Greetings from Southern Michigan! My family and I did something yesterday that we haven’t done in over five years—we went shopping for jackets! It’s not cold here, but it’s less than 80 degrees, so it feels cold to my kids . . . and even to Ruth and me at times. It was just a little over two months ago that we announced in our prayer letter that we would be taking a furlough. Now, it’s hard to believe that it’s already here. We arrived this past Monday morning after a long, but fairly uneventful trip. At the moment, I am still struggling with jetlag. It’s 2:30 Friday morning, and my family is sleeping soundly, but I’m wide awake and writing my prayer letter. 😊 We’ve only been in the States for four days, but we have already been blessed in so many different ways. It’s been so nice just to be able to relax and spend some time with my parents. Our home church, Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, Temperance, Michigan, has already made us feel so loved. At our first service back, they gave Ruth a surprise baby shower for our soon-to-arrive little girl. That was such a blessing! Beyond the obvious financial help, it was just a reminder that we have a lot of good friends who really care about us. I know we are just beginning our three-month furlough, but I already feel encouraged and strengthened! We can’t wait to see many of you over the next few months!
Our New Building
Before I jump into our plans for our time here in the States, let me take a moment to thank all of you who prayed for our move into our new church building in Dapitan. We had been waiting and praying for the electric company to come and connect our building to the power grid, but they were just taking their sweet time getting around to it. All our paperwork was in order, and one of my staff men was following up almost every day, but we had no idea when they would decide to show up. Welcome to the mission field! 😊 So, I finally just stepped out on faith and set the date for July 10. I told the church that we would be moving WITH OR WITHOUT POWER, and then we prayed even harder. Thankfully, God saw fit to answer our prayers—and yours, too, for that matter. I made that decision on June 31. Just four days later, the power company finally showed up! We got our electric connected with six days to spare! That gave us a full workweek to move everything and prepare for our first Sunday in the new building! With God’s help and a whole lot of hard work by our people, we made the move! God is good!
Thank you to all of you who have invited us to come and give an update. I really wish that we could get around to see everybody, but obviously, on a three- month furlough, that is not feasible, especially with a pregnancy complicating everything. This is our tentative plan, assuming that Hannah Grace doesn’t mess anything up. 😊 We will be staying with my parents for the next few weeks, visiting several of our supporting churches in the area. At the end of the month, we will be taking a trek down through Oklahoma and Texas. From there, we’ll travel back up through Missouri and finally settle down in the Hammond area, where we will be staying until the baby is born. Ruth’s due date is looking to be somewhere around November 10-12. Please pray that God would bless the final months of her pregnancy and that there will be no complications. Please pray also for our travels and that God would bless our church in Dapitan while we are gone. As much as we are enjoying our time here in the States, our hearts are still very much in Dapitan with our people. Thank you for your prayers and faithful support.
Dividends on Your Investment
God gave me a sweet soul-winning experience a couple of weeks ago while we were right in the middle of preparing for our big trip. It was Friday afternoon, September 2. I was on a tight schedule and feeling the pressure. I had several things that I needed to do in the office, and just as I was about to get started, the brownout came! I was not happy! My plans had been interrupted . . . again! However, I had another problem that was even more annoying. Just two days before at our midweek Bible study, I had preached a message on how God often uses the “truck of trials” to “deliver” blessings in our lives. I had said that our response to trials and difficulties often hinders God from delivering the blessings that He wants us to have! As soon as the frustration began to rise in my heart, God reminded me of that message! I promptly concluded that it was a stupid message and decided that I didn’t believe that anymore! 😊 However, God wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily, so I stopped and said, “Lord, I can’t do what I was planning, so what should I be doing right now?” Then God reminded me about Hannah, a sweet young lady in the sixth grade who has been faithfully attending our church for quite some time. (In other words, I don’t know how long.) I had been trying all week to get over to her house so I could talk to her grandmother and ask permission for her to be baptized, and now God pointed out to me that this was a perfect opportunity to make that visit. So, doing my best to have a good attitude, I drove to my house and picked up my daughter so she could show me exactly where Hannah lives. When we arrived at Hannah’s house, she wasn’t there, but BOTH her grandparents were! I knew Hannah’s grandma, but I don’t think anyone from our church had ever met her grandfather. As soon as I saw him, the Holy Spirit pricked my heart and said, “He’s the reason you’re here.” I disagreed; he was not the reason I was there. I was there to ask permission for Hannah to be baptized, but once again, God wouldn’t let it go, so I turned the conversation to the Gospel. Both grand-parents were so wide open to the Gospel! About 30-40 minutes later, both of them bowed their heads and put their faith in Jesus Christ! As a side note, as we bowed our heads to pray, the power came back on! God’s purpose for the brownout had been accomplished!
Yours for souls,