It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already upon us. Time certainly does fly. In some ways, it seems like just yesterday that we were getting on a plane to return to the States for our second round of deputation, and now we’ve been here for over seven months! The year 2015 was an absolute roller coaster for our family, but God has been so incredibly good to us every step of the way. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support throughout this time of transition in our lives and ministry.
This past December we got to enjoy our first Christmas with my side of the family since we went to the field in May of 2010. We also got to spend several days with some of Ruth’s family, and I had the unique privilege of leading one of Ruth’s cousins to Christ. Ruth and two of her brothers were there. They, along with the rest of their family, had been praying for this cousin to be saved for nearly two decades. It was a very special moment.
Beth and Michael are handling the deputation trail extremely well and succeeding grandly in making sure it is never boring. Recently Beth, Michael, and I watched a video of young children telling the Christmas Story. At one point in the video, a little boy was trying to remember the wise men’s three gifts. He said, “Gold, Frankenstein . . . .” And he couldn’t seem to remember that third gift. At that moment, not noticing his error and ever eager to help, Beth blurted out, “And murder!” No, life with our kids is never dull!
I’d like to thank those of you who have been praying that God would bless our scheduling efforts. Within a four-week timeframe between November and December, God allowed us to schedule 15 meetings for 2016. On top of that, just two days before Christmas, I received an email inviting us to a conference in California. Praise the Lord! I’d also like thank those of you who have been praying for Ruth’s mother, Debbie Christiansen, who is in the Philippines fighting Stage IV cancer. Eight months after being given six months to live, she is continuing to stubbornly defy the doctors’ predictions, and I believe your prayers have much to do with that.
In my last letter, I told you about Debora, a lady I led to Christ in November. On Decem-ber 6, Debora visited Lewis Avenue Baptist Church and chose to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism! Please pray that she will continue to grow in her new faith and that I will have an opportunity to wit-ness to her grand-daughter Erin.
Dividends on Your Investment
A couple of months ago, I was absolutely thrilled to discover italki.com, a website specifically designed to connect language students with tutors and professional language teachers. I had been concerned that I was losing some of my fluency in Cebuano, and this was a perfect opportunity to practice may Cebuano. Ruth and I scheduled a 30-minute trial session with a young lady named Analiza from the Philippines. As it turned out, Analiza is a student at a university in the city of Dumaguete, where we helped to start the International Baptist Church! Our first session went extremely well, so I scheduled a second session for a couple weeks later on Monday morning, November 16. This time I scheduled an entire hour. I was hoping to witness to her, and I wanted to make sure that I would have plenty of time if God opened the door. A few minutes into the session, I turned the conversation toward spiritual things and asked her in Cebuano if she was sure she was going to Heaven. She replied that she was doubting. Continuing in Cebuano, I told her that there were four simple things she needed to know in order to be saved. I then asked if I could share them with her, and she replied that it would be fine.
As I began sharing the Gospel, I was a little concerned that maybe she was just patronizing me. After all, I was paying her for her time; but the more I explained, the more obvious it became that she was very interested. I asked her if she had a Bible, and she replied that she had one on her phone. As I moved from point to point, she would look up each verse on her phone and read along with me. She had a lot of questions; and, as my Cebuano is a little rusty, my Gospel presentation took a little longer than average. I was able to finish, though, with about 10 minutes to spare. Analiza and I bowed our heads on opposite sides of the world, and I led her in a simple sinner’s prayer. When we raised our heads, Analiza was beaming. I took the last few minutes to teach her about eternal security, and then I invited her to visit our church there in Dumaguete.
The following Wednesday morning, Analiza showed up at International Baptist Church with her boyfriend in tow. My father-in-law, Scott Christiansen, was there, along with most of our Bible college students. While they were at the church, Jason Garganian, one of our college young men, was able to share the Gospel with Analiza’s boyfriend; and he got saved too! I received the following message from Analiza later that day:
Hi Mike! I went to