Category Archives: Annual Bridge Reports

2015 Annual Bridge Report

Dear Friends and Partners:

Happy New Year to you and your family from The Bridge team and our partners around the world!

For those who contributed to The Bridge in 2015, this report with additional IRS information and the enclosed itemized annual Donor Statement have been sent by postal mail to each giver’s mailing address.  Upon request, we will send you The Bridge’s 2015 Finance Report prepared by the CPA firm Cherry Bekaert LLP in Miami, Florida.

On a Personal Note

Ulrichs 11-14Last year posed a great challenge in Steve and my life.  At age six, by accident, Steve by fell out of a car in full speed, and has, since then, lived with chronic pain.   Twelve years ago, he had a successful surgery on his spine, which proved it had been broken for a number of years.  This alleviated much of his back pain, but he continued to struggle with neuropathy pain.  When his pain level again began to drastically rise, again, we assumed it came from his spine.  A medical checkup, however, showed he needed a new hip.  On August 25,  Steve underwent hip replacement surgery at a nearby hospital, renowned for its state-of-the-art medical advances.  We were told this was a routine procedure with promise of full recovery and restoration back to normal life in six weeks.

But—alas, Steve developed a serious internal infection!  During a four months period, he amassed almost 50 pounds of body fluid, had re-surgery with exchange of his prosthetics, three more hospitalizations, a three week rehab stay, home care with six weeks massive intravenous antibiotics. Being close to death, he was ready to depart and meet the Lord.  But — miraculously,  Steve came through!  A week ago, he got a clean bill of health from his surgeon!  Now, he is ready to work on bringing his battered body back into shape through rehab and resuming his activities at the gym!

As his wife, I knew God had called me to be right by Steve’s side, so I pulled back on other activities and devoted myself fully to his care. We are so thankful for the medical care available to us!  But above all, we are amazed at God’s healing power, and deeply blessed by His people, both locally, and around the world, who prayed for us, and demonstrated their love in so many practical ways!  Thanks, again to all of you who stood with us!

Through this battle, we never lost sight of believing we were safely tucked under the protective wings of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 91:3-4) so that nothing would come our way that He had not already seen and allowed! Psalm 27:3 kept echoing in my soul and feeding my faith, “I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.“ 

This experience has given Steve and me a fresh appreciation of God’s incredible blessings on us and our fellow Christians living in the West! We enjoy all sufficiency in all things — we may perhaps not have everything we want, but certainly everything we need! On the contrary, practically everyone of our partners live and serve the Lord in nations  hostile to the Christian faith.  They lack many of the things we take for granted.  They are often physically poor; when sick, they often lack proper medical care; some face persecution by their governments and are often ridiculed by their own extended families. Yet, they are undeterred in their commitment to fulfilling God’s call in their lives; they are risk-takers while being steadfast and enduring in the midst of the pressures of life.  They seek to  live according to the Word of God, and have a passion to share the Good News with others regardless of the cost of discipleship!

2015 in Review

logoOur focus of engagement in 2015 were in four parts of the world: the Andaman Islands (part of India), Central Asia, The Middle East, and East Africa. 

Due to Steve’s health crisis last year, I did not travel overseas.  However, we were able to continue to engage with the people in the field and help resourcing them, thanks to new advances in technology, like social media and communication via Skype where we can speak face to face.

We are so blessed by The Bridge Intercessory Prayer Team, consisting of a small group of individuals from various states in the U.S. who feel called to prayer and have offered to carry the burden of intercession for our ministry and the mission field. They come together on Skype several times a week and intercede for Steve and me, The Bridge’s outreaches, and the indigenous leaders and their ministries we serve overseas.  We all meet every other week when we share our blessings, burdens and needs, news updates, and answers to prayer!  More than once, we have  seen God’s miraculous answers to needs too complex for man to solve!  Through prayer, we have become friends and  equal partners in serving one another and the nations with the Gospel!

A good example of serving one another, are Robert and Sandrina who live in Sarajevo, Bosnia where they have established a beautiful new church in the Muslim section of town. See:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/sarajevo-bosnia-update-by-robert-jurjevich/

Last Fall, they traveled to Turkey where Robert was the speaker at Sargon’s conference for Iranian Christian leaders living in Turkey!  It was a great blessing to both parties and the participants!

Sargon keeps ministering to his people in Turkey and beyond. This has resulted in the planting of seven new fellowships within Iran, and three in Turkey, one for whom we have helped finance a regular meeting place.

Varughese Mathew from the Andaman Islands visited our home in Florida in May. We have been partners with him and his ministry for a number of years.  See:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/andaman-islands-update-varughese-mathew/

Varughese told us that he and his ministry’s two orphanages, their many indigenous missionaries and mission stations throughout the archipelago could become fully financially self sufficient if they could obtain 160 goats at each $120.00.  They already have 10 goats on a piece of land Steve had financially helped him to obtain in the North part of the island, next to a vast national forest. He returned home with finances for 10 goats, with 15 more to come, as well as help toward school supplies for the orphans.  In 2016, we will continue to keep the Goat Project open!

In Central Asia, we continue to help finance two ministries in Kazakhstan, one in Kyrgyzstan, and occasional help toward Afghans who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and are refugees in other Central Asian countries.  We help support a businessman who is engaged in building local communities within Afghanistan, which are quite successful, in spite of the everyday challenges and dangers they face.

We are grateful for the partners in faith who labor for the Gospel in the Middle EastI believe it is beyond the  ability for us who live securely away from the turmoil and  dangers they continually face, to comprehend the suffering and hardship individual Christians and groups of believers have to endure, especially in Syria and Iraq, where ISIS has established their Islamic State.  Our courageous Arab partner and his team continue to bring his ministry’s and our funds to that area, which finances the relief aid distributed among the traumatized, suffering refugees. In addition, the local believers receive leadership training, which has resulted in the planting of new fellowships of believers who receive care and love.  See:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/northern-iraq-update-from-displaced-iraqis-and-syrians/

We have a heart for both Jews and Arabs, thus serve partners who minister in Israel as well as among other nations in the Middle East.  Due to security reasons, however, I am not at liberty to disclose any specifics.

Sarang, our Kalmykian partner continued to minister to his people in China, Mongolia, and  Russia.

We have several longstanding friends and partners who live and serve in South Sudan—from Nimule in the South,to Tonj towards the North, as well as a courageous American family of five who recently moved from Idaho to serve the Lord in South Sudan.

Last year, we continued our support of the South Sudanese minister, Matthew Dengut, as he keeps on sharing the Gospel with his people in the capital city of Juba. Matthew has survived much hardship, including twice being sick with Malaria; the dangers of living in the middle of civil war; lawlessness in the city streets whereby he and many of his friends have been robbed of their belongings; catastrophic crop failure which now is causing major starvation; widespread unemployment; and a lack of basic infrastructure.  In the midst of these challenges, Matthew and his leadership team have planted three churches, two of them with attendance of  150-200 people each, and have a strong Bible–teaching program for the training of new leaders.  The Bridge sent $1,200 to the church for Gospel outreaches for Christmas – 800 people attended and more than 100 came to faith. A page from my 2013 visit to South Sudan provides you with visual images from the streets of Juba:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/turkey-south-sudan-trip/juba-street-outreach-page-7/

Thank you, again, for walking shoulder to shoulder with us in furthering the Kingdom of God in the nations! I close with Matthew’s words which apply to every nation in today’s world, “So many people live in such darkness and despair.  They need HOPE! We have the LIGHT — JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!  The time is short!  Please help us preach the Gospel and show God’s love to everybody!”

 

 

2014 Annual Bridge Report

Dear Friends and Partners:

Ulrichs 11-14Steve and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year, and extend our warmest greetings with the Apostle John’s prayer from 3rd John 2 – that all may go well with you and that you may prosper, even as your soul prospers! 

We thank everyone who in various ways partnered with us in 2014 through The Bridge International, especially  those of you who so generously gave of themselves by financial support and prayer on behalf of the missionaries and their mercy ministries we helped sponsor. We are so grateful that so many keep on giving sacrificially toward the furthering of God’s Kingdom in the nations in spite of continued tough economic times.

Those who have contributed to The Bridge International in 2014, have received by postal mail their official contribution receipt for their Federal Tax returns enclosed in this publication.

We always seek to live by the highest standard of integrity in financial matters, knowing we are stewards of the funds entrusted into our hands for proper distribution, thus, our accountability is not only to the Lord, but also to you who give, and to the recipients who receive the gifts abroad.  Upon request we will send you The Bridge’s 2014 Finance Report prepared by the CPA firm Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, L.L.P. in Miami, Florida.

You may have noticed that, a couple of years ago, we changed the format of The Bridge Annual Report.  It has changed from posting the name and picture of each missionary with a short description of their activities and the funds sent — to being more general in nature.  The reason for this,  is that changing times have compelled us to be more protective of the people we serve in the field, most of whom live and work in parts of the world where there is a drastic escalation in the number of perpetrators who aggressively plan and pursue violence, especially  against Christians. The number of countries in which they operate, is also on the rise.

From the inception of The Bridge 32 years ago,  we have sought to be true to God’s call — sharing testimonies from the indigenous church in the nations with the believers in the West for their encouragement, and bringing resources from the West to assist the indigenous church abroad.

Some of our field partners choose to be very open with their lives and testimonies; they are by their own choice featured in The Bridge Report which we publish online and also send out by postal mail. Others, whose names and ministries have never been mentioned in Bridge publications, choose to work quietly “underground”, as they find that works best for them in spreading the Gospel.  We respect both ways, knowing that in their call to serve the Lord they are all driven by the same passion — to see that those yet unreached may hear and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ, and be discipled according to Mt 28:18-20!  

To gain specific information or an update on a field worker or a project you help sponsor, I encourage you to first look at our website www.bridgeinternational.org, send us an email, or call our office.  I would personally be very happy to give you the information you need.

2014 IN REVIEW

logoOur main focus of engagement in 2014 were in three parts of the world: Central Asia, The Middle East, and South Sudan. 

In the month of April, I had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Agape Evangelical Center in Almaty, Kazakhstan, one of the larger  indigenous ministries in Central Asia. In 1989,  Agape Mission was birthed by four young people who had come to faith in

Jesus Christ during the communist era.  The team began to openly evangelize in streets and parks, and people responded!  In 1991, just after the fall of the Iron Curtain, The Bridge came alongside these new believers and began helping them with resources.  Over the years, Mission Agape became Agape Evangelical Center which is the umbrella covering a large local church; a number of local mercy outreaches to the poor, prisoners, elderly, and orphans; a Bible College for the training of church planters and missionaries; 60 satellite churches planted in other parts of the region, including China; and an effective Drug Rehabilitation Center housingnearly 100 people who are being gloriously set free from a life of bondage by the power of God!  Needless to say, my visit to Agape, as always, was joyous, faith-building and encouraging!  To familiarize yourself with this ministry, please read the following Bridge Reports online at:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/may2009.pdf

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/july2009.pdf

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/august2009.pdf

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/kazakhstan-almaty-agape-evangelical-centers-25th-anniversay-celebration/

In Kazakhstan, I also took the train North to the  city of Karaganda, where I had a delightful few days with Yermek Balykbekov and his family, who are ministering to their own Kazakh people.  I was received with the characteristically warmhearted hospitality for which the Kazakh and other people groups in that part of the world are known.

www.bridgeinternational.org/kazakhstan-r-k-s-visit-to-yermek-balykbekov-in-karaganda/

While in Central Asia, I also took a side-trip to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where I met up with a lovely Russian family to whom I was introduced to in 2003.  They are ministering to the Russian-speaking people in the city.  I stayed with a delightful, young Tajik-Uzbek family who have a passion to disciple teenage boys who have been released from State orphanages – ill prepared, without having anywhere to go. I also met a wonderful group of expats from Canada, America, and Europe who serve the Kyrgyz people in various ways with much love and care.

I also spent time with several Afghans I had to come to know prior to my visit.  During subsequent  trips to Norway, Germany, and Holland, I also met up with a number of Afghans who have come to faith in Jesus Christ – even one living in the regional city near my home village!  Two decades ago, for a couple of years, Steve and I personally financed a grade school for the children of the approx. 2000 Afghans refugees who had fled to Kazakhstan from the Russian Army who had invaded their homeland.  God gave us a deep love and respect for this beautiful, strong, self-sufficient, fiercely independent mountain people who, regretfully, have been so turned away from God’s purposes by the darkness of Islam and generations of tribal conflict. Today, a new generation of Afghans who have only known war, is emerging in the nations. Some of them have come into a dynamic, deep, life–changing relationship with Jesus Christ as the Son of God; others are cunningly hiding behind the Christian faith to gain favors – for them lies and deceit are the order of the day.  We need an extra measure of wisdom and discernment, as well as persistence, to effectively minister the love of God to the Afghan people!

That brings us to the Middle East.  For security reasons, I am not at liberty to disclose specifics on our partnerships, nor the extent of our service to the peoples in that region of the world.  Suffice it to say that we have a heart for both Israel and the Arab nations, and serve partners who  minister in both places.  Those who remain steadfast in their faith in the face of persecution and insurmountable obstacles and risk to themselves and their families’ safety and life, put much of the Western church, with its superficial, self-centered preaching, to shame.  They embody the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2:15-16, demonstrating they are Children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which they shine like stars in the universe as they hold out the word of life!

The Bridge helped raise funds to relieve the profound suffering of some of the refugees who fled to Northern Iraq from the areas in Central Iraq and Syria that have been decimated by the Islamic extremist group ISIS.  We funneled the funds through the ministry of an Arab friend and partner who now travels regularly with his wife to Northern Iraq, while distributing the relief aid and ministering the love and comfort of Jesus to the traumatized, suffering refugees.  He allowed us to publish his first trip report (take note of  his last few paragraphs).  It is to be found at:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/north-iraq-relief-aid-for-syrian-and-iraqi-refugees/

South Sudan, the newest country in the world, continues to be at a crisis point with massive government corruption, lack of good leadership on all levels, and absence of basic infrastructure.  The President and the former Vice President are still in armed conflict over unresolved power issues; although there is presently cease-fire, it is anticipated that war may erupt again at any time.

Although The Bridge has longstanding relationships with dynamic ministries both in the North and the South of the country, our focus in 2014 was to continue the partnership with the two young men who returned to their new country in 2011, and now living in and not far from the capital of Juba.  They  are both pioneering  and struggling to help their people under the most arduous circumstances.  The following link gives you an overview of the people and ministries we serve in South Sudan:

http://www.bridgeinternational.org/turkey-south-sudan-trip/

Thank you again for walking shoulder to shoulder with us in furthering the Kingdom of God in the nations. Let us be mindful of the words of Jesus in John 9:4 — Let us continue to work together while it is day, the night is coming when no one can work!

 

2013 Annual Bridge Report

logo

Dear Friends and Partners:  Happy New Year to all of you — our friends and partners around the world! For those of you who contributed to The Bridge in 2013, this report with your enclosed itemized annual Donor Statement has been sent by postal mail to your mailing address.  Please contact us if you want us to send you a full Financial Report.

Occasionally, Steve and I take the world globe off the shelf and turn it while pointing to the many countries on all continents where we have had the privilege of participating in impacting the Gospel and seen the indigenous church multiply and mature. The multiplication is not linear, but rather like the continual expansion from the circular ripples of a stone thrown in the middle of a lake.  We thank God both for those who serve Him abroad and those who give of their finances and intercede from the home front.  According to 2. Corinthians 9:7b-11, a promise of blessing goes both for the giver and the receiver, ”…for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ’He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.’ Now, He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will sow and multiply your seed for the sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness…”

2013 Marked the Thirtieth Anniversary of the  Birth of The Bridge International. 

Ulrichs by DougIn 1983, while serving with an East European mission in Munich, Germany, I was on my way back from the Black Sea in Bulgaria after a Bible smuggling mission, when I received the marching order from the Lord to return to the States — “BE a BRIDGE, do not build one!”   Shortly thereafter I returned to Florida after having served for two years among the persecuted Christian believers in the grip of atheist communism behind the Iron Curtain.  The Bridge started out with few resources, but at the core of its foundation was a big vision coupled with a persistent commitment to bridging resources in the West to those in need (at that time particularly the persecuted church in Eastern Europe) organically, through relationships, rather than building an organizational structure which had been—and regretfully continues to be—the model for most standard missionary agencies. God sent us partners and co-workers with kindred hearts to serve with us  under the banner Linking God’s People to Reach the Unreached!

During the eighties, our growing team focused on  intercessory prayer as we hammered against the bastion of the Iron Curtain and cried out for liberty for the believers.  We  worked clandestinely underground to reach those who suffered—initially via the mission in Munich, later (just before marrying my husband, Steven in 1987) via the Dutch Bridge (De Brug), established in Holland by one of my former mission coworkers.  It became the base through which most of our subsequent field operations were conducted. Steve brought a unique gift to our team as an entrepreneurial businessman who took charge and helped finance the printing of Bibles (a total of 6 mill. N.T.) , and providing sponsorships for Bible Training schools and pioneer church planters.

The nineties arrived with a crescendo— the entire Iron Curtain suddenly crumbled and disintegrated as the peoples rose up in nation after nation and demanded freedom and liberty!  It was a youth movement which brought a largely bloodless revolution.  A new generation, disillusioned by oppression and the communist ideology, wanted to partake in the freedom of expression and the prosperity of the West.  A spiritual awakening swept across the nations of the Soviet Union as they began searching for a new identity and spiritual truth.  We knew that this was answer to the decade-long, persistent prayers and intercession by God’s people around the world!

The Bridge was ready and willing—we were thrust into the large harvest field reaching throughout the nations of the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia!  Individuals and church groups from the States and Western Europe formed teams and signed up with The Bridge for short term pioneer mission trips, during which they traveled to unreached regions and shared the Gospel with groups of people who often gathered in the streets out of curiosity to encounter the foreigners.  The team there and then handed out New Testaments and shared the basics of the Christian faith: the Father’s love and being born-again through faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ!  People responded and a pioneer church had been born!  In 1992 and 1993, we facilitated each year an estimated 80 short term mission trips with 500 believers who fanned across the vast regions of the East and the Balkans with the Word in their mouth and love in their heart.  The Gospel prospered through relationships!

In the wake of the huge harvesting machines—the  tele-evangelists, large mission organizations and Western mega-churches with vast resources—entering these nations with Gospel outreaches, then leaving without providing Bibles or training, we realized that there were masses of new-born spiritual babies, but no one to feed them.  There was a void of spiritual leadership!  We felt called to focus on leadership training of the new, indigenous believers, firstly by organizing teaching conferences by renown Bible teachers, later by establishing full and part time Bible Training schools. The first was an 18 month, full time school in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Others followed, till, in 1996, we sponsored 17 schools in varies countries. The graduates became pioneer missionaries and church planters, which we initially sponsored full time, then the support was reduced as they and their churches grew in the ability of self–sustainability.

At the turn of the Century, I wrote: The Bridge’s specific call has been to initiate and support the pioneer phase of the outreaches in helping to identify and raise up the young, indigenous leadership, then come alongside to resource, equip and encourage them without violating their God-given authority and governance. As they and their ministries grow in maturity and  strength, we pull back and eventually give everything into their hands.  Our principle to help raise up and give away causes The Bridge’s home base to remain small, while the fruit of our sowing into God’s Kingdom in the nations keeps expanding!”

FAST FORWARD TO 2013  

Ulrich Steven & RK 2012The expansive, direct involvement of The Bridge  in the formerly communist nations gradually scaled down as the indigenous churches we pioneered with the nationals and their outreaches became self-propagating, self-financed, and self-sustained.  A few years ago, the Bridge base in Holland was closed.  In 2013, our last full time Bridge missionary couple, Peter and Solvei Stohl, returned to the States, where they are now pursuing their God-given gifts and talents in visual arts.  We have always followed the raise-up-and-give-it-away directive, so our home base is again small, but our vision and commission is still clear and vibrant! We continue to sponsor indigenous works, but no longer as initiators; we are support players or equal partners with friends, with kindred heart and like vision, who serve in the field. 

In March, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting South Sudan and spending time with three of our partnering organizations, one of whom we have helped support for a couple of decades. The two young South Sudanese men we helped finance through Bible College in Israel have started their own indigenous outreaches in Juba, assisted with our help.  Bert Cole, a friend and partner from Tennessee, traveled to South Sudan in the Fall to serve among one of the tribes there.  He gave the ultimate gift to the South Sudanese people: His own life.  Bert died  November 10!  His impact during his 23 day stay is visible among the people he served!

The Bridge has all along had a quiet ministry which has been non-public, as it involves supporting those who share the love of Jesus in parts of the Muslim world where being born-again carries a death sentence. There is a fresh wind blowing over the Muslim world! The persecution is severe.  We have first hand information that today in Iran, app. 2000 Muslims per month, have supernatural, direct encounters with Jesus in dreams and visions, embrace faith in Him and boldly face the consequences. Similar reports are surfacing from within other closed countries. A new boldness is evident among these new believers; a new openness in sharing their faith and displaying God’s love and forgiveness.  Social media is a powerful tool in their hands — young people throughout the world are their mission field!

Just before a heavy rain there is a sweet aroma in the air. Today, the fragrant aroma of God’s Spirit is palpable in the Muslim world, like it was across Eastern Europe in 1988-89, just before the Iron Curtain fell.  Is it possible that the wall of Islam is about to fall and Isaiah 60:1-2 is to be fulfilled—that His Light and Glory will appear in darkness—also in the hearts of Ishmael’s sons?2013 Ann Br Rep 2