Dear Ministry Partners,
Merry Christmas! And we hope that the Lord blesses your week leading up to Christmas the way He has ours.
First, please permit me to ask forgiveness for having gotten this report to you so late in the month, but I put off writing it so that we could include a picture of our first baptism in Jamaica. It’s been a long time in coming, but O’Neil Thomas, who was saved a little more than a month ago, recently informed me that he was ready to make a serious public commitment to serving the Lord through baptism.
O’Neil is, to be quite honest, one of the simpler Jamaicans we’ve met, but we really believe that he is exactly what he appears to be. He works as the guardian of a construction site just down the road from the church where his boss only intermittently pays him. He’s never asked for anything, and always responds with genuine gratitude each time we do him even the smallest favor.
I informed O’Neil, the very first time he visited our church and told us that he’d visited another church which had immediately pressured him into a meaningless ritual baptism without his even being converted, that we would never put any pressure on him to do anything, but that we would teach him the truth through Sunday School and preaching and respond to his stepping forward, each step of the way, to inform us of what the Lords was doing in his heart.
After a couple of visits, he made us aware that he knew he needed to be saved, and then during a discipleship lesson on why we worship Jesus this last week, he told me that he had been wanting to talk to me about baptism. Without any prodding to do so, he said that he was absolutely certain that serving Christ was what he wanted to do and that he knew baptism was the way to make that statement, and wanted to do so before Christmas, of possible.
The baptistry at the church hasn’t been used in so long that we weren’t convinced it would hold water, and we’ve never had running water since we’ve been there, so fearful that we would fill the tank only to find it empty on Sunday morning, we bought a small inflatable pool and filled it with jugs of water. That said, the baptism wasn’t as neat and formal as it might have been, but I think the simplicity helped us all to focus on the substance…O’Neil became a member of God’s Kingdom a month ago, and a member of His local church in Mandeville today.
What an amazing Christmas blessing, especially when we were beginning to wonder if we’d ever see a convert or baptize one. Please pray for O’Neil as he grows in Christ in the face of the many challenges Jamaican life presents to young men such as himself. Please also pray for Jennifer. Tammy had a great conversation with her as she was cleaning the church this week and it seems that, for the first time, her need to be made right with God is becoming personal and urgent. Thank you so much for every kind of support you are contributing. It matters!
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica
Dear Pastor/Mission Coordinator,
Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for your support, both financial and spiritual. Your praying has made a difference. Not only has the Lord kept Tammy and I safe in the midst of a Jamaica that both the government and the local population have begun acknowledging is deteriorating into a criminal’s paradise, but He has begun to give us fruit we were beginning to wonder if we would ever see.
That said, we have a significant request we did not want to clutter our positive progress report with. We turned in our Work-Permit Exemption application renewal form in October, the government promising to approve and return the documentation in six weeks. It has, of course, been much more than that now, but that is not, in-and-of-itself a surprise as Jamaica’s government rarely meets deadlines though they require us to.
We cannot get our visas renewed, which will expire in January 2023, without that approved Work-Permit exemption. That’s important because we just learned a couple of months back that we must leave Jamaica for a certain period of time every year to avoid being forced to pay taxes in Jamaica on the income we’re already paying taxes on in the States. Though the Lord has provided for us, being double-taxed on our modest missionary income would be financially devastating.
All of that said, both in compliance with Jamaican law, and at the request of some churches that we participate in their mission conferences, we’re going to be making a trip to the States in January. Our schedule is already full in part because we also have a couple of significant medical needs to attend to (A possible knee surgery for me and Tammy needs attention for what seems to be a heart issue) and Tammy’s father has arrived at a point in his life where we absolutely must make some investment in his care.
We need prayer that the government will get our Work-Permit Exemption approval back to us so that we can then get our visas renewed before making that trip to the States. We began the process as early as we were permitted to, yet, as is usually the case, their delay in returning it is putting our future here in jeopardy. If they fail to get that paperwork back to us causing us to fail to get our visas renewed while still in country, it could cause months in delays and, potentially, delay our getting back to the field. We don’t want to be gone from the field longer than we must because our work is at a critical point right now.
Thank you for praying.
John & Tammy Cooley