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Sharing Jesus with Muslim Women

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder:  So how does God call missionaries?  Many times it is one step at a time, one change at a time.  Vanessa Hernandez is one step closer after her return from Madrid, Spain and North Africa where she did an internship to get a better understanding of the Muslim community, in particular Muslim women where she believes God is calling her to minister.  Vanessa spent 6 weeks living among the Muslim people and has shared some of her thoughts.

What is Required?

“… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

VanessaIt’s no mystery that here in America we have been given so much. After having a great conversation with someone I look up to, I couldn’t stop thinking about this verse she shared. We live in a country in which we have been given the chance to know and follow God.  A LOT has been given to us, churches everywhere, and the choice to follow Him or…this world. The Lord requires more of me…of us for MUCH has been given. I believe He holds us up to a higher standard because of what has been given. I think back to a conversation I had with young ladies from Bangladesh and what they have not been given.  One young lady in particular can’t even admit to her father she prayed in the name of Jesus.  But she is giving Jesus all she can, and what she is able to do.  It just made me fall to my knees on just how lucky we have it.  Though all of us come from different situations we have the choice.  A good friend told me, “Christ is enough, and if He wasn’t than there would be no hope.”  So though life seems hard, Christ will always be enough.  For nothing can compare.  To the ones that know Jesus…we have a job to do.  He is expecting us to live out all we have been given.  I want to live out with NO excuses because …well…Christ is enough.

Hadijah

This lady. Such a gem. Her name is Hadijah. Miracles are happening in her home, and I’m so excited for what the Lord is doing in her life. It’s just the beginning.

 

Who can Compare?

“I am the way the truth and the light.”

Every other religion points towards the way.  They point and use prophets to try to “make a point”.  But it never actually makes sense.  In fact Muslims don’t have any guarantee of actually going to heaven.  They live their life keeping track of their good and bad deeds.

But our Jesus is the only way.  He is the only one to have said, “I am the way the truth and light.” (John 14:6).  It’s no mystery or an opinion, it”s all true.  Nothing can compare to our Jesus.  Maybe some of you know someone who can’t grasp who Jesus is yet, or might be having a hard time believing in who He is.  Share with them stories of how Jesus has healed, and set those in bondage free.  The word of God does it by itself, we simply communicate it.

For He is the way, the truth..and the light.

 

Lets pray for the Arab World

Arab Streets

Arab Streets

My next door neighbor while being in Morocco was a Mosque where prayers went off all day and was a little of a surprise at 4 am.  Should we not be concerned with the 40% that does not know right from wrong?  Should we not be praying, mobilizing, and going forth to proclaim the gospel to those that have not heard?  Are we really following the Great Commission?

There are approximately 11,500 people groups and about  6,500 are unreached.  The unreached consists of muslims, hindus, atheists, tribal/folk, etc.  They are loved in the eyes of Jesus and we must pray that He himself will reveal in their dreams.

Imagine walking through a country in which saying the name of Jesus is dangerous. Constantly hearing the call to prayer go out through the day and the feeling of complete darkness walking through the streets.  They need hope.  They need Jesus.  Lets pray for the Arab World.

Visit Vanessa’s blog as she continues to share the “lessons” that Jesus is teaching her as she prepares for mission work. Visit our “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see if God is calling you to “fill in the gap”  for a current missionary in need.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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Update from the Mesem in Papua New Guinea

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder: It has been almost a year and a half since I had the privilege of being at the Mesem New Testament dedication in Papua New Guinea.  This was a twenty year work for missionaries Neil and Kathy Vanaria.  Neil was able to return to Papua New Guinea in April of 2014 to check on the Mesem to see how the churches and the Christians were doing.  I told Neil that he must have felt like the Apostle Paul checking on his churches he planted.  Neil has just returned and sent me the following update.  Thank you GapFill donors for giving toward the Preaching the Mesem New Testament project as Neil was able to use the donated monies to help the churches and Mesem Christian missionaries in need.  Here is Neil’s update.  At the time we were celebrating the arrival of the Mesem New Testament (NT) with our Mesem friends our schedules allowed us to participate in the initial celebration, however, none of us were able to participate in the celebration & distribution which took place in almost every village after we left. There are however some great reports. In Hobu village, an older woman who had worn eyeglasses from a young age was very concerned when she heard she was to get her own copy of the Mesem NT. Her eyes were pretty bad and she used eyeglasses for everything, cooking, going to the garden, walking along the trail. Her eyes were bad enough that reading was not something she could do very easily. So when she heard she was to get her own copy of the Mesem NT she became concerned that she might not ever be able to read it. So she simply asked the Lord to heal her eyes so she could read the Mesem NT when she received it. That was months before the NT arrived. And on the day she received the NT the Lord healed her eyes. Not only does she read but she no longer needs eyeglasses at all!

Neil's Jungle Selfie

Neil’s Jungle Selfie of him & some children of the Niso village after they spent about an hour together reading the Gospel of John in Mesem.

My visit to the Mesem also brought me to Niso village where we had done a comprehension check of 1, 2, 3  John & Jude back in 2008. On this visit I could see there seemed to be some significant interest in adult literacy and producing more books – especially Sunday school material. Later the village elder, Fisika,  asked me if I knew why there was so much interest in reading even though the initial celebration and distribution of the NT was more than a year ago. He then told me that after they had brought the Mesem NT in cartons from Samanzing they decided to have their thanksgiving and distribution service the next day. Fisika said that during the service when they cut the sealing tape from the cartons & opened them there was such a strong presence of God that many people could not stand up!  So now they feel like the best way to get that power is by learning to read. Many younger Mesem can read and read well. Adults have not always been interested. So I suggested to Fisika that each Sunday they read 3 or 5 verses of John together after church. Taking the time to be sure each person who comes to that Sunday reading lesson can adequately read the selected verses, then assigning those same verses as practice through the week in preparation for public reading the following Sunday. Repeat each week. It shouldn’t be long before people who had not learned before will feel comfortable reading Mesem.

Yanga Explains

Yanga Explains

I also delivered 6 copies of our current project – a New Testament cultural reader called “How the Jews Lived” to Yanga, Dick, Funkeka, Kundolo and two vernacular school teachers, Konaga & NoBruce. Their job will be to read through the book – which I had printed before leaving the US – to make spelling & other corrections. Once that is done they will mail the book to me and I will enter the final corrections into the computer. Once in final form I will email the file to the Evangelical Brotherhood Church print shop in Lae. I met with them and they said they would be happy to print out the book – about 65 pages long – for us. The print shop manager has given me the bank details so I can send payment from here and I also introduced him to Yanga & Dick who will come down from the village to proof-read the text before production begins. The Yanga Explains picture is of Yanga telling people in the village about this new book we are producing. After talking things over with Dick & Yanga we have decided to begin translating the Book of Job into Mesem. It really fits their world view of “if you do nothing bad, nothing bad happens to you”, of God’s control over our lives and of the unity of man & woman in marriage. I will spend about one day a week preparing the rough draft in Mesem and sending it along to Dick & Yanga a chapter at a time. Others are interested and have already begun translating the Psalms. Dick Hedzure is very frustrated with the contentions of adults in Samanzing but continues in his calling as a teacher of the Gospel to children and young adults in Samanzing & Mukuwe villages. Yanga Tumbe lost his younger brother earlier this year. Yanga’s brother was working far away in Alatau when he died and so communication and repatriation of the body back to the family were very time consuming. While Yanga remains very busy preaching and teaching in Mesem his real priority needs to be building a house for his family. We talked about that again.

Future Mesem Office

Future Mesem Office that Sikiong built

Funkeka Karise & husband Sikiong have dedicated a room in the house which Sikiong built of concrete brick, the room will be used to support Mesem NT activities. In addition to safely storing NTs which are yet to be distributed, Sikiong is in the process of getting bids to install solar electricity into the house. Once that is complete we will have a place to print Mesem materials and quite possibly reliable email & telephone communication. Kitiwanu Lounu has made a couple of visits out to the east Mesem to promote reading and NT distribution. He has for the last year held Bible studies, scripture reading & worship sessions under a palm-leaved roofed sun shelter he built next to his own house. People meet twice a week with Kitiwanu. Ulam Papane & Kimambi Kumbo continue to support reading the Scriptures in Mesem and will help with corrections to “How the Jews Lived” and in editing/revising of the Book of Job. While there were a lot of conversations I did not get to have, I am really encouraged to see & hear the Mesem NT is being widely used and still supported by the community. Neil and Kathy Vanaria are currently working on the translation of the Tok Pisin Study Bible while they “keep tabs” on how the Mesem are doing.  Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can continue to help the Mesem in the Preaching and Teaching of the Mesem New Testament.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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Update from John and Kay West – Missionaries in South Aftrica

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder: I just received Kay and John West’s newsletter and thought I would share it. What a great post on reconciliation as we head into this season of Lent.  

 And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:20

ColorBlindKids

Color Blind Kids

I am writing this letter in the midst of seeming chaos. Empty and full and half-full boxes have invaded our entire house. Random piles greet me everywhere I look, and the house we’ve called home for three and a half years now is in seeming shambles as we labor to get ready to move to the country of South Africa in less than one week, while simultaneously continuing ministry here in Swaziland. In addition there are still many unanswered questions about work permits, how we’ll afford to live where the costs of living are higher, if we’ll have any problems crossing the border with our belongings, and if the leaks in the ceiling and plumbing in our new home will be fixed when we move in.

Yet we stand firm, knowing God is in charge, and we trust Him. He is a God of order, of peace, and of reconciliation. We know He has a plan!

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Ephesians 2:14

Reconciliation to Himself through the cross was and is His master plan, and we are so thankful for this fact that we are committed to pouring out our lives to share this good news!

Lately, though, He has also been placing on our hearts another facet of reconciliation–between people, and specifically between the diverse races and classes that make up the “Rainbow Nation” of South Africa.

JesusLove

Sharing the Love of Jesus

We are and will be smack dab in the middle of “Mandela country.” Most of you probably heard that Nelson Mandela died at the end of 2013. It was worldwide news; here, it was a MAJOR event, and a MAJOR time of grief for Swaziland and for South Africa. Whatever you think of the man, his methods, and his motives, there is no denying what he did for his country during a pivotal, violent time. His message of forgiveness and reconciliation has radically impacted the lives and hearts of South Africans and of much of the world.

Sadly, there still exists a huge gap between rich (predominantly the white South Africans) and the poor (predominantly the black South Africans), and between the association of most whites and most blacks. The CIA website explains it in this way. “The first multiracial elections in 1994 brought an end to Apartheid….South Africa since then has struggled to address Apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and healthcare.” The site provides many statistics to back this up. Just a few include 31.3% of the population below the poverty line, and an unemployment rate of 25.1%. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sf.html

We have personally witnessed valiant attempts by both blacks and whites to get along after decades of segregation and mistrust, but we still see a huge amount of fear from both sectors, and definite discrepancies in standards of living. Our friends from SA, both blacks and whites, fear for our safety as we whites venture into “black” neighborhoods. (A caveat here—I have never felt it necessary to distinguish between races and it appalls me to do so now, but the fact is that in SA, racism going both ways is a major issue and pretending it doesn’t exist would be foolhardy.)

Kay and John

Kay and John

We have no idea how God might use us, but we do believe He will, in His plan to reconcile His people in South Africa. We know we find great joy in speaking siSwati to the black South Africans and seeing their astonishment that white people care enough to learn their language. 🙂 We are also committed to learning a decent amount of Afrikaans, another of the 11 official languages in our new country of service and the primary language of the majority of whites there. We know we have so much else to learn as well. But we are willing vessels—stay tuned!

In the meantime, we remain committed to being “ministers of reconciliation”  by sharing the Gospel and His love wherever He leads us. We are in awe and delighted that God uses us even in the midst of the mundane and frustrating business of moving to another country.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 5:17

Before sharing some of those mundane details, I want to share just one story of how God has been working recently in our lives. We had only a few days in Nelspruit, SA, our future home, to find a place to live. It was a discouraging time of many doors being figuratively and literally shut in our faces, and to be honest, we felt like giving up. But, as we shared with our gracious hosts and friends Mitch and Char, even if we couldn’t find the house we thought we needed, we knew that God had a Kingdom plan that might or might not suit our impatience and selfishly-perceived essential conditions.

We are so grateful that He doesn’t give up on us, and uses us in spite of our egocentric desires. On the last day, we met with a potential landlord named Bailey. He’s quite a character, and the house he became willing to rent to us after our interview is rather dilapidated, though roomy, and in a safe neighborhood. The interview itself progressed quickly from formal to informal, and in the course of all his coarse jokes we were told that he has cancer that progressed from his colon to his liver, and that he is afraid. We also discovered that this man has a praying wife. Bailey doesn’t quite yet seem to grasp that God’s grace and mercy are all he needs to cover a life of sin, but we believe he will. We were allowed the privilege of praying for Bailey, right there in the realtor’s office, while tears rolled down his cheeks. We know God is not finished with our intermingled stories—He has woven our lives together for His wondrous purposes. Yes, we signed the lease.

Timeline:

  • March 1–move from Swaziland to South Africa
  • April 1-4–retreat with other missionaries on our team with whom we will serve the townships, as well as with the local pastors from those areas. The purpose will be to get to know each other and everyone’s roles as we come together to share the Gospel and practical help for those in dire need.
  • May—will start “official” ministry with widows and orphans in the townships. But we all know that as we’re surrendered servants, God uses us each and every day!

Prayer Requests:

  • The work of reconciliation—to God and amongst people
  • Bailey to know the full goodness and peace of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ.
  • Funding for a new (used) vehicle for us. Driving in rural Africa to far-flung villages is brutal on vehicles, as is transporting carloads of people, food boxes for care points, drinking water, firewood, building supplies, live chickens…
  • The fields are ripe for harvest in the South African townships—please pray for open hearts to receive God’s love as He directs us to show it.

John and Kay West are missionaries in South Afraica.  Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help the West Family.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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Will You Partner With GapFill.org?

Items Needed   |  Contact   |  gapFill.org
GapFill.org

As 2013 comes to a close, will you consider partnering with us and give a year-end, tax-deductible gift to help “fill in the gap” for Christian missionaries. These men and woman are living examples of Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (NLT)

Here are some highlights of projects that still need funding. You can also visit the donations tab on GapFill.org’s website for a one-time gift or to set-up automatic monthly donations.

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Helping Bobb Walk BetterHelping Bobb Walk

GapFill.org donors purchased for Bobb Lewis the Bioness Foot Drop Device back in 2012 after he suffered a stroke on the mission field. Bobb has made great progress with his foot drop device and is now ready for added stability and stimuli with a “thigh cuff” add on (L300 Plus). Please prayerfully consider donating to this worthwhile addition to Bobb’s current leg device as Bobb and Kayleen continue to serve Jesus in Malaysia.

Learn more >>

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Help Amos

Help Amos

Help Amos

Matthew and Sarah, Christian missionaries serving in a “sensitive area”, found out their newborn son Amos had Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC).  As a result, they headed stateside to Fort Worth, TX to be near a TSC Center. They are currently staying with family as they find treatment for Amos and a place to live.

Learn more >>

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Time Sensitive Projects

Time Sensitive Projects

Time Sensitive Projects

Periodically, GapFill hears of missionary projects that are time sensitive and funds are needed immediately. Funds donated to this project will be accumulated and distributed when GapFill is made aware of these needs. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Learn more >>

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Children's Home

Children’s Home

Children’s Home

We continue to wait patiently and pray with John and Kay for children to fill this beautiful facility. It is only a matter of time before eight of the neediest of children will fill the building with love and laughter.

Learn More >>

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Help Widows and Orphans

Help Widows and Orphans

Help Widows and Orphans

Help John and Kay West as they provide for widows and orphans in South Africa. Your donation will help oversee building projects for widows, the payment of fees for the education of children, distribute clothing, food and Bibles.

Learn More >>

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Thank you for partnering with GapFill.org. We wish you and your loved ones a blessed 2014.

Blessings,

Joyce

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Visit our “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org’s website to see how you can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of this blog and click “Follow”.


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A Personal Thank You from GapFill.org’s Founder

Items Needed   |  Contact   |  gapFill.org
GapFill.org

As this season of Thanksgiving is upon us, we thought it was a perfect time for the debut of GapFill.org’s newsletter. What a wonderful time of year to say thank you for how The Lord is using YOU through GapFill.org to further His work, one gap at a time. Thank YOU for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

We would like to share the highlights of some of the missionary projects that YOU, GapFill.org donors, help complete.

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Bobb Lewis WalkingHelping Bobb Walk

YOU purchased for Bobb Lewis the Bioness Foot Drop Device back in 2012 after he suffered a stroke on the mission field. This device is helping Bobb walk better while he and Kayleen are on the mission field serving fulltime in Malaysia.

Watch a video of Bobb walking with his new device >>

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Hearing Aids for Phil

Hearing Aids for Phil

Hearing Aids for Phil Rojak

YOU donated toward hearing aids for Phil Rojak. We posted Phil’s need back in 2012 and waited to see what God would do. God answered our prayers over and above what we could have asked or imagined!

Learn More >>

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Mesem New Testament

Kathy Vanaria and Joyce with Mesem New Testament

The Mesem New Testament Dedication

Many GapFill donors know the Vanaria’s personally and YOU donated toward their return to Papua New Guinea for the Mesem New Testament dedication.  I was blessed to be able to attend and will be forever grateful for the ability to experience firsthand the power of the Holy Spirit as we walked up the path amongst the singing and dancing of praises to Jesus.

Watch a summary video of the dedication >>

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Nabak Hymnal

Nabak Hymnal

Nabak Hymnals

We couldn’t talk about Papua New Guinea without mentioning Grace Fabian.  She also was in Papua New Guinea this year but was returning to the Nabak people with more copies of Nabak hymnals that YOU purchased. What a way to spend her 75th birthday!!!

Learn More >>

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The Charest Family

The Charest Family

Retreat for Missionary with Cancer

Joel and Adrienne Charest, Missionaries in Mozambique, had their retreat funded by YOU in 4 days (a new GapFill record). Joel has been battling cancer and this time away was such a blessing.

Learn More >>

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There were many other completed items that YOU made possible…
  • a van for the Bedients;
  • school fees and basic food and housing for Susie Leo and her children after the sudden death of her husband;
  • Christiane and Thomas Weber’s trip back to Papua New Guinea with 230 solar powered MP3 Audio Bibles;
  • a missionary family that was in crisis and needed to be evacuated from a “sensitive nation”.

Thank YOU again so very much.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be will all of you this Thanksgiving season! (2 Cor 13:13)

Blessings,

Joyce

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Visit our “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org’s website to see how you can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of this blog and click “Follow”.


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Update from Matthew, Sarah and Family

Family in Need

Matthew, Sarah, Barnabas and Amos

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder:  Matthew and Sarah, a Christian tent-making family serving in a “sensitive area” for ten years, found out their newborn son Amos has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). This is a serious genetic disorder that requires special medical attention. As a result, they are heading stateside to Fort Worth, TX, to be near a TSC Center. Thanks for continuing to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus by helping to meet the needs of this missionary family.

Update From Matthew

First, we want to express a large and heartfelt thank you to the many of you that have sent messages of encouragement, offered up prayers and even helped us financially. We thank you all so much.


Second, Sarah made it to Texas safely, and she and Amos are doing fine. She is a bit bored, having no friends, having no way to go from place to place (aside from walking), and being in the U.S. where people just don’t hang out outside like they do in China. Amos is fine; he hasn’t shown any other symptoms as of yet and seems to be developing normally. Sarah has found two studies being done by the TSC Clinic in Houston that would pay for travel to Houston and give some (not all) tests (e.g. MRI, EEG) for free, so that sounds promising. God’s blessings continue to appear. Sarah’s also spending time looking online for deals on a car or minivan.


Third, I finished my last day of work this week, though I’m still working on some materials, including a description of duties and tasks to be done that I will need to give to the new EAP teacher replacing me. Barnabas and I fly out Nov. 6. Between then and now I have dinners with friends to attend, repacking to do, goodbyes to say, and generally keep my head from spinning off. Once I arrive, I’ll definitely take a few days to rest and enjoy being with Sarah and Amos again. Then it will be off to the races trying to get a vehicle, sending out resumes, and looking for ways to get insurance and/or assistance in paying for Amos’s treatments.


Prayer Needs
  1. A car/minivan: Despite my dislike of PCs (personal cars), I know we need one at a hopefully reasonable price.
  2. My students: The new teacher hasn’t arrived yet, and I worry that he won’t. I know the students are no longer my responsibility, but I still care about them and want them to learn and reach their goals.
  3. A job or a place? I’m really wrestling with the question of whether I should pray for a job and simply go where the jobs are or whether I should ask Him where to go and trust that He has a job for me. It’s an interesting but significant difference.
  4. Insurance & Medical costs: Ironically with the AFA website troubles and so forth, this may be the worst possible time to be going back to the U.S. for medical treatment. I’m also having difficulty with the Texas CHIP web application, so neither of the boys are yet insured. Not to mention Sarah or me.
  5. Adjustment: Just yesterday, I began to feel overwhelmed by all that lays before me: jobs, forms, applications, a culture I now feel alien in, disappointments, costs, etc. Ask that I (and we) would draw nearer to Jesus and walk with Him in these.


As a not-so-side note, I need a job. If you have connections that may be of help, please direct them to info@gapfill.org and GapFill will relay them to me.
Blessings to you all,


Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help this “Family in Need”.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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Update from the Weber’s Papua New Guinea Trip

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder:  The Webers have returned from their visit to see the Bimin people in Papua New Guinea and are full of stories of God’s Blessings.  Thank you GapFill donors for your support in helping to make this trip possible.  May you be blessed as God’s Word is heard throughout PNG on solar powered Audio Bibles.

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Update From the Webers

We are back from our trip to Papua New Guinea! And full of wonderful memories! Each of us (Christiane, Thomas and our son David, 16) has a different story to tell, but the consensus is that it was a great time of having time for friends! We boiled liters and liters of water to make tea and coffee, ate crackers by the kilo and swapped stories with our friends and “family” out in our village in the remote Bimin area (in the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea) as well as with colleagues and friends at the base, Ukarumpa. Just to be able to sit down and share about each others’ lives, of experiences over the last three and a half years in which we had not seen and barley heard from each other, was totally worth the trip. Hugs, shaking hands, looking at each other and marveling at the fact that we really had come this far, back to our home of 20 years, were part of the experience. And we are so thankful to our Lord God for his love and protection – both in PNG and in Switzerland.

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For David, this was a trip of catching up with school friends and village family, an opportunity to do things he was not allowed to do three years ago because he simply was too young then: using adventurous public transport, staying out till curfew… to name a few. Attending the High School graduation of good friends of his was also a treat.

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For Christiane and Thomas, seeing our “grandchildren” and children among the Bimin, hearing about their accomplishments at school, rejoicing with them in their successes and crying together about losses was priceless. And on the other side, spending time with some of our “parents” knowing that we may not see them again on this earth, simply because life expectancy in PNG is not as high as in Europe, was really special and bitter-sweet.

Audio Bibles Distributed

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A highlight of this trip was the distribution of 230 solar powered MP3 Audio Bibles with 20 books of the BimWeng New Testament on them. We were able to supply a number to the school, they are being used in their library system. To prepare students from the even more remote parts of the language group to carry another quantity of the Audio Bibles home into their villages and instruct key people with the usage, we spent an afternoon at the (only) local school and taught teachers and students how to use these simple MP3 players and had a lot of fun together.

More of the Audio Bibles were distributed to all 20 villages, mainly to people who have never and will most likely never learn how to read and write because of their age and other contributing factors.

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The Old Testament Translation Continues

Spending time with the men who are continuing to translate God’s Word into BimWeng (only a small part of the OT has been translated so far), we heard about their daily struggles, but also their plans to keep on with the translation. We were able to encourage them and spend time with all our co-workers and their families as well. They even made a special meal for us, prepared traditionally in a ground-oven.

Back in Switzerland, we are now able to keep in much better contact and get news from the Bimin area regularly, thanks to cell phones. We can also send and receive texts. Bimin itself does not have direct reception, but there are “sweet spots” with reflections of the geographically next tower. Another new development going along with the cell phones is the possibility to load the audio files of the NT as well as the Jesus Film, which was dubbed into BimWeng in 2005, onto micro SD-cards so people can listen to the text and watch the movie!

Thank You!

We are grateful for God’s protection during this memorable trip and to all of you for contributing financially and with your prayers to make it happen! Thank you!


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Update from the West Family

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder: I just received Kay and John West’s newsletter and thought I would share it.  If you are facing hardship or seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your own life, I hope you will do as the West’s are doing – pray, let go, and let God!  

JohnandKayWestFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways . . . Isaiah 55:9

Before leaving for the mission field, we got some wise advice about what not to put into newsletters, such as emotional pleas for financial help alongside photos of emaciated and starving children.  It has been our desire to glorify God in every message we send, and we generally prefer to send newsletters that are uplifting and encouraging. Our Lord has blessed us beyond measure, and has used these jars of clay in ways for His Kingdom far beyond anything we could have hoped for or imagined. Therefore sending missives full of joyous reports has been effortless and sincere.

Yet God has impressed on my heart this time to share some of the heartbreaks we’ve been dealing with. If there were no sorrow, there would be no need for God’s compassion; if there were no grief, there would be no need for God’s consolation. It is in the darkest times that He shines the brightest. We are learning to “let go and let God” and pray that as you read these heartrending situations you will also know and trust in His great love and the hope that is found in Him alone.

One of the biggest challenges we face here is seeing relentless poverty and disease, and simply not being able to “fix” it all. As white Americans, we are persistently sought for solutions. There is a prevalent belief among Swazis that all Americans have infinite resources and infinite wisdom. It is easy to fall prey to believing we must solve every problem and meet every need in our own strength, and it is distressing not to be able to do so when the suffering is so great. We must resist the trap of “playing God.”

As missionaries representing Jesus Christ, we want to do our best to show His mercy and provision. And often we do have the God-given resources and are able to help. Those times are wonderful, and we are careful to always reflect the glory and honor back to Him.a colile

Yet there are many other times when “all” we can do is share a few verses and pray with the one asking for miracles.  In our flesh, this is painful, but we know that it is in these times that we can share the powerful truth that ONLY the Lord is able, that ONLY Jesus is the way.  We must teach reliance on Him alone.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25

Situation #1
During our hospital ministry time a couple of weeks ago, our team encountered a young woman who is in one of the ladies’ Bible study groups Kay leads. Nelsiwe grew up on the streets as a child when her parents were killed in a car wreck and her father’s other wife (remember that polygamy is practiced here) kicked her siblings and her out of their home. She found refuge as a young adult with a kind woman of God in one of the mud hut communities here. However, once she acquired AIDS and tuberculosis, her benefactor was no longer able to care for her with her own meager resources. Nelsiwe begged her stepmother to take her in, to no avail. After sleeping in a neighbor’s outdoor toilet for several nights, she made her way to the hospital seeking medical help. She is very sick with TB and wound up spending the night in a nearby field while waiting for medical care. When we heard her story, we immediately prayed seeking God’s guidance, and then began contacting every resource we knew. No one was able to take her in. With hearts breaking, we bought her a decent hot meal and a warm blanket since it’s winter here, prayed with her and hugged her, and had to walk away, and let go and let God. We continue to check in on her and pray for her and dream of a better way.

…so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand…, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

Situation # 2
A thumbs upA few months ago a three-year-old boy, Siyabonga, went missing. Both his mother and great-grandmother attend one of our women’s Bible study groups. Though a missing persons report has been filed with the police, no trace of the child has been found. It is believed that the boy was either sold into child slavery and taken to another country, or ritually murdered for “muti”—a potion concocted by witch doctors here and believed to produce power for recipients. We will never give up hope and continue to pray for answers, but we are also called to grieve with this family and to help them let go and let God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Situation #3
Recently we were teaching a message from God’s Word with some fellow missionaries in one of the villages. All went well until we began sharing communion with the believers there. Suddenly, a drunk man began shouting nonsense words and causing quite a disturbance. While we continued passing out the elements, determined not to let anything disrupt this holy time, another man happened by. Apparently this second man had just gotten off from working in the fields nearby, noticed the commotion, and decided to help us to pacify the first man. A shoving match rapidly ensued, ending quite abruptly when our “benefactor” picked up a large rock and hit the drunk man in the head with it, causing blood to spurt all over. This in turn caused everyone to scatter because of the fear of AIDS transmission. Apparently the drunk fellow was ok because he continued his ranting and raving. All this happened in a matter of minutes, and all we could do is let go and let God because it was all out of our control. We continued to minister to the stragglers, but left rather shaken up. This story is not over. In an amazing turn of events, we met the girlfriend of the inebriated gentleman a couple of days later when we were ministering at the hospital and led her to the Lord! Stay tuned!

…”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Situation #4
Ncamsile is Kay’s interpreter, ministry assistant, and close friend here. This single mother of six lives in a mud hut village amongst the poorest of the poor. Since she’s started serving the Lord full time, she has been abundantly blessed in many ways through God’s grace poured out through many of you, yet life is still brutally hard for her in Ncamsile with heavy load--still smilingmany ways. Ncamsile never complains and is always full of joy. We were horrified to find out recently that she and her young children had been without enough food to eat all week as she had recently had to pay school fees for her older children and had to make the brutal choice as to how best to use the little money she had. Thankfully we were able to intervene and she and her kids now have enough to eat again. However, we know we cannot magically transport her to a better life; we are unable to meet all her needs. No matter how much we love her, in fact because we love her so much, it is imperative that we let go and let God.

So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Situations #5, 6, 7,…

  • Being far away from family members in crisis and unable to come alongside them—let go and let God.
  • Knowing there are children in desperate need but there is a power-hungry bureaucrat in the way, all we can do is wait for the permit for the children’s home and—let go and let God.
  • Feeling we can’t face one more day of the incessant need all around us—let go and let God.
  • Sitting in an African hospital for emergency surgery for my hubby—let go and let God.a kids
  • Facing the reality that we can’t heal every sickness, can’t feed every mouth, can’t force a man to stop beating his wife and can’t encourage her to leave because she has no place to go and no way to support herself or her children, can’t stop every death—let go and let God.
  • Attending the funeral of yet another child—let go and let God.

The story is told in Luke 5 of fishermen not catching any fish all night. Jesus told them to cast their nets and suddenly their nets were so full of fish the nets began to break and they
had to get help to collect all the fish. This teaches us that we can do nothing on our own strength. All we can do is what we are called to do to the best of our God-given abilities, and trust Him for the outcome. In that, we rejoice, and hope that you do as well.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joy. Psalm 126:5

If this post has left you with an ache in your heart; or if you are facing hardship or seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your own life, we hope you will do as we do—pray, and let go and let God! He is faithful, loving, and good. He is wise, all-powerful, and merciful. He is our ever-present help in our time of need, and He will never leave us or forsake us. Amen! Leaning on His everlasting arms!

John and Kay West are missionaries in Swaziland (A country slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, ruled by the world’s last absolute monarch. An African kingdom of approximately one million people…who are dying at an astonishing rate) .  Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help the West Family.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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What Happens When You Say “Yes” to God!

I just started an Online Bible Study called “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”  through Proverbs 31 Ministries.  This is our first week and so far it has been great.   One of the things we are doing today is called a” Blog Hop” where we read each other’s blogs. We had a set of questions to pick from and since my answer pertained to GapFill.org I thought I would post it on the blog and make GapFill.org part of the Blog Hop.  The question, #yestoGod, is to share a time that you said “yes” to what God wanted you to do.  So here goes…

Bible Dedication

As some of you know, Kathy Vanaria, who spent 25 years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) translating the Bible into Mesem, was returning to PNG in January of this year for the Bible dedication.  Many people from her church organization were going and she also was hoping that I was also planning on going.  She has been telling me about the dedication for the last few years and I had been putting aside the money each month and had saved $4,000 for the trip.  I kept telling her I wasn’t sure if I was going but saved nevertheless.  Honestly, I really was super scared to go.  You see I am a “Marriott” type girl who hates camping, and well…going to the jungle was just beyond a reasonable request.  Even if Kathy and I go waaaay back (old college roommates).

So the time came for me to book the ticket.  I had waited as long as I could and it was a month before the trip so I knew I needed to do something.  I contacted the travel agent that Kathy had given me and days later she sent me the flight info.  Well, I was stopping in counties I didn’t even know were on a map for a price tag of over $5,000.  So that settled it, I wasn’t going.  I had save $4,000 and I knew just what I was going to do with the money.  One of the GapFill projects we had going at the time were hearing aids for Phil Rojak.  He needed them before he returned to his missionary work in Papua New Guinea.  GapFill had only raised enough money for about 1/2 of a digital hearing aid, which of course would be of no value.  So, I knew exactly what I was going to.  I was going to give the $4,000 to Phil so he could return to PNG with 2 digital hearing aids.  Perfect!  I had been thinking about this over the last few weeks and me not being able to get a flight that I could afford was perfect confirmation.  Also, since I really didn’t want to go anyway, this was a “win” for everybody.  But something inside just knew it wasn’t a “win” for everyone.  It was not what God wanted.  I can’t explain why, but I had this inside, gut-wrenching feeling that this was wrong.  I knew my girlfriend Kathy would be disappointed but hey…I was giving her friend Phil his hearing aids so she couldn’t be that mad.  But no matter how much I tried to convince myself this was all good, it just didn’t feel like it was “all good”.  No matter how hard I tried to make this wonderful plan work, it just didn’t.  I just knew God wanted me to go to Papua New Guinea not matter how much I pretended not to hear Him.  I remember thinking, “God, what am I going to tell Phil when he has to return with no digital hearing aids”.  I remember believing God was saying to me, “Not your concern, you have to trust me here”.

Trying to Book a Flight

So I tried for about 2 hours online trying to get flights to work on my own…nothing…I remember I kept thinking.  I don’t get in God, nothing is working and I just kept getting more and more frustrated.  So…what do I do when I want to relax and calm down…you guessed it…I eat ice cream!  So I went downstairs and got a big cup of chocolate ice cream, mixed in some chocolate chips and put some cool whip on top.  Now I could clear my head…

So, after that sugar rush I had some more energy…so I said to God…”Okay, I will try this one more time then I am going to bed”.  It was getting late and I had to get up at 5 am for work the next day.  When I went upstairs I pulled out the itinerary of another couple that was going to the dedication from the Boston area.  I thought, “Let me look and see how they are getting there”.  Well after about 1/2 hour I had managed to find flights that would put me in LA in time to catch the same flight they were going on to Brisbane, Australia then to Port Moresby in PNG then to Lae in PNG which was where I needed to get to.  I remember having two browser windows open as I had one half of the trip in one window and then the PNG flights in another window (you could not book straight through to Lae, believe me I tried).  I calculated the total cost and it was less than $4,000.  So there it was staring me in the face…and I sat there for maybe 15 seconds.  I knew I only had a certain amount of time to hold the flights.  And well…something inside me said, “Just Do IT”… and I did…I just did it.  I hit that “purchase button” on both windows and charged my credit card.  I remember thinking, “God this is soooo crazy… I have no idea what I am doing.  This is soooo out of my comfort zone”.  And then I thought, wait until I tell my husband Bill in the morning, it was now well after midnight.  He is going to think I have totally lost it.

Mesem New Testament

Kathy Vanaria and Joyce in Papua New Guinea with Mesem New Testament

The Morning After

The next morning, as I was kissing my husband good-bye before I went off to work, I told him, “Oh…by the way…I booked my flights to Papua New Guinea last night”.  He just gave me his “unbelievable” look like he does when I come up with ideas that I think are great and he thinks are well… let’s just say…not so great.

When I had got downstairs I had a voice mail on my cell phone.  It was from Brady Forseth, the executive director of Starkey Hearing Foundation.  He said he was traveling for 6 weeks throughout West Africa, India and the Philippines and had heard about Phil Rojak’s hearing aid need and he wanted to let me know that he believed he could help Phil.  He mentioned that he wouldn’t be back into the United States for a couple of weeks, but left his contact info.  I remember sitting in my kitchen with tears in my eyes, almost feeling scared of the immense power of God.  Here was a man that I did not know, calling me from overseas, the morning after I had booked my tickets, to tell me he could help Phil with his hearing aids.  I was stunned!

It Gets Even Better!

Phil_withHeardingAids

Phil with this new digital hearing aids!

But the ending gets even better, Phil was given not just one set of digital hearing aids that would enable him to hear better than he had ever heard before.  But due to his remote location and challenging climate in Papua New Guinea, Bill Austin, the CEO of Starkey Hearing Foundation,  provided a second set of hearing aids for back-up.  This way Phil had an extra pair in case he needed to send the first pair in for repairs or calibration. They even supplied a self-address pre-paid envelope for him to mail them back in.  Two sets of digital hearing aids, given for free.  Something I couldn’t even fathom.

”God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

This is the God we are saying “YES” to.  To Him Be the Glory!

Joyce is the founder and executive director of GapFill.org with a masters in nonprofit management.  Visit our “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see if God is calling you to “fill in the gap”  for a missionary in need. To receive our blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.


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“Nkhulunkhulu muhle, sonkhe sikhatisi!” God is good, all the time!

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder: Kay and John West had a “scare” in Swaziland the beginning of May, emergency surgery needed for John in a third world country.  GapFill has added a project to help with the medical bills and future surgeries needed.  They do have insurance but will still have “out of pocket” expenses.  Still working on getting the exact amount, but wanted to include Kay’s recap below in our blog.  As Kay mentions, “Nkhulunkhulu muhle, sonkhe sikhatisi!” “God is good, all the time!”

Briefly, John woke me up early Tues. morning saying he felt he needed to go to the hospital. The hospital is approx. 2 and 1/2 hours away and across the international border in South Africa. We quickly packed overnight bags just in case. John was in pain but miraculously was able to drive. This was truly a blessing as I’d never driven in SA and the 2-lane highways are tricky. We got to the ER around 10:30 am and ended up waiting 6 hours. During that time they did do some tests, including a CT scan once they saw the results of the primary tests. Once the doctor saw the CT scan, suddenly there was a lot of movement and they rushed John to the operating room (called the theater here). Thankfully our friends Char and Sandra showed up at that time to give lots of support. They waited with me until John was out of surgery. Crazy, but no one ever came to tell us he was out, or to let us know how it went, but these two pros (Char and Sandra–more on that in a minute) knew how to get the info. Though John seemed to be okay, it was about 8:30 pm when he was finally wheeled into his ward (ward with 3 other men, beds sectioned off by curtains), and I refused to leave so the sweet staff found me an empty hospital bed in another ward to “sleep” in.

Swazi Children

John West with Swazi children

Wed. and Thurs. were spent just letting them clean John’s wound and waiting for the infection to be gone. I stayed at the hospital all day, and slept at the home of our friends Mitch and Char. John was still on IV drip for pain and antibiotics all this time. Fri. we were on an emergency waiting list for John’s next surgery, for the wound to be stitched up. They finally took him back around 3:45 pm and returned him to his ward around 5:35. Sat. he was released around 12:30 pm and we quickly took care of necessary business and came back to Swaziland before the border closed at 6 pm! Yep, John drove again!

John will need to go back next Mon., May 20, to get the staples removed, and then in 6 weeks he’ll need another surgery for a hernia that suddenly showed up post op this time. At least this time we can plan better!

Blessings:

  • One car is still in the shop and the other is not in great working order. God got us there and back!
  • You prayed all last year for our fellow Swazi missionary friends Mitch and Char. Mitch is the one who had a botched emergency appendectomy here in Swaziland and multiple life-threatening complications for months after that. He endured over 5 months in the very same hospital (where he was transferred after the initial bad surgery) where John stayed this time. Because of his hard-earned experience, he and his precious wife Char had invaluable insight and wisdom and practical advice to help us through the week, and they know the hospital and staff backwards and forwards!
  • Mitch and Char as well as our mutual friend Sandra also “just happened” to move to Nelspruit (city where the hospital is located) just last month. As part of their ministry, they actually purchased and live in a beautiful retreat facility, and so were more than equipped to allow me to stay with them in their gorgeous place!
  • John takes VERY good care of me. But this week I was forced to learn lots of new skills, like driving in Nelspruit (pretty scary night one night getting lost), how to use a smart phone for emails and FB, and how to use our GPS, and how to purchase cell phone airtime.
  • Our “adopted” Swazi “son” “just happened” to be travelling through Nelspruit and was able to be there with me when they wheeled John away for the 2nd time.
  • A friend “just happened” to have it on her heart to give us a little extra money this month the same day John was admitted to the hospital–this will go a long ways in taking care of some of the costs incurred.
  • The morning we were to leave the hospital there was a pretty intense storm raging outside–this part of the world gets wild thunder, lightening, and rain storms with a lot of flooding, etc. Some of you got the message and prayed, and miraculously we had beautiful weather all the way home. Then the storm resumed!
  • Biggest blessings of all, of course, are that John is well on his way to recovery, and all of you and your faithful prayers and love and support!

“Nkhulunkhulu muhle, sonkhe sikhatisi!” “God is good, all the time!”

John and Kay West are missionaries in Swaziland (A country slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, ruled by the world’s last absolute monarch. An African kingdom of approximately one million people…who are dying at an astonishing rate) .  Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help with some of the medical bills the West Family will incur.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.