Dear Family and Friends,
It's Christmastime again! May you have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012! I can hardly believe that another year has passed since I was sending 2010 Christmas greetings from Ghana. You will recall that the Andersons and I had gone there because of the volatile political situation in our beloved Côte d'Ivoire. From Ghana, I arrived Stateside the first week of January, 2011. My goals were to help care for my elderly mother and prepare for retirement from service with Free Will Baptist International Missions. Though the way was often difficult, God has been faithful to help me reach these goals.
Though visibly weakening, our dear mother is still with us. The good Lord willing, she will celebrate another birthday on January 14th. She will be 92 years old. Except for short-lived periods of confusion, she is still mentally alert and able to get around with the help of a walker. Her main problem is breathing difficulties which seem to be worsening. Still, with her beautiful voice, she sings praises to her Lord through the day. Please do continue to pray for her. Please continue to pray for me as I face the challenge of being practically homebound. The Lord is good and is helping me learn "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11.
Verlin and Debbie Anderson, with son Corbin (Cason and Cara are Stateside), are our only missionaries still serving in Côte d'Ivoire. Needless to say, they are extremely busy. In that a government is in place and functioning, things are somewhat better in the country. But, there is still much to be changed, many hurts to be healed, much to be built back, and much to be forgiven. Please continue to pray for the Ivorian Free Will Baptist Association of churches to be bright lights shining out to the lost in that needy land. As you pray for the missionaries, please pray for our pastors there . . . that they would continue to be bold witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. Reports of decisions for Christ and baptisms are very encouraging. And, once again, the Bible Institute is up and running, training those whom God has called to be pastors and evangelists. The national church is patiently waiting for my return so they can give me a "proper sendoff". They fully understand my need to remain Stateside right now and care for "la vieille" (the "old one" which is their very respectful way of referring to my elderly mother). Thank you, too, for your patience. I have not and will not forget my promise to visit the churches which supported me throughout my missionary career. I continue to pray that you will faithfully support your denomination's efforts to take the Gospel to those who've never heard. Thank you and God bless you.
Let us talk a little more about Christmas before I close. A few weeks ago, I received a newsletter from Franklin Graham. He wrote that Christ came to earth on "a rescue mission." After reading this, the following song came to mind and I began to sing:
"In loving kindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to planes of light,
O praise His name, He lifted me"
Song "He Lifted Me" by Charles H. Gabriel, page 77, Free Will Baptist hymnal.
Yes, we first see our Savior, Jesus Christ, in a manger. But, how I praise Him for His obedience in going all the way to the cross to rescue you and me. What a Wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012,
Alice F. Smith
New address: 1254 Fields Creek Rd., Winifrede, WV 25214