I trust you have received our last email update on the COVID-19 global shutdown of travel, and an initial evaluation of how it is to affect our ministry overseas. Of course, the news globally has gone from bad to worse since then.
Perhaps you are one of the many who have been touched by the COVID-19 virus personally or in your family. We grieve with the heartaches this has brought to so many. Feel free to contact us if you desire to share a prayer request or even just to talk with someone else to share your current burdens and heartache. We would make time to speak with you on the phone, zoom, skype or over email. Just let us know through this email address and we will seek to arrange a time to listen, and encourage you as best we can. We trust in a God who is a stronghold in the day of trouble and know those who take refuge in HIM (Nahum 1:7)
We also wanted to share with you, that Cheryl’s 96 year old dad, Ziggy Wiernicki, went home to be with Jesus on Saturday 4th April, 2020. God answered many of our prayers for him in his last days on earth.
Zig trusted Jesus at 93 years old. He moved into our home 2 and half years ago – first in Kokomo, Indiana and then to Allen, Texas. Some of you saw him pedaling around in his wheelchair as he loved to be around people. In the last month Zig had two week long hospital stays with a week back in our home in between those stays. His body was shutting down. Cheryl was able to be with her dad the last few hours of his life and when he breathed his last. It was very gracious of the LORD to let this happen when Doug could not travel overseas or stateside so he could assist Cheryl in the increased care necessary during that time. We delight in the fact that on Easter/Resurrection Sunday, as a late comer to the family of God, Zig will be able to celebrate with fuller understanding the implications of the Resurrection in his life. He even gets to wear a new Easter outfit!
There is some encouraging news from some overseas. TRI-M partners are reporting how God is at work still. It is best not to name these specific countries over the internet due to the current political feelings towards the Gospel of Jesus. A Pastor who in past has rejoiced in seeing 20 attend a Church service, has had 1700 hits on his online Church “service” in just two weeks. There are 300+ inquiries asking specific, good questions to follow up on!
Doug, from his USA Office, is seeking to consult, encourage, and offer resources to our overseas partners that are still carrying on when possible or staying in readiness to do so even before Doug would be free to travel again. He is working on a new course on being a teacher of teachers, especially designed for those in remote areas and culturally adaptable. This has been done many times face to face individually. Now doing it remotely with limited “live” or “electronic” connection it is a bit of a challenge.
Kenya already had a graduation without the usual fanfare, such as family and others attending. Doug was able to deliver the Diplomas electronically and send a few words of congratulations. The next day a ban on all travel was enacted! All the graduates got to their homes in before the lock down.
Yambio, South Sudan is not only dealing with the COVID-19 but has been in the middle of the active fighting in the Civil war there. But they were still able to have their teachings for 3 weeks in March with students from 75 miles away. This was made possible by some individual extra gifts sent our way before even knowing about the COVID-19 spread.
In Uganda the South Sudanese in exile are continuing to teach in the camps. They are already living in overcrowded conditions, so they cannot individually be “locked down” with social distancing of 6 feet apart in their refugee camp. Sudanese Teachers were somehow able to come and go to at least two different refugee camps to teach for 2 weeks in March. Texting with one of the South Sudanese Leaders, I asked him how they were doing. He replied they were “praying and fasting”. I asked if that was forced or voluntary fasting, and he replied “Yes”. I wonder how I am allowing this current situation to strengthen my faithfulness and trust in Jesus like my brothers overseas?
In the villages of Tanzania they say there are already so many illnesses there that the symptoms of COVID-19 cannot even be noticed. There are few medical facilities to test or identify it. Multiple families often work together and eat from the “common pots”. Gathering for teaching, the Church Leaders are not even noticed except if a foreigner travels in or out. The Tanzanian coordinator is encouraging past graduates of the training to rise up and become the trainers in their local region for those sensing a call to the pastorate. He is seeking to coach those new teachers by phone when possible.
TRI-M missionaries are restricted but the ones who have been taught are not and are carrying on. Training is happening even though their lock down means that no markets are open. Like many even here, our brethren overseas are living with the fact of no work means no food for that day. The difference is how close they have already been to starvation even before this crisis, with no government assistance.
Continue to pray for all of us to have sensitivity to Spirit’s leading and creativity in serving Jesus during this time. Thank you for being an active part in Jesus' ministry through TRI-M and the Boisverts. We love you and are grateful for your partnership.
Striving to Serve Jesus (Col. 1:29)
Dr Doug & Cheryl Boisvert