(These will be updated as received from our missions and churches)
May 29, 2020 Pastor Rich Kuiken, URCNA church-planter in the Poconos, PA.
May 28, 2020 Rev. Matt Van Dyken serves as a URC church-planter in Tepic, Nayarit.
Please keep the following matters in prayer:
We give thanks to the Lord for more baptisms and confessions of faith. I had finished membership classes with these brothers and sisters last year, so we thank God for bringing that to fruition. Interestingly enough, Arcelia first attended the church years ago with Pastors Harry and Rich Bout. Now many years later, Richard baptized Arcelia with Pastor Bout present!
We give thanks for able hands to serve in Tepic in our absence, and for the Word they brought to the congregation. We are thankful for prayers answered and a spirit of unity in the church which has grown even during some very different months.
We give thanks for the general health of the congregation, with no known cases of anyone we know in Tepic. We are also thankful that most people can keep working, though this is beginning to affect all of us. We are still on lock-down, for the most part. Please pray that the Lord will allow us not to become more separate from each other. Pray that the Lord will use this time, as He has been doing already, to raise up godly men in the congregation to serve!
May 22, 2020 - Video Prayer Requests from Pastor Rich Bultje
May 20, 2020 - Pastor Mike Brown - Milan, Italy.
We give God thanks for his mercies that Chiesa Riformata Filadelfia in Milan, Italy is able to meet for worship this Lord's Day after being in strict lockdown for 12 weeks. We must carefully follow detailed protocol with regard to social distancing and sanitation, and not all members are able to attend as some have compromised immunes systems or other risks, but we are grateful for this opportunity. We ask you to remember us in prayer in two ways: (1) that the congregation would be protected from the virus as we begin to meet again; (2) that the many contacts we have made during the quarantine may begin attending worship in the coming weeks.
May 15, 2020 - Pastor Pablo Landazuri - Quito, Ecuador.
May 11, 2020 - Pastor Mihai Corcea - Romania.
Greetings from Romania! I am writing some news about our work in this part of the world. Despite having to deal with the difficulties of this global pandemic, we have been blessed by the Lord with many opportunities to spread the Gospel. Just before the pandemic started I was invited to be part of a TV show where priests and pastors meet to discuss theology. Being added to the show allowed me to become part of this popular theological conversation and has helped raise awareness of our church plant. In the first three months of this year, we rejoiced in welcoming several new visitors to our worship services. We completed a new members class and we were preparing to examine new members. However, as the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Romania, we were forced to move all our activity online.
Nowadays, we meet on Zoom with the members and visitors of our church plant. I use video recordings to reach out to people during this time. I am glad to see that more people are interested in learning about the Reformation. I started a vlog series called ”Theology and Coffee” where I present a coffee and then discuss a matter of our faith. This format has helped me make more contacts as other youtubers (both Atheist and Christian) have invited me on their vlogs to talk about the Reformation.
Because of long term travel restrictions, our annual conference and the pastors retreat have been postponed for next year. However, we continue doing translation work and we hope to publish a couple of books in the second half of the year. We ask you to join us in prayer by thanking the Lord for all the doors He has opened in the midst of this pandemic. Pray for the fruitfulness of all our continued efforts. I pray for the safety of all our churches in North America and around the world. Home isolation with Lidia and our son
May 7, 2020 - Rev. Eric Pennings - MINTS International Seminary.
1) Please pray for the New Life Church, a church plant recently started by Pastor José among Hispanics in Toronto. This past Sunday there were 60 listeners at the virtual service.
2) Thank the Lord that MINTS leaders around the world continue to search out training through MINTS in this time of restriction of class sizes.
3) Thank the Lord for the opportunity MINTS has to open MINTS Centres in 20 US prisons. While no professors may go into the prisons, student facilitators are following up by coordinating these ministries.
May 5th, 2020 - Rev. Neal Hegeman - MINTS International Seminary
1). Thanksgiving for health of our MINTS coordinators, volunteer teachers, professors and students. We have not heard of any fatalities. 2) Pray for Sandy’s health. 3) We give thanks for the successful surgery of MINTS President, Greg Hauenstein. Greg had several cancerous growths on his kidney and they were successfully removed by surgery. He has been declared cancer free, PTL. 3) Pray for the MINTS Seminary in Prison students as in many prisons they are in lock down mode due to the virus. Pray for the health and protection of inmates, chaplains, and administrators. We have not heard of any serious cases among our MINTS students and teachers. 5) Pray for the handful of inmates who are master and doctor level students who are writing commentaries on Bible books. Give thanks that several have been completed. 6) Pray that the Lord will guide MINTS leaders as we seek to hand over MINTS ministry responsibilities to our graduates.
May 1, 2020 - Prayer requests from Rev. Andrea Ferrari, missionary in Perugia, Italy.
April 29th, 2020 - Pastor Nollie Malabuyo - Big Springs, CA.
The County DOH hasn't removed any of the current restrictions on gatherings. The County only has had 5 cases, all recovered, so there is no active case. By God's mercy, no one among our members and friends have been infected. This is a blessing, since most of them are over 70. Most of them do not even venture out, and a few have been asked by their husbands or children to stay home.
For these brothers and sisters, I print the bulletin and sermon, so each Sunday morning, some of them pick them up, together with an offering put in an offering box. Then I mail them to those who don't pick up the materials.
The last two Sundays, we gathered at the church, 10 on April 12 and 8 last Sunday. There are over ten who want to attend, but we're restricted to ten. I've shortened the service to about 45 minutes to one hour. I finally figured out how to make the Facebook live streaming more interesting with some software and equipment (video camera and speakers).
So, I started recording daily Morning Prayers and Devotionals on Youtube, which I also post on Facebook. I also plan, Lord willing, starting this Sunday, an Evening Service with just prayers, Scripture readings, and a shorter sermon.
Pray for us, as we feel isolated, but it's also a blessing that we don't have many cases thus far. Evelyn and I, by God's grace, remain healthy. We do groceries about every 10 days at 6 AM at Raley's and Walmart, when they're practically empty, with masks and gloves.
Serving Christ together,
Nollie Malabuyo Big Springs, California Cell: 925-435-8125
April 28th, 2020 - Pastor Chris Coleman - URCNA Church Planter in Vancouver, WA.
Here are a few prayer updates for us, especially given everything going on with COVID-19:
Please pray that the restrictions on public-gathers will not hinder the long-term growth of Peace URC.
Please pray that we would be able to schedule a New Members class for visitors while under shelter-in-place orders from the Governor of Washington State.
Please pray that God would use our virtual Bible Study to keep people connected and also growing in their understanding of God and His Word.
April 27th, 2020 Pastor Paul Murphy - Missionary in New York City.
April 24, 2020 - Pastor Brian Zegers - Scarborough, Ajax, Ontario.
As Muslims throughout the world engage in fasting from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan (April 24 to May 24), pray that the Holy Spirit will give them a deep hunger and thirst for the certain hope that can be found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that all false assurances would be removed and exposed as such. And pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to them as the bread of life and the living water that gives eternal life.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would use the recently livestreamed Easter dialogue to bring the Gospel to many Muslims .
April 23, 2020 Perugia, Italy - Rev. Andrea Ferrari.
As we pray for our sister churches in the USA, Canada and in other countries, here in Italy we have reason to be thankful as it seems that the epidemic is losing the grip on our nation. Even though the situation is still critical (especially in Northern Italy) both the number of new cases and of deaths are slowly but steadily decreasing. In our region of Umbria we still have only a little over 1.300 cases and as for today just 54 deaths. On the other hand, the numbers of those who are being dismissed from hospitals is encouragingly increasing daily.
Please, pray with us for the following prayer requests: 1. Pray for our new website (www.chiesariformataperugia.it) so that it will prove an useful resource both for church members and to reach those from outside; 2. Pray for the decline of the coronavirus, for a return to gather as a church and for our evangelistic outreach; 3. Pray for a renewed appreciation of the communion of the saints as a consequence of the crisis of the coronavirus; 4. We ask you to pray for our second son Daniele and my widowed mother Ivana who live in Milan.
April 22, 2020. Uganda - Mark & Carla Van Essendelft - Associate Missionary with the OPC. March has been very intense! We started out the month working on getting the Folkerts container from Kenya to Karamoja, unloading and loading back the container in Mbale for customs and then unloading for good the container in Karamoja. Inside the container was a huge selection of both new and used tools donated by a friend of pastor James Folkerts. We also have continued to fine tune the solar system for the Folkerts to meet the demand for power. I have also had to make several trips to get the mission prepared for possible lockdown due to the corona virus which has just happened. Due to the closing of the schools, Rev. Richard Daniels who was teaching at Knox in Mabale came up to visit while waiting to leave the country. As he and Joshua have been trying to arrange travel out of the county, to date they have been unsuccessful due to the lockdown. Corona has changed how we worship on Sunday as well. We started with a restriction of no more than ten people meeting so we met in homes in the villages to worship, now that number has decreased to five, so I guess we will divide the family in two this week! It is a challenging time to live through, but also raises questions of safety vs the authority of the government to restrict the church on worship, I’m sure we are all struggling with those issues! We had our first mercy committee meeting a few weeks ago of members appointed by the local church to be trained and engage in diaconal issues that come through the local church. The hope is that this committee will be able to wisely evaluate needs until local deacons are trained and appointed. Carla continues to homeschool eight of the nine children, so she has her plate full on a daily basis. She is also continuing the gate ministry on Tuesdays that school children can memorize scripture for notebooks, soap and pens. She has also started to take language lessons with Joanna and a local Karamojong woman. We also host the missionary Associates on Tuesday and have good fellowship with them. We are thankful that Joanna Grove comes over to cook for us on Tuesdays, which takes a load off of Carla’s plate. We are very thankful for her ministry! As always we are seeking to cultivate relationships with the people we work with and live with so we can be able to speak into their lives and they into ours as we seek to advance the Lordship of Jesus Christ
Prayer requests: -pray for Joshua that he would find contentment in the Lord’s sovereignty as he had his heart set on going home soon -Pray for Richard Daniels as he seems to be stuck here for a while, that the Lord would show him where best to serve -Pray for wisdom should we have a widespread outbreak of corona -Pray for the locals who suffer in poverty as is and lockdown for any extended amount of time will cause a much greater suffering as prices rise and access to food may become scarce -pray for peace in the country that widespread civil disorder does not break out
Serving Christ in Karamoja, Uganda
The Van Essendelft family
April 21, 2020 - Pastor Matt. Van Dyken - Tepic Mexico.
Dear brothers and sisters, thank-you for your prayers for us here in Tepic. We ourselves have been here for two weeks now and are just now coming out of self-quarantine, though we are still being very careful, as is everyone. Things in Tepic are quiet and we as a church are mostly waiting and trying to get by in this waiting period. There are 29 official covid19 cases in Tepic, but it will probably be several weeks or a month before things become critical here, if things continue as they have been. We continue to have live-streamed services, and there has been a good response from the community to our Facebook ads. We also continue with online studies, for which there has been very good participation. In terms of caring for each other, about seven men from the church are meeting weekly by Zoom, so that we can keep tabs on the more vulnerable members of the church. We have no current active deacons, but it is very good to see the different men care for others in the church this way. Most people still have some work and are getting by, so we are thankful for that. We are thankful to our Lord for health and food so far and for love and care and leadership in the church, and pray that the Lord may continue to direct us. May God bless and keep you.
April 20, 2020 - Rev Pablo Landazuri - Quito, Ecuador
We are grateful to the Lord for sustaining the Church and for the leadership He has given to Luz de Vida. Our Elders and Deacon have been very much engaged in pastoring the flock. Though we are not seeing each other, due to the quarantine, the communion and care among the congregation is felt even if it is through phone calls.
We are also thankful because the Word is being heard in ways that we never thought would have such impact. Though we miss worshiping together, we are receiving reports about non believers listening to our studies. May the Lord be glorified in their lives!
The situation in Guayaquil is still critical. I spoke today with a missionary of the Reformed Churches serving in there. He tells me all in the congregation are fine, except for one man that contracted the virus. He was very ill for some days, but eventually his condition improved. For several reasons, he remained at his home. In fact, he was suggested not to go to a public hospital due to the lack of infrastructure at the time. This is one of the weaker links in this situation.
April 18, 2020 - Rev. Neal Hegeman - MINTS International Seminary
Please continue to give thanks for the work in US prisons. Pray that inmates studying with MINTS continue to do their homework since they received courses that were fully written out. Some have received early release.
April 17, 2020. Prayer requests from Tony Zekveld - Missionary in Toronto, Canada.
1) There has been a break-out of the COVID-19 in the Kipling Acres where Ernest Paul (one of our long-standing leaders) resides.By the grace of God, though in self-isolation, he remains healthy physically and spiritually. Our members are also phoning him, encouraging him and he listens to our livestream.
2) One member, Bimla, in our congregation has COVID-19. She had high fever, cough, and a mild case of pneumonia. The congregation has been praying for her. She remains in self-isolation at home and is recovering for which we are thankful.
As a congregation we continue to remain in close contact with one another via live- streaming, web-conferencing each Wednesday (devotional) and one of our members created a What'sApp group.
April 15, 2020 Prayer Requests from Milan, Italy - Rev. Mike Brown
April 13, 2020. Prayer Update from Chicago Heights - Rev. Ruben Sernas.
1. Pray the spiritual and numerical growth of El Pacto de Gracia. We are grateful for our core families and regular visitors. Pray we would all grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Pray for the English class that we will offer in the spring and summer months. We have partnered with the Chicago Heights Park District. The Park District offers various programs for the residents of Chicago Heights. The program director will advertise our English class in their catalog that goes out to all the residents. Pray for the Lord's blessing upon the class as I build relationships within the community. 3. Pray for summer community dinner in late July. Last year, we had a community dinner at Jirtle Park, a park located in the middle of a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago Heights. We had a great turnout last year. We are praying for a great turnout this summer. Pray for the salvation of everyone in this neighborhood. May the Lord bless our efforts to get to know our neighbors and invite them to church.
April 12, 2020 - Prayer Update from Uganda - Mark & Carla Van Essendelft.
Here in Karamoja we are in lockdown. No vehicles are allowed to move without government protection. All public transport is closed. The poor are the ones who are suffering. They have to walk to get food and the prices are high. We also have swarms of locust flying over from Kenya. The people are fearing they will have no crop this year. Many are living in fear for the future. Pray that we would be able to point them to the Lord from whom all blessings flow!
April 11, 2020 - Prayer Update from Rev. Bill Green - Costa Rica (for full interview please go to the home page under the "interview tab".
April 10, 2020 - Rev. Melvin Dotinga, Papa New Guinea
We are still in PNG teaching at the Reformed Churches Bible College. When we first arrived coronavirus was having little affect on this island nation. That changed rapidly when the first case was diagnosed on March 20. The person who had contracted Covid-19 was an expat mine worker and he was quickly sent back to Australia. The PNG government also enacted a lockdown, closing schools, suspending all domestic and international flights, as well as stopping all buses and taxis from operating. These restrictions were to be in place 14 days, which were completed yesterday. Domestic flights and buses have resumed service, but schools are still closed. A second case of coronavirus has now been found, this time on one of the smaller island of PNG. Being on an island makes it easier to isolate a community and limit spread but it is still unsure what changes may come because of this second case.
Personally Jane and I are doing well. I have a very busy week as I am teaching every day and preaching Friday and Sunday. Jane is working with education, helping to homeschool some missionary kids and developing a reading curriculum appropriate for PNG.
Please pray for Papua New Guinea which has just discovered a second case of Covid-19. If the coronavirus were to spread in this South Pacific island nation as it has in other parts of the world it would devastate this society. May God be gracious and merciful and spare this country from such a catastrophe.
Rev. Dotinga is a professor with MINTS International Seminary and teaches part time in the Reformed Churches Bible College with the Canadian Reformed Church. April 8, 2020 - Rev. Mike Brown - URC Missionary to Milan
Since my last update, the devastation caused by the Coronavirus outbreak here in Italy has continued to swell, as you have undoubtedly seen on the news. So far, there have been more than 135,000 reported cases of Covid-19 and over 17,000 deaths, the vast majority being right here in Lombardy, the region in which we live. Milan is the second-hardest hit city in the nation. Her hospitals are overflowing, her streets are empty, and the only sound she makes is the constant cry of an ambulance siren. For the past 14 days, the daily death toll has ranged between the low 600s to the high 900s. This does not even count those who died from the virus at home but never tested. These are sad and difficult days for this beautiful country.
The ENCOURAGING NEWS is that we seem to be coming out of the apex and entering the backside of the curve. Although the death toll remains high, the number of new cases in Italy is finally starting to drop. This means that the lockdown which we have been under for the past six weeks is working. We pray every day that God will have mercy and bring a swift end to the suffering. We also pray that we, as the church, will give a good testimony to the gospel before a watching world. To that end, I am happy to share several PRAISE REPORTS with you:
SABINO, the 50-year-old member of our congregation who was hospitalized for the virus and on a ventilator for about two weeks, has recovered well and returned home to complete a strict 14-day isolation. He and his family (as well as all of us in the congregation) give praise and thanks to God. Thank you to all who were praying for him!
THE GOSPEL continues to be preached despite the lockdown, as I am live-streaming Sunday sermons on Facebook and subsequently posting them on Youtube. We have seen a huge spike in views via Facebook and subsequently have been contacted by many Italians,
OUR NEIGHBORS, with whom we have developed a close relationship over the past year, have begun watching the online sermons every Sunday during the quarantine, and have expressed to us their desire to learn more. Please remember them when you pray for us. We love them dearly and hope to see them come to church one day.
Our congregation is STAYING CONNECTED via cellphone and WhatsApp. The elders (Vittorio and Mimmo) are deacons (Arnaldo and Tony) are such good and faithful servants. They do an excellent job of leading and serving the church, and also helping me reach everyone regularly to encourage them and check on them. We also live-stream a devotion every evening of the week at 8:00pm, in which the elders and deacons participate. This has been a blessing to our congregation as we wait for the day to be together again.
So far, everyone in the congregation is HEALTHY AND WELL. Sabino is the only member who has had the virus. Sadly, more and more members know of a friend, neighbor, or family member who has died of Covid-19. But all of us recognize that we belong body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
We are so grateful to our merciful Father in heaven that, in his kind and wise providence, he gave Janie, Iain and me a full year to get settled and adjusted to a new country, new language, and new life, before the pandemic hit. We’ve had more than a year to bond with this precious congregation who are such a joy and privilege to serve.
We recognize that this is a crucial time to PREACH THE GOSPEL. Eventually, this pandemic will pass, but death won’t. In the end, death comes for us all, virus or no virus. We all go to the grave. The real question is whether or not we go with Christ. Never in my life have I felt so compelled to preach the gospel with urgency. May we proclaim with boldness the certainty of God’s promise to sinners: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
Thank you for prayers for us, as well as your many kind notes and messages of encouragement. May God bless you and keep you, and may he be glorified in you during this time of trial and testing. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Rev. Paul Murphy - URC Missionary to New York City
We have three people tested positive (Victor, Delores (husband & wife) & Gregory). Victor appears to have suffered a stroke today while undergoing treatment in the hospital for the virus. Many others are what they are now calling ‘presumptively positive’. Others in families and among friends are sick, dying or have died.
A member of our church is an ER nurse. She said that Monday they had 100 in ER and the ambulances were lined up outside. On Tuesday night she said it was worse! Thankfully Saturday, her next shift (she works 3 - 12-hour shifts) she said it was better.
One member’s Father, in a nursing home, was reported to be near death this morning only to this afternoon report to the son that he was OK although he was neither eating nor drinking (he was one of the ‘presumptively positive’).
In addition to that we had a family suffer an apartment fire and become homeless and without furniture. We moved them into a new apartment and provided some temporary supplies.
April 6, 2020 - Rev. Paul Ipema - Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary 1. I continue to receive treatment for a chronic diabetic wound on the bottom of my foot. This treatment began in the middle of December with the hope that a series of skin grafts would complete the healing process by the middle of February. The skin grafts proved to be partially helpful, but I have been plagued by a chronic bone infection that prevents the wound from healing completely. In addition, there are structural issues and the bones of my foot that need to be corrected through surgery. However, due to the current pandemic, my surgery has been postponed until at least the beginning of May. Most likely, surgery will probably be scheduled beyond that date. I continue to receive weekly medical treatment at the wound clinic, plus a course of antibiotic treatments to keep the infection under control.
2. The faculty members of our seminary have been excluded from the prisons since the middle of March, due to the current pandemic. We currently have no contact with our students, and it appears unlikely that we will be able to resume our work in the prisons at any time in the near future. I can only speculate at this point, but I do not expect to be able to return to the prisons until some time during the summer, at the earliest. Our concern is for the spiritual and physical well-being of our students and staff members at the various prisons. The prison system is not well-equipped to deal with a pandemic, so every precaution to safeguard offenders and staff must be taken.
3. On a personal note, I am deeply concerned for the physical well-being of my daughter, Leah, who is working among Covid-19 patients at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore while she is undergoing her doctoral clinical studies at Johns Hopkins University [she is working toward becoming a nurse practitioner].
4. Looking ahead, there is concern about the economic fallout from the current pandemic. Many are predicting a severe recession, if not an all-out economic depression, and the financial repercussions may be catastrophic. Many in our churches will be affected by this fallout, and it will have a direct bearing upon funding for missions in the coming months and years. April 2, 2020, 2020 - Rev. Pablo Landazuri, Ecuador
I write to give you an update of the situation in Ecuador and to ask for your prayers. The situation in Quito is under control. We have no more than 300 cases in the whole city. We are allowed to go outside for grocery or medicine shopping twice a week only. We are not able to meet for worship, so I am teaching through facebook watch and other tech tools. Good side of this is that more people have shown interest in our faith, so we have opened 2 on line basic courses. People from our Church are well. No one has contracted the virus.
The situation in Guayaquil is terrible. Guayaquil is the second largest city in the country (3 million people), close to the Pacific Ocean. More than 80% of the cases in the country are there and the number of dead people is high and growing. The main issue is that the virus has spread aggressively and there are not enough beds in public hospitals to take care of the sick, just as there is not enough capacity to cremate the bodies of people who are dying in their homes. There are some videos going around of people burning the bodies on the street or just burying them in a mass grave, which is supposed to be illegal at this point.
So, please pray for us. May the Lord strengthen us to comfort his people effectively with his gospel. Also, may He give us wisdom and boldness to call to repentance and faith to those away. Pray for the Elders and Deacons here, who are doing a great job at pastoring the flock. May He show his great mercy and compassion in the midst of all this suffering. Thanks and blessings in the Lord, brothers.
April 1, 2020 - Rev Bill Green - Costa Rica The drastic measures taken by the government for the covid-19 virus, combined with the complete collapse of the tourism industry, is plunging Costa Rica into what looks like a coming severe depression. Already members of our church and school are without work. Even though our school continues classes by internet, many parents won't be able to pay. Church members are already asking for assistance with food. Please keep our church and school community in prayer, as we try to get organized to deal with the crisis. Rev. Bill & Aletha Green