In Paul’s epistles to the early church, he consistently writes of his great gratitude for his fellow brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. He tenderly thanks those receiving his letters for their faith, love, and participation in the furtherance of the Gospel message for the enlargement of God’s Kingdom. Paul’s heart was heavy with both burden and thankfulness for those he ministered with and to. His heaviness was always coupled with great desire for them to continue in the faith so that, by God’s grace, their lives would be productive and triumphant in God’s eyes! Though we do not in any way compare our lives and service to that of the Apostle Paul, we certainly share with him a heart of thanksgiving for those who “strive together” with us in love, prayer, and support. We are extraordinarily blessed by those who minister to us in a thousand different ways, so that we can be equipped to minister the precious Word of God around the world, as God leads and provides! To God be the glory!
Though we did not ever send out a formal Mission Report from our last trip into Asia, we thank you for praying while we were in country. While there, we were teaching Lisu people and found, once again, a great hunger in their hearts to know and serve our living and powerful Lord Jesus Christ! God heard and answered your prayers; hearts were equipped with further understanding of God’s plan, and we all were blessed by fellowship with one another. Though we had a few travel “hiccups” along the way, God was faithful—through all the chaos we lost only a few hours of teaching time.
We also recently enjoyed a trip up north to snowy Erie, Pennsylvania for a ladies’ and men’s conference with Fairview Bible Church. Please pray for this Christ-focused and mission-minded church, and for Christopher Preston (along with his beautiful wife Kristen) who will soon be taking over the role of pastor.
Mexico, March 5-17
We leave on Sunday for Tepic, Mexico and from there travel into the Sierra Madre Mountains by four-wheel drive. As many of you know, Gene’s sister, Cindy, worked as a missionary in Mexico for most of her adult life. She was recently contacted by Indian Christians whom she had visited in Nayarit many years ago. They were asking for further teaching and training and could she please arrange for someone to come and teach them. She arranged us! Cindy will be with us to guide us back to her old “stomping grounds” and expertly translate the classes. Please pray for safe travel and effective ministry.
As we depart for Mexico, Doug and Kristy Wray, from Kalispell Montana, will be departing for Numba Village, PNG. Doug will be teaching the Ese Bible Institute students through their March course and be helped by Keaton Albers from Keystone, Iowa. Siri Danielson will be travelling with the team to help Kristy with children’s and women’s ministry. Please pray for them, and for the many students who will gather for the institute classes. Continue to pray for Michael and Virginia Pijai as they labor with love to care for the students in attendance.
Pastor Faisal John is in country now. Pray for his safety and for the students under his charge to grow in their understanding of God’s Word. Pray for the new construction of the 3:16 Children’s Home.
We are currently in the process of reprinting The Basics book in both Lisu and Burmese for use in this country. We recently met with many church leaders from this area. Please pray for the following:
Please pray for PJF and his ministry. Pray for Joshua who is attending seminary. Doug and Kristy Wray will be travelling from PNG to India to help train pastors and workers in early April. Please pray also for Nan and her team as they are preparing now for the India Children’s Ministry in late April and May.
Pray for Throngji and Ayangla and the Bethel Children’s Home. Pray for Kyioto Bible College students. Many of them will be graduating soon, ask God to send them into His service, for His glory. Pray for Pastor Akhum as he is translating The Basics book into Naga.
We received a message from Julio recently asking for prayer as both his home town of Chulucanas and the town of Tambogrande (where he teaches Bible college students) have been hit with severe flooding with much loss of property.
Other prayer requests from Peru:
Pray for the youth in and around the Piura area.
Pray for Pastor Antolin and the needs he has to finish a new church building.
A new area of ministry is opening in Columbia.
Here is a quote from Julio regarding that open door:
“We met with the Pastor Jorge Velazco of the Open Heavens Church. He is President of the Pastors’ organization in the border city of Ipiales, Columbia who said it was a blessing to receive The Basics which he had heard about, but now owned. We gave him several copies to give the pastors. He said he, along with the Pastors’ organization would be praying about having a conference with Basic Training."
I was recently listening to someone on a radio talk show who was lamenting the fact that even though he had spent years and years running marathons, he was now, in his old age, suffering from heart problems. He said that through his life he had made the mistake of equating fitness with health, and they were really two very different things. This kind of struck a chord with me because we too have been marathon runners, guilty of the same misunderstanding. When I heard this, I thought there must be a spiritual analogy to his statement.
If we are physically fit, we can get the job done; run the race, lift the weight, or score the goal. But even fine athletes die of heart attacks, succumb to cancer, strokes, or other life-threatening diseases. Fitness does not necessarily mean health. In the spiritual realm, a missionary, minister, or servant of any kind can get the job done: visit the sick, preach the Gospel, teach the Word, pray the prayers, and walk the hard path. That is like spiritual fitness. But if it is only getting the job done in their own wisdom, energy, and strength, then spiritual health is absent. To be spiritually healthy is to be abiding in the vine, to be growing in grace and truth, to be ministering, and serving in the divine love and power that only fellowship with Christ can bring.
As we come before the throne of God’s grace in prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world, let’s not just pray that they would get the job done. Let’s pray that they would run the race of faith in a spiritually healthy state, that the fruits of righteousness will be evident in their life through consistent abiding in the Vine, to the honor and eternal glory of God!
Let us also fix our eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility of sinners against Himself so that you may not grow weary and lose heart! He is waiting for us at the finish line with open arms, but we are not there yet. We still have a race to run; let us run it in the grace that He provides and run as spiritually healthy children of God!