Friday, December 28, 2007

Overton Ministry Report - Merry Christmas

Ruth and I send you our warmest Christmas greetings from Moscow, Russia. Though far away, we are remembering you and appreciating you in our hearts. Thank you for your prayerful and material support of our ministry this year. As we serve the Lord together we are actually participating in essence of Christmas.

In a foretelling of our Savior’s birth the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land will have the light shine on them.” (Isaiah 9:2)
In Moscow’s northern climate, December is a time of great darkness. It is a time when one can really feel the heaviness of fallen humanity and a time when you can actually feel a great hunger and craving for light. I understand now, more than ever, why European church fathers choose to celebrate Christ’s birth during the darkest days of the year.


This year, through your support and encouragement, we helped the Russian Baptist Union to send out 600 short term summer missionaries. This is an increase of 400% over last year’s summer outreach. After making a map of the ministry locations and sending churches, the thought occurred to me, that this map is starting to look like a Christmas tree!

We are very thankful to the Lord for His blessing. Still, Russia remains to be a country with less than 1% evangelical believers. Besides secular atheists and nominal Christians, many of Russia’s other citizens have never heard the gospel in the context of their Asian, Islamic and Shamanistic cultures.

As we look forward to 2008, we continue to trust the Lord for the privilege of partnering with you in spreading the Light of the Lord’s gospel. We are remembering you fondly and praying for God’s blessing and protection in your life.

Jim and Ruth Overton

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Greetings from the Dudecks

We want to wish all our friends a merry Christmas today from our home in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. We are grateful to Jesus Christ our Lord for giving us another good year serving Him. We thought we would just share a few items from the year.

John has spent the year working on a computer project at SIM International. Pam worked as receptionist for a law firm, but health problems led her to quit after six months. Jennifer is now in her last year of high school.

In June John and Jennifer went to the International Conference on Computing and Mission, held at Taylor University in Indiana. This is a conference for people who work in information technology in mission organizations, that John attends each year. This year Jennifer went along, and was able to visit Taylor's Campus. She is now applying to Taylor to attend next year. Pam's sister Paula lives not too far from Taylor, so Jennifer will be able to visit her aunt.

In July Jennifer went to an engineering camp for high school girls at Virginia Tech. It was helpful in clarifying her interests in the various fields of engineering. She now is thinking she wants to take a major at Taylor called New Media, which is an interdisciplinary program bridging computer science, art and communications.

In November John and Jennifer attended a father-daughter summit conference put on by the National Center for Fathering ( We were greatly blessed by the communication that it opened up between us and we highly recommend it for all fathers and daughters.

In January and February 2008 Jennifer will be part of a robotics competition that her high school is entering. The students have six weeks to create a robot that accomplishes certain tasks, and then enter it in competition against robots from other schools. John plans to participate as a parent mentor. There are about a dozen people from industry mentoring the students. It will be an intense effort, and should be highly educational for all sorts of skills needed when working on projects in the real world.

We would appreciate any prayers you can give for Pam. She is suffering from insomnia and related effects, and we have been unable to find a doctor that can get to the bottom of it. Sleep medications are becoming less effective, and she is only getting a few hours sleep each night. Through all of this we sense God at work in our lives to mold us more into his likeness.
We wish all of you the best in the coming year.

John, Pam and Jennifer

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hello From Nairobi - December 2007

Over here, they say ‘Jambo’

It’s been two weeks and I'm doing fine. So far, I traveled to the northern desert and made sure that they installed the water treatment system for Turbi, a small town near Ethiopia. It sure was sad to hear the story.

In the spring of 2006, the neighboring tribe attacked Turbi, starting at the elementary school. Over 25 kids were killed by machine gun fire, especially the 7th and 8th grade boys. It wasn’t really clear if the boys were trying to defend the school or if they were targeted. The raiders swept into town and killed a total of 75 people before the local townspeople got organized and drove them off. The government rebuilt the school and the new school motto (see photo) is: ‘Endure the Pain to Embrace the Gain’

It was sad to visualize all of the pain and killing. I got choked up as I took the pictures of the school and the kids. I tried to reach out to the kids by spending time with them, flying a kite, etc.

We finished installing the first water-treatment unit, but we’re still waiting on parts for the second unit. I am going to try to find a way to get the unit installed next week. Either way, I plan to travel home starting December 18th.

Thanks so much for your prayers.

God bless you – so that you can be a blessing to others during this Christmas season.


God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

It's real encouraging to see all the answers to prayers for this project. Here's a few answered prayers:

- The first water-treatment unit was put together when I got to Kenya and the vendor pulled a senior technician off his vacation and sent him and jr. tech to Turbi to install the reverse osmosis unit.

- I rode with the technicians, Guy and Archer. There were three of us in a small Toyota Hilux. All three of us sat in the front seat for the 13 hour drive to Marsabit. It took so long because the small truck was low to the ground and we couldn't go fast over the washboard roads. - plus time to change the flat tire (the jack was in the tool box under the entire load).

- The small truck unsuitable to drive to Turbi so I decided to hire a lorry to haul the supplies and water tanks (see picture)

- God provided a guardian angel through a 'chance' meeting in Marsabit. I was coming out of the local cafe for breakfast and I started talking to one of the local guys. Long story short: he worked for a church-planting ngo and he introduced me to Joseph, the pastor planting an evangelical church in Turbi. Joseph introduced me to the former District Counselor and the Chief (both of whom happened to be in Marsabit). The counselor found a lorry driver, arranged the price and we got loaded.

- I took Joseph and his partner to the Bible Society and offered to buy Joseph several bibles for his church. Joseph and his partner told me that they were on the way to Moyale to graduate 59 pastors. I felt convicted to buy bibles for these new pastors so I asked if they had bibles. 'No'. So I bought bibles (and study guides) for these new pastors and some for Joseph. I really didn't expect anything in return. End of story? "No." Joseph was so touched by my gesture of giving the bibles, that he spent the next four days working with us in Turbi, helping us organize the project. He was a HUGE help.

- The original generator at the site doesn't work. About a month ago, the chief borrowed a trailer-mounted generator, but that didn't work either. The technicians got the trailer-mounted generator working, but the battery didn't work. So, Joseph and I went to the local army/police camp and talked them into 'loaning us a battery'. The army guys adopted us, especially after they found out that we were providing drinking water. So, they came over to our site several times to check our progress and to make sure we didn't need anything. (I bought a good, replacement battery when I got to Marsabit and arranged with the former District Counselor to have it taken to the Turbi well.)

- The water treatment unit was installed and worked well (dropped the TDS from 4050 mg/l to 370). BUT, we were getting ready to close up and a plastic clamp broke on the sand filter. We tried to fix it, but the super glue wouldn't hold and reducing the pressure didn't help. So, we shut it down, locked it up. We will send replacement part when they install the second unit.

- On Sunday morning, we were still in Turbi, no vehicle and we needed to get to Marsabit. God provided another guardian angel. As it turns out, Kenya’s president was in a nearby town on Saturday. On Sunday morning, several vehicles came through Turbi on the way to Marsabit. I pleaded our case with one of the drivers and he agreed to take me, the heavy tool box and one of the tech's from D&S. Wouldn't you know it - they were CID security cops on assignment to protect the president. I couldn't ask for better security.

- As it turns out, we stopped a couple of times on the drive back to Nairobi, but this time, we were helping others: a petrol tanker that lost it's spare tire from the pony trailer - busting the discharge valve and spraying gas everywhere (The technicians offered advice, but the drivers were trying to plug the pipe with clothes and plastic bags. We didn't help with the gas, but we did find the tire and returned it to them). Later we found a Suziki SUV that broke all of it's engine mounts on the road going to Marsabit, within 50 km of Isiolo. - bad, bad road for a little vehicle.

It hasn't been an easy trip and I have enough scars and sunburn to show it, plus 35 hours riding cramped into the front seat with two guys and no a/c, no shocks, and washboard roads.

Our next step is to ship/install the RO unit in Bubisa. Right now, there are still some missing parts. Some of the parts are due to arrive early next week but some of the parts aren’t scheduled until the end of the week and that means I’ll go home without the project finished. Please pray for wisdom, through Christ Jesus.

We serve a great God. Answered prayers have been a HUGE encouragement on this trip. Please keep praying for us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December Wright Stuff

Hello, praying friends, To make a long story short, this morning we’re sitting on the patio drinking our coffee, on the edge of the California desert, a few miles from the Mexico border; watching birds flying south, enjoying the warmth shooting out from that sun rising above the fence over yonder.

Ok, the longer version. One of Ann’s goals during this home assignment had been to update all her nursing licenses and certifications and to work a bit in a hospital to get familiar with current practices, procedures and technology. She’s attended quite a few workshops and courses, taken bunches of exams, paid lots of fees, but has run into a solid wall of non-interest at the hospitals. We were not aware that the hospitals here are requiring US experience within the past two years. She’s missed that by a decade or so, so her efforts have been frustrated. However, there is this one desperate hospital on the Mexico border willing to take a chance and let her work some hours. One aspect of home assignment is that housing is, by nature, fluid and this time we really don’t need to be in any location in particular. So, here we are in the desert, getting re-acquainted with Spanish while Ann works a bit at this hospital. The cost of living in the states easily depletes our resources. Health Insurance premiums alone cost us more than our total living expenses where we were, so the extra income is welcome.

We’ve found a nice furnished house, and are looking forward to the girls’ break from college, and having Christmas together. We’ve been here a day, lots of setting up and reconnoitering to do. We hope to get involved with a church that would desire to engage in our current work in Southwest Asia.

We’re still plenty busy with updating our prayer network’s contact info. We’ve been blessed with an extensive group of people praying with us, but it’s hard to keep close contact. We appreciate your prayers regarding this goal. We are trying to go with email over snail mail as much as possible.

Esther and Laura are winding up their terms, with final exams and papers consuming them these days. Laura has been settling in well at Irvine, liking her major, getting involved with Campus Crusade, enjoying the college experience. We appreciate your prayers for her new endeavor.

After exams, Esther is planning to withdraw from Biola for a while, return with us to the field, before resuming her studies in the states. We’re excited about having this time together.

Before we moved, we spent several years in Chehalis, Washington, a town currently a topic on your news channels. Massive flooding is devastating many people. Most disheartening to us has been the news about our good friends, Brad and Meg Gregory. The sheep/cheese farm they’ve been operating the past few years has been taking off, but now it’s gone, most of the animals drowned, buildings washed away. They managed to get out with their children and some clothes. The farm was showing growth and they have been so hopeful. Flooding is normal there, every few years or so, but this time is apparently so much worse. While we were living up there we witnessed a major flood and we well remember helping our friends, Craig and Dianne Pittenger, clean up their ice cream business after it was drowned. The business recovered enough in recent years that they were able to just complete a remodel of the building but it’s under water again. We ask your prayers for the many people brought low by this event. Our church in Chehalis have long been faithful supporters of our ministry, this flood has affected all of them somehow.

As we take advantage of our opportunities to speak, please be praying for our ability to communicate the needs of the people where we serve in Southwest Asia and that people will join us in this ministry. We don’t have much time left in the states and we welcome any opportunity to speak. If you or anyone you know would like to have us speak to a group, please talk with us.

Joe and Ann
Call anytime while we’re in the states, 408 368 2477 or 2473

Steffens December '07 newsletter

Two of the greatest miracles of Christmas are first, that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ (Immanuel, God with us) and second, that Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21 & 23). “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” was John the Baptist’s response when he saw Jesus approaching him (John 1:29). We trust that as you celebrate the holidays, you remember these two great miracles of Christmas and that you have personally received Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Thank you for praying about the newly-elected mayor and other city officials. I, Ned, have personally met most of them and they seem to be very open to a continued, good working relationship. I am able to continue the adult English classes through the city hall adult education. Please continue to pray for a growing relationship with the new mayor and other city officials.

During the fall, we had two “celebration” services in Camarma. We also had our annual Thanksgiving outreach dinner on Dec. 1. In recent months, we have come into contact with two Spanish families who live in Meco where our co-workers, Mark and Kay Johnson, live. These two families are interested in seeing an evangelical church started in the Meco/Camarma area. A mid-week cell group has started with them and several others in Meco. Please pray for the start of a cell group in Camarma and for future plans. Lord willing, we anticipate a 6 to 12 month home assignment in the states starting in the summer of 2008. Our exact plans are not sure yet, but we do hope to see many of you during that time.

A group of 11 people from a church in Northern Ireland (same church that sent a group in 2005) helped us put on two English camps from July 16-20. In the mornings, we had 121 kids (ages 3-11 years old, mainly younger ones) and in the evenings we had 13 adults. There was a closing program for the kids’ camp on Friday, July 20, and a closing program for the adults’ camp on Saturday, July 21. Some of the people from the work team shared their personal testimonies at the Saturday evening closing program. Please pray for continued contact with the kids, the kids’ parents and the adults from the two camps. I, Ned, have started adult English classes again this fall. There are two classes of 10 students each. Some students are from previous years and the rest are new this year. I will be offering the extra Spanish/English Bible reading time to the students soon. Please pray for many to be interested in participating and for our growing friendships with the students.

Sarah is now in her second (and final) year in nursing school and continues to live with Joanie’s parents, north of Boston. Michael is in his second year at ERAU (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) in Daytona Beach, FL and is an RA (Resident Advisor) on campus. Timothy is in his senior year at ECA and is in the process of applying to colleges for next fall. We were in the states from July 25 to August 22, living with Joanie’s parents in Peabody, north of Boston. We were all together for about a week before Michael returned to ERAU. Timothy did most of the driving as he now has his learner’s permit.

Thanks to Timothy, our computer guru, and a web design class he had last year, we now have a website. Please visit it at and let us know what you think.

- The start of a good relationship with the new government in Camarma.
- Cell group started in Meco.
- Two great summer English camps with group from Northern Ireland.
- Our time in the states last summer.
- Sarah, Michael and Timothy having good starts in school.
- A good Thanksgiving outreach on December 1.

- Monthly “celebration” services in Camarma.
- The beginning of an evangelical church in Camarma.
- Creative ways to get people interested in small, spiritually-oriented discussion groups.
- The new Camarma mayor (Luis Angel) and city council members as they form a new government and how we relate to them.
- Plans for our home assignment starting next summer.
- More monthly financial support.

Ned & Joanie Steffens
28816 Camarma de Esteruelas
(MADRID) Spain
PO Box 969
Wheaton, IL 60189

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ray Albrektson's Prayer Letter

Dear Friends:

Here's a little quiz for you: What film has been seen by more people than any film in history? Obviously it is the JESUS film, with more than 5 billion viewings and translated into more than a thousand languages. A few years ago a risky decision was made to make a "special" version of the JESUS film—one created to help women connect more quickly to the gospel story. The result is Magdalena: Released from Shame.

The idea was simple: create new scenes for the existing JESUS film that focus on Jesus' relationship with women, then weave them into a cohesive whole that would require much less translation than a complete film. Magdalena was the result: a re-telling of the story of Jesus from the point of view of Mary Magdalena, who described her own journey from shame to forgiveness, and in the process, discovered her own value to God.

Where did I come in? Many months ago, I received a phone call from the film's production office. They wanted the film to be as historically accurate as possible. A group of biblical scholars had been brought on board to provide guidance on everything ranging from pottery design to furniture layout. But the production team was unable to evaluate the conflicting opinions of these scholars! My task was to review and evaluate all input and serve as the "scholarly advisor" for the project.

The result is impressive! Of course, it isn't perfect. I begged the producers to opt for "dirtier" sets and to design costumes that didn't look as though they had just come out of the wash, but to no avail. There are minor architectural errors. But at least nobody wore their Casio watch on the sets! Yes, you can find one in the original JESUS film if you know where to look.

Although it has not been released in the US, it is already making a great impact on women. In much of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, women are treated as second-class citizens, or even property. This film seems to especially touch the hearts of women in those regions. Already we've heard amazing reports, such as the Muslim country that had banned the JESUS film but actually asked for special showings of Magdalena!

After Christmas, my travel schedule gets truly hectic. I'll be teaching in Japan (teach IBS), Guatemala (ISP conferences), and Indonesia (teach Church History in Ph. D. program) just for starters. My travel budget has been hit very hard by the shrinking dollar and rising cost of air-fare . . . please consider a special gift (payable to Campus Crusade for Christ) if you would like to help. Either mail it to me (101 Channing St., Redlands, CA 92373) or click here. Thanks for all you do--I appreciate you!
Ray & Kathy Albrektson

Jen Peet's Update

In need of a Savior
Halloween in Isla Vista is unlike anything else. This year for Halloween we wanted to provide a place for both students in our movement to go to and also a safe place for party-goers to come and rest and be cared for. Our “Halloween Haven” looked much like any other party in Isla Vista that weekend on the outside. But instead of alcohol, we had water bottles and hot chocolate and a fire pit to keep warm. It was so much fun to see our students enjoying each other while at the same time caring for and engaging with the many others that came. God was at work that night. It the midst of so much darkness, the Gospel was shared and new friendships were formed.

To give you a little more of a picture of what really goes on, I will do my best to recount a story from the night. As I was sitting by the fire pit, I noticed that a girl nearby had just fallen and appeared to be very intoxicated. She was with her sister and both of them were not feeling very good at all as I held the one girls hair back while she threw up. A couple of guy students and I offered to take them to a station that is set up for those who are severely intoxicated so that they are not taken advantage of. All we wanted to do was help them and sadly they didn’t want help. As they stumbled away, all we could do was pray for them. One of the guys simply said at that moment, “I wonder if this is how Jesus feels sometimes. He wants to help us and he says he offers us life that is so good, but instead so many of us turn away and walk right back into our sin.” The three of us just stood there after he said that just thinking about the life that Jesus offers us. He is SO GOOD!

Fall is here. . .
Isn’t it fun to see the leaves changing colors? I love this time of year and the colors it brings!
A few weeks ago we had our annual Fall Retreat. Over 130 students came with us for an amazing time of community and growing in the Lord.

On Sunday morning we spent a short time sharing about the weekend. One student, Cliff, shared with tears in his eyes, that this was the first time he had ever experienced real love and care and friendship from people who called themselves Christians. Cliff at this point, as far as I know, does not have a relationship with Jesus, but he continues to see more and more of who Jesus is. We are all praying that he comes to know Jesus as his own. What a neat moment that was for me to hear him share. God is definitely at work in his life and the lives of many others.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” John 10:10
God offers us so much. God offers us so much. Now just take a moment from your busy day and just sit in the fact that Jesus didn’t come just so that we could get through each day, but so that we could be used by Him and have abundant life in Him.

Jen Peet
39 Sonoma Ave
Goleta, CA 93117