Missionary Updates

Joe & Beth Batchelder: Joe serves at the AIM airport hangar connecting with missionaries to find out needs and then organizing the personnel and supplies to meet those needs. On a trip in March 2021, he and some teammates spent five days in South Sudan fixing vehicles & solar panels and visiting five villages to support the missionaries working with the native people there. He also took a trip in April 2021 with teammates to help missionaries in Kenya with some electrical and fence work. Beth continues to homeschool the boys and care for their daughter. The kids continued to develop friendships with the neighborhood kids which is a major praise. Joe & Beth enjoy the fellowship of their small group that meets through Zoom especially now that they are now while they are not able to meet for church in person. They are studying the book of Habakkuk and ask us to pray for their church elders as they lead the church in this time.       

Kurt & Christine Bekins: The entire Bekin's family tested positive for Covid and had to work through side effects throughout the month of April 2021. They are all back on the mend now. Christine had a doctor's appointment April 14 where she was given a referral to a cardiologist to address the problems she experienced earlier this year. She was also placed back on a medication to help with her adrenal gland. She will be having a consultation with a University of Michigan doctor soon. The Bekins ask us to be praying for Croatia as the area about an hour of where they are trying to plant a church experienced some earthquakes that have made life very challenging for the people. They also ask us to pray as Kurt will be making a trip back to Croatia this Summer 2021 to check in with teammates, the Herceg's, connect back with the Bible study groups there, and gather some personal items for the family since their medical leave will be extended. 

Mike & Anna Cole:  The Cole's are thankful that they have remained healthy as they continue to serve at the Hospital of Hope through Covid and the beginning of the malaria season. They are rejoicing with teammates that they have had 900 applications to join their next nursing cohort class that will begin this summer. They ask us to pray as the staff chooses 20 candidates to take part. Mike continues to work as a nurse supervisor and is thankful that he completed his Master of Science Nursing degree with a Nurse Educator focus from Cedarville University (Apr 30). He will use this degree to move to becoming part of the hospital training faculty when he returns from furlough during the Cole's next term. The Cole's also celebrate that they were finally able to help with their first Community Health Evangelism training. Over the course of three days twenty-four Togolese people received training to incorporate evangelism/discipleship and community health/development to equip communities to identify issues and start resources to achieve positive and sustainable change. These new trainees will be wonderful partners to reach into the nearby villages with hope of better care and the good news of the Gospel. The Cole's are hoping to help get this program running smoothly over the summer before they leave September 2021. They also ask us to pray for them as they wrap up ministries throughout the summer and pack up in the fall.    

Dan Cook: Kelly Ann Cook went home to be with her Lord and Savior Saturday, February 27. A celebraton of life service took place at Magnify Church (Rockford, MI) Monday, April 12. The service was livestreamed and can still be viewed using this livestream link: magnifychurch.org/kelly-cook-funeral/. Dan was in town for the service. He continues to monitor ministry in Brazil & Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning. 

Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer's have not been able to travel to teach because of Covid closures and concerns. They are still supporting translation projects by working remotely from home. The Grand Rapids office is planning to reopen soon now that staff have started to receive vaccinations and are able to connect safely. The Elmer's ask us to be in prayer for a church in CAR near where the Elmer's used to live as the church builds a new school for children to be taught from a Christian perspective. Most of the labor is being done by the church's own members. The Elmer's also ask us to be in prayer for translation projects and missionaries that are serving across seas as many are facing political unrest alongside Covid complications. The Elmer's have sent some of their support over to places where they cannot visit in person to help with people who are struggling to find neccessities for daily living. They celebrate that some projects have been completed or sent to print: the Tagalog New Testament has been completed, the Sango Bible is at the printer, Sara Kaba scripture portions have been sent to the field, the book of Genesis in the Akha language has been sent to the printer, the Gospel of Mark video has been completed in the Rito language. More projects are underway as well - a true blessing! The Elmer's are also celebrating that Cheryl received a good report at her annual liver transplant checkup!        

Kelly & Sherri Fath:  Kelly & Sherri are working to wrap up their ministry in Europe and move back to the US while they seek God's leading for their next step. They are celebrating that the CEEMed Multiplication Plan was realized with the launch of their new regions April 12, 2021 and ask us to pray for the new directors taking over their ministry. They were blessed to be suprised with a special Zoom meeting April 14, 2021 where their teammates shared photos of their ministry and testimonies of their impact. They hosted their last two youth Zoom hangouts with MK's April 21 & May 19 including honoring their last batch of grads. Sherri enjoyed an online coaching coarse in April & shared at a Women's Connect event online May 8. Kelly preached & taught a mini seminar at their church May 16 and wrapped up his service on the CMI Board of Directors. Emma & Luke are learning a lot at school and even beginning to help Kelly & Sherri with the Slovak language. The whole family has enjoyed some final adventures including a train visit to see friends and touring some local attractions like the UFO Tower & some castles! They plan to load their container the third week of June 2021 and arrive in the US a little later that month. They ask us to pray for their church in Bratislava as they transition from their old pastor to a new one and as they pack up & prepare to leave their home in Europe!      

Tim & Tami Geysbeek: Tim made three single-day visits to Mianoa in February 2021 and one two-week trip to Zaria & Kaduna in March 2021 to do more research for his book collaboration on the history of the Irigwe people and SIM's ministry history with them. He visited three other villages since then to gather helpful information for both books. He was able to finish enough translation work to help further research while he is away visiting the states. The Geysbeek's are grateful that they have made it to the US for their short summer furlough after a 45 hour trip including three flights. They are excited to check in with supporting churches, visit family across the US, pickup supplies for their ministry, and have some routine medical appointments. They are scheduled to return to ministry overseas the end of July 2021 so they are prepared for the beginning of Tami's school year August 11, 2021.   

Caleb & Krystie Hague: Summer is fast approaching and school is almost done for the Hague children. Caleb & Krystie have been busy with their church despite still having to observe covid restrictions. Their church hosted an Easter Open House where families traveled through booths and gathered goodies along with a book explaining the true meaning of Easter. They also provided a walk-thru Easter egg hunt. Families would walk through a darkened room with flashing lights and had to count the number of Easter eggs around. They sent out an Easter video of their church members taking turns reading the Good News of Jesus from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Caleb and the church were able to restart Men's Breakfasts & Bible Study. He also serves on the board for Evangelical Christian Academy in Madrid. Krystie taught a course called "The Philosophy of Church Music" in Spanish for a Seminary in Toledo remotely. The Hague's and their church have many ministry events scheduled including a Baptismal Service, Mother/Daughter Tea (May), and Biblingual Bible Camp (June). The Hague's ask us to pray as Chloe recovers from a fall (broke her left arm), Eden recovers from an eye injury, and Elijah takes an entrance test to attend the academy where Caleb is a board member. They also ask us to pray for the Evangelical Christian Academy as it is searching for many leadership and teaching roles for the fall 2021.  

Daniel & Kristina Herceg: Daniel continues to host their stall at the local Market passing out free Bibles & Biblical Literature. Daniel and partner, Kurt Bekins, reach out through a radio broadcast. Kurt has been sharing the messages on there since Daniel has been supporting his wife and their new baby, Isaiah. Both are doing well and getting settled into their new normal. Daniel and Kristina are meeting with three different families throughout the week to disciple them in Scripture. Daniel also preached in a few churches during the month of May 2021. He wrapped up teaching Greek IV under the mentorship of another professor at the Theological Biblical Academy at the end of May 2021. They ask us to be praying for a concert they are hoping to host in the community June 14, 2021 and for their support level needs as they continue to serve (at just under 3/4 of their full support). They also ask us to pray for an opportunity for Kristina to get her driver's license where they are.  

Jeff & Deb Minniear: Jeff & Deb have continued to stay busy in ministry despite Covid changing their approach and planning. They have been able to host a weekly small group Bible study and Good News Club for kids. The kids club wrapped up for the school year at the end of May 2021. They continue to disciple a neighbor lady every Tuesday and Jeff has also continued to post three devotionals a week on Facebook. Right now he is focusing on the importance of Bible memory. Jeff and teammate/daugher, Holly, are serving on the Bowie Art Committee as an opportunity to reach out to nonchurched people. Jeff is back on a softball team and asks us to be praying for opportunities to reach his teammates. He has been asked to pray before their games already. Jeff has also found time to complete two 15" violas for a Christian School. He asks us to pray for continued opportunities to reach people for Christ through this music donation ministry. The Minniears are planning to partner with a friend to do some neighborhood outreach with doorhangers soon. They are also planning to send 6 mailings to 3685 homes one a week in hopes of starting more Discussion/Bible Study groups. They are looking to host a Vacation Bible School in August 2021 as well.   

Phil & Abigail Perkins: The Perkin's shared a major event that took place recently for us to pray about. Abigail found out she was pregnant only to experience a painful miscarriage including a hospital stay and urgent surgery after an ectopic pregnancy rupture. Though they felt supported by God and their teammates in the area this has discouraged the couple. Phil & Abigail continue to rely on God's strength and healing as they continue the final stages of national language and cultural training. They believe they have about 3 more months of training left including tutoring with language helpers, recordings, translation homework, and interacting socially with their learned vocabulary and customs (Goal: September 2021). Phil took a big survey trip before the recent personal event and he will be sharing about it in an update soon. The Perkin's are still hoping to take a short furlough later this year.  

Andrea Pontier: Andrea is going to be back in the states this month (June 2021) for her home assignment after three years of ministry. She asks us to be praying for the safety and support of her teammates as she is away on this furlough. One of her teammates in another nearby area was killed recently leaving behind a wife, four kids, and a baby on the way. He was a great leader and will be greatly missed. Andrea and her teammate Marlene were able to visit the family before she traveled back to the US. She asks us to be praying for that family, the other teammates in the faith, and her minsitry partner, Marlene, as she returned to their ministry to continue on alone while Andrea is away.   

Ron & Donna Pontier: After much prayer and planning the Pontier's decided to return to the US for Ron's cancer treatment. They were able to find a specialist in Kansas near where some of their grown children are living. Since then Ron was advised to go through chemo treatments and immunotherapy. A PET scan recently revealed a small "something" in the colorectal area. It turned out to be a small tumor that they were concerned would grow. Ron's surgery to remove the tumor, surrounding tissue, and nearby lymph nodes took place May 10. Doctors had to remove more than they originally planned and were hoping that they took all that was needed. Ron has a temporary ileostomy to let things heal. He remained in the hospital for a total of nine days. After looking at all that was removed doctors found that 13 of the 18 lymph nodes were cancerous. He was able to have his stitches removed and healing has gone so well that the doctors have moved up the start of his treatment three weeks. He started chemo and immunotherapy June 1. The Pontier's ask us to pray for this next round of chemo. Ron struggled with health issues during the last rounds, but he is grateful that they are starting earlier so that this fast acting cancer will hopefully be stopped in its tracks. 

Andrew & Leah Postema:  The Postema's camp team is praying for the remaining permits needed for the PACT Romania Ministry Center Master Plan and Rezoning. Please pray that they will receive all 21!  While in the US on furlough the Postema's were busy visiting their supporting churches. They arrived back in Romania (Apr 19) and were happy to find out that they didn't have to quarantine due to covid restriction changes. The shipping container has arrived in Romania. The Postema's ask that we pray for them to receive a waiver freeing them from customs taxes. This would be a huge blessing and allow them to make it through the import process more swiftly. The Postema's also shared that they have settled in and reconnected with their teammates, the Tamas Family. They have already had a camp planning meeting and are looking forward to ministry this Summer 2021. 

Ken & Jinner Rudolph: Ken & Jinner spent weekends in January and most of February at Lake Ann Camp so Ken could speak at four Freezeout Youth Retreats. Ken experienced chest pains at the second retreat, but through testing doctors confirmed that all he needed was regular sleep and less caffeine. During the weeks Ken & Jinner were able to travel to five states where Ken preached a total of 70 times at churches. At the end of February Ken was able to speak at a Men's Retreat and two churches in California. The Rudolphs planned to visit seven more churches throughout March & April 2021. They are also praying they can finally travel to Germany this summer 2021. In the meantime they ask us to pray for Camp Ahorn in Germany as it tries to recover from the cancelled season last year due to Covid. You can give to ABWE: German Camp Fund if you would like to contribute to the camp's needs. 

Jesse Thompson: Jesse shared that they celebrated spirit week at school the last week of April 2021. They have one last school week before they are finished for the year (June 11). He asks to pray as he and the staff minister to students who have lost family members due to the pandemic. As part of a recent lesson, Jesse had his junior high students simulate world leaders resolving an immigration crisis. This was a very good tool to use to connect with those students whose families were considering leaving the area to avoid covid spreading to their own families. During spring break Jesse was able to go on a trip with some young men to stay at a lodge. He was able to form the foundation for some good connections and asks us to pray for opportunities to share the truth of God with them. The Kosovo Learning Academy is in need of a new Science teacher for the next school year. Jesse again asks us to pray for that need and for the new accountability partner that he has paired up with as together they memorize scripture and encourage each other to witness for God. 

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. When the weather is nice 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 and his wife as they minister in Liberia despite the many complications Coronavirus has brought to their ministry. She praises God that Pastor Vaye was able to complete his doctorate and received his degree through the mail. Marilyn also shared that there is a new church & elementary school that has been established by one of the Rogma graduates and they have named the school the "Dr. John E. VandenAkker Elementary School" in honor of her late husband!