“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Nah 1:7
The above verse has been a source of strength and comfort to me in many places and conditions. Someone who has been very significant in my spiritual life recently quoted it to me. More on that later.
Australia Conference, May 22–24, 2015
We had a wonderful time—both with family and friends—at the Mt. Tamborine Bible Conference in Queensland, Australia. A number of our friends from Cross Road Bible Church in Perth attended. We also had a good turnout from Canberra, Sydney, and the Brisbane area. One couple even came from Tasmania!
The conference theme was the relevance of community from a biblical perspective. Our son, Wil, and son-in-law, Daniel, joined me in the teaching. They both taught some very good classes and brought challenging perspectives to the attendees.
We ask that you continue to pray for the saints in Australia—many of whom are scattered and isolated. As is the case here in America, sound Bible-teaching churches are often difficult to find.
Arkansas Youth Camp
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Pro 28:1
The camp this year was exceptional. It stands out as the best camp of any we have attended for quite some time. The theme was “Who Dares Wins,” taken from the motto of both the British and the Australian SAS elite forces. The theme verse is quoted above, and states that courage is the product of conviction combined with character.
What made the camp unique was a group of young men—all footballers—who have also been part of a weekly Bible-study group. At last year’s Bible camp, they were faced with the problem that summer training camp was scheduled the same time. They were united in their intention to attend Bible camp, with possible repercussions from their coaches. However, when the coaches saw their determination and commitment to it, they encouraged them to attend.
Their spiritual growth and maturity in the intervening year was obvious, as they set the tone for the entire week. With many youth coming from very difficult home situations, this was positive peer pressure. These young men sat in the front rows, demonstrated great interest in classes, and entered into give-and-take conversation with poise and thoughtful responses.
It is seldom, in these times, to see such fine manhood being developed. As these young men will be scattering in different directions now that many have graduated, please pray for their continued spiritual commitment and development.
My classes were taken from our publication, Who Dares Wins, which was originally produced during our time in Australia. I focused on the five traits of spiritual warriors from Dan 11:32–35. The lessons will be available on the website.
This camp is also different in that it hosts adults and smaller children. It was a special privilege to have our granddaughter, Emilee, attend with us.
My afternoon classes with the adults followed the theme “Living the Heroic Life,” based on the lives of Ruth and Boaz—two great examples of heroic living. Many of the adults attending both afternoon and evening classes have been a vital part of our lives and ministry since the early days of Arkansas Youth Camp in the late 1970s. It is good to observe their continued faithfulness and service, as well as their unabated hunger for the Word of God.
We thank God for the steadfastness of Grace Bible Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and for the current ministry of Mark Goad—a true friend and fellow soldier in the faith. His classes were challenging, and at one point, he spoke of the qualities of a true Christian warrior, using the writing of Erasmus called The Manual of the Christian Knight, which I have since ordered. It is well worth reading and pondering, in spite of the outdated language.
The coming to Christ of four young people—two boys and two girls—made the camp a complete success. We thank God for His grace in convicting and reaching these souls. There were, however, three who left camp early because they were “tired of being preached at.” Please pray that God will yet work in their souls from the truths they heard and that the hardness of their hearts will be broken, resulting in their receiving Christ by faith.
From Nan: I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the junior campers on the Armor of God. As we worked through the pieces of armor, the spiritual conflict, and principles on eternity, the young people showed such hunger to know and understand who God is and what His plan for their life includes. It is refreshing to see spiritual hunger in the children of America!
In the ladies’ classes, we had the joy of looking together at a few of the encounters Jesus had with woman in Scripture. We pondered on Jesus as the greatest Gentleman of the universe, and I look forward to exploring this subject more in the future.
Following camp, while Nan escorted Emilee home, I went on to Kansas for a small family reunion with brothers and sisters. We were able to spend time with Sandi, an older half-sister, who is not yet (to my knowledge) a believer. Please join us in praying for her receptiveness to Gospel truth.
A very special highlight was that I was asked to speak at Cumberland Bible Church, where I came to Christ 50 years ago. Several who were members back then were in attendance, and the highlight—for me—was that Pastor Sammy Hartzler was there. It was through him that I learned the true meaning of the cross of Christ, and came to faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. What a privilege to see him and thank him again for his faithfulness!
It was Sammy, as we were leaving, who shared Nah 1:7 with me and said that, lately, it has been a great source of encouragement and strength to him. The three great truths contained in it will become increasingly vital to us in the times of trial that are near at hand. It’s worth pointing out that the context of Nah 1:7 is the outpouring of God’s wrath, and Nah 1:15 reveals the opportunity for the “good news” in such times.
Please pray for Sammy and his wife. Even though he is now over 85 years old, he remains strong and healthy, spending much of his time in volunteer service for the Red Cross and other organizations.
Thanksgiving and Prayer Requests
We never cease to give thanks to so many who uphold us in prayer and financial support. We are truly only emissaries of those who send us (Rom 10:14–15) to be their spokesmen in the work of the ministry.
We remind you that there are literally hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world who are being enslaved, tortured, and slaughtered, while our leaders and nation remain mute. Do not be guilty of silence at this time! Invest in prayer and giving to help those afflicted.
Organizations like Walid Shoebat’s Christian Rescue (shoebat.com/), Samaritan’s Purse (www.smaritanspurse.org), and American Center for Law and Justice (www.aclj.org) all have programs for rescuing and helping these people. I urge you to give generously to them. They all have agents working in these countries at the risk of their lives, to bring aid to suffering Christians. If we remain silent and passive in the face of Islamic barbarism, we are no better than those who turned their heads away from Nazi Germany’s atrocities. What we are facing now is an even greater threat, as the world descends toward the Tribulation Period. Let us rather be righteous in thinking and action, and be “bold as a lion,” in standing for truth, and acting decisively as soldiers of Christ.
For your special consideration, please pray for:
- Pastor Yat Michael Ruot and Pastor Peter Yem Reith, both in prison in Sudan, for their Christian faith.
- Pastor Saeed, who has now been held in Sudan for 1,000 days. The ACLJ is working to get them freed, as they were able to recently do for Miriam Ibrahim, under the same charges.
- There is also an unnamed man and woman in Viet Nam who are under great threat. Pray for them; God knows who they are.
Again, I encourage you to consider sending support to the ministries working to aid persecuted Christians around the world.
Always, debtors to grace,
Gene and Nan