“Later Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus…
He was accompanied by Nichodemus.”
Dear Friends & Partners,
It has always been my commitment to be on some “cutting edge” for the Lord Jesus over Easter. That’s why I have seldom been home for Easter in over 4 decades. In the earlier days of the New Directions, as pictured below, we were on the beaches of North and South Carolina sharing Christ with tens of thousands of college students who were there for “sun, sand, surf, suds and sex!” Few if any were there to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus!
After that season of ministry ended for me, my Easters have been spent in countries like Haiti, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, and Nepal – sharing Christ and celebrating His victory over sin, death and Satan. Since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our faith, Easter is just too crucial a time not to be proactive for Him.
There are too many needs, challenges and opportunities in America and around the world for us to be content with new Easter clothes … Easter bunnies … Easter baskets … Easter egg hunts! And as important as special Lenten observances, Easter Sunrise Services and Easter Cantatas are, they can be self-serving substitutes for the radical spiritual transformation the resurrection makes possible.
Since the events of Easter separate Christianity from all other religions, it is a time we must seize for the Kingdom of God! So whether in your own local community or in some remote part of the world where Christ is not known, all of us need to seek to strategically make the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus known.
This year the Lord has led me to Kenya for a special outreach to the “Samburu elders”, April 17-19. Through the years, we have held many outreaches to the Samburu morans, or warriors, through our partner, Stakwell Yurenimo – because he was a moran. We have had many special programs for children through sports, camps and VBS. In the last two years we have held historic conferences to the Samburu women, through Patt’s leadership. Through these outreaches, we have seen scores accept Christ and follow Him as their Lord and Savior.
But usually the real “power brokers” in any society are the older men – the chiefs and elders. They make all of the major decisions that influence and impact everyone else. They are the shapers of the culture and guardians of tradition. As such, they are often harder to reach than the children, young people or women. They are the ones who not only resist the Gospel the most; they are also the persecutors of the ones who become Christians.
I have shared the verses above about the key role that two “Jewish elders” – Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus – played in the burial of Jesus Christ after His death on the cross. The disciples and women were powerless before Pilate and the Roman Government. But we read about how these two “secret disciples” used their elder-ship influence to secure the body of Jesus:
“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs…and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there” (John. 19:38-42).
So, these two old Jewish elders – both “secret disciples” because of their fear of the Jews, rose to the challenge. They used their social influence and financial resources to care for the body of the Lord Jesus! And in doing so, their secrecy and silence were forever broken! We hope, pray and expect to see the same thing take place among some of the elders of the Samburu people.
With that firm calling and conviction, this Easter we will be holding a historic “Elder’s Conference” for key Samburu men. In addition to teaching them from God’s Word, we will also be giving each one a “Solar Digital Player” with the Bible in the Samburu language. On my last trip there, some of the elders said to me:
“You have had Conferences for the morans, children and women. And you have given them the players in our language. But what about us? When are you going to do the same for us?”
We have been praying and waiting for such an open door with these Samburu men for years. So this was a huge break-through! And this Easter is the time the Lord has led us to hold this strategic conference.
Some of the former Samburu morans are now “Junior Elders” who accepted Christ when they were warriors. During this conference, we want to nurture and encourage them also. I will be preaching and teaching alongside my Samburu son, Stakwell.
I need your spiritual and financial partnership for this historic conference. We need support to feed the 50+ men one good meal a day, plus tea in the morning and afternoon. We will give each of them a “Solar Digital Player” and a small gift. Finally, I am also in need for my own personal travel expenses to Kenya. Our budget for this mission is as follows:
So please make a special “Easter Gift” of whatever amount the Lord puts in your heart to give – whether $20, $50, $100, $500 or $1,000. Every penny will be used to advance the Gospel among the Samburu people – this time through the junior and senior elders. For your convenience, you may donate online through PayPal at www.jlwilliams.org/donate/.
In His Resurrection love & power for the Samburu Elders,
PS: I also have a friend going over to help finish Stakwell’s house. His name is Craig Burr, and this will be his third trip. He is an ace mason and carpenter. So any additional funds that come in will go toward the remaining balance that we need to complete Stakwell’s house.