Judy’s Blog

Infinite God and a pair of glasses

  • August 8, 2016
We’ve had a visiting team of college students and graduates here in Togo for a week—all photographers! It’s been really great working with them as they participated in a workshop to learn to make photo & video presentations that missionaries can use on furlough—projects that tell actual stories of people we work with out here. It was a successful week, and it was very good to see the potential for full time missionary work in that group of students, which was a major goal of the workshop—to expose them to missions and show them that there is indeed a place for media arts on the mission field.
So last night I was out taking pictures of this amazingly clear night sky—unusual during the rainy season, and some of the students joined me as I was photographing the Milky Way. I’ve wanted to try to get images like this for some time. It was literally amazing! I was outside until midnight and pretty wound up for some time after, thinking of the import of all of those billions and billions of stars out there, and the fact that God knows every one of them by name! To think there are only  few billion people on earth—it’s not a big thing for our infinite God to know our names, our needs, how many hairs are on our heads . . . .
This morning I got up and could not find my glasses—my good ones that I use for both distance and reading. I looked everywhere I had been last evening and was asking the Lord to remind me where I had left them. He prompted me to check the grassy area where I had been taking pictures, where I had walked all around in the dark, and where the students had walked around with their cameras and tripods . . . and sure enough, there lay my glasses on the grass, dew-covered but undamaged. My heart is so thankful that the God of those billions of stars cares about the details of our lives, and that He protected my glasses from being crushed under someone’s foot!
I’m hoping you will be encouraged as you are reminded that His infiniteness not only extends beyond the very reaches of a limitless universe, but also down to the very smallest detail of our lives.  What is man, that He thinks of us?? (See Psalm 8:3 & 4.)
Stars composite 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

Flambouyant Trees Command Attention

  • April 28, 2016

Last night’s rain made for some great macro & water drop images, one of which is seen here as a detail of a Flambouyant blossom.

showers xga

Here in West Africa, these trees are currently the outstanding landscape feature. Even the most hardened “non- flower-noticer” stops in his tracks when he sees these explosive red-covered trees. The FTD Florists use the slogan “Say it with Flowers.” I believe our Creator is “saying it” loud and clear with these trees . . . He gave us color and beauty, even after The Fall in the Garden of Eden . . . because He loves us. One of these lovely trees graces the yard where I live, pictured here. I’m thankful to be able to enjoy such beauty so close by!

flame tree houseflame tree

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

Incredible . . . New Year’s Eve!

  • January 26, 2016

New Year’s Eve in Togo . . . For those of you following Magguie’s story, here’s a bit more.

I cannot begin to describe the joy of being in the Lord’s House last night, celebrating with Togolese brothers and sisters the end of the old year with its blessings and challenges, and the beginning of the New Year! The highlight was Magguie’s testimony in the front of the church. She and her daughter sang a song together, and Magguie requested the congregation sing Xle Wo Yayra (Count your Blessings), which they belted out with great gusto! Magguie stood up at the front of the church, leaning on her crutches and waving her arm in praise to the Lord as she sang for Him. I have some video clips . . . I’d love to include one here but our internet is a bit slow for that (understatement of 2016). But I’ll include a picture.

How can I help but be super-challenged, watching and listening to Magguie praise the Lord, counting her blessings, reading Lamentations 2:22-25 to us at church, when her foot is gone?? My heart still does a funny flip thing every time I see her and it registers in my mind that there is this blank space where her foot used to be. The Lord is awesome. He’s the only One who is truly awesome. Magguie has her ups and downs. This path is extremely difficult, to put it mildly. But she continues to refocus, bringing her thoughts back to God’s goodness in sparing her life. She knows there are multiple purposes for suffering and the Lord is already using her to encourage others around her.

Thank you so much—those who have asked about how to help us get Magguie’s house built so she can move out of her rental situation. I don’t yet know how much the Lord has provided through you, but I’ll keep you posted. Please keep praying for the Lord’s provision in a timely manner. (read: Please hurry, Heavenly Father, if it is Your will to do so!) Please pray for His will and timing regarding a prosthesis, and also for healing of an infection in her upper arm (insulin injection related).

On another subject, I’ll be in touch soon about the literature that just arrived on the container, as some of you were involved in giving and praying for this. For the moment, though, I’m thanking the Lord for this New Year, and am praying for Him to be consistently lifted up as you and I navigate our lives for His glory where we are.

magguie church

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

Churning Sea

  • November 7, 2015

A recent storm off the coast of West Africa yielded beautiful morning waves with the incoming tide. As I watched through my camera lens, the word “churning” came to mind. The waves were not long, rolling perfect curls, but were dramatically choppy. I’m thinking our hearts can get like that sometimes. For me today, it’s last evening’s revelation that I just spent $6,710 on Bibles and the wrong ones were delivered to us. How to fix that? And this morning, it’s our Togolese sister Magguie—over there in the hospital right now as I write this, getting her foot “worked on” by a surgeon, since it’s not yet healed properly from her toe amputation. Lots of thoughts and details and concerns. Yet committing these to the Lord, who can calm any storm, yields perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Please do pray that Magguie’s foot infection will heal. And please join me in asking the Lord for the right Bibles for the money we have spent. We bring our supplications to Him, and He promises that when we do so with thanksgiving, we will have peace beyond all understanding (Philippians 4:6,7). He is the Prince of Peace! I’m praying for a number of people experiencing physical pain, both Togolese and Americans. No doubt you have people in your life you are praying for too. Give Him your burdens; He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22)!
Lome Churning Sea xga

BACK IN TOGO!

  • October 12, 2015
I am so thankful for your prayers over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for believing in the power of prayer!
Saying goodbye to my parents and sister & brother-in-law never gets easier. It is as hard for them as it is for me. I am so thankful we love each other enough to hurt when separated. That is a blessing in itself. Jesus told us we are to love Him more than our family (Luke 14:26). That is not an easy saying of His, but He gives us grace to follow where He leads.
I arrived in Togo on September 30 after flying into Accra, Ghana. I did some unpacking at the house, then headed North to Mango on October 5 to visit friends, see the new hospital ministry, and take pictures. Now I’m in the capital city of Lome down on the coast for the purpose of buying books for the CRC, as well as buying groceries. No dull moments so far!
I want to thank the Lord for providing 100% of the funds needed for French New Testaments and French Gospel tracts! God is faithful to help us distribute His Word and share His Gospel.
I would like to ask you to pray for physical healing for our literature translator, Magguie. Many of you know of this faithful and joyful servant who has worked in our ministry for a number of years. Suffering the advanced effects of diabetes, Magguie has just had her right big toe amputated. This will require adjustment for her on multiple levels, and complete healing will prevent her from having to have more of her foot removed. I was traveling when she had the surgery, but I’ve spoken with her by phone and she says she is doing well in every way. Thank the Lord for His peace in her heart!
I will stay in touch as I can. Internet in Togo comes and goes for various reasons. Currently it seems that the phone company has gone bankrupt, so we do not know what the solution will be for reliable communication. Please pray with us about this situation, because our work in Togo, no matter what it is, benefits from being able to communicate/do research by internet . . . not to speak of the blessing of being able to stay in touch with family, friends, and those who support us in various ways!
Hello from Magguie