Missionary Updates

Joe & Beth Batchelder: Coronavirus hit mid-March in Kenya (just over 100 cases as of April 2), curfew 7 pm – 5 am for all non-essential workers. After much prayer, counsel, discussion, and painstaking deliberation the Batchelder's decided to come back to the US for the birth of their baby girl. They didn't do this lightly. They made the decision on Sunday, April 19 after the US embassy scheduled a repatriation flight for US citizens still in Kenya. They left their home in Nairobi on Wednesday around lunch and arrived at Joe’s parents’ house in Sparta, MI about 35 hours later. They were under a 14 day self-quarantine in Michigan. They are extremely thankful for God’s providence and grace through that difficult decision and for the way He carried their family along through the day and a half of travel. They were happy to announce the birth of their daughter on Father's Day and ask us to pray for AIM Air during this time of limited flying (less than a quarter of normal flights) and general uncertainty (possible ministry restructuring)! They also ask that they we pray for the ablility to return to help in Africa as God wills including the passport process for their new daughter.

Kurt & Christine Bekins: Kurt shared that weddings can happen with limited guests and schools have reopened with safety measures in place. Clubs can meet, but choirs still cannot rehearse in-person. The church in Koprivnica is now meeting in person while using safe practices, but the team is still trying to plan for the reopening of in-person services for the church plant in Bjelovar. The most important part is finding a space for rent for the church to meet. Kurt and his team are considering the start of a radio ministry where they would send out pre-recorded messages on Sunday Morning's on the local station in their area. They have been hosting a stall at the local Market for 3 weeks where they pass out free Bibles & Biblical Literature. They ask us to pray for outreach opportunities through this. They also ask us to pray for their ministry partners Daniel & Kristina as they transition to full time ministry.    

Mike & Anna Cole:  As of August 18 there were 1,200 reported cases of COVID-19 and 27 COVID related deaths in Togo. There is a ban on gatherings of over 15 people and borders are closed to limit spread of the disease. As a result of the border closures only seven short term staff have been able to help through the current Malaria season. The Hospital of Hope has seen about 6,000 new patients on top of returning patients since March 2020. Recently the airport opened to all travelers and they have changed the restriction from a mandatory 14 day quarantine to an immediate negative test result (processing about 48 hours). The Cole's and their coworkers are hoping this will allow for more short term staff to be allowed to come and help. The village Bible studies & team meeting's have had to stop due to the gathering limit, but the Cole's are praying that restrictions will lift soon. The Cole's shared that Anna's pregnancy with baby #2 is going well and they are looking forward to meeting their new child in the late fall. They also ask us to pray with them that Anna's parents will be able to visit around her due date so they can support and celebrate with Mike, Anna, and Benny in person.   

Dan & Kelly Cook: Kelly’s progression of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia has been an induction round of chemo with a 43 day hospital stay, a second consolidation round of chemo followed by a fever with a two week hospital stay, an intermission at home waiting for her blood levels to raise ending recently with a second round of consolidation chemo and another home waiting period. A persistent fever following the second round of chemo sent Kelly back to the hospital for a blood & platelet infusion. Kelly began her third round of chemo Aug 24, 2020. Her treatments have continued and she has another biopsy today Oct 14 where they are hoping that treatment has been successful.  The Cook's move to Florida has again been delayed. Kelly's doctors are working on her next treatment plan that will happen in Grand Rapids. Dan continues to monitor ministry in Brazil & Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning. Dan still needs to go back to Brazil to sell their home, vehicle, and other items before shipping the last of their needed possessions back to the states. They ask that we pray for God's right timing to complete this. They also shared that a large donation allowed Camp Paradise to build a new entrance to their campus and reroof the boy's dormitory before Covid hit. It also has sustained the camp through this time of closure where no groups have been able to come. In May 2020 the camp workshop was broken into and their tractor broke down. Donations came in to replace what was stolen/broken and place bars on the staff house to protect from further theft. If you would like to assist in paying for some of Kelly’s medical bills you can send donations to ABWE designated as Dan & Kelly Cook: Cook’s Medical Expense Account #0110381-015.

Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer’s had two of their grandsons living with them following Liberty University's evacuation of its campus. The young men have since moved on to stay with other family and begun work for the summer. The Elmer's still meet with Bibles International staff and connect with family via Zoom. They were happy to have made trips to Myanmar and Israel before the Coronavirus restricted overseas travel.They celebrated becoming first time great grandparents with the birth of their great granddaughter last May, the 50th anniversary of their missionary ministry and their 55th wedding anniversary this past June 2020!      

Kelly & Sherri Fath: Kelly & Sherri spent some time this summer in the US and have now made it safely back to Bratislava. During their time in the US they met with other ABWE directors, spent time with family, and connected with a few of their supporting churches. The pastor and wife of the Fath's church in Bratislava have determined that God is leading them to transition back to their home country of South Africa and hope to move at the end of 2020. Kelly has continued to serve on the Pastoral Search Team by helping to develope an online survey for the congregation and meeting to discuss potential candidates. The Fath's shared that their Regional Conference has been changed from in-person to online October 16-21. They ask us to pray for wisdom and creativity as they plan. They also ask us to pray as they must continue to connect with ministry co-workers online due to reinstituted border closures and COVID restrictions throughout Europe. Kelly will be working on two new regional intiatives including leadership structure changes and a potential partnership with church planters. He has a CMI Board meeting Nov 3 and Regional Leaders Meeting Nov 4-5. Emma started school September 7 and they ask us to pray her kindergarten year goes well!  

Tim & Tami Geysbeek: The Geysbeeks celebrated one year of being back in Nigeria (July13)! Tami's school opened (Aug 5) and is still fully online with students dropping off their work packets and picking up new ones every Friday two students at a time. They just received an annoucement from the state that schools can open for in-person instruction in October 2020. They ask us to pray for Tami and the staff as they plan how to resume teaching in this new normal. Tim started teaching "Church History II" for Jos Theological Seminary August 12 online, but is now teaching in-person with safety measures in place to a limited number of students. He also connects with some remote students by telephone and irregular meetings. The Geysbeeks can walk and access the school’s facilities within the compound, but continue to wear masks during the limited times they are out in public.They shared that a student of Tim's was recently reunited with his uncle who had been captured and held by a terrorist group for 300 days as well as a pastor friend who had been kidnapped at the end of Sept 2020. 

Caleb & Krystie Hague: Spain has been hit hard, but schools were able to re-open and are even required for families to take advantage of. Caleb has been helping to provide and edit video sermons from their church. Sunday, June 28 was their first in-person service though they continue to provide livestream links since church families are still being impacted by the coronavirus. Their church recently had a wall taken down so they can accomodate more people while practicing social distancing in-person. Caleb is working hard to put up a moveable wall and reorganize following the demolition. Krystie has been working on a kid's program where they can share weekly videos since they are still restricted from providing children's programming. The Hague's celebrated the adoption of a 4.5 month old Spanish water dog that they have named Finn and are celebrating further with the addition of a new missionary teammate! They ask us to pray as they prepare to lead worship at the annual Portugal/Spain missionary retreat/conference.    

Angie Loper: She has carefully started re-engaging in the HHBC Morning services and continued filling her time by completing puzzles, connecting with friends & family on Facebook or in limited groups, and cooking.

Jeff & Deb Minniear: Jeff & Deb are continuing to reach out to their community in Bowie, MD through devotionals Jeff posts on their church Facebook page three times a week (70 to 90 viewers recently). They taught their Good News Club on Zoom through May 2020 with a record high of 6 students, more than when teaching in person! This was the children's Bible club that they started at Pointer Ridge Elementary School as an after school program. They led an in-person VBS August 2020 after receiving positive feedback from parents. It went so well so they have continued hosting Good New Club at their house on Wednesday Nights starting October 14. Jeff hosted several Spiritual Discussion Groups May - July with men he played on a softball team with. After some time the men wanted to start meeting in person so they have transitioned to that approach. Jeff has continued to play on the softball team through short tournaments. The church plant they started has continued to meet in person on Sunday's and they have had some recent visitors join. Jeff is using his added free time to build gift violins for the elementary school's string program. The Minniears are praying these violins lead to a relationship with the music teacher, students, and their families. He has made five so far and is working on finishing another set of five for another school the music teacher also teaches at. He plans to contact the Middle and High schools to see if he can build full size violins to donate to them in order to build their ministry to more families. Lasly, the Minniear's shared that Deb totaled their car in an accident Wednesday (Sept 23). She is sore and will be checked by a doctor, but seems to be doing alright. Jeff & Deb ask us to pray for wisdom & direction in finding a new vehicle.  

Phil & Abigail Perkins: The Perkins took their third set of language evaluations covering oral & written language comprehension as well as cultural understanding the last week of July. They received their results and both did very well!  The Perkin's are looking at a potential furlough fall 2021 since they will likely be finished with their lanugage and cultural studies so it will be good timing before taking the next step in their ministry journey and they are hoping travel restrictions due to Coronavirus are lessened by that point. They have been able to meet in person with their local church and ask us to be praying with them about where God would have them serve following the completion of their training. In August 2020 they were able to take a five day trip to a remote village to see how another couple serves. Although they did have a minor car accident on the way back where the mirror was taken off they are all safe and looking foward to the next step of their ministry!   

Andrea Pontier: Andrea's teammate Marlene has recovered and joined Andrea back in the field. South Sudan’s borders are locked down, but village life remains largely the same. Andrea was treated for a very bad skin & lymph infection with an antibiotic, but though the infection was cleared a fever began that lasted on and off for over two weeks. After her fever left completely, she traveled to the nearest hospital with a teammate. They received masks and volunteered the use of their vehicle to the hospital in case of a need. The hospital has since connected with Andrea’s team to let them know if a case pops up near them, they can call and a staff member from the hospital will come out to them. Andrea and Marlene are celebrating the ending of their home building in the village of Ohilang (40 minute walk from previous village & 20 minute walk from airstrip) and are happy to have had Ron oversee it. Andrea is grateful to celebrate the 2nd year anniversary of her arriving in South Sudan! 

Ron & Donna Pontier: Pontier’s were helping their daughter’s team to build an extension to their air strip and a new home when the Coronavirus caused South Sudan to close their borders as well as Kenya and Uganda. They were forced to remain longer than planned (original departure March 30) but are thankful to have had enough food and supplies to sustain them. Once Andrea's house only needed painting and plumbing the Cook's traveled to Kenya to take a break after six months in South Sudan so that Ron could have testing done to find out why he was having intestinal issues and pain. He had a CT scan which showed thickening and enlarged lymph nodes indicating a potential for colon cancer. Ron had a colonoscopy that did confirm cancer was present (Sept 17). After much prayer and planning they decided to return to the US for Ron's treatment. They were able to find a specialist in Kansas near where some of their grown children are living. They flew back Sept 22 and had an appointment for a preliminary consultation Sept 23. The consulation included an exam and more biopsies to be sure of the tumor's location. Ron had an appointment with a surgeon at the Cancer Center of Kansas Tuesday, Sept 29. He had an MRI Oct 5 confirming the placement of the tumor and since then has had a chemo port placed. Ron has a PET scan Oct 16 and they ask us to be praying for the treatment plan following all these results. Ron is still dealing with pain and they ask for us to be praying for his relief in God's timing as well.   

Andrew & Leah Postema: Romania is open to essential shopping trips and outside activity, but they are restricting gatherings of size. The Postema's shared that they had to cancel their regular camping season though they worked with some churches to provide day camps. The team was approved for a challenging permit for the PACT Romania Ministry Center and believe that the remaining permits needed for the Master Plan and Rezoning will continue to come through. Please pray that they will receive all 21! Before returning to the states the Postema family was able to visit the property a few times for personal camping trips and were able to take a few families along with them the last time. The Postema's have returned to the states for a furlough. During their time in the US all three children will be working to get their driver's license. The family has delivered Rose to Moody Bible College for her freshmen year. They are starting to visit their supporting churches and planning for speaking at the Exile Retreats for Lake Ann Camp in October 2020. 

Ken & Jinner Rudolph: Ken & Jinner were able to visit some supporting churches and speak at three Lake Ann winter retreats before COVID-19 changed all their plans. They had to cancel a few planned trips, but were grateful to have an opportunity to have their first sabbatical from ministry in 43 years! Ken worked on writing a book about his life and what God has taught him that he plans to finish as God wills. He battled shingles during the time he recorded sermons for Lake Ann that were posted over the summer. He enjoyed speaking for the reinstated shortened Lake Ann Camp Summer Season for five weeks where 39 campers were saved! The Rudolph's are still not able to travel to Europe because of travel restrictions, but are grateful that their son and family were able to visit for a prolonged stay this past summer. Ken will be participating in an online Student Leadership Conference sponsored by the Association of Christian Schools International with about 300 students taking part. He has also recorded sermons for Caorlina University's chapel and English Camp in Germany. He will be speaking at many churches in the coming fall. They ask us to pray for Camp Ahorn in Germany that is struggling financially due to the cancellations of many group retreats. You can give to ABWE: German Camp Fund if you would like to contribute to their needs. 

Jesse Thompson: Jesse shared that school started in-person Monday, September 21 delayed from the end of August due to the government mandate for schools to start after September 14. Four new staff members joined and were able to arrive safely amidst the pandemic restrictions. Jesse's host family that was teaching him the Albinian language tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of the summer. They have all recovered, but it did delay his planned training. He has still been able to go on hikes with some colleagues and has been able to re-engage in-person with his small group for Bible study. He asks us to pray with him for opportunities to share the gospel and invite others to the the study. He also asks us to be in prayer for families still dealing with the Coronavirus and it's effect on their homes and families. 

Marilyn VandenAkker: Marilyn has family that lives close by in Roanoke and is happy to meet them weekly for a dinner and to play some games. She goes out for walks twice a day maintaining the practice of safe social distancing. She asks us to pray for Calvary Baptist Church and the VandenAkker's former partner Pastor Larque Vaye as they minister in Liberia where the Coronavirus has created major changes to daily life. Marilyn shared in early July that Pastor Vaye's wife and the wife of the Rogma Ministry director were both ill and medical help is difficult so she asked that we pray for their healing.