Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"God With Us" - 2013 Christmas Greetings from Kenya

December 2013 - Christmas Greetings from Kenya
We greet you in the name of Emmanuel -
“God With Us”
And ask His blessings upon you for the New Year
as we give thanks for your support and
encouragement in our service.

Emmanuel, “God with us.” At our home, and in the village. God with us on muddy roads and inside grass-roofed huts. God with us in new cultures and new languages. New families, new celebrations, new understandings. God with us in every sick patient and every lonely prisoner. God with us in every person who comes to our door asking for help. God with us when we try. And God with us when we fail. God is with us through our families, friends, and faithful supporters. God with us is Jesus, who came offering forgiveness and reconciliation, and who promised he would never leave us or forsake us. We pray that you know Jesus, Emmanuel, and are able to recognize him with you everywhere.

“So the Word [Jesus] became human and made his home among us. 
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. "
John 1:14, NLT

Merry Christmas from Steve & Alene

News... from South Africa!
Sharing with other African Cancer Researchers
The biannual African cancer conference was held in Durban, South Africa in November. I (Steve) joined Dr. Russ White (Chief of Surgery at Tenwek Hospital) and Dr. Mike Mwachiro (recent graduate of the Tenwek Endoscopy/Research Fellowship program) in presenting our esophageal cancer research results. Drs. Dawsey and Abnet, two of our collaborators from NIH in USA, also made presentations at the conference. We received many compliments for our research work. I found it especially rewarding to interact with esophageal cancer experts from throughout the world and to make some new contacts for collaboration in Africa. We continue our research emphases at Tenwek Hospital to diagnose and treat pre-cancerous abnormalities in the esophagus and to identify factors that may explain the high rate of esophageal cancer for people living in this area of Africa.

Steve with Drs. Mike and LandoTenwek Endoscopy/Research Fellows, at our poster presentation

Our trip "down south" in Africa was not all business. We had a chance to see some of the sights and see some animals that we do not have in Kenya…
Yes, that actually is Steve with others at the top of Victoria Falls!

Beautiful tram ride to Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa
Lighthouse at Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa

Greater kudu with beautiful horns and markings

Wild dog
OK, we also have cheetahs in Kenya, but this one came close to us!

You can see that the zebras came close to our lodge!

African penguins reside in this area of South Africa
We were in South Africa one week before Nelson Mandela died, but the people's affection and concern for
"Madiba" ("The Lion") was clearly evident in one of the churches that we visited.
Correctional Ministry in Kenya -
Changing people & communities, one life at a time

Alfred had served over 10 years for a murder to which he had confessed. He had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior after visiting with a Correctional Ministry chaplain working at his prison, and he was eager to go home and make peace. The village elders (including Alfred’s father) were insisting that he undergo a traditional “cleansing ritual” involving the blood of goats before he would be allowed to live in the community again.
But Alfred took a stand. “I am a now Christian, and I will be cleansed in a church.” The Correctional Ministry chaplain gathered a group of Christian pastors from that community, and they organized a church service to receive Alfred back to his village. People turned out in droves to see what a “Christian cleansing” was all about. Alfred’s father also came, and was the first to greet him when he got out of the car. Alfred fell on his knees in front of everyone, and cried out, “I know that God has forgiven me because of the blood of Jesus, but now I ask forgiveness from all of you.” The pastors escorted him and the people to the church with singing and tears, then anointed him and prayed over him. The father invited everyone to a feast at their home. Alfred continues to do well, and his church is preparing a fundraiser to help him build a welding shop, which will empower him to use the training he received in prison. His life stands as a testimony to the power of the Cross of Christ, which can restore a man’s life and change a culture.

Alfred’s village came to greet him, and his father was the first (at left).

The prison officials had recognized the change in Alfred after his conversion, and supported him through all the release arrangements (see right).

Progress for Correctional Ministry
Correctional Ministry chaplains continue to encourage churches and communities to
turn away from traditional norms of rejecting those who are (or have been) in prison.
World Gospel Mission has launched an information page for this ministry on its website, with a link for online, tax-deductible donations
Thank you for visiting the web page, and considering support for this work, which is changing lives and communities.

Please help us to end 2013 well and have a great start for 2014!
We are so grateful for those who stretched to provide additional support to allow us to keep up with our ministry expenses during these past 4 months. However, as of the start of December, our ministry account balance has fallen below our average monthly expenses. As you consider year-end giving and plans for your contributions in 2014, we would appreciate your support at any level.
Thank you so much for your partnership with us!
Donations online: www.wgm.org/burgert [Click the “Donate” arrow for special or recurring donations.]
Mail a check made out to “World Gospel Mission” [memo line: “Burgert ministry-02273”] to this address:
World Gospel Mission, PO Box 948, Marion IN 46952
To provide support directly to Correctional Ministry in Kenya, use this weblink: https://www.wgm.org/donate-correctionalmin
or use the address above, with a note designating the funds for Correctional Ministry.

Please thank the Lord with us:
• For productive networking at the cancer conference
• For some times of relaxation in South Africa
• For new partners and increased financial support in August and September
• For health, strength, and safety in our travels
• For GI endoscopy coverage for most days of Steve’s meetings in April/May 2014

Please pray with us:
• For a successful corn (maize) crop in this area of Kenya after 2 failed seasons due to a blight
• For adequate financial support for our ministry and for Correctional Ministry in Kenya
• For protection over the Correctional Ministry Team
• For celebrations of the true spirit of Christmas, with many coming to know Christ as their Savior

Thank you for your partnerships with us. 
Blessings on your Christmas celebrations and throughout the year to come!
 Steve & Alene

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prayers for one another

Dear partners,
We thank you for your prayers and messages of concern for us after the Nairobi mall attack last weekend. We join the Kenyans in mourning the loss of lives and sense of security, and we are also thankful that no Tenwek Hospital staff or World Gospel Mission personnel were injured. We live 3+ hours from Nairobi, but others from our mission group live in and around the city. It has been a huge shock to Kenyans to be the target of such a large and well-planned attack by terrorists. Kenyan counselors from all over the country have been requested to assist in the crisis management efforts for those whose lives have been affected in the Nairobi area. We join Kenyans in prayers for peace in this country.

Please also join us in prayers for northern Colorado, which is where we lived before moving to Kenya. That area has been devastated this month by severe flooding with destruction to homes, roads, bridges, and much more. Many lives are severely disrupted and it will take months to years for reconstruction and healing.

Whether caused by man or nature, such disasters are difficult to understand. As people of faith, we can rest secure in the arms of our Lord - He is our source for protection and peace. We are comforted again by the one of our favorite promises from the Bible:

The Lord will keep you from all harm -
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.

            Psalm 121: 7-8

Thanks for your prayers for Kenya and Colorado.

Please join us in prayers of thanks for those who have extended themselves to assist with the extra needs of our mission service! We are so grateful for every dollar and every prayer offered on our behalf.

Also, we will appreciate your prayers for:
<> The 2-day endoscopy training workshop on Thursday and Friday this week for 12 Kenyan doctors to be held here at Tenwek Hospital.

<>The endoscopy esophageal cancer research projects with two co-investigators from Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota joining us in 8 days.

<> The Kenyan correctional ministry team, which is in the middle of restructuring this ministry to partner with Kenyan churches and other community groups.

Please also give thanks for Baby Chepchumba Cheruiyot, the beautiful daughter of ex-prisoner Pastor Peter and Naomi, who is healthy and happy at home after a normal, full-term delivery at Tenwek Hospital.

What a gift it is to be able to pray for each other!
We pray every blessing on you and your families. May you always know the Lord's peace and protection, and share that message of hope with others.

Grateful for your partnership,
Steve & Alene Burgert

Contributions -->  www.wgm.org/burgert
Mailing--> World Gospel Mission 3783 East State Road, PO Box 948, Marion, IN 46952

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pastor Peter's Graduation -- August 2013 Newsletter

 It’s official: “PASTOR PETER” graduates from Pastors College!
Pastor Peter showed a solemn appreciation for all that the Lord has helped him to change and accomplish

What a joy it was to share in the celebration of Peter’s graduation from Kaboson Pastors Training College (KPTC) on July 21st! (About a 1½ hour bumpy drive from Tenwek.) As many of you recall, Peter was incarcerated for nearly 11 years and heard the gospel message presented in the prison by visiting chaplain students. Peter accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that day on July 15, 2010 shortly before his release from prison in August. Soon after his release, Peter strongly declared his desire to become a pastor. The prayers of many and KPTC’s commitment to mentor Peter helped him successfully complete the 2+ years of pastor training, in spite of never having completed his secondary education. We’ve heard that Peter’s experiences provided a special perspective to the other pastors-in-training. The celebration for 33 graduates brought several thousand guests, including over 50 family and church-member friends for Peter. After the ceremony, we gathered and prayed with Peter and his wife, Naomi, (married last December) for the Lord’s direction toward whatever pastoral or chaplaincy role may be appropriate next. Of course, Peter continues to have a special heart for prison ministry!
**You can look back to our previous blog entry from December 5,  2010 to learn more about Peter's story!**

Ground-breaking Treatment for Pre-cancerous Lesions of the Esophagus

The high incidence of esophageal cancer in this region of Kenya has prompted our research efforts to identify early pre-cancerous lesions. Our recent STEP Study of 300 villagers without swallowing troubles identified 9 subjects with moderate and high-grade squamous cell dysplasia (more aggressive pre-cancerous changes). We treated one patient by tissue removal using a gastroscope in January. In June, the teams from Mayo Clinic - Arizona and National Cancer Institute (NIH in Maryland) joined us in starting pioneer services in Africa with the first protocol treatments of pre-cancerous lesions for 4 patients using BARRX - radio frequency ablation to electrically heat and destroy the abnormal areas. We give thanks for all who assisted us and that all 4 patients have done very well! We also pray that we will be able to identify many more patients who can benefit from such treatment.

Dr. David Fleischer and team help Steve perform the 1st BARRX procedure in all of Africa

First BARRX patient (in the dark jacket) and his wife with the Tenwek Endoscopy Research team

Correctional Ministry within Africa Gospel Church Kenya
Alene continues to work closely with key leaders from the Africa Gospel Church of Kenya to establish a sustainable correctional ministry program for those within the prisons and those recently released. To be honest, at times the process seems to be exceedingly slow and we wonder where the next needed shilling will come from, but we know that diligently addressing each step will give the program a very strong Kenyan foundation, which will serve the Lord and the Kenyan church well into the future. Please join us in prayer for the proper direction for many aspects of the correctional ministry - from good financial practices to development of a Christ-centered, visionary board and a sound constitution.

Can you share your gift? Maybe you have something that you don’t think is valuable - but you could turn it into a blessing for someone. One man with a love for music is refurbishing old guitars and then giving them away to people who need them.
Two of these guitars have been carried to Kenya and are providing music for worship in the prisons! Or maybe you have time to offer someone - accompanying someone to the doctor or grocery shopping, or reading to someone who cannot is a precious offering to someone with that particular need. If you are willing to share from your wallet, your talents, or your time, the Lord will bring someone who needs just what you have. Then watch how He blesses YOU in the process!

 Note to self: Be careful what you pray for... (now we need your help!)

You may already be familiar with what has been called “The Prayer of Jabez”-
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me...” And God granted his request. 
1 Chronicles 4:10

We know that many in the USA and Kenya have been praying such a prayer for us, and we celebrate all the ways the Lord has indeed enlarged our territory!

We are excited to see Steve’s enlarged responsibilities for patient care, teaching, research, and ministry in the Endoscopy Unit. We are trying to keep pace with Alene’s enlarged territory in Correctional Ministry and involvements at the Tenwek International Chaplaincy College.  In serving on several committees for the ministry reorganization, supporting the current prison chaplains and visiting the prisons, Alene often needs to make 2 or 3 trips to Kericho each week (1½ hours away) at a cost of over $90.00 (covering ministry vehicle charges) for each round-trip. We are truly grateful for these enlarged opportunities to serve, but HELP! We must confide to you that our enlarged need for support has collided with a decrease in actual funding during 2013. To continue our mission, we have again needed to withdraw money from our retirement savings.

We are very grateful for all of you who faithfully contribute to our ministry, whether monthly, quarterly, or annually. We humbly request you to continue (and consider increasing) your support, or make an additional special contribution. If you are not a regular partner yet, PLEASE - you have a critical part to play in the future of our service in Kenya, if you are willing. Thank you!

Donations online: www.wgm.org/burgert  [Click the “Donate” arrow for special or recurring donations.]
Mail a check made out to “World Gospel Mission” [memo line: “Burgert ministry-02273”] to this address:
World Gospel Mission, PO Box 948, Marion IN 46952

Brief Personal Trip to the USA- We will be making a pre-planned, personal trip to the USA from August 15th to September 2nd. We will have time with all 4 of our parents and will attend a family wedding in Seattle. Thank you for understanding that we may not be able to connect with you on this visit to USA. FYI, expenses for this trip will be personal, not ministry-funded.

Please thank the Lord with us:

• For our continued good health and strength
• For many miles of safe travels
• For “enlarged territories” for our areas of service
For GI coverage for Steve by a visiting doctor in August while we are in the USA
• For progress in transitioning to an electronic medical record system at Tenwek Hospital

Please pray with us:
• For Pastor Peter’s future direction in serving the Lord
For guidance for Alene’s role in restructuring of  Correctional Ministry within Africa Gospel Church
• For adequate financial support for our mission service
• For GI Endoscopists to cover for Steve in November     
• For successful identification and treatment of patients with pre-cancerous lesions in the esophagus
We are so grateful for your prayers and support. -- Steve & Alene

Give us each day our daily bread. May 2013 Newsletter

[Yes, again we give thanks for good internet service this day!!]

Give us each day our daily bread. -- Luke 11:3

Praying for daily bread has more meaning for us now.

Partly because Kenyans don’t really eat bread - they love their cornmeal “ugali” - which is more like stiff mashed potatoes, and some days we just crave a slice of good, whole-grain bread. But more especially because the daily things we use and need can no longer be taken for granted. We have a new expression lately: “Praise the Lord for 3 out of 4!” Our top 4 “breads” these days are electricity, gas, hot water, and internet. Lately (as many of you know, and we’re sorry) we have really been missing our email and internet connections.
Having a combination gas-AND-electrical stove/oven has been a good way around the sporadic shortages of those utilities. And now that we know the secret of running the water in the other sink (to let the air bubbles out of the line) before bathing, we can usually count on a nice hot wake-up shower in the mornings. So, life is good, and God is good, and we recognize the luxury of those 4 as we visit and work with so many Kenyans who have much less.
We have also learned to pray for other daily breads: enough rest, good health, prayer time, and fellowship with friends. And then there is wisdom, compassion, energy, patience, time together as a couple, endurance for the long run, humility enough to ask for help and forgiveness when needed - all have to be apportioned to us on a daily basis. The bread of God’s Word also needs to be savored every morning, so that during the rest of the day “we may know the word that encourages the weary” - especially when the weary is us.
As we share the glimpses of our daily tasks and joys with you, let us thank the Lord together for always receiving far more than our favorite 4, and let’s not forget to honor Him as Father by our asking -and then feasting, sharing, thanking, and asking again tomorrow... He has designed all of our lives this way so that as His beloved children, we must come into His presence again and again to know Him as Abba and receive loving gifts from His hand.
Dear Father, please, please, give us each day our daily breads. Amen.

Steve works with some of his students, who received training in Endoscopy at a hospital in Mombasa, Kenya

Alene stands with other faculty at the graduation program of 3 chaplain students

Snapshots from a great retreat in Malindi with our missionary family

Alene officiated baptism in the ocean for Jamie (with his dad helping) and then everyone gathered around him for prayers on the beach after we came out of the water

We enjoyed a sunset sail with fresh flower garlands and delicious seafood, like grilled shrimp and calamari - so nice!

Correctional Ministry Team had an encouraging 3-day retreat for rest, renewal, and some training sessions. Chaplains, volunteers, and office staff appreciated the time to pray and brainstorm about the future of the ministry, as well as learn new strategies for tracking activities and expenses. Sessions included some training for using computers to prepare their reports and organize case files and photos.

The team trains with computers on retreat  

Pastor Peter’s new wife, mother, sister and nephew visit and bring pumpkins

Emmanuel from Liberia said goodbye to Steve and Dr. White on the day he and his mother were leaving to return home after his successful care and making many new friends at Tenwek. Emmanuel seemed sad to go, but we understand that he ran into the arms of his uncle when they landed at the airport in Liberia. We have heard that he is continuing well at home.

May the Lord bless you and be your comfort, Emmanuel.

Steve’s endoscopy team begins training in electronic medical record systems as Tenwek Hospital prepares for the big change!

Kipsigis weddings start with a procession of women from the groom’s village singing songs of welcome and escorting the car carrying the bride. The bride’s family often hires a bus to bring their friends to the wedding and carry the wedding gifts of furniture on the top of the vehicle.

We enjoyed attending the wedding of a former chaplain student. Robert and his wife Wilter are preparing to be missionaries with Africa Gospel Church one day.

Please thank the Lord with us:

• For Emmanuel’s safe return to Liberia with his mom
• For Kenya’s peaceful elections in March and transition to new leadership in April - HALLELUJAH!
• For a generous grant provided by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy to the research team at Tenwek Hospital
• For safe travels to Malindi on the coast for our retreat

Please pray with us:

• For guidance for Alene in coordinating restructuring of Correctional Ministry within Africa Gospel Church
• For a balanced and sustainable pace for our service
• For Tenwek Hospital’s challenging transition to an electronic medical record system
• For GI Endoscopists to cover for Steve at Tenwek during a few weeks in August and November
Contributions: Website: www.wgm.org/burgert
World Gospel Mission, 3783 East State Road 18, PO Box 948, Marion IN 46952 (account 02273-Burgert)