Cycle One, Done!
Sick Widows and Kids
Shout-Out to Great Sisters
Do you know Jan and Sherrie, my amazing siblings? Jan sometimes takes me to Vanderbilt and God used Sherrie's healthy stem cells to restore my health from 2011 through 2016. We stay in close touch and I treasure them. Certainly God uses trials, big and small, to draw us nearer to our Maker and to dear ones, too!
College Team Coming March 18-25
All Praise to Him
A Seven-Day Battle
Last night (Saturday, Jan 14) Cindy asked our kids and their husbands to get babysitters and come over for an adults-only meal of reflection and praise. We looked back together as a family and we each retold our view of the last few days - declaring the evidence of God's goodness and His divine intervention:
Maddie shared that at school last week a question was posed to her class, Which would you choose, to be a famous actor or to find the cure for cancer? "Cici," Maddie explained, "I would choose to find the cure for cancer!"
Merry Christmas, one and all!
"Oh come let us adore Him ... Christ the Lord!"
"Can you tell us what is Christmas?"
Many of our refugee friends don't know the true meaning. We are so grateful to have had numerous meals and visits with refugee friends to share the real meaning of Christmas.
In addition to the birth of the Savior, our family welcomed Mabry Jane Irvine December 22 to John and Kelly. There is something so special about delivering a baby at this season. Margaux, age two, until now struggled to distinguish 'baby Jesus" from her new baby sister! May children worldwide discover Jesus and draw near.
On the first day of December Cindy went for her annual cancer screening at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville TN. Soon afterward we learned that her cancer has returned. It has been ten years since the original diagnosis with Multiple Myeloma. At that time, January 2007, she was told that this type of cancer might only afford her 2 - 10 years of life. Her prayers for 25+ more years of quality life began immediately. Cindy was very sick for the first five years. We are so grateful that God has blessed her with almost 6 years of good health.
What does this diagnosis mean?
Since Cindy has already undergone three stem cell transplants, using her own and her sister Sherrie's stem cells, her body will not tolerate another transplant. A chemotherapy plan begins on December 28. We know you will keep us in your prayers. Our doctors are very hopeful that this treatment will push the cancer back into remission. We pray for a quick and thorough response to the drugs, along with quality of life.
The greater gift of Jesus is who we remember now. To share with our Muslim friends from a biblical perspective about the cancer diagnosis, especially in light of the true meaning of Christmas, has brought great joy. We have gone family to family telling the story of the fall of humankind, the resultant separation from God and its consequences -- such as illness and pain in childbirth. Cindy has shared her confidence in Jesus, who came to rescue us from our sin and who promises restoration in Him, and ultimate healing, either in this life or the next. Reed, a refugee for whom you have prayed, called Cindy to say: "God must heal you. We all need you." So kind of so many to express their concern!
Nevertheless, the last few days have been painful - full of waves of shock, tears, sweet and fun visits with our precious daughters and their families. For example, after seeing that Emily was making rolls far away in Turkey, Betsy and Kelly were inspired. They called Audrey to teach them the secrets of cinnamon roll making. Of course, everyone's happy about that!
We enter 2017 uncertain of the challenges we may face. Thank you for praying Philippians 4:7-9 --"that the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus."
We wholeheartedly believe that God is orchestrating all these things for our good and for His glory, as is true for all who call on Him. Along with Joshua, we proclaim: "As for me and my house, we will serve and worship the Lord."
May we all enjoy every moment of this very Merry Christmas!
Mark and Cindy
Sixty women and children from six nations and six churches gathered to celebrate two babies of refugee moms from Syria and Afghanistan. Events like this add to the work as we demonstrate the love of Jesus, provide a safe space for ladies to enjoy some food and fellowship. Thanks to all who contributed with gifts for the babies, food, tents and fun.
Thanks to all who contributed with gifts for the babies, food, tents and fun. Yes, there was a little culturally appropriate ladies-only dancing to the sound of some Persian music. There was also a reading from the Word of God and prayers for the babies and mothers. We shared delicious food along with many cups of tea in the open air on a beautiful day. Last Saturday at a Memphis hospital we welcomed one of these two babies!
“Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers." Psalm 39:12
Twenty refugee friends from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq gathered at our home recently. Three volunteer men jumped in the pool to help a dozen newly arrived children make their very first attempt at swimming. Imagine the smile you see here multiplied many times over--mixed with thrill and laughter! One cute kid asked to use two life jackets, just to be safe. The rest of us kept a watchful eye out, periodically looking back at the pure satisfaction on parents' faces. It was no surprise that eight large cheese pizzas, bags of chips and bowls of watermelon were quickly devoured!
Pray for these families as they adjust to life in the United States, learn English, seek employment, enter school and as they experience the hospitality of followers of Jesus.
Refugees Keep Coming to Memphis!
"Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'" (Matt 9:37-39, ESV)