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.
“He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty-handed.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
Patt and I send you our warmest Christmas love and greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Contrary to the sacred maxim of political correctness, Christmas is a Christ-Mass – or a celebration of His birthday. Christmas is not about Santa – it’s about the Savior! Anything less is a spiritual and cultural counterfeit. Remove Christ from Christmas and all you have left is an empty “happy holiday” rather than a joyous “Holy Day.”
As you know, I returned Sunday evening from two weeks in Kenya – my last mission trip of 2014. This annual trip to Nairobi and South Horr is one of the ways I spiritually prepare for Christmas. It is a time to escape the frenzied and frenetic materialism that has hijacked Christmas – even for the majority of Christians. For me it is also a “reality check” for the level of my Christian compassion. And if there is any place on earth that you can get “compassion fatigue” it is in Kibera! The magnitude of the need is overwhelming!
While I was in Kenya, the words above from “Mary’s Song” kept resonating in my spirit. Just as the Virgin Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, the resulting words of her “Magnificat” are pregnant with implications for each one of us. Every line reminds us of some truth about God and His priorities for us.
Mary began by “… rejoicing in God my Savior.” Those words remind us that God is a relational God. That First Christmas was a revelation that Christ came to make God known so He could be anyone’s and everyone’s personal Savior. And since God is good all the time, He loves to give His children “good things.” But the best thing He wants to give is the “gift of salvation.” Following that primary gift, He delights in giving His beloved children “good things.”
Paul underscored this truth when he warned the wealthy Christians of his day not to “… put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain.” Rather, he encouraged them to “… put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (I Tim. 6:17). So, contrary to a lot of negative thinking about God, He is not some “celestial Scrooge” who wants to take away everything “good” in life. No! A thousand times NO!” As our “Abba Father,” God delights in giving “good gifts” to His children! At Christmas He gave the BEST GIFT of all – the Lord Jesus!
However, many of our brethren in the Two-Thirds World have a saying: “God is a good Provider but a poor divider!” That means from their perspective God has disproportionally provided “good things” for Christians in America – leaving Christians in the rest of the world with little more than the leftover “crumbs of life.” Sadly, this “poor dividing” is not the work of God – but rather the work of greed. The spiritual and economic imbalances of life are largely the result of man’s doing – not God’s. The overwhelming majority of the problems in the world are “man-made” as a result of sin, selfishness, pride, greed, lust, prejudice and hatred.
The Good News of Christmas is that God’s gift to mankind through Christ reverses this spiritual and economic imbalance. Mary, the mother of Jesus, saw this truth through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. As a poor peasant girl in her teens, she praised and magnified the Lord because He had “ … been mindful of the humble state of His servant.” And while He had exalted her because of her humility, he had also “… scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts … but had lifted up the humble.” And in doing so, He had “ … filled the hungry with good things but sent the rich away empty.”
Sadly, so many of us “rich Christians” in America are “possessed by possessions.” That’s why from “Black Friday” through Christmas Eve, we frenetically rush around buying and giving “stuff” that can never satisfy the deepest hungers of our soul! The problem is that we “hunger” for the wrong things. We passionately desire riches rather than righteousness. We prefer to sit on Santa’s lap with our “wish list” rather than rest in the arms of Jesus and enjoy “… every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” through Him (Eph. 1:3).
In His post-Christmas Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded us that it was the “… poor in spirit” who inherit the Kingdom of God. It is those who “… hunger and thirst for righteousness” who will be filled” (Matt. 5:3, 6). Everyone else goes away disappointed, disillusioned, “empty-handed” and empty-hearted.
We drove our van as far down into Kibera as we could
on the dirty road, then walked the garbage filled paths
to meet the children.
Due to recent attacks and robberies of white foreigners, we had to
go in with armed police escort. Two of our team members,
Richard Moore and Arie VanWingerden, paused for a picture with our guards.
Several of the Street Boys helped us carry in the gifts that we had brought
for the children, while former Street Boy, George Odhiambo, paused
for a picture with Richard Moore. This was Richard's first trip to Africa.
My recent time in the slums of Kibera again drove these truths home to my own heart. Kibera is reputedly the largest slum on the African Continent with over one million people crammed into one square mile of squalor. We have worked there for over 25 years – trying to make a spiritual and economic difference in the Name of Christ. And our annual “Christmas Party” for over 300 poor children was another small way of bringing the light of the Gospel into that dark area.
When we arrived, the small church building was filled to overflowing
with children happily awaiting their Christmas party! Former Street Boy,
Pastor George Odhiambo pictured at right, founded and directs this
"Adventure School" for over 300 children.
It was a joy to have Larry & Mary Warren join us for this Christmas party,
especially since we started this program together in Kibera over two
decades ago. At right, Mary enjoys a few close moments with one
of the children, who are always eager for some hugs!
Larry shared some words of encouragement as George translated.
I hope the following pictures will help you focus on the real meaning of Christmas – bringing joy to others in the Name and nature of Christ. When you open this report, we will still have one week before Christmas Day. And as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, I hope many of you will send in a gift by PayPal so we can sponsor more “Christmas Parties” for all of the orphans and needy children in our Homes in Africa and Asia.
A CHRISTMAS LOVE FEAST
Hand washing before the Christmas feast, where each child brought their own
plate. The children especially enjoyed this Christmas feast as it included beef,
in addition to the usual rice, beans and spinach. Normally, the meals are
meatless except on special occasions such as the Christmas Feast.
The smile says it all!
Arie and Richard enjoyed their time with the children.
A PERSONAL SODA
For many of the children, it was the first time in their lives that they enjoyed the luxury of their very own soda!
Good to the last drop!
GIFTS IN CHRIST’S NAME
Each child received a small gift, thanks to the giving of our partners in America.
Whether a pencil, toy car, rubber ball, or a pair of socks, the children
were so thankful!
For most of the children, this was the first "new toy" they had ever had!
We still need to send $300 each to the following Children’s Homes for a Christmas Feast and gifts:
So as you enjoy your Sunday School Christmas Party, Staff Party, or Business Party for your employees, add one of these homes to your Christmas Party List. It will be a “double blessing” for you and them!
Thanks for helping us sponsor this “Christmas Party” in Kibera. It brought great joy to the children’s hearts and stomachs! Now, please help us give each one of the children in our Children’s homes some of the “good things” we have in such abundance in America!
Giving through His love & compassion in partnership with you,
JL & Patt
PS: It was a special joy to meet one of our other former “Street Children” who is now saved and successful because of the transforming love of Christ that touched her when she was a young child in Kibera.
Meet Sera Wangare, former Street Girl (pictured at left when we
first met her many years ago in the Kibera slum), and her
daughter Marybell. Sera now runs a beauty salon and records
Christian music. What a joy it was to hear her sing at the Christmas party.
She is a real trophy of God's grace - made possible
by the prayers and gifts of our partners!
As the year comes to a close, it is not too early to prayerfully plan for your year end giving, whether through monetary donations, items for our partners, or Stock Transfers. Please contact us at JL, Patt & Friends, PO Box 4066, Glen Raven, NC 27215 or email@example.com. for additional information, or click here on www.jlwilliams.org/donate to give via PayPal. Also, you may click here to view our catalog of "Kingdom Advancing Christmas Gifts" for some "last minute" gift suggestions.
Finally, my book on Christmas, When God Became Man, is available for your devotional study during the holidays. Just click on the picture of the book to download, and to start your daily journey through the Christmas Story!
Dear Friends and Partners,
Christmas Greetings to you in the love of the Lord Jesus!
Many of you have already started shopping for those special gifts for Christmas 2014. We pray that you will remember a special Christmas gift for one of our national partners in the Third World. Just like the Magi traveled a long distance to present their gifts to the baby Jesus, your gift through JLPF will travel to some of the distant corners of the kingdom of God. Many needs will be met by your love gift, and many grateful hearts will praise the Lord for your generosity!
In His Christmas love, joy and peace,
J.L. and Patt
“The Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
40th Anniversary Celebration, and a view of the new PACC Campus.
Dear Friends & Partners,
When I was first invited to Zimbabwe, Africa, in 1983, I could never have imagined what God had sovereignly planned for me there from then till now! That historic trip would be my very first footprint on the African continent. Since then the Lord has graciously given me ministry in Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Ghana and Mali. But it all began in Zimbabwe back in 1983.
This beautiful African country is bordered on the north by Zambia, the south by South Africa, the east by Mozambique and the west by Botswana. During the colonial era, Zimbabwe was known as “Southern Rhodesia” until she gained her independence from Great Britain in 1980. Since that time Zimbabwe has been ruled by President Robert Mugabe – who recently turned 90! He is now the longest reigning leader on the African continent.
Previously Zimbabwe was known as the “Bread-Basket of Africa” because of the large, productive and prosperous farms there – mostly owned and operated by white farmers. After the majority of the farms were taken away by President Mugabe and given to others who were ill prepared to run such farms, the farming industry largely collapsed. As a result, Zimbabwe degenerated from the “Bread-Basket of Africa” to the “Basket-case of Africa.” The jobless rate soared to between 85% and 90% of the working population, if not higher. Hunger and malnutrition became rampant – especially in the rural areas.
Today however, Zimbabwe is making a great economic turn-around – especially after the government dollarized the economy. But, this change has not been because of President Mugabe, but in spite of him. The resilience of the Zimbabwean people reminds me of the Haitians in their ability to somehow adjust to incredible adversity and keep on going forward in hope rather than hate. And most of that hope comes from the Lord through the vibrant church that has continued to grow all across the country.
In spite of political intrigue, an American and Western embargo, an economic implosion that resulted in the highest inflation rate in human history – the Zimbabweans keep looking and planning for the future with forceful faith, creative ingenuity and relentless hope!
In spite of the negative press Zimbabwe generally receives in America and the West, she has many positive things in her favor that give hope for the future. As a person who has gone there yearly for over 3 decades, let me just summarize a few…
Most importantly, Zimbabwe has a majority Christian population with thousands of vibrant indigenous churches all across the land. It’s true that they struggle with their own share of traditional religions and false prophets, and the church has experienced an invasion of American heresies like the “Prosperity Gospel.” However, most churches are focused on the Word of God, passionate prayer and fasting, anointed worship and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are growing daily in both depth and breadth.
Secondly, Zimbabwe is blessed with incalculable natural resources. Sadly, however, most are being squandered by greedy politicians, unscrupulous businessmen or exploited by outsiders – like China.
Thirdly, unlike some of her African neighbors, the people of Zimbabwe do not have a “jihadist spirit.” They are by nature a peaceful people who do not have fighting and war in their social and cultural DNA.
Fourthly, Zimbabwe has the second-highest literacy rate on the African continent – 85%. Education is far above the continent average across the country, resulting in an enlightened citizenry.
Finally, for now, Zimbabwe has some of the best Christian leaders on the African Continent. One of those leaders is the feature of this report – Bishop Trevor Manhanga.
While I share their frustration over the current political intrigue and economic instability, I also share their undauntable hope that positive change is coming! I am excited to be a part of it through our partners and projects there!
FROM CONNECTICUT TO ZIMBABWE
Through these pictures from our archives, I want to connect the spiritual dots between Bridgeport, Connecticut and Harare, Zimbabwe. Any way you look at it, these are two very unlike spiritual synapses points! From the natural point of view, these countries and cities could not be more unrelated to each other. But God intricately connected them in my life and experience as He always does -- through a person. And that person was Dr. Jim Seymour.
Our first encounter took place on June 21, 1971 – the day Jim was radically converted! At that time he was not a college graduate – much less a pastor … missionary … reverend … counselor … doctor … professor … author – all of which he is today. In those days, Jim was anything but what those titles represent! He was a thoroughly young pagan seeking to find himself through sports, girls, music, alcohol and drugs.
But the “Hound of Heaven” was in hot pursuit of Jim and his college friend, Ray Monroe. They went to Seaside Park in hopes of meeting friends – especially girls. Instead, God sovereignly planned for them to meet His Son, Jesus Christ!
Dr. Leighton Ford, brother-in-law to Billy Graham, had invited our “New Directions” musical team to be the Pied Pipers for his Crusade. So by faith we loaded up our old Golden Eagle bus and drove to Bridgeport.
During the day, we did high school assemblies and invited young people to the nightly Crusade – where we also sang and counseled those who came forward to make decisions to follow Jesus. In addition, we did concerts in parks, malls, and the inner city – anywhere there were people we might draw to the Crusade.
Because of Dr. Ford’s desire to reach out to the unchurched, this Crusade was held in a large tent at the Seaside Park – right where Jim Seymour and Ray Monroe were headed to “party!” Hearing our pre-crusade contemporary music, they slipped into the back of the tent for this “free concert.” As we often say, the rest is history! (Please click here to read Jim's personal testimony of this transforming event: "One Night at the Beach...Setting Sail for Eternity").
That night when Jim and Ray came forward, they were counseled and led to Christ by two of our ND members – one black, the other white. In spite of the fact that Jim was a varsity football player at Central Connecticut State University, he felt called to the ministry – a most unlikely candidate! But in obedience to the Lord, he went to Zion Bible Institute to prepare for whatever ministry the Lord had for him. Under the Lord’s direction, he went first as a missionary to Alaska from 1976 to 1979; then to Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1992. Today he is the Senior Pastor of the North Haven Church and a full tenured professor of Philosophy and Religion at St. Augustine’s University, both in Raleigh, NC.
But, it was while he was a missionary in Zimbabwe right after Independence in 1980 that he contacted me. The nation was a racial power keg waiting to explode. Remembering the impact our interracial musical ministry had on his life as a college student, he sent out a “Macedonian Call” (Acts 16) for me to come over with one of our Black musicians. I did so with big Paul Smith. The next year I took Joel and Sonia Leath. As a “salt & pepper” team, we ministered all over Zimbabwe in partnership with Jim.
In addition, Jim asked me to teach daily at the Pentecostal Bible College (PBC), where he was the principal. That’s where I met so many students, like Trevor Manhanga, pictured below, who are dynamic leaders today. Interestingly, Bishop Trevor is now the head of PBC where he was once a student.
This past month, from November 18 – 22, PBC celebrated its “40th Anniversary.” As the former principal, Dr. Seymour was invited to return. Along with other past friends and teachers, I was also invited to return for this historic celebration. It was an incredible time of fellowship, reminiscing, renewing friendships, preaching, worship, prayer and celebration. While it was a time to celebrate God’s faithfulness for the past 40 years – it was a time of vision casting for the next 40 years.
PRAISE & WORSHIP …
PREACHING THE WORD …
Bishop Trevor Manhanga
Dr. Jim Seymour
DEDICATION & ANOINTING …
GRADUATING NEW PASTORS & EVANGELISTS …
FELLOWSHIP WITH OLD FRIENDS …
Pastors Rodney and Valerie Frazier, visiting from
Wakefield Family Church in Wake Forest, NC.
VISITING GREENHOUSE & GARDENING PROJECTS …
A ZIMBABWE BRAI (B-B-Q) …
After the close of the Conference, Bishop Trevor and his wife, Charmaine, hosted a traditional brai, or cookout at their home. I wish you could have enjoyed this African feast with me of steak, sausage, chicken, potatoes, squash, sudza and lots of deserts! I share these pictures to show that I do not live off goat guts and monkey brains when I am in Africa – at least not all the time!
One traditional custom that is hard for most Americans
to adjust to is that out of respect, the women
serve you on their knees.
A FINAL TIME OF PREACHING …
On the Sunday before I flew home, I had just enough time to worship and preach in one of the local churches in Harare, the Jubilee Christian Center.
FROM ZIMBABWE TO KENYA
I arrived back home in time to enjoy Thanksgiving week and day with Patt and the family. Like many of you, we had a great physical and spiritual feast.
After the sumptuous meal, we celebrated Communion at the table as we enjoy doing on special occasions like this – something I highly encourage other families to do. This was an especially holy family time because it was our youngest grandchild, Joy Yael’s, first communion as she recently accepted Christ.
After Thanksgiving Dinner at Patt’s table and Communion at the Lord’s Table, the grandchildren helped me pack toys for street children in Nairobi, Kenya.
SOLAR DIGITAL PLAYERS
One of the special gifts we will be giving out among the Samburu Tribe and Turkana Tribe will be these “Solar Digital Players”, specially done in red since that is their favorite color. Each one cost us $25 from the subsidized price of $65. We are so thankful for a generous friend of our ministry who underwrote these 100 players. (We hope that many of you will give one or more in response to the “Kingdom Christmas Giving Brochure” you will receive via email in the next week. So please be watching for it in your inbox.)
Former Street Boy, Pastor George Odhiambo
Last year, we helped sponsor the annual “Christmas Party” for our partner, George Odhiambo. He is one of the original “Street Boys” we supported more than two decades ago. He now has over 250 poor children he helps through his “Adventure School” in the slums of Kibera in Nairobi. With over 1 million people living in a squalid square mile, Kibera is believed to be the largest slum on the African continent.
Thanks for taking this past trip with me to Zimbabwe and for your thoughts and prayers for this next one to Kenya. I will have just landed when this email lands in your inbox! It has been a short turn-around week between these two African Kingdom Adventure Safaris. For two weeks, I will be with 4 other men whose focus will be George’s work in the Kibera slum, and our long-time partner’s work among the Samburu in northern Kenya.
Much progress is happening in both locations, but so many pressing needs still abound. Only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can bring about change in the spiritual, social, economic and emotional realms of each culture. Thank you for your partnership! Knowing that many of you support us with your prayers and finances is an encouragement that is difficult to express! Please know how much they are appreciated!
Pressing on to equip and empower others through Christ our Lord,
J.L. and Patt
YEAR END GIVING
As the year comes to a close, it is not too early to prayerfully plan for your year end giving, whether through monetary donations, items for our partners, or Stock Transfers. Please contact us at JL, Patt & Friends, PO Box 4066, Glen Raven, NC 27215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. for additional information, or click on www.jlwilliams.org/donate to give via PayPal. God bless you!
PS: Just in case you missed it – or forgot it, my book on Christmas, When God Became Man, is available for your devotional study during the holidays. Just click here to download, and to start your daily journey through the Christmas Story!
“Do you not say:
'Four months more and then the harvest?'
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!
They are ripe for harvest!"
Dear Ministry Partner,
If I have ever known a man who is passionate about the ripe harvest fields in India, it is Bishop Ezra Sargunam! He summarizes his mission philosophy this way: “Win the winnable while they are winnable!”
I have amplified his succinct mission motivation with my own similar ministry philosophy:
Across the years I have learned from painful and costly experience that it is the “rest” – Christians and non-Christians alike – who eat up your time, energy and resources and leave little or nothing to show of eternal value! Sadly, it is the faithless … visionless … loveless … passionless … prayerless … powerless … giveless … in the church who are the greatest impediment to the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission! Neither Bishop Ezra nor I have little time or patience for such people!
Our joy and commitment is to team up with people who are passionate about the “open doors” that are before us – whether in India or other parts of the world. Bishop Ezra, too, is passionate about intentionally partnering with those who will join him in the fulfillment of the Great Commission specifically in India – the second most populated country on earth. He also believes that God has not called him to focus on the people groups in India that are resistant, but to focus primarily on those who are responsive – like the tribals, low caste and marginalized millions of India.
(All over the world there are people groups that are highly resistant to the Gospel – like the Tibetans I wrote about in a previous report in this series. In those places, the Holy Spirit has not sovereignly moved spiritually to the degree that He has changed the “closed doors” into “open doors.” Until the Lord sovereignly “opens hearts,” there will continue to be “closed doors.”)
These words of the Lord Jesus are Bishop Ezra’s life-focus: “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut” (Rev. 3:8). As a result of Bishop Ezra’s unshakable commitment to Christ’s promise, the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) is one of the fastest growing churches in India – and has been for decades. They plant an average of one to three new churches every week in some part of India – with a faith goal of one church a day! As a result, ECI currently has 5,800 local churches and another 5,000 house churches.
By the time of their “Diamond Jubilee” in 2056, they plan to have 100,000 local churches with 10 million members! That’s vision! That’s faith! That’s love for the lost! That’s obedience to the Great Commission! That’s commitment to Christ’s proclamation: “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18)!
It has been my joy and privilege to partner with Bishop Ezra for over 3 decades. We have preached together in many conferences … held leadership seminars … built scores of local churches … baptized thousands of new believers … supported ECI evangelists and church planters … bought bicycles and motorcycles for pastors … built and sponsored “Happy Homes” for orphaned and destitute children … done relief work after natural disasters … initiated self-support projects with sewing machines, and given goats to the poor and needy.
All of this has been done in the spirit of Paul’s words and example: I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel …”(I Cor. 9:22).
Our more than 3 decades of ministry partnership with Bishop Ezra and ECI have been made possible through the generous partnership of friends like YOU here in America! Because of your love, prayers and financial gifts, you have left an indelible spiritual fingerprint on the India sub-continent for time and eternity!
So, I hope you will be blessed, encouraged, challenged and motivated by the report and pictures below. They conclude my series of reports on my recent “3 Weeks In Asia.” But they do NOT conclude my continued ministry with Bishop Ezra and all of the other partners I have written about in these reports. By God’s grace, those partnerships will continue until the Lord returns or calls me home to heaven!
CONFERENCE IN DARJEELING
After my time of ministry at the Bethany Children’s Home and Holy Palace Hospital, I met Bishop Ezra in Siliguri for an historic one-day conference for evangelists and church planters.
This conference banner summarizes the emphasis of the conference on
evangelism and church planting.
The praise and worship was enthusiastic as always!
Because of a foot infection (probably from baptizing in dirty water!), Bishop
Ezra has to often move around these days in a wheel chair. But this has not
slowed him down. Even if he has to preach sitting down, Bishop Ezra
is still passionate and contagious in his ministry!
It was a joy to meet two new partners at the conference,
Aasif & Archana (last names withheld to protect their
identity). Aasif is a converted Muslim, and Archana is
a converted high caste Brahman.
Aasif shared his incredible testimony, telling of his radical conversion from
being a Muslim jihadist to a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. His wife
also shared her testimony of her equally dramatic conversion from
high caste Hinduism to Christianity.
It was my privilege to preach the plenary message for the conference.
As is usually the case, many people attending the conference came
forward for us to lay hands on them, and to pray for them
and their ministries.
There were more than 500 delegates at the conference.
FROM DARJEELING TO KOLKOTTA
Following the conference in Siliguri, Darjeeling, we boarded our flight to Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta. Like many Asian and African countries that were under colonialism, they changed the names of their countries and cities from those imposed by foreigners to indigenous names predating colonialism.
We gathered at the Calcutta Bible Seminary (CBS) for the semi-annual ECI “All India Conference” (AIC). There were more than 500 pastors, evangelists and leaders from ECI churches all across India. Kolkata is known as the “Home of the Modern Missionary Movement” due to the influence of William Carey. However, it is also equally known as the “graveyard of Christian missions” due to the miniscule impact Christianity has had on this historic city of nearly 5 million people.
It is because of the unique history of Kolkata that ECI planted a Bible School and Seminary there in the heart of the spiritual darkness. As you saw in my previous report, we partnered with ECI in starting the “Calcutta Happy Home” there for needy children. That children’s ministry is now housed in the first building ECI bought to start CBS in many years ago. And due to the unique spiritual history of Kolkata and the wonderful large new CBS campus, it was the perfect place for the AIC Conference. Across the years I have had the privilege of attending many of these AIC conferences and hear the wonderful reports of the ECI pastors from all across India.
There is nothing like the worship and singing of 500 pastors and evangelists!
FELLOWSHIP WITH OLD & NEW FRIENDS …
SHARING THE PREACHING TIME WITH DEAR FRIENDS & PARTNERS …
At the closing of the AIC Conference, we gathered outside to take a group picture. What a joy to fellowship and partner with these brothers and sisters from across India.
See if you can find "Waldo Williams"!
Before closing this last report, I wanted to share a few pictures from the new “Goatery Project,” as Bishop Ezra has named it. As we have done in a number of other countries, we have partnered with ECI in distributing goats to some of the poorest of the poor in the rural villages where they are doing evangelism and planting churches. We gave a gift of $1,000 seed money to start this goat distribution project with ECI. Bishop Ezra and his pastors have been overwhelmed with the positive response this new self-support project is receiving.
We need to fund many more goats for this self-support project for the poor. Since Christmas is just a few weeks away, we hope that many of you will “buy a goat” for Christmas for $35 each. Or buy a small herd of goats for $100 or $200. Because they are hearty, give nourishing milk and reproduce well, you can help change a widow’s or poor family’s life through the gift of one or more goats. So, this Christmas, “give a gift that will keep on giving!”
“HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER!”
In the early days of the “New Directions” musical ministry, one of our signature songs was: “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, usually sung by our greatly loved Black soloist, Charles Alston, now at home with the Lord in heaven. Whenever we sang it in those early days of ministry, God used it mightily to touch people’s lives. So, when I had a little fun at the end of the AIC Conference and pulled Bishop Ezra around the CBS compound on this rickshaw, it reminded me of that great old song! Let me also remind you …
Most people do not know the supposed genesis of this song title. It goes back to the 19th Century. In 1884, James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, wrote a book titled: The Parables of Jesus. In it he tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn't tired. With surprise she replied, "No, he's not heavy; he's my brother!"
Whether the writers of this song, Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, had this story in mind when they pinned the lyrics, we do not know for sure. If not, they should have! Regardless, it is a very appropriate background for the true spirit of the song. After it was first recorded in 1969, it became a hit in America and around the world. In many ways it became the “secular hymn” of the Civil Rights Era. For those of you not old enough to remember that song from the 1960s, let me remind you of the great lyrics:
"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"
The road is long
with many a winding turn
that leads us to who knows where,
who knows when.
But I'm strong,
strong enough to carry him.
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.
So on we go,
his welfare is of my concern;
no burden is he to bear,
we'll get there.
For I know
he would not encumber me,
he ain't heavy, he's my brother.
If I'm laden at all,
I'm laden with sadness
that everyone's heart
isn't filled with the gladness
of love for one another.
It's a long, long road
from which there is no return
while we're on the way to there
why not share?
And the load
doesn't weigh me down at all.
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.
He's my brother.
He ain't heavy, he's my brother ...
So, thanks for helping me pull – or push – as many of our partners like Bishop Ezra as far as possible to where the Lord wants them to go! When you help carry them, you help them carry hundreds and thousands of others. And as you do, especially remember these lines:
“So on we go,
his welfare is of my concern;
no burden is he to bear,
we’ll get there…
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother …”
“So on we go” for the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom,
JL & Patt
Patt and I hope that each of you will have a very special Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends – just as we plan to do. And as you enjoy Thanksgiving, know that your prayers and gifts have brought great thanksgiving to needy people in many countries through your partnership with us this past year! We look forward to our continued co-ministry in 2015 for His Kingdom and glory.