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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

logoThe 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.

HIGHLIGHTS

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.

Central Asia

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!

Africa

We continue to invest our resources in one of the most volatile and unstable places on earth—Juba, South SudanMatthew 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.

Haiti

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!

 

2016 November Thanksgiving Greetings

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8309 ANDAMAN ISLAND WORKERS — Mathew Varughese founded and runs Calvary Mission in the Indian Andaman Islands, located in the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and India. FOCUS: Sponsoring evangelism and pioneer church planters, among Hindus and Muslims, orphanages; and a micro business – goat farming. http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2015/06/

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8345 BOSNIAN WORKERS — Robert and Sandrina Jurjevich were missionaries in Sarajevo in the early 1990ties, but were forced out in 1992, when the war broke out.  They continued in ministry, pastoring in Holland and the US, and serving as Bridge staff. Three years ago they moved back to Sarajevo, where they live and serve in the Muslim part of the city. FOCUS: Church planting, discipling, ministry to women and children through their newly built Dobrinja Ministry Center.  http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2015/08/

 

br-rep-11-16-georgia8337 GEORGIA WORKERS — Stephen and Sophia Schmalz have lived and served in the capital of Tbilisi, Georgia for over 20 years. FOCUS: Pillars of encouragement and support to local pastors and their families; they minister in state orphanages; presently engaged in fruitful one-on-one evangelistic outreaches, delivering Bible scripts and tracts among Muslims from the Middle East who live and travel in Europe.   http://www.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/september2010.pdf

 haiti-felix-j-with-child-web8162 RELIEF AID – HAITI8010 HAITI RELIEF AID  —  A farm girl from Pennsylvania, later nurse in New York City, during a mission trip to Haiti, Jeanette Felix got a burden to serve people in the remote, impoverished mountains of Haiti. FOCUS: Has established and sponsors a full time Christian school ages 4-13. Currently, raising funds for the farmers, victims of Hurricane Matthew. http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2013/07/

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8323 HISPANIC WORKERS & 8162 RELIEF AID — HAITI — Jorge Urra is from Cuba; lives now in Miami, FL where he has planted and pastors a local church. Does extensive apostolic work among church planters by training, facilitating, and encouraging pastors and their churches cross-denominationally. FOCUS: Apostolic outreaches with Relief Aid into Cuba, Haiti, Dom. Rep., and other Central and South American countries. http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2016/04/

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8171 HIMALAYAN TRAINING CENTER — Dawa S. Bhutia, an ethnic Tibetan and former Buddhist from Bhutan was Dalia Lama’s personal bodyguard.  He is now a believer in Jesus. FOCUS: founder and leader of Himalayan Good News Networking Ministry.  Dawa has trained and discipled hundreds of pioneer evangelists and church planters who now serve the Lord in mostly rural areas in the Himalayan mountains among Bhutanese, Indians, Nepalese, Tibetans, and more obscure tribes. http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2016/09/

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8162 RELIEF AID — REFUGEES IN IRAQ — The Bridge has joined forces with an Arab friend and partner who travels to Iraq and personally oversees the distribution of the relief aid to the refugees.  With his team, he also ministers to their emotional and spiritual needs.  FOCUS: Serving the least cared for: Christian villagers and the Yazidi people. There are now 500 new believers among them,  being discipled by the local believers under the leadership of our friend.  http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2015/07/

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8338 ISRAEL WORKERS — Due to security considerations, we are not identifying thosewe sponsor in Israel. One is an American gentile, who has lived and worked in the Land for more that thirty years, and has been honored with permanent residency. FOCUS:  A light-bearer for the Gospel to the Jewish people, our partner continues the love-in-action and prayer ministry that Messiah be revealed in the hearts of the people! http://bridgeold.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/november2012.pdf

br-rep-11-16-kalmykia8156 KALMYKIA WORKER — Sarang Badeev lives in the capital of Elista in the Republic of Kalmykia, Russia.  The Kalmyks are the only Buddhists community in the West.  Sarang came to faith in 1985 through an American missionary, Andrew Vincent, who planted a church in Elista, which Sarang began pastoring when Andy returned home. FOCUS: Evangelism, church planting, discipleship.  Sarang also travels to Kalmykian communities and shares his faith in the States, China, and Mongolia.  http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2015/02/

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8341 KAZAKHSTAN WORKERS 1 In the 90’ties, The Bridge was on the cutting edge of pioneering evangelism and church planting in Kazakhstan, and sponsored many of the new indigenous ministres. We rejoice in abundant fruitfulness, as the majority of them are now self-financed and keep growing in grace and knowledge of God. We continue to sponsor Sargon Daniali, an Assyrian Iranian living in Almaty. FOCUS: Evangelism, teaching, and discipling Turkish and Farsi-speaking peoples in Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia.

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8342 KAZAKHSTAN WORKERS 2 — Yermek Balykbekov lives in the city of Karaganda in central Kazakhstan.  He pastors the Kazakh fellowship within a larger, Russian speaking church. A Karate champion, Yermek came to faith in Jesus by visiting American athletes while in Moscow for further training and competition.  Heeding God’s call, he laid down his profession and returned home and planted a church among his Muslim people. FOCUS: Evangelism and pastoral care in the Kazakh language.   http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2014/07/

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8344 KENYA WORKERS — Paul Cowley, South Florida businessman turned missionary, with his wife, Marcia, heard God’s call to leave the comforts of South Florida, and move to Nairobi, Kenya to  minister among the poorest of the poor in the Mathare Valley, one of Africa’s largest slums.  FOCUS: With his team of Discipleship Support Ministries, Paul founded and built a Bible Institute in the slums where he teaches the Word of God, then trains and disciples the Pastors of the Least who live there.  http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2016/02/

 

br-rep-11-16-south-sudan8370 SOUTH SUDAN WORKERS — Matthew Deng Dut, a young South Sudanese, having lived as refugee in Egypt and Israel, the latter where he graduated from Bible College, returned to his homeland and war-torn city of Juba in 2012.  There, he planted a new church among his people who had just returned to the land, Elohim Shalom International Ministry which he had founded in 2005 in Tel Aviv. FOCUS: Evangelism, teaching, discipleship, and prayer based on Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  Project: A Microbank to help people with small loans to start cottage industries. http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2016/03/