And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind,
that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal … on to Bethel … on to Jericho – 2Ki 2:1-4
Elijah had the original circuit ministry. After his departure, the prophet Elisha continued this work as a travelling evangelist and teacher. The three cities named are significant in their representation of our spiritual experience. Gilgal means "rolling," in view of the fact that Jesus Christ, the "Commander of the Lord’s army" (Jos 5:15) had "rolled away the reproach of Egypt" for Israel (Jos 5:9-10), and it was here that Israel first celebrated the Passover in the land. Gilgal represents redemption.
Then there is Bethel, and this name means "house of God" (Gen 28:16-19). This is a picture of the believer’s life of fellowship with God, “abiding in Christ” (Joh 15:1-8; Eph 2:19-22). From the moment of regeneration, when our sins "rolled away," we are to grow in God’s grace and truth, in the fellowship of God and of His household, the Church (2Ti 2:15; 2Pe 3:18).
Finally, we have Jericho, which means "fragrance." This is a picture of a mature love relationship between the believer and his/her Lord (Psa 45:1-8; Son 4:13-15). When we, as believers, live faithful and obedient lives, we build fragrant memories of God’s faithfulness to us, and become, in turn, a fragrant aroma, a living altar of incense, sending forth the knowledge and praise of our God (Eph 5:1-2; 2Co 2:14-17).
This circuit ministry of the two prophets finally coalesced into a Bible institute called "the sons of the prophets" (2 Ki 6:1-7) on the banks of the Jordan River. Here, young men—gathered by years of evangelism and Bible teaching—began to prepare for their own ministries. It is precisely this goal that drives us to travel endlessly, sometimes wearily, but never tiring of the precious privilege of being useful in the Father’s plan to call men out of darkness into the light of the Savior, and challenging individual believers to grow and rise to their full potential as sons and daughters of the King of Glory.
We were very blessed to spend a week over Christmas in a little beach-side town south of Sydney with almost all of our family. With children and grandchildren spread out over three continents, this is a rare and precious opportunity for us. The clan is pictured below, in two seperate photos, since our daughter-in-law Erica and grandkids Cade and Emilee weren’t able to make the trip.
Cross Road Bible Church
It was good to be able to visit the believers at Cross Road Bible Church in Perth again. I had opportunity to teach both before and after going into India. We ask that you join us in prayer for the church, as they wait for the pastor God will supply for them. They have asked our son, Wil, to take the position, and he is willing—pending the completion of his PhD with the University of New South Wales and an opening lectureship in Western Australia. Please join us in praying for God to work out the details and timing. We count it a joy to have been blessed to spend ten years among the saints in Australia, and believe that there is much remaining for us to do there in the course of time.
It is always a joy to spend time with contact in India and his lovely wife. We stayed in their home for a week in January as we taught the monthly gathering of pastors, their wives, and other workers. These believers are always so hungry for the Word, and we have a great time with them in study, fellowship, and lots of laughs—as they have such a great sense of humor.
It was very cold in India and, through the offerings of believers both in America and Australia, we were able to buy and distribute thick, heavy, wool blankets to keep them warm at night. They were able to take these home with them—an added blessing to people who have few comforts in their lives.
At the same time, we were able to deliver funds—supplied by faithful helpers—to purchase a new vehicle for the ministry. It is a new black, four-wheel-drive verhicle made in India. Like the old, worn-out one, this vehicle will make possible travel into the many remote village areas for the ministry of the children’s programs, evangelistic work, while supporting the local pastors and churches.
During the conference, we heard the story of John Victor, one of the students who had graduated from Grace Bible Seminary. After his graduation, he married Jyoti and, after one month together, he sent his new wife to attend the seminary so she could be better equipped to help him in the ministry. This means that they were apart for the first year of their marriage! How is that for dedication? They are now serving together, and though still young, John Victor is gaining a reputation as a gifted teacher and has many requests to teach at various village churches across a wide region. Please remember them in your prayers.
Our Arizona Refuge
Many of you know that since our return to the United States, a gracious and dear family here in Arizona provided our home for us. After four years, conditions required that we find another house. Once again, our amazing Father raised up many gracious and faithful fellow-servants who provided our present residence here in Prescott Valley. We cannot fathom the love and devotion shown to God by each of these parties. Our home is what I call our "cave of Adullam," in the sense that it is a refuge from our comings and goings—a place of rest and refreshment. Join us in thanking God for His matchless grace! We can only pray that God will pour out His blessings on those who have been such rich blessings in our lives.
Upon our return to America, we immediately got back into the “circuit ministry” with the weekend conferences. Pastor John Voisey of Grace Doctrine Church in Clearwater, Florida had been asking us for years to join them for a conference. We were finally able to set a date, and held a conference on the book of Malachi, now posted on the website. When I stood up to teach the first class, I was amazed to see Michael and Miriam Van Balen, from Western Australia, in the group! Michael, who is serving in the Australian Navy, is now stationed near Tampa. We were able to stay with old friends and supporters, Mike and Helen Horton, formerly from Little Rock, Arkansas, and really enjoyed their southern hospitality. It was great to see this growing and vibrant group of saints and get to know John—another of the true spiritual warriors who are holding the line in faithful Bible teaching. They are a real prayer-warrior group, who pray for many other congregations across the country. We ask that you also uphold them in your prayers.
Following the conference, we were invited to spend a few days with Ron and Susan Sepic, down from Uniontown, Pennsylvania. We thank them and all who have blessed us in so many ways.
Papua New Guinea
As I write this, we are in Papua New Guinea preparing to set off in a few hours to Numba village where I will teach the course on “Teaching Principles and Methods.” Nan will be doing village children’s outreach and women’s ministry. We are joined by Chris Sepic, who will present some clinics on dental health; Jonathan Gallo, a teacher from Pennsylvania and friend of Chris; Blair, also of Pennsylvania; and Elizabeth Preston, who has gone with Nan to India several times. It is great to have them with us to incorporate their gifts into our ministry. Please remember us in your prayers. That is all I can write now, because, I HAVE A PLANE TO CATCH!
We can only pray that God will pour out His blessings on those who have been such rich blessings in our lives.
Rejoicing in His grace,
Gene and Nan