James Belisle Prayer Letter:  Bittersweet ChristmasLinda and I have been very busy since my last letter to you in November. My goal was to get this letter out before the end of the year; but, as sometimes happens to our goals, I did not reach that goal.

Much of our time in November was spent in preparation for our annual Live-Animal Christmas Play that is presented to the public during the early part of December. I have had many parts in this play through the years. Many years I spent in the prop room helping with the scene changes and rarely ever saw the play except on the videos we would make each year. Recently I have had a variety of parts: from a prophet foretelling the birth of our Lord Jesus to a wise man to a slave carrying a chair on which rode one of the royal family. This year was no different, as I played in two scenes. We rejoice that in the 7 showings (1 on Friday and 3 each on Saturday and Sunday), we were able to see over 4,000 individuals come to the play, with over 400 trusting Christ as their Saviour. I was asked to count the people in one section of the auditorium, as well as those getting saved. In one of the showings, I could see a lady’s lips move as she prayed to get saved. The minute our pastor asked those getting saved to raise their hand, without hesitation she shot her hand in the air. That is why we put so much work and prayer into this yearly play. We have many people who are now members of our church because they came to see the play.

Unfortunately, on Sunday, December 18, we received a call from the veterans’ home where Linda’s brother lived, saying Bob was going downhill fast. We changed our plans to leave the next day so we could see Bob one last time before he went Home to be with the Lord. That Monday morning before we left the house, the home called again telling us that Bob had died that morning. For the next four days, we had to prepare for the funeral and organize Bob’s meager belongings. Thankfully, Bob had prepared for this moment, and that made our task much easier.

I preached Bob Shogren’s funeral on Thursday, December 22, in Iron Mountain, Michigan. There was such a sweet spirit during the funeral. We sang the songs, “Amazing Grace,” “Victory in Jesus,” and “Where We’ll Never Grow Old.” People testified on what a blessing Bob had been in their lives. Four times the Gospel was either preached or alluded to. We were able to share with people who expressed their sympathy that Bob was in Heaven, and we were able to share how Bob, even with Parkinson’s, tried to win people to Christ. We then laid him to rest right next to his mother, father, and brother, who had left this world in years past. Bob was a saved man and had spent the last 30-plus years serving the Lord in his local church. We thank God that his suffering from Parkinson’s disease is over, and he is rejoicing today with his wonderful Savior.

Pray with me as I plan my next trip to Nigeria in April, where I will be preaching in both a National and Regional Soul-Winning and Leadership Conference.

James Belisle