Monday, May 25, 2009

May 2009 Update

Dear Ministry Friends,

The primary focus since our last letter has been two-fold. First, the All Ireland Tract Outreach to get the Gospel into every home. This has been a great opportunity to get the message that “Jesus Saves” into the homes here in Ireland. So far, this has produced seven contacts for our church. There have been many more when you add in the other missionaries’ contacts. Across the country so far five have trusted Christ as Saviour. Currently, I have two that have started Bible studies seeking to understand Jesus Christ and the Bible. I saw a report this past week from an Irish paper that reported church attendance up by 30%. This was attributed to the recession. We have had two ladies visit our church over the past five weeks. One has not come back because it just wasn’t what she was looking for. The other lady professes to be a legitimate born again Christian who has just moved to our part of Ireland. She seems to be delightfully excited about the Lord and spreading the Good News. Thank you to those who have given financially to the Outreach. The funds have come in and the finances for the project are complete. Praise the Lord!

The second major issue is with regard to our annual immigration status. We are due to expire in July. So, I went ahead to begin the process early to find out if we would be granted another year. This required another letter and plea to the Justice Department. I received a phone call from them informing me that they were going to allow us another year here in Ireland. I now need to see my local immigration officer to get an updated registration card to take us into July 2010. Do continue to pray for a long term approval decision from the Justice Department that would eliminate the uncertainty of missionary ministry here in Ireland.

On another note, there has been a huge increase in the number of suicides among young people here in Ireland-around a dozen this year so far, as well as an increase in the UK. A UK coroner is launching an investigation into chat room sites. “Mr. Walter said he is ‘desperately concerned’ about the chain of young suicides - and of the connection to teenage social network sites such as Bebo and MySpace.” Satan is very active doing what he can in these last days to destroy the lives of people. My prayer is that we be busy doing what we can for the cause of Christ in reaching out to lost and hurting people.

May the Lord find us faithful,

Don and Lisa Thatcher & Family

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 28, 2008 Update

Dear Friends,I wanted to let you know of a major answer to prayer as well as give you another prayer request. With regard to our renewal status to stay in Ireland, I rang the Department of Justice to see if I could find out any information on our situation as August 3rd, our expiry date, draws near. That did receive our paper work and request to remain. They also acknowledged a failure to dispense information to all those involved as missionaries and volunteers in the country that upon three years they must leave. So, as a result the man on the phone said that they intended to grant a one year extension, and we needed to wait for the papers granting permission to come back to us to take to our immigration officer. I mentioned that we needed our in haste. The papers did not arrive as of Wednesday last week, and we had to see our officer that day due to his going on holidays for five weeks. We went in and told him what the Department of Justice told us and he then said that he would give us a 90 day extension in our passport. He also mentioned that he would give us a 90 day immigration card but that would be 200 Euro for the two of us. I said well I guess that we will take the 90 day passport stamp since it does not cost. Our officer then asked if we would be traveling out of the country at all. I said yes. He then asked us to tell him once again what the Department of Justice had said. Part way through telling him again the second time he threw up his hands and said "Say no more-Dublin bureaucracy". He then proceeded to type on his computer and then handed Lisa and me immigration cards good for another whole year! We very kindly told him thank you, paid the annual fee and left rejoicing (this is the first time I left rejoicing after having paid the fee!) The next day the letter came from the Department of Justice verifying what they had told us on the phone. The letter did include the words "HOWEVER" though in it. The "HOWEVER" is the prayer request side of things. Yes, we do get another year but to remain after that they tell us now that we need a work permit. I am not sure why we need a work permit and what all of this means at this point, but this is something that we have a year to work out and be praying about as well. Thank you for your prayers these past couple of weeks concerning us being able to stay in Ireland. The immediate pressure is off but we are still on out of the woods yet so to speak concerning the long term.

Have a great day.

Don and Lisa Thatcher and family

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 2008 Prayer Letter

Dear Ministry Friends,

This past month on the 17th of June 2008 marked the four year anniversary for our family being here ministering in the country of Ireland. The time has quickly past by during this first term. God has been faithful to meet our every need from the deputation trail right on through these past four years on the field.

Let me jump right into the captivating issue in our lives at the moment. Those of you who have asked to receive my email updates will recall that I mentioned to you back in May to be praying for serious immigration issues concerning missionaries in Ireland. Well, the time has come, and this issue is now confronting our family. As I mentioned this past week in an email update one missionary family is already gone from here due to various reason some of which were immigration related, another had to get a solicitor to go into the court system and in doing so was granted a one year extension while waiting for the Department of Justice to decide if his family can stay any longer. Lisa and I went in to renew this past Tuesday and were told that we could not renew and must appeal to the Department of Justice as well. The new rules as communicated to us, which appeared out of nowhere and that no one can seem to point to as law, regulation, etc., say that missionaries, religious workers and volunteer relief workers can only stay for three years and then must leave without being able to return. Our family has been here four years and others longer than that. In reading up on the Department of Justice I found that it could take up to 3 years to get a decision, but most are taking 12-18 months at the moment. Our registration expires on the 3rd of August. Our officer said that if we did not get a response by the end of the month that he would grant us a 90 day extension. We are submitting our request to the Department of Justice today asking to be granted a long term residency. This will determine if we can continue on here in Ireland or have to leave the country. This situation is going to affect every missionary here at some point as well as all intending to come to this needy land to spread the Gospel. We have asked prayer for needs, finances, health issues, supplies, etc., and God has been faithful to work out all things for His glory. Now, once again, this request requires your most urgent petitioning of our Lord. We are asking the Lord to help us through this situation is a swift fashion due to the time limit. I was just reading this morning in Daniel chapter 2 where Daniel was requested to do the impossible for the king—not only interpret his dream, but tell him what the dream was! Then in Daniel 2:17-22 we read that God does for Daniel what Daniel could not do for himself—read someone’s mind. Mark 10:27, And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Adoniram Judson said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
We will trust God for His will to be done!

May the Lord find us faithful,
The Thatchers
Don, Lisa, Kevin, Karissa, Kaley, Kari, and Kaleb

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Important Prayer Request

Dear Friends,

Today, Lisa and I went to see our local immigration officer for our annual registration renewal and were informed that we could no longer renew through the usual process but would have to request permission from the Department of Justice to remain in Ireland from this point forward. Our officer said that he received an email memo informing him that "the goal post have been moved" with regard to the immigration process. This memo stated that missionaries, religious and volunteer workers can only stay in Ireland for up to three years. After this, an appeal must be made to the Department of Justice. At this point it appears to be a case by case decision. One missionary has already had to leave the country due to insufficient "evidence" to maintain his stay which resulted in him not ever getting registered, another has gotten a one year extension to "get the paper work in order" and was aided with the help of a solicitor, and another was told about a month ago that he would have to be approved by the Department of Justice to stay after next year. We will be filing our information and paper work tomorrow. We ask that you be praying that the Lord's will be done. Our desire is to be able to remain here in Ireland as missionaries. There really is no other option to stay here in this country. You can not come to Ireland and simply get a job and stay in the country. This requires a work permit and is available only by invitation and very few select categories such as medical, etc. So, please pray fervently over the next days and weeks the we would get a quick response to our request.

May the Lord find us faithful,

Don and Lisa Thatcher

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22 2008 update

Dear friends,

There is pressing matter for those interested in the evangelization of Ireland and for those who wish to serve here as missionaries. We are facing huge immigration issues at the moment. As a result the government is revisiting some old legislation that has been on the books, but unknown to all and unenforced until recently. One of these is a law, which limits foreign missionaries, no matter what their affiliation, to one three year term. The traditional method for visas has been to enter the county as a tourist and then go to the Aliens Office or local Garda (police) station and apply for a stamp in your passport, which could be one year or three. The Department of Justice is now saying that after your third year you must apply to them for permission to stay in the country longer. It is still early days, but this looks like it could cause huge problems and may even result in Ireland being closed to long term missions, not just for current missionaries, but for those who are already here.

Nonetheless, we need your prayers in this matter. Each application is handled individually. Those who have had children born in the State before January 2005 have and advantage according to the present law as it makes allowance considering them Irish citizens and makes a case for the parents to stay. One couple who has been here three years this June has been told they must leave. We gave them a name of a solicitor who has presented their case to the State and because they had children before 2005 they may be able to stay.

Prayer is needed for new missionaries coming into the country. The justice department is requiring that a missionary apply to start a church BEFORE he comes. This restriction has been placed unwittingly on a couple that has been here one year. Sadly, because of this new rule, today a couple is being forced to leave the country after being here one year. They entered the country the traditional way - not applying for permission to start a church and when they did, they were told they should have done that BEFORE their entry into the Ireland. As a result they never received permission to stay. Up to this incident, no one knew of such a regulation or legislation.

There are at least four missionary families on deputation to come to Ireland. My guess is that these issues have risen because of the great influx of immigrants. No one has seen a written policy or law on this issue to get a clear understanding of the situation. The question remains what is to happen to those who leave the country for furlough upon their return?

On a wider scale this has huge possible implications. Anyone who is here on the basis of being a missionary is facing the same challenge. The fact is, American missionaries are pastoring many of the Bible preaching churches in Ireland. The vast majority are threatened by this legislation.
Again, we are in early days. Lawyers are looking into this issue. We are asking God to make us aware of every angle and possible solution that we can consider. We basically need to see either the law changed, or that God will prepare the hearts of the people in the Justice Department to be receptive to letters of application asking for permission to stay. Please don't take this prayer request lightly - this has the potential to be a very serious issue for Bible preaching churches all over the nation.

Don Thatcher~Ireland

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11 2008 Update from Lisa

Dear Church families,
I personally wanted to take a moment to thank each of you who have been praying for my family as we have gone through such a difficult time in the passing away of my brother-in-law.  If it were not for God's grace and strength, I would not have been able to deal with the grief that my sister and her kids have been going through.  There were several times while I was back in the states that people would comment that they could see the peace of the Lord on my face despite the tears and sadness that we went through.   I know that many people were helping to bear the burden through their prayers.  I also wanted to thank those of you who helped with my travelling expenses.  We knew that the Lord would have me go back to be with my sister, Leah.  We did not know how we would be able to pay for the trip.  The Lord blessed and took care of it through some of you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would ask you to still pray for my sister, Leah and her two children, Roger and Miranda.  They are having an incredibly difficult time.  I know the Lord wants to be there for my sister and that He will bring good out of a very difficult situation if she will love God and trust Him.  If you think of it as well, please pray for me.  It can be quite hard being so far away and not being able to physically help my sister.
On a small encouraging note, I wanted to tell you of two particular blessings that might encourage the ladies and children of your churches.  One expense that can be incredibly high for us is the matter of toilet paper.  Putting all joking aside, the Lord chose to let us come upon a sale yesterday at a shop that we would not normally go to.  The toilet paper was buy 1 get 1 free.  In the four years we have lived here, we have never seen such a good sale.  For the 16 normal size roll package it would cost us 12 euro.  This is around $19 per package.  We were started out with just two packages.  By the time we stood in the line, we had talked ourselves in to buying 8 packages.  We saved 45 euros yesterday on toilet paper.  The clerk just looked at me with a strange look, but then when she saw the five children she didn't bother wondering any longer.  Also, yesterday when in the shop, I had seen a small slide for outside that I had wanted to get for Kaleb.  I came very close to just charging it and getting it.  The Lord encouraged my heart not to do that, and I did not.  Today, when we were outside watering the flowers out front, the neighbor lady came over to comment on the flowers.  We were a bit taken back just by the fact that she would visit with us.  Our neighbors have been very distant to us in Waterford.  She asked me if we would be interested in a slide for the kids that had once been her children's slide.  I was so excited to see the Lord provide for something that had just been a "frivolous" toy for Kaleb.  She even insisted upon cleaning it up for him.  It's quite nice, and Kaleb spent the afternoon playing on it.  She also had a Little Tikes basketball goal that she is bringing over. God is so good to provide things that we do not "need", but that will be fun for the kids.
I know these blessings seem quite small, but trust me, my response is not small.  God has chosen to bless our family over and over again in small(Huge) ways like this.  We are so thankful the way that He encourages our children and us as well.
Thank you again for all your prayers.  We are truly grateful.
In Christ,
Lisa Thatcher
Psalm 139

Friday, May 02, 2008

April 29, 2008 Update

Dear Friends,In my last update I had asked prayer for an older teen Irish girl that we know from Dublin. She was supposed to come down for some counseling from Lisa. At the last minute she backed out and did not come but contacted us via email and said she would plan to come again another day. Do continue to pray for her. She quite possibly needs to be saved.

On another note. We are having a charting service to constitute the Anchor Baptist Church here in Waterford this Sunday, 4th of May 2008. God has given us a good little group of people and we are looking forward to what He has in store to grow the church here. Our home church Pastor, Bob Wall, will be here for the special event and be preaching for us. We have planned a luncheon following the morning service and a youth emphasis service in the evening. Please be praying that God would bless this work as folks unite together under formal membership in the church. There are a few who are not joining at this time for various reasons. Be praying that they will allow the Lord to lead them along if He wants them to be a part of this church. We desire a church made up of people who have a serious heart's desire to serve the Lord.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

May the Lord find us faithful,

Don Thatcher