Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We write to you with warmest greetings of joy and thanksgiving from Boiffo, Benin. Our primary focus over the month of November has been training our new Beninese staff members who started serving with us here in October. Training new staff members has made us realize how much our “older”staff members have learned over the past 2.5 years, and when asked to name something we are thankful for during our Thanksgiving celebration, a great team of Beninese Christian clinic staff members was the first thing that came to mind. What a privilege to have such an influential role in the lives and training of these young adults through Bible studies, medical teaching, one-on-one mentoring, and simply serving the Lord together.
This past month, we have enjoyed the privilege of again ministering alongside our friends Colin and Teena Ovenell and their children, who are serving the Lord with Faith Baptist Mission and just returned to Benin after leaving for home assignment in March. They have played a crucial role in envisioning and preparing for the medical ministry and in helping us begin serving here, and they continue providing spiritual leadership, technical assistance, and valuable advice in all non-medical aspects of ministry here. At the same time, we have had to say a temporary goodbye to our friends and colleagues Joseph and Amy Marshall, who began their home assignment this month. They are our next door neighbors in Boiffo, and it's hard to imagine what we would have done without their help over our first two years of ministry in Benin. Joe fixed countless technical problems and plumbing emergencies while Steve was busy with the clinic, Amy helped Kat with adjustment to a new way of life in Benin, and both helped accommodate visiting medical providers when we were away and spent time with us every week as friends, including when we needed breaks away from the stresses of medical ministry. When asked asked to name something we are thankful for, a great team of missionary colleagues was the other main thing that came to mind.
Another note of thanksgiving is for a crowd of about 100 clinic staff members, patients, and their family members who raced across the mission property from the clinic to help us extinguish a fire at the Marshall's shop (vocational training school) this past Friday. We are so thankful that the timing of the fire allowed it to be noticed and extinguished quickly, and that Steve and a Beninese employee named Yacoubou were able to repair most of the damage on Saturday in just a few hours of work.
As the Marshalls are away for the next 8 months, one new ministry we are taking on is serving one Sunday per month in a small church plant in the village of ToroZougou where the Marshalls have been ministering. There is a man from Boiffo who preaches there three weeks per month, but he needs relief once per month, and Steve began preaching there this Sunday (Dec. 1) in what we expect to become a once-per-month ministry. Kat is helping with the children's ministry there. Please pray for this small church plant, that God would establish and grow it for the glory of His name in this region.
The medical ministry continues to minister to over 400 patients per week: young and old, rich and poor, great and small alike. For this month, we would like to share with you the story of a woman named Hebu. She lives in the nearby village of Guene and is the wife of Bio, who is a Christian man who is employed as the groundskeeper at the mission property in Guene where the Ovenells live. For many years, Bio, the Ovenells, and many others have been praying for her to come to faith in Jesus Christ, but she continued to resist the good news of salvation. This year in February, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in Boiffo (by a visiting doctor, while we were in the US). She began chemotherapy at a mission hospital about three hours away but was never able to have surgery, and ultimately the cancer spread to the rest of her uterus and into her abdomen. We have treated her several times recently as a patient, mostly to relieve symptoms by draining the cancerous fluid filling her abdomen and to treat various infections she has developed because of her body's weakened state. Ministering to a person who is slowly dying can be emotionally difficult, but in this case it was not without reward, as we were delighted to learn that she made a profession of faith in Jesus this month for salvation! She likely has only a few weeks to live, and we would appreciate your prayers for her and her husband Bio.
There is one other update that we'd like to bring before you for prayer. This month, our ultrasound machine has been giving us problems, although we are still able to use it to a limited extent. Then, just this Friday, our X-ray detector stopped working. These medical imaging technologies have a major role in our ministry impact, as they are the primary reason that the government has allowed us to stay open even though we have been unable to get the official paperwork, and as multiple other hospitals and health centers in Benin refer their patients to Boiffo for X-ray and ultrasound services. We ask for God's direction as we seek wisdom and funding to know how to address these problems in a timely manner that would not adversely affect patient care and the testimony of the ministry.
For this month, please consider praying with us about the following:
-The need for more trained medical staff, especially a second doctor, as we consider expanding the medical services provided here
-God's provision for our medical imaging equipment (repairs and/or replacement), specifically for the X-ray detector and ultrasound machine
-Continued spiritual growth and medical training for the clinic staff members
-Wisdom for us and the clinic board of director in making plans for potential future expansion of services
-For the time we will be spending this month with Kat's parents (a doctor/pastor and nurse) who will be visiting us in Boiffo and helping with various aspects of ministry
-An effective testimony for the name of our Lord that results in the spread of His gospel and the growth of His church in this region
We are thankful as always for your prayers, support, and encouragement!
Because of Christ,
Steve and Kat