As we were loading the truck to travel to our conference location this morning, we took on a few people from the community who needed a ride. I jumped in the back of the truck, sat on the tool box , and leaned against the rear window – ready to go. Everyone else stood outside the truck and looked at each other. It was not so much that they didn’t want to sit with the “white guy” (as I am so frequently referred), but they were not sure what to do. Apparently, as unusual as it is for a white guy to even be there, it’s unheard of that he be riding in the back of the truck with the locals. Isaac took his phone out and snapped a picture of me sitting in the back of the truck. Everyone began to chuckle and jumped in as well.
On the road in, I was like a beacon. People would stop what they were doing as we passed by, and just stare. I would wave and they would happily wave back. I understand what my wife feels like now. Her beauty is so radiant that people stop and stare.
I actually enjoyed the trip. It was slightly misting rain so it created a cool ride. It’s the coolest I’ve felt all week. I was also able to have some good conversations with the others riding along with me.
At the church, we did our now traditional “Ebola hand washing ritual”, began to set up the electronics and generator, and greeted the pastors and church leaders as they arrived. My new friend, Joseph, was there. He’s a blind man to whom Dean asked me to bring a white cane.
Joseph has a great spirit and a great talent for music. He led our group in a song during one of the breaks.
As I began to teach, I quickly learned that I had my work cut out for me. Traditions can be both helpful and harmful. But when it comes to traditions about works and salvation, most teach and respond that salvation is a free gift that includes works. So, teaching God’s free gift can be difficult to those steeped in tradition. Even words they use are so common they don’t realize they are perpetuating “traditional” doctrines that muddy the waters of a clear gospel.
It was a struggle at first, but eventually I could see they were understanding the differences and they began to express to each other how difficult it is to believe this way when they have been taught the other way for so long. I had to move away from the book-work to help guide their understanding but, in the end, they understood how important it is to make the message of God’s free gift of salvation so very clear. I truly enjoyed teaching but, mentally and physically, I’m exhausted.
I thank God that He has opened the minds of these leaders to know how very important it is to make the gospel clear, and free from works. Please pray that tomorrow’s lessons on evangelism methods will help them to share the clear gospel.
Today I am starting a pastors conference that is, literally, in a community across the street from the compound where Samaritan’s Purse and SIM have had 3 doctors contract the Ebola virus. I am taking all the safety precautions possible on my part but would really appreciate your extra prayers for the “safety of the messenger.”
A couple of days ago, Isaac and I drove past a crowd gathered alongside the road and outside of a small community. On our drive back, we saw the riot police gathered in the same place. Later we learned that a person inside that community had just died from the Ebola virus.
As we continued back to our training center, Isaac pointed out a fenced-in area where the government was cremating bodies of those who have died from the virus. He also told me that cremation was not a typical part of their customs so it was difficult for their people to accept.
Please pray that God will rescue this land from this terrible virus and, with its rescue, that their hearts will be rescued as well as they turn their hearts toward God.
Finally! We went out in the rain and met with a community nearby with our buckets, cleaning kits, children’s medicine and the good news of God’s Grace!
A couple of men from the local community and Christian school joined us to distribute the kits to the families in another community down the road. One man, Mabutu, left the truck and, with his battery powered megaphone, called the community together.
As we drove into the community, the people gathered around. It was difficult to get their attention. There was much chatter; a chainsaw was being operated nearby; children were both playing and screaming; smoke from cooking fires was lingering in the air making it difficult to breath and speak. Isaac finally gathered their attention. We explained our presence and offered the gifts. But first, we asked for their gratitude by listening to the gospel.
47 households were represented with many members from each. I am not certain how many were gathered around us but there must have been over 200 men women and children present. The gospel was given, and when asked to make the decision to place their trust in Jesus, 90% of the crowd raised their hands to make the decision! Praise God for allowing us to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Alone!
We then handed out one bucket per household (I thought it interesting that even in this crisis event, they fought over who would get which color bucket) and one medicine packet per child.
Thank you for praying. We will do this again next week as part of our outreach efforts.
It has been raining all day; sometimes worse than others. We are also having an issue with a tire that continues to go flat on the truck. No one can find the leak, but it continues to go down. We decided to put the spare tire on but found it to be flat too. So, we will continue to add air when we can (as well as fill up the spare).
We are going to go to a community of 47 houses where we will distribute the buckets and kits, and also some medicine for the children struggling with worms. Please pray that the rain will slow and that the tire will not give us trouble over the next few hours as we go from house to house.
On the plus side, the temperature is some cooler with the breezes from the rain.
While you are sleeping, we will be traveling again to pick up another 50 buckets! Thanks to many who responded, we have more funds to create more kits! We will come back and make the kits and then this evening we will distribute them to the community and share the gospel of God’s great grace with them. Please pray for our safety in travel, and quick preparation of the kits. Also, please pray now that hearts will be open and ready to receive the message of salvation in Jesus alone!
I was awakened suddenly by a noise in my room. I turned my flashlight on the area of the noise and found a kitten sniffing around my snacks! He’s a really scary creature!
It’s also raining cats and dogs here. We picked up our 50 buckets from the Red Zone market in Paynesville and were poured on while trying to load them into the back of the truck. By the time we were finished we were soaked! Was wishing for some shampoo and soap.
So for now, we are confined to the house until the rain settles but it doesn’t seem to be letting up. I have 50 outreach kits made up which include: medical masks, rubber gloves, disinfectant tablets, instructions and a CrossWay International tract.
So, while waiting for the weather, I am going over my Bible study and lesson notes for the up-coming pastor’s conference this weekend.
Your continued prayers are very much appreciated!
Today, Isaac (my friend and co-worker with CrossWay International in Monrovia) and I drove along the coastline’s main road. We stopped at the ELWA compound where Samaritan’s Purse is operating a clinic for Ebola cases. This compound is also the main ministry facility for SIM. I did not go to the actual hospital section but around it where I visited the home of a SIM worker I met at Ponderosa Bible Church. It was a brief visit and I was able to assist my friend with a couple of items.
Following this, we drove deep into Monrovia to make a bank deposit for some funds that will be used to start another water well. Going inside requires hand washing and a laser thermometer temperature test. My temperature was written down on a small slip of paper and then stapled to my shirt collar.
After the bank, we stopped at the Red Light district market where we found 50, 2 1/2 gallon pails that will be used to distribute disinfectant kits that we will assemble tomorrow. Our hope is that we can use these kits to provide some Ebola safety measures in the community and most importantly to use the distribution of these kits as an open door to share the gospel!
As we continued on our journey back to the Training Center, we stopped to visit a blind man. Joseph was born blind and has a family with 5 children and one grandchild. He was introduced to me through Dean and email correspondence. Dean asked me to deliver a collapsible white cane for him to use. I presented it to him and he was overjoyed. He opened it, then demonstrated his ability to use it and his need for it. Joseph is a talented singer. I asked him to sing for me and he asked is wife, Janet, to sing harmony along with him. They sang a song in English and then one in their traditional tongue, “Dan.” It was beautiful! As they sang, the song filled their home as they both sang to the Lord. It was a very worshipful moment.
We said our goodbyes (although I learned that Joseph will be coming to the Make it Clear! training this weekend) and Isaac and I made our way back to the truck. It’s a bit of a walk back up to the truck, routing a trail through various yards and groups gathering outdoors. One boy saw me and ran screaming to his family. He told them he was afraid of the white man. I tried to be kind and say hello but it only scared him more.
I dozed off for a bit on the remainder of the ride back to the Training Center, and once I returned, I laid down and slept deeply for 4 hours.
Right now, Isaac and I are making plans. I brought the Jesus Film DVD with me and we are going to invite the community to come and watch the film on Sunday Night at the Training Center. We are deciding if we can afford to provide some snacks and drinks but we think it will be a good turn-out. I will invite people to trust in Jesus alone after the film. Please pray for this opportunity to be fruitful.
Thank you for praying for my safe travel. After a very long flying day I am finally with my friends at the CrossWay Training Center in Monrovia, Liberia. I will post a few pictures in the future as time and internet permits, but don’t want to give away too much or the next ministry prayer letter will be boring! Thanks again for your prayers!
While in Brussels, I briefly met a Dr. traveling to Rwanda to do a seminar on HIV awareness. He said that where I was going was much more important than what he was doing and He asked me what motivates me to go to Monrovia right now? So, on the shuttle bus, I briefly shared the gospel. He said, “Well, God bless you.” Perhaps the others who heard will consider the words and put their trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation.
Last night, when Sheree and the kids were dropping me off in Phoenix, I was fueling the Suburban and was approached by a man looking for some funds to stay the night in a hotel. He could get lodging in the Phoenix Rescue Mission but not until Monday morning. His name is Mike. Mike claims to have put his trust in Jesus when he was a young boy and reaffirmed that decision in his teen years. Now, however, Mike claims to be an Atheist and says that God is a figment of man’s imagination. My dad was with me when we spoke to Mike and hopefully was able to take Mike to church this morning (Mike agreed that he would like a ride). Please join our family in praying for Mike (and his girlfriend) that he will once again hear the Holy Spirit and change the direction of his heart and mind. He’s been hurt by many other well-intentioned Christians and has many problems with the body of Christ. Pray that he will see and understand God’s love and God’s church in a new light.