Monday, December 14, 2015

Greetings Dear Friends & Family,

We echo the message of the angel over 2000 years ago.

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rest."
Luke 2:14

The prison ministry team have been burdened about the women being released from prison.  Most of the women have been divorced while in prison and returning to family is often not an option. Once again we see God’s hand at work. A place has been made available to start a safe house for women being released.  This will allow for ongoing discipleship to new believers and provides a safe environment to transition back into the community.
Pray this will be ready soon.
Each weeks visit to the prison presents new and interesting experiences.  On one occasion we had been talking with the women about prayer when an inmate came in crying. The crying quickly turned to wailing, telling the women in the room, that we are messengers’ from God with the message of salvation for them. She was begging to leave the prison because of God’s presence there, which did not allow her to worship her idol.  She became very disruptive and like Acts16:18 we prayed over her to be silent.  She immediately became calm and fell asleep. In our subsequent visits she has been quietly attentive to what we had to say.  She was likely possessed by an evil spirit that controlled her.  Due to the nature of her crime she will likely be in prison a long time and this same evil spirit likely contributed to the events that brought her to this place.
Several to the woman have been released, we are happy to report one of the three returned to her father’s house, however, two others were claimed by the Madam from the prostitute camp.  We have gone to the camp this past week and were able to visit with one woman. The other one was out at the time.  It was bizarre to be greeted by name by one of the first men we encountered.   I mentioned him in a previous letter as K. who was causing problems at our home compound. He is the son of our guard and has caused them, A and S, much sorrow.  Pray for K. as it appears he seems to call the prostitute camp area home.
Interestingly, several of the same male inmates are always close to the entrance where we go into the women’s section.  They recently have asked us for a Bible and we were able to supply their request; they said that they had previously attended Church or raised by believers. Currently there is no one serving the men’s side of the prison.  We can only have brief conversation with these inmates, but the team is able to encourage them weekly.
Pray for return visits to the prostitution camp and opportunity to give the message of hope and freedom in Christ. Pray for all the people trapped in this life and the courage to start a new life.

Pray that a local Christian man would respond to the opportunity to go into the prison on a regular basis to minister.

Over the past month, both Orest and I have had malaria. 
I did a course of treatment, Orest’s case was milder and the symptoms were treated as they appeared.
-Thank God, for He is the Great Physician and we have recovered.
At this time we have 11 ESL or literacy classes we are preparing for each week.  Every class involves using the scriptures.  Several have discipleship training as part of the program.  The classes are being well received and seem to be enjoyed by the participants.  We are enjoying making new relationships in the local community.  We are planning a Christmas party in two weeks, when we will invite everyone for an evening of watching the film “The Nativity”.
Pray for our Christmas party and that God’s Word will minister to the hearts of our students.
The first week of December is already gone and there is definitely a chill in the air here. Night time temps dip down to 15 degrees with daytime up to 30.  This is accompanied with strong winds, which means dust, and lots of it.  Daily the house needs to be wiped down because of the fine particles that settle on everything.  We look outside at the limited visibility, hear the wind howl, and we are reminded of snow storms.
On the 24th and 25th we will be preparing a large amount of food for the unbelieving neighbours of the church, as well as the entire prison.  We are hoping we will be able to have all the inmates come out to the common area, where Pastor Benji will give them the message of Christmas.  We will be in Galmi for the 26th and 27th to celebrate Christmas with our family.
Pray for many people to have the opportunity to hear God’s message over this Christmas season.
December 18th is the celebration of independence in Niger, and this year’s celebration takes place in Maradi.  The city has been busy preparing for the past several months.  Road improvement, street lights, and general facelifts.  It has made movement about the city very crazy and new road closures happen daily without notification.  We look forward to the completion of work, but grateful that the city can benefit from these improvements.  We will be attending some events with a couple who are our ESL students so we can learn and understand the significance of the events.
Pray for peaceful joyful celebrations to take place.  This morning in church we were reminded by church leaders that the officials are concerned that people may try to take the opportunity during this celebration to be disruptive.
Pray for events the churches are hoping to host during this celebration to bring the Good News to the visitors of the city.
As rivers dry up in the east part of the country it will once again make it easier for the B. H. troublemakers to enter into Niger.
Pray for the military forces to be diligent and united in its resolve to keep such individuals from entering Niger.
Pray as Orest has contact with a man who may be able assist in setting up some men’s ministries in Maradi.
Blessings to You All,
Grace & Orest Pelech

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It has been a year since we have returned to Niger.  The year has been filled with lots of change from the previous term.  New city, several moves, new team, language learning, new dog, different ministry expectations, let’s not forget the horrific driving situation.  It should be a recipe for stress, but it is not.  We are thriving in our new environment.  We have felt the presence and abiding love of God throughout the year, and in all this we have continued to find healing and restoration from the past.  The scars are fading and we are grateful to our Lord and Maker who is our Great Physician.

Launching into Year #2. God works in mysterious ways, His ways are higher than our ways.
Due to a new believer wanting to be able to read the Scriptures for herself, literacy began in the prison.  Now it would seem that literacy is in demand in our local community. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to school.  The tribal heart language is Hausa and church is done in the heart language, so we have begun a literacy class in our home. We thought 3 people were coming, however 8 came and we just got news that more may be coming.  We are grateful for this challenge.  It will also be a challenge to our Hausa knowledge.  Pray for us and the students that God will use each of us to become more knowledgeable and bold in our faith. 

It has been interesting to see the change of heart in the students.  I was introducing numbers and they thought that it was irrelevant to reading, so I asked how they planned to find anything in the Scriptures without understanding the chapter and verse numbers. The transformation was instantaneous in their desire to learn numbers. Literate adults are more passionate in helping the next generation to get educated.
English as a Foreign (Second) Language - EFL
Since most people already speak 2 or more languages it is better to refer to English as a foreign language. The public school system here does teach English, as English is the language of science, medicine, and technology worldwide.  However, EFL classes are still in high demand for those who want to advance their current knowledge or for those whose previous school did not provide this option.
We collected many resources while in Canada and look forward to putting them into use starting today.  The program uses God’s word as our text book.  It’s a program developed by a godly woman and educator that can meet the needs of all levels of language learning.

Pray that God will use us in this endeavour to demonstrate and share His word with others, and that we can foster respect and friendship with our students.

Women’s Prison Ministry
I stand amazed.  Nothing is too great or small for the Lord we serve.

God had put a burden on Esther’s and my heart for the women in the sex trade in the city of Maradi.  We wanted to be able to tell them that they are loved by God and by us.  As you know, several months ago 6 had been brought into prison, however their ongoing drug use rendered them inattentive, with some unusual behaviour.  The warden discovered what was happening and did a lock down in the women’s section of the prison.  Therefore last week when we arrived the women were drug free, peaceful and attentive.  Instead of the literacy class we had planned we took the opportunity to speak with these ladies about what God was speaking to each of our hearts.  God also used that moment to speak to them and each came to know Jesus that day.  One of our secret believers also made her new faith known to everyone.  Last Friday Esther received a call from one of the ladies in prison with two stories to share.  First, one was faced with the choice of sleeping with someone in authority in the system and in turn obtain release.  She said no because she wished to follow her new nature in Christ. The second story was of another woman having seen the transformation in the other women and wished to follow Jesus.  Presently 11 of the 18 woman in the compound are now Christians. They are encouraging and looking out for one another. When we returned a week later, the first question they asked was “How do we pray?” They have only known rote prayers.  I was really pleased with the community that is developing between the women within the prison.

Additional Points of Prayer
Sani and Saratou’s house has deteriorated considerably during rainy season.  Sani owns other land and they wish to build. Pray for them to have resources and wisdom in construction.

Mama A’i, Saratou’s maternal grandmother is battling cancer. 

Pray for the church and its leaders to be people of righteousness and integrity

Pray that appropriate opportunities for employment and housing would become available for women being discharged from prison.

Since 2012 there have been dialogues taking place in most major centers in Niger, including Maradi. These discussions bring Christian and Muslim leaders together with the goal of fostering mutual respect and understanding between these two groups. The hope is that the dialogues they participate in will be an avenue to peace, cooperation and resistance to radicalism in the country, particularly to help stem violence and intolerance like we witnessed this past January.  Our local pastor and friend Pastor B. has been an active participant in this process, and has been the executive secretary .  He has won the respect and friendship within the M. community leadership.  However, he feels his time is now better served returning to his first passion, that of teaching at the Bible school and leading the church.  Pray for Pastor B to endeavour to answer God’s call to equip and educate people so they can serve Niger and the church well.  Pray that the above mentioned dialogues will continue in a constructive manner.

Pray with us that God will use us, and that we would be willing workers in each opportunity that presents itself.

Be Joyful in hope, Patient in affliction, Faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Blessings to you all,
Grace and Orest Pelech

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

August 24th was close to the 3-month mark since the drilling of a well in our backyard began, and today for the first time we have pumped well water into the holding tank.  We have continued to have city water on a regular basis, as it is rainy season, but we know this is only a temporary situation.  The other good thing about having the back yard cleaned up of well-drilling equipment and various things is that the cockroach problem seems to have dissipated.

We have been also been having an array of electrical and plumbing problems within the house, typical because there are no construction codes in this country.   We have had some "interesting" experiences in working with tradesmen, some trained and some less trained.

We had a grand time with the plumber fixing things in the house.  It is quite interesting when the plumber brings his supplies then goes outside looking for a tin can and some paper.  He then sits on the floor in the bathroom, lights the paper in the tin can and uses the subsequent flames to melt some of the ends of the pipes to use as a method of gluing.  So far it seems to have worked well.  We were glad the windows were open. We also had clogged pipes for him to work on.  It seems that when the house was being built contractors just shoved large stones down the drain.  The plumber took some rebar and just rammed the drain and started pulling out all these rocks.  No more plugged drain.

To get the drilling equipment into the yard a hole had to be made into the existing wall around the house.  This has now been replaced with a new metal car door.  The guy who made the door actually had that completed in a couple of days. It took longer to get a mason in to do the concrete work and install the door.
All of this has been a good learning experience for us.

Grace just had a session with the women in prison about the character of God.  They had good discussion with the ladies.  There is a lady who has been released from prison who came back on Wednesday to participate in the devotion time.  There are also women telling us that they are praying to Jesus during their typical M prayer time.  Hallelujah for these secret believers!  Please pray for them.  Our last visit revealed a significant change in the population because it included a fair number of prostitutes, which has not been typical in the past.  Pray as we seek to serve these new women with love and compassion.

Rebecca, who participates in the women's ministry had a sprained ankle.  We are grateful the situation was not too severe.  We have now decided to support her as she returns to nursing school.  She had started the program about a year ago but had to quit due to a lack of funds.  We believe that being able to obtain a good career education will be transforming for her and her family, especially since Rebecca is one of the oldest in a family of 17 siblings.  When we got her enrolled in the program again, she actually started the term 2 weeks late and had a lot of catching up to do in her studies, but seems to be doing well.  Pray that she would be successful in her nurses training.  She is in a three-year program. 

August 13 was a rather tense day for us.  We received a call late in the evening that our grandson Samuel was in the Galmi Hospital.  We went early Friday and spent that weekend with the family.  The Galmi doctors told us that the situation Thursday night was critical and they were worried about losing Samuel.  When we got to the hospital on Friday Samuel was on oxygen and sleeping.  When he woke he gave us a big smile and he just seemed to get better and better.  One of the first things he did was reach for grandma and contentedly crawled into her arms.  At one point they took the oxygen off so they could check him after an hour.  Samuel went for a walk with grandpa and eventually looked up at grandpa, gave a big smile, and still clutching grandpa's hand he started running.  Samuel got better all that day and was released Saturday morning.  Sara and Samuel spent the day with us at the Galmi guest house.  Praise God that Samuel got better and also for the great medical treatment he received at Galmi Hospital.  We are especially grateful for Dr. Matt.

We are anticipating having Sara and Samuel come to our place when Sara takes her holiday.  In preparation for this Grace has taken a refrigerator carton and made a car for Samuel.  It looks really cool -  grandmas!!!!

We also had the chance to go visit the local Church's regional kids camp for a couple of days.  Went to see what was happening, listen to the language and visit Sara and Samuel.  The camp was in a village close to Maradi.

Orest is having opportunities to engage with the local Christian businessmen for prayer.  Pray that this will develop as a method to encourage local Christian businessmen in their work in a very tough environment.  Again we see how God has set up these unique situations and we are grateful to respond to His leading.

Continue to pray for the local church.  Pray that the church will mature in the Word and transform hearts and attitudes to develop Christian character.  Pray for church leadership to demonstrate godly behaviour.

Pray for us as we transition from language learning to more ministry activity as God leads us. Pray that we would seek His purpose and will and not our own, and that we would be bold.

Pray that Esther, our language nurturer, will become more of a ministry partner.

Pray for A and S and they face the challenges of an unemployed capable son (K) who does not share their faith.  Pray that they would be firm and fair while showing Christ's love to him.   K. has also been using drugs, and his behaviour was becoming harmful to A and S.

Blessings to All,
Orest and Grace Pelech

Mailing address: B.P. 121, Maradi
Republic de Niger, West Africa

Canadian mailing address:
c/o 721 Swailes Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R2V 4N6

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A well driller arrived at the house on June 10 with plans to drill 100 meters deep.  He still has not reached that depth because of various maladies with his equipment.  We have been 2 months and 10 days without water. On July 4 we had from the city water for 1 hour.  We were able to get water into the reservoir tank, amount unknown, since the tank is black and has no measuring device. On July 8, we had another hour of water from the city.  Well diggers still have not attained 100 meters.

Mama A’i has abdominal cancer, she has had surgery in Niamey and is currently receiving chemotherapy.  This is Saratou's maternal grandmother and a wonderful Christian woman.  Please pray for her. 

Pray that disciple classes in the local churches will strengthen the body of Christ.
Pray for our friendship and support of a local pastor’s family.  They face extraordinary challenges in their service, not just from outside forces, but from within their peer group.  They are deeply committed to operating with integrity and in obedience to God in all matters.

Sani and Samuel came and spent 10 days with us.  We had a great time.  We introduced Samuel to the washbasin pool.  What a delightfully bright child!  He has a very extensive vocabulary, and seems to learn very quickly.

Rain:  The first rain was early in June. Then no further rains in Maradi until this past weekend.  Saturday night we had a 4-hour rain.  We have never seen the likes of it before in Niger.  Rains generally last 1 hour, coming hard and fast.   The rain left us with some mop ups around the house.  Window systems could not handle the volume and spilt over into the house.  Entrances also could not manage the rain.  We are learning the uniquenesses of the house and adjusting.

The generator was purchased so there will be no more 3 days without power, creating a fridge and freezer crisis.  A very nice knowledgeable local friend came in and changed some of the wiring and lights in the house

Surprise, Grace has been writing Hausa children’s stories.  We purchased some plastic molded animals for Samuel's toy box here.  Because toys like this are not part of their normal experience she thought it would be nice to write some stories about each animal to help him understand what the animal is and general interesting child facts.  She was hoping this would also help give him the idea he can create his own stories for the animals.  We will wait and see. 

This has also become a language learning exercise with our language helper.  At first she did not get it, but now after 10 stories she is getting the process.  One of the first stories I wrote was about the camel that belonged to Souley's family and carried things on his back to take to market each week.  She struggled with why I would say he carried the things on his back, it was obvious to her that the camel did not carry it on his head or tail, everyone knew that.  Now she is understanding the concept and encouraging Grace to continue and publish so other Hausa children can enjoy the stories.  Currently, there are no books of this nature available in that language.  It had started as a love gift to Samuel and gives her great pleasure in the process and is a rich learning exercise
Interesting new development at the women’s prison. One of the team members, upon request from the ladies, has started literacy classes with the women.  They are eager, willing participants.  We hope this will be the beginning of literacy learning and the appreciation of education.  The literacy is being done in Hausa, not French, since these woman are Hausa speakers.  
Blessings to all,
Orest and Grace Pelech
Mailing address: B.P. 121, Maradi, Republic de Niger, West Africa
Canadian mailing address:
721 Swailes Avenue, Winnipeg, MB  R2V 4N6