We wanted to bring you up to date on our future plans. However, I wanted to wait until I had spoken to our churches in Suriname as well as our supporting churches and supporters in the USA. When we came to Suriname in 1986, our goal was to plant self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating churches. Over the years, the Lord has allowed us to see four churches planted and now led by Suriname pastors. We have seen the entire Bible translated into Sranantongo and printed, commentaries on the Bible written, two Bible Institutes started, materials for discipleship printed, and radio and television programs used to reach the lost. We believe that the Lord is now calling us to a new ministry, this time in a new location in the USA, but remaining under Baptist World Mission.
Beginning in mid-year 2012, we will be relocating at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee. I have taught classes there the last three years. I will be teaching missions at the college on a part time basis starting in the fall of 2012, with the freedom to give block courses as requested in like-minded Bible colleges. We are hoping to be able to return to Suriname on a yearly basis with a group of students to teach practical methods of mission work for some weeks and expose and challenge students to real missions opportunities. Suriname does offer some unique opportunities because it is a melting pot of various racial groups and religions in the context of the developing world. We also hope to continue both our radio and television ministry here in Suriname. We hope to see the Bible Institute continue as well through our national leadership.
Everything is arranged for a correspondence course on DVD with text and a workbook, but Winston Zeeman, the senior pastor for Winti Wai, has a burden to continue teaching the material personally.
I wanted to have you receive this information now. Our financial needs will then drop substantially in the future. We will no longer be helping with major projects such as building churches here in Suriname. However, we are hoping to be able to pay for the radio and TV programs, which I do not believe our local churches are in a position to support. And some funds will be needed for us to travel to Suriname with students.
Over the next few months, we are asking the Lord to provide funds to finish some major repairs in two churches, the main church at Jowjowstraat, and the church in Efraimzegen, as well as finish painting the new Sunny Point church building. At this point, we are able to cover the cost of the Jowjowstraat project and painting the Sunny Point church. We are still investigating what the total costs will be for the church at Efraimzegen. We will have some additional costs to ship a number of household items which we have in our home to the church station at Moengo, where our son-in-law Ethan Champlin hopes to set up a guest house. We will also need to move the 20 foot container for our Bibles to Moengo. We will need to ship some items back to the USA, such as my study books and some clothing.
This is the situation as we see things now:
Churches - the four churches have their buildings, and all have at least two pastors. The main church will probably have 4 pastors. The churches will continue pay a stipend to their staff, and continue to be responsible for maintenance, transportation, electricity, water, insurance, and costs of various programs such as Sunday school, youth work, etc. We have helped up to now in covering some of the transportation costs at the Jowjowstraat and Winti Wai churches, but that will stop when we leave.
Both radio and television programs are all on digital format with at least 5 years of programs available. We have arranged each year for 3 months of automatic payments as well as giving the stations the DVD’s. We plan to continue these programs, and our funds will be administered under our direction by our son-in-law, Ethan Champlin.
Our Bibles will be relocated in Moengo. When our missionaries come to Paramaribo, which they do at least 1-2 times per month, they can bring Bibles to the distributer as needed. If our New Testament commentaries arrive, we will work the same system as well, having them in Moengo. We are still looking at various possibilities for the other Sranantongo materials.
Winston Zeeman, one of our national pastors has a burden to continue to teach the Bible Institute, and I am in the process of training him and providing the necessary materials. He will need a laptop for PowerPoint lessons as well as DVDs and textbooks. Winston has completed both the regular and Advanced Bible Institute and is qualified to teach both. I am thrilled about his burden to continue this program personally. We do have a number of students at present taking the course by correspondence.
Our household goods and materials that are useful to the ministry here, including our car, will remain in the hands of the mission. Those items which the mission does not want will be distributed or sold locally.
We will continue to use our social security for living expenses, as well as some retirement funds as needed. We have been using social security for the last four plus years for many of our personal expenses so that more funds could go directly into the ministry, such as building projects, etc.
We pray that some of our supporters and supporting churches will be able to continue financial support at a reduced level after July 2012, such as 50% of the previous figure if possible. We pray that all our prayer supporters will continue to support us in prayer which is so necessary as we begin this new venture. We would ask for your prayers. We do NOT want unnecessary funds to come to us that would better be directed into other ministries. The important thing is that the Lord be glorified and His work go forward. Therefore we ask you to pray to that end. The Lord always provides for His work and workers when we are within the framework of His will.
We are looking forward to this new ministry although it will be hard to leave our church family. I have had an increasing burden for the unreached lost souls, the untaught who have no scriptures in their own language, and those who are suffering under persecution for their belief. I have asked the Lord to permit us to serve Him in this capacity at least 10 years, and would cherish your prayers for the same. Baptist World Mission is also very supportive, and we believe that this ministry will actually expand our outreach. It will enable us to use our years of experience on the field to influence many young people. What we can no longer do because of limitations of age and strength we pray that others will be do as they catch the vision.
This letter is so long that I will not mention the recent deaths in our churches, and also the enjoyable time I had at Lynn Champlin’s speaking to some Christian university students about evolution versus creation at her request. We will try to bring you up to date in another letter.
In Him and Content: Bob & Liz Patton Missionaries to Suriname with Baptist World Mission since 1986