Personal Time with God Is Life Saving!

“Last night I wanted to end my life. When I fell asleep, I had a dream, and you were in it, so I have come to you this morning.”

John and Linda Spriegel are missionaries serving in Kenya. Linda helps coordinate a women’s Bible study and ministry project called Tabitha Ministry. The needs being met by this group are significant!  

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“Tabitha leaders fit snuggly into our new living room”. Photo credit: Spriegels

“Julianna, one of our top Bible study leaders, welcomed the distraught woman into her home and listened to her hopeless story. When the knock on the door had come, Julianna had been in the middle of her quiet time with the Lord, meditating on Matthew 11:28–30. She knew the Lord wanted this woman to hear His words of comfort and hope. ‘Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ After a heartfelt time of sharing and prayer together, her friend left with renewed faith.

“Peris and I (Linda) have given our top twenty Bible study leaders a Sabbath rest from any responsibilities for three months, to give time for all of us to focus on deepening our personal devotion to Christ. With their busy lives, it is difficult for our leaders to take the crucial time to sit before the Lord, to be rooted and established in Him. And without this vital ‘abiding,’ our work will be shallow. God is blessing these weeks, as the scenario above testifies.”

ACT: Will you pray for Tabitha Ministry in Kenya? May the leaders continue to have the encouragement and protection they need from God. May the participants feel the love of Christ and understand His vision through these groups.

The Flourishing Seeds of Tabitha Ministry

Linda Spriegel shares how the seeds have flourished in Tabitha Ministry, an outreach in Kenya that started as a small Bible study. Read on to learn how God has and is continuing to use this ministry to glorify His name and bring new believers to His kingdom. All photos credited to Linda Spriegel.

“Heading to Kenya in 2005 with my physician husband and our three children to homeschool, and not terribly excited about our ‘little America’ destination, I asked the Lord, ‘Please give me a few women who are hungry to study Your Word, and I will be happy.’ God was gracious. Within two months of landing at Tenwek, a departing missionary asked me to continue to disciple two Kenyan friends after she left. Thus began my first Bible study. Rachel and Anna were illiterate and did not speak English, or Swahili, which I had just studied. But they had a hunger for God’s Word and a delight in singing and meeting together.

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Original Bible study

“Enter Peris, whom we had hired as our cook. She filled the much-needed role as my translator and began to grow herself as we four studied the Word together. It wasn’t long before the news of our study spread. More women came- from their vegetable stands by the hospital, from their gardens nearby, and from farther away. Most of those who came were literate but did not have their own Bibles. So, we looked for funds for Kipsigis Bibles to award them if they learned 17 Scripture verses. God’s Word was entering deeply into their hearts.

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Recipients of Bibles

“When we reached the six-month mark of having our studies, we had 50 women crowding into our living room each week. So, we divided them into village groups. Each group sent their leader and assistant leader to our home for the weekly study. Then these leaders went and taught the lesson in their villages. The groups were closer to home, and more women were able to attend.

“A year later, the number of studies had grown to the point that we had 50 leaders coming to our home each week. Again, we divided them; this time into hillsides with ‘overall leaders.’ These top leaders studied the Word with us each week and then went and taught their leaders, who then taught their members in their villages.

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Kipisorwet leaders’ training

“Obviously, women were hungry to know God and His Word. Some had been in the church for years but had never studied the Word on their own. Others found Christ for the first time in these groups. All were drawn to Jesus. You see, women are often marginalized in Kenyan culture, and they were surprised to read how important they were in God’s eyes. Studying the Gospel of Luke, we began by studying Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna—women of great faith whom God loved and used in His plan. As we continued through the Gospel, we noted the women whose lives were changed by Jesus, the role of women in Jesus’ ministry, and His love for them. The ladies were almost embarrassed to recite one of our early verses from Isaiah 43:4: “You are honored and precious in my eyes, and I love you.” They couldn’t wrap their minds around this amazing attitude of the Almighty God toward them.

“Fast forward 10 years. Peris is co-director with me of Tabitha Women’s Ministry, a network of over 250 Bible studies over the hillsides around Tenwek. We have added another layer of leadership to the studies and have 300 women teaching God’s Word at the different levels each week. They get no remuneration for teaching; they volunteer for the sheer joy of sharing with other women the truths of Jesus they have discovered. The studies continue to expand, on their own. Over 9,000 women have earned their own Bibles, and over 2,500 are presently involved in the weekly studies.

“The ministry has also developed a compassionate outreach aspect, coming alongside local churches that want to help their neediest with house projects, gift cows, or field help. We have partnered with local churches to build 200 homes and to present 150 gift cows to needy families. These visible demonstrations of God’s love have had an impact on many communities, drawing even more people to Christ. And local churches are accepting their responsibility to care for the poor among them.

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Widow receives cow

“Back in 2005, we could never have envisioned what God would do with one small Bible study with two illiterate women whose language I did not speak. It was not my strategy, but the Lord went before us and we followed, and He continues to produce much fruit.”

 

 

Testimonies of God’s Mercy and Power

Tabitha Ministry is an outreach to Kenyan women who live in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. Since missionary Linda Spriegel started a Bible study in her home in 2005 for village women, the ministry has grown to more than 100 Bible studies that meet weekly in the villages. Linda’s latest post on the Tabitha Ministry blog highlights two specific women’s testimonies from the community. Read on to hear these amazing testimonies of God’s mercy and power.

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Photo credit: Linda Spriegel

“First, meet ‘Grace the Customer.’  Living alone, she lived for drink, going early in the day to the local brewer’s house to do chores so she could get the corn-based local brew for herself.  Tobacco was her other habit, and it all took a toll on her health.  Last year, sick, and troubled in her home by visits from evil spirits, she cried out to God.  He released her from the spirits’ grip, then appeared to her in a dramatic dream.  She saw heaven and wanted to stay there, but was told she needed to return with messages for her children.  She was healed from that time on, and shortly after, she finally got up the courage to look for a church.  There she heard about Jesus and gave her life to Him.

“She began attending a Tabitha Bible study, and although illiterate, learned the verses to earn her own Bible.  She takes her Bible to others who can read it to her.  She says, ‘His Word is like a bone.  I chew on it until it becomes soft and it enters my heart.  I never went to school.  I ask God to teach me Himself, and He does.’  She loves Galatians 5:1, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’  Her neighbor friend attests to the witness she is having in her family and in their community by her changed life and word of testimony.”

If you want to read the rest of the blog post, including a second testimony of the brewer who sold Grace the liquor, visit the Tabitha Ministry blog. WGM can also help you get involved in Tabitha Ministry and the impact it is having in Kenya:

Prescription for Renewal Conference

Our very own medical missionaries John and Linda Spriegel, Jim and Martha Ritchie, and Steve and Theresa Manchester attended the 27th annual Prescription for Renewal Conference in North Carolina in October. John, Jim, and Steve presented lectures and a report. The seminar, which was coordinated by World Medical Mission (the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse), is designed to educate, encourage, and equip medical professionals to practice abroad in a volunteer setting.

When describing the seminar, Franklin Graham (Samaritan’s Purse CEO) said, “These ministries are saving many lives, but more importantly, they are leading people to a new life through faith in Christ.” Samaritan’s Purse is a partner organization of WGM and has a presence at Chogoria Hospital, Tenwek Hospital, and other hospitals in Kenya.

Meet these medical missions families:

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Jim and Martha Ritchie serve in Kenya at Chogoria Hospital, specializing in medical training.

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John and Linda Spriegel serve in Kenya at Tenwek Hospital and with Tabitha Ministry.

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Steve and Theresa Manchester serve in Kenya at Tenwek and through a special project in hospice care.

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Dr. Jim Ritchie (Photo credit: Martha Ritchie)

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Dr. Steve Manchester (Photo credit: Linda Spriegel)

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Middle L-R: Dr. Steve Manchester and Dr. John Spriegel (Photo credit: Theresa Manchester)

Theresa summarized their experience: “Steve and John Spriegel each prepared two lectures for the CME Seminar on Friday, October 14th, on topics ranging from tick fever to meningitis. Saturday morning, Dr. Jim Ritchie gave a very inspirational report on the ‘rebirth’ of Chogoria Mission Hospital and many people were interested in talking with him afterward.”

Will you pray for those who heard the lectures and report? May they have the wisdom to know if God is calling them to the field and the bravery to say yes when they feel that tug on their heart.