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We all need Jesus by Becky Duncan

No other explanation. The Holy Spirit is with us and working in Kenya just as he’s with us in Texas.  God is good – all the time. We have fallen in love and bonded with the women that God hand picked and brought to the Trauma Conference.  A third of our audience are Muslim. The miracles are unfolding right before our eyes. The women, both christian and Muslim, are brave and courageous as they stand and share their deepest pain with us. The painful stories of trauma – rape, abuse, poverty, having children killed, being brutally beaten, prostitution, shunned due to being born with deformities, divorce, polygamy/being neglected, having their plot taken from them, physical pain & dysfunction of organs caused from unthinkable torture. Women are learning how to identify and walk through denial, grieving, lies, anger, guilt/shame, anger, fear, trust, Justice, forgiveness, conflict resolution. Learning how to see God and life through the lens of scripture/truth instead of a broken lens informed by experiences and circumstances.  Learning God’s character, how to study & the importance of the Bible. God’s truth. The gospel.

We spent weeks preparing and praying before we arrived, even knew we would need to be flexible and hold schedules loosely. But really, not until we got here could we even begin to imagine the work the Lord had planned for us and how many hearts would begin to heal. We are humbled and being taught so much by these women. Many, many, many stories.

We are teaching tough subjects and quickly learned that they LOVE our silliness, dramas, and illustrations.  They are quick learners and so gracious with their encouragement to us.

Thank you for your prayers and for allowing us to be a part of this discipleship opportunity.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. Psalm 66:16
We all need Jesus.
Momma Beck

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Tears For Injustice by Rachel Crow

“My eyes are tired from the tears I cried today. Tears for injustice. Tears for my sisters who also endured pain. Tears for the shame I still hold. Tears for our Kenyan sisters who have never spoken of their heartbreak. 

Keep in mind this is my first time outside of the country and my first flight over 2.5 hours long. Therefore, jet lag and sleep deprivation are probably slight contributors to the tears but ultimately it’s a true sadness for the broken world around me. 

When I started this trip across the world I believed several lies about myself. I believed I was stupid after a lifetime of being told by those I trusted. I believed I had nothing to offer the women. I believed my story was not “bad enough” to share with women who I was sure had been through “worse” than me. I believed I had no value. 

After spending some time with the beautiful women of Kenya on our side of the Trauma & Healing conference I learned a few things:

Kenyan women are assertive and take charge. They get what they want because if they don’t get it quickly they know they’ll get nothing. Music is more than just a self-expression but a way to connect with others including their Muslim friends and participants. The majority is overwhelmingly friendly and hospitable saying “karibu” meaning “welcome” or “you’re welcome here” in every situation. But mostly; their heartbreak, their abuse, their problems are not different than our own. 

Our skin may look different. Our hair might look different. Our accents are extremely different but our pain looks the same. Women would share in Swahili-their native language- and while I couldn’t understand their words I could understand the sadness. shelter shelter2 shelter3Therefore, I leave this trip believing more truths than when I began.

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The Cost of Following Christ by WatermarkJustice team

16602991_1282450428486930_7895167039104871405_n 16640588_1283068788425094_1233360074251173440_n 16649292_1282450425153597_4723238041217758972_nSometimes, lawyers are accused of being unemotional creatures. After today, no one can accuse this conference of that. Kenyan participants are extraordinarily open, and we can see how trust and openness increase each day. Today, we presented sessions on forgiveness, bribery and corruption, living at peace with our neighbors, and conflict resolution. These sessions unlocked the Participant’s hearts as they shared how these topics impact their daily lives.

Robert shared his story of learning to forgive those who perpetrated injustice against him and his family. As he shared the truth that he learned to forgive others by looking to Christ, Robert challenged our Kenyan brothers and sisters to do the same. Robert wore a big backpack filled with rocks for his entire presentation representing the weight of unforgiveness. At the end of his talk, he took the rocks out, representing his freedom from unforgiveness and placed them at the foot of a small cross. Many of our participants came to the front to place their own burdens at the foot of the cross. It was powerful to see these attorneys, policeman, and pastors seek to forgive others.

Russ’s talk on bribery was particularly poignant. Participants shared how they struggled with bribery almost every day.  They told stories of how the electric company would come by and threaten to turn off the power if they did not pay a bribe. Participants agreed that bribes were wrong, but they wrestled with how they could practically survive in a society where the average Kenyan pays 17 bribes a month. As Russ shared how followers of Jesus are called to live lives of justice, it began to sink in: following Jesus has a cost.

Kenya is a diverse country with many faiths represented along with many tribes as clans. During the opening session when we asked for issues, assets, and aspirations, every group mentioned tribalism as an issue.  Bri shared about how God’s plan is for all of us to live in peace with our neighbors. We are to live at peace with our neighbors even if they are our enemies. And if we really love our neighbors, then we have to share our hope in Jesus Christ with them. Otherwise, we must not believe we have a hope worth sharing, or we don’t care enough about our neighbors to share. The participants responded courageously that they wanted to live in peace with their neighbors and they desired to share their hope with their neighbors as well.

To close out the day, we shared truths on biblical conflict. For many of the Participants, this was very challenging. While the Kenyan culture is very open to discussing ideas,  it is far less common to openly discuss personal grievances with others, particularly family members. Cultural issues came to the forefront as heard stories of injustice. One woman, in particular, told a challenging story of a crime that went unpunished. She had tears in her eyes as she relayed her struggles. Andrew and Robert skillfully shared the truth in God’s word that God would bring justice in this life or the next. It was powerful to see Robert story used yet again to connect deeply with our Kenyan brothers and sisters.

We are honored that are Kenyan family is passionate about improving their country by being the ones to take a stand against corruption and injustice. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, and we can’t wait to see what God is going to do!

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We are all one in Christ Jesus.

By Andrew Graben…. As I write this, it is Tuesday night here in Mombasa, Kenya. The brave women on the recovery team finished day two of their conference, while the justice conference kicked off today. But even though both programs are in their early stages, one thing has become clear: human brokenness and the need for Jesus Christ are not determined by national boundaries or expansive oceans. Our Kenyan brothers and sisters may identify with a different culture, and many of them speak a different language, but they are more like us, and their problems are more like our problems, than I could have imagined. In short, we all share a common hunger for the redemptive and transformative power of God’s truth.

One of the most striking things about Kenya has been the friendliness and openness of the people. Kenyans love to engage in substantive, personal conversations, and they are quick to develop a relational bond, even with new acquaintances. For example, when you first meet a Kenyan and they ask, “How are you,” they expect a meaningful response and will themselves share true feelings and details of their lives in short order. It’s a refreshing change from the “form over substance” that is common in American culture. And it makes our tasks here that much easier–the dialogue flows freely.

The recovery conference, by all accounts, has been a smashing success. Monday was largely introductory, yet even then the room was filled with joyful songs and painful tears as the Kenyan participants learned of God’s love and healing power. Today, the Watermark women shared their personal stories of trauma and healing as they taught on topics like grief and shame, among other things. And, by their hard work, our recovery team has persevered through the difficulties of teaching though a translator and the cultural barriers that existed. I was fortunate to view a small portion of today’s session, and I can tell you that the Kenyan women, many of whom are Muslim, are deeply engaged in these topics, and the bond that has developed between them and our American sisters is incredible. God’s glory is evident in every moment.

The justice conference started today, but already we have been blessed by our interactions with our Kenyan friends. The 95+ participants are a mixed group, which includes lawyers, prison officials, counselors, mediators, one judge, and two bishops. And every one of them is eager to further the cause of justice–that is, God’s justice–in Kenya. We covered everything from “Bible 101” to leadership today, and we also learned a lot about the specific challenges facing Kenya. But the real highlight was Robert Falay’s closing exposition on grief, during with he shared his truly amazing story of his and his family’s escape from political oppression in Congo–just two countries away from Kenya. The participants were in awe, as was I. If you don’t know Robert or haven’t heard his story, you should. God is truly great. (Here are links to Watermark News stories on Robert and his wife Nadege…http://www.watermark.org/blog/walking-jail and  http://www.watermark.org/blog/lots-tears-2 )

As we all prepare for Wednesday’s presentations, it is striking how God is moving here. I am confident that these Kenyan leaders are ready to take these lessons and entrust them to other faithful men and women in Kenya who will, in turn, lead others. (2 Tim. 2:2) So our faith is great that the impact of this conference will be multiplied beyond our humble efforts, and, soon, healing, reconciliation, and justice can be propagated throughout Kenya by Kenyans. With God, truly anything is possible.

 

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God is Good All the Time

We have felt God’s hand, protection, guidance, and blessing on us every step of the way.  Just a few days before our trip, we received our last emergency-expedited passport and visa.  Then, in Dallas, we checked 10 pieces of luggage full of supplies and Bibles weighing several hundred pounds.  The airline staff at the terminal set aside a separate line for us, and helped us get every bag checked and every ticket issued, even as we were bumping up against some potential weight limit problems.  Praise God. 18.5 hours in the air. Three flights. 25 hours of travel time since airport arrival later and we were not to our destination of Mombasa yet.   That comes on Sunday.

We were lucky to be greeted by our friends and ministry partners from ALARM. Dr. Sammy Linge, ALARM’s Kenya Country Director, and his wife, Alice, greeted us as soon as we walked out of the airport. Jack “the Driver” Opondo, long time friend of ALARM, was also there. We loaded our bags, and we were off into the Kenyan night to a hotel in Nairobi where we would stay until morning.  The next morning, we were lucky to visit Dr. Linge’s home church, AIC Plainview. The sermon was in English, while the majority of the singing was in Swahili. The teaching was excellent, the singing was outstanding, and the children in the church may have been the cutest ever.

After church it was off to lunch, then to the airport and on to Mombasa.  With some grace from the airline, and some excellent work by Rose from ALARM, who had joined us at the airport (along with her colleagues, Peter and Abigail) our team of 16 (12 from Watermark and 4 from ALARM) we made our flight from Nairobi to Mombasa checked in to our hotel had a team meeting and then to our rooms for rest and recovery.  Praise God. 19.25 hours in the air. Four flights. 52 hours since Dallas airport arrival. 61 hours of time on the clock …. and we are safely and comfortable in our final hotel, one night before the Trauma Recovery Team kicks off the conference tomorrow morning.

I belabored our travel ups, downs, and marathon-like-cross-globe itinerary to make my point more clear:  God has been very good to us.  We had no plane delays.  We had no insurmountable travel issues. We arrived with every piece of luggage. Everyone is in good spirits. I don’t think we have passed a single word in anger between us. We have wonderful hosts. No one is sick.  Although tired, we are likely just one night’s sleep away from full time adjustment. All of that is nothing short of a miracle, and we are blessed.  Those on our team who started as travel rookies are veterans and rookies no more.  The group is bonded and loving and supporting one another. Everyone has their place and space and the whole is stronger than the sum of the parts.

As I finish this, ready to sleep just a few hundred feet from the Indian Ocean, the furthest I have ever been from home, I am reminded of something my African brothers and sisters often say: God is good … all the time…All the time ….God is good.”  We live in a fallen world tainted by sin that separates us from God unless we trust in His grace through Jesus. So we experience and observe pain and suffering and difficulties and all sorts of trouble.  But God loves us and when we feel His blessing, as our team has throughout this very long journey, we must step back and remember that, even in the midst of this broken and fallen world, God is good…all the time…All the time…God is good.

IMG_2524 mombasa.teamStay tuned for updates tomorrow from the first day of the conference …..

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Thank You!

Good morning! Watermark “Team 4” made it back to DFW Sunday afternoon safe & sound…and we just wanted to THANK each of you for praying, supporting, and interceding for us this past week!  We definitely felt your prayers & support!

Here is a picture from our group on our last day with the local church translators and disciple-makers.  This was taken right after a huge worship celebration thanking the Lord for all He did this week…as we sang in both amharic (Ethiopian language) and english!  THANK YOU!!

Ethiopia2016

 

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Renouncing Generational Sin (Thursday, Aug. 4th)

Today was a very fruitful day for team 3 (Calvin, Adolfo, Ann, Johnna). All four teams headed up a road leading into a predominantly Muslim area in the Ethiopian mountains. Team 3 was the last to be dropped off and was located in the most rural area of all the teams. This was very fitting because it was a farming village and the soil was very fertile for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Immediately after getting off the bus, Ann was approached by a cross-eyed man who was walking to the market. He seemed startled by the friendliness of the ferenge (Ethiopian term meaning “foreigner”) and was happy to engage in conversation. Shortly into sharing the gospel message, the man said that he believed and wanted to accept Jesus as his personal Savior!  It was clear that Jesus had been working on this man’s heart before today. Ann also spent the rest of the morning engaging in conversation with people who wanted to accept Christ as Lord, including a grandmother, mother, and her grandson!

 

Also, a short while after Team 3 arrived in the field, Calvin and his translator engaged in conversation with a woman who was a farmer.  Her husband had left her and she lived at home with her nine-year-old daughter. The woman said she grew up in the village and practiced the Orthodox faith and believed that the angels Gabriel and Michael intercede to God for her sins. After about 45 minutes of conversation, the woman began to open up and asked that Calvin, the translator, and a disciple-maker come to her house to pray over her because she needed healing. Upon arrival at her house, the team read the story of Jesus healing the bleeding woman in Mark 5, and the woman began to realize the healing power of Jesus. She began to open up and confessed to having witchcraft beads that were passed down from her mother who had them passed down to her from her mother.  These beads were used as a form of worship to spirits and these spirits come to her and haunted her at night. The woman said that the spirits threatened her and are the reason for many bad things that have happened in her life. It was communicated that Jesus is much more powerful than any evil spirit, and her face immediately reflected a heart of relief.  The woman decided to accept Jesus and gave the witchcraft items to be taken away and burned. The translators and disciple-makers prayed over the woman and her daughter (who was with her), and the team took the items and left.  The Ethiopians have seen the destruction these evil spirits have caused in their community and made a very big deal of this woman renouncing the witchcraft that was practiced by generations of her family.  The power of God has now set her free from these sprits because she has accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior!  We finished the day back at the church where we started our day, where we prayed, thanked God through stories and song…and even burned the witchcraft items, as the woman requested.

 

[Written by Calvin and Ann]

 

Prayer request:

 

  1. Pray for the changed lives of those who encountered and received Christ today. Pray that the Lord will radically capture their heart so they can be a light to those in their village.
  2. Pray for the fruits of this week’s labor. Many have been saved because of the hope found in the gospel, and even more have heard and are open to knowing more. Pray that the disciple-makers and evangelists can continue to pursue and grow the relationships of those who desire to know more about Christ.

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Love Your Neighbor (Wednesday, Aug. 3rd)

Today was an incredible day for Team 4 (Michael, Ky, LeAnne, and Paige). Tarikwa, one of our e3 hosts and translators, invited us into her and her husband Demeke’s home for lunch. It was a wonderful moment to slow down, enjoy a coffee ceremony, and spend some time worshipping with our translators and disciple makers.

On our way out of the village, Tarikwa insisted we stop and talk with her neighbor and her children. This woman was a significant leader in the community, an Orthodox witch doctor, and had been persecuting Demeke and Tarikwa for over a year for their faith and evangelism within the community. We were greeted at the gate by two of her daughters and soon welcomed into their house to sit and talk. Tarikwa and David (our translators), Ky, Rick (our e3 team leader) and I (Paige) entered and sat with several of the children around their living room. As it turned out, their mother, the witch doctor, wasn’t home. They introduced themselves one by one, and then one daughter left the room. When she returned she was carrying her younger sister Desta, a 10-year-old girl who was severely physically and mentally crippled. We engaged with Desta, and though she was nonverbal, she smiled and made eye contact frequently. I shared the Evangecube with the children in the home as David translated, telling them about the free gift of grace in Jesus Christ. They were patient and listened, and Desta gifted us with many more smiles as she listened along. I had just finished the story, and we were beginning to dialogue about having a choice to make with this gift when their mother walked in suddenly. Very suddenly. She asked what we were doing in her home, and Tarikwa explained that we were her friends from America who had come to Ethiopia to visit and share good news. She asked if we could share the same news with her that we had just shared with her children, to which she agreed. Ky then shared the Evangecube as Tarikwa translated. The same woman she had been persecuting was now sitting on her couch telling her about the hope in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sins. When she initially entered the house her face was hard and her demeanor seemed skeptical, at best. But with Ky and Tarikwa’s patience and persistence to love her well in speaking truth, we saw her slowly soften right before our eyes. The Lord had been working through His people in this community, and it was clear He had been working in this woman’s heart. And so, before we knew it, she and her daughter were praying- confessing Jesus as Lord and making the choice to put their faith in him for the forgiveness of their sins. We rejoiced and celebrated with them for our two new sisters who inherited the Kingdom of Heaven today.

Then I got to pray for Desta- an incredibly sweet moment. Last night I got to share the story of my favorite (non-Messianic) man in the Bible, Mephibosheth. The son of Jonathan, he was a boy crippled by his flesh. A cripple would likely be destined to a life of sorrow, begging for any scraps the world could offer. But, because of the kindness and grace of his father, Mephibosheth was given an invitation to come and dine at the king’s table (2 Samuel 9). This is the message that we have seen change hearts and lives in Ethiopia this week. It is not by our works or anything we could do. We are all sinners, crippled by our flesh. But, because of the undeserved kindness shown to us by our Heavenly Father, we have been given an invitation to come and dine at the King’s table forever. Praise the Lord, for He is a good, good Father!

 

[Written by Paige]

 

Prayer Request

 

  1. Pray for our new sisters in Christ. Pray that the mother would use her power and influence in the community for the advancement of the Gospel. Pray that Desta would know she is loved as a child of God.
  2. Pray for our translators and disciple makers who faithfully walk into resistance and persecution in their communities day after day.
  3. Pray for our team as we prepare for the last field day of 2016. May the Gospel be shared, hearts be changed, churches be planted, lives be restored. May our time here bring new disciple makers for 2017, and many more years to come.

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From darkness into light… Tuesday update

The wifi at the hotel is working again so here is the update from Tuesday.  I spoke with the team & everyone is healthy & safe & will post a Wednesday story in couple hours.

TUESDAY UPDATE:  Today on our way out to the village, Demeka (e3 regional coordinator) shared with our team (Myrinda, Kimo, Dolly and David) that the predominate religion of the area was Orthodox and that they also practiced witchcraft & traditional African idolatry (worship of trees, earth, etc).  The van doors opened and everyone on the team began to separate with a disciple maker and translator to begin to engage with the people of the village. The team was sharing up and down the streets of the village and as lunch time started to approach Demeka, Takaley, and I (Myrinda) began to walk down the street and just pray for the village and the conversations that our team members were in. We stopped in front of this beautiful view of several mountains, Dawed (disciple maker) pulled out a piece of paper and began to explain to us that those mountains were idols of the village. Demeka asked me to pray and then we would go to the van for lunch, little did we know God would provide a divine appointment for us after our prayer. I prayed that the Lord would break down the idols of the village, open their eyes to the truth, help them to see that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I prayed that He would raise up a leader and that this leader would change the direction of this village from worshipping the creation to worshipping the Almighty Creator. After I finished praying we began to walk to the van and I saw an older man dressed in white garments, he looked like a leader and very important to the village. I asked Demeka if this was a witch doctor and he said yes. I immediately was excited, nervous, but most all thankful and in awe of the Lord to provide this opportunity. I started to pray again, Lord you have opened this door, use me to share your truth. Demeka and I started to engage with him and I shared the Evangecube with him and that we all have a choice we have to make, we have to accept or reject this gift from God. He had some question and Demeka continued to talk with him. David on our team walked up during that time and I shared with him what was going on.

Story by Myrinda

 

I (now David sharing his version of what happened) saw that the witch doctor was trying to end the conversation so he could leave, so I asked if I could ask the man one more question. He obliged, and I said “we are all going to die someday, and when we do we will stand before God. When you die and stand before God and He asks you ‘why should I let you in to heaven with me for eternity, what will your answer be?,’” He responded that it was through Jesus that he would be granted entrance into heaven. His answer seems to be 100% legit, yet strange for a witchdoctor.  We had seen several folks in our two days who mixed Orthodox beliefs with witchcraft, and he was giving his response from the Orthodox viewpoint. We’ve also learned to clarify with the Orthodox if they mean just Jesus alone to be saved or Jesus plus good works. I asked him this question, and he confirmed that it was Jesus plus good works. Demeka shared Ephesians 2:8-9  with him to emphasize from God’s Word that it is not our works that save us but the a free gift of God through Jesus alone. We spent the next 10-15 minutes graciously going back and forth with the witchdoctor on this issue from different angles leading to the same answer. As he was responding, I realized with sorrow in my heart that this man did not have much time left on this earth and I was prayed silently, pleading with the Lord to remove the scales from his eyes so he could see the Truth. The Lord provided again! After we helped separate the issues of salvation and good works by explaining that we FIRST need Jesus’s perfect sacrifice alone to be saved which is THEN followed by us doing good works because we love God so much for saving us; his eyes were finally opened! Demeka and I huddled together with this man in full view of several people of the village, and Demeka led him in a prayer to confess his new belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and His death, burial, and resurrection as the only basis for his salvation! A disciplemaker will be following up with him to get him connected to the local church and disciple him.  This man who started the day as a witch doctor with strong Orthodox beliefs ended his day by becoming a child of God! Praise God that He made and will continue to make His name more famous in that village through this man!

Story by David

 

 

I have no doubt the Lord provided this opportunity and opened this man’s heart to hear and eyes to see this truth. I am in awe of the Lord, His work, and that He would use us to lead this man to Him. The Lord is at work in this country and I am excited to get back to America to share truth without needing a translator or having a language barrier.

 

The North American team is in good health & everyone is excited to see how God is moving.

 

Prayer Requests:

 

  • Pray for our new brother to be rooted and grounded in his new belief and Jesus. Pray that God will use this man to draw more people in the village to Himself.
  • Pray that God will be glorified in this village and for the powers of witchcraft and idols to be broken.
  • Pray for continued unity with our Ethiopian partners
  • Pray for continued open doors for the gospel

 

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Open doors, softened hearts…

Our team (Brandon, Charran, Rachel, Abby and Derek) spent the day working in a village southwest of Addis which is known for being predominantly Muslim. The van doors opened, we piled out on a busy street, and we were met by a curious and friendly crowd of Ethiopians. As word spread about our arrival, groups began to form and we spread out along the street; playing with the kids and sharing the evangecube. To our surprise about 45 minutes into our visit, a man (a prominent Muslim leader) and woman approached the crowds in anger, disturbed that we there sharing our beliefs in their village, with their children. They were successful in causing a distraction, dismissed the crowd and asked us to leave. In an effort to seek peace and diffuse what could have escalated into a more heated situation, we changed our tone and asked for an opportunity to hear from them. Within 3 minutes the weather changed from a light sprinkle to a heavy downpour. Eager to get out of the rain, the woman offered us shelter in her home nearby. Tarikwa (e3 host and translator), Abby, Rachel and I (Charran) followed her to back to her home and she invited us to sit and continue the conversation. About 5 minutes in, the Muslim leader who was unhappy about our presence, joined us in the house. We cautiously continued our conversation, but with the goal to hear more about his faith and the Muslim beliefs. Common ground was finally reached after he realized we were seeking peace and coming in love. He then allowed us to walk through the gospel using the evangecube; we both agreed that we believed that God was perfect and that all had sinned. Over the next two hours, his demeanor changed and the man who was once filled with anger and rage, now wore a smile. He shared that he would love to have the opportunity to meet with the disciple maker (local pastor/Christian) and learn more about the Bible and ask questions; he even wanted to bring the Quran and compare scriptures. Our conversation ended with a coffee ceremony amongst new friends. The Lord certainly opened doors and softened hearts in a way that we could have never imagined. We left encouraged by the way our morning had ended— no longer enemies but friends.

(Written by Charran James)

Prayer Requests:

Pray for Abdul (Muslim leader) as he seeks truth after a spirit lead discussion. Pray that he would come to believe in Jesus and that his village would come to know Christ as their savior because of his leadership.

Pray for continued health for our team; all are feeling well and spirits are high after day one of ministry.

Pray for more open doors, softened hearts and divine appointments.

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