Month: June 2011

Bright Lights International

Pray for Congo Bright Lights Group!

We have been continually blessed and encouraged as we hear reports from what God is doing in the Congo Bright Lights group. They’ve been doing a great job updating their blog.

I love the passion and vision they have for God to do a mighty work among the young ladies there! Thankfully, we can be part of that work as well through prayer.

The leaders of the group — Anna (left) and Maaike (right) recording the Bright Lights Leaders Training in the native language. As Maaike writes…

…we decided to record the basics of a Leader’s Training on CDs/cassettes (whichever is most practical in the end). The Leader’s Training is a mix of our brainstorming and experience and some of Sarah Mally’s resources . Our vision is to see young women of God rise up here in Isiro to lead groups to know Jesus. Our task is to equip, encourage, and enable them as much as we can. Since Anna’s planning on leaving this year for school, and our term will be over in a year or so, we’re painfully aware that each day is precious. Please pray that God would give not just us, but the girls a passion and burden to see change in this town, in this country, in this continent. When the girls have burning, holy hearts, only God can know what doors can and will be opened for them! Anna and I are still amazed – totally! – at how far Jesus has brought us. What will He do through them? We can’t wait to find out!

Not only did they record it, but in the beginning of June they taught a live Leaders Training to the older girls. As Maaike writes…

There is an African proverb that keeps ringing in my head. It says,

“If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

Lord willing, the Bana Basi ya Kopela group wants to go far. So we must go together, even if that means slowing down and taking time to learn to walk together. Ever since the beginning of Bana Basi ya Kopela, the burden on our hearts has been to have the girls here become leaders and take over. Anna is planning on going to university in September, and our family will eventually leave Congo, so it is crucial that other girls step up… Many months ago, I wrote in my journal, “If ever a girl comes to me asking if she can be a leader, I would cry, ‘YES, a thousand times yes!!’” …As Amy Carmichael put it, this work is a “chance to die”. Pray that they will have a wholehearted desire to lay down their lives to that extent, beginning in June when we will have a highly intensive training course of an average of four afternoons a week….

I believe this is a crucial time to pray for these “bright lights” in Congo as they recently finished the leader’s training and how it comes to the actual “putting it into practice” stage. I’m sure Satan would love to stop the work Maaike and Anna have been doing. We need to be praying that the older girls they have taught continue to be strengthened to carry on the work when they leave.

Please also join us in praying for more international Bright Lights groups. So far, groups have started in India, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, China, Singapore, and Malaysia. A few moms in Scotland are also using the material, and a young lady in Peru has been using and translating the Bright Lights lessons as well. We are so grateful for these groups, but we know the need for discipleship is great all over the world. We need to pray for laborers.

Maybe many of the young ladies who are in Bright Lights groups here in the states will one day be on the mission field and can begin their own Bright Lights groups at that time! 🙂

All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For Thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.” (Psalm 86:9-10)

Miscellaneous/Witnessing Stories

4th of July Witnessing

Of all the times for passing out tracts and witnessing, I think the 4th of July is one of the best!

It’s one day of the year where people just sit on their lawn chairs with nothing to do all day long. Well, some people do. I don’t know about your town, but in my town of Cedar Rapids some people set up their lawn chairs ridiculously early, like, at 10am to get a good seat for the fireworks. (As if you can’t see the fireworks from anywhere else!) Anyway, as they spend the day waiting for the fireworks, this provides lots of time for them to read tracts and talk with us. 🙂

Often there are kids’ activities and festive things going on. Since most are in a festive mood, they are usually open to receiving things related to the holiday.

Click here for a little 4th of July tract. It prints four per page. We usually simply say, “Happy 4th of July” or, “Here’s something about the price of liberty” as we pass them out. If you smile and are confident, people usually receive it gladly.

The text inside says:

Freedom has a price – blood. Every nation celebrates its independence and every nation has paid the same price – blood. Men have died to win that freedom.

This is a simple concept. People understand it. And nations honor their independence day for two reasons: 1) Freedom is a great thing and 2) the price was high.

There are several kinds of freedom. The one we usually think of first is political freedom. But the most important kind is spiritual freedom — spiritual peace with God for eternity. This freedom had the same price – blood. But because the war was of a different nature and there was a different enemy, the blood required to pay our penalty was that of the Son of God Himself. And He willingly shed His blood for us. God placed Himself in a body that could die so that He might take our place and die for our sin. We can now be saved from eternal death by honoring Jesus Christ, the one who paid the price, by trusting by faith what He did for us. Let it be true that “In God We Trust”. Not just for earthly blessings, needs, and wisdom, but first of all for forgiveness and eternal life.

(And there are several verses on the back.)

I wanted to post this now to get “wheels turning” as you all make plans for the 4th. If any of you have additional ideas to share for outreach activities on the 4th, I’d like to hear them!

We will actually be in Wisconsin over the 4th of July becasue of a Bright Lights Conference there that week, so we will have opprortunity to do some outreach in a different area which will be fun.

Miscellaneous/Witnessing Stories

Dallas and Detroit Adventures

Last weekend Sarah and I spoke at a young ladies conference which our friends Taryn and Mirren Martin organized.

Conference attendees… “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Prov 27:17

“There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” Proverbs 20:15 I feel that this verse describes the Marins very well! Wisdom just flows out of them, and our talks with their family was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Dr. Jobe Martin (Mirren and Taryn’s dad) has been teaching about creation, apologetics, prophecy, and many other topics for many years. Many of you have probably seen his DVDs called “Incredible Creatures.” They now have two new ones — “Creepers and Crawlers” and “Flight and Spike.” The Martins are faithful servants of the Lord and they have been presenting powerful messages. 400 moms and daughters attended the conference last weekend. It was a day and a half event and included a free lunch.

Doggy saying his prayers…

Tayrn, Jolynn, Sarah, Mirren, and me. I first got acquainted with Tayrn and Mirren while helping at the Answers in Genesis booth at the NEA convention last year. I have so much respect for them, their depth of conviction, humility, love for Christ, and for the selfless life of ministry they live.

On our way home Delta overbooked our flight and offered us free air miles if we stayed overnight in Detroit and took the next flight in the morning. We were each given a voucher worth $400 of air miles that we can use on future flights. Not a bad way to make money. 🙂 Plus we were given a free night in a nice hotel with my sister and $48 worth of “meal vouchers” to spend in the airport.

I admit, it did take a while for my dad to decide whether he thought staying overnight in Detroit would be safe (have I ever mentioned he is VERY cautious? :)) and the lady at the gate was getting annoyed with all my questions. Eventually Sarah told the lady, “I think we are going to take the offer and stay.”
“Well, you can’t say ‘THINK.’” She said, “It’s either ‘YES’ or ‘NO.’”
(Lol. She had gotten to know us well.)
“Ok, yes we are staying,” Sarah clarified.
After that she became very friendly again. She really appreciated the tract we left with her and as she began looking at it, she said, “I like it already!” 🙂 She even told me she was going to e-mail me after she read it.

Two other ladies, Becky and Doris, were also staying overnight and we immediately became friends. Then, as we were shuttling over to the hotel, I noticed another girl in the shuttle who was traveling alone. And we noticed that she was in the room right next to ours.

“Should we ask her if she wants to go out to eat with us?” Sarah and I wondered.
It won’t hurt to ask, we concluded and knocked on her door.

She seemed anxious to join us, so we went down to the little hotel restaurant. It was about 9pm. She told us that she had just come from her grandpa’s funeral, and it had been a very hard time on her family. She mentioned how she cried the first 15 minutes of her flight. Then we learned that she had converted to Mormonism two years ago.
“What were some of the reasons you were attracted to Mormonism?” I asked her.
“When the [Mormon] missionaries came to my door,” she explained, “They told me that I should pray and that if what they were saying was true, I would feel it in my heart—the spirit of God would confirm it to me. And that’s what happened.”

Sarah and I realized that we needed to be especially sensitive as we reasoned with her because she was already having such an emotional time. Plus, she seemed to be basing her conclusions on feelings instead of logic.

We talked about who Jesus is, having a relationship with our Creator, how truth is narrow, the problem of sin, etc. We asked her some more questions about Mormonism and tried to be as sensitive as possible as we challenged a few of the points she made. We actually talked for about two hours! I think it went well. And God provided in a neat way: Becky and Doris (the other ladies who had also taken the free voucher) were also eating with us in the little restaurant. Becky asked, “Aren’t all religions basically the same?”
This gave Sarah and me a perfect “in” to thoroughly answer Becky’s question in a way that would communicate truth to our new Mormon friend (Sara) indirectly.
In the morning we got the chance to see Sara again and gave her this Heaven booklet, by Randy Alcorn. We felt that it was the right thing for her at this time. Please pray for her. She has my e-mail so I’m hoping she contacts me.

This conversation reminded me of the effectiveness of door-to-door evangelism. She became a Mormon because of the “missionaries” who came to her door. What if they had been Christian missionaries instead? Door to door evangelism is still an effective approach to sharing the gospel today and it’s also Biblical. (Acts 20:20)

The next morning as we sat at our gate (again) we talked with Becky and Doris about the conversation the previous night with Sara. I think they both found it quite interesting as well.

Praise God for the way He directs, provides and orchestrates.

Life is an adventure. And thankfully, when God gives assignments, it’s an adventure with great purpose.

Witnessing Stories

“What is Evil?”

“Hey I’m doing a little questionnaire, do you want to take it?” I asked three girls last week in our town square. (There are often summer events in the square which make a great place for witnessing.)

“Sure!” they answered enthusiastically.
“Okay, the first question is: what is evil?” I asked. (I was trying out a new questionnaire my dad and I came up with on our drive home from New Hampshire.)
“Devils,” they said.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Have you ever done anything evil?” I asked.
“Well, it’s how you define evil,” I clarified, “Have you ever told a lie?”
“Yeah,” they answered.
“Have you ever disobeyed your parents?” I asked.
They just laughed. (Indicating a big “yes”)
“Okay, well then, I think we’ve got that covered,” I told them.
They understood.

“So how does God deal with evil?” I asked.
“Uh, send everyone to hell? Forgives?” they guessed.

“What is God like?” I asked them, “What’s His character? How would you describe Him?”
“Loving, good, forgiving, kind,” they answered.
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“Church” they said.
“How does your church know that?” I asked.
“The Bible,” they said.
“Okay, so you believe the Bible is where we learn about God?” I asked.
“Yeah,” they said,
“I do too. Okay, well the Bible also says God is just. Do you know what that means?”
“Justice. You guys know what that means!” I said.
“I have a really bad vocabulary,” one girl said.
“You know, in a court if punishment is given that is carrying out justice…” I explained.
“Do you think God will carry out justice in this world?” I asked, mentioning some evil people like Hitler, etc. They agreed Hitler and people like him deserved punishment.
“The problem is,” I continued, “that each one of us has done wrong and deserves God’s punishment. Like we already talked about—lying, disobeying our parents, stealing, those are all breaking God’s law,” I explained.

I asked if they knew how it was possible to still have peace with God. They didn’t. So I briefly shared my testimony, “When I was 6, I began thinking about Heaven and Hell and I was afraid that I would go to Hell. So I talked to my mom about it and she explained the answer. Do you guys know what that is?” I asked.
“No,” they answered.
“Do you think that it’s possible for someone to know for sure they are going to Heaven?” I asked.
They didn’t know.

“This is important to talk about, guys…there is just too much at stake…” I said, mentioning how none of us know how long we’ll live.

Now they seemed more curious about what I had to say next. So I got out my little notepad and began to draw the little bridge diagram.

“Here is man, here is God” I explained, drawing the two cliffs.
“God is perfect. So how do we get from here to here?”
“Well no one’s perfect,” one girl said.
“Right,” I agreed. “So how does anyone get to Heaven?” I asked.
“Uh…forgiveness? Have faith?” they asked.
“Well, kind of, but that’s not all. So do you want to know the answer?” I asked.
Now they were listening pretty carefully.

“We can be saved because of something God did. God saw that we deserved punishment and the punishment would be too much for us to bear and still be with Him. (It would be separation from Him in hell.) But because He loved us—as you mentioned before—and wanted us to be with Him, He decided to take our punishment for us. What He did is this: He put Himself into a human body (that was Jesus) and then He let people kill Him. But what He was really doing was taking the punishment we deserved for our sins. Really, we deserved to be punished. You could look at it like this: we deserved to be the one dying on a cross for our sins, but He died FOR us. He was perfect and didn’t have any of His own sin to die for. And then He rose from the dead and He’s alive now. And He’s offering this free gift of eternal life for anyone who asks Him. He proved His love for us by dying that horrible death. We just have to believe and trust Him! There is a verse in the Bible that says ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

One of the girls especially seemed to be listening with interest.

“So does this sound like something you want to do?” I asked.
They seemed to indicate it was. I explained that this was something that they needed to take care of between them and God. I sensed they needed a little more time to process these thoughts, so I gave them tracts and them to get alone with God and pray about this (as soon as possible) and also to read their Bibles. I also got their e-mail addresses.
“We can be e-mail buddies!” one of the girls (the more interested one) told me.

We also talked about other things such as their school, their frappachino maker, and other random things. It was just nice to establish more of a friendship with them–one I hope will continue.

“Thank you for talking with us!” she said warmly as we parted.

Sometimes we believe Satan’s lie that people don’t want to hear the gospel, that they won’t want to talk to us.

I realize that these girls can only retain so much information from one short conversation in the park, but it was a start. And I know that God can use what was said and bring others to build on that foundation.

Family News/Homeschool Conferences

New Hampshire and Back

We just added 2,739 miles to our van and had a very nice trip to New Hampshire.

Home school conferences usually mean lots of cute little kids.

Stephen and a new friend. After we gave a presentation on “family ministry,” several families shared with us about the ministries the Lord had already given them. It was very encouraging to see the “ministry mindset” many of the families there had.

One evening my parents wanted to go to the Red Arrow Cafe downtown Manchester. The rest of us weren’t so sure, but we liked it so much we went back a second time. (Actually, Stephen went back three times, haha) The food was SO good and the atmosphere was a lot of fun too. (Very friendly!) Apparently it’s quite famous and it’s open 24/7, 365 days a year.

My dad wanted to get into a conversation with the men next to him, so he asked them what they normally order for dessert. When He told them we were in town for a home school conference, they said they were lobbying for home schooling and other educational issues in New Hampshire (though they hadn’t heard about the conference going on). Both were glad to meet each other and they had a great talk. I think our waiter (right) was a little intrigued by it all.

On the way home at this hotel breakfast my dad made friends with a Chinese man. He was working on his laptop downstairs while his wife and 2-yr-old boy were still sleeping. Dad told him how we were here for a home school conference, which led to talking about Christianity. He said he’s been going to church with his wife for the past 3 years or so. Upon finding out he was a lawyer, my dad explained how what happened on the cross was a judicial transaction because God is a just God. Later, the Chinese man introduced us to his wife and little boy. They were so friendly, and it was fun to meet them.

When we leave on a trip we never know what adventures or blessings God has prepared…but we do know that when it’s all over what really matters is the people we crossed paths with and the way we interacted with them. People are eternal, things are not. May God give us grace to keep our heart set on loving Him and loving people as foremost priority in our lives.