“O, Give Thanks to the Lord”

Christmas, 2016
“O, GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD…FOR HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER” Psalm 136:1

As another year draws to a close, we have so much to be thankful for in 2016. As Thanksgiving gives way to Christmas celebrations, we need to not leave our giving of thanks behind just because November has turned to December.

THANKING GOD FOR MINDANAO

This year has been a time of great blessing and provision for Mindanao. Through your generosity we were able to build churches in tribal area. New churches have been planted in Kiamba in Sarangani, Prosperidad in Agusan, Amaga in Surigao del Sur, and Mati City in Davao Oriental. The churches in Panabo, Tubod, and Samal Island continue to grow and prosper, and a new Bible school has been established in Tagbena. With your help, we have been able to repair and upgrade all our established churches because the people on the ground were eager to do their part and you helped supply their lack. We were also able to acquire land for a church in Davao City itself.

Our Philippine Director Albert Asang and the Church Planting Team led by Pastor Ernie Balong wore out their motorcycles traveling all over Mindanao planting new congregations, teaching in the Bible schools, and encouraging and training pastors and church planters. With your help we were able to provide them with new motorcycles to continue the work unhindered. We were also able to provide motorcycles for other key pastors and leaders as well. We praise God for His abundant provision through your faithful giving unto Him. We look forward to building even more $600 churches with your help.

THANKING GOD FOR MIRACLES

Without a doubt, the greatest miracle this year did not happen on Mindanao but in Romania. We were caught completely by surprise in February when we received a message via Facebook from one of the graduates from Logos Christian High School in Timisoara by the name of Florin Topolovcici. Many of you may remember Florin’s testimony. He came to Logos as a 9th grader from an unsaved family. He was not really interested in the things of God but he loved English, especially American English. This was during the mid-90’s when we were living in Timisoara and Howard was preaching at Logos Church as well as the weekly chapels at Logos High School. Florin was saved under Howard’s ministry and by his senior year often served as Howard’s translator, especially when we ministered in the villages. On one such trip God worked through Florin to heal a young girl who was born deaf.

The reason Florin had contacted us was because he had come back to the Lord after wandering away for many years. He had led his girl friend Ovidiana to the Lord also. She had grown up in a secular home with a nominal Orthodox mother and an atheistic father. Now they wanted to find a church home, she wanted to be baptized, and they wanted to get married and establish a godly Christian home. Because we had been like spiritual parents to Florin, his greatest dream was that we return to Romania so Howard could marry them. As soon as I shared Florin’s request with Howard, he immediately said “Yes!” What Florin didn’t know was that, when we last visited Romania in 2006, God clearly spoke to our hearts on the flight home that we needed to be prepared to return to Romania at a moment’s notice. Our next question to Florin was “When?”

After prayer, Florin knew he needed to return to Logos Church. When they arrived at Logos, they were welcomed with open arms and felt the joy of restored fellowship. Ovidiana fell in love with the people at Logos that first day. She was baptized in March and the wedding was set for April 16. God had already provided the funds for the airline tickets so we left for Romania on April 12 by way of Houston and Munich on United and Lufthansa, arriving in Timisoara on April 13.

Howard preached at Logos for their midweek service on Thursday. Everyone was overjoyed to see us again after being gone for 10 years. The young people we had led to the Lord were now grown, many married with children of their own. It was a time of great rejoicing, yet we could soon see that, while we had come for the wedding, there was another reason God had brought us back to Logos.

When Howard served as founding pastor for Logos Church together with Ghita Catana for the first six years of its existence, he had faithfully preached the foundational truths of God’s Word to the people. As a result Logos Church had remained doctrinally pure. But with time and circumstances, many had fallen back into religious tradition and had lost their First Love. Many of the young people had been drawn away by worldly cares and pleasures. The core leadership had become discouraged but it had driven them to their knees in prayer. Florin’s return and our coming to visit were a first fruits answer to those prayers.

On Saturday April 16, Florin and Ovidiana were married at Logos Church. Their families and friends who hadn’t been to church in years, if ever, were welcomed with the love of Jesus by the congregation. It was a beautiful wedding in which Howard preached the Gospel and spoke of God’s covenant love for those who would come to Him by faith. Afterwards we all posed for pictures in the park like back yard of the church before going to the basement of a larger church for the wedding feast.

As word spread that we had returned for a visit, the size of the congregation began to grow with every service. Sunday, the singing was filled with new joy and expectation. Then on Monday we went to visit Logos Christian School where we visited with the new principal and shared at the chapels for the high school and the middle school students as well as visiting many classrooms to greet the elementary and preschool teachers and students.

In addition to starting Logos School and Church, the Lord had enabled us to bless Mana Ministries, an outreach to street children started by our friend Nadine from New Zealand and her husband Cerbu. They had started a Girls’ Home in Timisoara and a Boys’ Home and Farm in the nearby village of Ianova. They had returned to New Zealand to get specialized medical care for their daughters, but we were able to visit the Girls’ Home on Tuesday and the Boys’ Farm on Thursday and to bring help from America to the precious German and Romanian couples who now oversee the work under their continued leadership.

Wednesday and Friday we were able to minister in village churches, ministering at Logos on Thursday evening. Each day we were also able to minister to families in their homes.

CHANCE FOR A MIRACLE

Everything changed completely on Saturday morning, April 23. Howard went for a walk on the terrace overlooking the back yard. He leaned over the railing to watch a cat playing down below. Suddenly the wooden flower box he was leaning on gave way and he fell about 5 feet to the cement sidewalk down below. Dazed, he rolled over onto his back on the grass, got up, and walked upstairs to our bedroom and office area on the second floor of Logos Church. He sat down on the couch but that hurt too much so he went to lie down. That was better but when he got up to eat breakfast the pain was excruciating.

Concerned, I called our friend Gabi who was an RN and explained what happened. She immediately called the EMT’s who arrived about 30 minutes later. By then Howard had gone back upstairs to lie down because it hurt too much to sit upright. They insisted on putting a cervical collar around Howard’s neck even though he insisted that his neck didn’t hurt, just his back. They helped him get up and he walked down the narrow stairway. They then had him lie down on the gurney and took him to county hospital by ambulance. Ghita, Miriam our translator, and I then drove to the hospital, actually arriving before the ambulance.

Howard was rushed right into the ER where x-rays revealed he had broken three vertebrae in his neck and two in his upper back. The doctor told him that he needed to be admitted but Howard objected that he had to preach the next morning. Because Romania was historically an Orthodox nation, they follow the Orthodox calendar so the next day was Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. Finally Howard agreed to be admitted to the neurosurgery ward. He ended up staying in the hospital Saturday through Tuesday. The technician didn’t come in until Monday to do a CAT scan and the radiologist didn’t come in until Tuesday to read the results. The results were not good. The CAT scan confirmed that Howard had broken his neck and his back. All the doctors agreed that surgery was required to bring the broken bones into proper alignment. Until that happened, any movement of the bones could result in instant paralysis or even death. The doctors did admit that the broken bones appeared to be stabilized so the surgery could take place there in Romania or back in America but needed to be done as soon as possible. Since surgery in Romania is very expensive for foreigners and Medicare won’t cover it, Howard decided to return to America. The doctor told him that he needed to fly First Class or Business Class so he could lie down for most of the trip. So they gave him a prescription for some mild pain pills and sent him home, reminding him to wear the neck brace at all times.

In the meantime I sent out an emergency prayer request to all the email addresses I had of people who knew how to pray, as well as posting a prayer request on Facebook. With Howard hospitalized, I preached on Palm Sunday. In times of crisis such as this, you gain a new appreciation of what it means to be a part of the family of God! We were deluged with hundreds of messages of encouragement and prayers went up on our behalf literally around the world.

Instead of becoming discouraged and downcast, the people at Logos came together in greater unity and faith than they had experienced in years. Howard was deluged with visitors bringing food and comfort. When he was discharged from the hospital, Logos insisted on paying all his medical bills! Village churches we had ministered to in years past held special prayer meetings just to pray for Howard’s healing. We even received emails of encouragement from other missionaries we had never met, in countries we had never visited. When you are a part of the Body of Christ, you are never alone and forgotten.

We contacted United about getting an upgraded ticket for Howard but they referred us to Lufthansa who operated the main parts of our flight home. Lufthansa said that they would work with us on such an upgraded ticket for medical reasons but first we needed to fill out the required medical forms to be signed by the attending physician, along with an English translation of the hospital discharge papers. The US Embassy provided us with a list of qualified translators for medical records. Ovidiana just “happened” to work for a translation firm. One of her friends and coworkers just “happened” to be on the list. Florin traveled all over the city to get the papers translated, printed, officially signed and stamped, as well as scanned onto a flash drive.

Because it was Holy Week, the doctor in charge of Howard’s case was out of town on vacation, but Dan one of the deacons at Logos had worked at the hospital for 30 years. He left word with all his friends and they contacted him when the doctor was called in on another accident. He quickly printed up the forms, had the doctor fill it out and sign it, stamp it with his official seal, and then Dan scanned it onto a flash drive. Thus I was able to get all the required paperwork emailed to Lufthansa 6 hours before the deadline.

In the meantime, Howard spent most of his time lying down to minimize the pain, except to eat or visit with guests. He insisted on preaching Thursday night so we tried to prepare a place for him to lie down on the front row of the church. The pain was his constant companion but, as soon as he stood up to preach, all the pain left his body and he was able to move about freely. Thus he was able to preach the Good Friday service as well as Easter Sunday morning and evening. Easter Sunday also happened to be Howard’s birthday so they had birthday cake along with the traditional Romanian Easter feast. The service that night was especially meaningful as it was to be our final service before flying home.

Lufthansa sent their response to our email – they would not allow Howard on the plane unless he was carried on a stretcher and attended by a private nurse from their approved list! We had no choice but to buy all new tickets with another airline. First Class or Business Class was no longer an option. We found tickets on KLM and Delta out of Budapest to Omaha by way of Amsterdam and Detroit. The connecting flight over the Atlantic was shorter. Generous churches and individuals in America covered the cost of the new tickets and the Catanas offered to drive us to Budapest in their SUV with the reclining back seat.

Tuesday morning began at 5 AM and we were on the road by 6. The new autobahn from Timisoara to Vienna made this the easiest part of the trip. KLM and Delta bent over backwards to make our flights as comfortable as possible. They provided Howard with transport between gates at both Amsterdam and Detroit, enabling us to go through customs without waiting in line or traveling up or down stairs which was potentially dangerous for Howard in crowded conditions. We were hoping for empty seats where Howard could lie down but it didn’t happen except for one hour while crossing the Atlantic.

By the time we reached Detroit, Howard was in agony. Then they announced that our flight would be delayed 6 hours because of mechanical problems. Again the gate staff did all they could to help. We were beyond exhausted and stressed beyond endurance. I used my cell phone to call for emergency prayer. Within 30 minutes the Holy Spirit showed up and filled us with such peace it was like we were carried the rest of the way home “on eagle’s wings”! We finally arrived home and collapsed into bed after a 28 hour day but we were safely home!

The next morning we went to the ER as instructed by our family doctor. They were already expecting us. They took x-rays, a CAT scan, an MRI, looked at the CD with the CAT scan results and the translated discharge papers from the hospital in Romania, then took another CAT scan just to be sure. The doctor came in shaking his head. Their test results confirmed the diagnosis from Romania – 3 broken vertebrae in the neck but they found 4 broken vertebrae in the back and they were all in PERFECT alignment. No surgery would be required!! There was no evidence of nerve damage. Howard had to continue wearing the neck brace for three months and follow up with a spine surgeon. The doctors all called it incredible good luck or amazing good fortune, but Howard told them we knew better. It was a miracle from God in response to the prayers of His people. For the next three months, Howard had the opportunity to share with everyone who asked about the brace and tell them what God had done in answer to prayer!

THANKING GOD FOR YOU!

Most of all, we thank God for you. Without your prayers and your giving, Church Triumphant could not exist. You are the ones who believed God with us, encouraged us, empowered us for ministry with your prayers, and helped us to take the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to those who have never heard. You made it possible for us to take the vision of Christian schools to Romania and to establish churches on solid biblical teaching, encouraging those who have grown weary. Howard is alive and well today because you stood in the gap when we needed it the most. Words can never accurately convey how grateful we are for each of you.

Whatever you may be going through right now, please know that, if you are born again into the family of God, you are never alone or forgotten. You have family all over the world who will hold you up in prayer when you cannot go another step in your own strength. If you are not yet born again, there has never been a better time than right now. Open up your heart, let Jesus come in, forgive every sin, every failure. Let Him heal your broken heart and rule upon the throne of your life. Welcome Him as your Savior and King this Christmas and fill your heart with His wonderful peace! May God bless you abundantly this Christmas season and throughout 2017.
Howard & Barbara Gard

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We serve a God of miracles

Words cannot begin to express how much we appreciate your prayers over the past two and a half weeks. My apologies for taking so long to get back to you with an update on Howard’s condition, but life is just now approaching “normal”. On Monday, April 25, the staff at the County Hospital in Timisoara did the CAT scan on Howard’s neck and back. The radiologist did not come in until Tuesday to view the test results and consult with the doctors on his case. They told Howard that he had 5 broken vertebrae in his neck and back, they were out of alignment, and surgery would be required to correct the problem. They said he could have the surgery there in Romania or could fly back to America on a regular commercial flight, as long as it was Business Class or First Class so he could recline, but he needed the surgery as soon as possible. Any delay could lead to paralysis or even death until his neck was stabilized. Howard chose to return to America so they released him from the hospital on condition that he return to America for surgery. It was Holy Week in Romania which follows the Orthodox calendar. Howard preached Thursday night, Friday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night May 1 without pain.

As soon as he was done preaching, the pain returned and he had to lay back down to rest. Tuesday, May 3 was a 28 hour day for me from the time the alarm went off at 5 AM in Timisoara, Romania until my head finally hit my pillow at 1 AM (CDT) at home in Omaha. (By then it was already 9 AM on Wed in Timisoara.) Our return tickets on Lufthansa were worthless because their official doctor decided it was impossible for Howard to sit upright for take offs and landings, so instead of upgrading him to Business Class as we requested, they said he would not be allowed on board unless carried on a stretcher & attended by a private nurse – at our expense, of course! Instead we bought new tickets with KLM / Delta Airlines with money God had provided just 24 hours earlier and they treated us like royalty! Because it was right after the Orthodox Easter celebration in Romania, the flights were filled with Romanians and others returning to western Europe and/or America so Business Class and First Class were booked solid but God gave Howard the grace to sit up for the entire journey in spite of the pain. By the time we reached Detroit, we were beyond exhausted, yet your prayers sustained us and got us home safely when our flesh couldn’t handle it any more. Even when our flight from Detroit to Omaha was delayed 4 hours because of mechanical problems, the people at Delta bent over backwards to make the trip home as smooth as possible.

We spent most of the next day Wednesday at the ER at Immanuel Hospital in Omaha. They ran an MRI, 2 CAT scans, and X-rays on Howard. They confirmed he had broken vertebrae in his neck & upper back, just as the hospital in Timisoara told us. But sometime between the tests in Timisoara and the tests in Omaha 8 days later, God put the broken bones into perfect alignment and NO SURGERY is required! Howard didn’t even need to be admitted to the hospital! The doctor in ER told Howard he was the luckiest man alive, but Howard set the record straight by declaring “luck” had nothing to do with it! It was God answering the prayers of His people! Thank you for being a part of this miracle through your prayers!!!!

Then last Friday we went to a follow up appointment with a spine surgeon at the Nebraska Spine & Pain Center. He showed us some of the test results. It turned out that Howard had 7 broken vertibrae, including 2 compression fractures further down his back that the other CAT scan had missed. One of the bones in his neck was actually broken in two places! Yet all the bones were in perfect alignment and there was no evidence of damage to any nerves or ligaments! Again the doctor confirmed that no surgery was required. After looking at the test results, he was amazed that Howard had walked into the facility and was sitting there talking to him. He called Howard “the most fortunate man he knew”. Again Howard had the opportunity to share about God’s ability to heal in answer to prayer. They gave Howard a new cervical collar, padded this time, and told him that he would have to wear it for about 3 months. We have a return appointment in two more weeks to check on his progress. Thank you for your continued prayers as a rear guard. The enemy is angry and he keeps trying to attack anyone and everyone around us but in Christ we are more than conquerors. Please continue to lift that umbrella of protection over us, our family and friends, our church and our pastor (all of whom have been targets). God is getting ready to do something awesome and victory is just ahead! Be blessed!

GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant
www.churchtriumphant.com
hgard@juno.com

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Urgent Prayer Request

Howard is in need of urgent prayer.  We are currently in Romania which is 8
hours ahead of Central time & 10 hours ahead Pacific time.  Here it is
late Saturday afternoon.  This morning, Howard walked out on the terrace
here at the church where we are staying.  He leaned over the railing to
watch a cat down below.  He was leaning on the flower box, not the
railing.  The flower box gave way and he fell head first on the ground, a
distance of about 5 feet.  He thought he hurt is upper back because he
was in intense pain.  He was able to get up off the ground by himself, to
walk around, to climb the stairs, without a problem.  I called a friend
here who is a nurse and told her what happened.  She called the
paramedics who came and took him to the county hospital which is nearby.
They took some x rays and found that he broke 3 vertebrae in his neck and
1 in his upper back – cervical #5,6,7 and 1 in the thorax (probably #8
but I don’t know for sure).  They admitted him and, when the rest of the
staff returns on Monday, they will do an MRI.  Then they will know if
they have to do surgery or can just put him in a cast to stabilize his
neck.  It is only God’s hand of protection that he is not already
paralyzed and that great danger still exists until his neck can be
stabilized.  We are praying and asking God for a miracle.  Just by
“coincidence” the American ambassador is here in Timisoara tonight in
case we need his help.  Please pray with us that God will give us a
miracle and he will be completely healed.  Thank you in advance for your
prayers.  Blessings!
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard

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Special Praise Report & Prayer Request

Dear Prayer Warriors;
God has blessed us with an unexpected opportunity. We received a totally unexpected invitation to return to Romania this spring for a brief visit. It is an opportunity to renew old friendships but, more than that, an opportunity to minister to and bless Logos Church in Timisoara where we ministered for the six years we lived in that beautiful city. We strongly believe that God is sending us back to bless and encourage them and to strengthen them in the Word of God for the days ahead. They are believing God for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, bringing the lost and lonely back to Him. We praise God for being a small part of what He is preparing to do and has already begun in their midst. We will be flying out to Timisoara on April 12, with layovers in Houston and Munich, arriving on April 13, and returning on May 3, by way of Munich and Chicago. The entire trip, including airfare, will cost about $3,000. Anything you can give toward this missions trip will be greatly appreciated. Most of all, we ask for your prayers for the journey, for good connections, for divine appointments, and for God’s hand of protection on us and our belongings during the entire time we are gone. As you are well aware, Europe is not the safest place for Americans to be traveling right now, but there is no place on earth safer than being in the center of God’s will. Thank you in advance for your prayers.
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant
PO Box 111576
Omaha, NE 68111
www.churchtriumphant.com
hgard@juno.com

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2013-2015 Newsletter

“WHEN YOU PASS THROUGH THE WATERS, I WILL BE WITH YOU…WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE FIRE, YOU SHALL NOT BE BURNED” ISA. 43:2

 

These last 2 ½ years, the ministry of Church Triumphant has been through the fire and through the flood but we have found God’s promises are true and He is truly faithful at all times and in all circumstances. We give Him all the glory.

When God blessed us with the opportunity to return to the Philippines in April, 2012, we had no idea how critical that visit would prove to be. God was sending us there to strengthen and solidify the foundation of the work there because He knew what lay ahead.  We were able to establish and install new leadership with a clear vision of what God was calling the ministry in the Philippines to accomplish.

DISASTER

On December 4, 2012, Mindanao was hit by Super Typhoon Bopha (called Pablo in the Philippines). This massive storm (equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane) was 331 miles across when it struck southern Mindanao with wind speeds of 175 mph, traveling across the region where most of our churches are located.  It dropped three times the normal rainfall for December in a matter of hours.  701,224 families were affected in 40 cities and 34 provinces.  167,295 homes were damaged or destroyed.  1,100 people lost their lives.  $603 million of property damage was verified and $410 million worth of crops were destroyed.

So many homes were destroyed in the villages

So many homes were destroyed in the villages

Floods and high winds destroyed everything that grew above ground.

Floods and high winds destroyed everything that grew above ground.

Every church we had in southern Mindanao was either damaged or destroyed. The entire suburb where our headquarters church is located had to be evacuated because of flooding.  The water was knee high in their homes.  It was February, 2013, before the electricity could be restored.  Most of our church families, including our pastors, in the villages lost everything.  Some were injured but not one of our church people lost their lives!

One of our destroyed churches.

One of our destroyed churches.

This was once a church roof.

This was once a church roof.

Even in great physical loss, God was with His people, sparing their lives and giving them hope in the midst of hopeless situations. Where the church walls were still standing even though the roof was gone, the people gathered there to worship the Lord.  Where the churches were totally destroyed, the villagers met in the empty field to sing their songs of praise and thanksgiving to God for sparing their lives.  Those who were among the 250,000 in evacuation centers found a place to gather daily for prayer and worship.  They had lost everything but their faith in Jesus Christ and He sustained them.  More than that, He gave them a burden to share their faith with others around them.

We responded to the emergency by using the internet to post prayer requests and updates, but we could not justify the expense of sending out a newsletter even to ask for help when money was desperately needed for food, safe drinking water, and shelter for so many of our people. God supplied through you, our faithful donors, and the needs were met and the rebuilding began.

During 2013, we were able to repair or replace our churches across Mindanao. Not only were we able to replace the roof of the church in Melale where the Bible School met, but we were able to add electricity.  That enabled us to train two groups simultaneously – young people during the day and married people in the evening after they came home from their fields or their jobs, enabling them to care for the needs of their families while also preparing for ministry and church planting in obedience to God’s call.

ANOTHER DISASTER

Just as things seemed to be returning to normal, the Visayas and northern Mindanao were hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) on November 7, 2013, devastating most of the center of the nation. It was the deadliest typhoon in modern Philippine history, killing at least 6,300 people.  Sustained winds were measured at up to 196 mph, making it the strongest typhoon recorded at landfall when it came ashore on Samar Island in the Visayas. The damage was catastrophic on the islands of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Capiz, Negros, and northern Iloilo, affecting about 11 million people altogether and causing $2.052 billion in damage across the Philippines, including northern and central Mindanao.  The city of Tacloban on Leyte was effectively destroyed by a 17 ft. storm surge.

By the grace of God, northern Mindanao was spared the worst of the high winds and storm surge but the damage was extensive. Our churches in northern Mindanao that had escaped damage a year earlier were heavily damaged or destroyed.  Many of our churches in central Mindanao who were just recovering from damage caused by Super Typhoon Pablo were again damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Yet even in the midst of these challenges, God’s hand of protection was evident. About three months before Yolanda hit, the coconut plantation that owned the land on which the coastal village of Tubay was located decided they wanted to extend their plantation all the way to the sea.  The entire village, including our church on the beach that God had spared when the massive earthquake and tsunamis hit Indonesia several years ago, was forced to move several miles inland.  When Super Typhoon Yolanda hit just north of there, the resulting storm surge that hit northern Mindanao was not nearly as bad as what hit Leyte but the area where Tubay had been was totally demolished!  Because of God’s protection, the only loss was some freshly planted coconut trees but all the people were safe further inland.

Again we used all our resources to send emergency help to sustain our people who had lost everything and to help them repair their damaged homes and churches. Again, God provided through you, our faithful givers, and again the churches were repaired or rebuilt.  But it has not stopped there.  God used the massive destruction to awaken in our people a greater hunger to walk with God and a greater burden for the lost.  More students than ever are preparing for ministry.  A new Bible school has been added in Agusan in north central Mindanao.  New churches are being planted faster than we can build them.  The harvest truly is plentiful and the number of laborers continues to grow.  Even now, we have a list of 14 new congregations who do not yet have buildings.  God is indeed reaping a great harvest of souls across Mindanao.

WHAT ABOUT AMERICA?

If we look at America with our natural eyes, it would be so easy to become discouraged. Disastrous conditions seem to be everywhere.  Whether it is massive flooding across the South from Texas and Oklahoma all the way to South Carolina or raging wildfires that have brought devastation across California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, from bitter cold winters to oppressive heat and droughts so severe that lakes are drying up and communities risk losing their water supply, natural disasters are everywhere!

Beyond that, people have struggled in their personal lives. Joblessness, sickness, loss of loved ones, violence, hatred, lawlessness, divisiveness, blatant immorality, financial instability, the list seems to go on forever.  Where can we turn for answers?  The same God who brought victory out of the chaos on Mindanao is the same God who wants to walk with you through the midst of whatever storm you may be going through.  It doesn’t matter what that storm is.  It may be literal, emotional, financial, physical, or spiritual.  God has not changed.  He will walk with you through every storm and He will speak peace into your spirit.

If you look at America through the eyes of the spirit, you will see that God is doing exactly what He promised He would do. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken so that what remains is unshakable.  God is getting this nation ready for a great harvest of souls.  Even those who don’t know Him are sensing that something is about to happen and they are looking for something to hold onto as everything around them is falling apart.

You have the answer they are looking for! Be looking up and lifting up your head but also be looking around to see the harvest field that is all around you.  God is looking for ordinary people who love Him that He can use to reach this lost and dying world before it is eternally too late.  Let Him use you, just as He used ordinary Believers to reach lost souls on Mindanao.  There are only two qualifications.  You must love God and have a personal relationship with Him and you must be willing to let Him love people through you.

The Holiday season is quickly approaching. As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, please pray and ask the Lord what He would have you do to help advance the Kingdom of God on Mindanao as we continue to train workers to plant churches and help build church buildings in villages that are hearing the Good News of salvation for the very first time.  For many, this will be the first time they have reason to celebrate Thanksgiving and to worship the Savior who gave His life to restore them to a covenant relationship with the Creator God who has become their Heavenly Father.  Thank you in advance for making a difference in their lives that will count for eternity!

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Special Prayer Request

We would like to ask you to join us in prayer for a very special need. Our Romanian Director’s daughter Bianca who is currently living in America with her husband and three young children needs our prayers. She has been having health problems for a while but the doctors have just now found the cause. Recent tests show that she has a brain tumor and will need to have surgery. Jesus is still the Great Physician! Please pray with us for God to touch Bianca with His healing power and restore her to complete wholeness for His honor and glory. She is a gifted musician who loves God with all her heart. Pray for her husband and family as well that God will wrap His loving arms around them and strengthen them during this difficult time. Thank you in advance for your prayers. Blessings!
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant
www.churchtriumphant.com
hgard@juno.com

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Prayer Update

A family stands outside what is left of their home.

We want to thank you so very much for your prayers for this ministry and for the people of Mindanao as they recover from the devastation of Typhoon Bopha. The final numbers are in and they give a fuller picture of the extent of the tragedy. 701,224 families were affected in 40 cities and 34 provinces. 167,295 homes were damaged or destroyed. More than 1,100 people lost their lives. $603 million of property damage was documented and $410 million worth of crops were destroyed.

Floods and high winds destroyed everything that grew above ground.

 

Pastor Albert was finally able to send us photos of some of the damage to our churches and the homes and farms of our people. These photos give a picture of what happened.

Pastor Albert's home was flooded along with most of the suburb of Uraya

So many homes were destroyed in the villages

 

Seeing all the destruction would make you think the people are disheartened, discouraged, and perhaps blaming God for their loss. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are praising God for His goodness and faithfulness. They are rejoicing in His hand of protection.

Even well built churches could not stand against the hurricane force winds of a typhoon.

 

They are rebuilding their homes and starting over. They continue to gather together to worship the Lord whether or not the church still has a roof.

This church has lost its roof like so many of our village churches.

Where the church is completely destroyed, they meet in the field where the church used to be to praise Jehovah Jireh who will never leave them or forsake them. We have been able to rebuild the church in Pupoyohan that was totally destroyed and a new church has been planted in the village of Datu Ampunan. The Believers are more determined than ever to reach those who have yet to hear the message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ who is a Shelter even in the time of storm.

This was once a church roof.

 

Thank you so much for your prayers that have sustained them and lifted them up to the throne of grace.

We would like to ask you to join us in also praying for a very different kind of need. God has burdened our heart to share His message of hope and encouragement across America but our van is worn out to the point that it is no longer a reliable means of transportation. Because we have poured everything we have into the ministry on Mindanao at this critical time, we have no funds with which to purchase a better vehicle for ourselves. Please join us in prayer that God will provide this need so we can continue to bless the Body of Christ in America and bring His Word of Life to His people who are hurting in this hour. Thank you again for your faithfulness in prayer. May God bless you abundantly.
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant
www.churchtriumphant.com
hgard@juno.com

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Prayer Update

Please continue to pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ on Mindanao in the wake of Typhoon Bopha which struck 10 days ago. The latest count has 540 confirmed dead, 900 still missing, and 400,000 evacuated because their homes have been damaged, destroyed, or flooded. 17 of our churches are confirmed damaged or destroyed along with the homes of the pastors and members. Communications are still down in many remote areas. Below is the latest report from Pastor Albert Asang, our national Director. As you can see, the situation is still desperate.

We really need your help right now. Perhaps your church could take up a special Christmas offering to meet the needs of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have been left with nothing. Please continue to lift them in prayer. Blessings!
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant
www.churchtriumphant.com
hgard@juno.com

Dear Sir and Ma’am,

I’m sorry for the delayed of my report cause last monday i was in Sua-on. I got sick ! I bring a little help of our pastor in Sua-on and the rest of the money we use to buy food for our pastors in my home and the picture that I told you that I send right now I cannot send it due to our computer that has no electricity until now in our house. And I cannot use the disk to internet cafe cause the disk is already phase out. And the other pastors is still in my house until now . Even I’m so weak but I have to go to internet cafe to send some reports about what happened to us and our pastors. Maybe 4 to 6 months period of recovery for their livelihood that was damaged by the typhoon. It’s look like a desert now in the mountain that is green before and many of people are asking help from us. especially food and medicine for those who are sick and to repair their house in our churches that was totally collapsed by the typhoon. May the Lord provide this great needs and some people told us that the electricity will be connected again on February 2013 . Thank you Sir and Ma’am for your kind and consideration for us and for our churches that was victim of the typhoon. May God bless you more !

In his service,
Albert Asang

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Urgent Prayer Request

Please be praying for our Brothers and Sisters on Mindanao who have been hit by a devastating Typhoon which came ashore before dawn on Tuesday, December 4 and swept across the unprotected island which has historically been missed by typhoons that have always hit farther north in Luzon. Only one other Typhoon of this size has hit so close to the equater in all of recorded history. The typhoon was 331 miles across. By the grace of God the winds dropped to sustained speeds of 110 mph before it hit. The path of the typhoon took it across the region where most of our churches are located. The storm dropped three times the rain they normally receive in the entire month of December in just a few hours. The death toll is at 418 and rising with another 400+ still missing as entire villages have been washed away. 250,000 have had to be evacuated because their homes are damaged, destroyed, or underwater. We were finally able to make contact with Pastor Albert Asang, our Philippines Director. He and his family are safe but they have had to be evacuated because the entire village is flooded. The water is knee high in their homes. They have been without electricity for a week. He has only been able to make contact with three of our churches – in Sua-on, in Salvacion, and in Kipalili.

Our church in Sua-on was also destroyed

 

Our church/Bible school in Salvacion was destroyed

All three churches have been damaged or completely destroyed along with the pastors’ homes. We have heard on the news that 44 villagers were killed in Andap where another of our churches is located when an evacuation center was destroyed by a landslide. Our people on Mindanao are in desperate need of food, safe drinking water, shelter, and money to rebuild their homes and their churches.

This pastor's home in Kipalili was destroyed and the church was badly damaged

Please pray for them in this hour of great trial. Pray that rescuers can reach the rest of the villages that are cut off because of landslides and heavy flooding. Praise God for His hand of protection and provision. Pray that Pastor Albert can quickly make contact with the rest of our churches and get an accurate picture of the extent of the damages. Pray for wisdom and finances that we will know best how to meet the needs in the most efficient way. Pray that in the midst of this great tragedy Jesus Christ will be glorified and thousands of souls will come to salvation because of it. Thank you so much for your prayers. We serve a great God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think when we put our trust and our confidence in Him.
Blessings!
Howard & Barbara Gard
Church Triumphant

This is our church in Andap where 44 villagers were killed in a landslide caused by the typhoon

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Praise, Prayer, and Opportunity

These are times of great sorrow and great hope for the ministry on Mindanao. We have great sorrow because Pastor Jekel Sangelia from Rosario, one of our Board members that we taught back in April, lost his wife to lupus on Sunday, November 11 and Pastor Oscar Guimbal, a former Board member that we trained in 2001-2 who has headed up our agricultural training program, lost his father on November 9. We rejoice that they are with the Lord but mourn with those who mourn their loss. Please join with us in lifting them up in prayer.

Pastor Jekel (right) and Pastor Oscar (left)

We have great hope as the Bible school students diligently prepare for graduation as the waiting list for the next sessions continue to grow. A new church has been planted in Upper Ampawid with the help of the students who are also helping with the pastoral responsibilities. We have already had the ground breaking and the building is under construction even now. There is such hunger for God among the mountain tribal people and we look forward to more churches being planted as the students complete their studies and launch out into ministry.

Bible school class

We praise God for a great opportunity that He has placed before us and ask that you join us in prayer that we may take advantage. As you know we have been praying for God to provide a truck to help the ministry on Mindanao become self supporting. In faith the tribal people have been planting their crops and the harvest has come in but we need a truck to transport the extra to the lowlands so it can be sold in the marketplace. We have looked at several trucks in the hopes of finding one we can buy. God has opened such an opportunity for us. The owner wants to sell us the truck but was asking $3,500 as down payment, a sum we did not have.

We need this truck for ministry

Now God has softened his heart. He will sell us the truck for the same price ($6,000) but at a payment of $1,000 a month for 6 months and we can use the truck as soon as we come up with the initial payment of $1,000 by December 1. Please pray that God will speak to His person/people to commit to $1,000 a month (or portion thereof) for 6 months above and beyond their current giving. Please let us know if you want to be a part of God’s miracle provision for His people on Mindanao. The truck will provide transportation for ministry teams to go up the mountain for evangelistic outreach and for produce from the tribal farms to come down the mountain to provide income to the people so their tithes can help the ministry there to become self supporting. Please join us in prayer that God will provide for this pressing need and ask Him if He wants you to be a part of the answer. Be sure to designate your gift “for the truck”. We thank you in advance for your prayers. May God bless you abundantly in this season of harvest and Happy Thanksgiving!
Howard & Barbara Gard

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