May/June 2017 Prayer Letter
We apologize in the delay for March’s update. Things are going well here in the Dominican Republic. During the month of March, we enjoyed a visit from one of our family’s friends from Pennsylvania. It was an encouraging time for all of us, especially for Stephanie to have her friend here with us. We focused much prayer as a congregation on our property payment during the month, and we held a four-hour prayer vigil for the finances of the property on March 17. Praise the Lord for the money that was sacrificially given to this work. Please continue to pray for the financial needs of the ministry. Tim was able to preach in March a few times to the school students as well as a twice during the Thursday midweek service on the book of Hebrews.
One of the highlights from the month of April was our Easter services. Many people in the Dominican will leave the capitol city during this time off from work and school in order to visit friends and family around the country, but we were thankful for the group we did have of those that stayed behind. Pastor Jose Ramon preached the early service, followed by a time of breakfast and fellowship. Tim preached the second service, continuing his study on Isaiah 53 from the previous week. After the message, he performed his first baptismal service with one adult, one teenager, and one child being baptized. Afterwards, we entered the church again to partake of the Lord’s Supper. What a special day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, to see the outward symbol of the inward change through baptism, and to remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us through the Lord’s Supper!
We are continuing the work in our Sunday School classes. This provides a great opportunity to practice our Spanish every week. Tim teaches the young adult class while Stephanie helps in the primary age class. Landon and Elena, who are part of her class, sang and quoted Scripture during one of our services this week along with some of their classmates. We are excited to see them continuing to learn and understand in both English and Spanish.
Also, during this school semester, Tim has been preaching a series on “Choices” to the middle and high school students in the Academy. They have discussed Jonah, Jonathan, Joseph, and Ahab so far. On April 18, he preached about the “Eternal Choice” and our decision to accept or reject Christ as Savior. Praise the Lord as many accepted Christ as Savior following the chapel message! Please pray as we continue to seek to reach and minster to these children and youth. We have another month left with them until summer break, and we are actively trying to make the most of this time that God has given us to impact their lives.
Thank you for those of you who have faithfully prayed for our visas. Stephanie received everything with the notary and apostille from the States in March, and we had it translated and legalized here in the country. We submitted all of the necessary documents (Praise the Lord the office accepted it with just one trip…last time there were multiple trips and additions) and received the medical exam. Pray with us as the immigration office has 3 months to validate and process the application that there would be no problems and that Stephanie can receive her temporal residency soon.
We are looking forward to the various summer outreaches this year. Please pray for the different groups that are coming as well as our summer ministries. If you are interested in coming to see us in the coming year on a mission’s trip, please do not hesitate to contact us! Thank you for your faithful financial and prayer support for our family!
We continued marching forward during the month of February. There were a few great highlights for the church family. On Friday, February 3, we held the commencement ceremony for the Resurrection Baptist Seminary. Sixteen men and one woman finished their studies at the seminary and received their degrees, and they were challenged with a great message from Dr. Rusty Smith. Please pray for these new graduates as they begin this next step or continue in their service for the Lord. The following Sunday, we celebrated the 16th Anniversary of New Life Baptist Church. We passed out hundreds of flyers and invitations around the community, and we were honored to have a packed house with many first time visitors. Dr. Smith preached another powerful message, and during the invitation, two visiting ladies came forward and accepted Christ as their Savior. One of these ladies was a mother who was visiting to see her son baptized that morning. After the service, we held our first baptismal service at the new property. Five precious souls followed the Lord in this important step of obedience!
Also during this month, Tim was able to start a young adult Sunday School class in Spanish. This year, we are making an extra concentrated effort in two of the vital ministries of the church: Bible-teaching and evangelism. We are strongly encouraging the members of the church to come out before the main service to participate in this time of Bible training. We are also seeking to bring them along and include them in our time of weekly soul-winning. We are seeking to systematically reach our sector of Santo Domingo with the gospel. It has been exciting to see some of the fruit already of God’s Word being published to the Dominican people!
We received word from our families that Stephanie’s last item of paperwork arrived at their house. We are waiting for it to receive an apostille from the capitol, and then we can have it translated and begin the visa process for Stephanie. Please pray that it is a successful and smooth process as these applications can be drawn out. Also, continue to pray for the work in the New Life Christian Academy. We have three months left of school, and we are already making preliminary preparations for the coming school year. Thank you again for your prayers for the Lord’s work here in the Dominican Republic. We cannot do the work apart from God and the working of His Spirit!
We have now entered another year graciously given to us by the Lord, and we have had a great start to this year. We were able to spend some time at Stephanie’s parent’s house for the beginning of this past month. We were thankful for the opportunity to spend with them. Another added blessing, we saw around 9 inches of snow while we were there. Our son Landon had prayed for snow for the months preceding our trip to the States. When we first arrived in North Carolina, he prayed and thanked God for the snow that He was going to send. A short time later, snow came into the forecast, and God answered his prayer. We are praying for him as well as our daughter Elena that God would work on their hearts and that they would accept Him as their Savior one day. Also while in the States, Stephanie was able to visit an eye doctor. He explained what she was going through, and he confirmed the treatments that she received in the Dominican Republic were those that he would have recommended. We are blessed knowing that God leads us to the right people to take care of the need. She still has a few complications from the scar, but with each passing month, her eye is improving. Thank you for your continued prayers!
We returned to the Dominican Republic on January 11, and we jumped right back in the ministries. The academy began the day we arrived, and we resumed our teaching duties the following week. On Sunday, January 15, we celebrated Landon’s 4th birthday! We are so thankful for this little boy that God has given to us. Tim preached to the high school students the next week in chapel when he began a semester long study on the choices made by different characters in the Bible. He also preached again in Spanish on January 26 in a series on the book of Hebrews. With the Lord’s help, he plans on preaching when it is his turn only in Spanish for all of the non-bilingual services.
Thank you for those who gave extra to our family for Christmas this past year. It was such a blessing, and the Lord knew the needs. Please continue to pray for Stephanie’s Sunday school class; the Lord is blessing her and her teaching partner. Also, pray for Tim as he will begin a new weekly Sunday school class with the adults on February 12.
We have arrived to 2017! Another year has come and gone! December brought the end of the school semester as well as a quick trip to the United States. On December 1, Tim preached to the middle and high school students one last time for the semester on the true story of Christmas. It is always a joy to share the true meaning for this time of year. Later that night, he preached his first full length sermon in Spanish on Joseph’s testimony during the birth of Christ during one of our midweek services. The following week, he was privileged to preach again in Spanish at the prayer meeting on the Great Commission. On Saturday, December 10, Stephanie introduced the different activities as well as the guest speaker at the annual ladies’ Christmas meeting in Spanish. Thank you to those of you who have faithfully prayed for us as we have learned and studied the Spanish language.
We both finished our classes for the semester in the New Life Christian Academy. We enjoyed the opportunity to invest in the lives of these students not only academically, but most importantly spiritually. It reminds us of the many different people who took time to teach us as we were in school. On December 8, we took one final trip to the immigration office after months in the application process to complete the final step to receive the residency visas for Tim and the children. The next Sunday, Stephanie and Mrs. Chona baked cookies for the neighbors in our apartment building and passed out brochures for the church. In the following weeks, two families from the building came out to the services!
On December 13, we flew back to the United States for a four week period. The following Saturday, Tim was blessed to officiate the wedding for his brother. Also during the trip, Stephanie was fingerprinted-which could only be officially done in the US-in order to get a background check for her visa. The first prints were unsuccessful, but after much prayer and a second trip, she received a perfectly clear set. We mailed them off immediately, but we will not hear back from the FBI for 12-14 weeks from when they receive them. Once we receive the report, Stephanie will be able to apply for her residency visa.
We trust that you had a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We enjoyed reflected on Christ’s birth as well as time together with family. God has given us another year in order to serve Him. May we make it the best year yet as we labor in service to Him.
We are quickly approaching the end of the 2016! Things continued to move forward here at New Life Baptist Church and ministries. Tim was able to fill in and preach the first two Sundays of the month for Bro. Autrey. He finished his series on salvation by focusing on the responsibilities that God gives us as Christians. You can listen to these sermons and others on the church’s website. We are also beginning to finish things in the fall semester of the school before exams. We have very much enjoyed teaching the students and investing in their lives inside the classroom, in the chapel services, and outside the classroom.
We had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with the Autreys and their family. We are thankful for the Lord’s blessings in our lives. Often, we are guilty of taking for granted all of His benefits that He gives us daily. One of the things that we were very thankful for this month was Elena. We celebrated her second birthday on November 29. We are loving the opportunity to raise her and her brother in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are truly a gift from the Lord to us.
Thank you for those who have prayed and asked about our visas. The immigration office has three months to verify all of the documents submitted for the process. Tim’s three months ended in the middle of the month, but they still had not finished the process. He went to talk with them and had to legalize some of the translation work, but, later, we had trouble with the last step for Landon and Elena. Praise the Lord that Tim was able to talk with the right people this week, and Lord willing, he and the children will be able to finish their visa process next week before our trip. Please pray that we will be able to get the necessary documents for Stephanie during our trip to the states and that her process might go smoothly when we return.
We are excited about the few weeks that the Lord will give us to spend with our families this Christmas. Please pray for our trip as well as for Tim as he is preparing everything for his brother’s wedding in December. Thank you for all of your prayers and financial support for our family. We are grateful to God for the partnership that He has given us with you!
Psalm 103:1-2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:”
On October 28, our family celebrated one year of living in the Dominican Republic! We enjoyed taking time to reflect on the things that God has allowed us to do and the lessons that he has taught us over the past twelve months. We serve a great God! During the month, we continued teaching in the school, and we are praising the Lord for the many students in the school as a whole who have accepted Christ as their Savior since the beginning of September! We are seeking as a staff to disciple them and aid them in their Christian walk. Tim preached in chapel this month the first of two messages regarding things that all Christians should be doing, and later that day, one of the students told him that she could not wait to hear the rest to see if she was being the Christian that God desired for her to be. One of the teachers also told him the same thing. We are thankful for the Holy Spirit’s working among the students and staff of the school.
On the church side, Tim has been able to preach the message during the past three Sunday services as Bro. Autrey is in the States for a few weeks. Please pray as he is raising funds for the ministry. Tim is enjoying preaching a series on salvation, from the assurance God gives to the privileges and responsibilities of salvation. We also had a great youth activity on Saturday, October 29 with the teens in the afternoon as well as a ladies’ meeting in the evening.
Stephanie is continuing her Spanish classes. She is thankful for the opportunity to put her knowledge into action through helping at the school and assisting in her Sunday School class. Continue to pray for us as we are always learning new words and Dominican customs.
We will be making a quick trip to the United States during the month of December and January. Tim has the privilege to officiate the wedding for his brother. Also, Stephanie needs to apply for documentation for her visa here in the Dominican Republic in the United States since they are not going to accept what we used last year for her. Pray that she can receive this paperwork in a timely manner and that the legalization process for Tim and the children will go smoothly.
We want to thank you for your faithful prayers and support for our family. God has truly been good to us this past year, and we are looking forward to what He has in store for us in our second year on the field. We hope that you take a moment to view our latest video update; we trust that it will be a blessing to you.