Musa’s Great Adventure

Opening the door of God’s Kingdom to the Mankidias of India

When Pastor D. B. Hrudaya of Orissa, India, first heard of the Mankidia people group, they were among the most nomadic and illiterate peoples of northern India. They were known as “monkey hunters” and forest dwellers. There were no believers in Christ among them. They worshiped evil forest spirits. Their culture was rampant with oppression and hopelessness. They could boast of no high school graduates, medical knowledge or social graces.

Two such examples were Arun Mankidia and his wife Salomi. They lived in a primitive hut made of branches in the remote Dengam jungle. They suffered with severe depression due to the influence of the evil spirits that they worshipped. They had to walk 25 miles through the jungle to sell the hand made rope that they wove from the forest vines at the nearest market. They were without God and without hope in the world.

Into this picture, stepped a man named Musu Marandi. He is one of Pastor Hrudaya’s field staff. Hrudaya and his team had been praying for an opening among the Mankidia people for over 10 years but with no breakthrough. They had reached the point where some of Hrudaya’s workers had learned the Mankidia language. With some outside support, the ministry was able to send Musu into the jungle areas where they lived. Finally, on one of the weekly market days, Arun met Musu in the market. After a lengthy conversation where Musu shared the good news of Christ with him, Arun decided he wanted to know more about the wonderful person of Jesus.

Arun went home and shared what he had learned with Salomi. She had just miscarried a baby for the third time. The hopelessness of her married life was at its greatest height. But on that wonderful day she received new hope. The news of forgiveness and a new life in Christ was a revelation to her. God had begun His good work in her and Arun’s hearts.
Arun and Salomi visited Musu at his home. He fully explained the plan of salvation to them in their language. On that day, Musu led them to Jesus Christ. Their lives were forever changed. They immediately began sharing the news of Jesus with other Mankidias. A new work was born!

Not long thereafter, both Arun and Salomi came to Pastor Hrudaya’s training center in Balasore, Orissa, for Biblical training and church planting training. In 2014, they graduated and went back to work among their own communities. Starting in their own village and reaching out from there, they now have spread the Gospel into 13 villages. So far, about 2000 Mankidias have come to Christ. Today, they have developed a small outreach team focusing on reaching the remaining Mankidias for Christ.

Though funding has been very limited for this wonderful project, much has been done to raise the living conditions of the Mankidias. Efficient farming techniques have been introduced, land for growing crops has been provided to them, medical clinics have been held and literacy centers have been established. The first Christian Mankidia marriages have been celebrated. The Mankidia project, initiated in 2014 in order to introduce the Mankidias to the God who made them, loves them and died for them, has developed them in every way. The included pictures bear testimony to that reality.
But this is still just the beginning. With the provision of strategic funding, the project can touch many more lives.

Here is what is needed to bring the Mankidia work into fuller effectiveness:

1. The provision of regular support for 5 workers at $100 per month
2. Funding for four Medical Camps at $800 per camp
3. The establishment of literacy centers among the not yet reached villages of the Mankidias. These cost about $300 to set up and $150 a month to maintain.
4. One motorbike at $1000 for a regional worker to travel among the villages.
5. Establishment of a Mankidia Goat project. This effective project works as follows: A family is given 3 goats at a cost of $50. The family cares for the goats for two years in which time their small herd normally grows to 10. After that, the additional goats can be sold in the market. Past project experience shows this will provide an annual income of over $600 to the family. Pastor Hrudaya wants to start this project with 60 Mankidia families so is seeking $3000 to get it launched.

Will you help us provide new support for this fruitful work among the Mankidia people? There are many Arun’s and Salomi’s out there who will become wonderful ambassadors of the love of Christ to their fellow Mankidias.

With deep thanks,
Lance Thollander for HBI, Pastor Hrudaya and the Mankidia people

Haiti Trip Report – Time for God’s Kingdom to Burst Forth

Dear Friends,

A team from Hope Builders International traveled to Haiti in February to visit the ministry of Cebien Alexis. As many Americans know, Haiti has seen years and years of economic and political distress, due to poor, corrupt, and ever changing governmental leadership. More than half of the population is trapped in the darkness of voodoo. Though rich in beauty and resources, poverty is rampant. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line. Leaders of integrity are needed to transform the country. That is why we partner with Pastor Cebien.

Cebien has planted 200 churches in Haiti and among Haitians in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island to the east. Through his tireless work in his medical clinic, Cebien supports pastors and teachers and ministry work in a multitude of ways. In addition, he is the leader of a Haitian pastors’ network of over 1000 ministers.

During this visit Lance and Jim Witkower taught at a mini-conference for pastors in Cebien’s church network, called EBAC. We prepared Bible ministry booklets in Creole to give to the pastors. Two more booklets are ready to be translated into Creole and given out when funds are available. In an encouraging note, the pastors offered their personal funds to cover a similar conference in the future. On this trip, our friend Mark Bodycombe, also brought two friends to explore possibilities for building projects. We have all been moved by Cebien’s faithfulness to the vision and calling the Lord gave him many years ago.

As on our first visit, we witnessed firsthand Cebien’s radically self-sacrificial lifestyle. As pastors gathered for the conference, coming at all hours of the night, Cebien would greet them and leave his bed to sleep beside them on the floor of the clinic. One night of the conference, after the pastors were served dinner, he stayed up all night talking to them and hearing their concerns – then the next day, translated for Lance during the conference.    

We stayed on the grounds of the EBAC orphanage receiving wonderful care from Cebien’s family, like his niece Yolene, shown right, with our friend Ann Witkower and Christie. Cebien’s son Campbell, who grew up in the States, is there now to help his dad and learn about the ministry. Cebien’s daughter and son-in-law, Alexis and Mike Swittel, also joined us for a couple of days. They are helping with projects both at the University and at the orphanage. It was a joy to meet them all.        

Cebien’s passion is for evangelism and church planting. On top of that, he knows education is a major need if Haitians are to improve their lives. Cebien’s Faith Christian University has programs in administration, nursing, alternative medicine, and theology. Campbell and Cebien’s nephew Julien, havealso planted a model farm on the University grounds. They plan to teach church pastors and membershow to raise their own corn and vegetables. Every summer, youth from the churches come to the University for a month-long camp where they learn vocational skills. Currently they sleep on the concrete floors of the dormitory rooms. 200 mattresses are needed to keep them off the hard floor. They cost $60 each.

On a fun note, we had a unique opportunity to attend a Haitian thanksgiving feast. A month prior, one of Cebien’s church members was paralyzed by a stroke and could not speak. The Lord healed her, so she and her husband gave testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness. The feast included lots of music, Scripture, and testimonies. Cebien gave a message comparing this feast to the actions of Mary after Lazarus was healed. It was a joyful event!

We were able to bring funds to provide goats for rural families, lay the foundation for a rural church building and home for a pastor, and to meet other ministry needs. Pastor Villet, who lives in Gommier, hasbeen living outdoors in his garden for the past two years since Hurricane Matthew destroyed 80% of the buildings in 2016. HBI was able to send funds to Cebien for metal roofs to repair homes there. The metal sheets were stored on Pastor Villet’s property, whose home and church building were also destroyed. Pastor Villet used none of the roofing himself. Now, thanks to HBI donors, Cebien will begin construction of a new church building with a home at the back for this servant of God. Our hope is to raise the funds needed to finish this church/home.

Cebien also supports income-producing projects. A prime example is the goat project. For $200 a family receives 3 goats which provide them with milk and over time, enables them to sell the baby goats. Many families have already received goats through HBI support with more waiting.

It is so encouraging to see how funds given through our HBI donors help advance the Lord’s work in Haiti.Though this nation is broken in many ways, the Gospel is bringing wholeness and healing to many. This beautiful island was made to sing forth the glories of God. Please join us in supporting this place of true potential for the Kingdom of God. To give online, visit www.hope-builders.org where you can designate gifts for items like booklet translation, mattresses, or the goat project on our contribution page. Gifts can also be sent to PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78739 and designated for Pastor Cebien Alexis.

 

With love in Christ,

Lance & Christie Thollander

 

 

Helping Cuba & Haiti in Their Hour of Need

Dear Friends,
It’s been a terrible season of natural worldwide calamity. With the disasters facing our own country brought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, our attention and hearts are naturally drawn to help those closest to us. That good work must continue.

At the same time a great opportunity exists to help our brothers and sisters just beyond our borders with lifesaving and Gospel empowering help. These include our near neighbors in Cuba and Haiti. Given the bad news that we often receive out of these places, many Americans do not know about the great evangelistic work that is going on in these places. That work has been greatly magnified through the support of the wider body of Christ, needed now more than ever.

The recent hurricanes have taken a huge toll on property and livelihoods. Many pastors and evangelists have lost their homes and property. Three destroyed houses of believers in Cuba are pictured here. In Haiti, the sister of Pastor Clovis, a co-worker of our partner Cebien Alexis, was killed from flying debris at their church. The government in Cuba, which in past hurricanes has offered some aid to the victims is not doing so this time. They are just too overwhelmed. Even food distribution that was previously offered free of charge now comes with a price. There is significant risk of starvation and disease among the people.

Here is how one of the pastors described the situation, “The desolation is complete: There is no food, no shelter, no medicines. The few belongings of the population are ruined by the passage of the hurricane.”

Why is it especially important to help our brothers and sisters there get back on their feet? The humanitarian reason would be cause enough. They do not have social help networks, reserve funds or emergency relief systems. Their access to electricity, clean water and food supplies is dependent on outside sources. But even beyond that, this is a tremendous time for reaching these islanders for Christ. Our ministry partners in Cuba, for example, along with others in the Evangelism Network they are part of, set a target of sharing the Gospel with one million Cubans in 2017. This is a great goal on an island which is avowedly Communist with an overall population of just over eleven million.

And they are well on their way to doing that. Here is what has been accomplished in the first six months of 2017:

• 524,367 people evangelized
• 35,288 people saved
• 12,576 being discipled
• 580,360 tracts purchased and provided for use
• 3,200 Bibles, 2,800 New Testaments and 3,680 Gospels of St. John distributed.

At a recent crusade in Havana more than 68,000 heard the Gospel and over 2,000 of them came to receive Christ right there. In addition, the project has founded 103 new mission stations throughout the country. This is wonderful news.

In Haiti a great openness also exists for the Gospel. In our June visit there we saw church after church that has been opened up in countryside villages through the work of Cebien Alexis and his team. Now many of their church buildings stand without roofs as do the homes of pastors.

Will you help us stand in the gap for our island neighbors? The help that we send will go directly to those most affected, hand delivered by co-workers of our Cuban partner Pastor Ledesma and Pastor Cebien Alexis in Haiti. These gifts will help them deal with the damages to their properties and also with the provision of food and necessary supplies. They will also enable them to reach out to their neighbors who do not know Christ.

At times like this there is always a great openness to the Good News of a saving and loving God. To give online, go to the contribution page of our website, www.hope-builders.org, and click on Cuba or Haiti in the dropdown menu. To give by mail, you can send a contribution to us at Hope Builders International, PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78709. Let’s help our brothers and sisters and keep the Gospel going forward in the Caribbean!

With love in Christ,
Lance & Christie Thollander

Latest News from Compassion for Orphans: The Hopeful Story of Nikitha

This report arrived in our office this week from Sheba Sunayana, our ministry partner in central India. We hope you will be encouraged by the story of Nikitha, a student in her care.

“Nikitha joined our home at the age of 8 along with her sister. When I first saw Nikitha, shown right, her eyes were full of tears and fear. Her father had brought the sisters to our children’s home. He told us that the girls’ mother had died a few months earlier. He said that Nikitha was very stubborn and rude. She hated everyone and would never listen to anyone. As a result, everyone hated her. I realized I had to pay special attention to her and started to spend extra time with her. After a while, Nikitha began to trust me. One day she broke into tears telling me that her mom had set herself on fire because her father had abused her for not giving birth to a boy. I cried with her and prayed for her. I told her that God loved her. She started to put her faith in Jesus and soon accepted Him as her Savior. Since then she has completely changed and has become a powerful witness for Christ. God has blessed her in her studies and she is now starting college. We are sponsoring her for her college tuition. She shares God’s love with her friends and is a star shining for Christ.

Seeing lives changed like this makes me so happy and encouraged to do more work for the Lord. Watching the children learn and grow in faith is a great blessing. Our challenging reality is that the more evangelical work that goes on in India, the more persecution and trouble we face. For example, our neighbors and the local people hate us because we are Christians. They say bad words when we go by their property on the way to the orphanage. We have been facing this for a long time and we are praying that someday the Lord will change their minds. Will you join us in that prayer?

On Mother’s Day I received special greetings and well wishes from the girls in our charge. One of the girls told me that since she didn’t have a mother any more, I would be her mother. Such words remind me of my responsibility, not only to educate them but to provide a loving environment for them. In some cases, I am not only mother but also father, sister and friend, too. Sometimes I feel scared with that responsibility so I ask the Lord to give me more strength to do his work, to be able to care for all the big and small needs these children have.

Compassion for Orphans could not be run without your prayers and financial support. Your support helps children like Nikitha have the hope of a fulfilling life and in Christ one that will last forever.

We greatly appreciate your continued support. To cover all our monthly financial needs takes about $4000 which is an ongoing challenge for us. Please remember us in your prayers that the Lord will continue to help us go forward.

On a personal note, my son David Livingstone has finished his 1ST Year in Bible College and ranked at the top of his class. My daughter, Florence, graduated from high school and excelled. Now we are looking for sponsors to help her meet her college tuition. My mother is doing very well. The Lord has done great wonders in her life. She is completely cured of cancer. Thank you all for praying for her. My brother’s family has also been taking part in ministering with the children. This has been a great help, as well. Special gifts for CFO can be sent to Hope Builders at PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78709 or given online at www.hope-builders.org.

With deep love for you,
Sheba Sunayana

Hope Builders in Haiti: A Tale of Two Kingdoms – June 2017

Dear Friends,

To call the road rutted would be an understatement. Better to say the deep ditch ahead looked daunting. But we had been driving on such roads for several days in our travels to see the work of Cebien Alexis and his ministry, Army of Ch rist, in Haiti. Our HBI team, consisting of Christie and me, and our longtime friends Jim & Ann Witkower and Mark Bodycombe was getting used to such conditions.

We had almost reached our destination, the school in Robinette, where Hope Builders’ donors have helped fund a recently opened church building and is helping with school and agricultural development. Our hearts were stirred with excitement as only a few years before the only school structure here consisted of some wooden benches under a rusty tin roof held up by bamboo poles. Today we would serve lunch to 75 beautiful young school children, who meet in cinder block classrooms while a large school and agricultural training building are going up nearby. Their songs and words of devotion to the Lord brought smiles to our faces. Everywhere we went the believers greeted Cebien with hugs of joy.

Our time in Haiti had certainly been a contrast in kingdoms. After the chaos of having our luggage searched and getting through customs, seeing the smiling face of our 72 year old brother Cebien waving to us was a joy. Packed into our vehicle, leaving the airport, seeing the mounds and mounds of garbage lining the roads and the waterfront, surrounded by zooming motorcycles and small taxis, called taptaps, these are all memories that will endure. Seeing the hordes of people sitting by the roadside in dirty stalls trying to sell their wares reminded us of other impoverished lands we have seen, but somehow at a more desperate level. The poverty and hunger are acute.

Thankfully, as time went on, the weight of glory began to shine through. We watched Cebien serve with joy in his natural environment, and met Kathy and Alice, his dedicated American co-workers who have served with him for 40 years. We saw the smiling faces of the children in their care and began to get a feel for the magnitude of their good work in the face of opposition, government instability and corruption, the deadly influence of voodoo, poverty and danger. Our spirits were lifted. We found the Lord and his Kingdom in the midst of the chaos.

Our days found us roaming far and wide through the Haitian countryside to visit churches and schools that Hope Builders has helped provide buildings and grounds for. We met pastors, educators, children and church members who hugged us unabashedly and whose faces lit up as they shared the impact Pastor Cebien has had on their lives. Outside of the cities, this part of Haiti is lush, mountainous, green and beautiful. While the roads were terrible, indeed, some of the worst we have ever driven on, when our destinations were reached we were happy and blessed to see the fruit of Cebien’s and his team’s labors. He was happy as well that we were willing to take the time and endure the long days of driving to see what has been accomplished for the people he serves in difficult to reach areas.

We attended lively church meetings and a pastoral training gathering of 70+ leaders. We met more of those that Cebien works with and through whose leadership the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached. We saw the grounds of the university where a nurse’s training program is housed and where very soon training in careers as an electrician or mechanic will be provided. As mentioned, we traveled four hours to bring lunch to children in the area of Robinette and meet their teachers and the local pastor in that area. The foundation for a large new school has been laid and the building waits for additional funding in order to be completed. The church is growing and the local people are encouraged. Agricultural land has been purchased here to train believers in effective farming techniques. The potential is evident.

Another day’s journey took us over the top of a mountain from which we could see a large red tin roof, provided by HBI that covered a seemingly massive church building. Though construction is not finished on the inside, over 200 Haitians already meet to worship God there. We sat by the nearby river with local believers and were treated to some fine Haitian coffee, sweet and strong. We found out that this is one of the areas where goats will be provided to Haitian families that will enable them to earn income. Through the Lord’s mercy and your help, we have provided enough funds to give three goats to each of forty families at $200 per family. We look forward to sharing photos of some of those families with you as the goats are provided.

A lot has been done but the promise of greater things coming permeates Cebien’s thoughts. Additional funds will see the completion of church and school buildings, the provision of clean water for agricultural projects, the development of small businesses for enterprising church members and the establishment of a youth camp on a beautiful site Army of Christ already owns in the mountains near Cap Haitien. Ever the evangelist and church planter Cebien also shared with us his plans to travel to the remotest parts of Haiti where there are still unreached people groups who have had no witness for Christ established among them. There are currently 210 churches in the Army of Christ’s network and Cebien would love to see more where Christ’s name is not yet known.

On top of all this, Cebien, who is also a doctor, continues to see upwards of 100 patients a day in his medical clinic, located on the school compound. Patients began lining up as early as 5:30 in the morning to receive his loving care.

This unique man with the steadfast heart for the Lord is bringing the culture of the Kingdom of God to a place that desperately needs it…a true apostle. Pray with us that the Lord will continue to give Cebien good health and that He will bring leaders of vision and commitment to Cebien’s side. Thank you again for your gifts of support. They are helping Cebien empower Haitians to both bring the gospel of hope to a people in darkness and to elevate the living conditions of those in his circle for years to come.

In addition to the items listed above, there are still many ways to help in Haiti. Funds are welcome for replacing tin meeting sheds with permanent structures, funding micro-finance projects to enable believers to become self-supporting like the goat project, providing school clothes and materials for the many school children who have no source of help for such things and development of agricultural land for farming on fields Cebien has already purchased. While we couldn’t visit the far western parts of Haiti due to the great distances and still impassable roads, a great deal has been done with the hurricane relief funds we sent last winter for that area. Still, more remains to be done for those suffering in Haiti’s westernmost regions.

We are blessed to serve the wonderful ministry of Cebien Alexis and Army of Christ in Haiti in these endeavors. We thank you for making it possible to do that.

With love in Christ,

Lance Thollander

Meet God’s Ambassador to Haiti: Cebien Alexis

Great Opportunity to bring Help and Hope Directly to the Haitian People

Since 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti, the country has known mostly suffering. Haiti was once France’s wealthiest colony. Its great yields of lumber and sugar cane were possible only through the labor of imported African slaves, who were worked so cruelly that they usually died within a few years. Slavery in Haiti was perhaps the most brutal the world has ever seen. Finally in 1799, slaves, outnumbering their colonial masters by 10 to 1, carried out the only successful slave revolt in history. Haiti became the world’s first post-colonial black-led nation. Sadly, though, thanks to oppressive and evil governments and natural disasters, the suffering of the Haitian people has continued. Lying only 700 miles off our shores, is there something we as believers can do to bring them relief through the love of Christ? YES! And now is the time!

Haiti, with its ten million people, is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. To worsen things, in January 2010, a massive earthquake virtually destroyed the capital of Port-au-Prince, resulting in 300,000 deaths and leaving 1.5 million homeless. In October 2016, devastating Hurricane Matthew slammed into southwestern Haiti, affecting over 2.1 million people. Some of the damage is shown above.

Despite the billions in aid money given for Haiti over the years, conditions for the average Haitian have not improved. Why is this? One big reason is the funds given have not been invested wisely in Haitian leaders whose heart is for the people, leaders like Cebien Alexis, shown right. It’s time for a change!

Cebien Alexis sees the gospel as the only answer to Haiti’s problems. And he knows how best to apply it. Cebien came to the Lord as a boy through a Baptist missionary’s vacation Bible school. When he told his family, his father kicked him out of the house. With help from relatives, he completed high school, and Bible school as well. The Bible school taught not only the fundamentals of preaching, church history, and theology, but also many practical skills. Cebien absorbed it all. Then he enrolled in a correspondence course with a Swiss seminary. Following more study in Switzerland and the Ivory Coast, Cebien received a Doctoral Degree in plant-based medicine in 1979. But most of that he did in his spare time.

In 1971, after graduation from Bible school, Cebien launched into evangelism, impelled by the Lord to reach his people with the gospel. At age 27, Cebien used his last $12 to rent a run-down building in the town of Ile Adam and buy lumber for benches. He held his first evangelistic meetings and planted a church in that town with 11 newly saved people. Before the end of the year, 100 people were meeting regularly for worship.

From that small beginning, Cebien’s ministry, EBAC, known in English as Army of Christ, has borne great fruit. Cebien and his co-workers have raised up more than 200 churches in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In the process many witch doctors have come to Christ. An orphanage has been founded which has transformed the lives of hundreds of children. Cebien conducts evangelistic crusades four times a year. When possible, EBAC helps provide buildings for thriving churches. His ministry includes elementary schools and school lunch programs, business start-up projects for church members, and disaster relief. Faith Christian University, started by Cebien, provides training to Christian men and women in agriculture, nursing, environmental protection, and disaster risk assessment.

The Lord is using Cebien in powerful ways to win his people to Christ and help them improve their lives. He is known by most people in Haiti, including the powerful. At one time, he was asked to be Haiti’s ambassador to Germany but turned down the offer. His answer: “Why should I serve man when I can serve the King of kings?”

In June Christie and I and a small team will be visiting various ministry sites with Cebien in Haiti. It will be a great opportunity to see the work Cebien has been doing. HBI was blessed to send funds to aid in the relief work following Hurricane Matthew. We have sent funds for schools, building projects, pastoral support, economic development and the like. Now we will see first-hand how the funds have been utilized. We plan to bring funds with us that can be applied directly to the most urgent areas of need and opportunity. The more we can raise, the more we can directly support this excellent work. One current project Cebien is working on is the provision of 3 goats to families that lost everything in the hurricane. This will enable them to both earn income and provide sustenance to their families. By growing their flocks, they will be able to give young goats to other families. The cost is $200 per family.

Will you help us increase what can be done? Gifts can be given online at
www.hope-builders.org or sent in by check to PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78709. Gifts received by May 30 will travel with us to Haiti and go directly into helping bring spiritual and holistic blessings to the Haitian people.

Let’s make an eternal investment now in this needy island, so close to home!

With love in Christ,

Lance & Christie Thollander