This has been a very full week for us.  There have been some very wonderful times mixed with some very difficult ones.  In everything that happens we see the sovereign hand of our loving God carrying us.

There are many times when we have brief contact with someone and an opportunity to talk about the love of God for them but don’t know if they ever make a commitment.  In December, 2012, Joe spoke with a nuclear medicine tech named Amy for about an hour about God’s love for her.  On Monday, Joe had a kidney scan and saw Amy at that time.  She told him that she had prayed to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior in December after talking with Joe.  She has since been baptized and joined a church; her 2 brothers have since made that same commitment to Jesus.  She thanked Joe for his sharing the good news of the Gospel with her so many months ago.  We were so excited and uplifted to hear that news.

On Thursday we were waiting to see Joe’s surgeon and got into a conversation with a woman named Robin.  She, like so many people, felt as if God could never forgive her for the things she had done but was so hungry to know God’s love.  She prayed to receive Christ right there in the waiting room.  There was a couple sitting on the other side of Robin who later came over and thanked us for sharing the Gospel so openly.  They were believers who were familiar with the ministry of Keswick – we had a great time talking with them.

Joe’s kidney scan showed that his right kidney is only functioning at about 34% due to the obstruction of the ureter and the resulting damage to the kidney.  Joe will need to have a procedure to try and open up the obstructed area sometime in the next few weeks (we will hear on Monday when this will be done).  The left kidney is functioning at about 70% but there doesn’t seem to be any major obstruction.  If this next procedure is not effective, Joe will have to have major surgery to remove the obstructed area.  That surgery would also include repairing the hernia and the fistula (which has reopened) as well as doing a biopsy.  The surgeon does NOT want to do the more extensive surgery, as he is not sure that Joe is strong enough to withstand the rigors of such a major assault to his body.

We had a very frank talk with the surgeon, Dr. Spitz, on Thursday.  He affirmed that Joe’s situation is not likely to improve overall and that his physical symptoms are likely to be ongoing.  Pain management and keeping his digestive system moving are major issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis.  He is experiencing increasing pain and has difficulty keeping food down (he has lost 13 lbs in the last few months).  It is difficult for him not to feel as if he is a burden on me as a result.
Our ministry continues despite the physical difficulties, and having opportunities to share God’s love is the best medicine there is.  We would love to share the message of hope for those caught in the bondage of addiction and the pain of abuse, so please contact us if your church would be are interested in having us speak.  As always, the information for donating to this ministry is on our webpage xlproject.com.  We are a 100% faith-based ministry that relies on the financial generosity of individuals and churches as well as faithful prayer support.
We are extremely grateful for your prayers and gifts; we thank God for every one of you.

Blessings,
Cherri and Joe

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine;  even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength!  He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.   Habakkuk 3:17-19

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NY Trip

We had a wonderful weekend with our friends at West Davenport Free Baptist Church.  The church may be small in numbers but they are mighty in heart.  The schedule was very busy, including meeting with the missions committee, a women’s meeting, a dinner with a question and answer time, and both of us speaking during the Sunday morning worship service.  Joe did a great job bringing the message that morning of Luke 4: 17-19.  We believe that our ministry is to deal with broken hearts due to addiction and abuse.  We spent a lot of time during the weekend counseling with individuals, couples, and families who are dealing with some very difficult problems.  God provided the strength for Joe to get through the busyness of the weekend.  We greatly enjoyed our time in beautiful upstate NY and look forward to further ministry opportunities in West Davenport, including the possibility of a conference in May.  We were able to stay in a very comfortable guest house in a beautiful location (Joe called it our second honeymoon) close to the church.  The leaves had not reached peak color yet but we did get a taste of the beauty of fall in that location.

The epidemic of heroin addiction is getting increasing attention by the media.  The statistics are staggering for heroin deaths in our area alone.  We will be sending out more on this in the near future.  We are on the front lines of getting the message out that Jesus is the only answer, our bondage breaker.

We are looking forward to traveling back to Pigeon Forge, TN, at the end of this month for the fall Conference/ Workshop and then possibly going on to Memphis to visit a church and some friends in that area.  I will update you further as plans get firmed up.

Prayer requests:
1. Joe’s health continues to be a challenge.  He will be having a kidney function test soon and will find out after that what the next step will be regarding his obstructed ureter. We are anticipating a procedure to remove the obstruction (scarring) around the 15th of Oct.

2.  We are so grateful for the faithful donors who have committed to monthly support.  However, we still have quite a ways to go before we reach our full support.  If your church would be interested in having Joe give his testimony, please let us know.  Donations can be sent to Grace Fellowship International, PO Box 368, Pigeon Forge, TN  37868.  Please specifiy that the donation is for our support.  Donations can also be made online at www.GraceFellowshipIntl.com and look for the Donate tab.

Please let us know if you have prayer requests, as we delight in praying for you.