  Then praise to God has foundation in the fact that He alone is to be credited with our being counted in the number of the redeemed.  Then sin, O cruel culprit that it is! is seen as that which had robbed us of this blessed standing with God.  And “Jesus the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast,” because He it is that has taken the burden I carried, has borne the guilt, has paid the wages in my place at so great a cost.

This mercy endures forever.  That includes a minute from now when the guilt returns, tomorrow when the devil accuses, whenever I have failed to be watchful and have fallen in sin.  Then again, undeserving, I need mercy, by definition extended only to the unworthy, extended as a gift, and received as such, because that is the only thing it can be.

They are new every morning, no days skipped.  I’m as unworthy today as I was yesterday, and while this life remains will never be less-so.  I don’t deserve God’s favor now, and in this life will not improve on that.  Necessary for me, then, and happy for me, that His mercy endures forever.

It is a gift.  It can never be anything else.

A gift deserves a response, and that response is “Thank you.”  “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.”

Mercy forever deserves constant thanks.  The awareness of the constant gift produces a thankful heart.

Our awareness is increased as we read of more mercies from God.

Psalm 118:21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Psalm 75:1 Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
1 Thessalonians 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

The Word, which He has magnified above all His Name, has been sent to us on this tiny, baby-blue ball floating in the outlying regions of one of the myriads of galaxies in a vast universe, that we might know not only the power and majesty of our mighty creator, but that we might know, and know by experience that He is merciful toward us, too merciful to abandon us, so merciful He came to us, so merciful He suffered for us and even took our death.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

O God, from this tiny, baby-blue ball, hear my little voice, “Thank You!”

Paul & Becky Abel’s Daughter

Christina and her husband Daniel were in a bad car accident Saturday.  We are rejoicing that their lives were spared and they are both fine but Christina needs our prayers as she broke her right arm above and below the elbow and broke her elbow as well.

Daniel and Christina headed for the beach for a couple of days of rest on Saturday.  However, their plans were quickly changed when their car was totaled on the highway.  There are lots of details and miracles I could mention, but we just want to get the word out so that many of you can join with us in prayer for Christina this week.  She received good medical attention at a hospital Saturday night. 

Daniel was very brave and watched another orthopedic surgeon work on his dear wife in the operating room. She was transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Curitiba today.  Monday Christina's arm will be evaluated to determine when the next surgery will take place.  She needs to set the bones and have a prosthesis to replace the ball of her elbow which will probably include a bone graft.  One of Daniel's trusted teachers will be doing the surgeries.

Please pray for successful surgeries and no infections. We are all rejoicing that Christina is alive to celebrate her 27th birthday on Friday.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Tjabel' Journeys

Our Trips this Fall:  September/October  2011

This Thanksgiving season, we are thankful to all of you who have made us feel so welcomed in your homes and in your churches. It's like being with family again. We thank the Lord for your prayers and your financial support. We know that as you bless us, we can better bless others. We are so thankful to hear of reports from Brazil, and how God is continuing to work in the church there. The church plant in Maringa continues to stand strong, and the Miriam Infant home has ministered to many hurting children this last month. Our deputation has taken us out to the Pacific Northwest and as far south as Southern Missouri and now we go up to the Canadian border. We have ministered at Churches, WMF rallies and home groups. We have  been truly blessed & we hope that you who we have visited have been blessed as well. It has been so special seeing so many dear people and meeting new ones! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

P.S. April has helped promote the Bible School & is applying for colleges. She is still looking for a job. Thomas has been traveling with the Worship Team at AFLBS and also playing his bass guitar during worship at Solid Rock.  He is working at Culver's (fast food).  Michelle, just tagging along with us and developing her power point skills as we travel long hours in the car!

Friday, November 04, 2011

All Things New-Miriam Infant Home

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor. 5:17

imageIn one short month a lot has changed in the Miriam Home! I told you last month that the twins, Altieres and Thavilidy had joined a new family, and I am pleased to say they are doing very well! Three more children have returned to their homes (as we were expecting), and we will be keeping you up on how they are doing with their families. But don’t worry, no one is suffering boredom! Three fresh new faces have joined us, and all them need your love and prayers.

Poliana arrived on the 5th of October. This is the 2nd time Poliana has been a part of the Miriam Home, she was here for several months when she was 10. She is now 12 years old but looks and acts much older. There are a lot of reasons for that, none of them good. Poliana has four siblings, but no two have the same father. Her mother was addicted to drugs, and her family lives in a hotel (don’t think Trump Towers here, think of those nasty motels that charge by the hour). Poliana is the middle child and for a long time has been responsible for caring for and protecting her little brother and sister. Though she has a step-father (father of the youngest child) who heads the family, Poliana has basically been on her own for quite a while. She came to the Miriam Home because of constant conflicts with her step-father.

On October the 10th Poliana’s mother was killed, a result of her drug abuse. When we sat with Poliana to tell her what happened she quietly wept but said she wasn’t surprised; she always knew some day her mother would die this way. It is not the expectation most 12 year olds have for their moms. October the 12th is a special day for children in Brazil, it is the Day of the Child, and children receive presents, often there are parties, lots of treats and surprises. From now on the date has another significance for Poliana - it is the day of her mother’s funeral.

Please pray for Poliana to let God move in her heart. Also pray for the many footholds the enemy has in her life to be broken. God’s plan for this young lady is to give her a new start and a future full of hope!

To read about 2 other new arrivals at the home, and how you can pray, click here!