Each month we learn of more and more people with great need for a little extra help. We continue to give out food boxes in various ministry areas. Sometimes receiving food is a blessing and a challenge. So many people need the support but struggle with the idea of receiving "charity".
It has been our joy to remind these people that this food does not come from a person nor an organization but rather from our loving God who touched many hearts to send donations because He wants them to know that He is there for them. That He, the Lord God almighty loves them and sees their challenges.
As we share, many of them have opened up and shared with us their problems and heart heaviness. It is a privilege to be able to listen, share and pray.
For many years I had a very special woman support me in the ministry of the Victory Center. Fatima was the cook at the Victory Center during the time that we worked as a girls home for street girls.
After several years she had a chance to make the long trip to visit us. Some of the girls and their families came by to spend some time with us. It was so wonderful to see them all. (Shortly after visiting us, Fatima was diagnosed with breast cancer. Please keep her in your prayers)
My dear friends Miguel and Fabi have been called to the mission field right here in Mexico. They have moved to an area about five hours away where they are helping out in a country church leading praise and worship, youth group and helping out at an outlying church mission in an area overrun by drug traffickers.
We miss them so much but at the same time we are excited for them as they step out in faith to live a new life adventure.
Both Erika and I have started offering individual classes (in a socially distanced and safe way) to kids that are in one way or another struggling with online classes. As time goes by they're getting the hang of it but boy has it been difficult to learn all the ins and outs of studying online.
Many of our families do not have the finances to be able to pay for internet. That means that their child just receives a text message once a week with assignments for them to do before the end of the week. Without a clear explanation of these assignments, the kids are really lost, frustrated and overwhelmed. We are doing our best to help them advance in their classes. This is no small feat as we seem to be almost as confused as they are on how the system should work.
My dear friends, you are often in my prayers. I know that many of you have been strongly affected by the pandemic in one way or another. I pray for you to be encouraged in heart, to know God's provision in your lives and to experience the presence of the Lord in these difficult times.
** Continued financial provision for food for the poor.
(give here: https://uwm.org/projects/65498/ )
** Healing for Fatima and for the Doctors to have wisdom.
** That I would know how to best help the people we serve.
May your day be rich in the knowledge of God's tremendous love for you.
At the very beginning of the pandemic, I thought that it would last just a couple of weeks. But then our shelter in place time stretched on and as it stretched on, I talked to more and more people who were struggling just to have something to eat everyday.
My heart broke when one family connected to the Victory Center told me that they had been walking up the mountain to cut wild grass to boil so that they had something to fill their stomachs. I knew I had to do something. I started out small just picking up basic food items (when I could find them in the stores) and preparing food boxes to take to dear friends. These friends then directed me to other people who were in desperate need of rice, beans, milk, eggs, etc.
I prayerfully considered how we could get food to a larger group of people. And then I shared in a newsletter that we were taking donations for our benevolence fund. Through your generous donations we were able to give away hundreds of food boxes. Some to the families connected to the Victory Center, others to people connected to our local church Vida Eterna and still others in the Indigenous areas up the mountain from Morelia.
As we handed out food boxes, several people were so touched to experience God's loving care for them that they prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
How the Victory Center is affected by the pandemic:
Mexico has made the difficult decision to not return to classes this school year. As an educational support organization, the Victory Center will not have any school help or tutoring classes until next fall. But we are prayerfully considering how we can still have contact with our students and minister to them and their families.
Each year we do a summer vacation bible school the first week of August. Please pray with us for wisdom on whether it is something we should do this year and if we were to do it, how we can safely do so.
At the time of this mailing our state of Michoacan is just starting to open up after a long 2 and a half months of quarantine. Though we have not been a hot spot for the Corona virus, our number of cases has not yet stopped raising.
That we would know how to move forward in ministry during these changing times.
Please pray for our staff and their families.
For continued funding as people everywhere are faced with more limited income.
Good health and safety.
The amazing response to the Victory Center benevolence fund.
Several people who received food boxes also received Jesus as their Savior.
Donations: uwm.org and click on GIVE
This is my friend Jonathan. His story is one of perseverance and hope. Jonathan was unjustly accused of a crime and sent to prison. He was working on a special police force where he refused to take bribes or falsify reports. One day he was sent to a police outpost in a smaller city not too far from Morelia. It was just supposed to be for the weekend. In the middle of the night, as is common here, an army support group stopped by the outpost and dropped off a prisoner. Just a few minutes later a large patrol of drug traffickers surrounded the outpost and demanded the release of the prisoner. The army now gone and Jonathan there alone with just two other men, had to make a difficult decision. Release the prisoner or risk their own lives. They chose to release the prisoner to prevent a violent overtaking.
For this they were all arrested, sentence and jailed. Jonathan lived in the worst of conditions for almost eleven years. His faith was tested over and over again. And yet he stood firm trusting that God was at work even when it seem impossible that a loving God would allow such hardship in his life. His wife, Carol, stayed with him through the whole ordeal and is praising God to finally have him free and home. I had the privilege to be at their church wedding where they renewed their vows to one another. They have such an amazing testimony of love, joy and hope.
Praising God that Miguel who went to Spain where he spent almost three weeks ministering, evangelizing, teaching and encouraging. He is the worship leader at my church here in Mexico and he has dreamed of serving as a missionary. Over the years Miguel has served with all his heart. Though he couldn't imagine how it would come about Miguel persevered in his hope to minister in Spain. His faithfulness was rewarded. He and his traveling companions returned home to Mexico safe and healthy just days before Spain closed their borders. Miguel says that it was a "life changing experience".
In these difficult times of Covid-19 it is important for us to remember that there is hope. The virus is affecting us all--emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. What a different world....freedoms limited, economy struggling, education closed down, jobs lost and many seeking the face of the One True God. My prayer for you is that you will stand firm and strong on the truths and promises of God. His word says "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
We have set up a special benevolence fund with United World Mission to help the families that we work with. Many of them live day to day and will not have money to feed their families. This fund will not have any administrative fee and 100% of the funds will go towards supporting these family’s needs. If you are able to give please click on the following link. We thank you so much for your generosity and prayers.
Victory Center COVID Relief - 65498.
Dear Praying Friends,
We arrived back in Brazil a month ago and have been getting settled little by little. It has been a joy to be involved in several conference-wide events and to reconnect with ministry colleagues. We praise Him that after several weeks of looking, we have finally moved into our apartment. Hope wrote about the stress (and benefit) of waiting here.
Mardi Gras Youth Camp
Last weekend we attended a camp with 85 pre-teens. We were asked to encourage and instruct the camp staff through daily Bible studies. It was a privilege to work with so many youth and adults who are pouring out their lives for the Lord.
Pray for the continued growth for the campers who gave their lives to Christ.
Seminary in the Spotlight
Two weekends ago Dan was invited to speak at the commencement of our Free Methodist seminary. We loved hearing student stories of how God used their classes to spur them on to deeper faith. Pray for the Lord's continued leading in their lives.
Dan and Hope are meeting with FM church leaders about upcoming changes in our seminary curriculum. Pray that we'll have godly wisdom in implementing these changes.
Thank you for partnering with us!
We are thrilled to be back in Brazil and look forward to all the Lord has in store for us. Thank you for your love, prayers and giving that keep us going. If you would like to contribute toward our missionary support, you can do so at this link.
For His glory and our joy,
Dan and Hope
Greetings my dear friends,
It has been a great couple of months. It seems like the Lord continues to open more and more doors for us to serve the community here at the Victory Center.
After several years of waiting and prayerful consideration we have started our adult English classes. We presently have three English classes. Two for High Schoolers who had aged out of our program. And one for parents of kids who are in our program. It has been one of the highlights of my fall semester. What a joy to get to know more about the families we serve and spend time with the parents of kids that I have known for years.
We also did our first VICTRIFEST which was a type of “school” carnival/fundraiser. It was a lot of work but we really enjoyed it and the kids seemed to have a great time too. (We plan to do this annually)
Praises: Adult classes are going well and that our sponsor a child program is growing.
Prayer: To know how many kids to accept in January classes and for continued financial support.
I thank you from the depths of my heart for your care and concern for my life.
Blessings, Sue Leak
Wishing you and yours a
Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Morelia, Mexico September 2019
I hope that this note finds you well. I have had a full summer with summer classes for the kids, VBS and short term teams. I also made a quick trip to Michigan to visit with family and friends.
But today I wanted to share with you about how the Victory Center has impacted the life of one of my former students. Fredi came to the Victory Center for English classes 8 or 9 years ago. He is bright and enjoyed learning a new language. He aged out of the program as he went on to High School to study a technical track for auto mechanics.
Later he worked as an apprentice learning from more experienced men while also buying his own tools in the hopes of starting his own mechanic shop some day. At the end of 2018 Fredi came to me frustrated with his present job but also very sad because someone had broken into his house and stolen most of the tools he had bought over time.
I felt led by the Lord to offer Fredi a loan to get what he needed to start up his own business. Though excited about the possibility he was also very nervous about stepping out in faith to open his own shop. But he did do just that, in the first week in June Fredi opened a mechanic shop not too far from the Victory Center.
One of the main conditions of the loan that I gave him was that he would in the future take a needy young man under his wing and teach him about auto mechanics. A month after opening his shop, Fredi took on Sergio (another former Victory Center student who had dropped out of school) as his apprentice.
Fredi recently took the time to buy Sergio proper steel toed boots and work gloves to ensure that he was better protected while working on cars. Fredi is learning how to show the love of God to someone who had almost given up on believing in the kindness of other. I love to see how both these young men are growing and maturing.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Please continue to pray for our 2019-2020 school year. We have about 165 kids daily.
To donate search for Sue Leak on the United World Mission website and follow the instructions. UWM.ORG
In the past, Central sent a team to Brazil and worked with Dan Owsley in Petrolina. See their most recent email update here: The Owsley Chronicles.
Federated Republic of Brazil
Area: 8,511,965 sq km, one-half of the land surface and population of South America. World's fifth largest country in both area and population.
As of 2010: 210.1 million
Capital: Brasilia, 3,904,918
Other major cities: Sao Paulo, 20.3 million; Rio de Janeiro, 12 million -- 18 other cities with at least one million
Brazil is a melting pot of nations with much intermarriage and blending of the many immigrant ethnicities. Most Brazilians have at least some mixed ethnic heritage.
European: 50.2% including the world's largest diaspora populations of Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and German
Mixed race: 38.0% Mestizo and Mulatto
African: 6.4%, mostly descendants of slaves brought from West Africa
Asian: 5.6% including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan -- 0.7%, Jews and Chinese
Amerindian: 0.41% - 275 indigenous tribal groups speaking 185 languages. Only 700,000 tribal people remain
Official Language: Portuguese
A total of 193 languages are spoken, including 181 indigenous languages.
Vast natural resources combine with a large labor force to create an emerging economic superpower, especially in agriculture. One great challenge will be to increase agricultural space without traumatizing the precious Amazon and Pantanal ecosystems -- stewardship v exploitation.
Catholic - 72.79% of population
Protestant - 16.34%
Independent - 12.42%
Orthodox - 0.09%
Marginal - 1.54%
Fmc in Brazil
The Brazilian FMC saw significant growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2003, the Brazilian conference became a provisional general conference and elected their first suffragan bishop, Jose Ildo Swartelle de Mello. In August 2004, the Brazilian Provisional General Conference reorganized with five annual conferences. This conference was recognized as a General Conference in November 2007. A church planting strategy is targeting the national capital Brasilia. Missionaries Dan and Hope Owsley are assisting in this work.
Parallel to the Brazilian General Conference, the Nikkei Annual Conference has continued to grow its ministries in Brazil and around the world. Although at one time, the Nikkei Conference was uniquely focused on persons of Japanese descent, its churches now look very much like Brazil with diverse membership. The Nikkei churches experience steady growth year after year.
Outreach to the World
The two Brazilian conferences have sent missionaries to Portugal, Italy, Hungary, a creative access country, East Timor (Indonesia), Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela, and the Suruwaha tribe in the Amazon Rainforest. Furthermore, the general conference oversees a mission district in Angola. The Nikkei Conference connects with Japanese-descendent churches in Paraguay, Peru, and Argentina.
Brazilian General Conference
Nikkei Annual Conference
Challenges for Prayer
Endemic corruption and cronyism
Poverty still affects tens of millions
Crime is a serious problem
Brazil is a spiritually open country
Numerical rather than spiritual growth is an emphasis
Prosperity theology is shaping much of Protestantism
Effective appropriate training is key to the above
Indigenous Amerindians have endured centuries of prejudice, oppression, massacre and exploitation, which continue to this day by encroaching woodcutters, gold prospectors and ranchers. Their unique cultures are disintegrating through despair, disease, substance abuse and suicide.
Republic of Tanzania
Area: 945,037 sq km (Comprising mainland Tanganyika and the offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba (2,460 sq km))
Annual Growth: 2.92%
Capital: Dodoma (official); Dar es Salaam (de facto)
160 (21% unreached)
More information about peoples
Official Language: Swahili, English
2% speak only Swahili and no local African language
Total Languages: 127
Largest Religion: Christianity
Christians: 24,352,897 (54.07% of population)
Evangelicals: 8,042,731 (17.9% of population)
Challenges for Prayer
Growth in the mainline Churches has been good but sporadic. Renewal movements in Lutheran, Anglican, and Catholic churches bring life to traditional congregations; most of the bishops are evangelical. Some problems that limit further grow in numbers and spirituality are:
FMC in Tanzania
The Tanzanian church has three districts, plus an area in the south being evangelized by the Malawi FM Church. The districts center around Kigoma, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika; Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria; and Mugumu near the Kenyan border. A local FM church in Michigan has helped develop several church buildings in the Geita district.
In 1988, a group of Christians near the Kenya border wanted to become part of the Free Methodist Church. In 1992, the Free Methodist Church became registered with the government of Tanzania.
DRC (Formerly Zaire)
Area: 2,345,410 sq km
Congo contains most of the Congo River system and much of the vast Central African rainforest.
Annual Growth: 2.8%
Some 239 ethno-linguistic groups and numerous sub-groups. An uncountable number of refugees and displaced peoples have moved back and forth between the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, and Tanzania in the last 20 years. (>2% unreached)
Unreached Peoples in DRC:
Main Language: Arabic, North Levantine S
Main Religion: Islam
Bible in their language: Portions
Christ-Followers: Few, less than 2%
South Asian, general
Main Language: Hindi
Main Religion: Hinduism
Bible in their language: Complete
Christ-Followers: Few, less than 2%
Main Language: Swahili
Main Religion: Islam
Bible in their language: Complete
Christ-Followers: Few, less than 2%
More information about peoples
This is greatly reduced by the collapse of the education system.
Official language: French
Trade languages: Lingala/Bangala in north and northwest, Swahili in east and south, Tshiluba in center and Kikongo/Kituba in west
Total languages: 217
Largest Religion: Christianity
Christians: 62,503,037 (92.15% of population)
Evangelicals: 12,688,720 (18.7% of population)
For centuries, DRC has suffered the depredations of Arab slavers, Western exploitation and in recent years, exploitation by Africans. A Belgian colony for 60 years, the precipitate granting of independence to an unprepared people led to years of violence, anarchy and secessionist wars, culminating in a military coup in 1965. The Great Lakes War in Rwanda and Burundi spilled over into eastern Congo, leading to new rulers who were also erratic and autocratic. Further war led to invasions by Uganda and Rwanda, requiring intervention by Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, as well as U.N. peace keeping forces. All foreign forces had withdrawn by 2003. The country had its first free elections in 2007 with turnout of more than 70%. Rebel militias in the east and from Rwanda still operate with relative impunity. This conflict has led to more deaths than any other since WWII.
Challenges for Prayer
The Church of Christ in Congo (ECC) was a conglomeration forced by government edict in 1970, which artificially bonded conservative Protestants, Pentecostals/charismatics, and syncretistic African Initiated Churches, sixty-five denominations in all. Most evangelical leaders are now in favor of their membership in the ECC. Positive benefits include a reduction of tribalism in the Church, a reduction of unnecessary competition, rationalized administration, and increased cooperation in training schemes and media. But today, restructuring, change and renewal are imperative in order to face the daunting challenges that exist.
Pray for nominal Christians to find new life in Christ. Nominalism is a major problem. Large numbers have no clear grasp of repentance and faith in Christ nor of salvation by grace and not works. Much nominalism is due to inadequate preaching of the gospel, satisfaction with a superficial response, and failure to follow up with those touched by the preaching. There is a notable lack of Biblical knowledge in most churches; pray that the Bible would be read, used, and applied in churches in the DRC.
Pray for "revival churches" which are growing rapidly. Their spiritual liveliness and strong faith are positive, but many lack Biblical teaching and are often led by charlatans who use their pastoral position for personal gain rather than to serve the faithful. Prosperity theology runs strong through these churches and draws many with its promises of wealth for a population in desperate economic straits.
Pray for syncretism, witchcraft, and false teachings to be rooted out of the Church. Animistic thought patterns, occult influences, and fear of witchcraft are major problems present in the underlying culture, polluting the faith of millions. Such continued spiritual ties oppress Christians and stymie their spiritual growth. Many are falsely accused and subject to cruel "exorcism" rituals. Jehovah's Witnesses with glossy literature and cheap Bibles are making rapid inroads.
Pray for Biblical leadership patterns. The cultural tendency toward centralized leadership has sometimes harmed the local congregational life and initiative. It has stimulated hierarchical structures and has increased power seeking, pride of position, and misuse of funds. It has compromised the Church's prophetic role. Changes must come, but not at the expense of unity, fellowship, and cooperation.
Pray for vision for the future. The DRC needs a complete re-evangelization. Colonial comity agreements and formation of the ECC served well in earlier eras, but they imposed rigid geographical boundaries on any outreach activity. This left many areas devoid of an evangelical witness and hindered cross-cultural outreach. There is great freedom to minister the gospel in many ways, but lack of vision, resources, and stability hampers potential outreach. The work of the Holy Spirit in some areas has led to increased love for God's Word, prayer movements, mobilization of youth and a new indigenous hymnody.
Pray for new initiatives in research. After radical change prompted by the past chaos, destruction, and displacement, a nationwide survey is desperately needed to reveal the state of the Church and the needs of the nation. Before strategies can be developed and implemented, the real situation in this vast, populous and complex nation must be understood. Pray for a team of capable researchers, supported by the national churches, to undertake this daunting task.
Pray for new starts in evangelism and church work. The trauma experienced in the DRC betrays the failure of discipleship. But out of the ashes, new models of minsitry -- holistic in approach, community-based, discipleship-focused, and sustainable in nature -- can be devloped. Pray that this opportunity for fresh ministry might be seized by believers, both indigenous and expatriate.
-Most of this information is taken from Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation - 7th Edition, by Jason Mandryk
FM World Missions in DRC
Music and singing from the Nundu Free Methodist Church, 2014
HDN - Nundu Deaconess Hospital - directed by Congolese physicians with a long history of partnership with FM World Missions - now hosting a church, accredited nursing program, and 21 outpatient clinics