I am primarily an evangelist and teacher who travels around the world in apostolic ministry as God leads and enables me. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, I mentor our key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures, just as they continue to mentor me. I am relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships.
“I was in prison and you came to visit Me.”
“JL, I just thought I would send you this article I read in one of our
weekend newspapers on the conditions inside our prisons which
shows why the project we are embarking upon is so needed and
will make a positive contribution in rehabilitating offenders.”
(Bishop Trevor Manhanga)
Dear Ministry Partners,
One of the specific six “good works” that Jesus said each of us would be both judged and rewarded on was our ministry to those in prison. The headlines above, from a daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, show the gravity of the need for authentic prison ministry - whether in America, Africa, Asia, or any country of the world. Most prisons are “hell holes” of sin, depravity, violence, disease, addiction, sexual perversion, neglect, abuse, abandonment and hopelessness. All the more reason why Jesus said His followers should be involved there as His “salt” and “light.”
Jesus made it crystal clear that there would one day be a “great separation” of all the nations and peoples of the world “….as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” As a result of this “sovereign separation,” God will “…put the sheep on His right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:33).
Because of the temporal and eternal significance of this teaching from the lips of the Lord Jesus, every Christian should read this entire passage regularly. It is a clear touchstone to help us evaluate the priorities by which we live. One day each of us will be a part of this eternal separation that will lead to indescribable joy or unimaginable horror. And it will all be based on the intentional choices we made as Christians as to how we would invest our time, talents, treasure and technology in this life.
“I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me” (Matthew 25:35-39).
No needs are more basic in our fallen and rebellious world than positively, proactively and practically ministering the love and compassion of Christ to people who are hunger…thirsty…strangers…poorly clothed…sick…in prison.
To those of us who did what we could to meet such basic needs, Jesus will say: “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Note the invitation and reward: “Come…inherit…enjoy!”
Conversely, those who intentionally did NOT try and meet those needs, the Heavenly Shepherd will say: “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…then they will go away to eternal punishment…” (Matthew 25:41). Here the summary and the sentencing are too terrible to contemplate: “Depart…cursed…go away to eternal punishment.”
Jesus further personalized this ministry to Himself through the ministry to others in need by saying: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40). As a result, the “…righteous will go into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46b).
From the very earliest days of the ministry of “The New Directions,” we were always proactive in prison ministry. Almost every weekend we did some kind of outreach in prisons, in conjunction with our ministry in local churches. This led to thousands making decisions for Christ, and participating in follow-up discipleship programs.
So, it is with a sense of joy, excitement and humility that I share through this report the launch of a new prisoner rehabilitation program in Zimbabwe, Africa.
Several years ago when I was ministering with Bishop Trevor Manhanga, he made me aware of a large prison near his church that had requested help. After we met with the prison officials on a subsequent trip, we began to work out the details of this daily work release program. Here is the summary:
BUDGET PRISONER REHIBILATION PROJECT
(START-UP CAPITAL INVESTMENTS)
MONTHLY OPERATIONAL COSTS
(FOR INITIAL PERIOD OF 12 MONTHS)
TOTAL MONTHLY OPERATIONAL COST US$ 2,486
(*) A special savings account will be set up for each inmate so when they are released, they will have some money with which to start over again.
By God’s grace and through the generosity of partners like you, we were able to send the initial start-up funds to launch this ministry. It officially began this past Monday, February 8th. Below are some of the pictures from the inauguration of this program that will be life changing for the prison population of both male and female inmates.
The 15 inmates arrived at Victory Center for orientation, accompanied by the
prison guards. The program participants include male and female inmates.
Upon their arrival, Bishop Trevor and his staff welcomed them, and led in the first session of their daily devotional times. As Bishop Trevor shared from II Cor. 5:17 about being “new creations in Christ,” they broke out into applause and shouted “Amen!”
After his brief teaching and words of encouragement, they entered into a time of singing, worship and prayer…
The inmates enjoyed their first morning "tea time" that
will be a part of their daily schedule.
Each inmate was given a new set of “work clothes” and “rubber boots” to wear daily as they work on the various projects.
The inmates give a round of applause, and the prison official
expresses appreciation to Bishop Trevor for the program.
The men and women are welcomed by the Victory Tabernacle staff for their first
day of work.
As the day began, the inmates were given a walking tour of the Victory Center
that we have helped Bishop Trevor develop. They were shown the area where they
will work each day on some of the self-support projects at the Center.
Since the guards will be with the inmates every day, they will also be the
beneficiaries of this program.
Some will be trained in the chicken operation.
Some, especially the women inmates, will work in the new greenhouse we put
up on our last visit.
One inmate has experience in tractor driving, so he will help us with that area.
Others will be trained in Hydraform brick-making with the machine we bought
for Bishop Trevor several years ago.
By the time they finish this one-year training program, these men and women will have been transformed spiritually, socially and vocationally, and be able to reenter society with a skill to support themselves.
Because we had previously taken Solar Digital Players in the Shona language over to Bishop Trevor, he was able to present one to each of the guards and prison officials. On my next trip, I will be taking over players for all of the inmates so they can listen to God’s Word in their heart language as they work. We hope that many of you will help sponsor these players at the subsidized price of $25 each.
As I conclude this report to you, it brings to my mind the fact that one of my earliest books, Life Steps, (pictured left) was written as a Bible Study Course for new Christians – but especially for prison inmates. All of the original illustrations were done by our friend and former prison inmate, Larry Clapp. We shared this book as a means of follow-up and discipleship, and it was distributed throughout many prisons in America. The need for the book and discipleship course ultimately evolved into a full time ministry of NDI, headed by Larry Clapp.
I have recently revised and expanded Life Steps into a more contemporary format for re-release in the next several months (pictured right). Please be praying with us for its printing and release very soon. I will be taking copies of the new addition to each of these inmates on my next trip to Zimbabwe in the spring. So, the book has come full circle!
Thanks again for the privilege of partnering with you through prayer and finances in the sponsorship of this Prison Rehabilitation Program in Zimbabwe, Africa. I will send you further reports of how these men and women are being transformed spiritually, socially and vocationally under the leadership of Bishop Trevor and his staff.
For His “new creations in Christ Jesus,”
“How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation.”
Dear Ministry Friends,
One of the most unique partnerships God ever linked us with was through the EBCO project (Everest Base Camp Outreach). It was birthed in 1996 through the Aradhana Church under the visionary leadership of Pastor Hanok Tamang. Two young men in his church were former Sherpas and had a vision to do pioneer church planting all the way up to Mount Everest Base Camp. Their names were Gyan Sunuwar and Dinesh Sunuwar. You can click here to read the testimony of their conversion to Christ and subsequent call to the ministry of EBCO.
Gyan & Dinesh, two young Sherpas, called and
commissioned to the "top of the world."
While untold thousands of tourists and mountain climbers had trekked up to Mount Everest Base Camp in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, no one, to our knowledge, had ever done evangelism or church planting on that high mountainous route to the top of the world.
Gyan & Dinesh on one of their early
evangelistic treks up to the
Mt. Everest Base Camp.
My first visit, along with Robbie Hambright,
(pictured at left) to Mt. Everest Base Camp
where we met up with Gyan and Dinesh
at the end of one of their treks.
Since Gyan and Dinesh knew that route well as former Sherpa trekkers, they were perfectly prepared and equipped by God for this historic pioneer outreach. So, through the support of a businessman friend of our ministry, we commissioned these two young “yaks for Jesus” to start regular outreaches along this famous route. We equipped them with the trekking and camping gear they needed. They became those “…beautiful feet on the mountains” that shared the “good news” of the Gospel for the very first time.
It generally takes 2 - 3 weeks to make the journey, stopping in mountainous villages all along the way to share Christ. Over the following years, Gyan and Dinesh made regular trekks up and down the mountains from Jiri to Base Camp, planting some 20 home churches.
Later, we also equipped Gyan with a motorcycle for use at the lower altitudes to reach out to mountain villages with the Gospel. This helped speed the Gospel on its way through his “beautiful feet.”
Because the whole region where Gyan lives and ministers was badly hit by the two epic earthquakes and after-shocks, he went to work immediately doing relief and development. Gyan lost his own home and the building for his Bible College, which both had to be rebuilt. But he helped others first before he looked after his own rebuilding needs.
After the initial relief stage, Pastor Gyan also distributed warm blankets to the people who were suffering in the bitter cold winter. We are thankful to our partners who helped fund the purchase and distribution of many of these blankets.
A rented jeep was used to take in relief supplies as far as possible, as the
roads were often difficult to navigate.
The supplies had to be carried by hand after the jeep
went as far as it could on the damaged roads.
Pastor Gyan and his team, along with Pastor Sangee Sherpa, second from right,
whom we first met and began partnering with through Gyan.
Gyan and Sangee.
Other great needs that Gyan and his son have helped
with are new school uniforms, warm jackets, and books
for the children.
Another vital ministry Pastor Gyan heads that we help with is his “River of Life Bible School.” As they planted more and more churches in the high Himalayas, there was a need to train and equip local “sons of the soil” to pastor these remote mountainous churches. Pastor Gyan trains and graduates an average of 12 – 15 new young church planters every year. Sadly, we had just helped him refurbish his Bible School when the earthquakes destroyed it. However, they have now built another temporary Bible School, and have another group in training.
The former Bible School destroyed by the earthquake (left) and the
new temporary building (right). We are so thankful for one of our
ministry partners who helps support this basic Bible College
on a monthly basis.
Students at the Bible College.
We rejoice in Pastor Gyan’s faithfulness to the Great Commission of Christ to “…go and make disciples…baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Because of your prayers and partnership, he and his team continue to “go…make disciples…baptize…teach” and establish these Kingdom outposts at the very “top of the world!”
Please continue to pray for him and his team as they seek to meet as many spiritual and physical needs as possible. Untold numbers of homes and scores of churches were completely destroyed by the earthquakes. He is doing all he can to help rebuild and restore as many as possible. For as little as $1,000 you can build a small “Agape Metal Home” for a needy family, and for the small amount of $3,500 - $4,000 you can help a local congregation rebuild their church. What a timely mission project for your church, Sunday School Class, Youth Group or business. And as always, we will deploy 100% of what you give as you designate.
Thanks for continuing to be on the “cutting edge” of the Kingdom of God with us in the high Himalayan regions of Nepal!
For His Church there,
JL & Patt
PS: Pastor Hanok Tamang will be with us in the States from February 22 – March 8. Be watching and listening for him in some of your areas of North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Oklahoma.
Finally, to further your understanding of the importance of working with National Partners, I recommend my book, A Strategic Paradigm in Missions. Please click here to be redirected to our online store, and order your copy today.
“THEY WILL COME AND SHOUT FOR JOY
ON THE HEIGHTS OF ZION (HAITI);
THEY WILL REJOICE IN THE BOUNTY OF THE LORD...
THEY WILL BE LIKE A WELL-WATERED GARDEN,
AND THEY WILL SORROW NO MORE...
MY PEOPLE WILL BE FILLED WITH MY BOUNTY."
Dear Friends & Partners,
God continues to grow and prosper His work all over the globe. That’s because He is the “Divine Gardner,” as we are taught in Genesis 2:8. As the verse above reminds us, God wants His people to be like a “…well-watered garden” who display His bounty, beauty and bouquet.
But that is also the reason why the evil one constantly “…sows weeds among the wheat” (Matt. 13:25). Satan both hates and fears the Word of God.
In pointing this truth out in His very practical Parable of the Sower, Jesus was not just talking about physical weeds. He was referring to the far more deadly weeds that take root in our hearts…minds…emotions…wills…spirits – weeds that will poison and choke out our relationship with Him and with others.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, there has been an eternal warfare between the Word and the weeds. One or the other will take control of your “spiritual garden.”
That’s why Hebrews 12:15 warns us: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defiles many” (Deut. 29:18).
As the “Master Spiritual Gardener,” Jesus reminds us that the greatest thing the devil fears is that His Word will take deep root in the human heart. When it does, Satan immediately starts spreading his “weedy lies” that soon produce a noxious crop of doubt…fear…guilt…condemnation…dissention…division…depression…disease…death. For that reason, eternal vigilance is necessary for both physical and spiritual farming!
As a Christian, you must be on constant “weed control.” No weed is too small to ignore. Left to grow, it will rapidly multiply and take over the garden. And weeds cannot be just cut off – they must be pulled up by the root!
The successful farmer is always armed with a tool to uproot any weeds he sees sprouting or spreading. He also keeps on hand a good supply of herbicides and pesticides to kill weeds and diseases and to “shoot to the root.” And while there is a great emphasis today on natural herbicides – they won’t work against spiritual seeds and weeds. Only supernatural herbicides have killing power!
Therefore, we Christians have to constantly use the “herbicidal” truth of God’s Word and the “pesticidal” power of God’s Spirit to kill those deadly spiritual weeds that are constantly trying to penetrate our spirits.
Across the years, I think I have learned more practical theology in my garden than in seminary! After all, a garden was God’s first tabernacle, temple, synagogue, church, Bible School and seminary – to train the first man and woman. He is an “earthy God” who got His hands dirty in “…planting a garden in the east in Eden” and in creating man from the “…dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7-8). That’s why I love combining “physical gardening” and “spiritual gardening” as I travel, teach and preach. I love taking people out into the natural world to teach them about the supernatural world. The connections are obvious and inescapable.
A NEW DIRECTION FROM INDIA TO HAITI…
Last week, I had the joy of returning to Haiti for more physical and spiritual farming. Patt and I had been scheduled to be in India during most of January for the “Diamond Jubilee” of ECI (Evangelical Church of India), and leadership transition of Bishop Ezra Sargunam. But the epic flood that deluged the city of Chennai forced a cancellation and postponement of those historic events. So I seized the to opportunity to get back to Haiti to help nurture the spiritual and physical agricultural work at NVM (Nehemiah Vision Ministry), headed by our dear friend and partner, Pastor Esperandieu Pierre.
I hope the following pictures will bless and encourage you. It has been 4 months since I was there last, so by returning I was able to continue to nurture some of the partners and projects from previous trips – especially since the deadly earthquake of January 12, 2010.
THE TREES OF GOD…
One of the priorities from my last trip to NVM was to teach about the Moringa Tree, often referred to as the “Miracle Tree” (Moringa Oleifera), that only grows in Tropical environments. It has been given that prestigious name because virtually every aspect of this wonderful tree is beneficial to mankind in some important way. For instance…
The above chart lists benefits of the Moringa Tree.
Click here for further interesting information on this
In addition to teaching about some of the life-saving and life-giving benefits of Moringa, we planted hundreds of these wonderful trees at NVM, with a special concentration of planting around the garden area.
The Chief Gardener, Wilner, with some of the Moringa trees.
It was almost miraculous to see how much these small 12” Moringa tree seedlings had grown in just 4 months. They now average from 6 – 10 feet in height – especially the ones watered by drip irrigation.
There was also an abundant vegetable harvest of okra, egg plant and watermelon from the first part of the garden we put in, where we also used the drip irrigation method…
All of these Moringa trees, vegetable seedlings and flowers are furnished to us through our friends and partners at Double Harvest, founded by the late Aart VanWingerden, and carried on by his 16 children, grandchildren and extended family. God first networked me together with Aart & Cora VanWingerden in Haiti over 3 decades ago. We have been in close partnership ever since – not only in Haiti, but also in Asia and Africa.
Unfortunately, however, the same drip irrigation that made the vegetables grow made the weeds grow even more!
Due to the size of this growing garden area, I knew the weeds could not be kept under control by traditional hoeing, and that we needed to add a bit of modernization. So I bought two rear-tine Troy-Built tillers (pictured left) and shipped them down by MFI (Missionary Flights International). They literally arrived the day before I did! God’s timing was perfect!
Fresh and uncrated off the plane, both Pastor Pierre and I tried out
the new tillers, quickly confirming their timeliness and usefulness on the farm.
GETTING THE WEEDS OUT…
Nothing is wasted that can be eaten by the donkeys, cows, sheep and goats.
INSTALLING DRIP IRRIGATION…
Like all of our key national partners, Pastor Esperandieu Pierre is a “hands-on” servant-leader like the Lord Jesus. Our partnership is an example of the leadership maxim: “You teach what you know but you attract who you are.” So we were first attracted to each other because we both like to get “down and dirty” for the Lord in the trenches of life. Therefore, Esperandieu (meaning “gift of God”) not only “talks the talk,” but also “walks the walk.” He leads by precept and example. He doesn’t say to his staff: “Do what I say,” but rather,“Do what I do.”
Pastor Pierre is equally adept at preaching, plowing or plumbing as you will see in these pictures. Here he plumbs in the water for the drip irrigation gardens.
Following hours of tilling and hoeing, the drip irrigation lines are laid back out. All of our drip irrigation supplies come from our partners at Chapin Living Waters.
DEMONSTRATION BUCKET DRIP IRRIGATION GARDEN…
After weeding and tilling the larger drip irrigation garden, we reclaimed from the weeds another strategic area in which to develop a “Bucket Drip Irrigation Garden.” The Drip Irrigation System was originally developed by the late Dick Chapin, who was the “father of drip irrigation” in the world. He also was the founder and CEO of Chapin Watermatics and Chapin Living Waters, the non-profit organization created to network drip irrigation in underdeveloped countries.
Since this large garden area adjoins a major dirt road to the nearby village of Chambrun, we set this demonstration Bucket Drip Irrigation System by the road for everyone to see. The whole purpose of this system is to network this technology into the villages for the backyard kitchen garden. Dick Chapin and Aart VanWingerden first developed the system in Haiti in the mid 1980s, and it has now gone into over 150 countries of the world. It has been my privilege to help network it in all of the countries I work in regularly.
Because soil erosion is epidemic all over Haiti due to the deforestation, we do all we can to help produce new mulch to enhance the soil. Last year we sent down this “chipper” to shred the sugar cane stalks that are in abundance in Haiti.
The rows are plowed with the tiller, weeded and laid out, then covered with a heavy topping of sugar cane mulch to hold moisture and smother weeds. This topping of mulch is often called “God’s blanket.” After the “mulch blanket” is put in place, new vegetable seedlings and seeds are planted.
The “wet spots” from the drip irrigation provide abundant water to the roots – which is essential because of the principle: “The root determines the fruit.”
Meet Jon-Jon, pictured above, a new and vital part of the NVM gardening team, who can hoe from sun-up to sun-down. He is also a very active and beloved member of the NVM church.
Since my last visit, the larger undeveloped part of the garden had been taken over by weeds and thorn bushes. So I took the opportunity to hire a tractor and plow for a half a day to clear it off for planting. Pastor Pierre used his tractor-back hoe to clear the heavy bushes and weeds. He is equally adept with tractor gears and sticks in his hands as he is with a Bible!
Between the two tractors we soon had two new fields ready for cultivation.
A NEW KINGDOM ENTREPRENEUR PARTNERSHIP…
GROWTH OF NVM HOSPITAL…
Pastor Pierre and Dr. Elysee Edmond, Hospital Director.
While I was at NVM, my “roomie” turned out to be a dentist I had not met before – Dr. Bill Burgess, from Seymour, Indiana. After retiring from dentistry, he packed up his office, dental, X-ray and lab equipment, and shipped it all to Haiti. Since then he has made multiple trips down to personally install all of the equipment – which he was finishing while I was there.
The Outpatient Facility was dedicated on my last visit. Now this Dental Clinic will be a great addition to the Hospital. We plan to help network dentist friends who want to go down to Haiti for short-term medical work teams. So if you are interested, please let us know.
Ready to see patients!
Pastor Pierre took me to visit another piece of very fertile land he has that he wants to develop. He has already dug a well and planted the borders in fruit trees. His desire is to build a “Bakery” on one end of the property. After the bakery is built, it will be the only one in this area, ultimately employing a dozen people and generating income for them and their ministry.
It is our plan to partner with Pastor Pierre on this strategic KE project immediately. It will be like Bethlehem in the Bible – which means “House of Bread,” where Jesus was born. So it will be a place to give out both physical bread and the Bread of Life, as well as sell fresh vegetables.
ANOTHER SOVEREIGN SERENDIPITY…
While I always have a general idea of what I will be doing when I go on a “Kingdom Adventure Trip,” I never know all the details. That’s why I have to be ready and willing to take a “new direction” at a heart-beat! This time I had to swap in my farmer clothes for wedding garments! One of the key young associates of Pastor Pierre, Clerice Carmy Attis, was getting married to an American gal, Emily Cox, whom he had met on a work team that came to NVM some 7 years ago.
Originally I was scheduled to leave the day before the wedding. However, I got a text from Patt saying that a major snow and ice storm had hit the East Coast – including North Carolina. So I would have to stay in Haiti two more days. That gave me more time to work on the gardening and landscaping – as well as potentially speak at the wedding.
The only problem was I did not take down any “preaching clothes!” But Pastor Pierre reminded me that I had brought down a number of suits and sport coats last year that I had collected from ministry friends for him to use and give to his staff. Little did I realize that I had sent my only black “marrying and burying suit!” So once again, God provided for everything – even down to a wedding suit!
Thanks for taking the time to walk, work and worship with me through this last trip to Haiti. Since it is our second country of engagement dating back to 1969, it will always be a place of high priority for me. I already have several more trips scheduled there for the rest of this year.
The Haitian people are some of the most beautiful and gracious people in the world. And their spiritual beauty especially shines forth in contrast to the grinding poverty, hardship, filth and ecological ugliness most of them live in all their lives. Only the Gospel can liberate them in a holistic way. And God is doing that through His beloved Haitian church – which is one of the most vibrant ones in the world.
So in addition to doing all I can to help out spiritually, I always love every opportunity to do some physical beautification along with the spiritual. After all, that is the message of the cross. God took the ugliness of our sin and selfishness and transmuted it by His love, mercy and grace to the degree that we can live beautiful lives of love and compassion for His glory and the good of others – if we so chose. But how could we not?! Since God is a God of indescribable beauty, we are to “…worship Him in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 96:9) until He returns to “…make everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes. 3:11). Thanks for your continued prayers and partnership to that end.
In His redeeming and beautifying love for the world, especially for Haiti,
P.S. Thanks to those of you who gave "drip irrigation kits” through our “2015 Kingdom Advancing Christmas Gift” initiative. Because of your faithful giving, we were able to deploy drip kits to various partners throughout the world. (An example of a drip kit is pictured at right.) However, our "drip kit fund" is now depleted. At a cost of $10 per kit, your gift will be very timely. Thank you in advance for your investment in the Kingdom through Drip Irrigation!
“…other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop –
a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Dear Ministry Friends & Partners,
One of the most important Parables Jesus ever told about the growth of the Kingdom of God was the “Parable of the Sower and the Seed” (Matthew 13). It is one of His Parables that He clearly interpreted to make sure that we and His disciples fully understood what He was teaching. He said it revealed the “…secrets of the Kingdom of heaven” (13:11). The word “secret,” or “mystery” is a revelation from God that cannot be known by human reason – no matter how brilliant the mind or how educated the person. These Kingdom secrets…mysteries…truths…are only knowable through “divine revelation” to an “enlightened mind” and through “spiritual discernment.” Otherwise, Jesus’ Parables are either pious platitudes or “foolishness” to the natural mind (I Cor. 2:14-16).
So Jesus clearly interpreted this foundational Parable on His Kingdom to make sure His disciples understood it. Clearly, He is the Sower. Secondly, the seed is His Word. Thirdly, the soil the seed was sown on is human hearts. Lastly, there is an evil enemy who both hates and fears the Word – Satan. He does everything in his diabolical power to devour and destroy the Word when it is sown in human hearts and minds.
In this telling Parable, Jesus said there are only 4 types of soil – heart conditions – the Word is sown in: The hard heart…shallow heart…over-crowded heart…good heart. And in each situation, the root was the deciding factor. This reminds us of the basic spiritual and agricultural principle: "The root determines the fruit.” Put another way: “No root, no fruit.” Or, to express it positively: "The healthier and deeper the root, the richer and more abundant the fruit.” This is demonstrated by the fact that 3 out of the 4 seeds bore no fruit. They never got firmly rooted in the right soil. But, the seed that fell on the “good soil…produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”(13:9). That’s an incredible increase!
Like Jesus did in His Parables, the Apostle Paul used a number of agricultural analogies in his preaching, teaching and writing. He wrote the saints in Corinth: “We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field…”(I Cor. 3:9). And all of God’s effective ”fellow workers” and “spiritual farmers” have learned from Him the necessity of consistently working and nurturing “God’s field” to make it more productive. Successful physical farmers often talk about “caring for the soil…protecting the soil...adding value to the soil…enriching the soil…making the soil more productive.” In other words, how to make and maintain it as “good soil” so it will consistently produce “good crops” from the “good seed.” The seed is consistent. It is the soil that is the variable.
Through 50 years of “sowing His Seed” in America and around the world, God has directed me to a lot of ”good soil.” In some we have had to do more preparation and plowing than in others. Like in all of our personal gardens, we have had to do consistent weeding, clearing and cleaning. In all of these national gardens, we have done what we could to enrich the soil with good spiritual additives and relational fertilizer (agricultural advisors, wells, good seeds, drip irrigation supplies, greenhouses, gardening tools, tillers, tractors, etc). As a result, every month and year we are seeing wonderful increases and higher productivity of a "…hundred, sixty and thirty fold.” As Paul said of his partnership ministries: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow” (I Cor. 3:6-7).
And Paul assures the faithful spiritual farmers of this “principle of reward”: “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (I Cor. 3:8). That’s why Paul reminded a new young spiritual farmer named Timothy: “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops” (II Tim. 2:6). Likewise, Paul wrote the saints at Corinth: “When the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest” (I Cor. 9:10).
That means that all of you who have supported our “spiritual farming” and “physical farming” through your prayers and finances will receive some of the reward from God. It will be “…credited to your account” (Phil. 4:17).
So thanks for helping us find and nurture that “good soil” around the world that God is sovereignly preparing through His Holy Spirit for the planting and productivity of His Word. In this eNewsletter, I am sharing one of those “good fields” where God is sowing His “good seed” in the “good soil” that is producing a “good crop” of Samburu – as well as Rendille and Turkana – saints! These pictures were taken on my trip to Kenya in December before Christmas, on which I have not yet reported.
In my next weekly eNewsletter, I will focus on some of the other “good soil” we have been nurturing for decades with our national partners for the expansion of the Kingdom of God in their countries and cultures. Until then, join me on this Kingdom Adventure among the Samburu...
Boarding the plane at Wilson Airport in Nairobi with
our supplies for the trip to Samburu. At right,
two Agriculturalists, Arie Van Wingerden and I,
ready for takeoff.
After a 2-hour trip and safe landing at the "Samburu International"
Our AIM AIR pilots who safely flew us and
our supplies to Samburu in Northern Kenya.
Francesca Yurenimo read a story from a new
children's Bible we brought to her, and the
children enjoyed reading the simplified text as well.
Sunday service, led by the children, in the Samburu
Chapel we built several years ago.
Stakwell's oldest daughter, Wendy, read a portion of Scripture for the
Sunday service. At right, Stakwell interpreted as I preached a brief
This picture of the children enjoying an afternoon "hopscotch" game
made me wonder...when was the last time you saw American children
playing hopscotch with such joy?
Arie prepares to consolidate the water system
to one place on top of this roof.
Local Samburu women and children brought in the gravel to make the cement,
with each bag of stones they gathered weighing over 100 pounds! They traveled
about a mile with the stones to bring them to the Camp.
It is hard to imagine American children ever doing this kind of hard work,
but the Samburu children did it with a smile.
We paid each woman on the basis of a wheelbarrow load - an average
of 3 bags and 3 trips. While the normal rate per wheelbarrow load was
a couple of dollars, we doubled their pay.
The mamas and children who carried many loads of gravel to make cement.
Aross the years, many of these women
have accepted Christ. They have then
been nurtured in the Word through
the "Solar Digital Bibles" in the Samburu
language that we have given them.
Because there are no cement mixers in the African bush, the cement is mixed
by hand on the ground. Arie helped out to make sure the mix ratio was correct.
Once mixed, the cement is carried in the bags that the dried cement orginally
came in, and each bag is very heavy. At right, this strong Samburu Moran,
which means warrior, did the heaviest lifting at the top of the ladder.
The cement is poured in place a quarter bag at a time. Arie helped tamp and
smooth the cement after it was poured.
After the cement was poured and dried, the 3 water tanks were pulled into place.
Improvising with what is available is an absolute necessity in the African bush.
The first tank is safely and successfully pulled into place, and the second
tank is removed and relocated to the new water tower.
Arie directs and guides the second tank
up the ramp he built.
Francesca helps push the tank into place.
The 3rd and final tank is slowly pushed and pulled into place. Once secured
on the roof, Arie and Samson hook the tanks together.
Arie and Samson redo the underground plumbing.
The water lines now feed the greenhouse,
garden and Camp.
WORKING IN THE GREENHOUSE...
The vegetables in the greenhouse had to be watered by hand during the
several days that Arie redesigned and replumbed the water system. The
girls loved working in the greenhouse with their mother.
Have you ever seen more beautiful little gardeners!
I worked outside teaching the Samburu Moran how to use the tiller
we sent over several years ago. This tiller is helpful in weeding and
mulching between the drip irrigation lines.
The children also helped in the landscaping, weeding and planting flowers
around the Camp.
The smiles say it all!
We had another project of laying a stone floor in a new bathroom and shower.
As much as possible, we hire local workers for these jobs, as they provide
training and income. Isaiah, pictured above, is an evangelist, pastor, carpenter,
An additional project was to put a cement table in
the outdoor kitchen we built on our last trip.
The older girls who were home on school break cleaned and mopped the floors
by hand. Everyone helps out - from the youngest to the oldest!
Building a cement table for the preparation and serving of food for Camp visitors.
The final phase is to tile the cement table.
Building a new wash area for the Camp Staff. On our next trip, we will build a
larger area for washing clothes, sheets, and towels for Camp staff and visitors.
VEGETABLE AND TREE PRODUCTION...
This greenhouse partnership and project
we are helping in South Horr is growing
wonderful vegetables and trees to sell.
Frank Letatap (pictured right) is a pastor, school teacher, and agriculturalist.
We continue to partner with him in both spiritual and physical farming, more
of the 30, 60, 100-fold fruitfulness for God's Kingdom.
Taking in new towels for the Camp cottages,
donated by a ministry friend.
Some of the children supported and sponsored in school by our
We delivered new T-shirts and a Christmas toy for each child and Staff member.
Francesca found the right size for every child.
Proud of their new T-shirts!
Here I am with my beloved Samburu family with their new shirts
and Christmas toys.
AN ENTREPRENEURIAL COUPLE FOR THE KINGDOM...
It was a joy for me to see the new Hardware Store that Francesca and Stakwell
have opened as another way to generate income and to support themselves.
Francesca is a wife, mother, school teacher, store operator, and gardener!
The new chicken project by their home provides eggs and meat. At right,
Stakwell and Francesca's home that many of you helped us build through your
Stakwell, Francesca, Victoria (left),
Wendy (middle), and Maribell (right).
Thanks for investing with us in this “Samburu Soil” that is now producing such an abundant harvest. For decades the Samburu were an unreached people group. Because of culture, tradition, witchcraft, superstition and tribal warfare, the “Samburu Soil” was very hard, rocky, barren and resistant to the Gospel. These proud tribal pastoralists were suspicious of outsiders. Their lives were largely consumed by their cattle – as well as competing and fighting with their other tribal enemies like the Rendille and Turkana. But God sovereignly raised up Samburu “sons of the soil,” like Stakwell, as His chosen instruments to reach their own people. The Sports Camp we helped him develop after his primary, secondary and Bible College training became the place of tribal reconciliation. He ultimately married Francesca, who was a Rendille. God has used their marriage as a model of reconciliation. They have become that “good soil” that was receptive to the “good seed” that is producing a “good harvest – a hundred-fold” for the Kingdom of God among the tribal peoples of Northern Kenya.
So please continue to pray for Stakwell and Francesca as they seek to model the holistic Kingdom of God among their people. And be blessed and encouraged by this report and pictures – knowing that your prayers and giving have played a strategic role in this partnership with all of its growing projects. You are enabling us to “encourage, equip and empower” these tribal “sons and daughters of the soil” to model, build and expand God’s Kingdom where the "kingdom of darkness” previously ruled and reigned. There is no greater joy or satisfaction than being “God’s fellow worker” in this work that is producing “abiding fruit” for time and eternity (Jn. 15:16)!
Thanks for preparing, plowing, planting and producing with us for His Kingdom and glory...
JL & Patt
PS: When you receive and read this report, I will be in Haiti for 5 days nurturing our partnership and farming project with Nehemiah Vision Ministries (NVM), headed by Pastor Esperandieu Pierre. And for those of you who would like to study a bit more of what God’s Word says about "Being A Successful Physical Or Spiritual Farmer,” please click here or on the picture at right to download a Study Guide I have written on the subject.
“Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
Today we hear far more “bad news” from around the world than “good news.” As the word “NEWS” indicates, we are bombarded with “bad news” from the North, East, West, South.
Whether it is about ISIS terrorism and atrocities in Iraq and Syria…Islamic jihadism in Europe and America…nuclear proliferation in North Korea…Russian expansionism in the Middle East…continued tribalism and political instability in Africa…Chinese economic exploitation globally – our world is filled with “bad news.”
All of these are the escalating fulfillment of the “signs of the times” that Jesus clearly prophesied about in His Olivet Discourse to His disciples (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). So you and I need to view and interpret these daily NEWS events from around the world with open Bibles. Only Jesus’ commentary – not CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC or BBN – can give us an accurate interpretation of these events through His Spirit and Word. It is only through His revelation that we can we be like the “…men of Issichar, who understood the times and knew what Israel (America) should do” (I Chron. 12:32).
One thing for sure, 2016 will be another year filled with “bad news” from the North, East, West and South. But I also know from over a half-century of living and serving the Lord that God is still on the throne – not Obama, Putin, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, Abu Bakar al Bagdadi – or any other national leader intoxicated with the illusion of their political power!
As we enter into 2016 we need to remember afresh the words of assurance from King David:
“God is the King of all the earth…
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on His holy throne…
The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
and His kingdom rules over all.”
(Psalm 47:7-8; 103:19)
Whatever we may face in 2016, He assures us with these words: “My grace will be sufficient” (II Cor. 12:9).
So while our world is saturated with “bad news,” I want to share some of the “…good news from distant lands” with you. And as Proverbs says, I hope it will be like a refreshing cup of “…cold water” to your soul that may be wearied by all of the “bad news” that bombards you 24/7. Patt and I hope that these following pictures will help you flip channels from the “bad news” to the “good news” of the “good works” you have been helping make possible through our national partners.
Since we received many more reports and pictures from our beloved partners than we could share in our year end eNewsletter, I want to share more in this one…and the next…and the next until we get you caught up on some of the “abiding fruit” of your spiritual and financial investment of our partnership.
Be blessed and encouraged as you take a long drink of the “cool waters” of His transforming love and compassion from distant lands…
ONGOING SPIRITUAL EARTHQUAKES IN NEPAL…
Through our partnership with Pastor Hanok Tamang and his team, we have continued to do relief work throughout the Christmas Season – which was also a wonderful time to share the “Good News” of the Gospel.
Because of the "good works" as a result of the "Good News," many are
receiving Christ, and are being baptized.
Since untold numbers of churches were destroyed
by the earthquakes, many believers are meeting in
temporary metal churches.
After a recent service in a refugee camp,
the only tithe one man had to give was
two pumpkins from his garden.
Large blankets warming the soul and body.
Another partner, Pastor Gyan Sunawar, continues his ministry of evangelism and church planting through the “good news” of “good works.”
Good news for a dear couple in Nepal: moving from one cramped room to a small
three room apartment.
A FLOOD OF CHRISTIAN LOVE IN INDIA…
Because of the epic floods in Chennai, our partners at ECI were not able to send us pictures and reports from our annual Christmas Parties at our “Happy Homes” until this week. In addition to the Christmas Celebrations, we continue to do relief work through ECI because of your “good works” of praying and giving.
Christmas Celebration at the ECI Happy Home in Chennai.
The Christmas celebration and feast at the Happy Home in Calcutta.
The continued “good works” and “good news” of on-going relief work by ECI.
MEDICAL GOOD NEWS FROM HOLY PALACE HOSPITAL…
Under the leadership of Dr. Suresh Rai, and his son, Johny, the work at the “Holy Palace Hospital” in West Bengal continues to abound in “good works” through medicine, education, sports, music and agriculture.
CHRISTMAS COMPASSION IN MANIPUR…
Through our years of partnership with Pastor Chinksoia, we have continued our annual Christmas and New Year celebrations. The “Good News” is both preached and practiced through evangelism, Bible distribution and giving food and clothing to the needy – especially women and children.
BAPTISM OF FIRE AND WATER IN TIMBUKTU…
During the closing weeks of 2015, our dear friends and partners in the city of Timbuktu experienced both “bad news” and “good news” within days of each other. Islamic terrorists killed two church members outside their Christian radio station to try and stop the “Good News” of the Gospel from going out. The funeral and burial in the Sahara was attended by many in the city – Christians and Muslims alike.
In spite of these murders by Islamic jihadists, the "Good News" is still resulting
in people coming to Christ and being baptized.
THE GOOD NEWS OF MARRIAGE…
Since Patt and I were married in December 51 years ago, we especially love December weddings…or New Year’s weddings…or weddings anytime with our national partners. In non-Christian countries, a wedding is a wonderful opportunity to preach and demonstrate the “Good News” of the Gospel. So be blessed by two recent weddings from dear partners in Singapore and India.
Pastor Joseph Jabemany and his beautiful daughter, Grace,
at her wedding ceremony in Singapore.
The lovely wedding ceremony of Pastor Markus Mukhia and his
beautiful wife, Anita. Markus is Bhutanese by birth, and grew
up in our Bethany Children's Home in Jaigaon, India.
Patt and I hope that this pictures from some of our key partners will be God’s “good news” to help offset some of the “bad news” that has already begun to assault us daily from the NEWS. As has always been the case, “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, our Sovereign Lord will continue to “…shake heaven and earth” in order to “…remove what can be shaken…so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” And what is that one thing that cannot be shaken? His Kingdom! “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God with reverence and awe…” (Heb. 12:26-28).
So let’s continue to seek His Kingdom and His glory FIRST and FOREMOST in 2016, as Jesus exhorted us (Matt. 6:33)!
Thanks for letting us share with you some “…good news from distant lands” from our partners. And remember, it has been your prayers and your giving that has helped make all of this possible at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016.
Sharing with you the “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
JL & Patt
P. S. To further your understanding of the importance of working with National Partners, I recommend my book, A Strategic Paradigm in Missions. Please click here to be redirected to our online store, and order your copy today.