“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” (Psalm 68:19) Selah is a musical interlude that allows one to think about what has just been sung. As I think about the last two months, I have to thank the Lord for His many benefits.
June was spent finishing up my two-month furlough. I was able to visit several supporting churches while staying with my parents in Michigan. I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of the pastors and people who treated me very kindly while I reported on our work in the Philippines. It was a joy to renew relationships, especially with some I had formerly pastored but had not seen in 10 or 20 years.
On June 22, I returned to Dumaguete after a long but uneventful flight. What a blessing it is to be able to circumvent the globe in hours compared to pioneer missionaries who had to sail for months to reach their fields! I was glad that when I arrived, I received a warm welcome from all and that I was actually missed during my short furlough.
Since the colleges in our area have shifted their academic years to begin in August instead of June, we have done the same. This has given us an extra two months to catch up on some needed areas, especially in replacing our large tent-meeting area with a new “homemade” tent. We also laid down a cement floor under the tent to cover the dirt and gravel that was once the floor.
One big change that took place while I was gone was the departure of the Lawrenson family to return permanently to America. Obviously this leaves some “big shoes to fill” as they pursue God’s will, but it has been amazing how our Filipino staff, college students, and church members have risen to the occasion to continue God’s work here. Please pray with us as we seek if the Lord will send another family from the USA to help with the teaching load at our college and provide a mature Christian example for our families here.
Meanwhile, God continues to bless our soul-winning and discipleship ministries. Three new students have been added to our college and one returning from a break in his pursuits at college. On recent Saturdays since I have returned, our church-wide soul-winning group of about 20 saw 138 and 186 trust Christ at a local park. God has used this group in the past to train our new converts to be soul winners and move on to being faithful servants of Christ in our local church. As of the end of July, we have seen 3,682 saved and 160 baptized this year through the ministries of IBC.
On the Christiansen family front, on July 21, my youngest son Caleb and his wife Emily were publically appointed as missionaries with FBMI to Nigeria, Africa. That makes four from our family, including me, who are missionaries on the same board. Truly, God has blessed me with the way He has worked in my children’s lives!
The Lord has loaded us down at International Baptist Church with many benefits, one of them being your faithfulness in supporting our ministry with your prayers and giving. May our Saviour also load you down with many souls saved and believers who will grow in the old-time faith of our fathers.
Yours for souls,