So many exciting things are happening in the world of ServeNow! The last two weeks have been a historic time. A partner organization (MediaServe) has become a division of ServeNow. Our president and vice president met with their board a few weeks back to make it official. MediaServe prints Bibles and discipleship resources in over 45 languages! We are excited about the new opportunities, impact and possibilities that are before us. For example, just this week:
- A container full of 50,000 New Testaments in the Oromo langugage (language of an ethnic group in Africa) was sent on its way to Ethiopia.
- 50,000 Burmese Bibles have reached Yangon, Burma.
- 18,000 copies of The King (Gospel of Mark) have been printed for a country in South Asia.
- Several print orders are currently being arranged for New Testaments in India and Nepal!
Besides this exciting development, below are some highlights from the past several weeks:
Last week, our Ugandian ServeNow coordinator traveled to western Uganda. One pastor testified that reading The Basic Things You Need to Know About Reading and Studying the Bible had increased the church members’ desire to know more about God and to read through his Word. Some church members didn’t have Bibles, but are now trying to save money from their small incomes for the purpose of purchasing Bibles. Those who have Bibles have been motivated to read the Bible daily, which leads to spiritual growth.
One of the members said: While I read the Basic Things You Need to Know About Reading and Studying the Bible, I came across the statement about the tongue being compared to a small spark that can destroy a forest. My life was totally transformed through this because before reading the book, I had used my tongue to destroy my family as well as friends. Even though I was a believer, I would backbite and abuse people publicly. Thanks be to God for bringing us such great inspirations!”
Last week, Pastor Moses traveled to Kyengeza, in Western Uganda, with a gift of five bicycles. These bicycles were donated by ServeNow to improve the ministry of the pastors who live in rural areas. Up until now, these pastors had to walk many miles each week to serve God. In his speech, Pastor Moses said: The sole purpose of these bicycles is for the sake of the Gospel. Therefore, go and preach the Gospel to both believers and non-believers for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.
Pastor John Fride lives 10 miles away from his church. He had to walk 6 hours to and from church 5 days a week. He was so grateful to ServeNow for his bicycle! This will enable him to give more time to ministry, and less time walking.
Pastor Damiano used to walk 18 miles for meetings. He said he had to leave his house 4 hours early so that he could get to the meetings on time.
On a sad note, we need to report that one temporary classroom block at the Kamusenene Children’s Center collapsed after days of heavy rain. However, we thank God that no one was in the class room since it was a holiday. During the rainy season, our temporary classrooms are frequently damaged because the walls are made of mud and bamboo and are therefore weak.
Meet Alena and her four children: 8-year-old Masha and Katya, 6-year-old Vitya, and 3-year-old Olya. This family lives in poverty. Alena, the mother, is unemployed. The father does work, but earns very little. The three older children attend a school for children with special (mental) needs. It was such a pleasure to meet this family during our Christmas outreach when we handed out Christmas gift boxes. They attended the event because their believer-friend had invited them and also helped them get there. They heard about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. The children were so happy to receive their own gifts of toys and candies. It was a real Christmas for this family.
Andrew, 8, and Igor, 12, live in a boarding school in a small village near Kherson (city in southern Ukraine). The boys have never known their father. Their mother was an alcoholic and didn’t take care of her sons, which is why they ended up living in a boarding school. In the past, when the brothers returned to the boarding school after a stay at their mother’s house, they would return wearing dirty, worn-out clothes, and several sizes too small. Sadly, their mother died from cancer in December, 2015. She didn’t have money for medication or food. This is a difficult time for Andrew and Igor, and their future is uncertain. When they received Christmas gift boxes from ServeNow, they were overjoyed! They liked getting warm hats, stationery and other fun things. They don’t have anyone who will buy them anything, so you can imagine how incredibly happy they were to receive these gifts.
God is using scripture tools, such as the Story of Jesus and the Basic Series, to encourage hurting people, to bring salvation to the lost, and to strengthen the faith of believers. It was amazing to see a 3-year-old boy share from the Story of Jesus booklet during Sunday School. He was so excited about it as he pointed out all the pictures! Our chairman of the board, shared with us that all the children were very excited to go through each page, and they all wanted to share the booklet with others.
Kalpana, one of the participants at our tailoring school, talks about how happy she is to be in the program: I feel so privileged to be enrolled in ServeNow’s tailoring school. I have always had a great desire to learn sewing skills and to become independent, but because of several reasons, like poverty, I wasn’t able to do it. I was very scared and worried about my future as I have heard that many women are lured by traffickers, and many innocent women, like those in our tailoring group, became victims of traffickers. They lived a life in miserable conditions, and they were exploited in every way. What a great honor for me to receive this life skill training! It was my dream, and now it is becoming reality. Thank you so much for providing me with this training. I have learned so many new sewing techniques, and it has also built my confidence.
We had the privilege to graduate 13 students from the cosmetology training center in a slum. The students were given a certificate of graduation, and the two best students were awarded with a special cosmetology starter set. The center will continue to train more destitute women and also provide advanced training to the recently graduated students. Congratulations to the graduates!
Lately, we have received many requests in different parts of the country to bring the Basic Series booklets to other churches. The need for these basic discipleship books are immense. As our national director in India talked with several of the local church leaders, especially the ones from northern and eastern India, he began to realize that this scripture program is impacting more lives than we possibly could have imagined when we started 2 years ago. Here are some recent stories:
One of our Indian board members, shared about his experience with a 19-year-old young man named *Amil, while attending a small house church in New Delhi. Our board member found *Amil deeply engaged in reading the Basic Things You Need to Know About Salvation in his own language (Hindi). When asked what he liked about this book, *Amil replied: This book makes it so easy to understand the salvation of Christ. I had never understood it so well before!
Our board member also reported that two young people received the Lord and got baptized!
The chairmen of our board in India, has a great passion for ministering to youth in the church. Recently, he started using the Basic Series booklets during Bible studies and devotions among the youth in his church. The booklets have been such a blessing to them, helping the young people grow in the Lord.
Another story comes from a remote village where there are no paved roads. The nearest road is a mile away, and this road isn’t even well-connected to other nearby towns. A pastor in this area told us that during his early years, he faced a lot of opposition from the local villagers, but his vision for the people and his dedication were never shaken. Now, he has baptized more than 30 people and more than 250 people from the village attend his church every Sunday. He supports his ministry by working as a translator for Christian materials; and he is a well experienced interpreter. Recently, ServeNow conducted a scripture program in his church. He was very happy to be a part of the program and was excited with the idea of his believers growing strong in faith through the Basic Series booklets. He said: These books are not only a wonderful tool for the 250 believers, but also for me personally. I am sure I will learn many things I don’t know yet.
Another man, who is a private tutor in the outskirts of Hyderabad has a heart for the street children and for impoverished people. In fact, he is taking care of an old lady and her 11-year-old grandson in his own home, even though they are not related to him. He could not stand by while seeing them suffer. He began by providing them with meals and telling them about the love of God. This man attends a church where ServeNow recently led a scripture program. He enjoyed being a part of this program, and, as he said in his own words: These books will not only be a wonderful tool for me to know more about Christ, but I can also use this material for Bible studies with the children I tutor.