Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 12-05 News from Sherry - India and Home

May 12, 2005

Hi Everyone!

Wow, this has been a long stretch for me. Finding my limits and my weakness and God's provision in the midst of it all. I flew out of Chicago on New Year�s Eve for 6 weeks in India feeling better rested than before my previous trip and excited about Fay and Joan who would join me in London and fly on to Hyderabad for the first month with me. Laura would be coming to join me for the final three weeks. My sense of expectation was high. These women are people I love and respect and I knew God had great plans for us.

God's Works in Andhra Pradesh, India

Our time was filled with crusades, street meetings, children, youth and women's conferences, teaching in the churches, preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays and women's meetings on Fridays. After the first week (giving Fay and Joan time to adjust to the people and culture) we would go different directions to be covering at least two meetings at once.

Laura joined us in time for the Women's conference and the final 3 night crusade in the Wombay slum area. There were many salvations and many healings, some of them wonderfully miraculous, like the woman with brain cancer ("woman with brain problem") whom the doctors had sent home to die. After we prayed with her she got up and came to the meeting. She has been coming to church ever since and is a walking testimony all throughout her area because everyone knew how sick she was. We had begun with 5 Christian families out of the 5,000 homes in the Wombay slum and by the 3rd night had 40 families in Christ committed to begin a church together. That, my friends, is how the LORD plants a new church! They now meet in the street. Please pray that someone will be willing to rent or give them a place to meet indoors before the monsoons begin in June and July.

Fay, Joan and Laura ( and I, of course) all loved the food and the people and they loved us. Yum: dosa, byriani, chicken pakora, tandouri chicken, wonderful fresh fruits and sweets, and "tons" of rice. We had a wonderful time of fellowship in many of the homes with the women inviting us for lunches or tea times. When we visited Mary and Paul's home (their Christian names) we had so much fun laughing and laughing. One of the young school teachers said, "It is like a festival when you come. We always feel sad when you go home." And Laura chimed in saying, "Yes, and it is like a parade when we walk down the street." Everyone laughed, because we make quite a site with all the people we attract as we walk along, rather like the pied piper. We cannot arrive anywhere quietly. J We were treated very royally and fed way too much. Nieghbors and relatives would drop in for prayer and some accepted Christ! Fay so blessed the women with her hugs full of The Father's love. Joan had a sense of humor and kept us all laughing. She also did a wonderful job of teaching.

Pastor Daniel's wife Esther and his mother Chittama and our friend Harathi, took us shopping and helped us get outfitted with saris. The Hindu tailor's wife next door became a good friend. Many laughs as she helped dress us when we had to get ready for meetings. I have been in the habit of wearing the salwar kameese, like a dress over pantaloons, but felt the Lord leading that I should wear saris on this trip as that is what nearly all the married women wear. I had found it impossible to get myself dressed in them properly and so put out a fleece that if the Lord wanted me to wear them I'd be able to put one on the first try with no problems. Well, He won and I wore saris for all of the bigger meetings. Though I still can't say I'm comfortable in them, they are much more flattering and it makes the Indians smile. The women of India are so beautiful in their saris, even more beautiful when they shine with the light of Christ.

Neighbors and meeting attenders, Christian and pre-Christian, brought flowers for our hair and fresh fruits and vegetables or home cooked delights to the house for us. It was such fun to shine for Jesus in a dark place. These people were just drawn to the Light. Sometimes we would feel uncomfortable with all the onlookers, but keeping it in perspective, remembering that our white skin is what draws them in curiosity to hear as we share the gospel, we would bear up and just thank Jesus that they were drawn to us rather than turning away from us.

Joan blessed us with funds she brought from Wales, churches and friends and even little girls selling things, all to help our preschool for poor children. With the pounds Joan brought, plus dollars I brought from those of you in the US

, we were able to reopen our preschool immediately and started our second one within a week. Praise the Lord, we now have two preschools with enough funds to run them through September. It costs about $150/month per preschool for the teacher, the food (eggs and milk) and supplies. We have one more preschool ready to go with a church to oversee it and a qualified Christian teacher waiting as soon as we have the funds. It is so wonderful to see these poor children get the needed protein foods for their tummies and the teaching, in English and Telugu, to develop their minds and give them a fair chance to make it in school, their only way out of the devastating poverty they are now destined for. They also learn about Jesus and the Bible and

many of their families begin coming to church and leave their Hindu and Muslim ways to follow Jesus because of the kindness of God expressed through your gifts.

We brought enough funds for several thousand kilos of rice and other necessities to be distributed to the tsunami victims. Pastor Daniel and the elders made the first two distribution trips without us as whites were not allowed to go. We were able to join in on the third trip but we were not supposed to share the gospel. Laura ended up inside the little church surrounded with children who asked her to sing a song. She sang songs about the Lord and his love. Someone came to me and asked for prayer and Lord just opened things up. People began crowding around me and I began laying hands on people praying for healing and salvation. Within a few minutes all four of us had long lines of people waiting for hands on prayer, the biggest share of them Hindus who were not even supposed to know about this distribution. The government was allowing us to distribute only to those who were already Christian to prevent conversions. I prayed and wept with one crippled young woman. Who would ever marry her? The Lord touched her, flooded her with His Spirit and she was filled with joy! He did not heal her body, but brought healing to her heart. The pastor there estimated that there were 400 families represented, but our distribution was supposed to be for only 150-200 families. People were a bit disappointed with smaller amounts of rice, but they still left with joy in their hearts. No riots or shouting as in other places.

Operation Christmas Child

was a wonderful success. We stayed long enough to see the boxes and boxes and boxes arrive. We could only put about 1/3 of them in the main church and had to have two other warehouses to store them in until they were sorted and distributed, all 12,600 shoe box gifts for 12,600 poor children. There were over 120 distribution points and nearly that many different pastors and evangelists involved in the distribution. A real coming together of the body of Christ across denominational lines. The gifts we received came from Germany, Australia and amazingly, Wisconsin. Gifts you sent and funds you gave for transporting the boxes from the port of entry were matched by hours and hours of work from local volunteers there all to see the gospel shared in Word and deed with about 11-12,000 families, mostly Hindu and Muslim.

Laura was a wonderful blessing in those last weeks as Fay and Joan and I were wearing down. Laura came full of fresh energy and new teachings. Fay was down sick with some kind of cold virus for the last week there. Church members gathered to pray for her and she was healed enough for the flight home. After a big send off for Fay and Joan (who were and will be much missed) Laura and I left for our final week in Yellandu, a coal mining village (60,000 population, but still a village) a good day's drive north in the national forest area (yes, tiger, hyena and cobra country).

We had a wonderful time going to little villages out in the wilds each night while we were in Yellandu. We willingly go where the big name people will not use their time for 50s and hundreds instead of the hundred thousands. Each village had a character of it's own and beliefs varied accordingly. It broke my heart to learn that one of the villages still practiced child sacrifice once each year to appease the god they worshipped. I preached Jesus as the final sacrifice. Nearly all at the meeting accepted Christ that night. I pray that village will be forever changed.

We had an entourage of teens and young twenty-somethings that tagged along with us wherever we went. Several were already in ministry, some were preparing and some decided to follow Jesus that week. That was why our little jeep heading for the villages was packed with up to 18 of us plus sound and musical equipment! What a joy to see the young people giving their lives for the Lord daily, not just once or twice a week. These young people inspired us!

John at 25 is now overseeing the ministry his father began (5 churches) plus 6 John planted over the last 3 years, 11 in all. He believes the Lord is calling him to plant 5 more churches this year in some of the Naxalite villages (those in revolution against the government of India) � very dangerous places. Please keep him in your prayers. John and his father are teaching 40 pastors in the ministry school they began earlier this year, training them to plant and lead churches.

Anil was just finishing his master's in engineering and trying to find the best way to tell his parents that he is called to be a pastor.

Ranjit and Indira, brother and sister ages 25 and 29, were disowned by their families because of Christ and have planted and pastor several churches. They are currently training 40 young men and women who want to be pastors and will choose 10 of those to help plant churches this year.

I could go on....

While in India my fibromyalgia flared up and I could not sleep deeply enough to get rested. Little by little I was running down. I was so thankful that Laura was there for those last weeks with me. She had enough energy for both of us and took to India like a fish to water. When I was too exhausted to teach or preach or be hospitable to one more person she was ready to fill in. We had a wonderful adventure with Jesus! Her teaching and preaching was wonderful. She blessed them and they loved her.

All in all, I think somewhere between 500 and 1,000 came to Christ in our 6 weeks there uncounted numbers were healed.

For me, the most memorable healing on this trip was that of the man in a coma. This Hindu man had just accepted Jesus 3 months before. His wife had just accepted Jesus about a month before. He had a daughter at college soon to be married (big dowry to be paid). He was diagnosed with brain cancer, went through chemo and surgery in Hyderabad and had been sent home in a coma to die. Doctors were not able to remove the tumor. He had been in a coma for 17 days. His pastor called and asked if I would come and pray. They sent a car for me and we traveled an hour and a half to get to his house. There were family and friends gathered. Other pastors had already come and prayed, all to no avail. I did not know what I could do differently, but I knew that life would be very difficult for this young widow and her daughter if God did not heal him. I prayed in English and I prayed in tongues for twenty minutes or more. Then God began to show me that the man was so terrified of the pain that he did not want to come back. I prayed for the Lord to take the pain and told the tumor to shrivel up and die in Jesus Name. I asked the Lord to speak him and remind him how his wife and daughter needed him, reassure him that the tumor was healed and help him choose to come back. Within a few seconds he opened his eyes and asked for water. He drank. Then he asked for his mother several times, but she was not there. Then he wanted more water and something to eat. He talked some more. Then I prayed over him sealing what the Lord had done. The next day he was up and walking. The Lord gave him back to his family!

Back home in USA

This trip took more out of me than I had expected. My back still hurts from hefting those suitcases through customs.

I was pretty wiped out when I arrived home February 15th, but rallied my strength to organize, pack and oversee the moving of our offices into another building by February 28th. The next morning my daughter called from Idaho in tears as she and her husband had separated and she really wanted me to come and help her though this difficult time. I bought a plane ticket online that night and went to the office the next morning to learn that House of Hope whom we had moved in with had decided to close their doors and needed to be out of their building by the end of the month. I decided to go ahead and fly to Idaho that afternoon and trust the Lord to put things together for the second move which would need to happen in less than a month.

I am glad I went to Idaho to be with Lori and my grandchildren, Forest 13 and Mateyah 5. I was needed and was able to help, but it was very stressful and draining physically. I praise God for Curtis and Harriet who took care of renting another location and overseeing the move of the offices while I was in Idaho!

I came home more wiped out than ever and very ready to take the sabbatical that the Lord had been pushing me to take. I have been going strong for most of these nearly 10 years in Madison now. I truly need the time to rest and refocus and hear the Lord for his current leading in my life. There is more on my plate than I can do, so some of it must go to others or go by the wayside, but I don�t want to be the one to choose � I want to hear from the Lord.

So, I am on sabbatical from local ministry here in Madison through the end of May and we'll go from there.

I have been taking time for all the doctors appointments I have put off and with a recent adjustment lowering my thyroid medication am finding myself sleeping through the night, growing stronger and waking in the morning ready to get. I had been so worn out that I was basically only eating and sleeping and not able to do much more than cook one meal a day. So this is a nice improvement. At FCMI I now have the front office/prayer/fellowship room unpacked and the back office is waiting for some carpentry work to be completed so I can set my desk in place, move the file and unpack the rest of the boxes there.

Last night I visited our Tuesday night circle on State Street just to see how things are going. Volunteers from several different churches are still continuing to fix meals and bring them to Peace Park in the heart of the city to serve the homeless and the goths and hungry college students each Tuesday at 5:30pm. I was blessed to see so many of the people we have connected with over the last 3 or 4 years that have made it out of homelessness or are on their way out working full time jobs.

It is wonderful to see God answering prayers and to see the time we�ve invested in helping these people, encouraging them, serving as an address and phone for job hunting, helping them find what help is available, helping them reconnect with their families and just being a friend to the friendless and praying for the sick and seeing them healed.

I rejoiced with Mike that he has kept his job for over 8 months now. Please pray for him to be able to find an apartment he can afford on fast food wages as he is still homeless. His boss has offered to drive him to see apartments - apartment hunting is very time consuming on the bus or on foot. Mike accepted Jesus with us last year.

Dan is so excited. We have been praying for him for a couple of years now. He was devastated by the suicide of a roommate and lost his job because he didn't show up for work. It has taken this long for him to regain his composure and find another job. He would come by the office regularly to check for mail and phone replies to his job applications. We often prayed together. He has been hired as chef/manager for a new submarine shop that opens on Monday. He is so excited and praising God for the answered prayer. Dan knows Jesus and has been growing in his faith.

Rich came to know Jesus and began going to worship and prayer events with Curtis and I. One night in worship he was so touched by the power and presence of the Lord that he knew he had to get right with God. He went and turned himself in to the police that night (back child support) went and served his time, chose to go through an alcohol treatment program after he got out and is now working more than full-time making sub sandwiches until he can get a job in his career field. He still can�t afford an apartment and pay child support, but he has found a creative way to get by until he can find a room or efficiency for $300 a month. Oh Lord, please let it be soon! He is plugged into a good church and growing in Christ. When he gets angry or worried he puts on his headphones, puts in a worship CD and spends some time with the Lord.

Roger, homeless for, I think, 10+ years, is skilled in carpentry went to Florida to help families rebuild after the hurricanes. He figured he could just as well be homeless there and he could volunteer to help where he could really make a difference. His heart was especially touched for the elderly who had mobile homes or houses that were unliveable. He has such a heart for people and he loves the Lord and has been growing in his faith over these last 2-3 years with us. He has grown more in being able to cope with the loss of his wife and parents all within one year, the event that sent him on the road to homelessness all those years ago. He has found himself again as he found Jesus. He now has full time work and shares an apartment with another man. He is giving of himself to others. He truly has come full circle! We miss him greatly as he was such a help here at FCMI!

Please pray for one fellow MM. He is terminally ill at age 44 and expected to die within 5 years unless he receives a liver transplant. After a year of advocating for it we finally received notice that he was approved for Social Security Disabilility. He also has schizophrenia and hepatitis C. He has turned his life over to the Lord and is determined to make a fresh start. He has used alcohol and drugs to kill both the emotional and physical pain. We are waiting for his medical card to arrive so that he can get regular medical treatment and medications that he needs. The thought of dying still scares him. He has been living under a bridge for the last 3 years. We need to find housing for him. He wants to re-establish connections with his family and start being a dad to his two children whom he has never met. He regrets wrong choices of the past and is determined to live a new life pleasing to the Lord. Please keep him in your prayers and pray for me for wisdom and for others to come alongside in helping him. I spent Tuesday afternoon with him getting him into a motel room for a week, buying clothing and necessities and setting up a bank account so he can learn to manage his money. It will likely take several more days of work to find a real place for him to live and get his medical care in place.

Please pray for me that I will get the time I need alone with the Lord to seek His guidance, hear His voice and just be with Him enjoying His presence

. It is hard to say "no" when someone calls asking for help with their emergency. It feels like I am saying, "I'm sorry. I have to take time off with the Lord. I can't ( or don't) love you right now. Call somebody else." - especially when I know many have no one else to call.

There is so much more need coming at me than I can cover. We need more harvest workers. I know everyone says the Lord won't ask you to do more than you can do, but then again, He tells us we'll do even greater things than Jesus did. I really need to hear Him to know what I am to do. Just turning me into a volunteer coordinator isn't a good fit for me and the Lord hasn't been putting things in place for that, at least not as far as I can see. I'm really good one-on-one with the people. I have lots of vision and ideas. I either need the Lord to send others to work with me or to redirect me so I won't just burn myself out. O for a cabin in the woods about now!

Looking ahead

My husband Ron and I will have been married 25 years on May 24th this year. We hope to take a short trip, somewhere special, just the two of us. Ron has been so supportive of FCMI and the work we are doing in India as well as Madison. I am excited that he will be going with me to India for the first time this October (Lord willing). All of the pastors and people, especially the men, have been waiting to meet this very special husband of mine. It should be quite a trip.

The October trip will be village meetings and children's and youth ministry events. I have room for one or two more team members.

Our next crusade/street meeting/village outreach meetings trip is scheduled for the end of January through February 2006. Please pray. I would really like to take two worship teams as well as other evangelists, preachers and teachers and a prayer ministry team. I'll need more than ever the financial and prayer support of those of you here at home in the US. We are all in this together. I cannot do it without you. I think God wants it that way. After all, Jesus prayed that we would all be one as He and the Father are one. What a good plan, don't you think?.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

We have made a difference in this world. The Name of Jesus has been lifted up

and he has glorified His Father through us all working together.

May God bless you and guide you.

Love in Jesus,

Sherry

Financial gifts to help continue our work may be sent to our new address below: Gifts are tax deductable. Or if you prefer you may donate online thru paypal at www.fullcirclemin.org. If you live in our area and want to get involved or would like to do a short term mission here call us at 608-251-0555.

Full Circle Ministries International

1603 Monroe St., Suite B-One

Madison, WI 53711

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