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Hewitt Update 8/31/2023
August 31, 2023
Hello from Michigan … Finally, home!

This has definitely been a summer of “Firsts” for us!   From June 11th through July 16th we assisted a church in Harrah, Oklahoma, helping them in a variety of ways, including organizing their new pastoral search strategy.  Then, for me (Sandy), there was the “first” of spending a week with our Granddaughter, Helena (and a group from our church) at Big Creek Mission (Southeastern KY) in what is described to be the economically poorest county in the US.  Our group assisted in child care, VBS, food distribution, house projects and a variety of other things. 

From July 26th – August 15, we were on Staten Island, NYC (another “first”) assisting a long-time friend and missionary couple as they enjoyed some down time with their family in Virginia and reported to supporting churches.  WOW!  What a wild ride this summer has been for us!!!!  And…what a great summer of serving the family of God, making new friends and doing what we can to show the love of Jesus.

The ministry on Staten Island at Repentance Baptist Church was unique to us in that the church is a Liberian African Congregation, many former refugees who escaped during that country’s Civil Wars during the 1990s.  20+ years later, we are into the 2nd and 3rd generation.  The pastor we were helping grew up in Liberia as a missionary kid and served as an adult in Liberia and Ivory Coast before returning to America due to family health issues.  His mission board asked Nate and his wife, Karol, to take over this church on Staten Island, whose Liberian pastor was elderly and sick.   During our time there, Tim enjoyed preaching and teaching Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings as well as leading the Tuesday morning Men’s Bible Study.  I taught the children on Sunday mornings and accompanied the hymn singing during the worship time.  I also participated in their ladies’ Zoom Bible Study on Saturday mornings. 

One of our favorite parts of the Sunday morning music service was when the congregation (about 40 people) enthusiastically sang a Liberian praise song medley with the tambourine and shakers, making beautiful (and very loud) music to the Lord, all in their Liberian English. We could only understand about 50% of the words … just enough to join in every now and then when we realized they were repeating a specific phrase!!!   For us, it gave a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, with so many different people groups, traditions and music styles represented.  The Family of God truly is an amazing thing!

What a summer of multi-cultural immersion!  The Oklahoma culture was part southern, part western, military (current and retired), multi-acre landowners, hardworking, educated and part Native American heritage.  The KY culture I experienced was deep poverty, high unemployment (since the mines closed), struggling families, minimal education and addictions. 

The NYC (Staten Island) culture we experienced was different for us in that many are still strongly influenced by their Liberian heritage, making the experience both fun and challenging. They are hopeful and hardworking, embracing education as a way to a better life.   Nate and Karol’s role is to befriend, encourage, disciple and shepherd them in many different ways.  Our observation was that Nate’s role often finds him acting as a loving father or grandfather figure, helping his flock navigate the difficulties and needs experienced when combining cultures.  As a side note, when Nate asked us how we were doing during his absence, my response was, “We are living your life and it is exhausting!”

When we began Barnabas Enrichment Ministries, we never imagined 15 years down the road and how God would bless and grow this ministry!  Although we (our BEM group) may not be saving the world, we do believe that we are making a difference in the lives and ministries of those churches and pastors we have been able to assist.  We humbly recognize that we would not be able to do this on our own.  It is only through God’s provision, protection and direction, along with your faithful prayers and support that we are able to serve. 

Thank You for partnering with us in this ministry!
Tim & Sandy

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