A Few Pictures from Thanksgiving Yesterday

Being the youngest in the family, you never outgrow the “kids” table! Thats ok, I’m sure we had a lot more fun, anyway. 🙂 (Pictured above are Stephen and I with our cousins Laura and Andy, and our Uncle Ron cutting an amazing pecan desert he made.)

The “adult” table

Andy and Stephen, entertaining themselves with a half-broken flashlight…

Use Thanksgiving to Share the Gospel!

Holidays are very useful for opening doors to share the gospel! Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays because it turns our attention to God—the Giver of all good things—and it gives us opportunity to share about God’s eternal provision. This year my dad came up with a little sequence of questions to direct people’s attention to the Lord, and we have been excited to see the Lord bless and use it. We want to share this idea with you, so that you can do the same with people you meet this week. You can use it after Thanksgiving too, as you ask people how their holiday was.

“Would you be willing to answer some questions about Thanksgiving?” my dad and I asked a young couple at a shopping mall last week.
“Sure,” they said.
“Great. The first question is, ‘Do you have Thanksgiving traditions in your family?”
“Yes,” they responded.
“Whom do you give thanks to?” we asked.
“Well, to God, of course,” they said, looking at us like, “Who else would we thank?”
“What do you thank Him for?” was our next question.
“For food and health and family…” they replied.
“Great. Have you ever thanked Him for eternal life?”
They looked at each other with sort of a surprised look and then the guy said, “Well, you can’t thank God for eternal life until you have eternal life—and you can’t have that until you die.”

We took some time to explain from the Bible how and why we can know before we die and, in fact, how we must know before we die. They were very interested and brought up a number of questions. They were not argumentative, just very interested. This was all new to them.
Then we asked, “Have you ever asked God for eternal life?”
Again they gave each other that look of surprise and both said, “No.”

After another 45 minutes of talking, answering questions, and covering the basics of how Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross, they both said, “God brought you to us today.”
“Well, if the Lord is bringing this to your attention, then you want to take care of it right away and not put it off,” we told them. “You said you have never asked God for eternal life. Is that something you’d like to do now?” we asked. We could tell their hearts were open. We offered to pray with them and began looking for a corner we could go to in order to get out of the busy flow of people walking by.
“We can pray right here!” the guy said.
First we prayed for them, and then the girl said she wanted to pray. Right there, she confessed her sin and asked the Lord for eternal life. Later that evening she texted me expressing thankfulness.

The Holiday season is just beginning–let’s not forget about the abundant opportunities it provides to talk with people! Just a simple sequence of questions is able to open many doors.

We’ll try to post some Christmas ideas before too long. 🙂

Thanking God for Friends From Malaysia!

Having spent a good amount of time in Singapore and Malaysia, we always enjoy spending time with people from that part of the world! There are several students from Malaysia who attend the University of Iowa, and we were thrilled that 8 of them were able to come to our church’s Thanksgiving dinner last night.

We had 11 different countries represented at our Thanksgiving Dinner. (You may notice the Indian feathers we provided to help the atmosphere. 🙂 ) Our guest speaker was Ben Bradford. He is a 13 generation descendant of William Bradford who came over on the Mayflower, who was a leading Pilgrim and governor of Plymouth Colony. Ben’s father is William Bradford the 12th and his older brother is William Bradford the 13th! They are a strong Christian family. Their family still has the cuff links from William Bradford who came on the Mayflower.

Young people from our church getting acquainted with new friends from SE Asia.

And tonight the places were reversed, as our Malaysian friends invited us (and a few friends from church) to their apartment in Iowa City for a Chinese meal. Sarah and I had so much fun….great Chinese food (these students are great cooks!) enjoyable conversation, lots of laughs…

Thank you for your hospitality, friends! We had a great time. And don’t forget… we still want to take you sledding. 🙂

The Greatest…

“For the church:
The greatest price was paid: the death of Christ;
The greatest honor was extended: to be co-regents with Christ;
The greatest intimacy was introduced: as the body and bride of Christ;
The greatest blessing was assured: eternity with Christ.
When He gave His word, it was to her;
When He gave His life, it was for her;
When He expressed His will, it was that He might spend eternity with her.
The church was in His heart and mind and will from before the foundation of the world and shall be in His embrace forever.” –Author Unknown

We Don’t Believe in Coincidences!

You might think that at a college campus everyone is busy and no one is interested in talking about Christianity. But that is SO not true! Two days ago we went witnessing with some friends at a local college campus and we had so many great conversations. Nickie shared with a few international students that had never heard the gospel before–ever! From what I hear, it was a very good conversation and the students were very grateful.

One girl said the she and her friend had just been talking the night before about what happens when a person dies. Even though she wasn’t ready to receive the gospel, we do think God had prepared her for our talk by giving her those thoughts/questions the night before. It was just another reminder that God does direct our steps and prepare hearts when we ask Him to! Another person told us that he was going to go read the gospel of John now.

Here’s something one of the guys who went witnessing with us sent in an e-mail: “I used to be so afraid of this type of thing. I thought just going up to people and trying to share my faith with them would drive them away and would be a bad experience overall. My stereotype is shattered! Many people we talk to seem genuinely glad that they talked to us and interested in hearing what we have to say.”

Two of us began witnessing to a man named Rod. We asked him one of our favorite starter questions: “In the last 6 months has your interest in God increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?”
He said it had definitely increased and then explained that he had come to the campus this afternoon specifically to pray for students on the campus to come to Christ and be discipled.
Wow, I could hardly believe what I was hearing!
He explained that his ministry was to travel around the country with his wife in their RV and pray at college campuses. We told him that we had just come to the campus specifically to share the gospel there! (Actually, this was only the second time we had come to Coe College this year!)
“When did you get here?” we asked him.
“About a half hour ago,” he replied.
“That’s when we got here!” we told him.

We felt like we were there because he was there. We were majorly refreshed and energized, seeing this as a special confirmation from the Lord. I gave Rod a Bright Lights brochure so he would have our contact information.
“Bright Lights? My nieces are in this!” he said.
“Are you serious?” I asked. “What are their names?”
“Melanie Thompson and her sisters… they lead a group in Ohio,” he said.
“I’m good friends with them!” I told him,“I was just talking to Melanie the other day!”

Later on, James (a guy who was witnessing with us) also approached Rod to witness to him. When he learned about Rod’s ministry, he asked, “Did you ever pray at the University of Indiana?”
“Yes” Rod replied.
“I was saved there!” James exclaimed.
Both were very encouraged. The body of Christ is amazing. What can I say? The Lord is so good to us.

Just this afternoon I talked on the phone with Melanie, who had already heard about the encounter from her Uncle Rod. She told me that her uncle has already been to 1,000 campus praying! What a testimony to faithfulness–even though fruit isn’t always seen immediately.

“The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build…” (Nehemiah 2:20)

First Bright Lights Leaders Training Via Video!

We are praising God for a very special time He arranged in Council Bluffs, IA, last weekend!

Bekah and Nickie each taught some of the sessions, and the rest were videos that had been recorded at the last Leader’s Training, in October of ’09.

The Lord brought together an enthusiastic group of young ladies, and many of them are planning to go home and start their own Bright Lights groups now! Praise the Lord!

Several of the girls shared stories of all the scheduling conflicts they had to resolve to be able to attend. We saw many answers to prayer. Many attendees came at the last minute. It will be exciting to see how the Lord continues to work in each girl’s life!

From what I hear, these young ladies are the motivation behind the training. 🙂 Emily, Kaylin and Audrey are the daughters of Karen Selandar who hosted the training conference and worked so hard to make it special. Thank you again, Selandar family!

Food and fellowship… always a highlight, right? 🙂

Tia, Nickie, Lindsay, Bekah, Lilly
Nickie and Bekah were grateful for the extra help Tia, Lindsay and Lilly provided as they came alongside to share testimonies and get acquainted with everyone.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)