I would like to begin by saying “Thank you” to those of you who faithfully prayed for Ruth’s mother, Debbie Christiansen, during her 12-month battle with cancer. For those of you who have not heard, “Mom C” went Home to be with the Lord on March 22, 2016. Her passing was peaceful and painless, for which we are very grateful. Her body was returned from the Philippines to the United States and laid to rest in Memory Lane Cemetery in Crown Point, Indiana, on April 22, 2016. Throughout the entire ordeal, God’s grace has been very evident; and, in the weeks since her death, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from God’s people to our family. Thank you so much for your notes, emails, texts, thoughtful words, and acts of kindness. Ruth’s father, Scott Christiansen, is doing well. Ruth and I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with him leading up to and following the funeral. He will be in the States for about another month and a half before returning to his work in the Philippines. I will never cease to be amazed by his stability and faith in God.
In the meantime, our family is doing very well. God has continued to bless our deputation with salvations, as well as in our finances. Since our last prayer letter, God has allowed us to see 18 precious souls come to know Christ. We have also had several new churches take us on for support or promise to do so in the near future. We are currently receiving over 43% of our needed support, with another 6% promised, which means we are drawing very near to the halfway mark. Praise the Lord!
In our last prayer letter, we announced that Ruth and I are expecting our third child. Since that time, Ruth has been able to squeeze an ultrasound in between deputation meetings, and we are pleased to announce that we will be having a boy! We have chosen the name Andrew James, and Michael and Beth couldn’t be more excited about having a little brother. Michael, who is still three, has repeatedly made the statement, “I want my baby brother to come out now!”
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. Our schedule for the rest of the year is filling up quite nicely. Please pray that God would allow us to fill the remaining slots in our schedule. Please also pray for our safety as we travel. Lord willing, between the first week of June and the second week of September, we will travel from Maine to Southern California.
Recently in family devotions, I was reviewing the Gospel with Beth, who has been saved a little over a year. In answer to the question, “What did Jesus do to save us?” Beth, using her hands to illustrate each point, said, “He died on the cross, He was married, and He rose again.” Apparently at this point, she’s not quite ready to teach a class on theology–or vocabulary, for that matter.
Dividends on Your Investment
This past Monday, May 2, 2016, Ruth and I were driving home from a great weekend meeting with Pastor Paul Frey in Alpena, Michigan. It was a lengthy trip, about 277 miles. The weather was pleasant, as was the trip . . . for the first 275 miles, that is. With two miles to go, we stopped at an intersection. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know that there was air in my tire when I stopped, but by the time I reached the other side of the intersection, that was no longer the case. We had been blessed with every missionary’s favorite opportunity: character building through tire changing. My dad came out to help me, and we quickly swapped the flat tire for the spare and threw the old tire in the back of my van.
The following day I needed to use the back seat of my van, so I took the tire out of the van and put it in my parents’ garage. Two days later, completely forgetting about the tire in the garage, I drove my van to Belle Tire to look into replacement options. I looked over my three remaining tires with a manager. All three were showing wear, and Belle Tire was offering a very good deal on the exact size tire that I needed. I concluded that the time had come to replace all four tires, so an employee pulled my van into the shop.
About two minutes later, the manager walked into the waiting area where I was sitting and asked, “Where is your old tire?” I grimaced in frustration and told him that I had left it in the garage at home. He told me to wait for a minute and walked back into the shop. A couple of minutes later, he walked back out and told me that he had arranged for an employee to take me home in a company truck to pick up my tire, allowing them to get started on my van right away.
As soon as I got in the truck, the Holy Spirit started pushing me to witness to the driver, a 24-year-old named Ben. To be painfully honest, I didn’t want to witness to him. He was really a nice guy, but witnessing wasn’t part of “my plan” for the day. We chatted as we drove, but after several minutes of small talk, I finally gave in and began steering the conversation toward the Gospel. As it turned out, Ben felt that he was a pretty good person but was still very unsure of his salvation. He was wide open and very sharp. I witnessed to him all the way to my parents’ house and all the way back to the shop. When we reached the shop, Ben parked the truck, and I asked him if I could close in prayer. He and I bowed our heads, and, sitting in a truck cab in the Belle Tire parking lot, Ben put his trust in Jesus Christ!
As we unloaded the tire off the back of the truck, I told Ben how I had gotten the flat tire the previous Monday. Ben looked at me and made an insightful statement that blew me away. He said, “Maybe that happened so you could come here today.” Looking back at the story, I think Ben was right. All I can say is, Our God is awesome!
Yours for souls,