Dear Ministry Partner,
This year's ministry is literally summarized by that phrase: "From Timbuktu to Kathmandu!" That's because those are the geographical extremes God has taken me to this past year. It will be the theme of my Year End Report that I hope to get to you in early January, 2012. I cannot prepare and send it to you before then because I still have one more mission trip in December -- which will close out my busy year of travel and ministry.
My overseas trips have become so intense and diverse that I hardly have time to report on one before I leave on the next one! Right now I am on a turn-around between Asia and Africa. To that end, I want you to visually and spiritually "cross this bridge" with me from where you are to where I have just been. I want you to…
So PLEASE take a few minutes to look through the following pictorial report. I know there are a LOT of pictures -- but they are only a small number of the ones I took! And the ONLY reason I take the time to prepare and post these pictures and reports is because they are all the results of your prayer and financial support! So take a few minuted to You will be blessed and encouraged by the fruits of our co-labor for His Kingdom and glory!
Dear Friends & Partners,
I am writing this quick email to you on this Thanksgiving Day weekend -- actually on 'Black Friday.' That is a bit significant due to the nature of this email! I seldom have or take time to go to movies, but last night Patt and I went to see the movie, "The Help." I had started watching it on my flight home last week from Asia. But the sound was so bad (plus I am loosing a lot of my hearing due to my last bought with malaria!), that I had to stop watching it. However, I saw enough to want to clearly hear and see the whole story in a theatre when I got back. Patt readily agreed to go with me even though she had already seen it with our daughter, daughters-in-law and friends. It was showing at the Graham Cinema -- where all movies are just $3.00 and popcorn comes with free refills! What a deal!
For me it was a powerful, painful and poignant movie! It was like stepping in a time machine and going back to the early days of The New Directions. As a ministry, we were born in those tumultuous days of segregation and integration. Some of our earlier ND members came out of the kinds of homes that were reflected in 'The Help.' Some were from more privileged 'white homes' that had 'domestic help' as the norm. Others came from the 'colored homes' of those same domestic workers. Both our Black and White members had grown up in largely segregated communities and spent most of their earlier education in racially segregated schools. So for us to be working together -- singing together…praying together...traveling together…witnessing together…living together...eating together -- was radical!
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."
Dear Friend & Partner,
I have just returned from two weeks of travel and ministry in Nepal and India and will send you my usual pictorial report in the next few days. But since this is "Thanksgiving Week," I wanted to share the outline of a message I preached in Nepal. It was for the 40th Ministry Anniversary of Pastor Man Bahadur Tamang, one of our oldest partnerships in Nepal. As one of the pioneer spiritual patriarchs of the country, he experienced much opposition, persecution and imprisonment for his faith and fidelity. His wife and sons experienced the same. When I asked him what theme he wanted me to preach on for his anniversary, he joyfully said: "Thanksgiving!" When he said that with his usual big smile, my heart was convicted and challenged!
"A farmer went out to sow his seed."
Dear Friend & Partner,
I have just returned from my annual "farmer's trip" to Sudan and Ethiopia. It is one of my favorite mission trips. While I am more of a spiritual farmer than a physical farmer, the parallels are unmistakable in the Bible. That's why Jesus taught some of His most practical parables around farming. He likened this oldest of all vocations to how His Heavenly Kingdom of God comes here on earth. "The Kingdom of Heaven," Jesus said, "is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat." (Matt. 13:24-25)
Adam was the world's first human farmer. And unlike us, he is the only farmer who experienced gardening in Eden -- a perfect environment with no aphids, germs, bacteria, blights, weeds or crab grass! His first garden knew nothing but balance, bounty and beauty! But because of sin and his expulsion from the Garden, all of the rest of us have had to farm "East of Eden" -- weeds and all! And in addition to all of the natural blights, we face the "enemy" who hates the Kingdom of God! So he craftily and constantly "…sows weeds among the wheat." That's why all farming and gardening since Eden has been by the"sweat of our brow." (Gen. 3:19)