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.
“And the Lord was adding to their number
day by day those who were being saved.”
Dear Friends & Partners,
Nepal continues to be one of those countries where God is sovereignly and supernaturally building His Kingdom and growing His church at an exponential rate. Informed missiologists quickly point to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal as one of the spiritual “hot spots” where the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out as on the Day of Pentecost. This supernatural revival has been going on for decades, until recently, without much foreign intervention or manipulation.
OWNERSHIP OR PARTNERSHIP?
After the word began to spread in America and the west about this great spiritual revival that is taking place in Nepal, it became a “mission magnet” that has attracted thousands of foreigners. Sadly, most have not gone in to support the indigenous church and assist the national leaders. Rather, they have gone in to establish their own work in Nepal. They did not go to Nepal to align themselves with what God was doing there – but to re-align the young Nepali church with their own theologies, traditions and denominational distinctions.
In the early days of my travels in Nepal, I strongly sensed that I was experiencing an authentic First Generational Church – just like in the book of Acts. As I often described it to others, the Nepali church had not existed long enough to be “divided by theology” or “bound by tradition.” No one had heard of a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or Pentecostal. They were all just the Body of Christ. And, like in the New Testament, they named their churches not after men – but after Biblical names or geographical locations (Aradhana means “worship”; Joti means “joy”, etc).
Does this mean that the young Nepali church was a perfect church? Obviously not. It was no more perfect than the one in the book of Acts – or your own local church! But, was God doing a unique work there through the Holy Spirit and under the Headship of Christ? Absolutely!
In those days, there was an incredible pristine purity and spiritual unity that only a sovereign Holy Spirit could create! And much of this purity and power was the result of the fires of persecution that the Nepali church had experienced since its supernatural inception. There were few leaders or even ordinary Christians who were not in some way persecuted for their faith.
Because Nepal was the world’s only “Hindu Kingdom” at the time, all other religions were illegal. As a result, the Constitution of Nepal mandated the following:
And yet, the church grew exponentially day-by-day and week-by-week – and continues to grow to this day and hour. Sadly, the “fires of persecution” are once again heating-up against Christians in Nepal. In spite of the declaration by the new Constitution that Nepal is a “Secular State” rather than a “Hindu Kingdom,” new opposition is growing as a result of the revival of Hindu Fundamentalism. Just recently, eight Christian leaders were arrested and jailed for public preaching. Even though they have now been released – this is evidence of a revival of opposition in the face of the explosive church growth that is taking place.
Exhorting new believers before their public baptism.
AN AVALANCHE OF FOREIGNERS…
While we rejoice in the baptism of new believers, much of the original pristine purity and power has now been lost as a result of the well-intentioned and well-financed intervention by foreigners – mostly from America and Korea. That’s because far too many of these western Christians went there with the attitude of “teaching the Nepali church” – rather than “learning from the Nepali church.” They went with the mentality of “ownership” rather than “partnership.”
So in the last couple of decades, the invasion of foreign missionaries has been like the Judaizers who followed the Apostle Paul. They arrived in Nepal with their “circumcision knives” in hand and their “denominational flags” flying. They came to put their theological “brand” on the nascent church! In the process, a lot of spiritual cattle rustling has been taking place! Another sad result is the unhealthy dependency on foreign dollars that has been created among many Nepali pastors.
It has been our privilege to be deeply involved in Nepal since 1989. And as always, we went in the spirit of partnership, in response to the invitation of the indigenous church and her leaders. From the very beginning of our involvement, we worked as a close partner with the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN). It is the oldest and largest fellowship of indigenous pastors and leaders in the country – now with over 1,000 member churches.
We have also been in close fellowship and partnership with Pastor Hanok Tamang, senior pastor of the Aradhana Church, one of the oldest and largest in the Kathmandu Valley. (Helping expand their building was one of our earliest projects in Nepal). Pastor Hanok was the President of NCFN for nine years, serving longer than any other President. He continues to be a part of their Advisory Board.
Pastor Hanok shares at a recent training
seminar for some of his key church leaders.
While Hanok continues to pastor the Aradhana Church, he has a growing apostolic ministry all over Nepal, as well as among the Nepali Diaspora in other countries. He is constantly sought as a speaker for special church events, to baptize new believers, to ordain new pastors and leaders and to inaugurate new projects.
Hanok preached at the 20th anniversary service for the
Agape Baptist Church of Chitwan. The service was
followed by the ordination of 6 pastors, 7 elders
and 11 deacons and deaconesses.
In addition to his other roles, Pastor Hanok has spearheaded the majority of the relief and development work that we have helped with since the devastating earthquakes in April and May of 2015. Because of the quick and generous giving of our American partners, we have been able to deliver tons of aid, and build scores of temporary homes. Currently, we are focused on rebuilding churches that were damaged in the earthquakes. (Please click here to view previous reports).
To help in transporting aid workers from Aradhana out to the field quickly, we assisted in the purchase of a number of motorcycles for Pastor Hanok’s volunteers.
Motorcycles to advance the work and speed the Gospel!
These two brother-builders, Bhairam & Joshua, headed up the construction of all
of the Agape Metal Homes we built, and are now spearheading the rebuilding
of key churches that were destroyed. They are very thankful to our partners
for providing the new motorcycles for their work.
Through recent timely government regulations, all buildings have to be built with a new safer, earthquake-proof design. Our mutual friend, Michael Orsillo, has helped Hanok in this area. He is an architect who has made many trips to Nepal across the years to help build churches, homes and water projects for the needy. He has designed a new church model from stones or cement blocks that is much safer than the older traditional buildings. Because of the style and building materials, there will be far fewer deaths or injuries from future earthquakes. Each of these churches average between $3,000 - $5,000. The cost depends on the location of the church, and the amount that the local people are able to contribute toward the building project. The following pictures are of churches that are now in progress…
Pastor Italal Chepang and his family outside the old Ghattekhula Church
built in the traditional way using stone. This church is a 5 to 6 hour hike
from the closest road!
A happy pastor with his newly rebuilt church.
Pastor Omkar Ghalan and his wire stand in front of the
newly built Khahare Bijay Church, which will hold 400
people Nepali-style, seated on the floor. This church
was rebuilt through our ministry partners in Hong Kong -
some of whom will attend the dedication of the church
The newly completed Titre Church, built with the new
earthquake-proof style that will help in avoiding
future deaths and injuries.
Pastors Hanok & Caleb at the ground-breaking for the Tinpiple Church, a
larger church under construction by the brother-builders, Bhairam & Joshua.
This church is in their home village, where no church has ever existed before!
SPIRITUAL & PHYSICAL WATER…
Because the Aradhana Church is a center for so much holistic ministry, there was a need to dig a new well there for drinking, bathing and toilets. I thought you would like to see their method of digging a well by hand. Each of these wells cost an average of $1,000 - $2,000, depending on location.
After the well was dug, the young people of the church carried out the mud.
Pastor Hanok then tested the water for drinking and bathing.
A NEW HEIR…
Before transitioning from Hanok, I want to share his good news with you, that he is now “Grandfather Hanok.” His adopted son, Simon, and daughter-in-law, Osin, recently gave him a grandson, Simon Peter. This grandson is a special blessing to Hanok since he lost his own son, Suman, a few years ago.
Simon Peter sleeps peacefully with his Grandfather Hanok, and with his mom, Osin.
THE MIRACLE CONTINUES…
As I close this first report on Partnerships in Nepal, I want you to be blessed by this update on Bikram and Aruna Chapang. As many of you will recall from one of my earlier reports, Bikram was almost killed in the earthquake (please click here to read their story). He spent 3 days and nights buried under the church roof and walls that collapsed on him. The pastor who was pinned near him died after surviving a day or so under the rubble. Finally Bikram was rescued, but lost his left arm that had been crushed under the debris.
Because of the support of our partners, we first bought Bikram a motor scooter so his wife could drive him to school to complete the dual degrees he is now working on – one secular and one in theology. Now we are in the process of building them a home.
First of all, we had to help them buy a small piece of land where they could build a house near their Chepang village. This was a dream come true for them since they never imagined owning a piece of land with their own house.
Bikram & Aruna at the small one-room shack
where they have been living.
Pastor Hanok joined them for the dedication of the land before the building started.
Bikram & Aruna are joyfully anticipating moving into
their new home very soon - thanks to your love,
prayers, and generous giving!
A FINAL OPPORTUNITY…
The Dhading district is an area where the earthquakes were especially devastating. Hundreds – including many Christians – lost their lives as their homes were destroyed. The local believers have sacrificially given to build their church back – larger than ever. When completed, it will hold 1,000 people. But they need $5,600 to complete the large roof. We hope that God will move one of our partner churches or business entrepreneurs in America to help them complete this roof where Christians will worship for years to come.
This local pastor is trusting God for the funding to complete a church
for his congregation in the Dhading District.
Since I have run out of room – and you are out of time, my next report will update you on two more of our strategic partners in Nepal, Pastor Gyan Sunawar, and Sangge Sherpa. Until then, know how much Patt and I appreciate all that you help us make possible in countries like Nepal. Your prayers and financial support have helped us to be on the “cutting edge” of what God has been sovereignly and supernaturally doing in Nepal for decades!
For His Kingdom in the Kingdom of Nepal,
JL & Patt
PS: If you have not already received a copy, please let us send you a FREE copy of a booklet about the growth of the church in Nepal titled: "Nepal: What God is Doing At The Top Of The World" by Pastor Hanok. You will be edified and inspired as you learn more about what God’s Spirit is doing in Nepal to build and expand His church.
“I always pray with joy because of
your partnership in the Gospel
from the first day until now…”
Dear Ministry Partners,
In my last ministry report, I shared “A Potpourri of Partnership” that focused on some of our African partners. Specifically, we reported on Yaw Asante in Ghana, Komivi Christopher Ayiboe in Togo and Stakwell Yurenimo in Kenya. Patt and I appreciate you for taking the time to read about them because through us they are your partners and national missionaries. I will be reporting on other African partners in future eNewsletters.
After writing the report below, I saw the news of the latest Brussels-like multiple suicide bombing at the airport in Turkey. At this writing around 50 have been confirmed killed with another 150 wounded. This latest act of Islamic jihadism has happened during the last 10 days of Ramadan – the holiest days of the holiest month for Muslims. This month is like Christmas and Easter combined for Muslims. Just to remind you, Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar and commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Mohamed. This reputed “revelation" from Allah to Mohamed mandates total submission (which is the meaning of Islam) to the “5 Pillars of Islam”:
But as I share in my book, A Christian Perspective of Islam, the 6th Pillar of Islam is jihad or “Holy War” against everything non-Islamic. It is the “Great Commission of Allah” to Islamize the whole world and bring it under Sharia law. And a crucial step in that direction is the necessary establishment of a global Caliphate, or Allah-ordained world ruler. That’s what Mohamed set out to do in the Seventh Century from the Arabian Peninsula. And the Caliphs who ruled after him almost succeeded through their Ottoman Empire. Because they had sided with the Germans, their last Caliphate was disbanded in Turkey in 1928 after the end of World War I. They have been seeking to re-establish another Caliphate ever since – one who would ultimately conquer the entire world for Allah. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared himself to be that new Caliphate. And through ISIS, he has the rest of the free world “on the run” playing defense against his “JV Team” of Islamic radicals. And the headquarters of his new Islamic Caliphate is right next door to Turkey in Syria and Iraq.
Baghdadi obviously does not speak for all Muslims worldwide. But it is an irrefutable fact that he and his fellow jihadists are clearly motivated by their Muslim faith. As Islamic Fundamentalists, they see themselves as the “purest” believers in Allah and the most “dedicated” followers of Mohamed. And their loyalty is constantly being demonstrated by their increasing acts of bloody terrorism validated by their cries of “Allahu Akbar” — or “God is great!”
Once again, we see that their god is not our God. Allah and the God of the Bible are eternal poles apart. As Christians or Jews, we do not believe in the same God as the Muslims. Our holiest observances of Christmas and Easter are completely different spiritually than anything Islam has to offer. At Christmas, we commemorate the Incarnation where “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). And at Easter we commemorate that the one true God “…gave His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 10:28) by dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Both of these cardinal concepts of Christianity are total anathema to Allah and Islam!
So these latest terrorist suicide bombings in Turkey reveal again that “their god is not our God.” Allah mandates the taking of life – especially of all infidels. Jesus Christ poured out His life for everyone – even for the infidels who disbelieved in Him. As Paul reminds us: “God demonstrated His own LOVE for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). No verse in the Koran comes even close to that truth!
So while Ramadan is based on “good works” to try and earn Allah’s approval; Christmas and Easter remind us that God loved us and chose us before the foundation of the world. We receive that reality by FAITH – not by works. Ramadan is a dead end. Christmas and Easter lead to abundant life now and eternal life forever! Now that’s a faith worth living for – and whenever necessary, dying for!
So don’t drink the Kool Aid of political correctness that says Allah, Jehovah and Jesus are all the same. It’s a deadly pluralistic concoction. Drink exclusively from Jesus Christ, the "water of Life” (Jn. 4:14) who alone can quench the deepest thirsts of the human heart! It’s the only solution for the world – whether Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist or secularist. And it’s the only way to stop Islamic jihad and win the “War on Terrorism”... you can “bet your life" on that truth! Sadly, these latest Islamic suicide bombers in Turkey “bet their lives” on a lie – which took them straight to hell, not to paradise. And submitting to Allah will do the same for anyone who believes in his lies – whether they are a “Moderate Muslim” or a “Radical Jihadist!”
Speaking the truth in love,
This week, I want to shift from Africa to Asia – specifically India. We will start out in Northeast India and then move South…
Johny & Angie Sampang
West Bengal, India
Johny & Angie Sampang with Johny's father, Dr. Suresh Rai.
Johny is the son of Dr. Suresh Rai, Founder and Medical CEO of the Holy Palace Hospital (HP) in Naxalbara, a former political hot-bed of Marxist and Hindu radicalism. We have been in partnership with Dr. Rai for a number of years – helping him expand his “bush hospital” that ministers to the poorest of the poor, as well as trains nurses for medical ministry in the spirit of Mother Theresa. (Please click here to see a previous report).
Several years ago, Johny joined his father on staff at the Hospital as Administrator. But, as a talented musician, he also assists in the musical ministry and leads worship at the Hospital and daily chapel. In addition, he has a passion for sports and has helped establish a sports component to the ministry of HP as an outreach to the youth in the surrounding villages – the vast majority of whom are Hindus.
Johny and his wife, Angie, have wanted children for some time but were unable to have any. However, through some timely medical intervention, they conceived – and Angie gave birth last week to twin sons! So, I now have two more Indian grandsons!
In Indian tradition, young mothers usually go back home to be with their own mothers the last couple of months for the birthing process. So Angie said good-by to the Holy Palace family and went to her home in the mountains.
Angie with the nursing staff at Holy Palace before she left to be with her mother.
At right, Johny accompanied Angie to her mother's village.
There were serious complications during the C-section. Angie was in grave danger, complicated by her rare blood type. For a time, the doctors prepared Johny and the family for the possibility that she would not survive – nor would the twins. But as Johny and her family prayed for her, God miraculously intervened, the correct blood type was found and rushed to the hospital, and she was rescued from death. Soon two healthy baby boys were born.
A double blessing with twin sons!
We rejoice in the answer to prayer and the healthy delivery of these two handsome sons!
While Angie was away those last few months, preparing for her delivery, Johny was busy finishing the home that we have been helping him build over the last year. He put the finishing touches on the house and moved in. Soon Angie and their two sons will move back home and live in their new house.
Their new home is right around the corner from the Holy Palace Hospital.
So, the traditional "Indian Moving Van" brought over the furniture.
We also helped Johny develop a large pond beside his house to raise tilapia fish. Additionally, we planted a large ¼ acre drip irrigation garden to produce fresh veggies. The pond and the garden will provide fish and produce, both to eat and to sell.
The large pond that will be used to raise tilapia fish.
Please continue to pray for this holistic medical ministry in West Bengal where both spiritual and physical fruit are being brought forth for God’s Kingdom.
And now that I have re-earned my “wings to fly” again, I hope to get back to India for a visit with everyone at Holy Palace by early Fall.
Now jump on your mental airplane and fly with me to Northeast India to the State of Manipur…
Pastor Soia Chinkhosoia
Like most of our other partners, Pastor Soia is not a stranger to our American partners. We have been in a close ministry partnership with him for over 2 decades (please click here to see previous reports). While he is a small man in stature – he has a giant’s heart for the expansion of God’s Kingdom among the tribal peoples of Manipur.
Soia is an evangelist rather than local pastor. He travels around Manipur holding evangelistic outreaches, teaching seminars, VBS programs for children, distributing Bibles, and other ministries to nurture and strengthen the local church.
Since it is a very poor area, there are many physical needs that he constantly tries to meet. Just like the US is currently experiencing devastating floods in the East and ravaging fires in the West, the people of Manipur face many natural disasters. Recently there were severe hail storms that came with the monsoon rains. Most of the homes are built out of woven bamboo with thatched roofs and some have metal sheeting. Most of those roofs on the homes were destroyed.
Soia appealed to us via email for help. Because of the proactive giving of our partners, we were able to immediately send funds to buy food and roofing materials. But, as is often the case in these countries, getting the resources to the point of need is not easy or quick. Soia had to hire jeeps and a truck to get the food and supplies to some of the remote mountainous areas.
Following the truck on foot on the narrow mountain road.
As is always the case on trips like this, there is at least one flat tire!
Along with the distribution of physical food, there is always the distribution of
spiritual food through the sharing of the Gospel.
Please continue to pray for Soia, as he is your hands, feet and mouth to these remote Manipurians that you may never see until heaven. But many will be there, because of your practical partnership with Rev. Soia through JLPF.
Now, we must take a long trip from Northeast India through Kolkata (Calcutta) and then on to hot and humid Chennai (formerly Madras)…
Dr. Ezra Sargunam
After changing planes in Kolkata, we fly directly to Chennai – a city of some 10 million people! Here we will meet one of our oldest and boldest partners in India, Dr. Ezra Sargunam. He has been the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) for several decades. I first met him when Franklin Graham asked me to represent him in dedicating some churches and “Jesus Wells” that had been sponsored through Samaritan’s Purse. From the moment we met, God knit our hearts together in love.
Because we have been in close friendship and partnership with Bishop Ezra and ECI for over 30 years, we have had the joy and privilege of sharing many cutting edge ministries together (please click here to see a previous report). As a result of his “forceful faith” (Matt. 11:12), ECI now has planted over 10,000 local churches, 5,500 of which are house-churches. They average planting 3 new churches every week in some part of India. They also have 13 Bible Schools and Seminaries throughout India to train pastors for these churches.
And while Bishop Ezra has passed the baton of leadership to his associate of a half-century, Bishop Sundar Singh, he will never retire – any more than I will! He will be the ECI champion for their Centenary Goal of 100,000 churches and 10 million Believers!
Bishop Sundar Singh is commissioned as the
new presiding Bishop of ECI. Having been at
Bishop Ezra's side in leadership for 50 years,
he will continue the passion of ECI for years to come.
I was supposed to be a speaker at the “Diamond Jubilee” of ECI that was to have taken place in January of this year. At that time, Bishop Ezra was to pass the leadership of ECI to his associate, Bishop Sundar Singh. But Chennai was hit with a devastating flood that submerged much of the city under water for days and weeks. (please click here for story of our participation in flood relief efforts).
As a result of the flood, the Diamond Jubilee had to be postponed until June. By then, I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and could not travel. Sadly, I had to miss this historic event. But, we still participated through our prayers and financial support – especially for Bishop Ezra’s program of providing 3-Wheel Scooters to the handicapped.
Through a timely gift from one of our ministry partners,
we were able to purchase 10 of these Tri-Scooters for the disabled.
The scooters were distributed at the Diamond Jubilee.
In honor of Bishop Ezra’s upcoming 78th birthday, they are mounting another project to provide goats to widows, with a goal of 200 goats, at a cost of $12,000. We have already given a “seed gift” of $3,000 to jump-start this project for widows. Each widow will get 4 goats. Then they will give back the first-born for another widow.
NEW ECI HAPPY HOME
The architectural rendering of the new "Kolkata Happy Home."
This spacious new facility will cost approximately $90,000,
and has been fully underwritten by one of our ministry partners
who has a real heart for children.
We have been supporting this home for many years through a doctor friend of our ministry. But it is in an old land-locked building in a slum area of Kolkata where there is no space at all for the children to play outside.
So, thanks to God's provision, we are relocating this home to the beautiful and spacious campus of the Calcutta Bible Seminary (CBS). Since many of the students are regular volunteer workers with these children, this will be a win-win for everyone. The kids will have ample room to romp and play – with grass under their feet. And the CBS students will have immediate access to the children without having to ride a bus or rickshaw the many blocks to the old location.
At left, the children playing with the CBS students on the campus during
one of their recent outings. Soon, they will be here permanently in their
beautiful new "Happy Home." By God's grace, we hope to relocate them
and dedicate the new home by January, 2017. In the group picture at
right, the children as they are today, in good spiritual and physical health
because of Chritian love and compassion. Many of these precious children
once slept on the streets, in the slums, or at the railway station.
Thanks for taking the time to make this quick tour of India with me from the Northeast to the South. Patt and I hope you have been blessed and encouraged by seeing some of your India partners and projects.
Since next week is July 4th Week when so many people are on vacation or break from work, I am going to send out two eNewsletters this week – both on Asia. Because we visited with several of our partners in India through this letter, later this week we will fly north from Delhi to Kathmandu, for a “Potpourri of Partnership” in Nepal.
Be watching for that next eNewsletter because we have so much to share with you about what you are helping us do there in that Himalayan Kingdom…
Extending His Kingdom through partnership with you and them,
JL & Patt
PS: Patt and I encourage you to be a proactive partner with us by forwarding this eNewsletter to some of your key friends. In addition to the stewardship of your finances, the stewardship of your friendships is one of the ways you can increase your impact for the Kingdom of God. You can never anticipate how God might use some of your friendships to result in strategic Kingdom partnerships. So before you close this report, take a moment to forward it to several key friends. Thanks!
“Praise Him with resounding cymbals!”
Dear Friends and Partners,
This week, June 23rd, I had my last treatment for prostate cancer – 40 radiation treatments in all! Hopefully, this has eliminated cancer from my body. I will have a follow-up check-up in a month to see how the negative side effects are diminishing. Then in 3 – 4 months I will have a blood test to see if the radiation did its job and the cancer cells have been killed. At my last weekly appointment with my urologist, he said to Patt and me, “You have done fantastic!” That was great news. To God be the glory!
It was very exciting to “ring the gong” as I left the hospital, a “resounding cymbal” for sure (Ps. 150:5)!
For now, I am fully released to resume my normal schedule – which I have not really stopped for the last several months, save only international travel. So medically speaking, I have “earned my wings” again and can start traveling as God leads. My first major trip will probably be to Africa – specifically Kenya and Zimbabwe. Other trips will be to Haiti, Abaco, India and Nepal before the end of the year. But first, I will go to the beach with my extended family of 40+ to celebrate God’s goodness to us in general and me in particular.
I know that God was pleased to heal me because of a combination of timely and proactive medical treatment that was saturated by the “spiritual radiation” through the prayers of our wonderful friends and partners in America and other countries of the world. To all of you, Patt and I humbly thank you for being such a vital part of our healing team!
MY MEDICAL TEAM…
Here are a few pictures of the great medical team that took care of me every day. Not pictured is my Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Glenn Crystal, whose expert oversight and appointments directed my treatments.
My first treatment two months ago...my last treatment this past week.
The radiology technicians who treated me daily.
The receptionist and nurses who checked me in each time.
It was a special joy to have some of our family present for my final day:
our son, Dr. Jonathan Williams (an ER physician at ARMC) and his wife Julie,
and our daughter, April, who brought balloons and a sign. Our son Joseph
and his wife Susannah were out of town on vacation, but sent
congratulations via email.
Another "sovereign serendipity" was to meet Ren Hewitt Bryant,
one of the original New Directions members, dating back to 1968.
She happened to be there with her sister and saw us, and joined
us for the "gonging" of the chimes!
THE DEADLY CANCER OF ISLAM…
As I have been undergoing my treatments for physical cancer, the Lord impressed upon me the clear spiritual parallels with spiritual cancer. One of the basic laws of the universe is this: everything in the natural world is a parable of the spiritual world. In other words, the things we can see with our physical eyes are a revelation of things that we can only see with our spiritual eyes through the insight of faith. This principle and parallel has become so clear to me again during these last several months of treatment for physical cancer.
While we believe that the physical cancer has been radiated and removed from my body, the cancer of radical Islamic jihadism has not been removed from the human family. It has been growing globally since the Seventh Century. And sadly, our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East – especially in Jordan, are still suffering under this killer spiritual cancer!
The Obama Administration, leftist liberals and other PC voices tell us that “Radical Islam” is nothing more than a “cancer” on the otherwise peaceable religion of Islam. But that is a wrong diagnosis! Islam itself is a deadly religious, spiritual and social cancer on the human race.
After the biopsy that confirmed the existence of cancer cells in my prostate, my urologist didn’t play word games with me. He didn’t try to hide the truth. He didn’t call it something it was not. And thankfully, he did not say that if I just lived with it, it would either diminish or go away. That kind of wrong diagnosis would have led to my certain death.
After carefully analyzing the data, my urologist and radiologist gave me the options of removing it by surgery, which they did not recommend due to my age. Or, treat it through a combination of hormonal and radiation therapy. Either way, the cancer had to be squarely faced and decisively removed. To ignore it was certian suicide - either slowly or quickly.
I trust you can see the clear parallel here between physical cancer and spiritual cancer. Both are deadly. One kills the body; the other kills the soul and spirit. But by their very nature, “cancer cells” cannot co-exist peaceably with “healthy cells.” One must destroy and devour the other.
The same thing is true between the healthy spiritual cells of the Judeo-Christian faith as revealed by God – and the “killer cells” of Islam counterfeited by the evil one. Hundreds of years of history have proven that they cannot and will not co-exist side-by-side. If both are true to their founders and holy books, they each must seek to evangelize the other. Not to do so is a denial of the essence of their faiths and global mandates.
But while Christians have sought to win the Muslims through love and compassion, Islam has sought to convert through the sword. So decapitation, crucifixion, flogging, maiming, stoning, confiscation of property – are no new phenomena. They are the logical result of the imposition of jihad in all areas of life. As a result, Islam ultimately produces regression rather than progression. It is either modernity or the Middle Ages.
Therefore, even a cursory examination of Islamic history – beginning with the prophet Mohammed – proves that Islam is spiritually, politically and socially carcinogenetic by its very nature. Everywhere its Sharia law has been applied, it has led to political, marital, societal and economic sickness and death.
I am thankful that my doctors did not play games with me. They told me the painful truth about my condition. And they gave me a clear diagnosis and prognosis of what I could expect on the basis of what I decided. I chose to take their advice and follow their plan of action to healing and health. While some of the side effects of the treatment were not pleasant, the end result was worth it.
It is my prayer that Americans will wake up to the realities of the spiritual cancer of Islam that is rapidly growing among us. Our future health or sickness as a nation will be determined by which voices we heed and which actions we take.
As you can see, the Lord impressed upon me to wear my “nun” T-shirt (*) on my last day of treatment to highlight our identification with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are still living under the rapidly growing cancer of Islam through groups like ISIS. We need your continued prayers and financial support to help more of them – especially the thousands of Christian refugees living in Jordan.
Sadly, these Christians who represent one of the most ancient traditions of Christendom, are basically being totally ignored by the Obama Administration. They are being passed over in favor of Muslims when it comes to possible repatriation to America. The political insanity of this decision is off the charts! If there were ever immigrants we should be eagerly welcoming with open arms, it is these Christian refugees!
Patt and I hope you will help us celebrate my victory over cancer by any gift to help those who are still living under this carcinogenic religion! Our Relief Fund for them is completely depleted. So whatever gift you can send will be greatly appreciated by them and by us.
Please click on the picture below to watch my brief exhortation before I “hit the gong”, signifying my victory over cancer through physical and spiritual radiation.
In His Healing Love & Power,
JL & Patt
(*) As a reminder, the Arabic letter "Nun" is the first letter of the word Nazarene - the Muslim word of contempt for Christians. We wear this symbol as an act of solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters who have been displaced by ISIS, and as a way to remember to pray for them.
“I always pray with joy because of your
partnership in the Gospel
from the first day until now…”
Dear Friends and Partners,
Because of the expanding and exponential nature of our partnerships and projects in a number of countries, we get many exciting reports each week - more than we can report on! As you know, Patt and I send a weekly eNewsletter that goes out each Wednesday morning. I usually spend most of Monday writing it from emails and reports from our key national partners. Then Patt proofs it (and tries to shorten it!) before Jane Fraser, our CFO and Ministry Assistant, lays it out and sends it to you.
We gladly spend all of this time and effort writing these reports for you because it is your prayers and financial support that make all of these Kingdom advances possible. So, they are our weekly “investor’s reports,” to share with you what you help make possible.
The Apostle Paul set the perfect example in this spiritual partnership when he closed his Letter to the saints in Rome. In Chapter 16, he specifically mentions 26 people and partners by name – the longest list in the New Testament. Between Acts and Paul’s Epistles, some 95 people are named as ministry associates of Paul – and 36 were his close fellow-workers whom he called his “…partners in the Gospel” (Phil. 1:5). Paul was a team-player throughout his life…and so are we.
But from time-to-time, I am compelled in the Spirit to write an op-ed about certain current events – like the recent email on the life and death of Mohamed Ali, titled “God’s Way to Greatness.” Also, my brief op-ed earlier this week on the recent terrorist attack in Florida titled “Taking the ‘Pulse’ of Orlando.”
However, in writing such commentaries, I fall behind in updating you on timely reports from our strategic national partners.
For the next few weeks, I will combine several reports under the heading of “A Potpourri of Partnership” (potpourri = “a mixture”). This week will focus on some of our partners and projects in Africa. Next week will focus on some of our Asian partners and projects.
So be blessed and encouraged as you see what your partnership is helping make possible in advancing His Kingdom in places where most of you will never go physically. But, you are there through your love, compassion, prayers and financial gifts!
YAW ASANTE, GHANA…
Evangelist Yaw Asante, one of the spiritual patriarchs
and pioneers of the church in Ghana, West Africa.
God first connected me with Yaw in 1991 in Amsterdam at the “International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists” (ICIE), sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Little could either of us have imagined that this sovereign networking would lead to a partnership that has now spanned several decades!
One of the things that impressed me from the very beginning with Yaw was his passion to reach the unreached in Ghana – especially those living in remote villages where others ministers and missionaries did not want to go. The same was true for the Muslim-dominated north of Ghana. In both places, life is very hard and harsh. So most preachers and evangelists migrate to the large cities where life is easier. This has led to a spiritual density in the cities – and a spiritual vacuum in the remote villages.
But even at the age of 71, Yaw has not lost his passion to regularly go to the remote villages with Gospel outreaches. In doing so, he fulfills Christ’s command: “Go out to the highways and along the hedges and make them come in, so that my house may be full” (Lk. 14:23).
Loading his truck with all the supplies he will need to live and minister in the
African bush for a period of time. Yaw and his team camp, cook their own
food, and sleep in village huts or schools in order to share the Gospel.
Since there are no church buildings where they go, they preach and teach under
trees - African style. It is here that most churches are born in Africa.
Wherever possible, they erect a simple "brush arbor" where they
can hold seminars during the day for those in attendance.
Because most people work in the fields from sun-up to sun-down, evangelistic
services are held after dark. Most of the time there is no electricity or lights.
Personal ministry to people often continues late into the night
as Yaw and his team pray for those who receive Christ,
for healing, and often for casting out evil spirits.
The average cost for one of these outreaches to the villages is $500. It would cost thousands of dollars for foreigners to come in and try to do the same thing! So we hope that some of you would sponsor one or more of these evangelistic outreaches in the near future. As a result of past missions like this, a number of “bush churches” have been established. We have recently sent Yaw funds to build two such churches at $5,000 each.
Fortunately, Yaw is also a skilled builder and will personally supervise the building of these churches – doing follow-up and discipleship in the process. Future newsletters will report on the completion and dedication of those churches.
Now let’s move one country east from Ghana to Togo…
KOMIVI AYIBOE, TOGO…
Just as with Yaw Asante, we first made contact with Komivi at the ICIE in Amsterdam in 1991. He was one of over 200 national leaders who came by our booth and filled out an application for partnership. Later, he traveled from Togo to Ghana for a Leadership Conference we were sponsoring there with Yaw. That strengthened our partnership, which has continued from then until now.
While Komivi is a bi-vocational pastor who also teaches school, he leads periodic evangelism missions into rural villages. Christmas and Easter are especially good opportunities for such missions since the children are on break from school.
Most of Togo is very rural and poor. So there are many challenges and opportunities that constantly face Komivi as a minister of the Gospel – like feeding hungry children.
Because of the giving of our American partners like you, we have had the privilege of building a home for Komivi and his wife and family. Since God graciously provided a home for Patt and me to live in through the generosity of my mother, we have always had a passion to help provide housing for many of our key national pastors.
Recently we were able to sponsor Yaw for a visit with Komivi in Togo. Because of his building expertise, we sent him there to help add an addition on Komivi’s home for a corn-grinding mill. This is one of our many Kingdom Entrepreneur initiatives to help national leaders become self-supporting.
The addition to the outside wall of Komivi's home that houses the
corn-grinding mill. Sadly, the electricity is very sporadic in Togo,
so it is a challenge to operate the mill on a consistent basis.
Please continue to pray for Komivi as he leads strategic evangelistic outreaches in his area of Togo. Also for the success of his corn-grinding operation to support himself and his family.
Now, let’s jump on our plane for a long flight from Ghana and Togo, West Africa to Kenya, East Africa…
STAKWELL YURENIMO, KENYA…
Stakwell became our “spiritual son” over two decades ago when he was a young adolescent boy of the Samburu Tribe. God had providentially taken us to Kurungu in northern Kenya where the Samburu Tribe is concentrated. We were invited there by missionary friends, Dale & Susanne Beverly, pioneers with African Inland Mission (AIM). After we were able to sponsor the building of a simple “African Bush Church” for the young congregation there, we began to build friendships and relationships with key Samburu leaders.
We quickly saw in Stakwell great leadership potential. So we first sponsored him through school – all the way through Bible College through ministry partners, Bud & Maribell Chittenden. After he finished his education and training, he wanted to return to his home area and minister to his Samburu people. But because God had used Sports to win him to Christ, he wanted to start a Sports Ministry to reach other tribal young people. As a result, the “Samburu Sports Camp” was born.
Over time we carved out a basic Sports Camp in the thick African Bush. In the years that followed, scores of sports events, children’s camps and VBS programs were held.
Scores of tribal children like these were helped and sponsored in school.
These annual sports events brought together different tribal groups – formerly hostile toward each other – in friendly competition. The Sports Camp became a “Peace Camp,” where tribal hostilities were overcome and friendships were built.
LAKE TURKANA WIND PROJECT
Little could we have realized that this strategic sports ministry by Stakwell would not only be an end in itself – but a means to another end beyond our imaginations. Through the initiative of several Kenyan entrepreneurs, the Lake Turkana Wind Project (LTWP) was conceived. It took over 6 years of research and development to bring this almost inconceivable “wind farm” into existence. It would be one of the largest in the world with over 300 turbines – costing over a billion dollars. And since it would be built in contested territory between the Samburu and Turkana Tribes who had been hostile to each other for millennia, a lot of peace-making and bridge-building had to take place. And who better suited for this challenge but Stakwell!?
So because of the years of peace-making among the children and young people, he was naturally and supernaturally prepared to become the liaison among all of the diverse tribal groups in the area.
He has worked now full-time for the LTWP as their agent to keep peace and unity among the formerly hostile tribal groups, and has also worked to make sure that there are fair and equal job opportunities from the various tribes and villages. Since the LTWP now employs over 1,000 local people – this has been a HUGE challenge and opportunity!
Stakwell, and his wife, Francesca, have also become entrepreneurs in their own right. We have helped them capitalize on this mega-operation by further developing the Sports Camp into a “Safari Lodge” to house the many workers for the LTWP. This has been timely in providing more income and jobs for his people.
Recently we helped him buy and install a new larger generator for the Camp. He also put in a “Petro Station” to sell fuel to the many people now traveling by car from Nairobi to the LTWP.
New generator and pump for the "Samburu Service Station!"
One of the first places I will be traveling to after I finish my radiation this week will be to Kenya, to be with my beloved Samburu Family! We covet your prayers for that trip which will probably be around the end of July. I will again have Arie VanWingerden traveling with me to help advance the greenhouse and gardening projects for Stakwell and Francesca. Until then, please continue to pray for Stakwell and Francesca as they continue to be God’s “salt” and “light” in this unique project.
Stakwell, Francesca, and their 3 beautiful daughters:
Wendy, Maribell, and Victoria.
There are several other key African partners I will be reporting on in a future eNewsletter that will focus on our growing agricultural projects. As you know from previous reports, agricultural development will always be a priority for us – because it is a priority for God. Since He started man in a garden, He designed and created farming as the foundation of man’s life on this earth. No country can ever rise above it’s agricultural base. Until a people can feed themselves, they can’t develop and prosper in any other area. They will live with hunger and malnutrition which will override all of their other creative abilities. A hungry stomach always wins over an empty mind.
As we all know, hunger and malnourishment is still rampant in our world today – even in America. So be watching for that report on our practical agricultural partnerships. They will parallel the personal gardening that many of you are doing this summer in your own back yards.
Until then, know how much Patt and I appreciate your continued prayers and giving during the summer months when there is often physical drought and financial drought!
In His faithful, fruitful and forceful love,
JL & Patt
“But mark this:
There will be terrible times in the last days…
evil men…will go from bad to worse,
deceiving and being deceived.”
(II Timothy 3:1, 13)
Dear Friends & Partners,
As I write this op-ed, it is the evening of “Father’s Day.” For Patt and me, it has been a blessed day of going to church, followed by lunch with some of our local children and grandchildren. It was a “love fest” through worship, good food, fellowship, laughter and reminiscing.
But it is also a sad time to remember one week later the “hate fest” that took place in Orlando last week at this time. Through the systematic cold-blooded massacre of 49 people and wounding of scores more, it became the largest act of terrorism since 9/11 on American soil – apparently carried out by a lone self-radicalized Islamic jihadist.
As with similar Islamic terrorist incidents in Paris, Brussels, Boston, and San Bernardino, the Orlando carnage has become a political battlefield for people on all sides of this human tragedy. It is being viewed and critiqued from very different biases and perspectives. Each group is using it to highlight and champion their particular cause – whether it is immigration, gun control, police protection policy, budgetary allocations, foreign affairs or LGBT rights.
I was listening to a report on National Public Radio (NPR) the morning after the carnage as I drove to my morning radiation. The theme was: “Making sense of this latest act of Islamic Terrorism.” From the perspective of the commentator, it made no sense whatsoever. It was completely…senseless!
I fully understand that perspective from a secular source that apparently has little or no working understanding of the history of Islam, the bloody record of terrorism by the prophet Mohamed, or the clear dictates of the Koran. But to the faithful Islamist with that jihadist worldview, it makes all the sense in the world. In fact, it’s the only logical course of action that makes any sense at all.
There is a parallel blindness when it comes to the understanding of the Christian faith by the unenlightened and unregenerate. Paul expressed this clear truth with these words:
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come
from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and
he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned...
But we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2: 14-16).
So, without the discernment of the Holy Spirit working in the life of the regenerated believer who has received the “…mind of Christ,” the Bible makes no sense! It is a book of “pious foolishness” to the unregenerate. It makes no more sense to them than color does to a blind man or quadraphonic sound does to a deaf person! They just do not have the ability to perceive and reason spiritually. The person with only the “natural mind” can only come to truncated human conclusions. They cannot see the true spiritual picture. As Paul says, they “…cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
And no place is this faulty human reasoning more evident than the many conflicting voices that are trying to make sense out of the current global “War on Terrorism” and this latest act of clear “Islamic jihadism” in Orlando. Sadly, most of it is like blind men trying to describe color to each other or deaf people trying to dance to music they cannot hear!
If the diagnosis is wrong, the antidote will be equally wrong. For a patient to be healed, the doctor must make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the right medicine – which the patient must then faithfully follow. Only a correct diagnosis can lead to a positive prognosis.
Sadly, most of the professional and political diagnoses of Islam that are dominating the media today are naive and truncated at best.
President Obama decried the Orlando massacre as an “act of terrorism” and “act of hate.” Then he used it to highlight his call for greater gun control. Donald Trump championed it as a fresh call to limit immigration from Muslim countries that have a clear record of Islamic jihadism. Hillary Clinton rebutted that neither a fence on our border nor stopping Islamic immigration would have stopped this latest act of terrorism.
Like each of the other acts of Islamic terrorism against Americans before this one, the public will continue to be divided on both the cause and solution. And they will ultimately express their opinion in the coming presidential election by whom they vote for.
The first thing a doctor does when examining a patient is to “check his or her pulse.” It is interesting to me that this latest massacre took place in a LGBT Night Club called “The Pulse.” Like it or not, the very purpose, presence and popularity of that Night Club is a vital key in understanding this latest act of Islamic terrorism. Sadly, most Americans – especially politicians – do not or will not see or be able to connect the dots between the obvious.
ISLAM & HOMOSEXUALITY
Anyone who has even a basic understanding of the Koran, Hadiths and history of Islam understands the clear hatred Islam has for any and all expressions of homosexuality (Koran, Sura 4:16; 7:80-84; 26:165-166; 27:54; 29:28, etc.). That’s why, in fundamentalist Islamic countries where Sharia law prevails, there is zero tolerance for any homosexual – be they male or female. And there is certainly no tolerance for bisexuals or transgender people.
Within orthodox Islam, the roles and expectations for males and females are totally clear and unambiguous – with the males having a clear advantage in every way. Women are little more than chattel, sex objects and reproductive wombs for men’s pleasure and for making babies who will ultimately grow up as followers of Mohamed.
There have been several major TV specials by all of the leading networks this year under the general title or theme: “Why Do They Hate Us?” The level of hatred that Muslims in general and radical jihadists in particular have toward America and the decedent west is incomprehensible to most people. After all, we are the country of freedom and human rights – the “land of opportunity” where anyone can succeed if they really want to. We are the “good guys” who wear the white hats – not the bad guys with long beards and black turbans!
All of this shows our basic bias toward our interpretation of the meaning of “freedom” and “human rights.” It also shows our blatant ignorance of the history of Islamic fundamentalism.
Here is one example that I could amplify many times over. It is from the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna. In 1928, four years after the Muslim Caliphate was abolished at the end of World War I, Banna decried the rapid moral decline of Islam in Egypt after the war due to Western influence. Here is what he wrote that ultimately gave birth to Muslim Fundamentalism or Radical Islam (emphasis mine):
“…The victorious Europeans have imported their half-naked women into these regions, together with their liquors, their theatres, their dance halls, their amusements, their stories, their newspapers, their novels, their whims, their silly games and their vices…”
Furthermore (their schools and institutions have) “…cast doubt and heresy into the souls of its sons and taught them how to demean themselves, disparage their religion and their fatherland, divest themselves of their traditions and beliefs, and to regard as sacred anything Western.”
This was the genesis of Islamic jihadism that has now become a global phenomenon. These so-called “freedoms of expression” we Americans are so addicted to are the root causes of Islamic fear and hatred of America as the “Great Satan” – along with our historic support of Israel, who is the “little satan.” Faithful Muslims clearly understand that this is not only a “religious war” but also a “cultural war” – unto death.
History and contemporary experience prove that both Islam and Christianity cannot survive and thrive side-by-side. One will contaminate or dominate the other! And Muslims are convinced that they will win because of the superiority of their god-given mandate from Allah. They passionately believe that time and history are on their side – whether it takes another decade or another century! For them, jihad is for life – not just for a few battles until a truce is signed.
In the worldview of orthodox Islam, there are no truces…no peace treaties…no détente with the enemy…no co-existence with the infidels. It is either Dar Salam (the house of Islam) domination or death!
One Muslim cleric expressed it this way: “Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you; thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.”
Their strategy has not changed from the days of the prophet Mohamed:
We often hear our liberal, leftist politicians saying that the existence of places like Guantanamo is fueling radical Islam around the world. Or, they make statements about temporarily banning Muslim immigrants from countries dominated by Islamic fundamentalism, believing that this ban causes the hatred and terrorism we are experiencing. But Islamic radicalism has hated us from the very beginning.
Islamic hatred and jihadism did not begin in the Twentieth Century – but the Seventh Century through the words and deeds of their prophet Mohamed. And his multiple injunctions in the Koran about “cutting off the heads” of the infidels (anyone who will not willing convert to Islam) is the bloody record of history numbered in the thousands of decapitations and crucifixions – especially against Jews and Christians!
So, it is not the existence of Gitmo that inflames the radicals. It’s the presence and popularity of places like “The Pulse” that inflames Islamic passion against the perverted “civil rights” that have become the norm in America today! It’s the annual “gay pride” marches and blatant demonstration of every form of sexual perversion and deviation that gets the ‘pulse’ of Islamic Radicals beating faster! It’s the fuel for their radicalization!
Islamic jihadism is also fueled by our Supreme Court that has legalized and normalized gay marriage as normative in every way. This legal rendering a year ago proves to them the inferiority of our legal system in the face of the superiority of their courts regulated by Sharia law.
Their ‘Islamic pulse’ also increases dramatically as a result of our entertainment industry that spews out violence, sexual immorality and profanity like raw sewage covering and defiling the land.
And it is the general rejection of our Judeo-Christian values by society that has accepted “lewd and crude” as the norm where the “f” word is the favorite expletive – by men and women alike. While that kind of vulgar verbiage no longer impacts our pulse rate, it makes their blood pressure go off the charts – motivating them to radicalism!
Therefore, it is impossible to isolate this overall “cultural war” from these individual acts of terrorism. It seems that this perpetrator, Omar Mateen, struggled with years of identity issues that ranged from religious to sexual. He was a “third culture kid” who was never really comfortable and at home in America or Arab countries…in Islam or secularism…in homosexuality or heterosexuality. He obviously had some serious vacuums in his life due to his relationship with his father. And in the process, he was self-radicalized and proclaimed his allegiance to ISIS on his cell phone in the last hours of the massacre.
Certainly every rational person decries the senseless death of these 49 people – especially Christians who understand that every murder is an offense against God because it defaces and destroys His image in them (Gen. 9:6). But politically correct or not, it is also important to remember that none of these people were the “innocent victims” that they are being proclaimed to be in the media.
While I don’t want to in any way be insensitive to the scores of grieving people in Orlando who have lost loved ones, it is important that we look at this tragedy more closely through the lenses of Scripture. And for the sake of time and space I will only highlight several considerations.
First, no person is truly “innocent” before God since we are all born in sin. As a result, we are all sinners by nature and sinners by choice (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:10-23; etc.).
Second, many of the victims had willfully chosen – not been born into – a homosexual life-style that the Bible clearly condemns (Lev. 18:21-22; 20:13; Rom. 1:27; I Cor. 6:9-10, etc.).
Third, when the massacre occurred, they were in a cultural and time context that inflamed and fed the flesh rather than the spirit (Prov. 10:23; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:20-21; II Tim. 3:4; I Pet. 4:3; II Pet. 2:13, etc.).
Fourth, most had chosen to be a part of an “alternative community” to the societal norm. As a result, they had chosen to “hang out” with other gay friends or sympathizers who would support their perverted life-style (Prov. 13:20; I Cor. 5:6; 6:9; 15:33; II Thess. 2:9-11, etc.).
Fifth, their physical deaths brought a spiritual finality to their lives before the holy and righteous Judge of all men – that resulted in either an eternal heaven or hell (Prov. 14:12; 16:25; Matt. 5:22-30; 10:28Heb. 9:27; II Cor. 5:10, etc.).
We can only hope that in those horrific several hours during the carnage and siege when scores were held hostage – that some of them cried out to God in repentance like the dying thief on the cross. Only God knows their hearts as their lives hung in the balance between life and death…heaven and hell. Only He knew their true ‘spiritual pulse’ in those last moments of life. And whether they had seconds, minutes or hours, it was a “time of grace” that they could call out to God in faith and repentance.
Sadly, people tend to die like they lived. But if they did cry out to God in sincerity like that thief on the cross – who had also lived a rebellious life in the lusts of the flesh – then God saved them. But He did not save them from physical death by a terrorist’s bullet – but from spiritual death and eternal death which bring a finality from which there are no second choices or chances.
The Orlando massacre in “The Pulse” is a fresh reminder of the uncertainness and fragileness of life. None of us knows the day of our demise. Nor do we know the circumstances that will usher us through death’s door – whether disease, an accident, the aging process, or a terrorist bullet. So we need to live in a sense of readiness all the time.
Orlando reminds us that each of us needs to let the Great Physician take our pulse about our true spiritual nature…about our choices…our life-styles…our hang-outs…our companions…our readiness to face Christ through death.
And while I love to party as much as the next person – I would not want my exit from this life to be from a place like “The Pulse.” I’m not sure I would hear the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:21).
If I have any choice in the matter – which I do – I want my exit into Christ’s presence be from some positive context – like from my happy and faithful marriage to Patt. Or from a wonderful family celebration with my children and grandchildren – like we enjoyed on Father’s Day. Or from a wonderful worship experience in church like I enjoyed this past Lord’s Day. Or from some foreign country where I am working with one of our national partners to advance God’s Kingdom. Or simply from “…giving a cup of cold water in His Name” (Matt. 10:42).
How’s your spiritual pulse? Is it beating in sync with the heart of God? Is it pulsating with a passion for His redemptive, reconciling and restorative purposes for the world? I pray so for you…and for myself!
Summer is a great time to “take your pulse.” It is a timely opportunity to do some life-changing re-thinking…re-orienting…re-focusing…re-prioritizing to a healthier spiritual life-style that glorifies God and edifies others!
Grieving, groaning and growing with you through the terrorist events of Orlando,
JL & Patt
PS: Be watching for our next eNewsletter that will arrive in your inbox this Wednesday morning as usual. I think you will be blessed and encouraged.