Dear Ministry Partners,
Thank you so much for praying us back to the field! The work permit/visa paperwork the government began processing in October of 2022, and should have been done a month before we left the country in late January, was finally approved in April of 2023 allowing us to legally re-enter the country to begin work again.
Our brief Stateside visit, including our participation in three mission conferences, my having had knee surgery, Tammy’s having had multiple medical issues dealt with by specialists, and our getting to spend a little time with family, was, not only, productive for us, but for the small congregation we left behind in Mandeville.
We consistently received good reports from Karl Smith, who filled the pulpit in my absence, concerning Sunday attendance, and the rest of the congregation communicated with us regularly sharing prayer requests and praying for those we shared with them.
We’re convinced that our absence strengthened the church because Brother Smith’s faithfulness and consistency seems to have restored at least a degree of the confidence the people had lost in Jamaican leadership.
That said, we’re now beginning what we hope will prove to be a progressive transition from missionary leadership to permanent Jamaican leadership. As mentioned in prior letters, the transition from a missionary to a Jamaican pastor will take some time, but we have real reason to believe we’re headed toward that end.
Our goal in the immediate future will, therefore, be to finish the wall around the property, to restore the buildings to a near maintenance-free condition, and to remodel the house on the property so that it can effectively function both as a children’s ministry center and a home for the pastor while leading the congregation to evangelize Mandeville.
We were challenged during the mission conferences we were in in the States to restore a mission zeal in the hearts of the Jamaicans that will result in a tangible burden for the lost around them. I never cease to be amazed at how moved believers can be by the presentations of foreign missionaries while demonstrating little concern for the conversion of their own neighbors, and even families. Not only does the light that shines farthest shine brightest at home, but because light travels in an unbroken beam, it makes sense that the only light that really shines in the distance at all is the one that is shining at its source.
That being true, please pray that God would make Grace Baptist Church in Mandeville an evangelizing force in Jamaica so that it can become a source of Gospel light around the world. Thank you for your faithfulness!
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica