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.
“… you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering …
you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution …
you joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
because you knew that you had better and lasting possessions.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
Fellowship is one of the defining words of Christianity. It describes our relationship with God and with each other. Sadly, our fellowship with each other in the Body of Christ is often on the surface and superficial. The Apostle Paul found out that one of the things that drives us to a deeper relationship with God and with each other is suffering. That’s because suffering burns away everything else that tends to distract and detour us from an intimate heart-to-heart fellowship with God and each other. For that reason, Paul prayed that he would “… know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering” (Phil. 3:10).
Frankly, the “fellowship of His suffering” is a spiritual reality that most of us do not want to experience! It’s a spiritual fraternity in which we do not want a membership. We prefer the “fellowship of His peace and prosperity.” But the “school of suffering” is where we earn our graduate degrees in authentic spirituality, selfless living and servant leadership. It’s the way of the cross and self-surrender.
In the last two weeks, Patt and I were privileged to vicariously experience a little of the “fellowship of His suffering” as we met with persecuted and displaced Christians from Iraq. Their personal stories were both heartbreaking and heartwarming. How humbling it was to sit with brothers and sisters in Christ who had lost everything overnight to radical Islamists. To hear the personal stories of people who had been “… publicly exposed to insult and persecution” and had experienced the “… confiscation of their property.”
By now, you should have received our initial email we sent from Jordan titled: “Windows on Jordan.” For the sake of the people we were meeting with, that introductory email was rather general and focused primarily on some of the historic antiquity of Jordan. That part of the Middle East is both the cradle of civilization and the cradle of Christianity. So it has a spiritual and cultural richness that long predates the birth of Mohamed and rise of Islam.
In this e-letter, Patt and I want to share with you some of the pictures of the “persecuted saints” we met with in Jordan, and also some of the Christian leaders who were our link with these dear people who have lost everything to ISIS – except their faith in Christ!
As you look at the pictures that follow, know that your prayers and financial gifts were what made our ministry to them possible. Prior to our going to Jordan, we had sent funds to help several church ministries who were housing these displaced Christians. We also took in more money to give while we were there as the Spirit prompted us. And as the Lord provides additional funds through our partnership with you, we will send in more to assist and bless them in the weeks and months ahead.
In my reports that will follow in the coming weeks, I will share more pictures and commentary on the political situation, Islam, America and the state of the church there and here.
But in this first follow-up report, meet some of the people in Jordan you have touched through your prayers and partnership …
A FATHER LIKE OUR “ABBA, FATHER”
One of the first people Ambassador Lewis Lucke networked us with was Father Khalil Ja'ar and his Messengers of Peace Association. His church was among the first to take in refugees from Iraq after the bloody invasion of ISIS. Fortunately, his church had a large courtyard and a building that could be quickly converted into housing quarters for families.
Patt and I were deeply moved as we sat in his small office and listened to his personal testimony of how Christ had sovereignly prepared him for this latest assignment. As an Arab who had been born in Bethlehem, Palestine (or Israel as we generally call it in the West), God uniquely prepared him to minister to these people from another country and Christian tradition. God first called him to minister in a predominantly Jewish area of Palestine to the very people who were his “enemies” that he grew up hating. After his time there in God’s school of suffering, he learned to love everyone through Christ regardless of their race or religion.
After years of effective ministry in Palestine, God called Father Ja'ar to this church on the outskirts of Amman with an aging population. Little did he know at the time that God was about to fill his facility to overflowing with needy sheep from Iraq!
As they came with nothing, looking for anything and everything – he welcomed them with an open-heart … open arms … and open church facilities. The first wave of Iraqi refugees came last September as ISIS invaded their hometowns of Bagdad, Mosul, Kirkush, etc. What was to be a temporary situation has now stretched into months. But by faith, Father Ja'ar continues to feed, clothe and house them – supported by people like us and other concerned Christians in the West.
As the name of his organization notes, he is truly a messenger of peace through the Lord Jesus …
Some of the children and adults from Iraq who have become
Father Ja'ar's congregation 24/7.
The church courtyard has become a place for the children to have informal
schooling, as well as place to play in safety and security. When Father Ja'ar
first started the program, he expected 50 - 60 children from the
camps ... but 250 arrived! Just as we are about to start our tour,
a new couple arrives from Iraq with their papers, asking for
help and housing.
Patt met and heard the story of this young wife, who lost everything, as she
and her husband and children fled the ISIS Jihadists. ISIS killed this elderly
Iraqi Christian's entire family, took his home, and all of his possessions.
Although he is the lone survivor, he finds comfort in the company of
the other refugees at the church.
Father Ja'ar with 2 of the many lambs the Good Shepherd
has entrusted to his care. The hallway of his former
church offices were petitioned with bedspreads and
converted into living quarters for 12 families.
Father Ja'ar showed Patt the small living quarters for
some of the families, and a typical temporary
home for an entire family, where they sleep, eat, and live.
Patt with several of the teenage girls, who have lived here for months. One of
them said: "If you could have seen my nice room in my home in Iraq - and
now I sleep on the floor on a mat." Father Ja'ar showed me his former
church office that is now the living quarters for this young boy and his family.
A CHURCH FAMILY FROM IRAQ
Each day before the noon meal, all of the adults living in the church and surrounding camps come together for a brief meeting, a time of fellowship and a cup of Arab coffee. What a privilege it was to sit with these people who had lost both their physical homes and their church building in Iraq to the destructive and deadly hands of the Islamists.
Overnight, ISIS gave these people the option:
"Convert or die."
As we entered the room in the church basement, they stood to honor their priest
who had fled with them, to honor Father Ja'ar who had taken them in, and to
honor us, as people from America who are standing with them. It was all Patt and
I could do to fight away the tears!
We came to honor them as the real spiritual heroes. Since it was Holy Week,
we would have liked to wash each of their feet, just as Christ did for His
disciples before going to the cross. Father Ja'ar and the priest from Iraq
who had his church totally destroyed by ISIS are pictured at right.
Together they continue to be the spiritual shepherds
for these displaced Christian people. This group of Iraqi Christians
are from ancient Assyria and speak Aramaic, the language
Jesus spoke. While we were there, they sang and prayed in Aramaic.
A FELLOWSHIP LUNCH WITH SAINTS
After our time with all of the adults, we went to the living quarters again for lunch with the 12 Iraqi Christian families. Because of our financial support of them, they wanted to honor us by having lunch together. Certainly one of the great symbols of Christian fellowship is “breaking bread together” in the love of Christ.
Before lunch was served, Patt visited some of the wives and mothers
who take turns cooking the daily meals in the small church kitchen.
The ladies do a wonderful job cooking whatever food the Lord provides that day.
We enjoyed soup, eggplant, fresh vegetables, pita bread, French fries, chicken,
and hummus. (I saw that one of the boys had put peanut butter on his bread!)
It was a great honor to share words of encouragement and to bless the food.
What a joy it was to eat this Arab meal with these dear people!
As we ate our lentil soup and pita sandwich, Father Ja'ar
continued to tell us story after story from his new flock,
and how God continues to miraculously provide for their
daily needs. It costs $150-$200 per day to feed the
12 families who live in the church. His love for the
children is especially evident, through how he feeds
the spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
After the meal, we continued to fellowship with Father Ja'ar and the adults,
enjoying traditional Arab tea. This dear man at right is an example of the plight
of the majority of Iraqi Christians. He is an educated and experienced engineer
who lost his job, home, and possessions when he had to flee ISIS. Now he is
not allowed to work in Jordan, and faces each day with nothing productive
to do, but wait, pray, and hope that he and his family will soon be repatriated
to America, Canada, or Australia. Iraqi Christians are well educated ... some
are doctors, lawyers, surgeons, engineers, and teachers ... and will be a
blessing to whatever country takes them in.
We always try to take in a suitcase full of small toys and school supplies
for the children. Father Ja'ar distributed the toys and supplies, which the
children were happy to receive.
Some of the teenage girls were given hair bows and warm tights, provided
to us by a ministry partner.
A beautiful picture of Christ in typical Middle East iconic imagery,
painted by a 12 year old refugee boy. He hopes to sell his
artwork as a way to help support his family.
Before leaving, Father Ja'ar showed us a personal "Letter of Appreciation"
given him by Queen Rania. The Queen had wanted to present this letter
to Father Ja'ar on national television, but he refused. So, she came to
the church, and presented it to him there. While we are thankful for his
spiritual humility in the face of this recognition from Queen Rania, I rejoice
that he will one day receive a far greater eternal recognition from Christ
in heaven when He says to him: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
A SMALL GARDEN FOR THE MOTHERS & CHILDREN
Before leaving to visit another group of refugees, Father Ja'ar showed us an abandoned area on his church property that had been taken over by weeds and debris. To give the refugees something productive to do, he was letting them clean the area to make a small “Garden of Eden” with shrubs and flowers where the mothers could be with their children. Since Patt and I love gardening and landscaping, we were honored to donate funding to complete the gardening project.
Soon this area will be a place of beauty and tranquility for the benefit
of these dear people.
Thanks for your spiritual and financial investment
with us in this wonderful minstry by Father Khalil Ja'ar.
“DEAD SEA” OR “SEA OF GALILEE"?
Overlooking the Dead Sea, with Palestine/Israel
in the distance.
Thanks for taking a few moments to read this first in a series of reports on our recent time in Jordan. We have MUCH MORE to share with you in the days ahead. So be watching for our next report. Until then, know that you are helping us make a real difference in these people beloved by God. Most have been through a degree of the “fellowship of His suffering” that we cannot relate to here in America.
This closing picture above of us, overlooking the Dead Sea, is an appropriate place to end this first report. As you know, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on planet earth. I think it is also a spiritual parable of the current situation in the Middle East. Islamic radicals like ISIS have plunged the world into new depths of depravity. Once again, we are seeing the very lowest expressions of human and demonic depravity in the name of religion – specific Islam. Their misguided religious fanaticism has motivated them to express the sin, evil and hatred that reside in the heart of every member of Adam’s fallen race. Only the transforming grace of Jesus Christ can change them – or us – into lovers rather than haters … life-givers rather than killers … peacemakers rather than warmongers.
But there is another lesson from the Dead Sea. When you have too dense a concentration of salt, it kills life rather than purifying and seasoning it. That’s our problem in American Christianity. When Jesus called us to be the “salt of the earth,” He meant that we should penetrate our spheres of influence with His life and love – not concentrate it on ourselves. In church after church, we have far too high a density of salt that is concentrated in the “ecclesiastical salt shaker” – rather than out in the world bringing preservation and seasoning to life! All around us there is decay and death in every area of existence – whether political, economic, social, cultural or relational. ISIS is simply the latest collective expression of this human devolution toward corruption and destruction. Contrary to the idealism and naïveté of Darwin, we are not evolving upward – but downward to lower and lower depths of depravity. Just as water settles to its lowest level, each of us, left to ourselves, sinks lower and lower into the Dead Sea of our own “selfism”.
North of the Dead Sea is the Sea of Galilee, which gives us a far different picture. The melting snow from the heights of Mt. Hermon feed the Jordan River that flows in and out of this lake teaming with life. That’s to be a picture of each of us. We are to let God’s blessings flow “in and out” of our lives – bringing life and blessing to others. We are not to be like the Dead Sea, accumulating more and more for ourselves. As God told the patriarch Abraham: “I will bless you and make you a blessing” (Gen. 12:2-3).
Thanks for helping Patt and me be like the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee to some of our persecuted and displaced Christians from Iraq and Syria. You are helping us be a “river of life” to them through your prayers and giving.
Until our next report …
JL & Patt
Dear Friends & Partners,
Loving greetings from Patt and me in Amman, Jordan – the “Hashumite Kingdom.” What a great joy it is to be here over Holy Week, to come alongside our Jordanian friends and partners – but especially the persecuted and displaced Christians from Iraq and Syria. I will be sharing much more about our time with them in the days ahead. But first, I want to give you a brief panorama of this ancient City that has been ruled by a number of empires from antiquity to modernity. So we begin with a trip to the top of the old city where the “Citadel” once stood …
One of the great-untold stories in America and the West is the significant role Christianity played in Jordan long before the Muslims conquered it. Here is the site of an ancient church in the Citadel, dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries.
The ancient Roman Amphitheatre below is one of the marks that the Romans left everywhere they went in the world.
Patt & I in front of the Roman Amphitheatre. At right, I am pointing to the Amphitheatre in the distance.
The Ancient Roman Amphitheatre.
The plaque at left details the history of this ancient country.
Patt & I overlooking the Jordan Valley with Israel,
or Palestine, on the other side.
The largest Muslim mosque in the city, built by the late
King Hussein. The mosque dominates the skyline, and
announces that this is a Moslem city and country.
PALM SUNDAY WITH THE IRAQI REFUGEES
While you celebrated Easter this past Sunday in America, we celebrated Palm Sunday in Jordan, as they are on the Eastern Church Calendar here and we in America are on the Western Calendar. This coming Sunday is Easter Sunday here in Jordan and in most of the rest of the Middle East.
Patt and our host Yarub, outside the temporary housing
for the first wave of refugees at a local Catholic Church.
Preparing for the Palm Sunday march into the church, Patt,
with her olive branches, is ready to march with the refugees
and their Jordanian Christian friends.
The service was in Arabic, the official language
in Jordan and in much of the Arab Middle East.
Walking with Jesus on Palm Sunday.
Preparing to enter the church for the Palm Sunday service. The service
took place inside the first church to take in the Iraqi refugees.
Sharing a "nun" pin with a leading Jordanian Christian businessmen,
who expressed his deep appreciation to American Christians who are
standing with them through prayers and financial support.
We enjoyed fellowshipping with one of the Bible Study groups
from the church who are helping the refugees.
Patt shared with an Iraqi father and daughter, who had to flee with nothing
but the clothes on their backs because of ISIS. What a humbling experience to
be with these persecuted saints who have given up everything - but Jesus!
Patt enjoyed fellowship with 3 generations of Orthodox Christians.
At right are our wonderful hosts, Yarub & Lina, who have entertained us
royally with traditional Christian Arab hospitality!
Our Palm Sunday feast with our Arab hosts,
enjoying a delicious Arab meal with multiple courses.
It has been a humbling experience to spend these days visiting various groups of refugees from Iraq. After this brief look through this "window on Jordan," I will send further reports and pictures from our visits with our persecuted brothers and sisters.
Until then, know how MUCH Patt and I appreciate your prayers and financial support that is making all we do here possible. As always, we feel we have received much more than we have given. We are so thankful to be able to do what we have done so far, and we believe this is but the "first fruit" of more partnerships and projects here in the weeks and months ahead. Obviously, this is one of the most crucial "hot spots" spiritually and politically on the globe.
Thanks for being here with us!
In His love for them ...
J. L. & Patt
PS: Thanks again to all of you who have given to this need. And for those of you who have not yet given, let me remind you again about our current efforts to raise funds for these precious brothers and sisters who have lost everything because of ISIS. For every gift of $25 or more, we want to send you this “N” pin, the Arabic letter "nun", representing the word “Nazarene,” a name for Jesus in the Koran. It is the symbol painted on Christian homes for destruction and death. Wearing this pin is a wonderful way for you to publicly identify with the plight of these believers, to remember to pray for them, and to help raise consciousness of this growing international crisis.
“Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked."
WARNING: Some of the following pictures may be disturbing – but they need to be seen to rouse American Christians into action through prayer and positive political proactivity! JL
Dear Ministry Partners,
The above summary of Christianity in the Arab World of the Middle East is staggering and sobering! Like never before in their long history, our Arab Christian brothers and sisters are under the bloody sword of Islamic-driven jihadist terrorism! All one has to do to see this evil face of Islam is to look at the hundreds of social media pictures now coming out of the Middle East – all carried out in the name of the prophet Mohamed.
ISLAMIC GENOCIDE AGAINST CHRISTIANS & JEWS
At this point it is a rather foolish and moot academic question as to whether these beheadings, crucifixions, barbaric butchering, rapes, kidnappings, selling into slavery, female mutilations, child brides, and wanton destruction are being carried out by legitimate Muslims or perverted Muslims. In either case, there is a swelling crimson tide of the blood of those being slain only because they are Yazidis, Jews or Christians. Their only viable option is to “convert or die.”
JIHADISH COMMANDS FROM THE KORAN
The bottom line is these perpetrators are fueled by mandates from the Koran, the dictates of Sharia law, the traditions of the Hadith and the clear historic example of their founding prophet, Mohamed. There is a minimum of 109 verses in the Koran calling faithful Muslims to jihad, or “holy war” in the name of Allah. So in the twisted minds of these Islamic terrorists, they are true Muslims in the purest sense of the word who are faithfully carrying out the will of Allah against all infidels. It was the prophet Mohamed’s clear mandate to “cut the necks” of all who would not convert and “submit” to the will of Allah. Consider just two verses from the Koran I could amplify many times …
So in carrying out these myriads of mass murders and “crimes against humanity” in the name of Allah, the ISIS terrorists are only being faithful to the clear dictates of the Koran! However, whatever civilization survives this latest genocide and holocaust will ultimately reveal these Islamic jihadists as the wicked, evil, demon-possessed, sick and blinded spiritual psychopaths that they really are. No human being could carry out these heinous, barbaric acts of savagery that ISIS is doing – with sneers and jeers on social media – unless they are inspired and empowered by Satan and evil spirits! These horrific acts are not those of religious enlightenment but those of demonic darkness!
THE SATANIC SOURCE
In light of these unspeakable atrocities, is it any wonder that Jesus called Satan the arch liar and murderer who inspires and incites his children to manifest his deadly desires to “… rob, steal, kill and destroy”(Jn. 8:44-47)! ISIS is but the latest example of Satan’s children carrying out their evil father’s desires!
HISTORY’S DEMONIC DESPOTS
Ultimately, the likes of Osama bin-Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will take their banished place in the annals of histories darkest and most demonic ages of savagery. They will stand in despicable distain alongside other politico-religious megalomaniacs like Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Ida Amin Dada, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Kim Jong-Il, Papa Doc & Baby Doc, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini and Omar al-Bashir.
From this list of some of modern history’s most barbaric leaders, it is easy to see that no racial, ethnic or national group has been exempt from producing evil leaders who have carried out unspeakable crimes against their own people and others who oppose their fanatical ideas – whether they were Europeans, Caribbean, Asians or Africans. But all had in common one thing: their paranoid fear and demonic hatred of religion in general and Judaism and Christianity in particular.
REASON VS RADICALISM
And it is also sobering to realize that these dark and demonic despots I have just listed as some of history’s worst killers all lived in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries – the so called “Age of Enlightenment.” These were to be the times when social evolution upward would manifest itself through the “triumph of reason” – which would rule and reign in every sphere of human existence and bring in the idyllic “Age of Aquarius!” Mankind would collectively return to the Garden of Eden, and experience a perpetual, peaceful, and prosperous “heaven on earth!”
These were to be the centuries of triumphant humanism when enlightenment and education would fully and finally eradicate the two greatest things that have divided humanity down through the centuries: religion and race. It would be a time when “reason would reign” and all lesser and baser passions would willfully submit to a higher order of civility.
However, contrary to these noble humanistic ideals, these past few decades have seen just the opposite take place through the revival of religion and the resurgence of racialism! These religious, racial and ethnic passions have brought about the dissolution of the USSR, the re-divided Europe into ancient ethnicities, the fragmentation of Africa through tribalism, and the renewal of casteism in Asia. But it has also reignited old racial prejudices in America, and pitted whites, blacks and Hispanics against each other to the degree that city after city has been torn by racial hostilities and demonstrations. So much for global utopia!
Simultaneously as a people, we have experienced the greatest days of scientific advancement in the midst of debilitating social degeneration. During these enlightened centuries of industrialization, scientific achievement and the IT age, mankind has experienced unprecedented educational opportunity and economic prosperity - alongside some of the worse poverty, prejudice and persecution history has ever recorded. As Charles Dickens said of his day, ours have also been both the “… best of times and the worst of times!”
THE ROOT PROBLEM
Why and how could we have been so naïve to believe in the perfectibility humanity? The Biblical answer is clear. SIN! The human race in general - and Islam in particular, do not really believe in the reality of things like sin, the fall and the total depravity of man. Nor do they believe in the existence of a real malevolent being called Satan. That’s why the evil one has generally ruled and reigned through the fallen nature of mankind in every generation from Adam until now.
Now after World War I, which was to be the “war to end all wars,” World War II, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, the Six Day War, the Persian Gulf War, the Wars in the Balkans, the Sudan and Rwanda Genocides, Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and regional conflicts beyond number - the world stage has been taken by Islamic jihaddism under the current banner of ISIS.
While initially called the “JV Team of Terrorism” by President Obama, they have proclaimed an Islamic Caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and have rapidly taken territory all over the Middle East and into North Africa. At this time, their bloody Islamic tentacles are reaching farther and father across our globe, with more and more acts of violence and terrorism in the name of Allah. And just like the many demon driven despots before them, the very first people marked for elimination are Jews and Christians.
CHRISTIANITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
At one time Christians made up about a quarter of the population of the Middle East - dating back to the First Century of Christendom. Today, they are less than 10%, and their numbers are shrinking monthly. These ancient Christian communities are facing persecution, displacement and death by Islamic radicals who are on a fanatical “unholy war” to eradicate every vestige of Christianity from the lands of its origin. (Please click here to read my op-ed "An Unholy War".) Those who have been able to escape their ancient homelands in countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, Israel, etc., have had to immigrate and migrate to other countries in order to survive and continue their Christian confessions and traditions.
Ever since the War in Iraq began in 2003, the ancient city of Bagdad has often been in the forefront of the news. But for most Americans, it is one of those “far away places with a strange sounding name” that seems so remote and disconnected from our daily lives. In the previous decades, it was most famous for the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein until he was overthrown and executed.
Since the Islamic crusades in the Middle East up through the reign of Saddam Hussein, Bagdad was predominantly a Muslim dominated city. However, for centuries there was a thriving Jewish and Christian population in the city of Bagdad. In earlier days, Christians composed about 1/5 of the population and Jews were 1/3 of the population - about 120,000. As a result, Hebrew was one of the official languages of the country. The Jews were once the most prosperous ethnic group in all of Iraq. But in the face of rising Arab nationalism in general and Islamic radicalism in particular, there were only 35 known Jews living in Bagdad by 2004. Today there are believed to be only 6 Jews left - living in secrecy and often protected by the Christians (World Magazine, May, 2014).
From the time the Iraq War began in 2004 to the recent time when President Obama began to drawdown our troops there from 2011 – 2014, between 500,000 and 1 million Iraqis were killed. Also, around 4,500 US soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice in that war - while thousands of others came home horribly maimed for life physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, maritally and vocationally.
In the vacuum left by our retreating troops, Iraq in general and Bagdad in particular became crucial geography for ISIS to conquer. While Bagdad has not yet fallen to the ISIS rebels to date, it is very vulnerable, and is being encircled by a tighter and tighter Islamic noose. As a result, Christians are on another exodus to other safer surrounding countries - especially Jordan.
A TIMELY PSALM
This escalating ISIS crisis in the Middle East is what makes Psalm 82:4 that I quoted above so relevant. A dear doctor friend who has a passion about medical mission work sent the Psalm to me. Even though he is in a solo practice, he and his wife go on 3 to 4 mission trips a year - often accompanied by other family members. His life and mission zeal nullify the oft-heard excuse about not being able to take off and go on mission trips due to “business commitments” and “financial responsibilities.” So I was especially touched when I got an email from him earlier this week with just this verse from Psalm 82. I knew it was a confirming word from the Lord for our trip to Jordan this week.
EASTER IN JORDAN
While in Jordan over Easter, we will be doing all we can to come alongside our persecuted and displaced Christians brothers and sisters from Iraq and Syria who have basically lost EVERYTHING! In all probability, they will never be able to return to their homelands and homes occupied or destroyed by the ISIS radicals. So we must “seize the moment” and do all we can to help bring aid in the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus. After all, that is what Easter is all about: Forgiving our enemies (Lk. 23:34) and feeding His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17)!
We are also very thankful for those of you have given $25 to buy a “Solar Bible” in Arabic. We are taking in 100 to give out to the persecuted Christians. We have learned in similar situations that displaced refugees have a lot of time on their hands with little or nothing to do. So there is nothing more important we can give them than a “Solar Bible” in their heart language to listen to. We know that God’s Word never returns void (Isa. 55:10-11). Pray especially that we will be able to get the Solar Bibles through Customs in Jordan without problem.
Thanks for helping do this through your prayers and partnership. The Lord willing we will send you a brief report from Amman during Holy Week. Then a fuller report will follow upon our return home as God wills.
In His Love For Them,
JL & Patt
PS: For those who have given a special Easter Gift of $25 or more, we have sent and will continue to send the “N” lapel pin for you to wear to help raise awareness of this Jewish and Christian genocide that is being largely ignored by most of the Western media. As a reminder, the pin displays the Arabic letter "Nun", the first letter of the word Nazarene - the Muslim word of contempt for Christians. We wear this pin 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 will return and rebuild David’s fallen tabernacle.
Its ruins I will rebuild and I will restore
in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord
and all the Gentiles who bear My Name,
says the Lord, who does these things …”
A crane used to rebuild a 5-star hotel outside Port-au-Prince, and a beautiful
view of the Port-au-Prince harbor.
A memorial stone for the killer earthquake of January 12, 2010. At right,
Patt and I in the makeshift mass cemetery outside Port-au-Prince,
where untold thousands of Haitians were buried after the earthquake.
Dear Ministry Partners,
God is not only the God of redemption, He is the God of rebuilding and restoration. After times of destruction – whether through divine judgment or natural disaster – God called and commissioned His people to rebuild the temple … rebuild Jerusalem … rebuild the walls … and rebuild the ruined cities (Ezra 5:2; Neh. 2:17; Ps. 102:16; Dan. 9:25; Amos 9:14). And the physical rebuilding was always for the greater and higher purpose of spiritual rebuilding so that “… mankind may seek the Lord” – but especially “… the Gentiles who bear My Name.” And in this case, the “Gentiles” are the Haitians.
It has now been over 5 years since the killer earthquake devastated much of Port-au-Prince. Since then, several billion dollars in Foreign Aid have poured in for the rebuilding process. In addition, untold numbers of Christian work teams and medical teams have gone down to do their part in the physical, spiritual, emotional and social rebuilding and restoration. My latest trip was no exception. While there are encouraging signs of significant progress in the rebuilding of the devastated infrastructure of Port-au-Prince, the evidence of the spiritual rebuilding process is even more encouraging.
The hillsides outside Port-au-Prince continue to be covered with small houses,
built precariously on the slopes. It was poorly built houses like these that
"pancaked" during the earthquake, killing so many. While there is major road
construction taking place in Port-au-Prince, there are still many side roads
like the one in the picture at right, that are nothing but potholes, mud,
and sewage water.
I often say this about Haiti: “When you step into the streets, you see what is WRONG with Haiti. But, when you step into the churches, you see what is RIGHT with Haiti!” As far as the news is concerned, the incredible spiritual rebuilding is the untold story of Haiti – it is nothing short of miraculous!
According to secular studies, the evangelical church now comprises 45% - 50% of the population of Haiti! That makes it one of the biggest success stories of church growth in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. There are few other countries in the world that can match that level of church growth. So, Haiti has emerged from the earthquake as one of the strongest, most resilient, dedicated and dynamic churches on the globe! It is a church coming of age that has much to offer the rest of the ecclesiastical world.
NEHEMIAH VISION MINISTRY
The first part of my week was spent at NVM with my dear friend and partner, Pastor Esperandieu Pierre, who is also the director of Campus Crusade for Christ, or Cru, in Haiti. He is one of the dynamic young leaders of Haiti who is doing both spiritual and physical building and rebuilding – just like Nehemiah, after whom he has named his ministry. He welcomes work teams down almost every week to help rebuild churches and houses damaged or destroyed by the earthquake.
Esperandieu shared his testimony with a work team that was in Haiti at the
same time as I was. At right, the team builds a small cement house for a homeless widow.
In addition to preaching, teaching and mentoring, one of my personal pet projects at NVM was to do the landscaping and tree planting for their growing campus. Our friends and partners at Double Harvest have been very generous and helpful in supplying me with trees, bushes and flowers for this project of reforestation and beautification.
In between my times of preaching and teaching, I have enjoyed landscaping
these dorms at NVM from this ...
... to this!
On my next trip, I will landscape the new NVM Hospital
that was built after the earthquake.
ONAVILLE EARTHQUAKE CHURCH
One of the primary purposes for my trip to Haiti this time was to revisit the church we had built for earthquake victims on the barren hillsides outside Port-au-Prince. It was a little over a year ago that this entire church was built in less than one week – which is why the men who did the construction have earned the reputation as the “Manteo Miracle Men!" To build anything to completion in one week in Haiti is a miracle – much less a church of this size! It was a blessing to visit and preach at the church that has been well used and well maintained over the past year.
The outside of the beautiful Onaville Church against the barren hillsides,
where hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims have settled.
At right, the inside of the church, packed each Sunday with growing Christians.
Like all of the evangelical churches in Haiti, this church is a worshipping church…
... a praying church …
... a Bible church …
... a giving church …
... and a preaching church.
Until the “Manteo Miracle Men" built the metal building, this tent was used for their church after the earthquake. They have now partitioned it into several classrooms for their new Primary School for over 150 children.
GARDENING & TREE PLANTING
Since Onaville is a squatter town of earthquake victims on the barren mountainsides outside Port-au-Prince, we do all we can to introduce farming and reforestation there. For that reason, we planted a garden behind the church as it was being built. Because most of the good topsoil has been washed into the sea by generations of deforestation and erosion, we are trying to slowly build up new soil through grinding up sugar cane stalks that rot after the sugar is extracted. All we have to do is pay for trucking the sugar cane to our garden projects. Gradually, this is helping to add compost to the poor dirt.
Shredding the sugar cane in a chipper that we sent down earlier.
Because there are less than 3% of trees and vegetation left in Haiti, reforestation is one of the greatest needs and biggest challenges – and one of our top priorities. To help teach the importance of this, I have written a book titled: Trees in the Bible. We are so thankful for ‘Double Harvest’ (who is perhaps the top tree grower in all of Haiti) for their partnership in this.
Double Harvest grows hundreds of thousands of different
varieties of indigenous trees for transplanting around the country.
Sadly, the Haitian government still does not make
reforestation a serious priority.
We planted these fast-growing pine trees along the border
of the church property when we dedicated the church
a year ago. They have grown significantly from the small
seedlings that were 12" high last year! On this trip,
we added many fast-growing fruit trees.
After my several days of spiritual and physical farming at NVM and the Onaville Earthquake Church, I had the joy of speaking to around 200 seminary students at the Bolosse Seminary on the opposite side of Port-au-Prince. This was a special privilege since I first visited and spoke on this campus in 1969. This time I was asked to teach on Islam – a subject I never thought I would need to teach in Haiti! However, there are currently a dozen or so mosques in Haiti! There is also a madrassa, or Islamic school, that has been established. Just like the Christian schools, the Muslims are offering free education, except they are indoctrinating young children in Islam and Sharia Law.
The Bible Seminary.
Pastor Edner Jeanty, Jr. and his wife Dominique.
Another primary reason for this latest trip to Haiti was to speak at the graduation ceremony for the Barnabas Leadership Center founded and headed by my dear friend and partner, Edner Jeanty, Jr. Through the years we have had many opportunities to partner together in various ministry projects. He and his wife Dominique are a wonderful and dynamic couple who are setting high examples of integrity and excellence in Christian marriage and ministry in Haiti.
Edner was asked by Dr. John Maxwell to spearhead his EQUIP Leadership Training Seminars in Haiti. This was the third 3-day Seminar attended by 530 pastors and leaders from all across Haiti.
What a joy to be in the presence of hundreds of church leaders!
Our hearts were prepared for worship by a wonderful chamber orchestra.
It has been exciting to see the spiritual and technological growth of pastors and
Christian leaders in Haiti over the last few decades. When I first started teaching
pastors, most had little formal education and almost none had computers ...
... all of that has changed, however, as most of them are now IT savvy!
What a blessing it was to be asked to preach the graduation ceremony on the timely subject of “Salt & Light” to these key pastors and leaders from all over Haiti. We hope to have that message on line soon for you to watch.
I always know when Edner is translating for me that he will preach a good sermon
in Creole, regardless of what I say in English!
The Conference attendees lined up to receive their certificates.
A very proud father, Edner Jeanty, Sr., gives the benediction at the
end of the graduation program that was organized by his son.
It was an unexpected privilege to meet up with two of my missionary models and heroes, Wallace & Eleanor Turnbull, pictured at left. Patt and I first met them in the late 1970s when we were living and ministering in Haiti for the summer with our 4 young children. Later, after our son Jonathan graduated from college, he spent a summer working in their Baptist Haiti Hospital outside Port-au-Prince. This proved to be a time of confirmation for his call to medicine. He returned to Haiti with me to do medical work right after the earthquake. We thank God for the impact that the Turnbulls have had on our personal and family life.
Wallace and Eleanor and their extended family served faithfully in Haiti for the equivalent of several generations. During that time, they planted hundreds of churches, schools, a hospital, agricultural projects and many other self-help programs to generate jobs. After retiring a few years ago in their 8th decade of life, they returned to America where they continue to work with the Haitian Diaspora – especially university students. But each year, they return to Haiti several times to continue to nurture and encourage the work that they started many years ago. This time, they said they bought a “one-way-ticket” so they could stay down as long as they were needed. They are living testimonies of the promise of God in Psalm 92:12-15:
“The righteous flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon … They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green …”
Like the “palm tree” with its flexibility and the “cedar of Lebanon” with its firmness, they are a beautiful example of two saints who have “grown old gracefully” and are still “fresh and green” with the eternal spiritual sap of the Spirit! The Lord willing, this is what Patt and I will still be doing in our 8th and 9th decades if the Lord graces us with that many years. Thank God for ministry and missionary models like Wallace and Eleanor who are not just “growing old” – but are “old and growing!”
Wallace stands with his ever-present 'shepherd's staff',
(that he calls his 3rd leg) to help him get around.
His aging legs have taken him all over the mountains
and valleys of Haiti.
It was also a joy for me to have a visit with Pastor Chavannes Jeunes, who has been a close friend and partner for several decades, and is one of the most influential and respected Christian leaders in Haiti. Through him, we built several of the “containerized churches” through the work of the “Manteo Miracle Men.”
Chavannes and I also worked closely together on the “Haiti At The Cross” events for the anniversary of Haiti as a nation when the forces of voodoo were seeking to bring Haiti back under the dominance of the devil. He was also a presidential candidate in the last elections and came in fourth to now President Michel Martelly, a former rock star, pictured at right.
Since then, Pastor Chavannes has continued to do holistic Christian development with 410 Bridge based in Atlanta, Georgia. This organization takes its name from I Peter 4:10 and is committed to “helping people help themselves.” Like our Kingdom Entrepreneur initiatives, they are committed to offering a “hand up,” rather than a “hand out.”
But Chavannes has also continued to be active in trying to unify the Haitian church to greater political involvement as God’s “salt” and “light” as they face their next elections in 2016. Sadly, politics in Haiti has been dominated for generations by institutionalized corruption, inept bureaucracy, incompetence and voodoo. Just like the Christians in America, the Haitians have the numerical critical mass at 45% - 50% to sway the next election and determine whom ends up controlling the government. But too many Haitian pastors and Christians have stayed away from active political involvement believing it to be the “devil’s territory.” So, pray for Chavannes that God will continue to use him to galvanize and unify His church for greater political influence and integrity through authentic servant-leadership – like Joseph and Daniel exerted in the Bible.
Thank you for taking the time to make this quick trip through Haiti with me. Since it was our first country of evangelistic engagement and involvement, it will always be my “first love” in missions! I hope to return soon after Patt and I go to Jordan over Easter to work among the Christian Refugees there.
For the Haitian Church,
PS: After writing this report, I received the following pictures from Pastor Sangge Sherpa who has now safely arrived back in Lukla to resume his ministry. I wanted you to see them and rejoice with us in his “medical miracle” after his recent accident. Thanks again for praying him through this life-threatening incident. Please continue to pray for him as he resumes his ministry of evangelism and church planting in the high Himalayan Mountains all the way up to Mount Everest Base Camp.
Dear Friends and Partners,
As we have done in the past, we like to highlight one specific partner so you can get to know him or her better. While J.L. is in Haiti this week, we decided this would be a good time to introduce you to Komivi Christophe Ayiboe.
Brother Komivi is from Lome, Togo. Togo is a slender country sandwiched between Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
He has been a friend and partner of J.L. and Patt’s for almost 15 years. God first intersected their lives at the Billy Graham Conference for Itinerate Evangelists in Amsterdam in the year 2000. But, a closer connection occurred later at a pastors’ conference in Ghana that JL was conducting for local Ghanaian leaders and others from surrounding West African countries.
Although Komivi is a schoolteacher, he is very active in Scripture Union activities throughout the year. He participates in summer youth camps, Christmas programs and the giving of food packages to the widows and orphans in the villages. He has also distributed New Testaments and helped organize pastors’ evangelism campaigns in rural areas. He is very industrious, having completed an intense course in poultry raising with additional plans to begin an agricultural project.
Summer Youth Camp.
Children's program in rural Togo, and village evangelism.
Through the generous gift of one of our US partners, funds were given last fall to relocate him from a dangerous and unhealthy area of Lome to a safer place outside the city and a new home. He and his wife, Mokpokpo (which means Hope), have 3 children: a daughter, Lydia-Patt, and two sons, Kaleb and Yedidia. They even have a watch dog named Jack!
Komivi and his family at their new home.
Thank you for your prayers for Komivi and the work to which God has called him, because he is truly worthy of our partnership. Also pray for him and his family to stay healthy, as there is malaria in that part of Togo.
Finally, my thanks for your prayers for J.L. as he ministers this week in Haiti.
Grateful to be investing in Komivi and his family,
Patt and J.L.
P.S. Let me remind you again about our current efforts to raise funds for the ISIS victims. For every gift of $25 or more, we want to send you this “N” pin, the Arabic letter for “N”, representing the word “Nazarene,” a name for Jesus in the Koran. It is the symbol painted on Christian homes for destruction and death. Wearing this pin is a wonderful way for you to publicly identify with their plight, to remember to pray for them, and to help raise consciousness to this growing international crisis.
In this Lenten Season, I want to remind you of my book The Passionate Christ, a detailed accounting of Jesus’ last days and hours before His crucifixion. It is my prayer that this book will enhance your devotional studies this Easter, and that it will be a blessing to you as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior! Please click on the picture of the book to be redirected to our online store for complete ordering information.