One of the hardest, funniest, most interesting and sometimes heartbreaking part of missions is learning cultures. Sometimes it can be funny like the never-ending stories many of you know between my husband and I. Even small things such as sharing not to point with his middle finger while teaching in America because in America the middle finger is bad, gassing is offensive in Uganda but humorous in America, etc. I could go on forever but I am keeping myself distracted from the heartbreaks to share. Vicky was one of our first girls we took in and became our own. She dealt and constantly forgave me as I learned the culture. It seemed like every day I did something new to offend the children since I only knew how to raise children in American ways. I nick named her “My Blessing.” Vincent and Juventine baptized her and she is one of the brightest (gets the best grades) in her class. She has been with us for 7 years but the father has come back to take them. Her and her sister’s (Aleru) father abandoned them when they were very little. He then became a soldier in Somalia. He came to collect the girls a couple years back but we fought hard knowing he is Muslim, with other wives and children and very little money to help any of them. He recently came back again and this time Vincent’s family agreed. Through culture and law Aleru has left with her dad already. Vicky, since we have put her in a very good boarding school already, will finish out this year. They will have a ceremony in December to finalize the agreement. We will continue to support them and pray for them. Especially because of their age and moving in with Muslim relatives. Our prayer is that the they will remember the Word that they heard with us all these years. The girls are sponsored through Promise Child so we know they will be ok and continue their education although not the same.
Last year we had shared about Umar. He was a Ugandan Muslim Sheik sent by Idi Amin to Saudi Arabia to become one of the top Islamic leaders in Uganda. He studied there for 18 years and came back to Uganda with a passion to convert Christians. As he started sharing the Koran with believers he also heard the gospel and ended up getting saved. We met him through our friend who asked Vincent to disciple him and we also took him in for safety. As his faith grew stronger, he started sharing the gospel everywhere in our district. He was even taking the Jesus Film into the mosques. One day he was tricked by the district card (top Muslim leader) who ordered the Muslims to stone him to death. As they picked stones Umar said, “I felt a man touch me on the shoulder and I believe was Jesus.” This man led him through the crowd and Umar was able to escape. A couple weeks ago we were preparing to send Umar to a school of Ministry. As he went home to prepare his things some unknown Muslim men forced him into a van a gun point. They drove far and wanted to kill him. As they beat him with the butt of the gun he told them just to kill him since he is an old man. They started arguing about if they should kill him or not. They took him to a house and hid him there. A woman found him who claimed to be the wife of the driver and formerly a Christian. She rescued him and took him to another house. Eventually he was taken to the clinic for pain meds and sent on his way. He is now healing and will be on his way to the School of Ministry soon. Please continue to pray for him and also other Muslim converts Vincent is currently disciplining. Umar gave us permission to post his picture but we cannot post pictures or names of the other converts.
Please continue to pray deeply for Dr Jim and Dr Bev as they continue to go through this deep valley of Radiation and Chemo!
Pray that our time state side will be fruitful. Zachary has his IEP early March. We are Hoping for more open doors to share and encourage others while we are here.
Pray for our children and ministries back home. Most of our children are in boarding schools except the young ones who stay at our home with Penninah and Sharron.
Pray for the safety of the Muslim converts. The number of converts is growing quickly and the Muslims are realizing. We are not sure which persecutions are coming but we know that God is all knowing and ask for prayers.
Vincent has landed!!!!! We are so grateful to be reunited again!!! Ian’s leg problems have not returned so we are hopeful!
I went to the Calvary children’s ministry conference and learned so much! Many of the things I learned can also be used for adults and homeschooling. Can’t wait to see how God uses the things I learned! In fact, the boys and I can’t wait to go home!
Last year we were given the Gideon bibles for the football/soccer players. They loved them so much! God heard their prayers and blessed us with the ability to provide full Bibles for them. We are excited to see how the Word of God will continue to change their lives and how He will use each and every one of them.
These couple of months state side have been different then past. God is doing the deepest refining He has ever done in my walk thus far. As Paul said “Wretched man that I am!” It is hard to see all the junk boiling up from the depths of my heart. Things I thought I was done with years ago. Selfishness, anger, jealousy, and so much more, I just cry to the Lord and thank Him for loving me. Through this refining time I am also hoping to do missions training again through SGWM. I started going on longer term missions 11 years ago and have been in Midigo almost 9 years. I have learned a lot but also lost a lot. It is time for a new refreshed work. A new love for God, the Word and the lost sheep!
Why So Far?
As my husband and I have been on opposite sides of the world these months getting things ready for the work ahead, we have been faced with much spiritual warfare. We stand on the fact that He has already conquered and won! Our extremely strong, healthy and active 3-year-old, Ian had complained of knee pain and the next thing I know he can no longer use his leg and we are hospitalized for a week. All the best doctors telling us they don’t know what is causing such pain. I prayed for Zachary (our 5-year-old with Autism) and what he must be thinking. Where is dad and now mom and Ian? I praise God for my parents and all the amazing family and friends who came to play with him. I praise God for the fact that Zachary did ok with us calling him to sing and pray him to sleep. God showed me through all this just how strong and mighty He is. He needed to do this while Vincent is in Uganda. These next years Vincent is going to be extremely busy with the church and the projects. As his wife, I need to be more of a helper then a hinderer. God needed to remind me that He is my first love and my sustainer, through Him all things are possible and that I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me! Chasing away thoughts that don’t glorify Him and turning them to praises.
Vincent has also faced much warfare! There is always a point you get to where you have to make a decision. I praise God for my husband! A man pulled down the sides of the brick stacks out of jealousy. Knowing how many weeks of sweat and hard work went into these bricks. Vincent could have gotten discouraged as it is so easy to do but instead prayed and worked a whole day putting them back. They are burned and ready to be used on the projects! We were able to do 58,000 bricks in 3 heaps. This will not only cut the cost drastically for building the library, community center and stadium but has given work to many youths that now have school fees and others to feed their families.
Prayer Requests and Praise Reports
Vincent came home from meetings to find that our dear friend brought a new convert to our compound. She has left her Muslim husband and has 2 small children. She gave her life to Christ and asks for prayers for safety and strength.
We are calling on all our prayer warriors to get on their knees and pray for our godparents, Dr. Jim and Dr. Bev. They have been with us since the beginning, in fact, God used them to save my parents and bring me to Midigo! Jim starts chemo and radiation therapy today! Nothing is too big for God.
Our Calvary Football/Soccer team has finished the first phase in 2nd The last game was against the number 1 team and they tied 0-0. We are praying God provide for them to be able to go for the second phase. God uses this team mightily to reach out to the community with the gospel and love of Christ! Changing lives especially of the team members both Christian and Muslim.
All our Ugandan children go back to school in 2 weeks! All of them except Gaga and Desire (they are only 9 years old) have reached Secondary/High School or higher. I wish I could explain how huge this is in our village! Steven is now starting his research papers in University, Clow is starting catering school and our children in Secondary/High school are in good boarding schools in Arua. They ask for prayers for wisdom, discipline and school fees. Since they have all gone on in education their school fees are quite high. There are no free schools in Uganda like we have here in the states. Gaga with her fun-loving personality did not get proper scores. She really is my daughter! We are praying how to help her better. Once Vincent helps all the children get settled into school we pray we can purchase his plane ticket and get him here!!!!
Please continue to pray for Ian. That this was just an infection deep in the muscle that they couldn’t find in blood or the fluid drained from his knee. That this is not Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Pray for swelling and warmth to go away with these antibiotics. That we may get into the infectious doctors for the re-check before his scheduled appointment of Feb 21st since that is long to be on these antibiotics.
God is on the move! There are many exciting changes within our ministries. The Lord has opened up a door for our family to partner with Saving Grace World Missions (SGWM), a missionary-sending organization. SGWM helps missionaries to funnel finances, do taxes as well as provide Biblical counseling and ongoing encouragement while on the field. Part of this change means we will have this blog to keep in closer communication with all of you. For future we will no longer be receiving donations through Go Ministries.
Those that are not familiar with us, let us introduce ourselves. My husband, Pastor Vincent, grew up as a refugee and a soldier’s son moving around Uganda. God brought him back to Midigo after the war. He since has finished Bible College and become the assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Midigo. I (Melissa Aniku) grew up in Southern California and felt a calling for missions. I went to Midigo, Uganda in 2009 and have now become a permanent resident.
Along with being assistant pastor, Vincent also manages the Calvary Football/Soccer team, which reaches out to the Muslims. He also disciples new believers and converts. Most of my ministry takes place on the family compound with homeschooling and management. I also tend to the many daily guests that come to the compound for prayers and counseling. I’m involved with women’s discipleship and sewing classes. Our family financially and spiritually takes care of 13 children. Vincent and I find small jobs for those in need.
This year God is providing for us to start a football/soccer stadium for outreaches plus a library and community center to teach reading and writing to the adults who are illiterate due to war. This will be the first place of its kind in the west Nile bringing the gospel to Muslims and unifying the Body of Christ.
Fun Fact: The name Aniku literally translates: I Don’t Know. So please as you pray for us, even if you forget our names, just pray for the family “I Don’t Know”.
Prayer Request: Please pray for safety over the compound and continued grace to pour over the Church and land. Pray for the 95% Muslim population. Pray that the LORD be glorified through the new projects, as they are able to give jobs and a safe haven to Muslim converts. Pray for the school fees for all our children. Pray for the South Sudanese Refugees. Pray for our protection, strength and for health especially for our 5-year-old Zachary who has Autism!