Coffee and Scrolls

“Should I stand up and read the Christmas scroll to everyone here in the coffee shop?” my dad asked me this morning as we sat down together in a cute small coffee shop.
“Not if you want me here,” I replied with a smile, feeling that wasn’t the best approach. 🙂
He laughed.
Thankfully God did provide gospel opportunities at the coffee shop, and ones that were a bit more natural.
Dad gave Christmas Scrolls (which contains the Christmas account from the Bible) to people at a couple tables next to us. Then we thanked the girl who worked there as we were walking out.
“Have fun setting up your tree!” she told us (we had told her we just came from cutting down our tree). She said, “I’ve never had a real tree, we’ve always just had an artificial one.”
“Well, you know what I tell people?” my dad replied. “It’s okay to have an artificial Christmas tree. But it’s NOT okay to have an artificial Christmas!”
She heartily agreed.
Then my dad continued, “Today Americans are biblically illiterate. They know more about the Grinch than about Christ.”
“Preach it!” another lady drinking her coffee said.
My dad laughed.
“We’re trying!” we said.
As we walked out I told dad, “You should have said, ‘Really?! Preach Here? Now?'”
Dad laughed.
Christmastime provides so many new ways to turn people’s thoughts to spiritual things. May the Lord open opportunities for all of us.

Christmas Scrolls Across the Nation

We’ve been very encouraged by the response to our newsletter and by how many are wanting to distributing Christmas scrolls this year! We have thousands of scrolls going out in the mail today.

Nickie processing orders

Almost every family in America celebrates Christmas, yet most do not actually read the Bible and probably don’t even know where to find the account of Christ’s birth. So our family began thinking, “What if we gave them a copy? What if Christians all over the country distributed one-page copies of the Christmas account from Matthew and Luke? Not only would families have something short and readable in their hands, but, if they read it, they and their families would be hearing a part of the Word of God for themselves.”

Last year, we printed 5,000 “Christmas Accounts,” and many of you helped to hand them out. This year we ordered 18,000. They are printed on attractive, glossy paper, and we like to roll them up like scrolls, and band them with green paper or a ribbon. People received them enthusiastically. At the Christmas parade in our town last year, people thanked us and many made comments to the effect that they “had always wanted to read it for themselves.”

If you’d like to join us, you can purchase a pack of 50 from our online store for $6 or a pack of 100 for $11.

Here are some ideas of how they can be distributed:
• Hand them out when you check out at stores over the Christmas season. (Carry pre-rolled scrolls inside an empty paper towel roll to keep them from getting squished in your bag or purse.)
• Give a plate of Christmas cookies to your neighbors and include a Christmas scroll with each plate, or give one to houses in the neighborhood of your church.
• Encourage other families at your church to give them to their neighbors too.
• Go Christmas caroling and hand them out at each house.
• Send them with Christmas cards or letters to relatives.
• If your town has a Christmas parade, that is a good place to hand them out and get into witnessing conversations.
• If there is a Live Nativity somewhere in your town, you could suggest that they give one to all who come.
• A college town is a good place to hand them out, especially to international students.

Here’s some of today’s shipment. Please join us in praying for the Lord to use His Word in the homes in America in which they will land.

Speak Truth Conference: Snowflakes & Answered Prayers!

The conference started out with a typical array of complications, beginning at home … one of which was our dying printer. Of course it would stop working just when we had tons to print for the conference. My dad developed a little rhythm and when he’d hit the printer just right it would start working again for a while (our superb IT skills when Stephen’s not around). We are thankful that it worked just long enough to finish printing what we needed. (And we are thankful that Stephen purchased a new printer for us now.)

Setting up Thursday night in Hudson, especially grateful that Anna Kirk was able to fly in from Washington state for the weekend to help and teach a break-out session.

The day of the conference we awoke to beautiful big snowflakes which we enjoyed with coffee, soft music, and our Bibles in the comfortable home where we were staying … what a peaceful start to a conference day for the team we brought from Iowa to help lead the conference.

A couple hours later, we enjoyed a sharing time from the Word and prayer meeting with the local Bright Lights leaders and moms who hosted the conference. What a highlight to hear each others’ hearts and be so united in spirit, even though many of us had never met before.

The girls and moms in this picture (beside our team) are from a Bright Lights group that was originally started by Katelyn Lowery in 2012. After a few years, Katelyn passed it on to her sister, who then passed it on to a selection of five or six older teenage girls from within the group. These older girls led the group together for a while and then decided to split into three different groups. These groups have continue to grow, and we rejoice to see the prayer that has been going into this ministry, and the fruit coming out of it. They all did a wonderful job hosting the conference.

Leaders and helpers from the local Bright Lights groups greeting conference attendees

The weather was very windy and cold as the conference was beginning!

Of course this made it feel so much more cozy and cheery inside! Here local Bright Lights leaders are distributing name tags and conference journals.

The local Bright Lights group shared with us weeks ago about specific request they were praying for this conference. We’re so grateful for their labor of love through prayer.

I think one of the reasons it’s encouraging is because the girls can look around and see, “Wow–I’m not the only girl left on this earth who is seeking to live as a godly woman.” Others are building their lives on the foundation of Jesus and His Word and living it out, and we are in this together.

I’m delighted to announce that Nickie, who always prefers to be behind the scenes, is not only on the cover of Sarah’s new book, her picture is now on the first-ever Bright Lights poster! You see, a few months ago a girl requested that we make a poster similar to the cover of Sarah’s book so that she could have a continual reminder on her wall to “speak truth in her heart.” We received these posters back from the printer just in time for the conference. (Maybe at our next conference we will have life-size cardboard cut-outs of Nickie for sale. 🙂 )

There were a number of girls at this conference who had come to the Testify witnessing training camp a few months ago in August. It was very special to connect again.

Current leaders of the local Bright Lights groups in Hudson (and little sisters – invaluable 😀 )

After the conference ended we had an upbeat cool down time, sharing stories and rejoicing together in all that the Lord did.

Thanks for reading this report and if the Lord brings the Bright Lights ministry to mind, please pray for the local groups that meet around the country on an ongoing basis. This is not an easy ministry; it takes much work to plan and prepare lessons and activities on a regular basis. It takes time, emotional energy, and is impossible without the strengthening of the Lord. But if there was ever a need for such groups for young people, it seems the need is greater now than ever.

And may all of us, no matter our age or season of life, take seriously the command to “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “Encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Iowa State Fair Gospel Ministry Video Reports

There is so much to describe about how the Lord worked at the Iowa State Fair gospel booth outreach and Testify Training Camp that it is easier to communicate through videos. Thank you to all who have prayed for these ministries.

Our hearts were filled with gratefulness to the Lord as this year’s Iowa State Fair outreach wrapped up, and we look forward to what He has in store for next year!

The Testify Training Camp is described in the video below. We are tentatively planning on running two Testify Camps in 2019: one on August 8-11 and the second on August 15-19.

Testify Training Camp from Tomorrow's Forefathers, Inc. on Vimeo.

This video shows the Answers in Genesis gospel booth, inside the Varied Industries building at the fair:

Answers in Genesis Outreach at Iowa State Fair from Tomorrow's Forefathers, Inc. on Vimeo.

“The Audacious Ask”

“…We have a God who delights to answer … and He delights to answer in a way that is far beyond anything that we actually asked.”

I really enjoyed this message from Eric Ludy about prayer.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us … ” (Ephesians 3:20).

Eric Ludy – The Praying Church (Part 1) from Ellerslie Mission Society on Vimeo.

Just Men Conference Report

Our whirl-wind summer is finally slowing down a bit, and I have a little time to post some reports! Two months ago, my dad (with the help of my brother Stephen, my grandpa, and others from our church) ran a “Just Men Conference.” This was a weekend event for men of any age – 16 and up. As my dad puts it, “The need in our day is for a new generation of young men to rise up who are ‘just’ and whom God can use for His glory and His Kingdom.”

Fifty men attended with an even distribution of ages from 16-60.

This weekend was a highlight of the summer for our family: we were very excited by the many ways we saw the Lord’s working and blessing — and super grateful to all who participated.

Here Stephen is presenting a talk called “Men in Focus” — equating principles of photojournalism from his work with spiritual application for men.

Other topics that were taught by my dad and others over the weekend included:

“The Offense of the Cross”
“Boldness with the Gospel”
“Enemies that Defeat Christian Young Men”
“Facing the Battles”
“Foundations of Marriage”
“Reconciliation”
“Spiritual Leadership”
“Church Basics (Principles of Assembly and Leadership)”
“Stewardship”
“Having a Ministry Mindset”

Many mentioned how much they appreciated the fellowship with such a great group of other men who were seeking the Lord. Attendees had come from a wide range of states, including Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kentucky.

My dad mentioned how impressed he was that the attendees jumped into instant fellowship with each other. Within five minutes they were in good discussions on significantly deep levels. Even though many of them had never met before, they were there with the same purpose: to learn and strengthen each other in godly leadership for this dark generation.

Each attendee was assigned to a small group where they had discussions, prayer, and worked on a few projects together.

Although I spent most my time in the kitchen, I did sneak up to the balcony to get a little video of the singing!

Chick fil A

My dad asked my grandpa (92 years old) to be one of the speakers and share anything he thought younger men needed to hear from an older man. He gave a passionate talk about the importance of having priorities straight. His talk seemed to resonate with everyone, proven by the fact that it was a part of the conference the guys commented on the most.

Also I don’t want to forget to mention a big thank you to Abby, Esther, and the many others who helped prevent disasters in the kitchen. 🙂

A few comments from attendees:

“We were all encouraged and had such a wonderful time at the conference. I hope that there will be more of these around the country. It is such a need in the body of Christ!”

“The time the men in our family spent in Iowa was edifying and greatly beneficial. We appreciate that you made it possible for those of us with limited financial resources to be able to participate. Our whole family has had so many good conversations around the conference, the people there, the topics covered, etc.”

Testify Camp – Day Camper Option

The Testify Training Camp (August 9-13) is coming up very soon. If you live in the Des Moines area and would like to come to the camp as a “Day Camper” without spending the nights there, you are welcome to do so. The only cost for a Day Camper is for meals – $6 per meal. You will still need to register by August 1st and let us know which meals you will be joining us for. To attend as a Day Camper, register here.

Testify Registration Deadline: Two Weeks From Today

The deadline for registering for the Testify Training Camp (witnessing training at Willowbrook Bible Camp and the Iowa State Fair) is two weeks from today. We’re excited to see what the Lord has in store for this year and grateful that Bryan Osborne from Answers in Genesis will be teaching several sessions! See more information here!

Let us not forget to obey Jesus’ instructions to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) The harvest is definitely plentiful, and the laborers few!

Fireworks and the Gospel

Praise God for the great “witnessing team” He brought together two nights ago to share the gospel downtown Cedar Rapids before the fireworks!

Beginning with prayer

Together we passed out a couple thousand short patriotic gospel tracts on the price of liberty. But we also prayed for good conversations with people, and really saw the Lord answer that prayer.

We find that when we approach small groups like this, they are often eager to answer our “Freedom Questionnaire.”

Freedom Questionnaire:

“Hey, I’m taking a short questionnaire about freedom. Do you have a couple minutes to answer a few questions?”

1) What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?
2) What freedoms are you most grateful for?
3) Who said “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free”?
4) What is that “truth that makes us free”?

(This last question leads into the gospel.)

The exciting thing is that when you have a whole team of Christians witnessing with these questionnaires, you can reach a lot of people in just a few hours! Together we had personal gospel conversations with somewhere between 100-150 people (many in small groups).

My mom said that these teenage girls were very sweet and polite and quite interested in hearing the gospel!

Afterwards, we came back to “home base” and discussed how things went. Here my dad is talking with Aaron, a friend who came to our recent “Just Men” conference, and then came back to join our group for witnessing.

Chris and Aaron praying about the conversations they had just had.
“Prayer is not preparation for the work; it is the work.” – Oswald Chambers

At our “home base” we had coolers, blankets, chairs, and — most importantly — people praying! As you can see, the ladies on the left are praying for some of the names of people we had just shared the gospel with. Teamwork!

Beth even brought a notebook to record names of the people we witnessed to, in order to remember them more specifically in prayer. Here Emily is sharing names with her.

Here are a few quick reports:

– Aaron talked with a guy who, after about 30 minutes of meaningful back-and-forth discussion, said, “I used to do a lot with church but I’ve been straying the last few years. I really appreciate you guys coming up and talking with us.”

– Chris had a conversation with an atheist who said he got him thinking.

– Sarah talked with a girl who said she was from a non-religious family, but she had started reading the Bible because she was interested in learning about God. Sarah gave her several tracts, as well as a suggestion of where in the Bible to read.

These are just a sampling from the stories I’ve heard (there are many I haven’t heard yet).

Praise the Lord!

Some conversations go better than others, because some people are receptive and some are not. But it’s worth doing, because some are receptive and super grateful. What a thrilling experience those conversations are. And for those who don’t act receptive, we still know the Lord is powerful to use His Word in their lives.

… And the exciting evening ended with a front row seat watching fireworks, celebrating both our freedom and the joy of having been His ambassadors, delivering the greatest news on earth, together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our next big outreach will be at the Iowa State Fair. The Testify Training Camp (witnessing training and fellowship) will be August 9-13. We’re praying that the Lord works in big ways and excited with anticipation about what He will do. Thanks to any who are joining us in prayer.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary” (Psalm 107:2).