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March 26, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans.  They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.   … ‘In the same way, the promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing.  No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend.’” Isaiah 55:7,11

 “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.”  I John 1:9

Our God is a just and forgiving God.  He does stand in judgement of the intent of man’s heart as he lives out his life, but His desire is to have a right relationship with mankind.  God, therefore; desires to forgive everyone.  Why then do more people not come to God seeking forgiveness?  The answer lies in the unwillingness to humble ourselves before our creator, judge, and redeemer.  We have to be willing to recognize our sin and our inability to deal with our sin on our own.  Only then will be we be able to bow before Jesus, call Him lord, and ask Him to redeem us.  Pray with us that we live in such a way that exemplifies a humble spirit and a redeemed soul.

Thank you for your continued prayers for the Sanford family.  They continue to move forward step by step, day by day, but it is hard. They know God is with them and that all of you care, but the ache still remains.  Little Rebekah seems to be having the hardest time of the children.  Pray for Chris and Sam as they try to help the children grieve as well as themselves.

Samantha’s parents, the Lins, were truly moved by the love that God’s people poured out on their family during the time Little Benjamin was in the hospital and through out the funeral.  Lin Mama came to Cheryl on Tuesday bringing a gift of food and a message of hope.  She said that they wanted to believe in Jesus, but did not know what to do about their family’s gods.  They have a god shelf in their home with a few idols and an ancestral tablet.  We went to visit them on Friday at their home.  We found out that Lin Baba still was not certain of what he would do.  He is having a hard time giving up worshipping and providing for his ancestors.  He will not stand in the way of the rest of the family.  He is going to talk to his son about the situation to see what he would prefer to do about the ancestors.  This is so much a part of who they are it is central to their worldview.  Please pray for them to be able to give up their old ways for freedom in Jesus.  Wednesday afternoon we will go back to visit with and share with them from God’s Word about our creator and man’s rebellion.

Friday night a group of four students from Central Christian College of the Bible arrived here in Taiwan to spend 10 days with our team.  Pray for them as they are here to realize the lostness of the people of Taiwan.  Pray as well that God will speak to them concerning His plan for their lives.

Thank you for your prayers.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Pray that we live as humble redeemed people among the lost.

2.  Pray for the Sanford family as they all continue to work through their grief.

3.  Pray for Samantha’s parents as they are coming to faith in the one, true God.

4.  Pray for the Central team as they serve with us this coming week.

March 20, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  II Cor. 12:8-9

“On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.”  Ps. 138:3

All of us at times have faced difficult times.  Some people have experienced great adversity.  When we cry out to God to change our situation, but His answer is, “My grace is sufficient for you, …” how do we respond?  We may want to be strong, but sometimes we just can’t.  That is when we find God perfecting us in our weakness with His power.  He comes to us and lifts us up and carries us in His arms.  We witnessed this happening time and time again over the past two weeks as the Sanford family dealt with their new born baby having serious problems and eventually going to heaven.  God sent them peace through His Word, His Spirit, as well as through the words and presence of His people.  On Sunday we witnessed the family being surrounded by God’s love and being lifted above the despair of losing a child.  They went from knowing the truth of these verses to experiencing them personally.  They left graveside with a different countenance than when the funeral service had begun.  We thank you for praying them through to this point.  Please continue to lift them up constantly in prayer as they live one day at a time.

Our team is so grateful that the Team Expansion’s home office sent Eric Derry to represent them.  He has been a great blessing to the Sanfords and the rest of our team.  Pray for Eric as he returns tomorrow to Louisville where he will immediately enter a week of training for missionary candidates.

Thank you for joining us in prayer.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Please continue praise God for His grace as you lift the Sanford family up in prayer.

2.  Please pray for Eric Derry as he returns to the US tomorrow and continues his ministry there.

 

March 12, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“The Lord is indeed going before you – he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!”  Deuteronomy 31:18

These words were used to encourage Joshua as leadership of the people of Israel was transferred from Moses to him.  He was about to lead the people into the land of Canaan where they would face many challenges driving out the inhabitants.  The writer of Hebrews uses these words to encourage the believers as they face challenges of life that come upon them.  We all have these challenges that bring fear and discouragement to us at time.  We also all have a choice as to whether to face them with faith believing that our God is with us and will bring us through whatever they are.  A friend of ours who is facing his own challenges wrote this to encourage us and our teammates, the Sanfords.  “But He also knows our frailties. When we think He is not close. He is always there. When we think He is too busy. He comforts us through nature, friends, His Word. He delivers us when we least expect it. Above all He keeps His promises. He never gives up on us no matter what our situation in life.”  Let us all pray to remember as we face challenges in this life that God is with us and is going before us.

We continue to ask that you pray with us for little Benjamin Sanford and the whole Sanford family.  Little B., as the Sanford children call him, continues to   struggle.  If it were not for the mach
ines cleaning his blood, giving him oxygen, and helping his heart to beat he would already be with our Lord.  The doctors say if he does not improve overall in the coming week it will be time to discuss how to proceed with his care. We are including two small pictures that Benjamin’s sisters drew for him.  One has Little B. in God’s hand with people trying to see him.  The other has Little B. in God’s castle.  The faith of these little ones is inspiring.

We ask that you pray for a friend of ours on island, Sharon McGill.  She has just finished her first round of chemotherapy for lymphoma.  So far she has done very well.  She has five more treatments to go over the next four months.  Her husband’s name is Terry.

This past week at the Jang’s discipleship group a neighbor attended for part of the time.  Her name is Miss Hong.  She holds traditional Taiwanese beliefs.  We are praying that she will return this week for the whole discipleship group.  Pray as well that Lucy continues to invite her neighbors and friends and does not get discouraged.

Thank you for your prayers.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Pray for little Benjamin and the whole Sanford family.

2.  Pray for Sharon & Terry McGill as Sharon goes through chemotherapy.

3.  Pray for Miss Hong to return to the Jang’s discipleship group.

March 5, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.”  II Cor. 1:3-5

Each of us goes through many different struggles and trials in life.  Some are more difficult and painful than others, but when trusting in Christ comfort comes to us through His Spirit, the Word of God, and His people.  Christ can even use the knowledge of this world to bring some comfort as well.  Once we have gone through some trouble and received comfort and possibly wisdom as well we have the responsibility to share what we received with others.  This is the economy of the Church.  We as His disciples and members of His Church are blessed and are to share the blessings we have with each other and with the world around us.  We are then a witness as well as a blessing at the same time.  Pray that we learn to be good at sharing God’s blessings with others and therefore bring comfort to those who need it.

Today we just want to share about our teammates Chris & Samantha Sanford.  This past Thursday we picked up their three children in anticipation of Sam having a C-section on Friday morning.  She did have her C-section as planned and little Benjamin was born.  Benjamin was having a very difficult time breathing.  It was determined that Benjamin was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  This allowed his intestines to move up into his chest cavity constraining the development of one of his lungs.  Late on Friday Benjamin had a surgery to connect his heart to a device that acts as his lungs to get oxygen into his blood.  He is now waiting to have surgery to move everything to the right position and fix the hernia.  This surgery is scheduled for Monday.  The dangerous part of having this surgery is the possible loss of blood.  While he is on the device for his lungs he cannot have coagulants.

As you can imagine there are details that have been left out.  There have been times of grave concern for Benjamin, especially since he had to be transported by ambulance to a bigger hospital about 2 hours north of where he was born.  His mom has only seen pictures of him so far.  His dad is with him in Taipei and missing the rest of the family while he waits between visiting hours.  In the midst of all of this God has been so gracious.  There are people in Lo-tung staying with Sam.  Some of our team will be going to help as well.  Two of our team men went up to see Chris on Friday night in Taipei.  God arranged for a couple that are good friends with Chris and Sam to be in Taipei on Friday and nearby the hospital.  A local pastor with whom Chris works in Lo-tung has an apartment in area of the hospital where Benjamin is being treated.  They can use the apartment as long as needed.  Beyond all this people have contacted the Sanfords of testimonies of how well their children had grown since having their surgery.  All and all God has been faithful every step of the way.  Please pray for this precious family as they continue to live for Jesus and follow Him!

Thank you for praying.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

Please join us in praying for the whole Sanford family.

1.  Pray for Benjamin as he has surgery on Monday and his lungs develop.

2.  Pray for Samantha as she recovers from her C-section, is waiting to see her baby of the first time, and is missing her other three children.

3.  Pray for Chris as he tries to manage everything for Benjamin and make plans for relocating everyone to Taipei temporarily.

4.  Pray for Hosanna, Rebekah, & Josiah as they are missing their parents and want to meet baby Benjamin.

February 26, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”  II Corinthians 12:9-10

When I consider this verse several people come to mind because of the difficult circumstances they live with daily.  What challenges me the most is how some people have learned to express their reliance on God within their circumstances in such a way that honors God and lifts people up instead of lifting themselves up.  Some of us try to hide our difficulties and just press on without ever sharing with anyone our need for the power of Christ to assist us.  The fear is that we might look weak or less significant.  The point Paul makes is that it is about Christ being glorified through our weakness as we learn to rely on Him in the midst of our circumstance.  When we realize that it is not about us, but Him it is much easier to be honest and open for our need of His power in our lives.  Pray with us to have the faith to truly allow Christ to be glorified in our circumstances.

Last week there was a visitor, Miss He, at the Jang home for discipleship group.   She is very traditional Taiwanese in her thinking about spiritual matters.  She is also a very independent person.  She presently has the idea that the Bible is too hard to understand.  Pray that Miss He will choose to return to the group and that she will be willing to allow the Spirit to open her heart and mind.

We ask for prayer for the Sanford family.  They are going to have their 4th child this coming Friday as Sam has a c-section.  Our family will help take care of their three other children for about a week beginning Thursday.  Pray as well for Chris to heal quickly from a scooter accident last week.  His shoulder is very sore and he seemed to have a slight concussion.  Pray for everyone as the new baby arrives.

Thank you for praying for our team as we helped prepare for remodeling at the Home of God’s Love.  Everything went well and a lot was accomplished.  Thank you as well for praying for the ministries that seek help families in crisis.  PSC is going through some staff changes at this time.  Cheryl will be volunteering more while new staff is hired and transitions are made.  Please continue to pray for these ministries.

Thank you for always backing us up with prayer.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Please pray for us to allow Christ to be glorified in all our circumstances.

2.  Please pray for Miss He to return to the discipleship group with an open heart and mind.

3.  Please pray for the Sanford family as their new little arrives later this week and Chris’ shoulder heals.

4.  Thank you for praying for our team last week as well as the ministries that seek to help families in crisis.

February 19, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.”  Gal. 5:6

There are so many things that we as people try to set up as being important: 1.  The name on your church door

2.  Do you have a church building?

3.  The extent of your education

4.  The size of your gathering

5.  Style of worship

The list could go on and on.  Anything on this list has some importance until you compare it to what we are called as Christians to do.  Paul says that we are called to work out our faith in love.  We are to be loving as we live faithfully for our Savior.  Jesus said that love would be the mark of our discipleship to the world.  Pray with us that me remember to practice what really matters, “Love.”

A group from our team is heading to the Home of God’s Love on Monday morning to help move boxes and furniture out of the old building so that it can be remodeled.  Please pray for safety as we work.

Ministry to families in crisis is always challenging.  The Home of God’s Love, Ray of Hope, Taiwan Xi En, and Pregnancy Support Center are all ministries that we have connections to here in Taiwan that serve some aspect of families being in crisis.  The point that unites them all is ministry to children.  Taiwan regulations make it difficult to serve them easily, but they are persevering.  We ask that you pray for these ministries and others like them that show their faith in Christ through acts of love.  Pray specifically that their acts of love will have an enduring impact on the families they touch.

The I Will Follow You Tube channel and accompanying social media pages are slowly building interest.  We are learning how to use social media better to reach people that are interested in learning about spiritual things.  Our hope is that the social media pages and videos will bring us into personal contact with people that God is preparing to hear the gospel.  Pray with us that we will be wise and discerning as we move forward seeking out people God is calling to himself.

The Jang family will begin a set of stories tonight from the book of John on the miracles of Jesus.  Each member of the family is learning as we read and discuss the scripture, but it has yet to make an eternal difference in Mr. Jang.  Pray for Mr. Jang to be changed by work of God and the witness of his wife and son.

Thank you for praying with us.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Pray that we are seen as followers of Christ through our acts of love.

2.  Pray for our team as we work at the Home of God’s Love on Monday.

3.  Pray for ministries in Taiwan that work to show the love of God to families in crisis.

4.  Pray for wisdom and discernment for our team as we use social media to seek out those God is calling to himself.

5.  Pray for the Jang family to be impacted eternally by the word of God.

February 12, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“From Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, wrapped in the love of God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.”  Jude 1:1

The salutation of Jude’s letter provides a glimpse into the person Jude.  He was a humble servant of Jesus.  He actually calls himself a slave of Jesus.  He was actually a half brother of Jesus just like James.  He was not willing to place himself on a level equal with his Savior so he does not lay claim to be family instead he humbles himself.  This humble attitude probably causes the readers of his letter to receive with open hearts the challenges and exhortations he gives.  May we all learn to have a humble spirit that causes those around us to listen to the wisdom God gives to us and therefore draws men to God.

Please be praying for the disciple group John has with the Jang family.  They will finish the first set of stories tonight.  Mr. Jang has yet to make any comment that shows he is really beginning to have saving faith.  John is asking for wisdom concerning how to speak to Mr. Jang regarding his faith so as to draw him closer to a decision of making Christ his Lord.

Our co-workers continue to work hard to produce material for the I Will Follow Youtube channel.  They are trying many different ways to attract people as well as to communicate the truth.  Please pray for God to provide encouragement to them as they persevere.

Chris & Samantha Sanford are preparing for their fourth child to arrive within the next month.  We praise God that their home is in pretty good shape after moving in only 2 1/2 weeks ago.   We ask that you pray for their family as the time approaches.

Thank you for being our prayer support team.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Pray that we learn to be  humble in the sight of all men.

2.  Pray that Mr. Jang will come to faith in Jesus.

3.  Pray that the I Will Follow Youtube channel will reach many people for Christ

4.  Pray for the Sanford family as they prepare for their 4th child.

February 5, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“‘Take an offering for the Lord. Let everyone who has a willing heart bring an offering to the Lord:’  … Everyone whose heart stirred him to action and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought the offering for the Lord for the work of the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.  Every woman who was skilled spun with her hands and brought what she had spun, blue, purple, or scarlet yarn, or fine linen, and all the women whose heart stirred them to action and who were skilled spun goats’ hair.”  

Exodus 35:5b, 21, 25 – 26

Willingness of heart is wonderful feeling.  When you honestly are completely willing to give of what you have whether money, time, skill, or energy it feels really good.  It is also contagious.  That is what happened with the Israelites and the giving for the Tabernacle.  The people were instructed to give as their heart was willing and they did.  It is recorded in chapter 36 of Exodus that they gave so much they had to be told to stop.  That is what happens when people really desire give.  Imagine today if we fully gave our hearts to the work God has put before each of us what would be accomplished.  People would hear the truth of God’s word and then they would see it lived out before them as a testimony to its truth.  Lives would be changed for eternity and God would be glorified.  Join us in praying for a more willing heart to serve as God desires.

The S&E Chinese New Year event went very well.  There were approximately 25 youth who attended the event.  Some of them were brought by friends for the first time.  We were encouraged by their willingness to participate in worship and small group prayer.  Please continue to pray for all of these youth to continue to grow in Christ.

We are beginning to put a lot of effort into the planning of this summer’s S&E camp.  This Tuesday will be a planning meeting that will lay the foundation for much of what will happen during camp.  We will have two weeks again this summer:  July 9-15 & 16-22.  The theme for camp will be “No Fear”.  Join us in prayer for all the preparations and those who be both campers and faculty.

The I Will Follow Youtube is up and running.  Our hope is that the channel will help our campers and graduates and other Christians as they desire to follow Jesus.  Please pray for the channel to be effective.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hckw4S_bSc4

Thank you for praying with us!

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Please pray that we will have hearts that are completely willing to serve as God desires.

2.  Please pray for all the youth that are connected to S&E camp to continue to grow in Christ.

3.  Please pray for our preparations for S&E camp.

4.  Please pray for the I Will Follow Youtube channel to help people grow in their relationship with Christ.

January 29, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does.  Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.”  John 14:26-27

We are in the midst of celebrating Chinese New Year.  People send cards and say, “Happy New Year!”  They take gifts of food to people they visit, and often give red envelopes with money in them to children an other special people in their lives.  Bosses often give out a year end bonus in a red envelope as well.  A friend sent this message yesterday.  “Peace is the best year-end bonus of all.  Without peace, any red envelope which is packed with banknotes is nothing but an empty envelope without significance.”  This quote reminded me of several scriptures two of which are above.  Jesus knew how important peace is to the human soul and spirit, therefore, he provided a way for us to have peace at all times.  He gave us the Holy Spirit, our advocate, to live inside of us at all times.  When we are willing to quiet our spirit and give our cares over to Him the Spirit will bring the peace we so desire.  Join us in learning each day to surrender everything to the Spirit and enjoying the peace He brings.

We appreciate the prayers you have offered up for our dinner with the Lin family.  We are always made to feel very welcome by their family.  We have an open invitation to visit with them.  Pray with us for direction as to how to move  our relationship forward with the Lin family.  Pray specifically that when in conversation with them the Holy Spirit will guide us how to move the conversation to spiritual matters.

This Wednesday afternoon is the Chinese New Year activity with the youth from Sports & English Camp.  We will also be kicking off the I Will Follow You Tube channel.  We are praying that God will bring the youth to the event who are being drawn to be His disciples.  We want to invest in those who desire a relationship with God and to help others know God as well.  Pray that this event and the I Will Follow channel will bring glory to God.

Thank you for praying for Jenny McBride, Cheryl’s sister-law.  She continues to take medicine to help with her symptoms.  Her next appointment with the doctor is February 20th.  Please pray for her healing.

Thank you for your prayers.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Please pray that we learn to surrender to the Spirit and enjoy His peace.

2.  Please pray for us to be able to have spiritual conversations with the Lin family.

3.  Please pray for the Chinese New Year youth event to bring glory to God.

4.  Thank you for praying for Jenny McBride as she waits for her next doctor visit.

January 22, 2017 Prayer Note

Dear Family & Friends,

“This is the disciple who testifies about these things and has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.  There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  John 21:24-25

While in Israel we traveled to many places where Jesus performed miracles and taught people.  There were times when our guide would say something like, “As far as we know Jesus went to this city for ministry.”  He also mentioned the verses above that are from John’s Gospel.  This caused me, John, to wonder what might have happened in other places.  One day it dawned on me as the guide was explaining connections to the Old Testament and the culture that I had a lot more to learn about what was recorded of Jesus’ ministry.  I had no need of knowing what might fill those other books.  God had already provided all that is necessary to know Jesus as Lord and Savior and to keep me busy learning all my life.  Join us in committing to learning more about the Savior’s life and ministry everyday.

Our team is hosting an event over Chinese New Year break for students that have been a part of S&E Camp before.  It will be on Feb. 1st.  We hope to encourage the youth in their faith as well as to launch the I Will Follow Youtube channel that day.  We ask that you pray that God knowing the hearts of us all will draw the right students to this event.

Chris & Samantha Sanford returned from a short home assignment in the States on January 15th.  They returned needing to find a different house to rent and move by the 25th.  God has provided a house.  Now they are trying to move.  Chris has been sick.  They all have jet-lag.  They have three children 5 and under and Sam is almost 8 months pregnant.  Please pray for them as they continue through these transitions.

We have received an invitation to go to the Lin’s home for Chinese New Year for a meal again this year.  This is Samantha Sanford’s family.  We ask that you pray we will recognize ways to be light to their family while we are with them that evening.  Please pray as well for all Christians in Taiwan to use this as an opportunity to witness to their families.

Thank you for your prayers.

God Bless,

John & Cheryl

1.  Please pray with us to dedicate ourselves to learning more about our Savior daily.

2.  Please pray for the God draw the right students to the Chinese New Year event.

3.  Please pray for the Sanford family as they adjust to being back in Taiwan and move to a new home.

4.  Please pray for opportunities to continue to share the gospel with the Lin family.