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The Shanks Family
Family prayer needs
• Continued good health in
spite of constant exposure to
malaria, food &...
Family update from
Life for me in Togo is one of
routine: cooking meals from
scratch, homeschooling Joshua
(in 5th...
#1 on map

Tchéou is a local missionary who has lived and worked among the Lamba for 15
years. He partnered with An...
#3on map

Katchak is a former pastor who worked his way up the ranks until he had a
position of considerable power...
#5 on map

Before our return to Togo in 2012, Andrew had started going out to a
village named Takp...
#7 on map

Yao was the very first person we worked with who fully embraced
“Jesus’ path.” He was a passionate,...
#9 on map

Agbala has been a long-time friend of Tchéou, and he expressed a lot of
interest in starting a B...
Shanks 2013 annual report
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Shanks 2013 annual report


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Shanks 2013 annual report

  1. 1. 2013 UPDATE The Shanks Family Family prayer needs • Continued good health in spite of constant exposure to malaria, food & water borne illnesses, and many other risks. • Safety on very dangerous roads and motorcycle trails. • For Tiffany and Joshua in homeschooling. • For vehicle and monthly support needs. 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 training. 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 becoming churches. • 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
  2. 2. Family update from Tiffany 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 entertaining. 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 home-leave. 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 time. 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
  3. 3. TCHÉOU #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 daughters. ! •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 JEAN #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! ! ! ! ! ! !
  4. 4. KATCHAK #3on map 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 Christians. ! •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. ALPHONSE #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. 5. HAREEM, CHIEF, & FAMILY #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. AGOSSI & GÉO #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.
  6. 6. YAO’S FAMILY #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.! ATCHONIM & SOBA #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 most important.! •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.!
  7. 7. AGBALA & ASOWÉ #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.! FRANCIS • 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. FUTURE LABORERS Luke 10:2 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.