January 2019: 2018 Year-End Letter to our Friends and Supporters
“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has done. The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.” Psalm 145:13-14
As we reflect on the promises the Lord has given us, it often seems they are too lofty and will never come to pass. Many of those IMC serves around the world look at various scripture promises for the poor and also have a hard time imagining how their circumstances could ever change, as they seem hopeless. But, we know from this verse that He is faithful to ALL of his promises! We at IMC, and those we serve, thank you for partnering with us and the Lord in ‘upholding those who fall and lifting up those who are bowed down’ in order that they might see the Lord’s faithfulness.
Don Kantel, our IMC agent and missionary in Pemba, Mozambique writes:
In 2018, our IMC project in northern Mozambique supported in whole or in part over 70 young people who were attending secondary school or pursuing vocational training. With the New Year approaching, we were actively organizing funding for 11 of our youth to pursue post-secondary studies or formation beginning in January 2019. These latter included one girl entering a general medicine program to become a medical doctor, one entering a nursing degree program, five young men pursuing programs to become primary or secondary school teachers, one doing a degree program in mechanical engineering, two training to become police officers, and one continuing into the second year of his degree program in tourism and hospitality.
At the same time, we continue to respond to the immediate needs of orphans and vulnerable children for food, housing and schooling...in tangible demonstration of the Father's love. Let me share the story of a family of 5 children, whose family we have been helping for several years. Their mother died several years ago and their father died in the past few months. He had become a Christian through our contact with the family, but with his passing there was absolutely no one left to care for these children. We stepped in.
With our financial support, the oldest girl is now living with the family of her closest friend...another family we have helped significantly over the years. The oldest boy has entered our Noviane Centre so he can attend the Iris Christian secondary school. And the three youngest, who were not in school, have been placed in our Mieze ‘Village of Love’ and enrolled in primary school in Mieze. And all have been connected with sponsors through the IMC ‘Stop for the One--Canada’ sponsorship program.
These are examples from opposite ends of the spectrum of the many ways your prayers and financial support are bringing hope and transformation to children and families in northern Mozambique.
Steve Lazar, our IMC agent and director of the Zimpeto base in Maputo, Mozambique writes:
As another year draws to a close I am reminded of so many blessings from the past year. IMC has continued to support a wide variety of programs - each a vital part of the body. As scripture says, every part of the body is important. All areas of the ministry are growing. And with more needs, there are more opportunities to show the love of Jesus and to give generously. I am amazed at the fortitude and growth in the bible school; hungry young men and women with a heart for the Lord and their nation to come to Jesus. They are serious about the Word and serving. The community food box program and milk program helps dozens of families to keep their children at home. God created family. I walked into the dining hall this week to see a group of youth lined up waiting for food. They were not from the centre. After questioning them they told me that they were part of the community group receiving food every day. This was the only substantial meal they received every day.
We were deeply shocked at the unexpected passing of IMC’s Betty Blanchette here on base on July 15th, while doing the things she loved most. Bob & Betty’s main focus was training men and women in carpentry and sewing, and loving youth; many that grew to love them like a Mom and Dad. We mourn and miss Betty.
[Betty Blanchette handing out purses that were made in Canada.]
[Memorial Service for Betty Blanchette.]
Over the years we have developed and encouraged programs for widows; as the Bible says this is pure religion. In November we buried one of our special widows, Salmena. We were her family. She was found near the garbage dump 8 years ago, and we never knew how old she was. She was treated like a princess, housed, visited daily, fed, bathed, and brought to church weekly. Our Bible school students prayed with her daily.
[Memorial Service for Zimpeto's beloved widow, Salmena.]
Our IMC farm/garden project is growing and developing. This project employs 4 youth and provides fresh vegetables and fruits for the centre. Each day all of our children, workers, youth and pastoral staff receive a meal that has fresh salad or fruit, and includes carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage and oranges. We have also planted several hundred moringa trees. The leaves are taken, dried and crushed, and placed in 4 or 5 meals weekly. Moringa is very helpful in the fight against bacterial diseases, for the strengthening of bones, and for providing the liver with support, in addition to providing other health benefits. We have found that immune compromised children and those who are malnourished benefit greatly from this additive.
Every day a new chapter is written to the stories…. We are deeply grateful!
David Morrison, IMC missionary and director of the Iris Africa base in Bangula, Malawi writes:
2018 has been a year of many transitions. Iris children’s homes have to be flexible as older students return on mass for school holidays. Someone inevitably comes home with bedbugs that cause a lot of unrest, literally nights without sleep. Traditional ways of life are also challenged as student’s transition from city to rural expectations multiple times a year. There are inevitable conflicts about clothing, time keeping, and chores. All this unrest is hard, but also good. We are learning to find joy in the sometimes-bumpy road to independence, which may look very different than anticipated. There is a sense of progression as students grow in appreciation for their Iris family, realizing the responsibilities that come with the privileges. Iris leaders have recently come into agreement about the character traits we are working towards. We want our Iris graduates to be able to go out into the world as men and women who are humble, kind, respectful, and honest. These characteristics are learned in the fields, at meal times, while doing chores, in submitting to clothing standards, and in observing and talking to those around them.
This year we had a number of Iris secondary school graduates working around the base in varying capacities. With tertiary education highly competitive and jobs scarce, the pathway towards the future is not obvious. Our graduates need courage and perseverance to proceed. As they work around base in the office, or at the primary school, we aim to equip them with skills to creatively find their way. Sheer numbers make it difficult to employ all our graduates and we wondered what we could do to employ more people. With the help of others, Iris developed a data entry business that has now scaled up to 75 employees earning a living wage. Though this business is still in the early stages, it is clear that it can be done.
We recently received a new little four-year-old boy into our Iris family. It is always a joy to see new life beginning in the wide eyes of a little face. We are certain that each of these children and every young adult is a gift from God, who is their Father in heaven and who holds their futures in his faithful hands.
[First day at Iris Malawi with our newest son - in his house mom's arms.]
[Our new son (L) with his new big brother (R).]
We also asked the IMC Missionaries to share a glimpse into their personal journeys in 2018:
• We cast seed, not knowing what type of soil it is going to land in, but firmly believing that the fields are ripe for the harvest. We hold tightly to the promise that if we are planted next to the river of life that we will bear fruit in each season. The highlight of the past few months has been learning how to scatter seed in good soil and watering the things that grow. In order for a seed to grow and become a healthy plant, it must first die and take root in the soil. As our lives take root here, we are learning to die to ourselves and nurture the important things so that we may grow in to a healthy planting of the Lord, an oak of righteousness. In this land with so much religious tension, each person’s desire to be in right standing with God is paramount. It has been easy to have many deep and meaningful conversations about where our righteousness comes from and how we should serve God. We have seen such great hunger from the younger generation to understand the personal confidence we have in Christ as the only path to abundant life. We stand in constant need of wisdom in how to use each opportunity to disciple these children into receiving the kingdom of our God. By the power of God’s Spirit, the veil of the ‘religious’ spirit is being lifted and replaced by the Spirit of love, truth, and power. Thank you for investing your resources and your prayers into these people and this nation. (Anonymous Missionary Family – Middle East)
• We’ve been in Worcester for just over a year, and the time has flown by. We’ve rooted ourselves into the community church, and we are partnering with many local ministries as well as doing our own. We’ve loaned our several different skills to ministries that include being webmaster of one ministry, and bookkeepers to two ministries that do significant work in Avian Park and Roodewal townships. We’re involved with afterschool kids clubs in two township and with the rough and tumble farm kids near the Iris Western Cape base. We have become teachers to kids from a third township, where we teach science, music and art. L-A’s art has blossomed and she was part of Worcester’s first Christian arts festival. She has led farm, township, school and church kids in doing prophetic art. We are also active in pastoral care in the local hospice, our Hooggelegen Retirement Village, and we lead an outreach based soaking prayer group. Our highlight of the week is the Alpha Course, prayer, love and worship with the men in Brandvlei Corrections - medium wing. We have been asked to switch to the youth offender wing in the New Year. We also have our own internet radio station, CWCP, ‘Copples Western Cape Radio’, where we have two weekly programs. One of these is our locally-produced ‘Worcester Reports,’ where Tony is an interviewer of Worcester area people who make a difference. Laurie-Ann adds her devotional segment ‘Ways to Grow in God,’ which has become popular. We feature South African, Canadian and Christian artists that fit various themes in the show. The other program on Wednesdays consists of archived material from the Ottawa CFRA radio series ‘Good News in the Morning,’ where Tony was the chairman.
The hardest ministry of all is giving discipleship to our girl teens who now lead small Bible studies for children. We spend Saturday afternoons loving them, worshipping with them, sharing our own Bible studies with them, and feeding them. We have been learning what it means to give honour in a culture where curses, gangs and violence are common. Just recently we added soaking prayer and prophetic drawing. It was a great hit! While we originally branded ourselves as Ouma and Oupa (grandma and grandpa), we really are called Mom (Yalla) and Uncle Tony. The kids continually test our boundaries, but they’ve won our hearts. Of greatest importance is that they are growing in faith – as evidenced by a recent interview with one of them on CWCP Radio. We trust that they will become strong women of integrity that draw people to Jesus in Avian Park township. We are enjoying every NOW moment with Holy Spirit. (Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple -Western Cape - Worcester satellite cluster - South Africa)
• It’s hard to believe the end of the year is coming up so fast. Last year our team received a lot of prophetic words about the acceleration that would happen this year. God has been faithful to His word. One example - we have started building relationships with the sweet girls who work in the bars. We have also begun a jewellry project to provide jobs for any of these girls looking for a change in jobs.
Its been beautiful to watch the program in our slum community grow and expand. A lot of structure and stability has been added to kids club. Quite a few of the kids are now able to attend school. We've started a soccer program with the older kids. All this takes a lot of dedication and perseverance, and more than anything, strength and grace from our Papa. God is good!
A personal highlight this year was getting married! I'm still amazed at how God brought this wonderful man, Colin, into my life. We enjoy serving God in Cambodia and are excited what he has for us in the coming year. (Brenda Dueck - Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
• 2018 was one of transition and growth. We moved our base from a small village to a small city (Choró) in the same region. We felt God leading us in this change so that we would be more effective in reaching other villages. We started evangelism and services in a few new villages. Some highlights include seeing God multiply food in an unreached village on top of a mountain, and touching many people who are hungry and thirsty to know more about the gospel.
Another highlight has been seeing our church grow in maturity and faith. Our church started meeting together (out of their own initiative) for prayer on Friday nights, and these meetings continue even when we are not there. We had the chance to baptize some members of our church this year and we have seen much growth, especially with the youth. There are a few youth who are planning on doing the Harvest School in Fortaleza in the spring of 2019. We have also started a small business to generate extra income for some of the women in our community. The women make hand-made journals, and we are looking at expanding this to other items as well.
We are thankful for this growth and we recognize that this comes from the Lord. We water and plant, but it is God who brings the miraculous fruit! (Jason Dueck, Fortaleza, Brazil)
• 2018 was certainly a significant and eventful year in our nearly 14 year ministry in northern Mozambique. Sadly, it was marked by the untimely death of two of the children in our sponsorship program…in all likelihood from ailments that would have been curable in the Western world. This has only served to remind us of the urgency of making Jesus known at every opportunity!
But more happily, we have been supporting over 70 Mozambican young people in secondary school or vocational training this year. This is an amazing fact; and especially so because more than half this number are girls. It’s a very positive result of the ‘hope for the future’ which the gospel brings. And as the year draws to a close, we are busy organizing funding for 11 of our young people to attend university or post-secondary vocational training when the new school year begins in January. All that, and we continue to ‘stop for the one’: to bring love and hope to the most needy children and families. (Elizabeth Kantel - Pemba, Mozambique)
• As the year comes to an end, it strikes me that it’s been a full year on the ground. God has shown and taught me many things this year. There are continual challenges, and life on the mission field is never boring. I'm always learning something new. I'm still quite excited to be working with our young adults in this new season of their lives. We review life skills together, such as how to make a simple budget, how to live and cook on their own at college or in their own homes for the first time. We enjoy our time together and I hope I've been creating a safe space for them to discuss life and challenges that they are facing. They have all demonstrated their ability to take on new challenges and to persevere through them and rise above.
It has felt like a season of shifting and changes on our base, and I am praying that this will create a firm foundation when the time comes for the dust to settle; figuratively and literally. It is time for people who have been poured into to rise up and lead. It is time to see fruit from our oldest children. Please pray with us that all (people, roles, jobs, responsibilities, etc.) will fall into the places that God wants to be filled and covered. A new season is coming!
As I pondered the lead up to Christmas, here in the extreme heat, I found it easier to connect with the conditions and culture that Jesus was born into. The pages of the Bible come alive and feel more real. It was exciting to partake in a tradition that my dad and Mr. Singaratnam started years ago, to bring joy to children on Christmas. We delivered gifts to many hundreds in our community because of Singa's continued compassion for the people of Bangula. I grew up with a dad who taught us very specifically about giving at Christmas; each year we visited or gave something to a family he wanted to support. Much love, and a very sincere ‘zikomo’ (thank you) from Malawi, Africa! (Sarah Masson - Bangula, Malawi)
• My life is full of beautiful, captivating interruptions, young and old, healthy and sick, all in need of one thing, Jesus. Who have I but Jesus? A bandage will only go so far. A meal will not last long. Even clothes wear out. Houses get eaten by termites. Only one thing remains and that is our relationship with Jesus. This year has involved a lot of letting go, and that should mean I have more heart space for the Jesus' love and creative ideas. Let it be so, more of Jesus, less of me. (Joanna Morrison – Bangula, Malawi)
We bless and thank you for your faithful partnership which is making it possible for us together to be a channel of the Father’s love and care for so many.
Grace and Peace to you through our Lord Jesus Christ.
On Behalf of the IMC Board of Directors