Treasures in the Trouble

Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Cycle One, Done!

You may remember that on January 4th Cindy's collarbone surgery led to some unexpected crazy close calls with death; as a result, the chemo treatment was delayed. It is not surprising that the active Multiple Myeloma cancer number elevated during the delay.
We praise God that at this time the chemotherapy seems to be reducing the cancer levels! Most Mondays we travel to Nashville for treatment.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays Cindy feels puny, mostly with fatigue and "brain fog." So far the side effects are managed well with meds. By week's end God renews her strength for grandkids and RefugeeMemphis ministry. We're so grateful for your prayers:
Please pray that, if God wills, Cindy will be back in remission by May when Mark hopes to have knee surgery.  "I'm so ready to care for Mark like he has cared for me!!"

Sick Widows and Kids

Speaking of care-taking, please pray for some of our refugee ladies who have lost their husbands through war and tragedy. They are raising their children in a new land and they need lots of support. One has many health issues. Thank you for praying.

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!
Meet Jan!
Meet Sherrie!

College Team Coming March 18-25

We are excited that God has prompted a group of eleven students from Arkansas to spend their Spring Break serving with us! We enjoyed a meaningful training retreat with them, along with 40 others going elsewhere on mission projects.  Please ask the Lord for great wisdom to put together appropriate plans. We hope to involve the students with English camps in multiple locations, kids' tutoring, picnics with purpose, home visits, story telling and training. Pray for all of the logistics, for flexibility and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's guidance for the week.
The work is deliberate and slow, totally dependent on the movement of the Spirit. May we draw nearer to Jesus daily, as we each face opportunities to add weight to His witness among the refugee community in this small corner of the world. 
Overwhelmed by His Mercy....
Mark and Cindy

All Praise to God

All Praise to Him

Well known author and missionary widow Elisabeth Elliott writes, "God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus."
Certainly, God is using recent events to refine us and draw us nearer to Him.

A Seven-Day Battle

On January 11 Cindy and I arrived home from Nashville, after an unexpected 7-day battle. Physically, spiritually and emotionally exhausted, we reached home at 4pm.

Within half an hour all three of our daughters and our grandkids surrounded CiCi to celebrate her birthday and to thank God for restoring her life.
We have remained a bit stunned since Dec 28, when we learned that Cindy's multiple myeloma had returned. On Thursday, January 5th she was scheduled for the removal of a 1.6-inch cancer-destroyed section of her collar bone. The doctor described this as outpatient surgery. Not so in our case.
After the successful surgery, Cindy fought pain, nausea and fatigue. Little did we know that her sodium had dropped to life-threateningly low levels (115). By Saturday, January 7th at noon Cindy experienced a low-sodium-induced seizure that left her non-responsive for three hours. We clung to every twitch and breath as a glimmer of hope that what we were seeing was not Cindy in a coma.

Counting Miracles

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:

- Miracle #1 
Cindy's insurance required that the collarbone surgery become at least a 24-hour inpatient procedure. Honestly, the post-operative discomfort would have made it hard for her to leave the hospital so soon. Who knew that staying in the hospital would end up saving her life.
- Miracle #2
On Saturday afternoon at 12:30 pm, just minutes before we were to drive on an icy road back to Memphis, Cindy had a low-sodium-induced seizure. If the seizure had occurred on the road and the low sodium level had not been quickly corrected (as it was in the hospital), Cindy could have potentially reached a comatose state, experienced permanent brain damage, or worse. God's timing was perfect.
- Miracle #3
A skilled young nurse made the quick decision during the seizure to reconnect Cindy's oxygen, clear her airway, suction her mouth and call for the code team - all while Mark held Cindy on her side for what seemed like a very long two minutes. After the seizure, Cindy's body collapsed, remaining catatonic for three hours - not usual for a typical seizure.
- Miracle #4
Emily (on speaker phone from Turkey) encouraged a young medical resident to alter his well-intentioned efforts to further raise Cindy's sodium at a dangerously rapid rate, which could have left Cindy brain damaged. Emily's intervention occurred at just the right time. The resident's supervisor later agreed with Emily's recommendation, putting Cindy on the correct course of gradual sodium normalization.
- Miracle #5
Another sharp young ICU nurse made the life-saving decision to quickly begin Cindy on "pressors" to keep her alive during an extremely low blood pressure crisis, which occurred as she was being transported back from an MRI to her ICU room. If the nurse had failed to act decisively, Cindy may not have survived.
- Miracle #6
Emily's pharmacy classmate, Allison, who was present with us through one crisis after another, along with Emily (by phone), convinced the ICU team to consult endocrinologists. We are so thankful that the endocrinology team corrected and safely restored Cindy's sodium levels.
 - Miracle #7
The persistent efforts of a skilled ICU medical fellow saved Cindy many times. He refused to give up on her as he and his team made some timely decisions, such as inserting an arterial line to better monitor Cindy's blood pressure. He and his team became God's instruments, clearly guided by His Hand.
- Miracle #8
Allison, Emily's pharmacy classmate, gave non-stop devotion and advocacy to Cindy. She remained day and night at Cindy's side with Mark, along with Emily by phone, helping with every critical medical decision -- encouraging Mark when things seemed hopeless.
- Miracle #9
Prayer works. When Cindy was being rolled into the ICU Mark texted all three girls, "Mom seized and crashed. Unresponsive. Pray." They jumped into action, notifying many to pray. At the third hour of her non-response, Mark prayed over Cindy, begging God for help and healing. Almost immediately Cindy woke up.
Later during the low BP crisis Mark prayed with Cindy and the medical team for God to guide their hands. He answered our prayers.
Some of you awoke in the night, interceding on Cindy's behalf. Our refugee friends were so kind to contact us, letting us know that they too were praying. Within three hours Betsy and Kelly and their families arrived at the hospital in Nashville. By late Tuesday evening, Emily arrived from Turkey with her youngest son Luke. 

Wednesday, January 11 we reached home--followed soon by the kids and grandkids. All our little toddlers followed behind Maddie, age seven, to gather around Cindy in wonder. Charlie asked, "CiCi are you still sick?"

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!"

On Skype from Turkey, Caleb asked to see CiCi. Immediately after seeing her face and talking to Cici on the phone, Caleb said to Emily, "Okay, Mommy, CiCi's better. Would you please come home now?!"
God is good. We can't stop thanking Him for undeserved mercy and for His unending love, not withholding even painful events that point us and draw us close to Him. We pray that each of us will steward well the days appointed for us. 
So, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Mark and Cindy Morris

Sweet and Somber Christmas

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. 

Mabry Jane - 12/22/16


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.

Somber News

Three Generations

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 

Ladies Celebrate

Sixty women and children from six nations and six churches gathered to celebrate two babies of refugee moms from Syria and Afghanistan.  dancing-ladiesEvents 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

Starting School, Learning English

This week Cindy was thrilled to help one excited five-year-old get started in kindergarten.  Praise God that the teacher has 19 years of experience with ESL kids from other countries!  Our hope is that this little boy and others like him will learn English well and challenge his own parents to become fluent.

Pray for refugees to be determined, disciplined and able to learn English. Pray for volunteers and team members to find the most effective ways to tutor. 

Hot Summer Days

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!

The swimmers represented forty plus families that have moved into one apartment complex nearby. Mark and the team of volunteers met three new Syrian families at the airport last week. Two of the families had seven children each. More than half of all the refugees are children.

"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)

Henna Now @TGC

Cindy is now at The Gospel Coalition for Women. She is serving with a dozen women at the IMB booth, sharing the gospel while painting Bible story designs on ladies' palms with henna, an ancient Asian art form.  May meaningful conversations occur that move us all to abide deeper in Christ, to grow daily as we pray and study His Word and then, with joy and love, share naturally out of that overflow.

Feast before the fast.

We thank the Lord that on the 5th of June twenty-four refugees and sixteen volunteers gathered at our home to feast and fellowship before their long thirty days of fasting. It was a beautiful night, including some pontoon boat rides and delicious food. We engaged in many sidebar conversations and saw God sweeten relationships for His glory.
One resultant blessing: A volunteer guest at the cookout heard about the Wednesday afternoon ladies' ESL (English as a Second Language) tutoring and joined in the next week. One of the refugee students praised our teaching team as being "So kind!" We replied, "Thank you, but only God is truly kind." We explained our motives for helping them. "We can't do anything good to earn merit from God. We serve you because God in Christ has loved us so much. We want Jesus' love to flow through us to you."
Friday night Mark and I returned to this same apartment and had the privilege of breaking fast with one young refugee family. Pray for these families who are fasting and praying. May the Holy Spirit prepare their hearts for spiritual transformation and may Jesus the Messiah reveal Himself to them during these days and nights.

Not So Fast

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting will begin soon. As a follower of Jesus Christ, have you enjoyed the practice of Christian prayer and fasting?

Let's be clear. There is an indisputable distinction between fasting as a Christian and Muslim fasting. Muslims fast for merit -- hoping to add weight to the positive side of the scale of divine judgment.

A Muslim's hope -- the more merit earned through good works, the better his chance that Allah will allow him into paradise.

As redeemed followers of the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our motivation for fasting is quite different. From approximately June 6th, during the daylight hours of the subsequent thirty days of Ramadan, many sincere Muslims will abstain from food and drink. Muslims will experience cherished family time at community evening meals. They will read the Qur'an at the mosque and pray. Their hope is to earn Allah's merciful favor.

So what about fasting for Christians? Clearly, God's grace cannot be earned. In fact, those two words don't fit logically into the same sentence, since grace is defined as "unmerited favor." Grace is not grace if it can be earned in any way. Grace is an undeserved gift from God. His grace is "lavished upon us" Ephesians 1:7-9, NASB.

So why fast and how do I get started? David Mathis at Desiring God Ministries has written a helpful beginners guide for Christian fasting.


Fasting for Beginners

Article by: David Mathis

Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.

Part of it may be that we live in a society in which food is so ubiquitous that we eat not only when we don’t need to, but sometimes even when we don’t want to. We eat to share a meal with others, to build or grow relationships (good reasons), or just as a distraction from responsibility.

And of course, there are our own cravings and aches for comfort that keep us from the discomfort of fasting.

Read More

New Life

We are so thankful for all of your responses to the announcement about this New Day in our lives and ministry. If you missed that first letter, you can read it at God is so good to lead us on this new journey, and we are grateful.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV).

Mothers are especially remembered in May.

Please pray for three beautiful, young Afghan mommies and new babies here at "RT" in Memphis, the apartment complex where many newly-arrived refugees have landed. Two of the three had their babies in the last two weeks.

Luke James born 1/7 to Emily and Sam.
Praise the Lord for a dozen volunteers from five churches that put on a baby shower for these women. Not only did my mom come, but two dear friends helped from afar - D and S. D suggested the Bible reading and a specially-crafted prayer for Muslim ears. S is an Afghan follower of Jesus; she recorded the reading of Psalm 139 and the prayer for the honored guests to hear in their language during the shower. After helping to setup, Mark disappeared to spend time with one of the husbands, when the Lord opened a door for a deeper, spiritual conversations.

Please pray for these three families -- for healthy babies and mothers, and for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.


New Partners -"Nations Within"of Navigators

Our previous letter mentioned emerging new partnerships. We are excited to partner with our 1979 campus Navigator leader, Mark Lewis. He directs the ministry among the many nationalities living in the United States who have a primary cultural identity distinct from most Americans.
Nations Within exists to advance the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom through generational discipleship. The bouquet of nationalities within our country creates a kingdom opportunity not to be ignored, rather to be sought out and served, toward the end vision of Revelation 7:9.
"After this I looked, and behold,  a great multitude that no one could number,  from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Rev 7:9, ESV).
Memphis Cup

Memphis Cup of Nations - May 21

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. will kick off the third annual Memphis Cup of Nations and Family Festival to celebrate our diverse international community.
The Memphis Cup of Nations seizes the universal passion for sport, connects the nations and builds community. Sixteen teams representing 16 different nationalities will compete in a day-long soccer tournament. The event will recognize the
often overlooked 100,000 plus internationals in our city. Find Out More about Memphis Cup of Nations