Gospel Outreach at the NEA Convention, 2016

Let me set the scene: Washington D.C. July of 2016. Thousands of Public School Teachers. LGBT Activists. Hillary Clinton in person.

Enter: Answers in Genesis supporting a 20-foot gospel booth, giving away thousands of Christ-centered books and DVDs, engaging teachers in gospel conversations, and showing fly-over drone footage from the Ark Encounter on a huge flat screen TV.

nea-2016-1-smaller I want to share just a taste with you of how the Lord worked.

img_0445 Victories are only victories when they are the work of the Spirit of God. That is why we fervently ask Him to speak through us and touch hearts.

img_0470 One benefit of sharing the gospel from a gospel booth is that discussions can be started easily and naturally as we simply explain the message of the materials we are giving away. The books and DVDs teach many topics about science and why we can trust the Bible, but each one ultimately points to the gospel.

img_0455 This Mormon man (grey hair) had talked with us last year (I wrote about it in this post) and praise God, he came back this year to visit more! It was a delight to see him again. Bryan Osborne is talking to him in this picture, and Dr. John is pulling up material on his laptop to share. (A typical scene.) This man came back again near the end of the conference to say goodbye to us. I think he could tell we cared about him, and a little bond had formed.

img_0443 Here’s our team getting smoothies afterwards one night. If only our team wasn’t in such a serious mood all the time! 😛

img_0495 This was a pro-life booth run by some Christian friends of ours. One morning, Tony Ramsek began talking with a young man in a booth neighboring this pro-life booth. (Tony often goes around and witnesses to other booth vendors.) The theme of the neighboring booth was “Protecting Human Rights.” While talking with the young man, Tony pointed to the collection of babies displayed at this Pro-life booth. (The display shows models of babies from peanut-size to birth size.) Tony asked this young man, “At what point does the baby get their human rights?”
The young man looked at the sequence of babies and said, “Whoa. I’m a really liberal person, but you just changed me into a conservative.”
It was by hearing Tony’s question and seeing the model babies that he saw the truth. Tony proceeded to share Jesus Christ with this young man. Please pray for him. Praise God that He is still working and opening people’s eyes, one by one, even in some of the very darkest places, such as the NEA convention.

img_0503 Our team this year (minus Dr. John who had to leave early).

This was the first year that Answers in Genesis speakers Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson (Harvard graduate) and Bryan Osborne were a part of the team. Dr. Jeanson is in the green tie, and Bryan is standing directly behind me.

I loved just listening to them talk to people.

One lady thought our booth was advocating bad science, but her tone changed dramatically as Dr. Jeanson addressed her questions.

Her concern began when I showed her the topics on the back of the Answers 1 DVD, which we were giving away.

“So you guys advocate that the earth is only a few thousand years old? Alright. You lost me,” she told me with disdain in her voice. “I’m open to the idea that the Bible can be applicable to life today—but there are so many things in there that you can’t take literally,” she said.

I noticed that Dr. Jeanson was not engaged in another discussion, and he gladly agreed to join the conversation. He began sharing why carbon 14 dating methods do not prove an old earth. She asked, “So I guess what I was trying to get to is this: does your organization promote that the Bible is literal truth?”

Dr. Jeanson affirmed strongly that yes, it does.

“Why can’t it be that the seven days happened longer ago then we thought?”
“That’s a good question, and there are a couple of different ways to answer that,” Dr. Jeanson replied. He continued, “Is it possible that God took millions of years? Sure, He can do whatever He wants to. Is it possible that a day could mean a thousand years? Again, it is theoretically possible, but I have learned that the best way to judge what the text means is not necessarily my interpretation—but to ask, how do other writers of Scripture interpret it?”

Dr. Jeanson then explained how the Bible is one book, with a beginning, middle, and end. And the writers assume that you’ve read what came before. For example, when John records Jesus’ crucifixion, he makes an obscure reference to the Old Testament, saying, “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.’” This is referring to a passage in Exodus 12:46 about the Passover lamb (thus, John was teaching his readers that Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb). This is an example of a big arch in Scripture—a tie from Exodus to John. It’s all the same story. Dr. Jeanson gave a few other examples of “arches” in Scripture: concepts that are established in the beginning and fulfilled at the end.

Dr. Jeanson’s point was this: What does the rest of Scripture say about Genesis? What are the other writers assuming? In Exodus 20, Moses gives the Ten Commandments, the fourth being to “rest the seventh day.”

[It says, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:9-11 ESV]

Dr. Jeanson explained to this lady that the word “day” in Exodus 20 is the same Hebrew word used for “day” back in Genesis chapter 1. In fact, there are other equivalent words used. For example, the Hebrew words for “heaven and earth” in Exodus 20:11 are also the same words used for “heaven and earth” back in Genesis 1:1. So there are multiple links from Exodus chapter twenty to Genesis chapter one.

Dr. Jeanson continued, “Now, in Exodus 20 is it telling us to work for 6 million years and then rest for the 7th million? That could be a really, really bad thing, or a really good thing depending on which part you are in,” Dr. Jeanson said.

She laughed.

He continued, “I think we’ll all agree that means 6 literal days … so those are plain days and he connects it right to God’s creation week.”

She said, “I feel there are so many wonderful things in the Bible to focus on, I just wonder if you are marginalizing yourself by focusing on whether the Scripture can be interpreted exactly today. None of that is about the lessons you’re supposed to learn from the Bible, is it?”

“You’ve just set me up for what I was about to say,” Dr. Jeanson said.

“Okay, go ahead,” she laughed.

He continued, “Because the Bible is a book, the beginning is all the more important. You can’t just jump into the middle of a novel and understand what’s going on. You have to start from the beginning to understand that plot and character development … similarly, there are all kinds of huge arches that start in Genesis and really don’t get finished until Revelation.”

Dr. Jeanson emphasized, “When Paul explains salvation, the whole background to it (why we die in the first place, why we need a Savior) Paul explains by pointing back to Genesis (one man sinned, therefore one Man saves) and then he ties it to Christ (Romans 5). So Paul is connecting Genesis to the central truths of Christianity. I have colleagues who think that Genesis 1-11 is an ancient myth narrative, and who do not believe in a literal Adam and Eve … ”
“Paul lived ‘back in the day’ also,” she said.
“But if we are going to trust Paul [the New Testament] on salvation then we would be logically forced–”
She interrupted, “I could trust someone (like Paul) who is writing back then on what salvation is, more then on what they knew about science.”
Before Dr. Jeanson could really answer this statement, she had to go off to an appointment.
But she said to him, “I really appreciate the conversation, and if I can, I’m going to find you later today.”

This lady was not anti-God or anti-Bible. But she has a low view of the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” Since the Bible is the very Word of our Creator, then why could it not be trusted when it comes to issues related to science? God made the world that scientists study!

And if she cannot believe all of the Bible, then how can she believe any? How can she be sure which part is accurate? This is why it is so important that we stand upon every word of God, and help others see that it CAN be trusted.

img_0523

Our final evening in DC, we went to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner. Our waitress was from the country of Georgia. She was warm and chatty, and after a little get-to-know-you discussion, we asked her about the spiritual beliefs of her country. Then we asked her about her spiritual beliefs. It felt like just about every time she left the table we’d discuss what we should ask her next time she came back. 🙂
“So you believe in Heaven and Hell right?” I asked.
She did.
“So if you died, where do you think you would go?” I questioned. Her answer surprised me. She replied, “I have never thought about this question before.” This opened the opportunity to share the gospel with her.
It was evident she was enjoying the discussion and loved the positive attention. She even went out of her way to make all of us very delicious [and very gritty!] “Turkish coffee” that you can see us holding.

St Louis Bright Lights Conferences Report

img_0308 This past June we held a “Strong in the Lord” and “Radiant Purity” conference in the St Louis area. It was a week of extra challenges and extra sweet moments! There was definite spiritual warfare, but thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14).

One of the challenges was getting the word out about the conference. It was the first time we’d run conferences in this area, so there wasn’t as much familiarity with our ministry. We PRAISE GOD for all He brought–many from longer distances, and many at the last minute.

img_0335 Interacting with the sweet girls who soak in the teaching makes every conference a great privilege. 🙂 Soon, these girls will be the mothers raising the next generation in America!

img_0319 My mom, sharing with the mothers while the girls are in small group.

img_0332 Not only does my mom talk with and encourage ladies, she is always there for us providing encouragement, compassion, and help with so many needs.

13558638_1581960705430967_6062653904360890325_o Cassidy’s small group!

img_0339

13558624_1581959735431064_7124101392929408982_o Name tag table

img_0333 Sisters!

img_0383 Sharing time after the conference. One story in particular was especially heart-warming: one of the leaders mentioned that she was really hoping a friend of hers would come. This friend was struggling spiritually, and it seemed unlikely. It was during our free day at the St Louis zoo that this situation was mentioned. Emily said, “Let’s pray now,” and about 12 leaders formed a circle and had a prayer meeting for this girl. The next day, when the girl walked into the Radiant Purity conference, hearts were overjoyed! Not only did she come, but she and her mom stuck around afterward for a long conversation, leading to tears of joy and much praise to God from the leaders.

13558618_1581961375430900_912442822876091343_o Praise God for once again, bringing together a wonderful team of leaders who love the Lord and point others to Jesus.

img_0295 The fellowship we enjoy with the leaders is a highlight. Here was a Bible study with my dad on Colossians 1 after our set up day. We spent a while discussing the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” ! (Colossians 1:27)

13558814_1581959635431074_6707375456340778191_o We can’t say enough about Allison and her mom (and entire family) and the wonderful job they did in hosting the conference. The Whisler family has been such an encouragement to us!

13497746_1581958762097828_5600175382810266818_o Time to relax and invade the Whislers house for a great dinner!

13497550_1581958718764499_2385022513379067946_o Which included funny moments…

img_0357 …and learning an Arabic praise song!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for this conference. The Lord did beautiful things, and we are so grateful.

“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

Photo credit to Cassidy Schoolz for a few of the pictures, thanks Cassidy!

Indian Southwest Brethren Conference

Though I didn’t have much time to share reports in June, I wanted to put up a few pictures now from the Indian Southwest Brethren Conference in Dallas (June 9-11) where we had the special opportunity to share on purity with the girls and mothers.

img_0237 There were over 1,000 in attendance. Most of these families have immigrated to the US from Kerala, India in the last 20-30 years.

img_0232 We really enjoyed getting to know these sweet families. They were extremely warm to us and welcomed us as part of the family. And it definitely had the feel of one big family!

img_0285 The highlight was the relationships made through good conversations with the girls we met.

The youth are in an interesting situation: their Indian cultural does arranged marriages, but they’ve grown up in the public school system in America, immersed in the culture here.

These families have the challenge of determining which cultural traditions they hang on to, and which ones they adjust. One father stated of his family, “We believe in BIBLE culture.” Amen to that. 🙂

I remember one conversation I had with some of the girls where I explained, “I grew up here, but our family does things VERY differently from American culture!” I think it was interesting for them to observe that.

img_0273 This was a discussion time with the college-aged girls on contentment and the joy of serving the Lord in single years.

img_0276

img_0279 We were very grateful to have Nickie and Haley with us to help. The conference devotional time started at 6:45am, and things usually didn’t wind down til after 10pm. They really squeeze every hour our of the weekend!

img_0284 We’re also extremely grateful to Elsa (left) for the instrumental role she played in “hosting” us, and helping us to understand some of the cultural struggles and how we could best minister to the girls and moms.

img_0280 Grace (standing next to me) was also such an encouragement to us, and has a huge heart for girls’ discipleship. I just heard from her last week that the Lord has opened doors for her to start a discipleship group with some other girls her daughter’s age. Praise the Lord!

The conference was recorded and here are our two messages if any are interested.

First session

Second session
(The Audio starts during the 2nd minute)

See recording of the full conference here.