May 2013 Update
Kurt & Barb Mathews (1990)
Dear Prayer Partners,
Kurt celebrated 46 years of life this past Thursday (the 25th) with his traditional red velvet cake and fan milk ice cream. Kurt has always enjoyed working wherever he can help others and that's what he does best. Lately he has been working around the campus, clearing the land and helping to plan where new buildings will go. He has also been working hard to get our house in HASU back in working order and looking nice so that when we decide what we are doing with it, it will be ready. As a matter of fact, that's what he chose to do on his birthday - paint at the house.
I am blessed beyond words to be able to call this man my husband. He has been a great encouragement to me since the day we met way back in 1988 at BBC. I praise the Lord for giving me a spiritual leader and a wonderful father to my children.
WELCOME TO JARED MACKAY
Kurt's cousin once removed (meaning Jared's mom is Kurt's first cousin), arrived in Accra last Wednesday, the 17th to stay with us for a few weeks. Jared is a hard working 18 year old who has come to be exposed to ministry here as well as to help us around the campus and at our house in HASU. Kurt and Jared have been going out to HASU this week to tackle that very big job. So far, they have just been painting and moving things out of the house, but there is a lot of cleaning with more packing and moving yet to do. Right now we have been moving everything to Vicki's house, where we are currently staying, but it's getting crowded and we need to make a decision soon as to where we will live for this term. At least we know that we won't be returning to HASU and want to get the house ready for whatever God leads us to do with it.
This Saturday there were some good steps taken toward making a plan. We invited a mature West African pastor from our neighboring country, Togo, to teach a seminar on church analysis. There were 32 church leaders who came from the nine ABWE church plants in or around Ho. Pastor Laurent led the churches in an exercise to help them evaluate how mature their churches are and where their weaknesses lie. At the end of that exercise, he showed them how helpful or valuable it would be for the missionaries to concentrate their efforts on strengthening the works in the city of Ho who can then reach out to help the works in the villages. All of the leaders agreed with one voice that this is what we should do. I was surprised and amazed at this proclamation, but encouraged that it seems that we have a clear direction to go. Pastor Laurent will be coming back for another seminar on the qualifications of a church leader at the end of May. He was a great encouragement to us missionaries for the few days that he was with us.
HANNAH'S MISSIONS TRIP
I haven't talked much about Hannah since our return to Ghana, but we are able to Skype with her pretty often (when the internet is working and the power is on) and she's doing really well there in PA. She is still working hard towards her college degree while working to earn money to pay for it all. Her newest endeavor has come up rather quickly, but she has been looking for this opportunity for some time. She wrote a letter recently to tell everyone about her plans and has given me permission to include it in my update, so I'll just let you all read it for yourselves.
Hello everybody! This is Hannah Mathews, and I just wanted to let you know about an awesome opportunity I will have this summer. Lord willing, I will be traveling to India and Myanmar with Bibles International, which is an arm of Baptist Mid Missions that specializes in Bible translation work. To start with, I will spend two weeks at their offices in Michigan, getting to know BI and letting them get to know me. I'll be meeting with people, watching some DVDs, reading some material, and possibly helping to establish cross-references and a Topical Index for their Bibles.
After that I will be in India for about two weeks, after which I will travel to Myanmar for another two weeks. While I am there, I will be getting exposed to the ministry as well as observing and participating in some sister ministries, like the Christian school, youth hostel, and maybe a few other things in India. Then, I will be observing and maybe even participating in translation checking workshops with a couple of consultants throughout my time in both countries.
As far as I know, there will be two other interns traveling with me to India, but they are not continuing on to Myanmar. The current plan is for my two weeks in the office to start on May 20, which is coming up very soon. I would like to ask for you all to pray for me as I prepare for this trip. There are many details that are still being worked out to make it possible for me to go. Since I want to go into Bible translation full time after I complete my education, this opportunity is really exciting for me. I can't wait to see what awesome experiences God has planned for my summer!
If anyone is interested in contributing financially, you can donate to Baptist Mid Missions in my name. The total cost of my trip is around $6,000. More information can be found on Baptist Mid Mission's website here: http://www.bmm.org/BMM/Giving/
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Thanks again for your prayers and encouraging emails to us. We love to hear from each of you as you have time to share.
For the Mathews' clan,
May 12 Update
Since today is Mother's Day, Kurt offered to write our regular update. While I LOVE writing and telling you all about what is happening here, it is a special treat to have a week off and it's nice to get Kurt's perspective on things too. So, enjoy!
'Can you find me, daddy?' That sounded like a pretty easy question, especially when Moriah told me she would just hide in the one large room that makes up our kitchen, dining room and living room. But then she blind-folded me. Those few minutes of darkness made me appreciate again being able to see. Few things help us appreciate what we have than not having it for a while. While it is nice to have our internet back, the desire to be connected with you all is really what is important to us. We have missed being able to communicate with you and hearing from you. Thanks for standing by during our technical difficulties.
We have really enjoyed our first family ministry opportunity since returning. The neighboring school children here were on break from school. Our kids were available in the afternoon, Jared is here, Xonam is here and Raphael along with two new guys from Togo, Edem and Kodzo, were here working on the campus.
We all got together with 20 or so of the neighbor kids to play games, sing, have snacks and learn about Abraham's faith in God.
The first 3 days there were no neighbor girls at all. Finally two girls came on Thursday. We had about 25 children on average each day for the five day Bible club. We are not aware that any children trusted Christ, but the Gospel was clearly presented to them several times during the week.
We are still focused on planning and team building during a great part of every week. It is slow going, but I firmly believe it is imperative for us to pursue this at this time for several reasons. First, our team has expanded to include advisors and committee members from among the leaders of the churches we partner with here. Second, many parts of our work here in the past were not solidly built. We are going back to look at things and get advice on how to repair damaged or broken parts – as well as on how to build more effectively in the future. It is a huge effort for us.
This week we have two important meetings planned at this point. Both are on Thursday. One has to do with repairing damaged relationships and one has to do with finances. Pray for us!
We are just on the verge of house building too. With the change in ministry direction for our family, we have seen a lot of wisdom in staying in Ho and on the Bible college campus in particular. The two bedroom house we are currently staying in leaves a bit of privacy to be desired. We are trying to add on a 12 foot apartment along the side of the existing house as well as to remodel the garage into a bedroom, two bathrooms and a small storage area. Should be fun. We got the first load of sand yesterday so we can start making blocks.
Today, we are especially thankful for Daa Yawa – the author of so many letters to you all, the mother of our children and my dear wife – not to mention sister, daughter, friend and etc. Praise be to God who gives us every good thing to richly enjoy.
Thanks again to so many of you who pray and give and write to encourage us and to support us. We are desperate for God to work in and through us or the whole of our days and weeks will simply be wasted.
For the glory of the Lord!
Kurt for the family
May 21 Update
Once again, our internet is down and that's why our letter is being sent late. Ben Ward is graciously allowing me to use his internet today to send out this letter.
Since our return to Ghana in January, one of our focuses has been on team building. We've really enjoyed getting to know our teammates better in these last months; having some great fellowship times as well as working together in the ministry. One of the things we do together is have pizza on Friday nights. Of course, we don't make a call to the local pizza delivery, but make it all from scratch. Since I've been doing that for a long time, it's become a rather easy task that I enjoy doing. And of course, we all enjoy eating it. Then we have a fun family night with games or a movie afterwards.
This week it was a special treat for us to have a family from Togo (our neighboring country) come and visit for a few days. They were at one of the local hotels for vacation, so we invited them over a few nights for dinner and fellowship. We enjoyed the Miller family so much. It was fun to have little ones around the house again and my big kids got to "babysit" for a few hours one day for them.
This week, the Junges also returned from a short trip to the States for their daughter's graduation from college and Ben and Vicki returned from a short trip over to Togo. So, we had a great big reunion on Thursday night to welcome everyone back and to say goodbye to the Millers who returned to Togo on Friday. It was a Kodak moment, for sure.
MOVING AND ORGANIZING
Yesterday was a big moving day for us to get some things from our house in HASU and move them here to the house at the Bible college. It was a sudden decision as Vicki's truck was available as well as the Junges and their truck. So, we packed and cleaned and loaded up the trucks to deliver everything to be dumped into the living room here (literally).
It was really great to have all of the help of our teammates. The challenge is that we don't really know yet that we are going to live in this house permanently and both Vicki and Ben still have some of their own things in the house too since they don't really know where they're going to live either. This week we will be working hard to try to make some semblance of order out of the chaos. I think I learned my lesson that the next time we go on furlough, we will pack things away very well to avoid all of this work of bleaching and cleaning everything when we return.
Since we don't know yet if we are allowed to make changes to the house at the Bible college (to add more rooms), we are still looking around at houses in the area to see what else is available. This week we walked just a couple of minutes down the road to see a duplex. Actually, the whole team went to look at it. John and Tamara Erway (our new teammates) are trying to come some time in July to join us on the field full time. They will need a place to live. We also have our teammates, the Zimmermans, returning in August. Vicki has been staying at their house since we took over her place. So, she will also need some place to go if we end up staying here. If we have any visitors come any time soon, we also need places for them. So, this duplex could be a solution to meet these needs.
The price that the landlord is calling is reasonable (about $225/mo. for both sides). A two year advance of the rent is usually required when you rent a house in Ghana, but how do you know who should pay that rent when you don't even know who's going to live there? Please pray for wisdom for our team as we work out these details and make decisions about housing for everyone.
MEETING ON SUPPORT OF NATIONAL PASTORS
On Thursday several of our team members met with three of the national church leaders to discuss the question they posed to us a few weeks ago about giving financial support to them on a regular basis. It was a tense meeting, but God gave us all wisdom and the Holy Spirit directed the conversation. The conclusion that we all came to was that it is the responsibility of the church members to care for their leaders. The churches need more consistent teaching on this, with regular practical examples to follow and much prayer, but we think that they will begin to see the truth from the Scriptures and start obeying. Meanwhile, the missionaries will continue to help the church leaders with small projects as we are led by the Holy Spirit to help.
Thank you all for praying for us, especially for this meeting, and for your encouraging emails. You all are a tremendous blessing to us and it's great to serve our God!
May 26 Update
Dear Prayer Partners,
Our second born little girl has now become a beautiful young woman who just celebrated sixteen years of life. My, how time flies! For her birthday, Sarah asked if she could go to Kakum National Park and the slave castles in Cape Coast. It's about a six hour drive from here, but the capital city of Accra is halfway between us and there. Since Jared was due to fly back to the States the day after Sarah's birthday, they decided to make it a joint trip. Two of Sarah's friends and Leah also joined for the adventure and Kurt was their adventure guide (that means he was the driver). :-) They left very early on Wednesday morning, which was Sarah's birthday (the 22nd) and then returned, minus Jared, on Friday morning exhausted.
Sarah is our social butterfly and has lots of friends. It was difficult for her to choose just two to take along on her trip. She has been playing guitar for about a year now and is doing quite well with it. We often sit around in the evenings and sing while she plays. Sarah has taken up the new pastime of playing soccer (which we call "football"). There are many children from the neighborhood who have discovered our children and come over here for hours, just playing football and hanging out. That's what Sarah loves. And we love Sarah!
THIS IS HOW WE FEEL . . .
Kurt found this story recently and it expresses very well how we have felt this week with the way things have been going. Several meetings have been scheduled for the next few days to resolve serious problems in the churches. Please pray for us. If you could take a few moments to pray right now, that would be helpful as we are having one of those meetings this afternoon.
A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared.
The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might! Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind. (He will do it every time!) "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort, and that will be good enough."
That's what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in Your Service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.
And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven't moved the rock.
But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock."
At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.
By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God Who moves the mountains.
Barb, for the Mathews' clan
Return to the Prayer & Praise List