I’m amazed that I’m sitting among descendants of Aztec Indians. Thirty of us are crowded into one small room of a humble home built of concrete blocks. A single lightbulb chases away some of the shadows, while outside in the darkness, a steady September rain is turning the mud road into a stream. We’re high up in the mountains, where long ago, Spanish conquerors chased the original Mexicans.
We’ve come together to have church. It started with a simple meal, and continued with worship accompanied by two almost-tuned guitars and a fiddle. Now we’re listening to an exhortation by Jason Fitzpatrick, an American missionary who has planted a number of churches among these forgotten people, all by the power of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes facing the machetes and guns of hostile villagers.
As I look around the room at the faces of people whose homes have floors of dirt, I see trophies of God’s grace. One standing man was healed of a brain tumor three years ago. He is now a pastor. Another was recently healed of tuberculosis. Another was a thief before his repentance. Almost everyone has come to Christ through Jason’s preaching. And tonight as he finishes his sermon, two more give their lives to Jesus. In heaven, the angels are rejoicing. Could the rain outside actually be their tears of joy?
I’m so happy to be partnered with saints like Jason and Nicole. Through the ministry of Heaven’s Family, you are partnered with them also, as well as everyone else you’ll read about in this update. Feel good as you read! God’s grace working in you is making miracles possible.
Deep Down in Mexico
The Ministry of Jason and Nicole Fitzpatrick
Nicole Fitzpatrick fell in love with her husband on two occasions. The first time was before they were married sixteen years ago. The second time was one year later when she was thrown through a windshield and landed 100 feet from her vehicle. Her back was broken. Her liver and spleen were ruptured and one lung had collapsed. When she awoke from her coma ten days later, she had lost all memory of the previous three years. Nicole’s parents were able to convince her that she was a married woman, and the wedding photos verified it. But her husband, Jason, was a perfect stranger. He went to work to win her heart a second time. He succeeded.
Jason and Nicole are no strangers to overcoming enormous obstacles. After her accident, Nicole was told that she would never bear children. When she did become pregnant, she was told to abort. Up until the day that their daughter, Jasmine, was born, doctors told Jason and Nicole that she would be both mentally and physically handicapped. But, as you can see in the photo above, Jasmine is perfect.
Five years ago the Fitzpatrick family relocated to the poorest state in Mexico to pioneer a work among the marginalized indigenous people, descendants of the Aztec Indians. Jason rode his motorcycle along gravel roads through the mountains, spreading the gospel in remote villages where Christ had never been preached. Most of the people whom he encountered practiced a mixture of folk spiritism and Roman Catholicism, the fruit of which was rampant immorality and incest, drunkenness, grinding poverty, and broken lives.
The gospel, confirmed by the Holy Spirit with healing miracles, has proven to be the cure. Jason and Nicole have made scores of disciples and planted twelve house churches. Practically every night of the week, they serve at one of them, often traveling for an hour and a half both ways to return late at night. Their days are filled with constant ministry to the poorest of the poor, widows, unwed mothers, young converts, prison inmates, church leaders, and children who need tutoring. They represent so many missionaries who, just like them, have forsaken all for the gospel’s sake—people of whom the world is not worthy. We should support such folks.
I’m happy to report that during the five days I was with Jason and Nicole in September, I was blessed to entrust them with $3,000 from the general fund of I Was Hungry. They will use those funds to meet pressing needs among the Aztec saints, one of which is a critical medical need of a young girl. Jason is also helping us to print and distribute the Spanish version of The Disciple-Making Minister in Mexico.
The Water Cure
The Safe Water Fund
We take it for granted. But one billion people in the world don’t have access to safe water. Eighty percent of diseases in the developing world result from bad water and inadequate sanitation. Waterborne illness kills 4,900 people every day, most of them children under the age of five.
There is, however, a simple solution: a proven technology known as the “biosand filter.” These filters are easily constructed from inexpensive materials that are available all over the world, such as cement, PVC pipe, sand and gravel. Biosand filters remove between 95 and 99.5 percent of microbial contaminants as well as 100% of worms and parasites. Each unit can purify 15 to 20 gallons of water per day. They work for years.
Heaven’s Family has begun manufacturing biosand filters in western Kenya and Rwanda, and pilot projects are underway in other developing nations. One of the first beneficiaries was our orphanage in Kitale, Kenya. The director of that orphanage wrote to tell us that, because of their three biosand filters, the children’s health has dramatically improved. Two months ago she was spending an average of $120 every month on medication. Last month it was only $35. Skin rashes are down from thirty-two each month to only one. Beyond that, they are sharing their pure water with neighbors in their village and opening their hearts to the gospel.
Another biosand filter recipient in Kenya, Sam Opara, wrote to us saying,
I have had the biosand water filter for now one month and the results are already amazing. Diarrhea has not been witnessed around here. My wife had been complaining of skin rash any time she took a bath, but now that is history. Our marriage has received life and instead of crying all night of skin rashes, stomach problems, and typhoid, we are spending most of the time praising God and building our marriage. There is life around this home.
We have also opened our home for our neighbours who come here for drinking water and through this we are reaching out. We have started a house fellowship here where we pray together, but this began through the good water after I told my neighbours that my wife’s skin doesn’t itch any more after she takes bath with filtered water. God is good.
These reports and others we’ve received make it clear that $50 biosand filters are a wonderful tool for delivering pure water, and more importantly for delivering Living Water! Your gifts to the Safe Water Fund are making it all possible. Thank you.
Forgotten for Forty Years
The Lepers Fund
As a young bride in her early twenties, Zhang (pictured above) was devastated to learn that she had early signs of leprosy. In China, such a diagnosis meant immediate rejection by friends and family, and Zhang wept when her husband told her that neither he, nor their children, wanted her, and they were sending her to live in a leper colony. Since her arrival, she has never heard from them again. For almost forty years she has lived in exile on top of a mountain in Yunnan Province, forgotten by the outside world. Her most precious possessions are three letters she has received, not from her own family, but from a volunteer who once visited the colony several years ago. Zhang has kept those letters in perfect condition.
Colonist Wang Zhen Shou (pictured below, at left), writes in the dirt with the stumps at the end of his arms. He never looks up. He was placed by his family in the leper colony when he was fifteen, and has never heard from any of them again.
I’m thankful to report, however, that God has not forgotten those who live in exile in this mountain top leper colony in China. Through some American missionaries (whom I can’t safely name) and their disciples, and with funding from Heaven’s Family, Jesus has been visiting Zhang, Wang, and the other thirty lepers with whom they live. The team has now visited twice, bringing gifts of eggs, oil, rice, noodles, spices, as each leper receives only about $12 per month from the Chinese government. They also gave the colonists long underwear, as winters on the mountain top are very cold.
My missionary friend reports that the lepers have been very touched by their visits. Writing of their second visit, he said, “Trying to communicate with many was difficult, as many are deaf and some have lost control of their lower face, seriously incapacitating their speech ability….[Yet] as the team arrived they were warmly greeted…everyone who could talk and annunciate clearly was saying that they never believed our team would come back!…When the team was leaving, the colonists accompanied them as far as they were allowed as a show of appreciation for coming. Our co-workers were in tears as they shared these stories with me.”
Hearts are being prepared to soon hear some wonderful news on subsequent visits. Please pray for them, and please help us send the team back with more food and the gospel.
A Double Play in Pakistan
The Widows Fund
Eight months ago, Shahida Perveen’s husband was killed in a road accident, leaving her with two young daughters to support. As a Christian in Pakistan of the lowest caste, she could only find the lowest-paying job in Pakistan, cleaning the home of a middle-class Muslim family. (98% of Pakistanis are Muslim.)
Not long after her husband’s tragic death, Shahida discovered that she was pregnant. Then she discovered that she had twins in her womb. Near the end of her pregnancy, daily work became impossible. Food was in short supply, and Shahida became very weak. Worse, she developed complications, and she had no money to pay for a hospital delivery of her twins.
Thankfully, we were alerted to her plight, and because of gifts to the Widows Fund, we were able to send the $650 she needed to purchase food and safely give birth in a hospital. Both babies are doing well, and we hope to send more funds soon to Shahida to help her as she struggles to care for her four daughters.
New DVD Teaching Series
21 Lessons on the Sermon on the Mount, filmed in Galilee
Our twenty-one teaching lessons through the Sermon on the Mount are now available on DVD in full-screen format. Filmed in Galilee near the place that Jesus originally delivered His most famous sermon, each half-hour teaching examines the heart of His challenging and life-changing message. Every episode also includes an interesting side trip to a historical biblical site in Israel.
These messages are great for group Bible studies, house churches, or personal devotions. There are a total of seven DVDs in an attractive case for $45 (including shipping within the U.S.). These identical teachings can be viewed in small-screen format of lesser quality on our website so you can “try before you buy.” You can order the Sermon on the Mount 7-DVD set securely by credit card.
$100,000 Every Month
The Bigger Picture
If you added up the dollar amounts mentioned in this month’s newsletter, you might think that Heaven’s Family gave a few thousand dollars towards various worthy projects last month. The truth is, however, that Heaven’s Family gives away about $100,000 each month, but there is just too much to tell in a newsletter. In September, for example, we continued to significantly help believers in Myanmar who were affected by Cyclone Nargis, literally keeping them alive by providing over seventy tons of rice.
Heaven’s Family also sent tens of thousands of dollars to orphanages in Myanmar and Tanzania for dormitory construction, not to mention the $18,000 that we send every single month to our forty-one orphanages in eight nations that sustains over 1,000 Christian orphans. Last month we also sent funds to pay children’s hospital bills, to assist Christian war refugees in Sri Lanka, to provide micro-loans for believers in Peru, and to supply food for poor families in Kyrgyzstan.
Heaven’s Family sent funds to provide relief and Bibles for Chinese earthquake victims, to provide food for starving North Korean Christians, and to print books for pastors in India and Pakistan. We sent funds to sustain numerous widows, and to help relocate a Muslim family that has just converted to Christ in South Asia—to save them from being murdered by their own extended family.
And there is still much more that I could mention. All of this is to say that this newsletter only reveals a small fraction of the good that is being done. Thanks again for making it all possible.
Still, the needs that are presented before us each month far exceed our resources. Please continue to help us serve the “least of these” among our spiritual family. 100% of everything received towards every fund mentioned in this newsletter (as well as our many other designated funds found at IWasHungry.org) will be sent to meet their pressing needs. We count it a privilege to serve you as you serve them. — David