Dear Friends and Partners,
Steve and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year, and greet you with the Apostle Paul’s words in 3. John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
The generosity of our many faithful partners have enabled us for 34 years to keep serving those who labor for the Gospel in some of the most dangerous and challenging parts of the world. We always seek to remain good stewards of the funds entrusted into our hands for proper distribution. Our accountability is not only to the Lord, but also to you who give, and to the recipients. It is an honor to stand in the gap where needs and provisions are bridged, that those yet unreached may hear and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ, be saved and discipled according to Mt 28:18-20!
For those who contributed to The Bridge in 2016, an itemized 2016 Donor Statement with this report was sent to their postal address. The statement serves as the official contribution receipt for the IRS. Since The Bridge International, Inc. is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) religious organization with EIN no. 65-0100609, contributions are exempt from Federal Taxes.
2016 IN REVIEW – REFLECTIONS
At the moment of this writing we are on the eve of a significant event which history may deem a watershed in the life and history of America: The inauguration of the 45th President elect Donald Trump which will take place on January 20. With his new Presidency, there will a momentous shifting in policies and practices from the prior President which certainly will make ripple effects around the globe and affect the political and economic climates in this and many other nations. This election process was bruising and volatile, resulting in a passionate polarization of the population right down to the grassroots between the political left and right, so much so that in many cases it is causing division between family members and friends.
With all the noise from news agencies and social media, with an avalanche of talking points and opinions inundating and numbing our senses, it is good to step back, allowing the quiet presence of the Lord to flood our hearts and minds with His peace. Political and social engagement is good as long as we remember… that we are in this world, but not of it. (John 17:15-16); that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1); that We are called to be salt and light in the world so that God is glorified (Matthew 5:13-16); and that the Apostle Paul appropriately states “You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” (2nd Corinthians 3:2)!
Our Christian mandate is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to demonstrate His standards through our daily living. He came to make new creatures (His people) holy through the saving power of the Gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. What we need is not better government, but better men and women in government!
2016 IN REVIEW – THE MISSION FIELD
The Bridge International continues from its inception 34 years ago to be a “loaf-and-fish”, low cost mainstream evangelical pioneer ministry. We keep serving primarily national believers who effectively are reaching others with the Good News, by coming alongside them and helping sponsor their pioneer evangelism outreaches, church planting, and Bible-based leadership training schools. We help financially assist various mercy ministries launched by new church fellowships into their local communities as an expression of the compassion and love of Jesus toward the needy and hurting. We also work in partnership with other low-cost, like-minded ministries, by helping them with finances in their effective work among the nationals in challenging regions of the world where the resources are less and the needs are greater.
In November, we published on this website a list of the sponsored missionaries we currently serve overseas. If you scroll all the way down, you will find a picture of each of them and a short description of who they are, where they serve , and the focus of their ministries. It is not a complete list, as it only includes those who are comfortable being publicly open about themselves and their Christian activities. We have omitted a number of others whom we help sponsor, due to security reasons. They live in closed nations to the Gospel where they work clandestinely underground. Exposing them and their Christian activities publicly would pose serious risks of severe persecution, not only toward them and their families, but toward the believers they serve.
Please note the names of these missionaries and pray for these laborers that they will remain safe and healthy and that the ripe fields they have planted and cared for will harvest hundredfold! (John 4:35). This website contains information and updates on each of them, so below, I have chosen to share just a few highlights of needs and blessings for prayers and edification.
The Far East
We were able to provide another 17 goats for Varughese Mathew serving the Andaman Islands. They are added to the prior flock, slowly inching the numbers upwards toward the ultimately goal of 160, which will make his family, church planters and orphans financially self sufficient. On December 8, they were hit by the cyclone Vardah, which caused damage to some of their property. I am waiting to receive an assessment of the cost of the damages.
Dawa Buthia is a new addition to our field partners. An ethnic Tibetan and former Buddhist from Bhutan, he is founder and leader of Himalayan Good News Networking Ministry with hundreds of pioneer evangelists and church planters. They serve the Lord in the Himalayan mountains among Bhutanese, Indians, Nepalese, and Tibetans. I met Dawa at last summer’s Festival at Troens Bevis in Norway. In the Fall, he visited Steve and me in our home, which made us come to know him better. The Bridge helped finance one semester of their church planting ministry school.
Sargon Daniali keeps ministering to his Iranian people in Turkey and beyond. In spite of the recent unrest in Turkey and increasing hostility toward Christians, the new fellowships of believers in Iran and Turkey are steadily growing in numbers and maturity in faith. His online Bible teaching ministry also keeps expanding. Last summer I also spent a few days with him at Troens Bevis in Norway, as he had been invited to visit Iranian believers in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
Yermek Balykbekov sees a slow, but steady growth of new believers among his Kazakh people. He reports that the government in Kazakhstan is growing more hostile toward Evangelical Christians, having imprisoned a pastor in the region without due process. Please pray that the doors for the Gospel will remain open!
Our Afghan friends in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan proper are doing well and growing in faith and fruitfulness! We helped finance our Kalmykian friend, Sarang Badyev who traveled on an extended visit to completely unreached communities of Kalmykian Buddhists in China and Mongolia to share the Gospel. He is beginning to see some fruit of faith among his people.
The Middle East
We are deeply grateful for our partners in faith who labor for the Gospel in the Middle East. The horrific persecution and hardship the Christian believers experience, especially those still living in Syria and Iraq where ISIS has established their Islamic State, are beyond comprehension! Our courageous Arab partner and his team continue to bring Relief Aid to the destitute. They see tremendous fruit among the people they are serving: 500 Yazidis have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and are now being discipled by local pastors under the oversight of our friend! One of our Stateside partners donated $10,000 through The Bridge which is helping the mobile medical clinic continue its operation for another year. The clinic is an evangelistic tool staffed by local Arab Christian doctors and nurses!
We continue to invest our resources in one of the most volatile and unstable places on earth—Juba, South Sudan. Matthew Deng Dut keeps on preaching, teaching and mentoring new believes at two locations in spite of the presence of armed conflict which sadly has driven hundreds of thousands of people out of the country into refugee camps in Uganda. We have opened a small microbank that establishes small cottage industries, and we kept sustaining Matthew and his leaders by meeting their basic needs.
The Bridge gave funds to two of our partners who visited Haiti and are actively working on helping the Haitian people recover from the destructive hurricane, Matthew.
Thanks, again, for participating with us in raising the banner – Jesus is the Light in a very dark world!