PREACHING AGAIN! PREPARING FOR INDIA!

As I conclude this July newsletter, I am 12 days away from another foreign mission trip to Goa, India. I will once again have the privilege to teach the “Christ-centered Evangelism” study to a new group of “Indian pastors”. This is part of a Bible Institute, which is directed by our first pastor, Dr. Ron Herrod. Please pray for this blessed opportunity to plant these vital truths into the lives of those spiritual leaders; who will multiply them into the lives of many others. Also, please pray for my physical health, during this tremendous challenge. Obviously, my body is not in the best of condition. I will need our Lord’s all sufficient grace, in both the spiritual and the physical realm. There are other new opportunities of ministry, which are opening in the nation of India. I have recently received the news that the ‘Christcentered Evangelism’ study has been translated into Orissa, (which would be the third language in India and the 10th language overall). However, with those open doors there are also many adversaries. The ruling party of Prime Minister Modi does not hide its agenda to drive out Christianity by the year 2025! There are 5 Indian states, which have already banned conversion to Christianity. Many acts of persecution are being perpetrated against believers! Please pray for the believers in India!

I had planned on completing the work on the Christ-centered Evangelism book during July. However, my illness has delayed that task a little longer, as well as having to reschedule a few meetings. Although, during my recuperation time, I was able to complete the workbook study for Kenya, entitled ‘The Life That Glorifies God’, (which is an exposition of John 15:1-8). It will soon be translated into Swahili, in preparation for the Kenya conference later this year. Dear friends, your intercessory prayers and your financial support are both an intricate part of the ministry that our Lord has graced to us. Our Good Shepherd not only blesses us with His ongoing presence; but He also promises to supply everything that we need to magnify Him, in the accomplishment of the Great Commission. However, our Lord supplies for these needs through His faithful followers, who continually express both “open hearts and open hands” to this ministry! Dianne and I want to say to you, from the depths of our hearts, “Thank You”. We know that so many of you have been praying for us and standing with us through these valleys of adversities. We are extremely grateful that He has placed you into our lives, as co-laborers with Christ. May each of us faithfully serve the One who graciously calls us to ‘abide in Him and He in us’. It is our joy to serve with you.

I WILL ABIDE IN YOU; EVEN IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH!

As many of you know, I have been facing major, ongoing gastrointestinal problems over the last two years. Once again, I was experiencing some complications, which was diagnosed as a “bacterial overgrowth in my small intestines”. This is a common issue from the colostomy reversal surgery procedure, which I underwent last year. However, the doctor wanted me to have a colonoscopy to make certain that there were no other problems in the colon. Everything seemed to go well during the procedure. They removed three polyps, which were all benign. However, (two mornings later), I was awakened at 4 a.m. with the tremendous urge to go to the bathroom. I suddenly realized that I had passed a massive amount of blood! After a few more of those bathroom visits, in which I was bleeding profusely, I awakened Dianne and told her that we needed to go the emergency room. Later, that gastro doctor informed me that I was experiencing a medical phenomenon, which is called “post polypectomy bleeding”. It happens to 1 out of every 2,000 patients who have the colonoscopy procedure. I continued to bleed alarming amounts of blood and large clots, (during at least 25 visits to a tiny portal toilet, which was in my emergency room cubical). Dianne and I found ourselves in the midst of a medical situation, in which we appeared to be surrounded with distressing incompetence and negligence! As the day passed by, my blood continued to pour out and the medical people around us seemed to exhibit a confusing lack of urgency, Dianne and I both began to consider the possibility that I could actually bleed to death, if this disinterested neglectfulness continued any further. I must say that it was a fierce spiritual battle for both of us to keep our focus firmly fixed on our Lord, when we appeared to be engulfed with such slipshod inattentiveness.

We had been in an emergency cubicle from 7 a.m. until about 7 p.m., when I experienced another large expulsion of blood and began to lose consciousness. The nurse and the physician’s assistance pulled me back onto the bed, lowering my head while inverting my legs. They began to flood my body with liquids, as my blood pressure suddenly dropped to 61/49. I was in an extremely dangerous condition. And yet, even though I had lost the conscious ability to respond, there was an amazing spiritual reality, occurring within my inner being. Even though I could not physically respond to Dianne or anyone else, I could clearly hear everything that was happening in the room. I truthfully thought that this was going to be the time of my home going. Friends, I did not see a bright light! I did not hear an audible voice! However, a very familiar and precious passage came to my mind, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME.” Our gracious Good Shepherd was so wonderfully working in my heart, that I experienced no panic or anxiety. And even though my physical world was being externally shaken to its very core, our glorious Good Shepherd was filling my heart with His unexplainable and unspeakable joy. Instead of being overwhelmed with fear, my heart was being flooded with the precious reality of the supernatural love of Lord; and the all-satisfying peace of the Lord.

As a matter fact, I can testify that my heart was overwhelmed with the same sense of “the supernatural and sacrificial love of God for me”, which I first knew at my conversion 37 years earlier! As I lay there, unable to respond, I can truthfully say that the peace of God was guarding my heart in Christ Jesus! My inner being was overflowing with gratefulness to our God, for the precious peace of God and the amazing love of the Lord for a “hell-deserving” sinner like me.

Furthermore, as all of these heavenly blessings were occupying my mind, I know that my heart was being guided to begin to intercede for Dianne. For as of yet, two of our children, (who were coming in from out of town), had not arrived; and I did not want Dianne to be alone, if this was to be my graduation day into glory. So I began to pray for her, until I was able to consciously communicate again. Dear brothers and sisters, I must confess that I would be totally unable to respond in this manner, in and of myself. For before my conversion to Christ, I had a paralyzing fear of death! I can only give the glory to the Good Shepherd who has given us this precious promise, “abide in Me and I will abide in you”! He truly is our very present help in time of trouble. Even in the dark valley of adversity, He is faithful to be our refuge and strength. Dianne and I have walked through four fierce storms, in the past 22 months. But both of us can truly testify of the all-sufficient supply of the One who proclaimed, “I am the Vine”. He has been with us through every valley! Friends, this ordeal has left me weak. However, I am gaining strength daily and preparing for the works that the Lord has for me.