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 May 10. They are extremely thankful for God’s providence and grace through this difficult decision and for the ways He carried their family along through the day and a half of travel. They ask us to pray for AIM Air during this time of limited flying and general uncertainty and that they may be able to return to help as God wills.

Kurt & Christine Bekins: Kurt shared that they are no longer restricted to their homes (end of April), our cities (2 weeks ago: beginning of May), or our counties (Monday, May 11). He also shared that food and supplies are not really less, although he did see pictures of home gym supplies sold out at a sporting goods store! The church in Koprivnica held it's last in-person service March 15. Kurt is holding a Bible study on Colossians on Zoom and working on doctrinal statements for the church plant in Bjelovar. He was appointed the Croatian Interim Ministry Director to care for SEND workers in Croatia and report to leadership on ministry progress and COVID-19 updates. Christine is home schooling and keeping the kids busy with play activities indoors. The Bekins reported this week that they are now able to enjoy the park and pass tracts in the area villages while still practicing social distancing.  

Mike & Anna Cole: The Cole family is grateful to have been able to take a short vacation to Cape Town right before the Coronavirus started forcing changes in their region. They did have to leave early in order to get back home before borders were closed for travel though they were delayed and had to go through more safety check points before arriving in Mango. As of April 18 there was only one reported case of COVID-19 in Mango, but the leaders have set a curfew in place to encourage the limit of social gatherings. Though the Hospital of Hope has setup a special isolation ward in case of COVID-19 patients they have not had to treat any yet. The hospital has stopped all elective surgeries and they have noticed a decrease in patients due to the border closures to restrict spread of the virus. The village Bible study the Cole's help to lead has had to stop meeting for safety measures. They are hoping to move forward with building a structure to protect from weather once they are able to meet again in person.  

Dan & Kelly Cook: Kelly’s progression of treatment for 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. She is again home and awaiting the next step in her treatment. During the month of March Kelly also received second opinions from the University of Michigan and Mayo Clinic. Both confirmed her current diagnosis and procedure of treatment prescribed. Dan had to cancel his trip planned for late March through mid-April. He planned to sell their home, car, and some appliances and transfer ministry leadership of Camp Paradise and Good Soil over to ministry partners. He is still hoping to host a short-term mission team from the United States in July 2020. He continues to monitor ministry in Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning. The Cook’s need assistance to pay Kelly’s medical bills amounting to $13,000. Donations can be sent to ABWE designated as Dan & Kelly Cook: Cook’s Medical Expense Account #0110381-015. Thankful for gifts sent to purchase red 2016 Chevy Equinox in the states! 

Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer’s have two of their grandsons living with them due to Liberty University evacuating its campus and their parents still in a mission’s post in Prague (locked down for 7 weeks). Older grandson has been going out to get their essential needs. Still meeting with Bibles International via Zoom. Happy to have made their trips to Myanmar and Israel before the Coronavirus blossomed.   

Kelly & Sherri Fath: Kelly & Sherri are continuing to host meetings and check in on ministry teammates online as border restrictions are still in place across the region. They were excited to celebrate their son's birthday and the reopening of their daughter's preschool for the last month of the school term. Kelly and some teammates helped to write some Reopening Guidelines for ministries and churches to use as a resource in reopening in-person ministries. He also was able to join a retreat via Zoom so he could share a devotional. The Fath's have been attending their weekly church Zoom service. Kelly will be speaking for the Zoom church service in a week. 

Tim & Tami Geysbeek: The Geysbeek’s didn’t face an announcement for closures of their schools until March 19 (Corona Virus in Nigeria 2 cases on March 16 to 362 cases as of April 14). Tami's school finished their year with a closing chapel (online) and class meetings (online). Her school is already talking about opening online in August (They start early August). They shared that they are on 4-day- a- week lockdowns with a 3 day relaxed time for going out to get essentials like food. They can also walk and access the school’s facilities within the compound. Tim is thankful to have been able to make his trip to Bida to continue research on the founding fathers of SIM before the Coronavirus changed those opportunities. Borders in Nigeria are closed, and only essential businesses are open. 

Caleb & Krystie Hague: Spain has been hit hard, but the Hague family is doing well despite facing a stay at home order similar to the US. Spain stayed in Phase 0, but they now are allowing families to travel in a car together.They can still only have one parent take up to three kids on a walk up to an hour within a kilometer of the house. They are attempting to reach out to their church family and the community remotely through Zoom, Facetime, video messaging, and texting. Krystie has been posting music videos of her and her daughter online. She also worked on an online egg hunt and a video that was used for Mother's Day highlighting Proverbs 31 and father's asking their kids questions. Both resources were very well received and used by multiple churches. The kids have been busy with online school, chores, and playing on their patio as weather permits. Caleb has been helping to provide and edit video sermons from their church. Their church was able to deliver bags of food, masks, and a Bible to 20 familes through partnership with the local police department. 

Angie Loper: She is following the stay-at-home order in Michigan and filling her time by completing puzzles, connecting with friends & family on Facebook, and cooking.

Jeff & Deb Minniear: Jeff & Deb are continuing to reach out to their community in Bowie, MD through devotionals Jeff posts on Facebook Monday - Friday.They are continuing to teach their Good News Club through Zoom. This is a children's Bible club that they were starting at Pointer Ridge Elementary School as an after school program. Jeff is also hosting a Spiritual Discussion Group with men he has played on a softball team with. The church plant they have started has continued to meet though they are posting recorded sermons and meeting through Zoom afterward for fellowship. 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. 

Phil & Abigail Perkins: Parts of town are shut down and people are encouraged to stay at home. They are only allowed to meet in groups less than 10. The Perkin’s have been staying at home but were able to meet with their small group for a couple hours over the Easter weekend and recently to celebrate their son, Jonathan's first birthday! They continue with language study and have found a new rental home since the one they are currently living in has to be vacated for the owner’s return. In the area of Indonesia they live in a renter must sign a contract of 1 to 2 years and pay the total rent money in advance. Perkin’s believe that they have the necessary funds and plan to move in early May. Phil continues to engage with 2 to 3 guys for evangelism as he is able. 

Andrea Pontier: There are now 4 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in South Sudan though there are likely more since testing is limited. Teammate Marlene is recovering from a back injury in a guesthouse in Kenya. 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 preparing to move to the village of Ohilang (40 minute walk from current village & 20 minute walk from airstrip) and are happy to have Ron oversee the building of their new home. She 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 are forced to remain longer than planned (original departure March 30) but are thankful to have enough food and supplies to sustain them. They were able to assist Andrea who faced a bad infection followed by a fever and rejoice that they can be near by as she recovers and regains her strength. They were thankful for the two special supply flights that came and are grateful that a third supply flight (May 1) was able to come after many cancellations. This flight was approved since it also carried necessary medical supplies to the villages. They meet with their small ministry team twice a week and host Andrea overnight occasionally. Recently Donna was able to reconnect with her ladies small group in Entebbe over the internet. They are studying the Fruits of the Spirit and have formed prayer partners as well.  

Andrew & Leah Postema: Postema’s were able to host their daughter, Grace, over her spring break at home before sending her back to the states. Grace has now finished her school year and has been transported to family until the Postema's return for their scheduled furlough this summer. Romania is open to essential shopping trips and outside activity, but they are restricting gatherings of size. The Postema's are still hoping to have some of their camp season though having to plan with the staff remotely and realizing that the Coronavirus impact may change any plans they have. They are making good progress on the approvals required for the PACT Romania Ministry Center despite the crisis and were able to visit the property for a family camping trip. They are using Zoom to reconnect with family as many are in the states. 

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 have had to cancel a few planned trips, but are grateful to have an opportunity to have their first sabbatical from ministry in 43 years! Ken has begun writing a book about his life and what God has taught him that he plans to finish over the summer. He is also preparing sermons for Lake Ann Camp to post on Friday's June 26 - August 7 in place of their summer camp season. He will record these at Lake Ann Camp June 6-11. Ken has been able to speak to two Youth Groups via Zoom meetings and has another one planned for June 2020. 

Jesse Thompson: As of April 2, Jesse shared that there were 60 known cases of Coronavirus in Kosovo with two cases known in his city. Updating in May, Jesse shared that there were a lower number of cases and hoped that the worst was behind them. Jesse and the rest of the teacher team for the Kosovo Leadership Academy are in their last learning week of school. They are hoping that they will be able to close with a fifth week of in person social activities. He has started meeting with a teaching couple on Friday evenings and goes hiking with another teacher on Saturday mornings. He is working to memorize 1 Peter in his personal study. Jesse's staff roommate returned to the states and left his manual drive vehicle for Jesse to use as needed so he is also learning how to drive with a stick. Jesse shared that all shoppers are required to where a mask and gloves, but that the food supply is still good. He plans to hire a tutor to continue learning the Albanian language over the summer break. 

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. Most families in that region go out every day for fresh food supplies so this is very different involving social distancing and limiting outside interactions. The churches continue to meet while following health and safety guidelines including social distancing.