Archived Prayer Concerns

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June 2012 concerns

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May 2009 concerns

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October 2007 concerns

July 2007 concerns

February 2007 concerns

July 2006

February 2006 concerns

December 2004 concerns

March 2004 concerns 

June 2012 Prayer concerns

1. We are hosting a summer worker named Hannah for the summer. Pray that she would see those things the Lord wants her to see and hear those things the Lord wants her to hear while she is in Chageen.  

2. We are beginning the translation of Revelation into Kwong. Pray that we would render this, the story of the consummation of the  Kingdom of God, is the most clear, concise way for generations of Kwong men and women to come.

3. We have been looking for a chance to raise our concerns about the Kwong church with the church leaders on the national level. So far we have not had that opportunity. Pray that we would have a chance to winsomely express our hopes and dreams for the Kwong church and that the leaders in question would take the decisive steps that only they can take to help see our dreams become a reality.

4. Thank the Lord of the rays of spiritual light which seem to be flooding Diane's ministry with Kwong women. She has a core group of about 8 women who are really dedicated to hearing and obeying the the Word and seeking the Lord in prayer.

May 2011 Prayer requests as we return to Chad 

  1. Pray that we find everything in order on our return. There is simply no telling what can go wrong during 7 months of absence. Specifically, we would be thrilled to find the radio station working normally, the clinic treating a lot of patients, Jonas still meeting with the kids, our house and equipment in good repair, our car working properly, and our cats healthy.  

2.      As you may recall, Mark pursued ordination during this time at home in the hope that doing so would open up new doors for ministry and influence among the Kwong pastors. Seeing this happen will entail some quite delicate, diplomatic approaches to the church hierarchy in the capital. Pray for us as we make these approaches over the next 6 months. Pray that one way or another, we will come into a new era of responsiveness and seriousness on the part of Kwong pastors.

3.      The work we do is by nature tedious. Translation work (which Mark does mostly), and producing radio programs (which Diane does a lot of) is painstaking, slow, and sometimes outright boring. The Lord knows how many times a sleep attack would just clobber us at 10 AM. Pray for stamina. 

4.      We have been surprised at how healthy we have been for over a year. Even seven months in the USA passed without a bout of the flu or a cold. We take none of this for granted, still less the plethora of African diseases which await us in a few days. Do not cease to pray for our health! 

5.      We have searched high and low during this time in the USA for a midwife and a couple to come help us raise up a new generation of Kwong children. We return to Chad with nothing certain on the midwife, and not even a nibble concerning the kids’ workers. We really need these people to come join us. Please pray to that end. 


December 2010 Prayer concerns

  1. Pray that we would comport ourselves with grace and dignity. We want young people especially to be attracted to missionaries.

  2. Pray that we would find just the right couple who is willing to come to Chageen to work with us in training Kwong children and young adults. (Click here for more on this.)

  3. Pray that we would find a midwife who is willing to come to Chad to work with us. (Here's more information.)

  4. Pray that all the equipment of the radio station and our home keeps working well in Chageen in our absence and that none of our close Kwong colleagues get sick or die on us. 

  5. Pray for Mark as he has quite a few sermons to prepare and deliver. He can get pretty stressed out with them.

  6. Pray for our safety on the highways.

  7. Pray that nothing (such as health problems) would hinder our return to Chad on June 1.

May 2009 Prayer concerns

1. We really need to find a young man with high intelligence and a servant heart to train as a nurse and then come back to Chageen as a replacement for Lambert, who is getting old and tired. The problem is that in Chad, high intelligence and a servant heart are usually mutually exclusive. We believe that the Lord has his man, though, and we await his direction in this matter.

2. Pray that the new openness the pastors have towards Mark's influence in their lives doesn't end. Not just Mark's ministry, but the entire future of the Kwong church hinges on the willingness of these pastors to take seriously their calling as shepherds of the Lord's people.

3. We thank the Lord that we have enjoyed unusually good health since coming back to Chad last October. Pray that this good health continues. It does so much for our productivity when we feel hale and hearty. 

4. Keep praying for the 7 timeless requests

5. We have had a long-running court battle for the last 9 years to recover $20,000 which was swindled from us in the course of the purchase of our Land Cruiser. Pray that we make some more progress in this matter.

October 2008 Prayer concerns

Also see our "7 timeless prayer concerns"

1. Pray for us as we return to Chad on October 20-21. These trips are always very stressful. Pray especially for our baggage - we have a lot of it.  Between tightened restrictions on the part of the airlines, the possibility of our baggage getting lost, and the ever present fear of our belongings being seized by the customs officials in Chad and held for ransom, we have much to trust in the Lord for. (Our trip went well and all our baggage arrived with no problems. After the initial shock of coming back to what is still a very disorderly country, we felt once again at ease.)

2. During the months of November and December we will be making preparations for the arrival of a work team on December 27 from First Baptist Church in Sycamore IL to put the roof, windows, and doors on the new clinic. Preparation will entail arranging for the fabrication by welders of the windows and doors, and the ordering the lumber and other supplies necessary for the roof. Pray that all these preparations go smoothly. 

3. The work team from Sycamore arrives on December 27. Pray that they stay healthy, that they are able to work safely, and especially that we are able to arrange for MAF to bring them into Chageen and back out again by plane. We have had considerable difficulties making these arrangements. (The MAF flights all went perfectly, but we had to haul extra aviation gas down to Chageen in our truck to make it happen. As it turns out, we used the last fuel MAF had. One of the team members was sick for several days, but all in all, the work went well and it is fair to say that we could never have done this project without their help. Our only regret was that various unforeseen complications in the work meant that we did not accomplish as much as we or they might have wished.)

4. We feel a considerable urgency about getting going on translation again. The country is very unstable with almost constant warfare, and we feel like our time might be running out. Pray that the manifold distractions of Africa are kept at bay so we can concentrate on the task at hand. Pray that the country does not descend into complete chaos and civil war. (Chad continues to experience a moderate level of insecurity, but this has not affected our work significantly. As the clinic construction draws to a close, we have been able to devote considerably more quality time to translation than previously.)

October 2007 Prayer concerns

1. We expect to return to the USA in April of 2008, and we are looking for housing in the Springfield/Cedarville area of Ohio for 5 months (May-September 2008). We will also be looking for a good used car. ( A ministry called MATS - Missionary Auto and truck service - which is just an hour south of Diane's parents' house leased us a very nice Ford Focus for $500 a month. We also blessed with a nice house in Cedarville and another one in Union City.) 

2. Before we return to the States, we would like to finish the first draft of the gospel of Luke. Several different factors have put this project behind schedule. (The work on the construction of the clinic made this impossible. We got as far as chapter 9.)

3. We will also be constructing the masonry superstructure of a new clinic building during the months of February and March before going home. Pray that funding is available in a timely manner and that construction goes smoothly. Mark really doesn't look forward to yet another building project, but we have no choice. We expect to construct the roof and do the finishing work (windows, doors, etc) with the help of work teams from the States in late 2008 after finishing our home assignment.  

4. Continue to pray that our lawsuit to recover $20,000 stolen from us would receive a favorable judgment in the Chadian courts.  The mission was defrauded of the money during the purchase of our truck 7 years ago. The defendants have appealed an earlier decision in our favor. The main defendant has disappeared. Pray that he would be located. (We received a favorable jugement from the courts which is binding on the defendents, but since the main guy seems to be in Belgium, we are not having an easy time getting this money back. In Chad, you basically hire a bounty hunter to get your money back, which we have done. We fired the first one, and now seem to have a good one.)

July 2007 Prayer concerns

1. We have had a multitude of health problems this past month. Mark very badly sprained his big toe and the ball of his foot in an ill-advised altercation with a pig who was rooting in our front yard. Just getting an x-ray had proven difficult, and getting proper treatment impossible. After nearly 3 weeks it is showing no sign of healing. Then Diane had some slight cardiovascular distress one afternoon during the Vacation Bible School in Chageen, which is, of course, never something to be taken lightly. We came to N'Djamena for both these problems. We got an ECG for Diane, which the Chadian cardiologist interpreted as normal, but which we wish could be interpreted by a westerner. Then, while in N'Djamena trying to get these other health issues taken care of, Diane badly strained her left shoulder. We thank the Lord for the many years we have had of comparable health, but we do pray that we might get the help Mark needs and the counsel Diane needs. Please pray with us. (October 2007 - Mark's foot healed after 8 weeks of hobbling around on home-made crutches, and the pig in question met an untimely demise at the tip of a spear. Diane's heart has been behaving itself, which has been a relief.) 

2 We thank the Lord for Lambert's  willingness to provide much needed health care to the people in Chageen (see home page). Right now, he is still living in Lai, 50 miles away and commuting to Chageen for 3 day stretches. The poor chap who manages to get sick when Lambert isn't there doesn't have many options. We would really like to have Lambert live fulltime in Chageen, and this is indeed Lambert's desire as well. For this to happen, he needs to be assigned by the government as the official nurse of Chageen and entered into the government payroll system. Obviously this involves all kinds of bureaucracy for which the only remedy is prayer. (October 2007 - Lambert was absent for almost the entire month of September, but has been working in the dispensary very regularly during October. He has made considerable progress on his house, and his wife has made noises about coming to Chageen soon. Keep praying) 

3.Please continue to pray for our work with the children. The week-long VBS program with Mary and Miriam was a real boost to the whole ministry. Now we need to continue on. Diane would like to spend time each week with the teenaged girls. We will of course continue to teach Sunday School, and we would also like to take the rather substantial corpus of recordings we have accumulated and develop a children's program for the radio. In a nut shell, we regard the children's ministry of Kwong as being essential to the long-term existence of the church. (October 2007 - Children's ministry has assumed the status of a pillar of our ministry among the Kwong. Diane is discipling between 10 and 20 young Kwong women and girls every Thursday morning - trying to persuade them to live lives of purity and wisdom. This is proving a very fruitful use of her time. We would still like to see something similar with Mark discipling the pre-puberty boys. )

4. Having recently completed Colossians, we are contemplating what we will translate next. A collection of Psalms or a gospel are at the top of the list. Whatever it turns out to be, please pray for us. It is very difficult to translate without Laurent. Also, pray that the Lord would lead us to someone capable who can replace Laurent over the long haul.  (October 2007 - We have found a very capable replacement for Laurent in the person of François Kinamati - a chap who we used to regard as not gifted in translation, but who has recently demonstrated otherwise. We look forward to working with François.)

February 2007 Concerns

1. For most of last year Mark worked on surveying and drawing the plat the property that our home, the church, the radio station, clinic, granary, and several other buildings sits on. On December 14 this plat was presented to the relevant civil authorities and immediately hit a huge roadblock in the person of a very corrupt government official. We have recently had some hope that maybe we can circumvent him, but it really is a matter of prayer. (Update - July 2007 - it seems we have little choice at this point except to await the official's transfer to another location and the arrival of someone who is less corrupt.)

2. Pray for us as we begin to experiment with different ways of translating the Kingdom of God materials from Kwong into Gabri. We want to find a reliable way of translating and reliable translators so that we do not have to learn the language ourselves. The main question is whether we need to go through a written stage in the translation process, or whether we can go straight to a recorded translation, seeing as how we want it for the radio. (Update - July 2007 - Our two main candidates for doing this translation were staff at the Evangelical Clinic. They were both transferred out of Chageen in the course of the clinic being closed in April. So we are pretty much back to square one on this effort.)

3.  For nigh on 7 years we have had a court case in the capital N'Djamena trying to recover $20,000 which was stolen from us by Arab merchants in the course of the purchase of our Land Cruiser back in 2000. The case is coming to a head. Pray for a favorable outcome. (Update July 2007 - The case was ruled in our favor, and now we await the decision on the part of the defendants whether to appeal or not.)

4. Pray for the work we are doing with children. (See update in July 2007 above)

July 2006 Concerns

1. We have had some rumblings of discontent on the translation committee, with the expectation on the part of some of them that we finance their agricultural endeavors, especially the hiring of the oxen then need to plow their fields etc. Pray that we would be very wise in dealing with this potentially contentious issue. They have already stopped their work for two weeks in early July over this. (February 2007 - The rumblings were real, and serious. In the end, however, Luke, the main grumbler, was brought to his knees in repentance, thanks in part to a very stern lecture by Pastor Pierre. Of course Laurent has left to do further studies up the road in Ba'illi, and is not expected back before June at the earliest.)

2. Pray that David would really master the digital editing software on the computer. He really needs to do better at it, so we don't have to spend so much time redoing everything he does. (He's doing better, but still hasn't developed that attention to fine detail which we wish for. Still, he is a gem, and to think that a year ago he had never touched a computer!)

3. Pray for our health - especially that we would not get malaria. It is the season when there are lots of mosquitoes, and the risk is especially high. Pray for the Kwong people, too. This is the season when they are particular likely to be bit by snakes and to get terrible check infections (as well as malaria.) (Both of us did get malaria, and it wasn't any fun.)


February 2006 Concerns

1. Our major concern for this month has to do with bringing the radio station work under control so we can do other things like translation and teaching. To that end, we are asking the Lord to direct Theo and us to exactly the right Kwong men who can run the station and train them to do the job. The really tricky part of this is choosing men whose attitudes will not be a bane to us in the years to come. We need to choose an engineer who can control the station, someone who can edit programs on the computer, and some fellows who can do the actual talking during our broadcasts. 

Update - July 2006 As we have written more completely in our July 2006 newsletter, the Lord has led us to David Gouptaan, who is just the kind of man we were praying for - a great attitude, a great DJ, and someone who is learning the ropes of the computer very rapidly. We feel very much like the station is at last under control. Thanks be to God.

2. The radio tower has a nice curve in it from heavy winds last year while we were in the USA. It needs to be reinforced with cables before the next heavy winds come in July. This means climbing some 60 feet up the tower to attach the cables and considerable engineering of the concrete anchors, size of cable etc. Mark is responsible for this and needless to say is WAY out of his depth. Pray for wisdom, safety, and that the tower would again stand straight.  

Update July 2006 - the tower has not been completely straightened, but it is very well reinforced now. We thank the Lord for the safety and courage he afforded Mark to undertake this very difficult engineering task. 

3. Pray that we would have a good working relationship with Theodore. We are all in our 40's, and have all had considerable experience as singles with all the attendant stubbornness. Working together as threesome is sometimes a challenge, though overall it has been a good relationship. 

Update July 2006 - Now a moot point since Theo left Chad in March. 

4.  We are getting a new pastor next door. Pastor John, with whom we have had many a misadventure through the years is moving on and will be replaced by Pastor Pierre who is still something of an unknown quantity. Pray that we work well with Pierre. 

Update July 2006 - Pastor Pierre is a gem, as our July 2006 newsletter attests. 

Prayer concerns (March 2004)

  • The first four-day ladies' Bible seminar is taking place from March 30 to April 3. This will be a very intense time for Diane and for Sally Maclure, a fellow missionary who will be coming to Chageen to help teach. Please pray that Diane and Sally and their Chadian coworkers stay healthy and bear up under the tremendous strain that these kinds of seminars are. Diane will be "preaching" in Kwong. Pray the many catholic and pagan women who will also be attending will meet God in a way they never have before. 
  • The second pastoral retraining seminar will take place from April 5-17. We expect twice as many men - pastors and laymen - as the first time around. Pray that 
- it is an intense spiritual time for the men and not just an intellectual one.
- that we can manage the logistics of feeding and housing them all. 
- that we stay healthy during this period
- that the many Catholic men who attend will see the beauty and glory of Christ in a way they never have before. 
  • During the month of May we will be packing for furlough and making arrangements to leave our house empty while we are gone. Pray that we are able to leave Chageen gracefully, having taken care of everything that needs our attention.

Prayer Concerns (December 2003)

  1. From December 7 to 22, we will probably be having the first of a cycle of 6 multi-week sessions to retrain all the Kwong pastors over the coming three years. As many of them can barely read, let alone preach, this is key to the future of the Kwong church. Please pray specifically that:
  • The session actually happens. There has been some serious misunderstandings which threaten to abort the whole project. (March 2004 The misunderstanding kept some men away who probably would have just made trouble anyway. As it turns out, the guys who did come enjoyed it so much that the guys who didn't come were put to shame.)
  • That the Kwong pastors would be much enriched by the teaching and revived spiritually. (March 2004 - It couldn't have been a richer time - especially with the songs that Diane had the men write based on the scriptures we were teaching.)
  • That Satan have no recourse to bring division and acrimony among the attendees. 

Diane will also be teaching on and encouraging the development of indigenous hymns based on the scripture that we have translated. Pray that her teaching is well received and results in some new hymns, For starters, they want to put the first 6 verses of Psalm 96 to music.

  1. The Evangelical Clinic of Chageen is quite literally collapsing around the staff working in it. We are trying to raise funds to rebuild the structure, but are insisting that key internal reforms be instituted before raising any money. These reforms have been heartily endorsed by the highest levels of the Church hierarchy, but are being resisted at the local level. Pray that we are able to clear these roadblocks and they everyone concerned will be of one heart and mind to make this key ministry effective. (March 2004 - There still remains considerable work to get the clinic back on a sound financial footing, but we are making progress. We laid off one employee, and have asked the powers that be to lay off another employee. This is very difficult, but essential to bring salaries into line with receipts)
  2. We have submitted a grant application to a large radio ministry in the USA to fund the Chageen radio station. In January we will find out whether our application will be viewed favorably.  We have also received considerable gifts from various among you which has already got us off to a good start. The 96 foot antenna tower and solar equipment arrived recently from the USA. (March 2004 - The grant application has bee accepted and the ministry in question is very interested in working with us in more than just the financial aspect. They have gone far beyond what we ever imagined might come of it all.)

Prayer Concerns (May 2003)

1. Pray the the Lord would help us recover the $16,000 stolen during the purchase of our Land Cruiser. (December 2003 - The wheels of justice are turning ever so slowly. Pray that we would obtain the benefits of honest court officials to render justice.)

2. Pray that the Lord would sovereignly intervene in the various government offices we deal with on a weekly basis as we try to tie up the loose ends of Jeremiah's embezzlement of Mission funds before Carl and Sandy return. (December 2003 - To date, he has paid back less that 10% of the amount he embezzled. We fear he is up to no good. He has, meanwhile, been restored to the good graces of the church where he is an elder. We are shocked.)

3. Pray that we would wisely choose a new administrative assistant for our N'djamena Office. (December 2003 - We got a real gem of a chap named Urban. He is working out very well in the office. It was really quite miraculous how we got him. One morning, Mark was dissimilating whether he should hire someone or not, and mentioned to Diane that maybe he should get in touch with Urban. Of course, since Mark was so wishy-washy about it, he never would. The Lord knew best though, and an hour later who should walk into the office but Urban himself. We hired him on the spot and have no regrets.)

4. Pray that the schemes of Is.lam would be confounded as they attempt to take over Kwongland by the construction of mosques. (December 2003 - Still no sign of anything happening. Mark, however, has had some very rich spiritual contact with the head M guy in Chageen. Pray for him.)

Prayer Concerns (December 2002)

1. Please pray for us as we choose a Chadian to employ as the principle administrative assistant of the mission. We have several candidates, each with different strengths and weaknesses. We need to make a good  choice. Firing an employee is almost impossible here, so you have to "get it right" the first time in choosing someone. (As of May 2003 we still haven't hired anyone and seem to be getting along just fine without anyone. However, we really should get someone before Carl and Sandy come back and are beginning to feel the pressure of making some kind of decision)

2. Pray the the Lord would frustrate the efforts of the Mus.lims to construct the mosques in Chageen and Ngam. (See our newsletter for more details.) (So far for reasons we do not understand the Muslims have not built the mosques in question. For this we thank the Lord Jesus.)

3. Please continue to pray for our safety in N'Djamena. The Lord has been good to us, but this city remains dangerous in many ways. While not particularly dangerous, we are frequently annoyed by police blockades which often turn into petty extortion schemes. (Since we have taken over this job we have not been molested in any way. However, we continue to have very unpleasant experiences with the police.) 

4. Continue to pray for the church in Kwongland - that in spite of our absence this year they would be strengthened in their faith and mature in their love and honor for God. Pray that the discipleship materials we have developed over the years will be effective tools in the growth of Kwong believers.

Prayer Concerns (June 2002)

As we write we have already moved to N'Djamena and have begun to assume the administrative duties which we will be discharging this coming year. We are experiencing life in the big city and learning  about all the little things that we need to stay on top of here, and are sometimes overwhelmed by it all. So how can you pray more specifically in the months ahead? We were able to boil it down to the three areas below.

  1. Wisdom and Grace in administrative responsibilities for the next 14 months We need grace as we relate to missionaries, government officials, church leaders, neighbors and thieves on the street. Pray for wisdom as we handle banking, purchase supplies, arrange airline tickets, handle official documents and other responsibilities for our whole Chad field. (December 2002- We have been faced with challenges which we would have never imagined when we began this job. Chief among them is catching an employee who has served the mission for many years defrauding the mission of money in a big way. The Lord gave us several providential "breaks" in this investigation and then brought wise people along side us who helped us bring what could have been a very messy affair to graceful and decisive conclusion. We asked for "wisdom and grace" and we got it. Thanks for praying.)
  2. N'djamena, as any city, has a large number of thieves and people ready to trick even the wisest of missionaries into a corner where they have no option but to part with their money, car, or other possessions. In addition, the pedestrian and vehicle traffic makes a simple trip across town seem almost suicidal. (December 2002 - we have so far foiled at least two fraud schemes. We have not, however, managed to escape the extortion schemes a some police blockades. In every other way we have been protected by the Lord.)
  3. History shows that when a church has been forced to stand on its own, i.e. the missionaries are suddenly out of the picture, the church has often grown spiritually as it relies on God and not the missionary. Pray for the translation team and other Kwong leaders to take and use the discipleship materials that are available in Kwong to teach and disciple others. Pray for spiritual growth among the Kwong people. (December 2002 - It's hard to say how the church is doing, but the arrival of a big mosque building scheme is sure to have some kind of impact - it only remains to see whether it will be negative or positive.)

Prayer Concerns (December 2001)

  1. We just get tired of work. Life here is not convenient, and even the "real" missionary work is often weary-some. We don't want to sound like a bunch of whiners - we slug it out just like any of you do in difficult jobs. But we need your prayer for strength, and a spirit of endurance. It sounds so simple, but prayer-wise it is so basic. We need the Lord's strength. See Top Five # 3 below. (June 2002 - We took a 6 week vacation in France and the USA and have returned to Chad much refreshed.)
  2. As we have written in our news summary, we will be taking over the administration of the mission in N'Djamena for a year beginning in June 2002.(See the news summary.) This means that we have a lot to tie up in Chageen before we move up to the capital. Most significantly,  Mark wants to finish completely all six volumes of the discipleship lessons and send them to press. (June 2002 - Mark finished writing and translating all six volumes of the discipleship material. The sixth and final volume will need some additional proofing, but is essentially done. Mark is very, very glad to have achieved this milestone.)
  3. During the months of January and February we will be traveling around Kwongland teaching and preaching. Pray especially for wisdom on how to address the Roman Catholics in our area, as well as how to address the Muslims. (June 2002 - we had an effective time of ministry in quite a few different villages, notwithstanding the frustrations having to do with John's shenanigans.) 
  4. Pray for safety. Several of us have been the object of crime recently. One of our colleagues had his truck taken at gun point. Breakdowns and rollovers on the roads are a perennial concern. See Top Five #4 below.

Prayer Concerns (August 2001)

  1. The aftermath of the conflicts we have had with the translation committee continues (see our newsletter). Laurent showed significant contrition, and we feel like we're reconciled with him. To a great degree we can say the same of Joseph, though he hasn't been as forthright as Laurent. Luke is an entirely different story. He egged the other two guys on in their rebellion, and has not avowed his wrongdoing in any way but likes to pretend like nothing is amiss now. We can hardly suffer his presence in our house, but are obliged to continue working with him on the translation project. Pray that he  would show the contrition which would make true reconciliation possible. [December 2001: Time heals these things. However, Luke gained our ire recently again by not doing a lick of work for 6 weeks during our absence in N'Djamena to get Marks wrist taken care of and attend the Chadic languages workshop. Please pray that God would work in this situation.]
  2. In January, we asked specific prayer about our direction in the future. While the problems with the translation committee and our building projects these last few months have kind of sidelined our thinking on these issues, they still remain. Just to give you some feeling of the kinds of questions we are asking ourselves: Should we go to a Chadic Languages workshop in Cameroon in November?  Should we organize the Intro to Translation workshop in Chageen we've been thinking about for several years? Should we start a new translation project, such as Exodus, or should we finish polishing up and sending to press the final four volumes of the Anthology? Should we be spending more time with children's ministries in Chageen? And so forth... [December 2001: A lot of these issues are moot points now that it looks like we're going to be holding down the administrative fort next year in N'Djamena. We did attend the Chadic languages workshop and greatly profited from it.] 
  3. Pray that the ladies Diane is teaching to read actually catch on. It's an uphill struggle for them, but a very strategic aspect of the future of the Kwong church. 

Prayer Concerns (May 2001)

  1. Diane has written a 65 page trial edition of a primer for teaching the Kwong people to read their own language. We will be trying it out in the coming months with a limited number of people. [Aug. 2001 The primer and literacy class test has gone very well. We are especially encouraged at the incredible interest by both men and women at learning to read. We learned that many are not yet near the level of being able to handle a beginning primer, so we'll need a whole pre-literacy course as well.]
  2. Four friends of ours are coming out from the States to Chageen to help us build an addition onto our house as well as help us help the Kwong community build a new school house. Pray that Bob, Fredrick, John and Michael would be able to get all their travel papers and funds together in time for their trip. They will be coming, Lord willing, during the month of July. Pray too for their health and safety while in Chad. [Aug. 2001 Would you believe we all made it without any real sickness or injuries. Praise God! All of the travel plans and arrangements went well. And the work accomplished was a tremendous asset.]
  3. As we've mentioned elsewhere on this website, we are dealing with a very thorny issue with the translation committee. Before we left on furlough in 99 to get married, I entrusted 33 sacks of grain worth about $20 each to the men as a famine reserve. In the absence of famine, they were to "do business" with the grain, much as in Jesus' "Parable of the talents". Well, as in the parable, I called them to account, and they had all, effectively, "buried their talent." Worse yet, they ate it so they couldn't even exhume it and give it back as the chap in the parable could. Having wised up over the years, I knew better than to judge the case myself. Old Moses and Elder Jonas did that for me, and their judgment while just, was seasoned with mercy. Now, however, it has become a point of considerable contention between us as they have added rebellion to the sin of incompetence. We hoped that the issue would be resolved before we went on vacation in April, but we were not so fortunate. Now we hope that by the time you read this it will be water over the dam, but you'd better pray anyway. (See #5 of the basic five prayer requests.)[Read our August 2001 newsletter]

Prayer Concerns (January 2001)

  1. Life for the last two months has been one long interruption. We somehow managed to get some work done during that time, but it wasn't easy. A long string of visitors from afar (see our News Summary) as well as between 10 and 20 Chadians every day at the door made getting good work done a real challenge. As it stands, we don't anticipate any more visitors from afar for awhile. The Chadian visitors are another matter. I (Mark) am getting pretty impatient with them all, so it's not just a matter of accomplishing work - it's also our reputation that is at stake. It is also a source of tension between Diane and I, as we tend to handle the problem differently. (I sometimes see fit to just not answer the door and figure they'll come back if it's important.)  Pray that we (and Mark especially) keep our cool, and can devise some gracious way of keeping them away while we're working. [May 2001 - This prayer request was really a symptom of the more general battle fatigue, the remedy of which was a vacation in Kenya in April.]

  2. Each year the Field Council asks each missionary to take a day to evaluate their work for the previous year and to set goals for the coming year. The task is proving to be a challenge for us, although not because we don't know what to do. In fact, we both feel overwhelmed with all that we could and maybe should do. As of the beginning of January, we are still working through this process. Please pray that God would help us sift through our priorities. (This is a very specific outworking of #3 of the Top Five Requests.) [ May 2001 - We have come up with some really good insights into this problem during the course of our travels to different Kwong villages. We're still digesting and formulating our thoughts, so don't want to spill the beans quite yet. We'll post our thoughts on the site here when we're ready.]

Prayer Concerns (September 2000)

  1. Diane's mastery of Kwong. God has given her a tremendous gift for languages - something for which we (and the Kwong) are grateful. We would not, however, be so presumptuous as to take this gift for granted and fail to seek the enablement of the Almighty for her. [January 2001 - Diane has kind of plateaued in her language learning - "consolidation" might be a better term for it. See item # 1 in our current concerns above.]

  2. Over the past years the translation committee and Mark have accumulated something like 200-300 pages (depending on how you print and bind them) of written materials in Kwong - all in varying states of completion. For a variety of reasons, almost none of it has been formally published. Mark's goal for this first year back in Chageen is to push everything we have translated out the door. Pray that he doesn't get sidetracked from this goal, and that by this time next year we can be starting on "virgin" translation again.  [January 2001 - Four 30-40 page booklets of the Kingdom of God Anthology are scheduled to be printed at the Koutou Printshop in the south of Chad for March. As we write, Mark is doing the formatting and layout of the photo-ready copy.]

  3. The translation committee has been overstaffed by under-qualified individuals since it's beginnings. This has been a perennial headache for Mark, and since the committee is the offspring of the bureaucracy of the Evangelical Church of Chad, he has been powerless to make the changes necessary. Attrition on the committee, however, along with changes in the church bureaucracy mean that we have an opportunity for change. Pray that these changes will will be made at key meetings this November. [January 2001 - The key meeting never took place for a variety of reasons. As it turns out, quickly pushing everything out the door (item #2 above) above and a quick resolution to the labor problems are mutually incompatible. We're hanging tight with the guys we have for the time being until the translation docket is clear.]

The Top Five - Always

There are some really basic prayer issues which cover numerous lesser concerns. Just think of these as perennial requests which you can use in the absence of more specific news.

  1. We have been doing relatively well marriage-wise, but it would be very naïve to suppose that a couple of independent 37 year-olds could blend their lives together without some difficult adjustments. Pray especially that I (Mark) would have the grace to “make room” for Diane in my tightly ordered little universe of Chageen. Ceding the culinary department was the easy part. Letting her become a part of all the other aspects of my work that have been “my baby” will be much more difficult (e.g. translation). [Update, Sept 2000: So far, so good - which is not to say we've not had our moments.] [Update, December 2001:The division of labor and "space" and ownership at Chageen has happened without us really thinking about it. Coming to grips with the reality that a good marriage is more than the absence of conflict is sort of where we're at now.] (Update December 2003 - We recently celebrated our 4th anniversary. We can scarcely believe what god has done in our lives over these years. We can only bow and worship.) 
  2. Nothing has retarded or will retard the Kwong translation project so much as the ability, or lack thereof, of the Chadian men working on the translation. As it stands, only one of the four men on the committee (Laurent) is capable of translating after all these years of training and mentoring by Mark. Pray that God would raise up at least two more men who are both capable of translation and humble hearted. [Update Sept 2000: We have our eye on a fellow whose name is Leon. January 2001 - Leon is on the back burner while we concentrate of pushing old work out the door with the existing guys. Also, Benoit, who was the least capable of the committee has left us after the death of his wife, putting us down to three men.] (December 2003 - we have almost completely forgotten about this during the year and a half we have been in N'Djamena. There are some SIL training sessions coming up that we would like to take advantage of. In any case, as we have focused more on church work and less on translation, this is less of an urgency than it once was.) 
  3. Pray for our effectiveness. It’s easy to stay busy, but what does it take to render up to God a mature church whose legacy of spirituality will endure 50 years from now? There are places in Chad where our missionary forbearers labored for 30 or more years for which barely an artifact of truth remains. What went wrong? What is to say that this won’t be our heritage as well? Pray that we will have divine wisdom to devise strategies, set priorities, and make choices which will “produce fruit that endures”. [January 2001 - see item #2 above) (December 2003 - We believe that the recent shift in focus in our ministry from translation to church work that we write about in our December 2003 newsletter is Spirit led. Pray that we keep our "ears to the ground" to "this is the way, walk in it." 
  4. We have both been relatively healthy these past years and it is easy to be complacent. But health comes from God, and without it many a missionary’s ministry has come to a swift - and in our eyes premature - end. Also, Missionaries in Chad have been shot at, held against their will, robbed at knife point, and seriously injured in vehicle rollovers. Bandits and rogue soldiers are endemic. War is an ever present possibility. Pray for our health and safety.     [Update Sept 2000: Not been robbed at knife point. January 2001 - We're doing very well, but as we come into the hot, dry time of year the risk of sinus infections and bronchitis goes way up.) (December 2003 - Diane has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. We have been very relieved to discover that diet - low carbs and sugar - as well as a very low dose of an ACE inhibitor can control it.]
  5. Relationships make or break a ministry. A number of very capable, sensitive missionaries have seen their careers in Chad destroyed by the very people they came to help. A senior Chadian pastor warned Mark of just such a possibility before we came on furlough. Pray that we would gracefully navigate the fickle waters of relationships with the men on the translation committee as well as the higher-ups in the denomination.  [Update Sept 2000: The guys on the committee were pretty high strung over what they thought they deserved financially as soon as we got back. In something of a miracle , they backed down on their demands pretty quickly. Things have gone very well since then.] [Update August 2001 - Three months of rebellion by the committee have ended, though a bitter aftertaste remains.] (December 2003 - Mark unintentionally managed to insult a group of Kwong pastors and much is at stake in finding forgiveness and reconciliation.)

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