Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Developments in Mbulu!

Hi Everybody,

Well, I know it's been a little while since I last posted.  Strike that.  It's been a long, long time since I've given any updates on what's been taking place in the ongoing efforts to fully fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program.  Trust me though when I tell you that the Lord has continued to do some amazing things to provide for these dear families in Mbulu, Tanzania. 

As of this week we've learned that there are 45 mothers and their children being ministered to in the Anslay CSP, and that we are only 39 monthly sponsorships away from reaching full funding!  God has opened so many doors and provided in so many ways over the past few months and He continues to do so. 

About a year ago I told you about a girl living in Upstate New York named Chiara Salati who also had a burden to speak to others on behalf of the moms and babies of Mbulu.  Well, this week she e-mailed to tell us that her church had given her the green light to share about the Anslay CSP with the congregation this weekend.  We are so excited for this development and want to ask you to join with us as we pray that the Lord would use her mightily as she speaks.

Lastly, I'm happy to report that we continue to receive encouraging news directly from Mbulu itself and I want to leave you with a letter we've recently received from the Anlay CSP Senior Pastor, Augustino Halule.  Join with us as we lift him and all who are in his care up in prayer.
My beloved friends,

Praise the Lord. I salute you in the name of the Lord.

My name is Augustino A. Halule. I am the Pastor in charge of Anslay Church of God which has a child survival Program TZC 16 which you are sponsoring.  I am happy to give my hearty thanks for your support and kindness that helps the needy directly. May God  continue to use you to partner with us in rescuing lives of pregnant mothers and these little children.

I would like to share with you some things the mothers were helped through Compassion at this center. We
continue to thank God for this service which enables mothers to come out from very difficult environment.  Through your support the mothers and children's lives have been changed compared to others who are not in this program.

We thank God for bringing to us this ministry here at our church. This program was opened on 30th March 2010.  At that time we were able to register 15 expectant mothers and 20 mothers with infants. These women were living in very difficult and unpromising environment which hinders the nourishment of the lives of mothers and babies. Up to now the program has one year and two months and all the pregnant mothers delivered safely.

This program has enabled 3 mothers to continue with secondary school studies and others have joined tailoring classes. This program also has helped the mothers to start keeping goats, pigs and chickens. The ones who joined the program with the knowledge of tailoring skills were given sewing machines and have already started to sew clothes at their living areas. Also the children always are brought to the stimulation room; they now look so different compared to children who are not registered.

So the church continues to thank you for the volunteering heart to help the needy in different ways in their
lives. I and other workers at the centre continue giving them spiritual teachings, balanced diet, entrepreneurship training, family planning knowledge and mother to child relationship.

They also get time to learn other things like choir and farming. We thank God that all the mothers who received Jesus as their personal savior last time are now doing well in Christ.  It is my expectations to see these mothers and infants are helped and rescued as well as grow in good health and get economical deliverance.

I still need your prayers for these mothers so that God may give them vision to be more independent economically, socially, spiritually, mentally and in good health.  Thank you for your good service to these needy people.

I wish you all the best in serving God,

Agustino A. Halule, Senior Pastor. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Getting Closer

It's been more than two weeks since I asked for your prayers as we prepared to share about the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program at Apex Community Church,and we have yet to get over the overwhelming response that God provided!

More than 20 people made the commitment over that weekend to sponsor the CSP and help provide for the mental, physical, and spiritual needs of mothers and babies in Tanzania!  That number continues to grow and we remain so overwhelmed at God's amazing provision. 

As our opportunities have increased, so has the blessing of meeting with others in the Body of Christ and hearing their own stories of God's work.  Some have felt burdened to feed and clothe the poor in Haiti, while others are answering the call to put shoes on the feet and a Bible in the hands of our city's neediest school children.  Another owns a budding restaurant and catering business, and he is committed to donating a portion of his work and resources to help raise funds for missions efforts around the world.  It is an amazing thing to witness the power of Christ as he uses His redeemed to carry the gospel to the lost.

Some of the most special encounters have come from those who aren't even able to afford a sponsorship at all.  A few weeks ago a woman and her husband came up to the Compassion table in the lobby and handed me the money she had in her purse.  "I hope you can use this," she said.  "I'm afraid it's all I can give."

I assured her that is was more than enough in God's hands, and thanked her for her willingness to share in the ministry.  As a way of saying thanks, I handed her a copy of Dr. Wess Stafford's (the President and CEO of Compassion International) book titled, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most.  In this amazing book, Dr. Stafford explains that " children are too important and too intensely loved by God to be left behind or left to chance," and that there is no time to lose as the church must heed God's call to invest in the saving of their lives and souls.  This story is that much more poignant since he shares his own experience of growing up as the child of missionaries in West Africa, where he endured terrible abuse at the hands of boarding school leaders who were supposed to be caring for him.

Well, a couple weeks after I'd given the book to the woman, I saw her again and she walked straight towards me.  She started to speak, but her voice immediately caught as tears quickly filled in her eyes.  "Is everything ok?" I asked.  She nodded and was finally able to speak.

"When you handed me that book, I started reading, thinking I was going to learn more about Compassion's ministry.  I didn't see, I grew up being abused, and reading about his experiences opened up all those old wounds."

I was dumbfounded and the air around me seemed to grow still.  By God's grace, however, this was not the end of her story.

"I just wanted you to know that if it hadn't been for this story, then I don't know if I ever would've come to a place where God would allow me to forgive the people who hurt me.  God has used it to change me and break me free from all of my bitterness. I am so thankful."

This was an amazing and unexpected encounter, but that's just what our God does isn't it?  Jesus is still on His throne and is still seeking, saving, and healing his children both young and old all over the world.  It is, as it always has been, His work and His doing.  Righteousness and redemption cannot be claimed by any man or woman apart from Him and His truly amazing grace!

I am so thankful for His work that continues to be done both here and abroad, and would ask for your prayers as He opens doors of opportunity to share even more.  Since I've shared a little about Dr. Stafford's book, I'd also like to offer an opportunity for you to receive your own copy just by becoming a sponsor of the Anslay CSP.

To get a book, simply click here to go the Compassion website and walk through the simple and secure steps to become a sponsor.  Afterwards, send us a quick e-mail at to let us know you've become a sponsor and we'll send you a book.  It's that simple!  You'll be saving the lives of families in Tanzania while enriching your own walk in the process.

Thanks for your continued prayers and gifts!  God bless!

Jeff and Julie

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giving Praise...Seeking Prayer

Hi Everybody!

This is just a quick update to let you know what has taken place over the past week, and to once again ask for your prayers.

I'm thrilled to share that the Lord has continued to raise up sponsors and as of today we are now in need of just around 55 more to fully fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program.  You can sign up to become a sponsor today by clicking here!

In addition, this weekend we have been given the special privilege to share about the CSP with our church family both at this evening's service at 6pm EST, and for each of the Sunday morning services at 9:30am EST, and 11:30am EST.

The following video will be played before the congregation at a scheduled point in the early portion of each service and then I'll be given the microphone to provide more detail about the CSP and to invite others to participate as sponsors.  We are naturally excited for this opportunity but our greatest desire is that Jesus would be lifted up and glorified as we dedicate the lives of these young families in Mbulu, Tanzania over to Him.

Would you be willing, after reading this post, to pray that God would work in and through us, and that if it is His will, that He might use this message to provide the remaining sponsors?  He is sovereign and we give Him the highest praise no matter what He has in store.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Days of Grace

Hi everyone. Well, so much has been happening over the past few weeks that it’s truly difficult to know where to start.

Several months ago we were blessed to connect with Rita Haworth who helps lead the missions, or “Going” team as it’s called, at our church.  I had the opportunity to speak with her about what God was doing and the journey He had been taking us on as we sought to fully fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival program in Mbulu, Tanzania.

After hearing the story Rita began to brainstorm about ways to help us take this message to the congregation at Apex Community Church. Midway through the month of September she called and asked if we would like to set up a display table in the lobby for all three weekend services over the period of about three weeks. At the close of those weeks we would then be given the opportunity to share about the CSP with the congregation during the announcements at the beginning of each service.

We were ecstatic to have this opportunity and humbled to see how the Lord was working to open doors- doors that only He alone could open. I pause to say this because up until then it seemed that virtually every opening had slammed completely shut. This experience has been at times frustrating and ultimately humbling since I believe God used this silence to reveal areas of personal pride and a focus upon the work instead of the one who gave us this burden to begin with. How easily we can forget that He is the one who provides, and that apart from Him we can do nothing! (James 15:5)

Well, since those initial plans began to take shape at the church, we were eventually given permission to keep our table on display for another three weeks. As it turns out scheduled appearance in front of the congregation needed to be extended out to the weekend of October 15 and 16, but Rita graciously offered to let us keep our display up and running. The result has been nothing short of amazing, and it’s been such a blessing to meet and talk with so many people who God is convicting and using for the work of his kingdom.

One person has listed Jesus as the CEO of his business, while another leads a ministry that gathers shoes for Dayton’s poorest children. Others are engaged in the ongoing efforts to provide physical relief and the message of the gospel to the people of Haiti. Another simply chose to live in the midst of inner-city Columbus where she ministers to the people in her neighborhood. My initial reaction to all of these stories is to say that the body of Christ is amazing, though I’ve been taught through our own humbling experience, that it is Christ in an otherwise lifeless the body that deserves all the glory.

It is all his from top to bottom, and I continue to be amazed that He chooses to graciously teach and love us while still using us to accomplish His will. What amazing love!  By His will alone we will be standing by our display table yet again this weekend, and by His will we will have the chance to share about the CSP with so many others in the coming days. Will you join with us to pray that He will move in the hearts of His people to provide additional sponsorships?

Prior to the start of our first week at the church we needed 88 more sponsorships to fully fund the Anslay CSP. I’m pleased to report that as of now that number has since dropped down to 60! God is doing amazing things and above all, His gospel is being carried to mothers and children in a tiny African village because of how He has moved and He has provided!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Voice of Hope

As some of you may recall, earlier this year we were blessed to receive encouraging news about one of the mothers from the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, named Aurelia Akonaay. Her story was featured here.  Later we and other sponsors were thrilled to receive a letter which shared how the CSP had ministered and cared for her and her newborn child.

Well, once again I am truly honored to share the contents of another beautiful letter from an Anslay CSP participant by the name of Neema Jacob, pictured with her son Christopher below. My own words really don't do it justice so I'll be brief. Just know that the Holy Spirit continues to work in Mbulu, Tanzania and your ongoing gifts have contributed so much. We are still in need of numerous sponsorships in to sustain the ongoing physical needs of these precious lives. We'd like to ask you to consider giving today if you haven't already. Click here to learn more about the Anslay CSP and to help deliver life-saving care and the soul-saving message of the gospel. In the mean time, it's a true blessing to introduce you to Neema and Christopher:
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

I greet you all in the name of Jesus. My family and I are all well. It is my hope that you that you too, are well. I am very grateful to God in heaven for giving me an opportunity to be a recipient of this child survival program. I am also grateful to all project staff that involved in this program for being very helpful and supportive to me at a time I was facing many challenges. During my pregnancy, they visited me regularly at home and advised and counseled me. They taught me on different matters like feeding and immunization.

At my time of delivery, this program was very helpful in many ways especially at the hospital whereby they provided me with the means of transport from home to the hospital. Not only that, through this program many things have been done to me and I receive a lot of materials such as food stuff, thermos flask, clothes for my baby, body jelly, soap etc for the baby on monthly basis.

In this program I have been taught various lessons on health, hygiene, entrepreneurship, environmental and personal lessons, we also learn about curable and non curable diseases as well as how to feed our babies as required, the lessons are taught at the centre and sometimes at the zonal centers not far from where I live.

Also I have been taught the word of God, the advantage of being a prayer warrior. Through entrepreneurship lessons, I realized that I am personally improving economically because now I have started doing small things which help me to have some earnings.

I also have been learning quite a lot through my fellow women as every time we meet at the center, or when we go for choir practice or when we meet session called preparation of good food, I learn things like how to take good care of my baby Christopher.

Something else so special that I experienced in this program is Medicare when my baby is sick and I could not given proper treatment at the government District hospital this program helps by facilitating the treatment of the child at the referral hospital for example in July 2010 by my baby Christopher was sick, through this program we got good treatment at a referral hospital in another region from July to September until he was healed completely.

Lastly I am very grateful to you for your loving kindness, which you have extended to me materially; spiritually etc also I am grateful for the commitment of Compassion staff, I won’t forget how they helped me when my son Christopher was sick.

I have nothing to pay you back, I pray for you and your families that God will bless you a hundred times and more.

Yours in CSP,
Neema Jacob

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Missing Man

The reason for this entry’s title may seem obvious since the frequency of my contributions to this blog have become almost non-existent. However, as appropriate as that might be, the subject actually concerns an issue that has haunted me long before this blog was ever launched.

In February of 2010 I had the privilege to travel with a group of men on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. It was my first journey to the third world, and as those of you who have taken similar trips can understand, it had and continues to have a profound impact on my life. You never forget certain sights, sounds, smells, and experiences, and by God’s grace it starts a process of change in your life that doesn’t end once you’re safely back in your suburban cocoon.

Frankly, there is no easy way to comprehend the devastating scope of global poverty, though it becomes that much easier when we’re able to see it in the faces of those who live and die in its grip. For me, however, what has become even more disturbing is the ghostly imprint of those who are simply no longer there.

My experience in Guatemala soon revealed a nearly epidemic scarcity of husbands and fathers among the families we had the privilege to visit. Every story was different but familiar patterns soon emerged.

Severely high unemployment rates often meant that men would have to leave their families to look for work. Competition for jobs was fierce, and when they did become available they were often dangerous. Life threatening injuries and fatalities were not uncommon, and many who survived spent what little they made on illicit drugs or alcohol as a way to escape from the stress. If the men were able to return home, the drug and alcohol use typically continued and quite often resulted in the physical abuse of their wives and children. More often than not though, these men just seemed to leave their homes without returning.

The memory of those stories was fresh on my mind when we began the campaign to raise funds to start a Child Survival Program in the tiny village of Mbulu, Tanzania just a few months later. As Compassion began to provide us with information about the people who lived there, there were elements that immediately grabbed my attention and made the ongoing crisis in this community even more heartbreaking. Amid the devastating statistics regarding infant and maternal mortality rates, there were alarming statements such as:

“Some women abandon their children due to lack of support from their spouses,” and, “Men of this area engage in alcoholism, leaving women and children to suffer from malnutrition and diseases.”

It didn’t take long to understand that the tragedy I’d encountered in Guatemala was being duplicated in Mbulu, and worse yet, in unnamed villages throughout the developing world like an insidious soul scorching virus. I felt the overwhelming sense that since Christ is a Father to the fatherless, it goes without saying that we as His church have a responsibility to be His hands and feet for so many who are lost and dying.

Though one of the greatest joys of the Child Survival Program is the way that it provides for the mental, physical and spiritual needs of mothers and their children, one of its most overlooked benefits is the work that it does to help reconcile families. Whenever possible, a CSP provides counseling and guidance at the family level to make male parents participate in child upbringing. It’s a staggering thought, but in so many of these poorer communities the male role has been so diminished, that many men do not even realize just how vital they are toward the ongoing health and development of their children and the preservation of the family. Though hard to understand, I believe there are lessons here that we dare not ignore.

Perhaps we don’t talk about this enough, but as I look at the lives of American men and the culture in which we live, I truly believe that another silent crisis exists that is not that far removed from the one I’ve just described. Though our economic burdens may be universes apart from those in the third world, I believe it’s not a stretch to say that the American male has seriously strayed from the divine mission he was created fulfill.

Christian men and women alike have struggled to define and live out their faith in post-modern society, but sadly the populations of both sexes have adopted behaviors that are indicative of an increasingly secular worldview.

Confusion has reigned as Christian husbands and wives have allowed the pop theology of the culture to define the rules of engagement regarding spiritual leadership. As a result marriages vainly grope for substance in the dark as the roles both people were designed to play become reversed, and the beautiful complement of each becomes lost like some forgotten language.

Men increasingly fail to lead and seem more intent on frivolous pursuits instead of sacrificially loving their families and setting the spiritual tone of their household. Too often we have been guilty of failing to realize the crucial weight of our God-given responsibilities or the consequences of our unwillingness to live them out, but thankfully His love and grace holds the promise that it doesn’t have to remain this way if we yield to His work in our lives.

This is where I find myself now. By His love He continues to show me things about myself that must change, and by His grace alone He brings about a transformation that only He can give. It is a miracle that He still seeks out men to serve Him whether they live in Africa or Ohio. My prayer and my challenge to all men is that they would yield to His voice while there is still time and while there are still lives and souls to be saved.

Now is not the time to go missing.

To become a sponsor of the Anslay Church of God CSP in Mbulu click here!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Important Website Update

Hi everyone,

It's been a little while but we wanted to let you know that the Anslay Church of God CSP website has recently been changed to the following link:

This change has followed an overall update to Compassion International's website, and it still allows you to make a donation in the same secure environment as before. We'd encourage you to check it out and, as always, consider becoming a sponsor at only $20 a month.

We have been so thrilled to hear the stories and finally see pictures of the mothers and babies who are being touched through this ministry, but at the same time we have seen things slow drastically in our efforts to fully fund this project.

Would you be willing to join with us in earnest prayer that the Lord would raise up the individuals who are needed to accomplish this goal? We feel truly blessed to have shared in this vision with so many and know that these precious mothers and their children are known and loved by the living God.

They ultimately belong to Him, and there is no scheme, marketing plan, or carefully worded plea that can accomplish this goal through human means (this blog included). Our desire is to surrender our will to His as He puts this burden on our hearts. As we pray, watch, and wait, we ask that the Lord would open doors and provide for His children.

Your prayers are coveted and we join with you in joyful anticipation as His will is accomplished.

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
I Timothy 1:17