Monday, December 29, 2014

Ebola Update

Although the amount of attention that the media is giving to the ebola outbreak in West Africa has waned, it still continues.  Last week, the BBC had a good article detailing some of the current statistics.  Read it here.

Our work, in Gabon, is just one piece of the larger work of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  Some of our colleagues are on the front line of the fight against ebola.  You may have heard of the very sad story that, due to fear and misinformation, a team of C&MA healthcare workers were attacked and killed in  September, while trying to care for and educate the people of Guinea.

Please continue to pray for our teammates in Africa, who continue their efforts to care for the victims and educate communities, in the name of Jesus.  Here is a story shared by some of our friends serving in West Africa, Stan and Jaynee W.:


Ebola: Desperation Yet Hope 
Stan passes out educational material to a shopkeeper.



Ebola’s spread continues to devastate more and more families—mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and now Mali, where cases have been reported in the capital city, Bamako. The death toll is now above 5,400 and continues to climb (late November 2014 stats).

One of Ebola’s significant side effects is fear, which is creating panic in West Africa and the United States. Thanks to donations, we’re printing Ebola-awareness brochures in French and providing them to several of our local shop owners to distribute.

We also gave copies to a leader in our neighborhood who will hand them out in the local house of worship during Friday prayer times. This plan sounded great to us, since a Christian organization designed the brochures, printing John 8:32—“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”—on the back. 


Opportunity for God’s People

Fear also is affecting those living in a number of Ebola-free African countries where Alliance international workers serve, creating an alarming ripple effect:
A local church worker on an educational visit to a village.

  • Economies are suffering due to the decrease in tourism.
  • Food prices are increasing because of the lack of trade.
  • People are losing their jobs due to the decrease in commerce. 

In addition to these harsh realities, many parts of West Africa experienced a shortened rainy season this year. It is a recipe for disaster: the United Nations is predicting up to 750,000 people will die from starvation and malnutrition-related diseases in the next few months.

Amid this grim outlook, there is an opportunity for the Church to shine by reaching out in love to many who are in need. Please pray for revival in Africa’s churches and for God’s people across the continent to be a testimony to those who are suffering or living in fear—so that many more will be led into His Kingdom. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mission Perspective to Christmas

Merry Christmas!!!  

Here is an infographic shedding light on how the current state of the Gospel message this Christmas season, 2014:

(This graphic can be found at:  http://www.gmi.org/infographics/missiographic_ChristmasLights.jpg)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Heart Language

Can you imagine not having the Bible in English to assist your pilgrimage?
Some languages don't yet have an alphabet or anyone working on developing
one yet.
God's Word in a person's heart language opens their eyes to who God is, what His character is like, and how much He loves them. When people get the opportunity to hear the Scriptures in a language they understand best, life takes on new meaning and purpose as the Bible convicts and encourages them.


JeanMarc passing out Mp3 scripture files for playback on cell phones.
1000 Mp3's and DVD's of the Jesus Film have already been distributed
in Gabon, thanks to the SIL (Wycliffe) organization in Cameroon.
Allow me to introduce you to Pastor JeanMarc Mouele (pictured).  JeanMarc is the national director for scripture translation efforts for the C&MA Gabon (Christian & Missionary Alliance).  He lives near the Bongolo Hospital, where our aviation program is based in Gabon, and is passionate about getting God's Word put into the heart language of the people of the region.

The translation work is one of the projects that AMB (our aviation
This young guy is listening to the New Testament in
the local language of Nzebi.
project) is supporting.  Recently, Rob, our chief pilot, facilitated a proposal and the international workers based at Bongolo pledged over $2500 toward JeanMarc's work.  


Is there a need?  Recently, people from 5 people groups in Gabon have approached Pastor JeanMarc wanting the Jesus film to be available in their language.  Some of these languages don't have a translation of scriptures yet, so that will be the first step.  Please pray for these efforts.

Here is a short video from Wycliffe that highlights the critical need of additional translations, like the ones in Gabon.  


Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Items for Prayer

Thanksgiving- Sam & Megan's first snow in 7 years!
We are so grateful for many of you that are praying friends. Talking to our heavenly Father on each other's behalf is one of the most important things we can do as Christ-followers.

Here are some items that we'd ask you to reflect upon as you pray for our family:

Prayer for Megan (Nyack College), Joe (Moody), and Sam (high school) as they finish their semesters with tests, projects, and papers.

Pray for Joe and Meg and their travel plans getting back home (York, PA)

Praise that Sam made the honor roll in the first semester back in the US at a high school about 18 times the size of his small MK school in Africa

Praise for no complications and a full recovery from gallbladder surgery for Steve.

Steve speaking to the Fall Mission Rally in State College, PA
Pray for relief from intense heel pain (right foot) that Steve is experiencing after trying to restart his jogging routine.  Pray for an economical solution in finding a lower impact exercise (like biking) to replace this activity, especially through the cold, winter months.

Praise the Lord for the churches that responded to host us on a speaking tour the first half of 2015.  We still have some churches to try and fit in the calendar. CLICK HERE to see the tour schedule.

Pray that many would respond to support the ministry the Lord is calling us to in prayer and financially.  We have a significant needs at this time.  CLICK HERE to read more how to become a supporter.

Pray for the pilot recurrency training, starting in February, that Steve will do in North Carolina with JAARS.  It will total about 4 weeks and will be spread out through the Spring.  
Our kids at a reunion of their African MK high school 
(Rain Forest, Cameroon)

Praise the Lord for a gift of $1000 toward the upcoming flight training.  A little over $3000 remains to cover all expenses.

Praise the Lord for new teammates that are working toward joining our Gabon Team, serving at the Bongolo Hospital.

Pray for a young couple- the husband, who recently underwent a technical evaluation at JAARS for his skills as a pilot and mechanic.  Many of his skills were affirmed, but he does need some follow up work to be qualified to join our team.  Please pray that they have discernment for upcoming decisions.

Praise the Lord that He is blessing the ministry of Bongolo Hospital- over 1000 per month in 2014 have made decisions to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior! 

Pray for the local churches in Gabon to do the important work of disciple-making for all those that return to their villages after hearing the Good News at Bongolo.

Praise the Lord that Alace was able to attend a writers conference at the end of October in Chicago and get to visit with Joe.  Pray for her as she works to develop her writing gift to the next level, for God’s glory.  CLICK HERE to read some of Alace's wonderful writing.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

HE is the Drumbeat!

So proud of our son, Joe, and some of the international students at Moody Bible (Chicago) with a great song and video.  Check it out:


The New Normal

Hunting with Sam

Over the past 7 years, our family has used the term "the new normal" many times.  It helps us reset our mindset, adjust expectations, and stay engaged through all the transitions.  Changes are difficult for anyone and, for us, they most always come with saying "goodbye's" to loved ones and rearranged routines that we had worked so hard to adjust to.  It's not easy, to say the least. 

In the US, this home assignment, we are settling in to a new normal, yet again.  As much as we can, our family tries to enjoy things that your average American family might find themselves doing.  Today, it was a good, old fashioned, day of hunting. (Regrets to our other children, Joe & Meg... back at college)

Following a fun weekend with Steve's side of the family, Steve and Sam joined the hunting posse on Monday.

The hunting posse (L to R):  My bro, Dan, Sam, Jarrod (Dan's son), me, and Mark (Dan's son-in-law).


We got to our hunting spots in the dark (6am-ish)- we had hiked there on Saturday and marked them with a GPS.  As Sam and I got seated and began waiting for daylight to break, Sam said, "Dad... this is pretty cool".



We saw 4 doe, a dozen chipmunks, and a couple woodpeckers.  So, no buck for us on opening day.  Sam did get a nice siesta while I kept watch.




A closer look... a hunter at complete peace with his surroundings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bongolo Airport drainage repairs

With heavy African rains comes the need for upkeep on drainage 
A backhoe isn't the ideal piece of equipment for the earth-moving, but we had been in search for other equipment for over a year with no luck.

There are many projects, like this one, where we need some extra hands to pitch in.  Interested in a short term work trip to Gabon?  Drop us a line via email to Steve Straw, program manager- gabon.pilot@gmail.com

RE-Connecting: Visit to Bedford Community Church (NY)


We had a wonderful visit with a very welcoming and generous
church- Bedford Community Church in Bedford Hills, NY, last weekend, November 8 & 9.  The church has a great relationship with work in Gabon- 2 short term teams have visited over the recent years, and Pastor Kelvin has come to connect on 3 different occasions.  They also are a key church for coordinating Operation Christmas Child gift boxes.  Some of them have met Pastor Jean Marc, the local coordinator of distribution of those boxes in Gabon!

We started off Saturday morning with a delicious breakfast at the local Holiday Inn.  After giving an overview of our program (Aviation Medicale de Bongolo) and an update on our family, we had a time of Q & A.

On Sunday, we were given the opportunity to speak during both morning worship services and Sunday school classes.

We are blessed to have connections with faith communities like BCC- they stand with us on this journey in a support role that makes our work possible.










Our next "RE-Connection" at State College Alliance Church:


If you can't make that, here are some other engagements in 2015:

JAN 25- Jersey Shore, PA (Mountain View Alliance)

FEB 01- Williamsport, PA (Faith Alliance)
FEB 07- (Sat.) Alace @ Lancaster C&MA
FEB 22- Bloomsburg/Danville, PA  (C&MA)
FEB 27- (Fri.) Mt. Nittany School chapel (State College)

MAR 1- Boalsburg, PA  (St. College Berean Baptist)
MAR 8- Hellam, PA  (ValleyView Alliance)
MAR 29- Portage, PA (Martindale Alliance Church)

APR 12-15- Plainville, MA (Plainville Baptist Church)
APR 18,19  Harrisburg, PA (1st Alliance Church)

MAY 03- Coalport, PA (Alliance Gospel Tabernacle)
MAY 31  C&MA Council, CA

JUN 27 – JUL 14 –TX TOUR (TBA)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bongolo Hospital- Eye Clinic News

A recent story of Restoration... relational, physical, spiritual.


(from Eric & Wendy H.)
Here is Antoine, a 59 year-old man who came to Bongolo from 2 days away.  He had been blind in both eyes and had been forsaken by all his coworkers and many friends.  Additionally, he had been estranged from his daughter because he didn’t approve when she came to Christ some years ago.  

For this trip, he came back in contact with his daughter and she agreed to accompany him to Bongolo.  He was operated in both eyes for cataracts and now sees very clearly in both eyes.  He said, “It’s like a dream.  No one will believe it when I get home.”  

His relationship with his daughter was restored and, as many other patients do (about 4 per day),  he responded to the Gospel message and decided to follow Jesus as his Savior.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tour of Libreville, Gabon

A young Gabonese man put together a great video giving you a tour of Libreville, Gabon.  Even if you don't know French, you'll see a country that is transforming.  Enjoy!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hope House Update

Our hearts are so full to hear about the launch of a new sponsorship program for the Hope House provided through the hard work of the E4 Project.  E4 coordinated funding, short term teams, written
http://www.e4project.org/hopehouse
agreements, and more to make this happen.


This type of sponsorship has been prayed for for years.  It provides a structure for long-term care of at-risk children and for those that God has called to care for them.

Please consider being a monthly sponsor ($38) for Hope House by visiting the E4 Project website.  

CLICK HERE


Sunday, October 12, 2014

US Tour Dates - 2014/15

We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible while we are Stateside.  Below are the dates and places are that are currently on our calendar.  Check back as more events will be posted from time to time:

OCT 19- Carlisle, PA (Chapel Pointe C&MA)

NOV 7-9- Bedford Hills, NY (Bedford Community Church)
NOV 21-23- State College, PA (C&MA)

2015 

JAN 25- Jersey Shore, PA (Mountain View Alliance)

FEB 01- Williamsport, PA (Faith Alliance)
FEB 07- Lancaster, PA (women's event at Lancaster C&MA)
FEB 22- Bloomsburg/Danville, PA  (C&MA)
FEB 27- State College, PA (Mt. Nittany School chapel)

MAR 01- Boalsburg, PA  (St. College Berean Baptist)
MAR 08- Hellam, PA (ValleyView Alliance Church)
MAR 22- Spring Grove, PA (SG Area C&MA Church)
MAR 29- Portage, PA (Martindale Alliance Church)

APR 12-15- Plainville, MA (Plainville Baptist Church)
APR 18,19- Harrisburg, PA (1st Alliance Church)
APR 25- Mechanicsburg, PA (Immanuel Church)
APR 26- Harrison Valley, PA (C&MA Church)
APR 28- State College, PA (Alliance Church "Prime Timer's" meeting)

MAY 03- Coalport, PA (Alliance Gospel Tabernacle)
MAY 10- York, PA (York Alliance Church)
MAY 17- Plumsteadville, PA (Christ Community Church)
MAY 24- Lewistown, PA (Pine Glen C&MA Church)
MAY 31- Long Beach, CA (C&MA Council)

TEXAS Dates - Tentatively late June; early July


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Last 50 Years Missions- Infographic

From our friends at Evangelical Missions Quarterly: (hope you can read the fine print)


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayers for Our Children

Joe & Grandma
Please pray for our children... they are a bit American, a bit African... our own "global nomads" to some extent.  They are a blessing to us and we pray for wisdom as their parents.  Here are some insights from Alace:


Joe - He has begun his second year at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) and things are going well.  Pray he balances studies with student leadership and social activities well. 

Megs chillin' by the Hudson River
Megan - She is in her first year of college at Nyack College (NY) and it has started off well.  Pray for focus in studies.  She is adjusting to college life and living in the states for the first time since she was 11.  Pray she has wisdom beyond her years as she makes friends and adjusts back to being in the US full time.

Sam's got his driver's permit- PRAY!
Sam - Sam is attending a large public high school (York, PA) and is in the 11th grade.  He is transitioning well however it is a huge change to go from a small international school with around 85 students to a US high school with 1800 students.  Pray for him as he makes new friends and learns how to live in the US.  Praise God he has recently joined our home church's youth leadership team.  


Monday, September 22, 2014

Unwanted Tears

It takes great care and precision to repair an eye and the eye socket.  Here is great news supplied from Eric and Wendy H.- the director of Bongolo Hospital's growing eye clinic:

Here is a photo of a 9 year-old boy, "S", who was operated on recently for chronic dacryocystitis – his left tear sac had been constantly infected for many years, with pus draining from it.  Thanks to God’s guidance and a visitor, Dr. Jack E.'s, help, his surgery was successful.  His healing encouraged his mother, "N" (pictured), to accept Christ as her savior.  She asks for prayer that she would resist Satan in order to remain faithful to her decision to follow Jesus.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From the Flight Deck- August

Chief Pilot Update from August

Summary:  August was the second busiest month of flying so far in 2014- 22.6 hours.  24 passengers and over 2300 pounds of cargo moved- a good mix of hospital staff, visitors, and some seeking medical care at Bongolo.
Chief Pilot, Rob, transports "TB" patient.

Notable Flights:

TB Concerns...maybe?  A patient was referred to Bongolo from a hospital in the capital city of Libreville (photo).  We were told he had Tuberculosis (TB), however, it was later discovered that he had cancer.  As it turns out, the referring hospital had no means to treat the cancer and they decided to use the TB diagnosis as a cover to discharge him.

New Destination:  It was my (Rob's) first time to Franceville, Gabon to bring Pauline L. (Bible translator) to Lamberéné, for the Team Forum.  It was about 4 hours of flying (round-trip) instead of 3 days of traveling. Pauline was especially appreciative of it since he has a nerve problem in her back when she sits for an extended time.

Maintenance Items:

Fuel Injector Issue:  I had an obstructed injector in flight that required... READ MORE




Just In Time... Twice!

Chief Pilot, Rob, and his wife, Doctor Bintou
Our aircraft operates to display God's great love to people of Central Africa.  Sometimes this happens in dramatic ways, as you'll read in this story provided to us from Bintou Peterson- Bongolo Hospital doctor and spouse of our Chief Pilot, Rob.  

On January 26, 2014, deep in the rain forest of southern Gabon, Africa, a young high school student, Josias, was preparing to leave for school. Josias’s father had bought a motorcycle to be used as a village taxi for his son to make much needed income.  That morning however, Josias was using his motorcycle to pick up his friend, Yann and head to high school. As the boys confidently rode off on the bike, they smiled and waved goodbye to Yann’s mom, unaware that their lives would be irrevocably changed in the next few minutes.

They were not far away from their house when a car driving in the opposite direction collided hard with them, ...          READ MORE




Thursday, September 4, 2014

16 Drums of AvGas Africa Bound!

2013 Arrival of 15 drums at Bongolo Hospital
(among other cargo).

This past week, sixteen 55-gallon drums were filled, sealed, and transported from Coshocton, OH to Cleveland to prepare for loading onto a shipping container bound for Gabon.  Estimated arrival is set at Bongolo Hospital by the end of October.

Thanks to MMS Aviation and ARK Transport for pulling off all the logistics and continuing thanks to those that have worked hard on this campaign and sponsored drums.

Our Fueling Progress campaign (Oct. 2011 launch) netted sponsorship for 49 drums.  With this delivery, we have been able to deliver 31 of them.

Read more about the FP Campaign journey- CLICK HERE




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Team Up With The Straw's!

With your teamwork, we are able to be at the point reaching remote people with the God's Love and Compassion!  Through this blog, we hope that you can read about the many ways that the LOVE of GOD is being creatively expressed in Word and Deed.

As you consider your role on this team, we ask that you start with PRAYER!  To pray for this work with insight, please add your email address to our update list (right column of this webpage).

What Next???  Some teammates desire to be part of our family's funding team- we can only do what we do with this team's support.  Together we make a great team!  Please pick one of the following options to make your tax-deductible donation:

1.  Log on to www.supportMAG.org and follow the simple instructions.  You can make your donation recurrent with this choice.

2.  Write a check to "MAG" and enter "Straw" in the memo.  Mail to:
     MAG
     P.O. Box 5160
     Burlington, NC 27216

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt promptly.

If you are joining our team of sustaining supporters (regular donors), we'd love to know.  Please drop us a line at "Gabon.pilot@gmail.com", as it is critical to our budget planning.


Thanks so much for your support!  We can't do it without you.

Steve and Alace Straw


Monday, August 25, 2014

Recent Stories- Bongolo Eye Clinic

Here are some recent stories from the Bongolo Hospital Eye Clinic as shared by Dr. Wendy Hofman:


The "Other Eye" Guy
The "Other Eye" guy


The man in the attached photo had cataract surgery a couple of weeks ago.  Previously, he could only tell the difference between light and dark in both eyes, and now he says, “I see really well!”  He said that he had really missed seeing his children’s faces before.  The only problem he has now, he says, is when can we operate on his other eye?


Jumping for Joy!

Here is a patient that we operated on a few weeks ago.  She was so happy two days after surgery when Wendy saw her that she was grinning ear to ear and literally jumping up and down!  She spoke a tribal language and not French, so Wendy wasn’t able to understand what she said, but there was a crowd of people around her, just translating that she was very happy.


Please pray for Dr. Hofman, Dr. Elise, and the rest of the staff at the Bongolo Eye clinic.  They will be starting to train a new resident soon as well as undertaking a major expansion project of their facility.  The Bongolo Eye clinic performs more eye procedures than all of the other eye care facilities in Gabon COMBINED!  Each patient hears the Good News about God's great love for them and His desire to be their personal Savior.

Much of the sensitive equipment for the eye clinic has been transported by our aircraft.  In fact, eye clinic cargo was on one of the very first flights we had back in January 2010!