The Shanks Family
Family prayer needs
• Continued good health in
spite of constant exposure to
malaria, food & water borne
illnesses, and many other
• Safety on very dangerous
roads and motorcycle trails.
• For Tiffany and Joshua in
• For vehicle and monthly
Ministry prayer needs
Hello from Togo!
• We will be developing a
“church life” Bible study
series soon to teach people
what a community of
believers should be and do.
We are so excited to be sharing with you all that God has done in
the past year in Togo. He is truly at work in this small corner of
the world, and we would love for you to become more acquainted
with what he is doing so that you can take part in it. !
• For the leaders we are
A Year of Increase!
• For new areas we will begin
reaching in 2014.
• For the 2nd and 3rd
generation of disciples we
hope to see soon.
• For the process of disciples
• For an agricultural training
we will start this year with
some of the disciples.
At the end of 2012, we weren’t quite sure where things were
headed. God had united us with the Stoﬀ family from Australia
and with a local believer, Tchéou, and his family. We shared a
mutual vision to reach the Lamba people group (one of Togo’s
least-reached) by making disciples of Jesus who in turn make
future generations of disciples. We believed that this would lead
to healthy churches who will reproduce and multiply. We weren’t
seeing much “success” (as we deﬁne it, at least), but we continued
to trust the Lord’s leading in what we knew he had called us to
do. Then in the Spring of this year, God began leading us to a few
key families of peace who were ready to receive the good news of
Jesus and pass it on to those around them. Additionally, we began
meeting with a few believers who had been burned out by
legalistic churches. They were looking for spiritual renewal in
Family update from
Life for me in Togo is one of
routine: cooking meals from
scratch, homeschooling Joshua
(in 5th grade now), keeping a
demanding two year old busy,
and maintaining the house.
Even though I do love my routine,
sometimes I need an outlet just
like every woman. I’m able to go
to the market where I enjoy
rummaging through piles and
talking with friends. I’ve also been
doing Bible studies with some
ladies as well as playdates with
other moms and their kids.
Sundays are always a highlight
for us, since they are a day of rest
for the entire family. We enjoy a
time of worship, spending time
together, and playing games.
Joshua will be turning 11 in
February, and he is loving Togo
more by the day. Every chance he
gets he plays with his
neighborhood friend, David.
Early this year Owen began
walking, and now nothing stops
him! He is just now beginning to
talk, which is always very
We are very thankful for good
health this past year, which has
not always been the case.
While difﬁcult at times, we love
our life in Togo, and we are so
thankful for the way God has
provided for us. We are looking
forward to the next seven months
here until we return to the States
in July of 2014 for a six month
Please keep the Lamba people in your prayers in
2014. Due to a drought during the rainy season,
many people’s crops suffered or even failed. There
will likely be a mild famine around the summer
their own lives as well as a new way of making disciples for Jesus.
What has happened since has been nothing short of amazing. We
are constantly awed at the various ways Jesus is fulﬁlling his
promise to build his church, and we are humbled to be a small
part of it.!
Stories to Share!
In the following pages you will ﬁnd stories from the past year
from the individuals, families, and geographical areas that God
has connected us to. We share these stories with you for a very
speciﬁc reason: we want you to pray. Be part of what God is doing
here by praying with us that blinded eyes will be opened, that
believers will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus,
that disciples will share the good news of Jesus with those around
them, that reproducing churches will be established, and that
whole regions that were once held by the grip of idol worship will
know the Lamb of God who is the ﬁnal sacriﬁce to take away the
sins of the world!!
How to Pray!
We realize that your time is very limited. While God might call
some people to pray faithfully for every single request we give, we
understand that most people can’t. That’s why we have created
small “prayer cards” for the people we work with that can be put
on a refrigerator, an oﬃce cubicle, used as a bookmark, etc. These
contain a brief summary and a few speciﬁc prayer points. Please
read through them and pick one or two you would like to pray for
regularly. Also, some of our own prayer needs are listed on the
ﬁrst page, and we would appreciate your prayer for those as well.!
If you are actively praying for certain people or places and would
like more details (or updates) than can be provided here, please
don’t hesitate to contact us. !
Thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers!!
Jesse, Tiffany, Joshua, and Owen
#1 on map
Tchéou is a local missionary who has lived and worked among the Lamba for 15
years. He partnered with Andrew and Jesse in mid-2012. The three of them meet
each workday at his house, then take their motorcycles out to the villages in
which they work. Tchéou has a vision to reach the entire Lamba region with the
gospel and help those who are neglected by society. He has a wife and four
•Pray for God’s continued provision for Tchéou’s family. !
•Pray for some diﬃcult family situations that are often a burden on Tchéou.!
•Pray for the school Tchéou started for special needs children. !
•Pray for continual and growing unity among Tchéou, Andrew, and Jesse. !
•Pray for his future ministry, as he will likely be a key leader among the Lamba
#2 on map
Jean has an obvious gift of evangelism and has a long history of reaching the Lamba
and nearby Tamberma people groups. He was one of the original people to work
with those who translated the Bible into Lamba. He has planted many churches,
but has never been equipped with the tools to keep them going. In recent years he
has become quite frustrated with the legalistic church that came into his own
village where he served as a deacon for many years. We have been encouraging him,
training him, and showing him a biblical method of making disciples, resulting in a
renewed vision to reach those who don’t know Jesus. He recently stepped down as
deacon, which has freed him up to look beyond his village to other places that
need to hear the good news. He recently obtained a list of every village in the
Kanté district and has begun investigating new places he could go to plant
churches. He has already started Bible studies in four households.!
•Pray for continued healing from his past experiences with legalistic religion.!
•Pray that the Lord gives him clear direction as he seeks to evangelize new villages.!
• Pray for his crops to succeed and his faith to increase. This year was terrible for crops, especially in his village, but
he believes God will provide for his family in spite of the circumstances.!
• Pray for patience and focus in the church planting process. Jean has such a huge vision that sometimes he gets a
little too scattered!
Katchak is a former pastor who worked his way up the ranks until he had a
position of considerable power and authority within his denomination. That all
came crashing down, however, when the leaders under him became jealous and
began spreading rumors and accusations about him to the denomination. He was
quickly banished and told that he no longer had the authority to make disciples or
plant a church. Dejected and fearful, he went back to his home village where he
has been living for the past 10+ years. Being a natural leader, he has become an
inﬂuential person in his community, especially in agricultural matters. Over the
past seven months of our meeting with him, he has come to see that he needs no
authority other than that given by Jesus to make disciples. He has a renewed vision
to reach the areas in and around his village, and he has started the Discovering
God study series with two households.!
•Pray for continued healing from his negative experiences with churches and other
•Pray for the two families he is meeting with, that they will come to know Jesus and share him with others.!
•Pray for the two villages near Katchak that he wants to reach. !
•Pray that Katchak’s many responsibilities in his village are a help to his disciple-making eﬀorts, not a hindrance.
#4 on map
Like many Togolese, Alphonse did not have the privilege of receiving a
good education, but the Lord has more than made up for it by blessing him
with a great gift of wisdom. He came out of an animist (traditional religion)
family and has tactfully raised his kids apart from the animist sacriﬁces and
ceremonies while at the same time managing not to bring oﬀense to his
family. In spite of being very poor, he has a peace-ﬁlled conﬁdence that the
Lord is his provider. He is from the Tamberma people group (next door
neighbors of the Lamba) and has a burden to reach them, along with the
Lamba who live in his area. This year we recorded the Discovering God
study series into audio format in the Tamberma’s language so that
Alphonse and other disciple-makers can use it to begin Bible studies
among Tamberma people. Alphonse has started using these recordings with
ﬁve families around his region.!
•Pray that Alphonse is able to discern who he should concentrate his time
on in his disciple-making eﬀorts. !
• Pray for families of peace (Luke 10:1-11) in the Tamberma villages.!
• Pray that God continues to give him masonry jobs and bless his crops to provide for his family. !
• There is a good, but very young church just across the border in Benin which Alphonse has partnered with to
reach Tamberma people. Pray for their unity and for an increased vision of what God wants to do through them.
#5 on map
Before our return to Togo in 2012, Andrew had started going out to a
village named Takpadé, where he met the chief and his older son,
Hareem. The son showed an immediate interest in hearing God’s
word, but the chief and his family were hesitant. However, after
months of Bible studies, Hareem and his family, the chief, and several
in his family have become believers! Throughout this whole process,
they have boldly shared the audio Scriptures with many others in
their village, which has led to several others wanting to “follow Jesus’
path!” Sometime in early 2014, everyone in the village who has
become a believer will be getting baptized. !
•Hareem is very passionate about his newfound Savior, and he wants
to share him with everyone. Pray that the Lord gives him wisdom and
direction as he does this.!
•In 2014, we will be working with all the believers in Takpadé to form
a church. Pray for this process, that they can learn to function as a
biblical church rather than mimicking what they see in the legalistic
churches around them. !
• This family is very busy with all of their responsibilities in the village. Pray that these will be opportunities for
the gospel to be shared rather than a hindrance and distraction from their infant church. !
• Pray for the health of Hareem and especially the chief. They both suﬀer from stomach issues that sometimes can
be quite severe.
#6 on map
Very early on in our time among the Lamba, Andrew and I (Jesse) explored a
remote valley where many people live. Near the end of the valley we decided to
continue up and over a mountain to the nearest city. This was not a good idea!
Thankfully, two brothers we had met, Agossi and Géo, graciously helped we push
our motorcycles up the most diﬃcult parts and guided us to the correct paths.
Months later we returned with Tchéou to see what the Lord might want to do
there. We began with a couple lessons about the moringa tree, but very soon the
conversations turned to spiritual matters. After listening to the creation story in
their heart language, they begged us to come back with more of these stories
about the Creator. We did, and now the two brothers are in the last half of the
Discovering God series. They have recently become convinced of Jesus’
sovereignty and power over all things, and they are beginning to understand their
need to follow and worship him alone. We gave them a memory card with the
lessons on it, which they have used to meet regularly with quite a few people who
live in their valley.!
•Pray for these brothers as they near the end of the Discovering God series and are
presented with a choice to put their faith in Jesus.!
• Agossi is the youngest brother of their immediate family, which in the Lamba culture means that he is the one in
charge of keeping and managing all of the family’s fetishes. If he chooses to follow Jesus and abandon fetishes,
this could cause a major stir in the family. Please pray that the Lord begins preparing both Agossi and Géo for
this and that he gives them wisdom and tactfulness to deal with this potential confrontation.!
• Pray for those with whom Agossi and Géo are sharing the Discovering God stories, that they will become
believers along with the brothers and form a church of Jesus followers in their valley.
#7 on map
Yao was the very ﬁrst person we worked with who fully embraced
“Jesus’ path.” He was a passionate, faith-ﬁlled disciple of Jesus who
gladly abandoned his fetishes (idols) and constantly told others about
the way to eternal life. When we met him in early 2013 he was already in
advanced stages of bone cancer, which eventually took his life in
September. His wife, sister, and teenaged daughter became Jesus
followers as well, but they are living with Yao’s brother and his family
who are not. The rest of their extended family practice traditional
animism, so there is always a strong pull from them to return to their
old way of life. !
•Pray that Yao’s family remains faithful in the midst of pressure to
return to animism.!
•Pray that they begin growing in their new faith.!
•Pray that they begin meeting with nearby Atchonim & Soba and that
they will start functioning as a church.!
• Pray for others in their area to come to Christ and join this infant church.!
• We helped Yao provide some income for his family by giving him a solar phone charging unit. We also helped
from time to time with his, his sister’s, and a neighbor child’s serious medical needs. This has led to many
diﬃcult situations where their family, their extended family, and many of their neighbors have come to us with
all sorts of requests for handouts. Our desire is to avoid creating dependency while remaining open to helping
where the Lord leads. Please pray for much wisdom on our part and for people to learn to depend on the Lord.!
#8 on map
One day while meeting with Yao and his family, an old woman came and begged
us to come share God’s word with her two oldest sons and their families. We
began Bible studies with them and immediately noticed how enthusiastic they
were about it. We later found out that about a month prior to our meeting them,
Atchonim had seen a bright light in his room and heard a voice which said, “I am
God. You must ﬁnd me and worship me only. If you do so, you will be greatly
blessed.” Immediately, he began seeking how he could know the Creator God. He
and his brother have since gone through almost all of the Discovering God series
with us. They have expressed very strongly that they are ready to leave their old
ways of living and follow Jesus on his path. From very early on, we let them
borrow an audio player with the lessons, so they have taken the initiative on their
own to play the lessons with all their friends both in their homes and in their
ﬁelds while they work!!
•Pray for the remaining few lessons of the Discovering God series, as they are the
•Pray that they and their wives put their faith entirely in Jesus and that they
follow him in baptism soon after.!
• Pray that they will unite with Yao’s family to begin a newborn church in their village. !
• Pray for their friends with whom they’ve been sharing the Discovering God lessons. There is a potential for
many people in this village to turn to Jesus and follow him because of the inﬂuence of Atchonim and Soba.!
#9 on map
Agbala has been a long-time friend of Tchéou, and he expressed a lot of
interest in starting a Bible study, so we began meeting with him and a large
group of his neighbors in August 2013. After the neighbors realized that they
weren’t going to get any free handouts, they quickly dissipated leaving Agbala
and his friend Asowé. Even though they are only about half way through the
Discovering God series, they appear to be very serious about ﬁnding out how
they can know God. They have used the radios we lent them to share the
Scriptures with many people around their village. !
•Pray for Agbala, Asowé, and their families to come to know Jesus as their
Lord and Savior. !
•Pray for the crops in their village of Nyandé. This year was terrible for them
because of a long dry spell during the middle of the rainy season.!
•Pray for their neighbors who have been listening to the audio lessons. Around
20 of them have begun attending a nearby church, but it appears that this is
not a healthy church. So pray that these neighbors will put their faith in Jesus
and that they will begin meeting with Agbala and Asowé as a body of believers
and function as a healthy church.
Francis was the very ﬁrst person that we began Bible studies with. After ﬁnishing the
studies, he professed his faith in Jesus and was baptized, but since then he has never
shown any serious intention to leave his fetish practices and walk in obedience to Jesus
#10 on map
alone. He has also not shown much desire to share Jesus with others. Because of our
very full schedule, we have had to cut some meetings out, and Francis was one of
those. We are hoping and praying, however, that Francis will turn in true repentance to Jesus and begin walking in
obedience to him.!
• Pray for Francis to realize that Jesus demands complete allegiance to himself, that he is not merely a quick-ﬁx
solution to potential problems in life.!
• Pray that Francis decides to leave his fetishes to follow and obey only Jesus. !
• Pray that Francis will share Jesus with his wife and kids who live in a diﬀerent city.
One of the most direct and speciﬁc prayer requests that Jesus gave his disciples is
found in Luke 10:2 (also Matthew 9:37-38). He says, “The harvest is plentiful, but
the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send
out laborers into his harvest.” These laborers obviously include “outside laborers,”
like foreign missionaries and other cross-cultural workers, but also the “inside
laborers,” those who do not know Christ yet but will one day know him and
become laborers within their own local harvest ﬁelds. !
• Pray for the laborers currently working among the Lamba and in other areas of Togo, that they will recognize
the Jesus’ lordship over his harvest and be submissive to his plans.!
• Pray for more outside laborers who will seek to empower, equip, and encourage local leaders rather than create
material and spiritual dependency on them. !
• Pray for future inside laborers to be reached and in turn equipped to reach their own people.