Prayer Updates

Our Greatest Treasure

  • May 19, 2017

Yesterday I had the delightful privilege of photographing the nursing students as they each received a French Thompson Chain Reference Bible in preparation for their next Bible class. I absolutely loved watching their responses and expressions as this extra-special gift was presented to them!  I observed as Godwin, the young man pictured below, positively glowed with joy as he hugged and kissed this new Bible. Truly the living Word of God is our greatest treasure, and I love it that the students recognize that. Please pray that these 17 students will learn and apply as they study their brand new copy of this excellent study Bible.   Bible Bible 2

Name that rock!

  • February 16, 2017

I’m sitting on my screened in porch, reading the Word, thinking, praying, and I’m so overcome I really don’t know what to say. So I’ll just start in.

I love milestones, and this special year in Togo is no exception.  I’m filled to overflowing with gratitude to my faithful Lord who has helped me thus far—all the way from the mission’s candidate class in 1988, to language study in Quebec in 1990, to Togo on March 2, 1992, and to this day in 2017.

“Thus far the Lord has helped us.” The phrase was uttered by Samuel the prophet (see 1 Samuel 7:1-15), as he named a stone “Ebenezer.” The word means “stone of help.” Samuel was acknowledging the Lord’s awesome power to help subdue the Philistines and bring peace to the Israelites. Presupposed in Samuel’s memorial is “He’s helped us this far; He is able to continue to do so as we follow Him.”

So I’m thanking the Lord (I even named a rock!!) for helping me thus far as a missionary in Togo, West Africa, and by His grace, I’m trusting Him to keep right on helping me do what He wants me to do. I look forward to seeing Him continue His work to strengthen local churches through the bookstore & print shop, camp ministry, audio/visual materials, community health evangelism, and of course, creation photography.  He is at work and it’s a delight to be a part of what He’s doing.

 

ebenezer small

 

Here’s  my first prayer card and first passport, with the dates of the end of language study and arrival in Togo.  Thank the Lord for His faithfulness!

1992 ex sm

 

To you who are co-laborers with me in prayer & financial support, the Lord has used YOUR faithfulness to keep me going! What can I say, but thank you, thank you, thank you!  Please keep on praying, and together, we’ll keep following what the Lord wants us to do.

This is hard to say, but I have to tell you that for the first time in my 29 years with the mission, the support required to keep me out here is significantly in deficit. Please pray about this on my behalf, and if the Lord wants you to step in to help keep me out here for however long He wants me serving in Togo, please email me and I’ll give you more details. There are two main reasons for loss of support for missionaries that have been at it for along time. One is aging supporters being promoted to their Real Home, and the other—in today’s world—is the shrinking membership in our churches, forcing them to decrease or end missionary support. The Lord knows the needs and He is faithful.

Celebrate His goodness with me! Get a rock and a Sharpie and name the rock Ebenezer, and thank the Lord for His awesome help thus far, and trust Him for that same help as you follow Him a day at a time. He never changes.

Jb portrait ex sm

New day, week, month, year . . . mercies!

  • January 4, 2017

How interesting it is to be right here at this moment: 2017, Day one, Week one, Month One of this new year. Looking back at 2016, I rejoice over huge milestones (the restart of camp here in Togo with 84 children coming to the Lord, and seeing my colleague and friend, Magguie, walk again on her new prosthetic foot), and I feel again the sadness over distressing times (deaths of our brother & colleague Todd and others, including three Togolese that were dear to many). It is a joy and comfort to look ahead and remember this:

The Lord does not change. (Malachi 3:6). Nothing is too hard for Him. (Jeremiah 32:27.) He is faithful, and His mercy never ends! (Lamentations 3:22,23.)
2017 is a year I used to view as being a REALLY long ways off, especially when I first arrived in Togo as a new missionary, fresh out of language school in 1992! I wondered what it would be like to be in my 25th year of service here. It’s a milestone year, and here I am! I can certainly say the Lord is faithful! Because of His faithfulness,  I can look forward to the year ahead, and as many more years as the Lord will allow me to be part of His work here in Togo.
I’m including a photo of one of my favorite places. Victoria Falls is a mile wide, and never stops flowing, no matter how dry the seasons become. The waterfall reminds me of our faithful Lord. May He fill you with His peace and quiet you with His love as you meditate on His faithfulness, and as you move into this new year!
vic-falls-love-composite-xga

Birds & stars . . . not one is forgotten!

  • November 1, 2016
I’ve been considering this for several months, ever since taking photos of the Milky Way in August:
See all these stars: He calls them all by name; not one of them is missing. (See Isaiah 40:26.)
Observe these little birds: not one of them is forgotten by your Father in Heaven. (See Luke 12:6.)
Billions upon billions of stars, all named, not one missing. Millions upon millions of birds, and not one can fall without the Father knowing it. The God of the infinite is also the God of the infinitesimal. 
What does this mean for us who know Him? If you’re my friend & co-worker Magguie, you know He’s aware of your missing foot and your efforts to learn to walk with a prosthesis. He knows you’ve just had malaria and is the One that helped you recover. He’s aware that you just lost your husband and how much it hurts, even though he had a second wife and had not provided for you or your two daughters. All big things, all in one person’s life. The Father knows and cares.  If you are Elisabeth working at our mission Guest House for many years, He knows you suddenly lost your husband in a motorcycle accident. He is there to comfort you and get you through impossible days. A huge event in one person’s life . . . our friend with whom we mourn. The Father is aware.  What about the termites chowing down on the kitchen cabinets at our house? I can almost hear them munching from my office . . . Is He aware of such a small thing? Absolutely! He cares about anything that concerns His children. (The termites got sprayed this morning. Not a huge deal, but you get my point, I think!)
Whatever it is in your life or mine, no matter how big or small the detail, He knows, cares, and does not forget us, ever.
I’ve talked with Magguie by phone several times; she sounds good. She says she has sore muscles from learning to walk with the prosthesis. All of the funds have been promised to meet the financial need. Thank the Lord!! Please do keep her in your prayers as she does her therapy. Pray for her and her kids in the very sudden loss of her husband/their dad.
On another subject, please be in prayer for our literacy ministry here in Togo. We can never overstate the importance of being able to read the Word! Currently there is no one to develop this ministry. We are asking the Lord for either a missionary who is on the field already or for a new missionary to take on this important ministry.
bird-stars-email

The Order of Things

  • September 6, 2016
          As a photographer living on a hospital compound in Africa, I have many opportunities to photograph a variety of subjects. I have a preference for nature photography because it constantly reminds me of the nearness of the Lord God, who has made creatures with such incredible beauty and detail. Last week while I was up in Mango at our new hospital, I had a few days to wander around and think and pray and take pictures. I concentrated mainly on birds, because there was a great variety there, given the rainy season and lush, green foliage. One morning, the thought came to me about “the order” of things. As we all know, of first importance is people, because they need to be saved. At the hospital, they need physical healing so they can come to know the Creator and THEN they are free to enjoy all He has made. I enjoy nature so much because I know the Creator. I’m immeasurably grateful for salvation in Jesus—not only because I have eternal life because of Him, but also because knowing Him gives me clear understanding that nature provides a connection to Him as the Creator of all things. The beauty around me can be fully enjoyed because I know Him personally.
          Knowing Jesus leads my heart to praise and thanksgiving, because He alone is worthy to be praised. Today I am grateful to Him for two specific things. One is that He protected my sister as she was in quite a serious car accident last Sunday. The car is totaled and she is quite sore, but she is doing well. The Lord sent some dear eye witnesses to help her and pray with her at the scene. Secondly, I’m praising Him that Magguie has had a good consultation about a prosthetic foot. I don’t have all the details yet, but I am praying this will work well for her!
          Photo composites can be a bit busy, but I’m including this one to show the sheer variety of the birdlife I saw in Mango, Togo last week! 
Mango Birds xga

I love camp!

  • July 19, 2016
Of all the amazing aspects of Bible Camp in Togo this year, such as:
~Being reunited with staff from the early years of camp;
~Meeting new staff who are the children of our older workers;
~Seeing the son of our first director participating in the ministry;
~Watching dozens of kids singing, playing great games, listening to the Word of God;
~Admiring the creativity of those who planned out this year’s camp;
~Witnessing everything working smoothly over six days with two large groups of kids and teens;
~Enjoying the demonstration of how to make sugar cookies, including baking them in a wooden cabinet with a charcoal grill inside it;
~Videoing my little friend Sharon practicing sharing the Wordless Book story with a friend . . .
It is THIS moment that rises to the top:
I had gone to camp to observe and greet friends, pray, and take photos and video clips. I spent the night in a small apartment on the grounds. At six thirty the next morning, I was preparing to go outside to think and pray and take photos as I do almost daily. As I approached the door to go out, I heard low voices right outside on the step. I carefully peered out the window, and I saw a counselor, Bible in hand, alongside a camper. She was asking the camper if she had ever asked Jesus to be her Savior. I heard another pair of quiet voices out the other window. Another counselor and camper, talking about the Gospel. Moses came to mind as God spoke to him from the burning bush, and I literally thought, “Surely this is holy ground. I should take my shoes off!” I was so moved as I stood in that sacred spot, hearing the Gospel being shared with two campers.
Thank the Lord for HIS work here in Togo, and for resurrecting the camp ministry from the still-burning embers of earlier days!  I love camp!
Camp Composite 2016xga

Sunbirds, Light, and Prayer!

  • April 18, 2016
The male sunbirds of West Africa are amazing in the morning sunlight! In the shadows, they appear mostly black, but in the sun, their iridescent colors are stunningly beautiful. I’m thinking there’s a parallel here to challenge us. As we walk in the light of God’s Son, what is revealed to a watching world? Is it a beautiful spirit of kindness, or a dullness that does not attract? 2 Corinthians 5:9 says we should make it our aim to be pleasing to the Lord. If we do so, when His light reveals our “true colors”, it will be a good thing.
Today I have one specific item to ask you to bring before the Lord. First, thank you so very much for your prayers and giving for Magguie’s house! The plywood ceilings and the cement floor are almost far enough along to make it livable. Please pray that she will be able to move in by the end of next week. I’m asking for prayer for this because these final details are dragging on a bit. The Lord is able to put it all together so she is in her own place before paying May rent at the old place. When she’s all moved in, I’ll send a photo of the new place. Again, thank you for caring and for praying.
Have a good week, and may we reflect the Lord’s goodness to a watching world.
Sunbirds small 2016

Shining under dark clouds

  • March 25, 2016
This weekend is the most glorious & victorious of all celebrations! Yet it is a dark time for some, including our friends and colleagues from the North of Togo. This coming Saturday, March 26,there will be a memorial service in Michigan celebrating the life of our missionary brother, Todd DeKryger,  who left us for Heaven on January 26 after a brief illness. Todd’s Homegoing has touched us and no doubt countless other individuals very deeply.
I call the day before Easter Black Saturday, because I am unable to imagine the darkness and despair of the friends and family of our Lord Jesus after He died. Many of them were unable to grasp the significance of His promise that He would rise again. So Saturday had to have been exceedingly heavy and difficult for them. I’m thinking this very Saturday will be difficult in that kind of way for many. Yet Sunday is coming, and not just any Sunday—but Resurrection Sunday, the celebration of Jesus having conquered death by rising again after sacrificing His life for my sin and the sins of all the world, thereby bringing us the certainty of eternal life.
On a rare occasion, we get to see the morning sun peek out from beneath dark clouds before or after a storm. My prayer today is that from beneath dark clouds of loss and despair, the awesome victory of death’s defeat will shine forth as never before in the hearts of our dear ones. Thank you for praying along with us for them.  “Death is swallowed up in victory!” (1 Corinthians 15:54)  We must take courage in “the hope set before us:  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast”, and that anchor is our certainty of life in Heaven, together, forever. (See Hebrews 6:13-19).
Have a blessed Easter!
Risen Sunrise xga

So thankful for new literature!

  • January 27, 2016

Pictured below is our CRC and Print Shop staff, amidst the many boxes of hymnals, French New Testaments, and French Gospel tracts that arrived a few days ago by sea container! We are all so thankful to you who provided $8,600 to pay for the 10,000 New Testaments and 450,000 tracts!! May the Lord bless you always for your prayers for our print/distribution ministry, and for your giving to help us keep going! Many thanks to the folks in Michigan who helped prepare all of these cartons (688) for shipping. 

CRC Ps thanks

Building a House!

  • December 8, 2015

My dear friend and co-worker, Magguie, has worked as a translator in our literature center here in Togo for 18 years. In 2002, she discovered she was diabetic. The disease is taking a toll on her, and 12 days ago, she had to have her right foot amputated. We are all saddened by this but adjusting to the new situation. Magguie herself is continuing, through roller-coaster emotions, to focus on the Lord and His blessings in her life. She is a single mom (her husband abandoned her and her two daughters and has taken a wife elsewhere) and faces the challenges connected with this situation. Currently she rents a house, but started a number of weeks ago to build  on a piece of land she owns about 2.5 miles from her work place, which is our literature center here at the Bible Baptist Hospital in Tsiko, Togo. I’m thinking the house construction is now urgent, so I am trying to help her find the funds ($10,000 to $12,000) to complete what she has begun. If you are reading this blog post and want to help contribute towards this house, please email me at judybowen92@gmail.com and I’ll send you information on where to send a check. Please be in prayer for Magguie, as learning to live without a foot is a monumental challenge and not for the faint of heart!! She is a godly woman; prayer sustains her.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Magguie with her signature smile, which I took a couple of years ago as she was teaching teen girls at a local church.

Magguie teaching email