by Joanna Bogunjoko “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11–12 (image: CWe spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018)
Thank you for lifting us up continuously in your prayers and for your support in our global ministry in partnership with you. We are grateful you have stood with us in all our travel to conferences and to visit and encourage our colleagues ministry. We thank God for His protection. We do not take our safety for granted!
We were reminded of this again when we heard of the crash of the Ethiopian Airline six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa to Kenya. We have been on the same type of aircraft with Ethiopian Airline in both December and January. Please pray comfort and peace for the families of all 157 people who lost their lives on the ill-fated flight.
We had asked for your prayers as we gathered with our new global and regional leaders in Nov and Dec in Kenya. THANK YOU for praying. It was a time of learning together, listening to God together, and getting to know one another. The most significant outcome for us personally was our leaders’ commitment to live and to lead based on leadership values rooted in Scripture. Pray that we will live up to the standard of godliness, righteousness, purity and servanthood that we set for ourselves before the Lord.
With the generous gift from a couple who have been our friends and cheerleaders, we were able to spend five days of rest in Ethiopia. What a privilege to visit historic sites, churches cut into rock that date back hundreds of years, and ancient sites such as Axum. It was our best 25th wedding anniversary gift, and we are truly grateful for their generosity.
We returned to Kenya to meet with our colleagues—other Africans who lead international missions. This was an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together and hear from the Word. We shared glimpses of what we are learning in our roles and issues we are facing, in order to learn from one another. The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree. He then also invited us (Joshua and Joanna) to plant a tree to commemorate our 25th anniversary. When you are at BTL in Ruiru, Kenya, you may find an avocado tree with our picture next to it.
We spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018. At the SIM exhibition booth, we answered questions and prayed with many students seeking guidance about God’s calling into His mission. Please pray for these students. The journey is daunting for many, but they are trusting the Lord, and we are too.
Highlights of Our 2019 Trips So Far
We were in South Africa for Evangel Fellowship meetings in January. This is a gathering of leaders of churches that have come out of the work of SIM in many countries. Over 14 years of bi-annual Evangel meetings, Joshua felt this was one of the best in terms of the quality of discussions. Many churches face significant challenges; they realize their need for one another more than ever. Please pray for church leaders in contexts that increasingly challenge many things the church stands for theologically.
We were also blessed to spend time with the SIM team in Burkina Faso. This team is really feeling the impact of increasing terrorist activities in that part of West Africa. They are now almost totally confined to the capital city and many Christians feel increasing unease in rural areas. Please pray for courage amidst these countrywide security risks.
Our time in Mali was amazing. This is a country where Al-Qaida in the Maghreb has done great damage over the years, yet it was a most refreshing visit for us. How encouraging to see the small SIM team engaged in an unbelievable number of ministries. Two church plants are underway in a rural area outside the capital, as well as children’s feeding program. They have also completed research into a potential outreach among the Moors, Fulani, Soninke, Shonghai, and the deaf—all people who are unreached in Mali. Three families from Ethiopia and a single man from North East India are starting French language studies in Bamako, with plans to serve with SIM among the Fulani in Niger, Mali and Guinea. How encouraging! Please pray we will be able to come alongside them in this amazing vision of seeing a witness for Christ among people who have never heard of Him.
Time with our SIM Guinea team was encouraging. It was great to be back in Guinea after about eight years and to see this team growing. How refreshing to spend time with about 50 university students in Guinea. Many have lots of questions about their future, a desire to serve Jesus, and a willingness to be creative and not depend on government. But they asked, “Who can help us think through these challenges and help us sort out life?” They know that many African migrants have paid the ultimate price in the Mediterranean Sea, and they do not want to follow those steps. At the same time, the present state of things in their country is bleak. They asked, “What is the church’s answer?” After three hours together, we cannot say we had answers to all their questions, but we are grateful for the opportunity to spend time and learn together.
After a quick three days meeting with the International Directors of some of SIM’s collaborating mission agencies, we went on to Germany for SIM Board of Governors. We remain truly grateful for the godly people on our board. Joshua feels blessed to serve under the guidance of people who are totally sold to Jesus and are only concerned about God’s Kingdom and the Good News of the love of Jesus among the nations.
Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us. We are truly grateful for their kindness and hospitality.
We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area.
Last weekend, we were in Columbia, South Carolina, during the Missions Emphasis Month at First Northeast Baptist Church. Joshua preached during the service on Sunday. Praise God for these opportunities and for the privilege of sharing with God’s church what we are learning from His Word, from His work, and about His mission in His world.
Please pray for Joshua’s speaking at the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship Church this Sunday, March 24. Late Sunday afternoon, we fly to the UK to join a Mission Leadership course. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn as we serve.
From there, we go to the Ukraine where Joshua will speak at the mission conference of the Volyn Region Baptist Association. Next we will visit the SIM offices in France and Switzerland, then join Joshua’s Executive Team for a retreat in the UK. In April, we will speak in Greece to a group of SIM workers from limited access locations. From there we continue to Canada for Prairie College Board meeting. We will conclude our five-week trip with another church mission weekend in Ontario.
Thank you for praying for all these trips and speaking engagements. We could not undertake any of these if we did not know that you are standing with us in prayer. No one would try without a solid backing of God’s people who pray, at least we will not.
Praise and prayer:
- Give praise to God for restoring our children to good health and for continuing to uphold them.
- Pray for sustaining grace for Jochebed at work and for Joel in school.
- Jochebed is considering a job change. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and open door
A Special Opportunity
We are most grateful to each one of you who support us sacrificially out of what the Lord has blessed you. We know many of you give from the little that you have, and Joanna and I feel most unworthy of your generosity. However, a supporter who is concerned about our shortfall is making a generous offer. For those who have not received his email:
“Thank you so much for being fellow supporters of Joshua and Joanna. I’m writing in an effort to get them fully funded.
Frankly, I’m of mixed mind on whether it’s a good idea for the International Director to be required to raise his own support. However, given that that is how SIM works, it seems to me that it is extremely unfortunate to have a situation in which individual missionaries are expected to raise full support while the International Director is himself substantially under-funded. It would be even more unfortunate, in my opinion, if Joshua were to spend a disproportionate amount of his time raising a relatively small amount of money for his and Joanna’s support, rather than spending that time on issues of much larger import to SIM and the Kingdom at large.
As a result, when Joshua was at our house recently, I told him that my wife and I would match dollar-for-dollar any contributions that others make toward eliminating his $50,000+ deficit for this year.
If you’re able to help with the $25k match, please contact Joshua with your pledge or donation. For example, if five families each provide $5,000, we’re there. (I certainly don’t need to know who’s pledging how much, but only the total which I need to match.)
Thank you so much for your past support and for your consideration of this request.
To date, $9,500 have been given or pledged. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.
Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.