But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
II Timothy 4:5 (NLT)
Dear Friends, Family & Former Team Members,
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the country of India? Its size? How hot it is? The spicy food? Crazy drivers? The poverty? The many orphans? What is the first thing that comes to my mind? Honestly, the heat! It has been 22 years since Paul and I have had the privilege of going to India. It is one of those countries that holds such a special place in our hearts. We definitely don’t care for the heat and their food is not our favorite, but the people…Oh, how we love the people!
Teen Missions has been working in India since 1983. We have had a Bible school there for many years. Paul has been to India six times. He went there as a team member in 1977. He helped lead the Boot Camp there in 1983 and 1992 and we both helped lead the Boot Camp there in 1993 and 1994. We also led an American/Canadian team there in 1988.
The Lord is doing a mighty work in the country of India and Teen Missions In India has a vital part in that work. The dominant religion is Hindu, but there are also many Muslims. There are 15 students at our Teen Missions Bible school who do many outreaches in the communities surrounding our base, located just outside of Vijayawada. The Boot Camp ministry is reaching hundreds of Indian young people every year.
So, why am I giving you all this information on India? Lord willing, WE ARE GOING BACK!!!! We have been assigned to lead this team this summer. One-half of the summer will be spent doing a construction project at an orphanage. I wish I could take a couple of big suitcases to bring a few of those orphans home…The other half of the summer will be spent at the Teen Missions base, building a security wall around our compound. This is a new requirement by the government for all schools in India. The team will be making their own blocks and then laying them for the wall. Right now, we have the largest team with eight boys and 19 girls. Four of our “kids” from our Myanmar/Cambodia team will be going with us, including one as a leader. Please pray for us this summer. Pray that we will have a unified leadership, wisdom, health and safety, spiritual growth in our own lives and the lives of the leaders and team members and most of all, that we will be a positive witness for Christ.
I am continuing to put in registrations and starting to get my ducks in a row for organizing visas. Last year, all the visas were able to be obtained upon arrival. This year quite a few countries will need them beforehand. This involves doing research on the requirements (which can change quickly and frequently), sending out the applications, receiving the applications and documentation back in our office, making sure everything is in order and then sending them off to the visa agency we work with. They then send them back to me and are given to the leaders during Boot Camp. There are always some “glitches” (never my fault :)). Please pray for wisdom for me and clarity as I put all the paperwork together.
Paul is finalizing all the travel plans—planes, trains, buses, boats, trucks, etc. for all the teams going out this summer. He also spends a LOT of time on phone calls and emails from the parents. Most of the staff are working outside one day a week getting everything ready for Boot Camp (It will be here before you know it…) and Paul enjoys this “break”. It gives him a chance to work with our Bible school students and he enjoys that. Please pray for wisdom, especially as he talks with the parents.
We had a wonderful time at Christmas. Thank you for all the cards, letters and gifts. You are all such a blessing in our lives. The weather was warmer than usual. We spent the time off doing various things around the house. I enjoyed a daily nap. The kids got bored…
Colton has finished his first semester of college at Eastern Florida State College. He is already into his second semester and is determined to bring his grades up! He is hoping it will work out for him to go to Bryan next year. A friend gave him a hedgehog, but Howie escaped when we were at another friend’s house. He wanted another one for Christmas, so “Charley” is now a part of our family. He is a sweetheart! Colton is planning on staying home this summer and earning some money to help with the Bryan expenses. Please pray that he will keep his eyes focused on Christ and that the Lord will provide a way for him to attend Bryan if that is His will. Please pray that he will stay focused on his grades and not let other things distract him.
Danae has also finished her first semester of college and did very well. She is still a senior in high school, but is an “early admit” at Eastern Florida. She has narrowed down her choices for college to Covenant College (in Lookout Mountain, GA) where she hopes to major in Community Development or Wheaton (in Wheaton, IL) where she would major in Sociology/Anthropology. She got a phone call a couple of weeks ago that she was a “finalist” for a $13,000 Community Development scholarship at Covenant. I guess you know what we are praying for! We are leaving this week for a very short visit to Chattanooga in order for her to attend the “scholarship weekend”. And the news that knocked our socks off is that she is planning to (actually wanted to) go with us to India this summer as an assistant leader. In the meantime, she will need her wisdom teeth out between the end of school and before going on the team. Please pray for wisdom as Danae makes this college decision and for lots of scholarships! Please pray for God’s provision for her summer support and the finances needed to get her wisdom teeth out (our insurance only covers 25%). And please pray that she will use the gifts God has given her to be a good leader who will challenge the team members to be all that God has called them to be.
BJ just finished his first semester of his sophomore year. His grades were not as good as we had hoped, but that usually happens during soccer season. He did make the varsity team and is getting quite a bit of playing time. His team won their district title and begins regionals this week. He is planning on going on the Madagascar MSSM team this summer. They will be riding motorcycles into the bush to teach Sunday schools. There are many Muslims in the area and the parents will not let their kids go to church, but they will let them go to “school”. They will teach Bible stories, phonics, help them memorize verses and play games with the kids. They will also be doing various work projects at our base in Mahajanga, Madagascar. Please pray for BJ as he navigates high school and that he will be a witness for Christ to others. Please pray for the finances he will need to go to Madagascar. Please pray for health and safety for him during his mission. Most of all, please pray that he will grow spiritually and will have a hunger and thirst for His Word.
More than anything, we need those who will commit to pray for us this summer. We cannot do it without your prayer support. In addition, we need to raise about $6500 for Danae and BJ to go on their teams. If you would like to be a part of their support team, please fill out the coupon on the bottom of this letter.
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support! Words could never adequately describe our gratefulness that God allows us to be a part of this ministry through the prayers and the sacrificial giving of so many of you. THANK YOU!
Paul, Beth, Colton, Danae and BJ Kostner