No problems to date. My temperature remains normal. Just about half way through the self-imposed quarantine. Thanks for the many prayers and support!
Did you know God loves you and has a special free gift for you? This gift is to be in Heaven with Him for all eternity.
But first, there’s a problem. We have all done things wrong and missed the mark of God’s perfection, just like the arrows have missed the target in this picture. We call it “sin”. This includes even the smallest wrong actions, such as wrong thoughts, words, or deeds. Many people I meet say they are good and God will accept them for their goodness. But God never says anywhere in His Bible that good people go to heaven. In fact God’s has shown us His perspective on what every person is like. In the Old Testament, Jeremiah 17:9 -10 says “the heart is more deceitful and is desperately sick…I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind…” And Ecclesiastes 7: 20 states “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” In the New Testament we read in Romans 3:23 that everyone has sinned and comes short of the perfection of God. Sin prevents us from going to heaven and being with God forever. No amount of “good” outdoes the sin. Heaven is a free gift and not a reward for our good deeds.
This picture represents Heaven, which is a perfect place. You see, God and heaven are perfect, and God cannot allow these sins, to come into heaven. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that the wages, or penalty, for sin is death. “Death” here refers to spiritual death, which is an eternal separation from God. This means we will be separated from heaven and God’s presence forever.
That was the bad news. But this picture of the cross shows us the really good news! 1 Corinthians 15:3 says that Christ died in our place for our sin. You see, Jesus paid the price for all our sin so that we could be forgiven. Jesus did not have to die, because He was perfect. But He chose to die out of His great love for each of us, and He paid the price for all our sins as a gift for us.
This picture of an empty tomb refers to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, proving He was God and that He had the power to forgive sin. 1 Corinthians 15:4 says that after 3 days, He rose again. This proves He also has the power over death and we can live with Him forever in heaven.
So what exactly is God asking you to do to have this free gift?
This picture of a chair helps us understand the answer. The Bible says in John 3:16 that God loved the world so much (that’s you), that He gave His one and only Son (that’s Jesus), that whoever puts their trust in Him should not perish (be eternally separated from God) but have eternal life (in heaven with Him). God wants you to do more than simply understand and accept this message as possibly true. He is asking you to put your complete trust in Jesus Christ, who died for your sins and rose from the dead. Just as you can accept that a chair is strong enough to hold you up, it is not until you actually sit down in the chair that you are truly “trusting in” the chair. In the same way, God wants you to put your trust in Christ alone as the sufficient payment for all of your sin. When you do that, God gives you eternal life as an absolute free gift. You become his child, and all your sins are forgiven, which allows you to go to heaven someday.
Now it’s time for a test. Which of these next 3 pictures represents the basis of how someone has their wrongs forgiven so they will be allowed into heaven someday?
a) By their works? Or…
b) by their works and also as a gift? Or
c) by a gift only?
It’s not the first picture; we can never work hard enough to earn heaven and God’s forgiveness. Romans 4:5 says clearly that forgiveness is not due to our works (such as living a good life, turning from sin, making Jesus Lord of your life, baptism, or going to church).
And it’s not the second picture of works plus a gift. Romans 11:6 says “if it is by grace (a gift), then it is no longer by works, if it were, then a gift would no longer be a gift.”
The correct answer is the third picture – a free gift from God. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone is how we have our sins forgiven, which allows us to enter heaven some day. This is God’s way. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works so that no one may boast.” No one can ever boast for being allowed into heaven by their works. It is a free gift provided through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.
So now comes the very most important decision any person can ever make. Are you willing to transfer what you may be trusting in (good works) and trust in Jesus Christ alone to forgive your sins and give you His gift of eternal life?
Say these things quietly in your own heart (or out loud): “I understand Jesus Christ died in my place for my sins and rose from the dead.”
“I trust right now in Jesus Christ alone– not my goodness or a religion, but only in Jesus.”
This picture of a padlock represents the eternal security we have in Christ. In that way, the good news gets even better, because God says we can KNOW that we have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 says: “I have written these things to you who have trusted in the name of the Son of God (Jesus), so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Do you know you have eternal life? We don’t have to think we do or guess that we do, but we can KNOW we have eternal life.
The words of Jesus in John 10:28- 29–“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” We are doubly secure in the hand of both Jesus and His Father.
This picture is of a person raising their hands in thanks to God, which shows how our good works fit into all this. We do not do good works to get to heaven, but rather to tell God “thank you” for saving us. Good works do not equal heaven. Good works equal “thank you” to God.
This picture of a hand passing on a gift refers to how we have the privilege of sharing this great news with others. A person can know with certainty that his sins have all been paid for and he can go to heaven as a free gift of God! Since this is great news, won’t you share this today with your friends and family?
This is why we do what we do. We believe this and we want to share it with all who will listen! Thank you for reading. We pray that you will accept this free gift by trusting in Christ alone for your salvation.
For more info, go to http://www.gocrossway.org
Wednesday evening, we retired for the night having no idea what awaited us the next morning. We did not expect every major news organization to be asking for interviews and we certainly didn’t expect the large amount of hate mail we received. We are neither heroes, nor idiots. We are simply a rural family who cares about people and we are doing our best to help in every area in which we are able.
We have given our statements to the media – some of them reported accurately, others, not so much. Allen is completely symptom-free and has NEVER tested positive for Ebola. We are in seclusion as a courtesy to our community and our country, not for any other reason. We care about our community, very much, and we pray that when the quarantine is over that we might be welcomed back into society. But if not, we make the following statement…
The Mann Family cares about our neighbors, our community, and our country. If we did not, we would silently have gone to Liberia and told no one, (and we would likely be hated a lot less). Our only goal is to share the hope that is in Jesus Christ, and we do that around the world. We will ALWAYS do everything possible to protect the health and well-being of our fellow Americans while still following our convictions. We care, and we always will.
Thank you for your many opinions on this matter. We have taken all to heart, but we are closing comments on this issue so as to protect our family from harm.
Several months ago, we were faced with a decision. A hard decision. Allen’s scheduled trip to Liberia was suddenly fraught with life-threatening danger because of the Ebola epidemic. We were told we should cancel the trip. We thought seriously about canceling the trip! But the knowledge that people were dying without Christ left us with no peace in that thought. We truly believed that God was saying “Go!”.
However, it was not without opposition, and with the diagnosis of the case of Ebola in Texas this week, there has been a renewed interest in our health and the precautions we have taken to avoid carrying the disease to America. I have tried diligently to address concerns as they have arisen, but I am finding that it hasn’t been enough. So, in order to reassure you that we have taken every possible safety precaution as well as to provide you some entertainment (because I’ll just admit it, I’m a little over the top!), and hopefully to encourage your heart in the amazing ways that God worked, here are the top 10 ways that we have protected America from Ebola….
# 10. Allen took hospital-grade disinfecting tablets. These were used as an outreach to the communities but also to completely disinfect the CrossWay International Training Center where he stayed (literally, every day! With a huge sprayer!). These tablets were hard to get. In fact, I found them online priced at nearly $600 for 540 of them. I nearly choked at the price, but after much more searching I found one other company that would sell them to me for $220. I made that purchase as quickly as I could over the weekend. The next Monday morning, I received a phone call from the company. I was sure they were going to tell me that they couldn’t sell me the tablets and I’d have to pay the $600! They even started the sentence out, “I’m sorry – we can’t sell you these tablets…” but then said “…for that price.” It seems that tablets were close enough to the expiration date (though not yet expired) that this small company didn’t feel right charging me full price. He said, “Would you mind if I only charged you $150?” When was the last time a company called you, after you had paid, wanting to charge you less? Yeah. Me too.
# 9. Allen took much but brought back little. Literally. Not even the clothes on his back. We packed his oldest (nice) clothes, and he left them there to be donated to those in the community. What did he wear on the trip back, you might ask? Well… this is where I got creative… okay, obsessive. I vacuum sealed his clothes for the trip home. Yep – those little machines that suck all the air out of the bag, you know – most people use them for food? I made an “outfit brick”, including shoes and a belt. It was a funny looking package, but no Liberian air ever entered that little brick! When he got off the plane from Liberia in Brussels, Belgium, he showered. Yes – showered, at the airport. The “outfit brick” had shampoo and soap included. He put on the clothes that had never been opened in Liberia and he sealed and disposed of the clothing he was wearing. He also wiped down everything he touched on the airplanes, before and after he was seated.
# 8. Anything that entered his mouth was new or sanitized. After deciding that even his toothbrush should be sealed, I set about to find disposable toothbrushes. They make these cool little pre-pasted ones that you use once and throw away, and they are all individually sealed. Perfect, I thought! Except that Payson doesn’t sell them and I didn’t think of them until too late to have them shipped. But one call to some friends took care of the problem. We received a text that very day asking where we wanted them to “make the toothbrush drop”.
# 7. He didn’t touch anybody. Truly. Can you imagine??? Now this is where I give my husband HUGE bonus points. Seriously, look at these children? Are they not BEGGING to be hugged??? But in Liberia right now, there is a huge campaign to teach people not to touch one another, so everyone was strictly “hands off”. No handshakes. No hugs. Nothing. On the rare occasion that a child touched him, he immediately washed his hands. I look forward to the day that he can go back and give these children the hugs I want them to have!!
# 6. We purchased extra travel insurance that guaranteed his evacuation in the event that he got sick while in Liberia. He would have been flown directly to a hospital equipped for the containment of the disease.
# 5. When Allen arrived in Phoenix, we placed his small amount of luggage and electronics in plastic bags before putting them into the Suburban. When we got home, he showered again. The next morning I spent hours, HOURS, sanitizing every single item in every single bag. I wore gloves. I used the hospital-grade disinfectant on most items and concentrated alcohol on electronics. Did I mention HOURS? It took a while.
# 4. There were a few items that couldn’t be cleaned with bleach or alcohol, like his teaching notebook and the Liberian newspaper that had an article about (and picture of) my husband!!! I definitely wanted to see that, so I made him bring it home, but how to sanitize it was a problem. So I cooked it. In the oven. I know – I need serious help. But it worked. Well, the plastic on the notebook looked a little like a Shrinky-Dink gone bad, but the newspaper is fine. Did I mention that my husband is famous in Africa? Kinda…
# 3. I made an Ebola Symptoms sheet. It has a place for a check mark under any Ebola symptoms he might have for the next 21 days. So far he has zero. None. I am also recording his temperature twice daily.
# 2. We made arrangements with our doctor here in Payson for the 21 days following the trip. The doctor agreed to take our call on his cell phone, night or day, if Allen should feel ill for any reason, and triage him either via phone or Skype. He has an emergency plan in place to protect any other human being from being exposed IF Allen should have any symptoms. We have a great doctor!
And the # 1 way we have taken precautions to guard others against this disease is to voluntarily subject ourselves to quarantine. Let me assure you that Allen feels FINE. I feel fine, and our children are all still healthy. The quarantine is to safeguard others and to let them know that we care and we are very serious about protecting them. Last week, I shopped for the entire month. In fact, I did EVERYTHING that required leaving the house for the entire month. I roped off our property (not as easy at it sounded!) and put up quarantine signs. I’ll be honest – we have sacrificed some things to do this, things we were really looking forward to doing and places we wanted to go. And when both our internet and coffee maker stopped working on day 1 of quarantine, we knew we were in for a LONG 3 weeks! Our kids have sacrificed as well! They cannot play with friends, go to youth group activities, or even go across the street! They are currently living with a sanitizing-crazed mother and a jet-lagged father, and they have no escape. Missionary kids deserve a lot of credit for the many “small” things that set them apart from other children! But when we look at what God did in Liberia, and the many people who trusted in Christ alone because of Allen’s trip, our perspective changes. These “sacrifices” aren’t even worthy to be called such in the face of who God is and what He has done. We are honored to have been chosen to carry the gospel of God’s grace around the world, and we pray that those around us can see the importance of the task, knowing that we have done all to protect the health of those around us while still following the call of God.
We still have 2 1/2 weeks of quarantine, and our internet can’t be fixed until it is over. We have only our smart phones, so blogging may be sparse in the next weeks, but the last day of October takes Allen to Kenya and Ethiopia, so be on the look-out for updates on those trips! We are SO looking forward to what God is going to do there and we are eager to share with you, our partners in ministry!
It was a little overcast on our way into Phoenix so we were bumped around a little. But now I’m on the ground here in Phoenix, waiting to complete the taxi to our gate. My wife and kids are waiting in the cell phone lot and I can’t wait to see them!
Thank you all for your prayers for these last two weeks I was in Liberia. Thank you also for remembering to include my family in your prayers. God is good and God is faithful to his children.
We still have a couple of hours until we are actually home. Please pray for safety as we travel wet roads.
This is the response we received at the end of our final workshop with the trainer and leader of CFL (Christian Foundation Leadership),
Your teaching was wonderfully done and all of my master trainers clearly understood your teaching. James Kolor
This is our goal, that the message of the gospel of God’s free gift of salvation would be received clearly and then to be just as clearly taught.
“That I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-5
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”
I was also asked by the CFL board if CrossWay International would return and teach more topics once the Ebola virus is under control and we can travel throughout the region more openly. My prayer (and theirs) is that perhaps in March of 2015, we will return and teach over 300 teachers in Nimba county, the clear gospel of Jesus Christ and how to then share the message to the student whom they teach. One very large and restricting factor is that this type of large crowd training will be very costly since CrossWay funds the materials and the food for all in attendance. Please be in continual prayer about this opportunity for the gospel to spread rapidly and that it would be honored.
2 Thessalonians 3:1
“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified,
just as it did also with you;
On another note, we were finally freed up on time to deliver the remaining fifty sanitation kits and de-worm medication to a community quite difficult to get to by pickup. It was certainly possible but I’m sure my head hit the ceiling several times due to the poor road conditions. It was raining so we had to keep moving or we would have gotten stuck.
I sat on the tailgate of the pickup (all small trucks are called pickups here; I’m used to calling them “trucks”). Our volunteer health worker from our previous bucket delivery stood in the community center and and with a megaphone, called the community to hear the Word of God and to receive some aid. I watched from the tailgate as the community quickly began to gather in their community building. Some carried plastic chairs on their heads and others carried small babies. Older children began to gather at the back of the pickup and stare at the “white guy.”
Once everyone was gathered under the roof, it began to pour rain. It was so loud on the tin roof, even the man with the megaphone could not be heard. As the rain calmed a bit and the people settled in one place, the town leaders began to explain who we were and what our intentions were. Following this, Isaac stood and spoke about the buckets and how to mix the hand washing formulae and then he explained about the children’s medicine. Once Isaac finished, he invited me to first speak to them from God’s Word before they would receive their bucket gift.
Reminding them how important it was to keep clean on the outside to help reduce the spreading of the Ebola virus, I also reminded them that there is nothing we can do to wash away our sin. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection and one’s trust in that payment will purify us from our sin. The buckets will not last long, but the forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection lasts for eternity. Again, many, many put their trust in Christ alone!
We then distributed the buckets and medicine. The people were thankful and saw us off in a very nice way. Praise God for His goodness and compassion to the people of the world.
This group desperately wants Bibles. Pray that God’s Word would be delivered to this community.
Many of you know my love for music and singing. I was invited to teach a song to the choir of the church at which I spoke last Sunday. I chose the song “Saviour of the World” by Ben Cantalon. It’s one of my favorites as it speaks about Christ’s death and resurrection. They learned it quickly and sang it with such expression. I had chills as they sang it out.
So, now I pack up. Tomorrow (Friday here), I’ll be heading home. It will be a long trip with several stops and layovers. Pray that God would allow me to return safely home and that I will not be sick with anything. Thank you for praying for me and with me and for the people of Liberia.
At the end of our training today, I concluded by asking if there were any questions and if the message had been clear. The room was silent, so I gathered they either didn’t understand or were unsure of how to ask any questions. But then one person said, “Yes, It’s very clear. We understand!! Isaac went around the room asking to review what the attendees had learned. It was great to listen to them express the things they remembered and learned.
I was interviewed today for the BBC radio broadcast. I was able to express CrossWay’s presence for the purpose of teaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus alone as a free gift. I hope they air that information! I also met a Liberian man who has been a long time resident of Dallas, Texas. He’s done many great things for the people here including building a multimillion dollar hospital. He came by today to meet me and is hoping that I will get to his home community of Nimba next spring to teach his people there.
I also spoke with James Koler today, a man with whom I made contact prior to my arrival. He is the one who set up the training for the teachers in Nimba that was hindered by the Ebola epidemic. James is praying that I can return next spring to take the training to the teachers in Nimba. Please pray that God will allow us to return and share the gospel with the now more than 300 teachers in the Ghanta/Nimba region!!
It was a long day but I was able to finally step foot in the ocean here in Liberia. Funny, it looks like other oceans I’ve seen in other countries. However, it’s very tropical here, and the scenery around the beach is fantastic.
Tonight, I taught Isaac’s children a couple of songs. One is a Child Evangelism Fellowship Song (CEF) that I learned when I was a boy. It’s called the Stop and Go song. They were excited to learn it. I’ll do my best to get a recording of them singing it before I return home. I also taught them the B-I-B-L-E. I was just sure they had heard that one, but they had not. So now I hear them in the other room going over these songs repeatedly. It’s fun!
“And there is salvation in no one else;
for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men
by which we must be saved.”
This morning, Isaac and I drove his wife, Rachel, and their son, Moses, into town to shop while Isaac and I took care of other ministry matters in town. While on the way to the market, we first stopped at one of the orphanages supported by CrossWay International’s Orphans and Needy Children funds. We made this stop to drop off a couple of the bucket kits we put together so that the children would be able to stay washed. Such cute kids! This is why I must travel alone; Sheree would scoop all of these little cuties up and take them home!
After we dropped off Isaac’s family members at the market area, we proceeded into downtown Monrovia to find some tires for the truck. [We were unable to find anyone who could find the front tire leak and when I went to look at it, I found one of the back tires had a bubble in it. (I thought it was just the kids jumping up and down in the bed). I asked Isaac about his spare and it was already being used on the other side because that one had been giving him trouble. So, we really only had one good tire left. We found a place to purchase tires for a very reasonable price and another place to mount them. During this time I was able to eat some pizza topped with ham, pineapple, and…corn? Well, that was a first for me but, it really wasn’t too bad.
After picking up Isaac’s family, we fueled and went back to the office where continued work was done to build outreach bucket kits and produce more copies of our Make It Clear! workbooks.
Tomorrow will begin conference #2. Please pray for strength and safety and that God’s Word would be clear from my mouth as I train more local leaders to share the free gift of salvation through Jesus alone.
Today, I wrapped up the second half of the Make It Clear! seminar. There was good dialogue with the group and while none of them specifically said they placed their trust in Christ alone for their salvation, the closing statements made by a few indicated that they had at this conference. With this training, they will be able to more effectively share the clear gospel of God’s free gift to their communities when we are not with them, and multiply those who will join the body of Christ.
This evening and into the night I have built another 50 sanitation kits to distribute to another nearby community. Tomorrow afternoon we will deliver them and share the gospel. We will also invite them to view the Jesus film with us at the Training Center and then again invite them to place their trust in Jesus alone.
Prayer request: The electrical system in our Training Center melted tonight at a switch that separated the generator from the building. When the power went off and we still heard the generator, one of Isaac’s children ran down the hall screaming “Fire! Fire!” That’s when we discovered the melted switch and burnt wires. Please pray that we can find another switch (perhaps even a better one).
Praise: The fire did not spread! The generator still works! No one was injured!