Thank You! We Have Been Blessed!
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
Followed By Reports From Base Centers In Pemba; Zimpeto; Lichinga; And Chimoio, Mozambique; Iris Madagascar; Iris Sierra Leone And Iris Sudan
God has been blessing us at Iris. We wanted to send you some testimonies from a few of our Iris bases around the world. We are so thankful that you care, and bless us to continue this awesome mission. Because you have walked with us, we have taken in and educated even more beautiful children, reached more villages with the love of Jesus, drilled more wells and trained more pastors. There is so much happening we don’t know how to share it all. Our heart’s cry is for even more of Jesus’ love and presence to be poured out among us. Thank you for being a huge part of the Iris family!
I want to share with you some of the highlights from my Mozambican Christmas week. Bouncing down a road, dust flying as we hit incredibly huge potholes, my heart was filled with intense joy as I sang and prayed with our Mozambican children in the truck. We were on our way to share the love and power of Jesus with another village. We performed our impromptu drama and preached a message. Before long, people were clapping all through the crowd, receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I went around to the back of the crowd with friends to pray for the blind and those too sick to make it to the front. After the first blind lady was healed, they started bringing more blind people to us. God healed them all! I will never grow tired of this! What a privilege to be alive right now.
A container arrived from Iris UK after years of preparation and we opened it to discover enough fabulous Christmas presents for all of our children at the Village of Joy in Pemba! White teeth glistened and eyes full of wonder appeared as our children received their beautiful gifts. For our new treasures, this was the first time they had ever received a Christmas gift. I hope you enjoy the pictures and share our joy with us! There were enough gifts for every child. The house parents and missionary parents were with me as their special kids opened their presents. We all had a blast!
Harvest Bible College and Harvest Missions School graduation was also a highlight for me. I sobbed as Rolland was awarded an honorary Doctor of Ministry degree. All the students and children stood and cheered as Papa Rolland was honored in such a powerful and meaningful way. Dr. Don Kantel appropriately ended his speech with a charge to go “lower still”. Students from all over Mozambique and twenty other nations laid their lives on the altar as they were commissioned to go the the ends of the earth and carry the glory as holy given, laid down lovers of Jesus!
We had a powerful Holy Spirit baptism time in the turquoise Indian Ocean, with Makua and Makondi converts willing and longing to die to their old lives and be resurrected to the new as they followed their Lord Jesus in baptism.
Rolland and I want to thank you for standing with us in this amazing revival. We have had a challenging year and have had some painful times as well, including laying off 160 of our Iris staff. We continue to press on for the goal. We love Jesus more then life. We appreciate how you continue to sacrificially give during such challenging times. The fact that you love and care for so many you will not see until eternity fills our hearts with His passion and purpose. You are awesome, and we love and appreciate you!
PEMBA BASE (SUBMITTED BY DON KANTEL)
The focus of this report is harvest, natural and supernatural. It may seem a little late in the year to be thinking about harvest, but harvest, both spiritual and material, is our year-round focus here at the Pemba Base and in our many ministry centers surrounding Pemba.
The Harvest, Down on the Farm
At the nearby village of Mieze, our residential children’s village and our wider ministry into the whole Mieze community continue to be a source of much spiritual fruit. But part of what brings delight to the 40 resident kids in the “Village of Love” these days is enjoying the fruit of their patience and labors in our farming projects. For example, we currently have a fourth cycle of 400 meat chickens almost ready for the table. And that’s a harvest that is now eagerly anticipated by these young farmers for whom a chicken dinner is the best reward imaginable.
We’ve also been feeding and caring for 80 laying hens which arrived as day-olds six months ago. Six months is an eternity in a culture where planning and working for the future is a rarity. But right on schedule, the first eggs appeared a couple of weeks ago. The kids were so excited and couldn’t wait to show them off. Several hundred eggs later the kids are still excited to retrieve every egg that’s laid. They love hard-boiled eggs and are gradually being introduced to other egg dishes. Eggs for food are a rare luxury in rural Mozambique and our kids and staff are very thankful for the blessing of God they are experiencing through this bounteous harvest.
Our Mieze goat herd of 40 very young goats bought last March are now beginning to reach maturity. That will mean baby goats. The first arrived two weeks ago and has become quite a pet for the resident children! Milk and much-coveted goat meat are in the weeks ahead. More harvest!
On our 40-acre Mieze farm, the mango harvest is just beginning. We have over 50 large mango trees laden with delicious fruit, and this harvest will continue for about three months. A church in Ontario recently took a special offering to “buy” the yield from the farm during this harvest time so we could give it away instead of having to sell it. So we’re now supplying quantities of mangos to hundreds of Mieze children through the church, as well as providing mangos for kids at the Pemba Base and the adjacent Noviane Project.
We have just begun to divide the open farmland into half-acre plots for assignment to church families to grow produce for food for their families and to sell. A portion of what they harvest will be given back to the church for distribution to the poor and for use in the children’s village. This “church co-op” will be an interesting farming experiment. And we look forward to many kinds of harvest resulting in the months ahead!
The Harvest, Spiritual Bounty
The Iris Pemba Base is surrounded by nearly 50,000 poor villagers, almost all of another faith. One of our challenges over the past few years has been to develop effective ways of reaching villagers, especially kids, with tangible expressions of the love of God. We’ve had various kinds of food programs but hadn’t been able to combine these very effectively with Christian content until recently.
Our Christian primary school has been our first successful sustained effort. About 580 village kids attended this past year in addition to about 130 resident Iris kids. We had to turn some village kids away due to overcrowding. Now we’ve added three more classrooms for the new school year which begins in late January.
In the past few months, we have begun a daily program of Bible teaching, stories, games and a hot meal for village kids at the Pemba Base. This is a high-energy program, conducted mostly in Makua, involving many staff and helpers each day for an hour and a half. We’re now getting close to 600 kids out every day! Many have already accepted the Lord, are praying, and are even having visions of Jesus! More and more of these kids are also now coming regularly to our Pemba church services, where we’ve also just begun to have a separate children’s hour. Then we feed 800 or more children plus hundreds of adults every Sunday following church.
We’ve recently been training leaders from Mieze to run a similar village children’s program there, as a Saturday-only program. This new program is being attended by well over 300 enthusiastic children. We’re trying not to let the word get out too widely because we don’t presently have covered space for more until our new church and community building is completed in five months or so! The first week, we had prepared rice and beans to serve an expected 150 children; and yet all 300 or more received a full serving. God seems to like doing that for these precious Mieze kids!!
Finally, after many months of planning and praying, it looks like we may be about to acquire some property on Ibo Island to begin our next major project based on the “Mieze Model.” This will be a challenging new initiative for many reasons. We’ll write more about this in a future report.
For information and pictures describing the “Mieze Model” for village transformation please see http://web.mac.com/kantels For pictures and updates on the new adaptation of the Mieze Model in Noviane village, please see http://www.irismin.ca/nmohsp
ZIMPETO BASE (SUBMITTED BY STEVE AND ROS LAZAR)
The baby house has been over full, so we have built a nursery for 8 babies under 6 months old.
Our Maracuene youth project continues to expand. There are now 10 houses and 23 youth there plus a blossoming church. Samaritan’s Purse Ireland has helped us build a carpentry workshop which will be equipped and running in early 2009. This hopefully will provide both skill training and employment for several youth.
Pure religion is to minister to orphans and widows. We have partnered with Iris Canada and Homes of Hope to build our first widows house which is just above the property and will house 8 “elderly” women who will run our small farm and chicken project.
We were blessed to partner with the US Embassy and Samaritan’s Feet to give over 2000 pairs of shoes to 8 very poor communities, with every person having their feet washed, medical and dental attention, prayer and encouragement as well as new shoes!!!
God continues to bless the reintegration program with about 20 children reunited with their families in the last week.
We continue to be challenged every day but God is faithful and generous to us in both pouring out His spirit and with amazing people and financial help.
LICHINGA BASE (SUBMITTED BY THE WILCOX FAMILY)
Dearest Family in Jesus, All Around the World!!
We thank you so much for your incessant prayers for us in our little corner of Mozambique. The locals consider the Province of Niassa to be “the forgotten Province”. During the war, it was the “Siberia” of Mozambique. To here, the despised, disabled, unemployed, prostitutes, and you name it, were sent.
Now Jesus is taking that which is despised and making it into something great! He takes what is “small” and “unattractive” and turns it into something beautiful, so that “from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My Name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering; My Name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord of Hosts. (Malachi 1:11)
God has given us two precious brothers, Victo and Anold, who have been evangelizing local villages with a great passion. They provide this recent testimony of the power of Jesus.
Victo and Anold found themselves ministering to a mad man and his family. The family was at a loss of knowing what to do with this nephew of theirs. Their solution was to tie him up and keep him in a dark little room to prevent him from beating others. He could not speak sensibly and all that came out of his mouth was nonsense. The witch doctors had been called for to begin applying their traditional medicines.
“But all this is not working!” the uncle explained to Victo and Anold, “My nephew just gets worse and worse.”
Victo began to share truth. “The evil spirits that are in the witchdoctor are friends of the witchdoctor, and they work together. Darkness will never flee from darkness! Light causes darkness to flee!”
When the family was met with the challenge of choosing to believe either in God’s power or the witchdoctor, they admitted they were too afraid to remove the traditional medicine that had been placed around the mad man’s neck.
“No! The madness that has come upon him could be transferred to us if we take off the necklace and burn it! It’s better to call the witchdoctor himself to come and remove it.”
Anold and Victo said, “We believe that our God will never allow this madness to come upon us. He has power and He protects us. If you would like it, we can take off the necklace ourselves and burn it.”
They did, and the family watched these men of God, Africans like them, walking in the authority of Jesus Christ, sure that the evil spirits the people here live in fear of, had no power over them.
“And they have seen we are perfectly fine!” exclaims Anold triumphantly, “Nothing is wrong!”
We prayed for the mad man and encouraged the family that he would be well. Since that day,the Lord has been doing an amazing work in this young man’s life. The family recognizes it is God! He has been set free from bondage and is simply recovering now from all he went through, both physically and emotionally.
A week later, Peter Wilcox went to visit this man and was thrilled to see him in his right mind. Neither was he tied up anymore!
“You must arise,” Peter told him. “You must make a decision in your heart and mind to overcome because the Lord has great things for you. He loves you very much and has a plan for your life. Do you understand?”
The man nodded, “I understand.”
We praise Jesus for His awesome power and His liberating love! Please pray that after seeing God’s hand in such a miraculous way, both the family and the young man will give their hearts to this Jesus who set him free from from demons. May all fear of what their neighbors might say, flee away in the light of His glory.
MADAGASCAR (SUBMITTED BY CAROLINE THOMAS)
At the end of last year, I really felt God leading me to Iris Ministries to do the mission school this past summer. I learned so much and really enjoyed spending time with the children. During the last two weeks of school, God began speaking to me about my future. Heidi challenged us one day in class, that if we were prepared to lay our lives down for Jesus, if we felt like we had to answer His call to missions, to come to the front and ask God to show us His plans. I went up and as I began to pray I had a vision of a room of abandoned babies, lying in rags in the darkness, still, cold and silent. I began to cry and ask God to give me these babies. One by one the babies started to die, first one, then another, until they had all died. He then showed me one more vision of a baby being left in a dumpster and abandoned at night in the dark. I cried and cried and begged God to let me have them, that wherever they were, please, could I go to them and please, could they live and know that they were loved.
When I opened my eyes with my face soaked with tears, sitting in front of me was one of the precious little Iris girls, only nine years old. She grabbed me and just held me. I heard God whisper then that she was sent right then as a prophetic sign. I would get to hold the children, that they would live and know love, and that just like I was holding her, I would hold them.
The next day in worship, God took me back into the room of dead babies. I didn’t want to see it again. But He said to me “Caroline, look up!” I looked and above the room was a shimmering translucent heat haze. Jesus said, “the Holy Spirit is here, He’s hovering above the room. Just sing over the babies”.
I started singing over them. As I did, the Holy Spirit swirled throughout the room and totally transformed it! First, windows opened up in the dark room and sunlight flooded in. The room vibrated with bright color, the dirty rags disappeared from the children and they were dressed in beautiful clothes like princes and princesses. At the same time, they came back to life. The babies started moving and smiling. They became chubby and started waving their little arms in the air and laughing. It was a total transformation. I again had tears running down my face as I said “But Jesus, I didn’t even touch them, I didn’t do anything!” He said, “exactly, it’s not just about holding them and feeding them. I want you to know that as you pray over them and sing over them, that it’s me who is going to transform these babies back to life”.
Heidi was teaching that day. At the end of class she said that she felt like the day before people had seen pictures of their future, of God’s calling for them, but that they didn’t know where, and if that was you, and you wanted a country and a city, to come up and pray and ask God where this place is. I was up at the front like a shot! I asked God where these babies were, and He said, “Madagascar!” I could hardly believe it since Madagascar is the country that I love, having previously spent six months there as a midwife! I felt like God was saying to start an Iris base there, as this was the DNA of Iris, to save abandoned babies and let God restore them back to life. I spoke with Heidi about it and she said that she’d been praying for someone to go to Madagascar for years! So after speaking with her and some of the long-term staff at Iris, we decided to start Iris Madagascar with a baby house in Madagascar!!
I had already booked a ticket to Madagascar on the way home from Mozambique to visit my friends there. So, I used this time to ask them all that I could about abandoned babies. They all told me that babies were abandoned in the capital, and that they had heard of babies being abandoned in dumpsters and being left to die. Many of the orphanages are currently full, which leaves no where for these babies to go, so there was a big need for a baby house there!
I am in the process of setting up this baby house, God’s baby house where He can restore His precious babies back to life and they can know that they are loved. I am working on the paperwork to get Iris registered, praying in money and getting a team together. I would really appreciate prayers for these three things, especially on getting the right team, the team that God has chosen for this very special and exciting work!
CHIMOIO BASE (SUBMITTED BY JENNIFER WENNINGKAMP)
What a major blessing for the city of Chimoio! Since 8:00 p.m. last night, the skies have been filled with rain clouds. They have stayed over the city and rained. Praise God that he heard so many simple prayers lifted by our Mozambican friends for their small crops that were beginning to wither in the African heat. Now, we have the joy and blessing to share that God has answered our prayers as one united body from all around the world.
IRIS SIERRA-LEONE/NO BOUNDARIES INTERNATIONAL (SUBMITTED BY ANDREW SESAY)
When I started the Beach Road Church, I was led to teach them about the Holy Spirit. After teaching them how to pray for the sick to be healed, they people believed it. They are going all around and seeing the sick healed. We have many testimonies of how God has healed people in this three-month old church.
Emmanuel saw a young lady of another faith in serious pain from a chronic headache and asked if he could pray for her. While praying, he felt something moving from his hand, but nothing happened and he went on his way. Weeks later, he saw her again and she related what had happened. After the prayer, she felt dizzy and went to sleep and had a dream that a man in a long white robe came and performed surgery on her. He split her head open and removed something and when she woke up, there was no more pain. She was completely healed.
IRIS SUDAN (SUBMITTED BY MICHELE PERRY)
• We have grown from 63 children to 84 on compound at Yei Children’s Village. Plus, we adopted a second center on the border of Kenya with around 10 more children.
• We began an “In Community Care” program to care for orphaned children within their extended family structures when possible to do so through providing various degrees of assistance with schooling and food. We have around 40 children we are caring for in this way.
• Bricks of Hope has helped us to raise over 60% of the needed funds for the initial development of our land. We are scheduled to move onto our land the first week of January 2009.
• We now have multiple churches we have planted and regular outreaches. There are several more churches that we are partnering with in our newly formed Iris Sudan Revival Alliance to disciple leaders and unite for prayer and intercession, joining our hearts and voices to see God’s dreams come to pass.
• Our long term missionary team is growing! God has provided Jennie-Joy, a precious gal to be on my personal administrative team and there are several more on their way coming to serve in different capacities.
There is so much more to tell you and thank Jesus for but I have run out of space! So, I will refer you to my online i.journal for more stories from Sudan and my journey into His heart from this past year at www.lovehasaface.blogspot.com I thank Jesus for each of you and love you more than I can say!