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.
“Let our sons in their youth be like grown up plants;
and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.”
The Nima Tshering Family
Dear Ministry Partners,
Ever since Easter, I have been writing our weekly eNewsletters around the central New Testament theme that “Easter is never over.” It is not a once-a-year-event. Neither is Christmas. Since the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very spirit and soul of our faith, it is the heartbeat of who we are and all we do as Christians.
It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that makes Christianity a “living faith” rather than a “dead religion” – like all others. And since God is a relational God as revealed through the mystery of the Trinity, building and nurturing resurrection relationships is His supreme delight and our highest calling.
Marriage and family are the context created by God in which relationships are to be conceived and nurtured. For good or ill, we never fully rise above the nature of our nurture we received from our parents as children. As Patt and I have often taught through the years, the role of parents is to give their children both roots and wings. Strong roots anchor children spiritually and emotionally. Strong wings make it possible for them to soar to great heights of achievement.
Because our ministry has always been relationally focused, we have spent our lives building and nurturing relationships with people whom God has sovereignly networked us. First, it was with young people in America. Then, it was with national leaders in other countries. Both sets of relationships continue to enrich our lives!
As I have written before, we seek to build covenant relationships unto death – not functional relationships until some project is over!
What a joy it has been to have life-long relationships with some of our national partners to the degree that we have been a part of each other’s children growing up. Together we have experienced all of the “ups & downs…successes & failures…joys & heartaches…tragedies & triumphs” of parenting in the process – although often in very different cultural contexts. But, we have always found God’s principles of marriage and family to be trans-cultural. When faithfully applied, they work in any country, culture and context. As a result, we have literally enjoyed watching each other’s children grow and mature from infancy to adulthood.
In the process, it has been a joy known only to the heart of a parent to see so many sons “…become mature plants” that are fruitful for the Kingdom; and daughters become “…carved pillars fashioned for a temple.”
One such relationship is with Yacob & Linda Tshering. Our cultural backgrounds could not be more different. They are Tibetans; we are Americans. But, we have an eternal commonality in Jesus Christ that transcends our racial, linguistic and cultural diversity.
It has been our privilege to be a part of their family and ministry for several decades. We have partnered with them in the support of Tibetan orphans or needy children they have adopted and raised in their ministry they call “Champa Choeling,” or Place of Love. As far as we know, it is the only indigenous Tibetan ministry in the world – started by Tibetans for Tibetans. As we reported previously, Pastor Nima Tshering and his wife, Ridgzin, founded Champa Choeling. Pastor Nima is the recognized patriarch of Tibetan Christianity – and just turned 100 years old on January 1st!
After adopting, raising, educating and discipling needy Tibetan children, God gave their son, Yacob, and his wife, Linda, two children of their own – a girl, Dechen, and then a boy, Yondhen. They are both "miracle children", and have brought great joy to their parents and grandparents. Both are growing in spirit, soul and body.
The Tibetan newlyweds: Linda & Yacob Tshering.
Yacob & Linda with their young daughter, Dechen. At right,
Linda is pictured with their son Yondhen.
Their young family grows, as does their ministry.
Yacob, Linda & family with Pala & Amala Tshering,
the founders of Champa Choeling.
Dechen with her beloved grandfather, Pala, and at
right as a college senior on the Goshen College campus.
Just this past Sunday, April 24th, Dechen graduated from Goshen College in Indiana. We were honored to sponsor her parents to come to the States to be with her, and to participate in the graduation events.
Now Dechen hopes to go to Medical School and become the first known Christian Tibetan doctor! We covet your prayers for her as she studies for the MCAT exam this spring and pursues her goal of medicine in order to return to minister medically to the Tibetan people.
As you know from my last couple of emails, Yacob and Linda will be visiting us briefly in the Tri-City Area this week to meet with some friends and partners before returning to Nepal the first of May.
Your partnership with us has made our partnership with them possible. Thank you! Pray especially for Dechen as she continues to mature as the woman of God He created her to be – that beautiful “…carved pillar to adorn a palace!”
Enjoying resurrection family relationships locally and globally,
JL & Patt
“Jesus traveled about…proclaiming the Good News…
The Twelve were with Him and also some women…
These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
The Closer Walk Bible Study
Dear Ministry Partner,
Whether in the First Century or the Twenty-First Century, women have always played a proactive role in advancing God’s Kingdom. Many of the most important programs of local churches would cease if it were not for the women who “stand in the gap” and make things happen in the Name of Christ.
This reality is especially true when it comes to children’s ministries. While men are vitally needed in every area of a child’s life and development, most men are not very comfortable or creative in working with young children – in the home or in the church. A brief visit to the nursery or kindergarten Sunday school classes in any church will quickly reveal the scarcity of men!
The same was true during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Generally speaking, the ancient world was a very male dominated and chauvinistic society. While Jesus chose twelve men to be His apostles, we clearly see that women were a vital part of His inner circle of ministry.
During Easter, I often point out the crucial role women played around the events of Jesus passion – because of their feminine passion for Him. While all of the men fled in fear except John, a small band of bold women were at the foot of His cross as He died. Note how the earliest written Gospel records this:
“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed Him and cared for His needs. Many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there” (Mark 15:40-41).
It was because of their passion for Jesus that women were the last at the cross and the first at the empty tomb! As a result, it was the women who had the very first personal encounters with the resurrected Christ! These women were the first “evangelists” who announced the Good News of the truth of the resurrection to the male disciples – even to Peter, the leader of the Twelve.
Faithful women have been doing the same ever since. Across the years, Patt and I have often seen how women are the “first responders” to the Gospel in a particular area – and then the “first evangelists” of the Gospel that has transformed their lives. Once they meet and fall in love with Jesus, they go out and “gossip the Gospel” everywhere they go! Small churches are birthed as a result. That’s why so many women head many of the underground house churches in closed countries, like China.
So the Kingdom of God would be far behind where it is today, locally and globally, if it were not for the proactive passion of women! Through their feminine faith and maternal nurturing, women continue to play a vital and irreplaceable role in the spiritual family – just like they do in the physical family. Whether in marriage or in ministry, there are no replacements for women, wives, mothers and grandmothers!
CLOSER WALK…COMPASSIONATE WORK
It is my joy to once again share about another wonderful group of women followers of Christ who continue to “…support Him out of their own means.” This faithful group of 15 – 20 women is a part of the “Closer Walk Bible Study” founded by my sister, Judy Baer, back in 1989. They have been meeting together regularly ever since.
All of these sisters live in the Lawton, Oklahoma, area, and now are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Once a year they come together for a weekend “Garage Sale” to support various mission projects. In past years, they raised funds to build churches. In recent years, they have supported our Anugrah Children’s Home in Delhi, India.
This past weekend, their hard work resulted in an astounding profit of around $2,200. I use the word “astounding” because Judy said their highest priced item was $20! Most everything was tagged $1.00 - $5.00 – with the majority in the 25-50 cent range! They felt if they could raise $500, the yard sale was going to be a great success!
The ladies happily model their merchandise!
Each year they fear that what appears to be little more than “junk for Jesus” will not yield the results they hope and pray for. But every year, God miraculously multiplies the “loaves and fishes” to the degree that sales and donations far exceed their expectations! Any items that are left over are given to a local ministry or to needy families. This year several car and vanloads of leftovers blessed Teen Challenge and a needy family of 13 children – who thought Christmas had come again in April! By the time the sale was over, every item found a happy home. This “Garage Sale For Missions” becomes a “win-win” for everyone – especially the needy children in Delhi, India and Lawton, Oklahoma!
To help visualize and personalize this strategic partnership between the “Closer Walk Bible Study” group in Oklahoma, and the Anugrah Children’s Home in India, I want to share the pictures below. You can see the “before” and “after” transformation that has taken place in the lives of these children who were formerly “rag-pickers” in the slums.
At home and at play…
Off to School…
The Nepali woman who heads this ministry is Tabitha Tamang. She is the one to whom the Lord gave the burden to rescue these poor rag-picker children from the slums of Delhi. Her father, Pastor Bharat Tamang, is the Nepali pastor we have supported for over 2 decades as he ministers among the Nepali Diaspora who work in Delhi, and primarily to those living in the slums. A number of years ago we helped build him the Anugrah Church for Nepalis. Here is her brief testimony of how God called her to this work…
In the year 2008, I started to work with my father’s ministry as a Sunday school teacher. A year later I wanted to do a VBS for children in my own father’s church, which I ran for the next five years. I found the children to be benefiting from the VBS not only physically, but also spiritually. It had a great impact not only on the children but also on their parents’ lives. The parents started talking about the changes in their children’s behavior, their talking about Jesus and the amazing transformation they had taken place in a week due to the VBS.
As for me personally, I love kids! I love being around them and making a difference in their lives. I know I can’t bring changes to every child’s life but I wanted to at least help some of the most needy.
So, in the year 2010, my father and I talked about opening the orphanage Home in the wonderful premises of the Church. I told my father that I want to do something for orphaned children or kids that need care and love. After many days of discussion and prayer, we came to the decision that we will take the children from our newly opened fellowship in one of the worse slums where I had done 2 weeks of mobile Bible School for the kids. There I found out that the Nepali kids who came to join the Sunday school and the mobile VBS services were rag-pickers. That means that they collected and sorted through refuse to make a living.
These needy children were being looked after by single mothers, and as their mothers’ earning were very low, the children were required to take small jobs like rag-picking in order to contribute to the family income. After visiting them for some months and praying about it, I talked to the mothers of the children and told them what was in my mind and how I would like to help them and especially their children. In 2010 I took around 5 children and started the Anugrah Children’s Home. The kids now call me MOM and I am happy to be their second mother and look after them as one of my own.
Today these kids are very happy and studying in the English medium school. And they are growing day by day and talking about Jesus and the love that they found in Christ. I would especially like to thank JL for trusting in me and supporting me and spreading the word of Anugrah to his sister, Judy, and her Bible Study Group. Thanks to all of you for your work and the ministry you are doing in the heart of India to help us minister to these children.
The summer months open the door for a lot of creative opportunities for people like you to generate resources for God’s Kingdom. Whether through a yard sale, auction, car wash, yard work, BBQ, bake sale, concert, marathon, walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon, you too can help us change lives. With just a little creative effort, you and your church, Sunday School Class, Youth Group or Civic Club, can make a temporal and eternal change in the spiritual and physical need of a child somewhere in the world – and have fun in the process!
So, Patt and I lovingly urge you to resurrect and recycle some of those “dead assets” lying around your house! Be creative in using those unused and underused resources to help others in need – especially children. We can be your “mission link” to that needy child!
Have a “Spring Cleaning” for Jesus! Clean out your closets, garage, basement, attic, shop, office or business of all of that unused junque/junk that is just gathering dust, cobwebs and cockroaches! Turn it into food…clothes…medicine…education…hope…opportunity…life for a needy child!
Join the “Closer Walk Bible Study” in Oklahoma in some type of creative fund-raising endeavor for the needs of other – whether locally or globally or both. God will bless and reward you as you seek to be a better steward of your unused or underused resources. It can also be a positive and proactive step in controlling some of the insatiable materialism that is so rampant in America today. And as the saying goes: “Live simply so that others may simply live!”
Resurrecting and recycling resources for His Kingdom & glory,
JL & Patt
PS: Please remember the special "Tibetan Luncheon" next week in Burlington. The details are as follows:
When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the pagans,
for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Dear Ministry Partners,
The great difference between Christianity and all other religions is summed up in one word: relationship. While all religions are based on some form of rules, regulations, rituals, recitations, renunciations and reformations, Christianity is based on a living relationship with the one true God through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. And it is a living relationship only because of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We Christians have a living relationship because we have a living Lord.
The current National Geographic series titled “The Story of God” hosted by the famous Oscar-winning actor, Morgan Freeman, is a timely case in point. By the time this 6 part series is over, all religions will have been demonstrated to be but different spiritual paths to the same god. No surprise there! But nothing could be further from the truth! No rational thinking person who has done an even cursory study of world religions could buy into those faulty, pluralistic conclusions. Since the gods and goddesses of the entire pantheon of religions are so diverse, there is no way they have a spiritual commonality – or reach a common eternal destiny. While one can find a few similar themes in many of these religions if they look hard enough, they are only superficial at best.
Jesus Christ is not one of many – He is the One and Only. My Master’s Degree in Comparative Religions convinced me spiritually and academically of the absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ. When it comes to Jesus, there is nothing or no one with which to compare Him! He alone is “…the way, the truth and the life”(John 14:6) and man’s only path to salvation. And the best news of all is that HE IS ALIVE!
As Christians, we do not just follow the example of Christ…a set of ethics…the Ten Commandments…the Sermon on the Mount…the Golden Rule. We follow a Person who is alive and active through His Holy Spirit all over the world today – over 2,000 years after His death by crucifixion. No other religion can make those claims with credence and credibility.
If religious sincerity, dedication, obedience, prayers and sacrifice could save a people, the Tibetans would be the most spiritually saved people on earth – based on their sincerity alone! In Tibet, Nepal and India, I have watched Tibetan Buddhists endlessly spinning their prayer wheels, flying their prayer flags and prostrating themselves like inchworms around their stupas. But I see no peace in their eyes as a reflection of a spiritual assurance in their hearts.
No one can rightly criticize Tibetan Buddhists for their dedication and sincerity. People often say that it is “sincerity of heart” that God looks favorably upon. But one can be “sincerely wrong!” Islamic jihadists prove that! So did Jim Jones and David Koresh. Spiritual reality must have a more solid foundation than our subjective sincerity – which can prove to be nothing more than the deadly Kool Aid that killed over 900 in the Jonestown mass suicide.
A person’s faith must be based on something more than a charismatic leader. Tibetan Buddhists worldwide sincerely believe in their living deity, the Dalai Lama, as the source of their salvation in this life and the next. He is one of the most revered and respected religious people alive. And while there are many worthy virtues in his life, he cannot bring forgiveness of sin…peace of heart and mind…or spiritual assurance of eternal life after death. Even with compassion as their highest virtue, one does not sense spiritual peace in the hearts of Tibetan Buddhists – only a vague hope in a better reincarnation in the next life as a result of the “works righteousness” of this life.
While Tibetan Buddhism is based on the myth of reincarnation, Christianity is based on the fact of resurrection! There is an eternity of difference between the two!
Sadly, Tibetan Buddhism is another example of how the “…god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Cor. 4:4). And both the Bible and history show that Satan’s greatest delight is in using religion to “…blind the minds” of people so that they “…cannot see the light of the Gospel” in the face of Christ – who alone is the “…image of God.” All other spiritual images are counterfeits.
As a result of this spiritual blindness through religion, the Tibetans continue to be the least reached and least responsive people to the Gospel in the world today. That fact has changed little in hundreds of years – in spite of many years of sincere and sacrificial attempts by Westerners to relate to and reach them.
Once again we see the basic missiological principle that no one can better reach a person than someone from his or her own country, class and culture. So, the best missionaries and evangelists to Tibetans are other Tibetans.
Several decades ago, the Lord sovereignly connected us with Nima Tshering. He is affectionately known by other Tibetans and to us as “Pala” or “father.” That’s because, in many ways, he is the father and patriarch of Tibetan Christianity. As such, he is reputedly the oldest and most impactful indigenous Tibetan Christian leader in the world today.
Little could we have ever imagined such a relationship! It was not something we sought after or manipulated. It was a sovereign bestowment. And since our first meeting years ago in Kathmandu where they were working among Tibetan Refugees, Patt and I have sought to faithfully nurture this relationship.
Because of their love and compassion, they “adopted” us into their Tibetan hearts and home – known as “Champa Choeling,” or “Place of Love.” Across the decades, Pala’s wife, Amala, has become our adopted Tibetan mother. Their son, Yacob, and his wife, Linda, have become our Tibetan brother and sister in Christ. They have taught us all we know about the Tibetan people, religion and culture.
In the early days of their ministry, they began to adopt Tibetan children who lost their parents who were escaping from Tibet. These orphaned or needy Tibetan children were raised in a loving, compassionate, Christian environment where they were taught God’s Word. In addition, they were given a good education because of the partnership of our ministry.
Since Linda Tshering is also a renowned teacher herself, she helps tutor the children to insure that they do their best and make top grades – which they do, year-after-year.
Pala dedicated the last two decades of his life to translating the Bible into the heart language of the Tibetan people. And in recent years, we partnered with him to produce an “Oral Bible” for distribution among the Tibetans who are illiterate or oral learners.
For those of you who have a history with our ministry and us, you know that Pala just turned “100 Years Old” this past January 1st.
And at the ripe age of 100, Pala continues to minister weekly at their Tibetan home church.
The many Tibetan children they have adopted and raised across the decades make up the largest known group of Tibetan Christians in Nepal, India, America and Canada, and we are honored to have supported many of them since they were very little. Today, so many of them are grown, have graduated from good high schools and colleges, are married and are vocationally active, primarily among the Tibetan Diaspora.
Even though we did a special feature after the first of the year in honor of Pala’s 100th birthday, I am sharing this update because we are bringing Yacob and Linda to America for their daughter Dechen’s graduation from Goshen College. (Please click here to read a recent article on Dechen's fundraising efforts of behalf of earthquake refugees in Nepal).
Dechen, at left, with her beloved grandfather Pala,
and at right, on the campus of Goshen College.
After celebrating with Dechen, they will fly to Burlington for several days before returning to Nepal. For those in our area, we are having a special luncheon for a “Tibetan Update.” Andy and Jane Albright, longtime friends and partners of our ministry, and their staff at the National Agents Alliance (NAA) will host the luncheon. If you live in Burlington, Alamance County, or within driving distance, Patt & I invite you to join us at this special luncheon and update from Yacob and Linda, as they share on the challenges and opportunities of reaching the Tibetan world.
J. L. pictured with Andy Albright, CEO of NAA.
The luncheon details are as follows:
“TIBETAN UPDATE” LUNCHEON WITH YACOB AND LINDA TSHERING:
And for everyone who attends the luncheon, and who does not already have one, we would like to give a “Free Copy” of the book on Pala’s life: “A Tibetan Monk’s Story.” We pray that Pala’s book will provide you with a better understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, enabling you to proactively pray for generational Tibetan strongholds to be broken (II Cor. 10:4-6).
In His love & compassion for the Tibetan world,
JL & Patt
PS: Again, to attend the luncheon, please RSVP to us by phone (336-213-2990) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we will know how many to prepare for. Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you there!
“After His suffering,
He showed Himself to these men
and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive.
He appeared to them over a period of forty days…”
Rev. Soia Chinkhosoi
Dear Friends & Partners,
As I shared in my last weekly eNewsletter, Easter Is Never Over. That’s because Jesus is alive. While all other religious founders have rotted in their graves, Jesus was triumphantly resurrected and has continued to “…show Himself” and manifest His resurrection revelations through “…many convincing proofs.” And He has done so – not just for the “forty days” following His resurrection to “these men” (Twelve Disciples) – but for over two thousand years and to hundreds of millions of people all over the world!
So, Christ’s resurrection was not the “end of the story” – but the “continuation of the story.” It is the story of redemption that God has been writing since the dawn of creation. In fact, the first chapter was literally “written in blood” in the eons of eternity past before the creation of the world. That’s why the Bible refers to Jesus as the “…Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; c.f. Matt. 25:34; Heb. 4:3; 9:26).
Every salvation…healing…exorcism…deliverance…baptism…new church planted is a fresh manifestation of the resurrected, reigning and returning Lord Jesus revealing Himself in loving power and glory! Each is a fresh, contemporary example of the ongoing “convincing proofs” that Jesus continues to give as He fulfills His promise: “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18).
Patt and I daily receive wonderful emails and pictures from our dear partners in many countries and cultures proving that Easter Is Never Over. In the weeks ahead, I will focus on various partners and projects that prove Jesus is alive and active, building His church and extending His Kingdom in preparation for His return. We want you to be blessed and encouraged by these reports and the vital part you are playing through your prayers and partnership.
This week we begin in Nepal and end in Manipur – with a personal postscript from our family.
EASTER IN NEPAL…
"Christ is Resurrected" is written in this banner.
This past Easter Sunday Morning, more than 30,000 people from across Nepal gathered in the heart of Kathmandu for a special celebration of Christ’s resurrection. They marched in from different parts of the city, singing and carrying Easter Placards – many in traditional cultural dress.
Here is a brief report that was sent to me from Diliram Basnet, an associate of Pastor Hanok Tamang. “Dilli” is a graduate of the Bible College in Coimbatore, India, founded and headed by Murli Menon. So, it is a joy to see the results of this ministry partnership between India and Nepal.
In this brief following report, Dilli shares about how there were no known Christians in Nepal in 195l. By 1961 there were less than 500. Today there are over 1 million! I pray you will be blessed and encouraged by this fresh resurrection revelation of the risen Christ in Nepal (emphasis mine)…
“There are many reasons for the growth of Christianity in Nepal: evangelistic activities, social services as Christians believe in loving your neighbor as yourself when catastrophe strikes, healing miracles we often see, like the cripple walking and cancer totally eradicated. When a person is healed, that particular caste or group of people comes to faith in Christ.
Another main factor is the caste system practiced in Nepal. The caste system is divided into four groups: Brahmans (priests and scholars), Kshatriya (warriors), Vaisya (merchants and traders) and Sudra (laborers). In this system, the membership is both hereditary and permanent. Inter-caste marriage is almost impossible as it carries a social disgrace, especially when it takes place between two castes at the extreme ends of the society.
The caste of an individual basically determines his ritual status, purity, and pollution. This is the most mysterious facet of the caste system. The issue of purity and being impure exists not only between higher and lower castes, but also within one’s caste community. A person of higher caste is declared temporarily impure if his or her relative or family member dies, if she is going through menstrual period or if she has given birth to a child. The time period of one being declared temporarily impure is between a week and one year.
If a person is declared impure, such people are kept in a separate place in the house and generally not touched. Likewise, drinking water and food is declared impure if it has been consumed by another person. Impure food is thrown away and not consumed. Likewise, people belonging to a lower caste are declared impure for higher caste people for a lifetime. They are discriminated against and the higher caste people need purification or to be sprinkled by holy water. (Holy water is water, which has been sanctified by a priest or by making contact water with special Gold or the purpose of blessing of persons, places, and object or as a means of repelling evil.)
Even though the Hindu caste system was outlawed in 2001, the discrimination is still widely practiced, particularly in rural Nepal where people on the lower rungs suffer systematic abuse passed on between generations.
Many converts come from these lower castes. For them, Christianity is the only way to escape. It's the only way out. Socially, there's nothing they can do to change their caste. And then we come along and we share about Jesus and the love He has for them.
Under the new constitution, the freedom of religion is technically upheld but attempting to change or convert someone from one religion to another is punishable by law. In addition, Christianity remains socially unacceptable, often inciting violence and oppression. While you can legally choose your religion in Nepal, Nepali Christians continue to suffer inequality and persecution as they have for decades.
However, despite this constitutional ban on religious conversions, Nepal has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world.
Thank you for yours prayers and unceasing support. Respectfully in Christ,
The breaking of the caste system and the inherent racism it is built upon is one of the great manifestations of the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus. Whether in the First Century or Twenty-First Century…whether among Jews and Gentiles…whether in Nepal or America – only the Gospel has resurrection love and power to breakdown these racial strongholds. As Paul said:
“He Himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace…for through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:14-18).
As long as there is racism, prejudice, discrimination, inequality, injustice, marginalizing – Easter will never be over! It is the only route to reconciliation between racial, tribal or caste divisions! That’s why one of the greatest resurrection revelations all across the world is the “…one new man” that only Christ can create and recreate through the love of the Gospel!
Dilli helps Pastor Hanok in the office of the Aradhana Church. At right, he is
pictured with his wife and son in their small two room apartment.
In my earlier report titled “A Nepali Resurrection,” I shared the incredible story of Bikram Chepang who was miraculously saved after 3 days and nights of being pinned under the earthquake rubble. Like thousands of other Nepali Christians, he was in church when the earthquake happened. As the building collapsed on him and others, he was hopelessly trapped. The hours and days passed. Those trapped with Bikram died, including the pastor trapped close enough to him to touch. Bikram could hear the rescue parties, but they could not hear him. Finally he was found, and literally snatched from the jaws of death and “resurrected.” But because of the injuries he suffered from being trapped, he lost his left arm.
Bikram and Aruna Chapang
As a result of our sharing Bikram's story, God graciously moved the hearts of our partners to help him with the finances to buy a motor scooter so he could continue his education, $5,000 to buy a piece of land to build a house on, and another $5,000 to replace a destroyed “Chepang Church.” These pictures represent the “first fruits” of our ongoing partnership with Bikram and Aruna.
Pastor Hanok, Bikram and Aruna pictured with the new motor scooter that
Aruna will drive everyday to transport Bikram to college.
Bikram & Aruna on the land we have just purchased for
them. We hope to begin construction of their new home
on this land very soon, and we will update you with
pictures as the project progresses.
Now we move from Nepal to Manipur, India, for a fresh resurrection report from our partner there, Pastor Soia Chinkosoi.
EASTER IN MANIPUR…
We have had an ongoing partnership in the state of Manipur for several decades. It all began through one of our oldest partners in India, Bishop Ezra Sargunam, of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI).
Bishop Ezra Sargunam with Pastor Soia.
Soia is primarily an evangelist and not a local pastor. As such, he travels around Manipur holding Crusades, seminars, home ministries, administering communion, baptizing, performing marriages, distributing Bibles and starting various self-support ministries (please click here to see an earlier story on Rev. Soia).
As always, he had a busy and fruitful time of preaching on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter.
In a timely email that I received from Soia this week, he shared this:
“From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 5 peoples accepted Christ for their Savior and Lord through the messages. I preach on the love of God and the passion of Christ for the sinner. I thank God that He used me, and myself was also filled with the Holy Spirit at that time. A lot of people listened to the sermon with tears. How great is God’s love for us? I here sent you the pictures of the ministry: like the Bibles ministry, Wedding, Ordaining an elder, people share their testimony, Holy Communion Service, the Gospel Crusade, and the dedication of two homes.
Please continue to pray for Soia, his wife, his 4 children
and 4 adopted children (not pictured), and his ever-growing
ministry in Manipur.
EASTER IN BURLINGTON…
What a special joy it was for Patt and me to be present when our youngest grandchild, Joy Yael Williams, was baptized this past Sunday – at the tender age of (almost) 7! Her older twin brothers, Luke and Owen, were baptized several years ago. She has now followed their spiritual example in baptism as a public expression of her faith in Christ as her Lord and Savior. All of those being baptized wore a shirt saying, JESUS in my PLACE.
Patt and I, pictured with Julie, Jonathan,
Joy Yael, Luke & Owen after the baptism service.
Since we follow a risen Lord, there can never be a true CONCLUSION – because He is eternally at work. As Jesus said after He healed the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda: “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (Jn. 5:17).
Here again, we see the big difference between Christianity and all other religions. In those religious systems – which are all based on some form of “works righteousness” – people do all the work for their god or goddesses. And their works are not so much to please – but to appease – their deities. But, in Christianity, it is the resurrected and reigning Lord who is always working in our behalf.
That means, until He returns, His work will never be done. That’s why Paul said: “I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purposes” (Phil. 1:6; 2:13).
It is only because of His resurrection presence and power through His indwelling Holy Spirit that we can have this confidence. Easter Is Never Over! It never has been and never will be because we follow a risen and reigning Lord who is constantly manifesting His resurrection in and through the lives of His followers!
Partnering with Him and You in His on going resurrection revelations,
JL & Patt
P. S. To further your understanding of the importance of working with National Partners, I recommend my book, A Stragegic Paradigm in Missions. Please click here to be redirected to our online store, and order your copy today.
“Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world would not have room
for the books that would be written.”
Every day, all over the world, Jesus continues to manifest His resurrection presence, power, prosperity and peace. It is impossible for a resurrected and reigning Christ to do otherwise. Passive and inactive are incompatible with the resurrection! That’s why Easter is never over!
As every Bible student knows, each of the Four Gospels ends with a series of diverse resurrection appearances by Jesus. That’s because the resurrection validates everything written earlier about His life and teaching. If the Gospels ended with the crucifixion, death and burial of Christ, it would not be “Good News.” It would still be a compellation of “good views” on life by a man called Jesus who was one of the greatest teachers who ever lived. But, it would not be “Good News” about a risen, living Savior!
The story of Easter would be the worst news possible without the resurrection. Those of us who have been duped into believing it “…are to be pitied more than all men” on earth because our “…faith is futile” and we are “…still in our sins.” In addition, we who have preached it to others are guilty of being “…false witnesses about God.” Worse yet, all those who have died believing in His resurrection are eternally “lost” – believing that we are saved!
Also, those who suffered for Christ’s sake have sacrificed in vain. Their sufferings and deaths are no better than Islamic jihadists who blow themselves up in mass suicide because they believe that is what pleases their god, Allah. As Paul concludes, if Jesus was not resurrected, it would have been wiser to live by the hedonistic philosophy: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (I Corinthians 15:12-33).
But, the bodily resurrection of Jesus is a reality – which is why Easter is never over.
Doctor Luke’s “Fifth Gospel,” or the book of Acts, continues to recount these many manifestations of the risen Christ through His Holy Spirit working in the lives of His people. These carefully documented historic accounts by Luke are introduced this way:
“After His suffering, He showed Himself to those men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
So according to Doctor Luke, Easter was not just a one-day event. It continued for at least “forty days” as the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself “alive” over and over again to His disciples. And according to John, He did “many other things” that were so numerous that they could not all be written down. But, the specific ones that were recorded were “…written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).
So again, Easter will never be over because Jesus will never stop doing “…many other things” to prove that He is alive and well all over the world!
Down through the ages, these many personal encounters have convinced the most ardent skeptic and passionate adversaries of the risen Christ – starting with His disillusioned and disbelieving disciples. That’s why the book of Acts – which is in reality the “acts of Christ’s Holy Spirit” – continues to be written in and through the lives of believers around the world! Indeed, Easter will never be over!
One of the greatest adversaries of this “Jewish Messiah” was Saul of Tarsus. He was the Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakar al Baghdadi of his day! He was out to totally eradicate the message and memory of Jesus Christ from the world of his day – beginning with the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity. Nothing short of a personal encounter with the resurrected and reigning Christ could have so radically transformed him! Unlike many Islamic jihadists today, Saul was not “self-radicalized.” He was “radicalized” by the risen Christ! Nothing else could change a blasphemer to a believer…an apostate to an apostle…a persecutor to a preacher…a murderer to a missionary…a Jewish Fundamentalist to a Jesus Fanatic!
Those radical reorientations are explicable only in terms of a resurrected Christ who still transforms terrorists!
So just ask Paul. He will tell you that Easter is never over! That’s why he wrote one of the earliest and most succinct accounts of the various resurrection appearances of Christ:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living…Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (I Corinthians 15:3-8).
For most Christians in America, however, the Passion Week ends with Easter Sunday Morning Services at their home church. If they are zealous and a bit fanatical, they start Easter Sunday with a “Sunrise Service” because Mary Magdalene “…came to the tomb early, while it was still dark…” (John. 20:1). Sadly, those pre-dawn services have generally fallen by the wayside for most churches today in favor of sleeping in! But, they are an essential part of Easter in most Third World Countries where the church is growing so exponentially – and radically! I have participated in many of them beginning around 4:00 a.m.!
In many Western churches, after a long-rehearsed “Easter Cantata” or some rousing musical performance by the praise band – followed by a message on the resurrection of Christ – Easter is basically over for another year. And there’s usually a rush to finish by or before noon so everyone can get to his or her favorite restaurant for an Easter feast. Lenten fasting is over for Christians – similar to the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, ending the fast of their holy month of Ramadan!
By Easter Monday, most Christians turn the page spiritually and emotionally and make their transition back into normality as though Easter had never happened. The reality of the resurrection has made little lasting impact on their daily lives…marriages…priorities…plans…pursuits. It’s almost like Jesus’ body is still enshrouded in the grave in Jerusalem.
Just as we put aside the “Baby Jesus in the manger” the day after Christmas, the day after Easter we put away the purple or white linen-draped cross. Easter is over for another year.
But, Easter morning is just the beginning of the story – not the ending. When most of our Easter Sunday Services are over time-wise, Jesus has not yet made His major appearances to His disciples. Only Mary Magdalene and several other women (Mary, mother of James, Salome and Joanna) had seen Jesus in those early pre-dawn hours. And they had not initially recognized Him – but mistook Him for a gardener.
Along with the rest of the disciples, the women had no anticipation of a resurrection. They went to the grave to anoint the dead body of a beloved friend – never expecting to find an empty tomb! Their only concern was how they were going to roll away the large stone that sealed His body in the grave so they could get inside to anoint His dead body with embalming spices (Mark 16:3).
This small band of distraught women fully expected to find the lifeless corpse of their beloved friend that had been all-too-hastily buried without proper preparation. In womanly love, they were returning to the grave to complete the burial process with more spices and linen. It would be their last act of kindness to the man who had touched and transformed their lives – but who was now decisively dead and ignominiously buried in the borrowed tomb of a wealthy friend. They could not have emotional closure without those “last rites” of anointing His dead body for a more dignified and “decent burial.”
Over and over again, Jesus had told all of them about these events in advance in great detail. “The Son of Man,” Jesus had clearly told them, “must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Matthew 20:18-19; Luke 24).
But, it still never registered. It didn’t compute in their hearts or minds. They had no precedent or preparation for a literal, physical resurrection from the dead. It didn’t matter what the prophecies had foretold. Death by crucifixion was not a possibility in their belief system about the Jewish Messiah. Pain and suffering was not a part of the plan. But the crucifixion they had observed brought a gory finality to all of their Messianic hopes and dreams! It was over. Death and the grave had won – and they had lost everything!
The only winners that Passover were Pilate and the Sanhedrin who won the day through their political and religious complicity against Jesus, resulting in His betrayal, arrest, mock trial and hurried crucifixion. The Passover ended and there was no Easter because there was no resurrection. Or at least, that’s what everyone thought.
In the hearts and minds of all of His disciples, there was nothing left but unspeakable grief, heartbreak, confusion, disappointment, disillusionment, doubt, and fear. A resurrection was the farthest thing from their minds. There was absolutely no anticipation of a literal resurrection after such a decisive and gruesome death by crucifixion! Dead men don’t rise from the grave. Both their faith and fate was sealed in the tomb with the body of Jesus. It was over!
Only a few of Jesus’ female followers were going back to the burial site to complete their final act of love for their defamed and crucified “Rabboni,” or Teacher. And when they found the tomb opened and the body of Jesus missing, their logical conclusions were that someone had removed the body for some inexplicable reason. Still, no thought of a resurrection ever entered their minds. They just wanted to get His dead body back.
Even after the women encountered two angelic beings who said: “He is not here, He has risen,” they did not fully understand the message. But, when the resurrected Jesus tenderly spoke Mary’s name, she recognized Him. In her ecstatic faith, Mary Magdalene went to the disciples and insisted: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18). And yet, the testimony of Mary and the other women was largely ignored or rejected by the men.
Peter and John, however, did run to the tomb to investigate personally. Just as Mary and the women reported, they found the tomb empty with Christ’s burial shroud still in place like a cocoon that had released its butterfly. But, what they saw made no sense to their senses! In their minds there had to be another plausible explanation other than a resurrection. Dead men just do not rise again – especially after a horrible death by crucifixion.
So, at first, His chief disciples still did not “connect the dots” between the empty shroud and the resurrected Christ. Instead, we read that Peter “…went away wondering to himself what had happened” (Luke 24:12).
It was not until late Sunday afternoon and evening that all of the disciples finally saw Jesus personally (with the exception of “Doubting Thomas”). While the other disciples were struggling with their grief and fears together – Thomas was struggling alone. As a result of his isolation from the rest, he missed the first group experience with the resurrected Christ. What a timely “resurrection lesson” about the spiritual and emotional dangers of isolation after a great life crisis! A solitary sheep is always the most vulnerable to doubt, depression and despair.
Two of the disciples had personally and unknowingly encountered the resurrected Christ as they slowly walked the 7 long miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff). With unspeakable discouragement, they were walking away from Jerusalem – with no expectation that Jesus would rise from the dead in that very city just as He had clearly foretold. Like the other disciples, they had heard the testimony of these apparently hysterical women about the empty tomb and their encounter with the risen Christ. But with understandable male skepticism “…these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them…the words seemed like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).
It took nothing short of their own late Sunday afternoon revelation of Christ through the breaking of bread to convince them that Jesus was indeed alive! In reflection, they testified to each other about how their “…hearts burned within us on the road while He opened to us the Scriptures.” As a result, they hurriedly walked back to Jerusalem and found the other eleven disciples and exclaimed: “The Lord has risen indeed!” (Luke 24:32-35).
Their story reminds us that Easter is never over – even when we are walking in the wrong direction away from Jerusalem! The resurrected Christ still has time to walk along with those going the wrong way in life. As long as they are still open to talking about Him and opening the Scriptures with an open mind – Easter is never over!
Finally, on that first Easter Sunday evening, Jesus appeared to all the rest of the disciples in the Upper Room where “…the doors were locked…for fear of the Jews” (John. 20:19). Their response clearly reveals that they too were not expecting an encounter with the risen Christ – in spite of the testimony of the women and the two from Emmaus. They only feared the Jewish and Roman authorities might do to them what they had just done to Jesus on Friday. So they were locked up in their fears with no expectation of ever seeing Jesus again. He was dead and buried – and the same might soon happen to them if they came out of hiding. Their faith was dead and their fears were very much alive!
But, while Passover was over, Easter had just begun – and it would never end. And while they could lock the physical doors to the Upper Room where they fearfully cowered, they could not lock out the Risen Lord! If a sealed tomb could not keep Him in – locked doors could not keep Him out! Seals and locks are inconsequential to a risen Lord! That’s why Easter is never over. The resurrected Lord Jesus delights in “breaking out” or “breaking in” to all of those closed and locked areas of our lives.
Their collective response to His sudden resurrected presence among them was one of being “…startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” (Luke 24:37). They feared they were having a mass hallucination of a “ghost” – not seeing a bodily-resurrected Christ!
Jesus then confirmed Himself to them in resurrection word and deed. He first said: “Peace be with you” – quieting their hearts and calming their fears. Then He gave them the physical proof they needed to believe that He had really conquered death and returned from the grave:
“Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet, it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
But they still did not believe what they were hearing and seeing! Doctor Luke further explained this post-death encounter:
“When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And when they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence" (Luke 24:40-42).
John further amplified this encounter with these words of restoration:
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with You! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Received the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:21-23).
After this corporate encounter and experience with the risen Christ, they finally believed. Both their hearts and heads were convinced. There was agreement between their spirit and their senses. The evidence was irrefutable: that familiar voice they knew so well…the fresh scars in His hands, feet and side…His words of “Peace” that they had heard Him speak with quiet authority so many times before…their personal experience of His Holy Spirit through His breath of life…their commissioning to go out in His Name…the eating of the broiled fish. Indeed it was He! He was alive. The resurrection He promised had taken place. Easter could never be stopped!
But…Thomas was absent. So, when they found him and told them: “We have seen the Lord!” – he did not believe. He emphatically rejected their witness of Christ’s resurrection. “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands,” Thomas responded with skepticism, “and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it” (John 20:26). There would be no “easy-believism” on his part! There was no place for an Easter resurrection in his worldview – not without a personal experiential verification!
Easter was not over for Thomas! Resurrection love is too persistent to give up in the face of initial rejection. While Thomas was not thinking about the resurrected Christ – Jesus was pursuing him. So, a week later, the disciples were again gathered together and “…Thomas was with them.” And just as was the case a week earlier: “…the doors were locked.” But in spite of the locked doors, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
And then Jesus zeros in on Thomas and specifically addressed his doubts. “Put your fingers here,” Jesus motioned to Thomas, “see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”
As far as we can tell from the text, Thomas didn’t take Jesus up on the “touch test.” What he heard and saw was all the proof he could ever need. Besides, Jesus quoted back to Thomas the very words of doubt that he had expressed to the other disciples after they testified that they had seen the resurrected Christ. How did Jesus know what Thomas had said unless He was actually present – though unrecognizable by Thomas and the disciples?
Jesus’ obvious omnipresence and omniscience convinced Thomas that Jesus was truly risen and alive! With greater conviction than he had expressed with his doubt, Thomas expressed his belief in Jesus: ”My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28).
“Doubting Thomas” became “Believing Thomas.” His affirmation of the deity of Christ is one of the most amazing and succinct statements of belief found in the entire New Testament! While Jesus was pleased with Thomas’ restored faith and belief because of what he had seen and experienced, He reminded Thomas: “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
You and I are in that category because it is only by faith that we have only seen and believed in the resurrected Christ through the pages of the Bible and through our personal experience of Him through His indwelling Holy Spirit. And why is that possible? Because Easter is never over! The reality of the resurrection takes place every time sinners put their faith in Jesus Christ – which is only possible because He is alive!
Just as Thomas needed deliverance from his doubts, Peter needed restoration from his denials. You know this part of the story because it is the spiritual and relational capstone of John’s Gospel. Just as Jesus had warned Peter, he did indeed vehemently deny his relationship with Christ three different times during His trial. As a result, Peter’s remorse was unbearable. If he would not have had his own very personal resurrection restoration by Jesus, Peter might also have taken his own life just as Judas had done – either quickly or slowly.
But, resurrection love would not let him drown in his sorrows and remorse. Jesus met Peter again, on the same shores of Galilee where He had first been called him. And since Peter had denied Jesus by a charcoal fire, Jesus built another charcoal fire to restore him. Because there were three denials, there were three questions: “Peter, do you love Me?” Jesus did not ask them to Peter to push him further down in remorse and grief. He asked him the question thrice in order to heal him. As the Great Physician Jesus knew that the healing had to be deeper than the wound. For each of Peter’s three denials – there were three assurances of unconditional love and unqualified forgiveness. And wonder of wonders, Jesus also spoke three words of restoration to ministry: “Feed My lambs…Take care of My sheep…Feed My sheep.”
No doubt Peter could not believe what he was hearing! He had given up on himself and gone back to fishing (John 21:3), and he was sure Jesus had given up on him as well! His denials had destroyed his ministry – or so he thought. But Peter found out that Easter is never over! Not only had Jesus risen from the grave, He had also raised Peter to new life…new opportunity…new authority…new responsibility…new love for the Lord’s sheep – a whole “new direction” for living and leading (as we formerly called our own ministry).
After these intimate and healing moments of restoration with Peter, Jesus gave him a final sobering exhortation. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
John wrote these words of clarification: “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, ‘Follow me!’” (John 21:18-19).
Hit the pause button on this story for a moment and contrast two truths Jesus told Peter: “When you were younger…when you are old.” Jesus reminded Peter of his younger, head-strong years when he “…went where he wanted.” He was his own man. He was the ship’s captain. He called the shots. Everyone gave Peter a lot of space. He always got his way through bold, brash manipulation or intimidation. You crossed him and he would throw you overboard! As we often express it: Peter was like a bull in a china shop!”
But, because Easter is never over, everything changed for Peter. As he grew older and matured, he would submit to the sovereignty of the Lord in a way he could never have imagined when he was younger. The time would ultimately come when “…someone else would dress him and lead him where he did not want to go.” He would, indeed, finally fulfill his early brash boast that he would go to prison – or even die for Christ – before he would ever deny Him (Luke 22:34).
And tradition tells us that Peter did just that. But that’s another story.
Let me just close by asking where are you in this “younger/older” dynamic? Like young Peter, are you still your own man – or woman? Are you a “take charge” person who has never given up the reins of his or her life? Are you still in the driver’s seat? Do you still live in the delusion that you are in control of your life?
If that’s the case, let me remind you that Easter is never over! That means that Jesus is anything but through with you! His resurrection love is relentless. He will pursue you to the very gates of hell to woe and win you back to the Father’s love.
Because Easter is never over, it is only a matter of time until the circumstances of life will “…lead you where you do not want to go.” It may be through a divorce…the loss of your job…a financial collapse…a rebellious child…a crippling accident…a terminal illness. So often it is through seeming senseless and capricious circumstances that life will “…lead you where you did not want to go.”
But Easter is never over. Just as certainly as God raised Jesus from the dead, He too can raise you to new life in Him. And through the Holy Spirit, He will lovingly lead you where you always wanted to go – but just didn’t know how to get there! He will fulfill the deepest longings of your heart through His unconditional love. He will fill you with unspeakable joy through his unqualified forgiveness. He will release you to the purposes for which He created you through His unlimited power.
His final resurrection words to Peter are the same for you: “Follow Me.” As you follow Him, as He leads you where He wants you to go, Easter will become a daily reality – not just an annual event. And there are no “down-grades” in following Christ – only exciting “up-grades” to higher and higher levels of love, joy and peace! That’s why I often refer to the Christian life as a “Kingdom Adventure!” Only the resurrected and reigning Lord knows about the “many other things” that He intends to do through you because Easter is never over!
So, my dear friends, while we commemorated Easter this past Sunday, Easter is never over! It never has been – and never will be. Throughout time and eternity we will commemorate and celebrate the moment-by-moment realities of the risen Christ! And it doesn’t get any better than that – live or die!
In the weeks and months ahead I will be sharing the stories of many of our national partners whose lives and leadership prove that Easter is never over. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged by learning about those “many other things” that Jesus continues to do through His resurrection presence and power!
To Him be the glory in and through our lives!