It’s hard to believe that 2016 is over. It truly was an incredible year in so many ways. I couldn’t even begin to tell of all God’s blessings throughout the year, but I’ll try to give you an overview. We traveled nearly 39,000 miles, with many close calls but not a single accident. We were able to present our ministry in 87 different churches. We had the privilege of leading souls to Christ all across the country, from Johnston, Rhode Island, to Los Angeles, California. Most importantly, we stayed overnight in at least 98 different locations, and we never one time left a child behind. There ought to be a special reward in Heaven for that! I could go on and on, but I need to move on to the events of the last couple of months.
Christmas at Home
We had a great holiday season with my parents and some of my siblings. It was particularly special due to the fact it will be our last Christmas in the States for a very long time. We also got to spend some time with Ruth’s side of the family right before Christmas. I am very happy that my children were able to enjoy one more Christmas with their grandparents on this side of the ocean, but don’t feel sorry for us. My kids have it made; next year they’ll be spending Christmas with Grandpa Christiansen in the Philippines. God’s kindness to our family is absolutely amazing.
The Final Phase of Deputation
I think that I can officially say that we are in the final phase of our deputation. In the two months since our last letter, five new churches have begun supporting us, pushing us over the 80% mark of our needed support. As of right now, I have scheduled meetings up till the end of May; and, Lord willing, we will be on the field by July or early August! Thank you so much for your prayers! We are almost there!
On March 28, I will be taking a two-week trip to the Philippines to look for housing options. I don’t think I could be any more excited! It makes it seem so real. I’m not particularly excited about traveling alone, but if Ruth came, the cute little terrorists would have to come too. If you think that that would be a good idea, you’ve never gone house hunting on a motorcycle during hot season in the Philippines! Finding a house in Dapitan will be our first big challenge, but I’m praying that God will bless my way and allow me to find a house during this trip.
Dividends on Your Investment
I will never cease to be amazed by our God’s creativity when it comes to soul winning and divine appointments. I have led thousands of people to Christ, and no two situations have been exactly the same. Everyone gets saved in the exact same way, yet God creates a unique plan for each of us individually to bring us to the point that we are ready to hear the Gospel and be saved.
On November 25, I went out to do some soul winning. Ruth wasn’t feeling well, so I was by myself. It was cold and windy, and I really didn’t want to knock doors without a partner. As I drove through Toledo, Ohio, I prayed that God would lead me to someone who was ready to be saved. I turned off the main road and drove down a side street. I’ll be honest; the streets were quiet, and I wasn’t feeling very hopeful. About that time, I saw a young couple walking towards me on the sidewalk. They looked cold; and, in my faithless mood, I really didn’t expect them to listen, but I parked the van and got out. As I walked across the street, I concluded that they were probably in their late teens. I forced a cheerful smile and offered them both a tract. I said, “That has the best news I ever heard: how you can know for sure you’re on your way to Heaven. You’d like to know that, wouldn’t you?” The girl, with a surprised but slightly smug smile on her face, nudged her boyfriend and said, “That’s what I was just telling you about.” Now it was my turn to be surprised. I thought that maybe she was saved and had been trying to witness to her boyfriend. However, when I pressed further, I learned that they had just left McDonald’s a few minutes before, and as they walked out, she gave her extra hamburger to a homeless man outside. She had just been telling her boyfriend that she was sure she was going to Heaven because she did nice things like that.
At that point, it was all I could do not to laugh. I thought, “You think you’re going to Heaven because you gave a guy a hamburger . . . and a McDonald’s hamburger, no less?!”
In spite of my amusement, it was very obvious to me that God had been working on her heart. She had been thinking a lot about what it takes to get to Heaven, and over the next 20 or 30 minutes, I got to explain it to them. Once they realized that salvation has nothing to do with their good works (or hamburgers), Karana and her boyfriend Antonio both happily bowed their heads and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone!
Our God is awesome, but He is also so creative! There is nothing like soul winning!
Please be in prayer for the following requests:
Safety as we travel, particularly during the winter months
That God would allow us to fill the remaining slots in our spring schedule
That God would guide me as I look for a home for our family
That God would allow us to quickly raise the remaining 20% of our needed support
Thank you so much for your friendship, your prayers, and your faithful support. It is a joy to partner with you in our efforts to reach the Philippines with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yours for souls,