Thursday, July 30, 2009

Relief!

Thanks to your prayers and God's grace, Mom's magnesium citrate did finally start moving through about 10 PM last night, approximately 14 hours after she drank it. The remaining vestiges of it are still working their way through now. (The bottle says it should have worked in 1/2 hour to 6 hours.) While we still don't know what is causing her intestines to work so erratically, we're grateful that this point of crisis has passed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mom in Great Pain, Please Pray

Hi friends,

Today has been a really tough one for Mom. Yesterday, since things have been pretty much staying the same for several weeks now, she did more research on what would be necessary for her to have a colonoscopy, which is the only procedure any doctor has suggested. There are basically three dangers for her in having a colonoscopy:

  1. That she would not be able to expel the gallon of "Go Litely" that is required before a colonoscopy. This liquid is supposed to "clean you out" so that there can be a successful insertion of the colonoscope. But if your problem is that you can't get cleaned out... and that liquid gets trapped partway through... well, you can imagine the result.
  2. That she would have a reaction to odors in the procedure room (perfumes, deodorants, laundry detergent, etc.). Amazingly, a female gastroenterologist in Flagstaff that Mom happened to check with is also sensitive to perfume and has standing orders for her techs not to wear perfume. So that's a good lead.
  3. That she would have a reaction to the anesthetic (sedative) used during the procedure. For a normal person, this is not a significant risk, but for chemically sensitive people like Mom, this is a serious risk. She has been investigating alternative anesthetics that are better tolerated by chemically sensitive people.

One of the people she spoke with yesterday told her that if she was concerned that she would not be able to pass the "Go Litely", she could use a couple bottles of Magnesium Citrate to sort of do a preliminary flush during the days just before taking the Go Litely. The idea being to sort of make Go Litely's job a bit easier and increase the likelihood that it will come through.

She's tried Mag Citrate several times during the last few months. It's only worked minimally. She decided she would try taking it again to verify how much of a "pre-flush" it would actually cause. She took a bottle yesterday and several hours later it came through, minimally. She took another bottle this morning and it has NOT come through. The liquid is just sitting in her intestines.

Normally when we drink liquid, it is absorbed from the intestine and expelled as urine. Mag Citrate works by drawing water back into your intestines--basically a chemical way of inducing diarrhea. Until the magnesium citrate is expelled from her intestines, the water will continue to sit there and will not reabsorb into the body. She is in excruciating pain, barely able to get up out of a chair. Your prayers for her would be greatly appreciated right now. Thank you friends!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A question for my Muslim friends

If my understanding of Islam is correct, Muslims believe that the Bible [or at least the Tawrat (books of Moses), Zabur (Psalms of David) and Injil (Gospels of Jesus)] was originally given by God. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) They believe that the Bible was afterwards corrupted (words changed in order to significantly alter the meaning) so that it is now unreliable as a source of divine truth. The Quran, they believe, is the final revelation from God, and the only one that has not been altered or corrupted in any way.

My question is, do Muslims believe the Bible was corrupted before the Quran was written down, or after the Quran was written down? If any of my Muslim friends who read this would be so kind as to leave a comment explaining the traditional Islamic answer to this question, that would be great.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When Things Seem Incredible...

I find that "incredible" coincidences especially seem to happen when I'm telling someone about Jesus or about the persecuted church.

I know I've been talking about my work with VOM so much lately that you're probably sick of it. Don't worry, I will get back to another topic sooner or later!

However something so neat happened yesterday that you've just got to hear about it!

I was checking references for a man who has applied to become a VOM Area Representative. One of his references was Paul Dye with New Tribes Mission. I remembered reading a book about a NTM pilot named Paul Dye who was captured by the FARC guerillas in Colombia and miraculously escaped. The book, When Things Seem Impossible, was a great encouragement to me. A technically good storyteller could have really spun the tale in a breathtaking way, but what was interesting is that the book is written in a very simple, low-key way, so that the reader is not so much impressed by the writing as by what God did. I won't spoil the story, but the way Paul escaped is clearly supernatural. In fact, afterwards, a Colombian army general publicly gave God the credit for Paul's escape.

So after I did the reference check, of course I asked whether the Paul Dye I was speaking to was the Paul Dye of the story. He was. I told him what a blessing his book had been in my life. Mr. Dye was different than I expected. When I think "pilot" I tend to think of "Air Force pilot" -- someone who is the definition of "Type A". Mr. Dye was very down to earth and humble, the kind of guy who is more comfortable holding a wrench than a telephone. He asked if I had seen the DVD version of the story, and when I said I hadn't, he offered to send me a copy for free! Can't resist an offer like that!

Just another "incredible", undeserved and unexpected blessing from Jesus.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

18 Ways to Help the Persecuted Church

1) Become a member of the Be-A-Voice network so you can:
a) Promote prayer for the persecuted church by printing the Be-A-Voice prayer bulletins for distribution in your Bible study group, prayer group, Sunday school class, etc.
b) Send your friends free copies of "Tortured for Christ".
2) Write to imprisoned Christians. You can do this on your own or with a group (www.prisoneralert.com).
3) Distribute VOM newsletters to members of your church.
4) Distribute brochures offering a free VOM newsletter and resource.
5) Maintain an ongoing VOM display in your church.
6) Show a VOM DVD to a congregation, Sunday school class, or Bible study.
7) Invite a VOM speaker to your church (www.VOMMeetings.com).
8) Supply your church's youth department with VOM children’s literature (Kids of Courage).
9) Use VOM material for a vacation Bible school.
10) Encourage your church's high school youth group to watch Underground Reality Vietnam DVD (www.UR-Video.com).
11) Suggest your church host a VOM Saturday conference (888- 330-8015 ext. 429).
12) Sponsor a VOM related project: A Blanket and a Bible, Action Packs, Bibles Unbound.
13) Host a periodic prayer meeting on behalf of the persecuted church.
14) Sponsor a church worker, either individually or through a group (www.pastorsupport.com).
15) Send Bibles to those who do not know Christ in a hostile or restricted country: you can order a Bibles Unbound DVD from www.biblesunbound.com.
16) Take a packet of VOM information to other churches in your area.
17) Bring a group to VOM in Oklahoma as short-term volunteers (http://volunteer.persecution.com).
18) Consider being a volunteer spokesperson for VOM in your area (888-330-8015 ext. 434).

-- from the Be a Voice FAQ page

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

AFHE 09: New Chances to Trust

Last week God taught me again not to cling to the way He has done things in the past. The 2008 VOM booth at the Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) convention was such a fantastic experience that I wanted God to do things exactly the same way again. But He didn’t.

Lu couldn’t come this year because of recovering from her surgery and from the regional conference. (And after standing on my feet for 2 days, I am glad she didn’t attempt it.) And Marva told me at the regional that she had accidentally scheduled another event for this weekend and wouldn’t be able to come either. Yikes! How could I do AFHE without them?

Praise God, I would have the help of Mark for both days this year. He was only able to help one day last year. And John would be available on Saturday. However, that still left us staffed at 2 people on Friday and 3 on Saturday. Last year we had 3 on Friday and 4 on Saturday – and even then were shorthanded.

But I realized out that God had ordained that these women would be unavailable to help this year. I might as well just sit back and anticipate what He would do. After all, God cares about homeschooling families more than I do. God also cares about the persecuted church more than I do. So, God would work it out somehow.

Then I got an idea. The “Z” family, whose daughters provided the music at the regional conference, live in Phoenix. They homeschool. Maybe some of them would be willing to help? I happened to have their email address. Sent them an email and they wrote back quickly, very eager to help for the first day of the conference. (I would later learn that they delayed a family trip so the daughters could help on Friday, leaving for California at 6 PM that night.) Because the 3 daughters are under 20, I was able to get them in as exhibitors for $10 each instead of the $60 each that AFHE charges for adult exhibitors.

There was another problem. The normally impeccable Mr. H made a mistake this year. He shipped out only enough materials for a crowd of 1500 people. Last year there were 4100 at the convention. Mark and I didn’t catch the mistake until about 2 weeks before the convention. After talking with Mr. H, we decided to try to wing it just using what he’d sent and the “stash” of stuff we already had on hand. I picked up some leftovers from the regional conference too. Once again, another chance to trust God.

Last year in two days at the conference we got 130 sign ups (and worked very hard for these). We had a tough location towards the back of the exhibit hall. This year we had a much better location and the exhibit hall was better arranged (food on the opposite side from the entrance so people had to walk across the exhibit hall to get their food).

This year, in just the first day, we had about 180 sign ups!

Last year Lu, Marva, and I had spent the night in hotels in downtown Phoenix. That had worked out well and I even got to distribute tracts at a Diamondbacks game. This year things were different. No D-backs game (or any other major events) going on in downtown Phoenix and no one else from VOM staying at a hotel. So, God worked things out this year so that Mark generously took me out to eat with his wife, step daughter and grandkids, and then I spent the night at his house. Mark and his wife Deb are great hosts, although I will say that they have two of the ugliest cats I have seen in a long time. Here’s one of them, named Dutch:



Day two was harder going than day one. Perhaps because it was just John, Mark, and I at the booth. Since most of the “shoppers” are mothers (you quickly learn at home schooling conventions that Dads are just the bag carriers), maybe the sight of 3 males talking about “martyrs” was a bit scary to the women. We still managed to pick up about another 80 sign ups, with a grand total of 262 for both days. That’s double last year!



Our stash of materials held up pretty well, despite the short ship from HQ. We ran out of Kids of Courage newsletters, Foxe, and Illegal T-Shirts. Our total “donations for resources” were down slightly this year to $556 from $600 last year.

A blogging homeschooling Mom made a very kind blog post about her visit to our booth. Here’s another pre-convention post she made about Kids of Courage:

Praise God for demonstrating His trustworthiness to me again at AFHE. Even though He didn’t do it the same way He did last year.

One last shot that I think symbolizes the preciousness of homeschooling:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Off to Phoenix!

God willing, I will be in Phoenix the next two days, representing VOM and the persecuted church at a table at the annual AFHE Homeschooling Convention. Pray for physical stamina, enthusiasm, love for Jesus, sensitivity to people’s needs, and a clear head for logistics. And for God's blessing on my parents while I'm away!

Help Name A New Website!

We're considering launching a new web site selling specialty light bulbs. Anyone got any "bright" ideas for a web address? Here are a few of the ideas I have already checked -- others have already registered these:
  • thislittlelightofmine.com
  • lightoftheworld.com
  • lampstand.com
  • leyet.com
  • greatlight.com
  • starlight.com
  • lightalamp.com
  • cometothelight.com
  • truelight.com
As you can tell, I would like a web address that can be used as a lead-in for telling people about Jesus, in addition to selling bulbs! Pray and see if the Lord will give you a creative idea for our web address. Then visit www.register.com to see if the web address is still available.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Overwhelming Conference

At the Voice of the Martyrs' National Conference last year, we were told that VOM wanted to start doing regional conferences rather than just having one conference in the same place each time. Not many people are willing to travel to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to hear about the persecuted church. But not many people are willing to make the sacrifices to see a regional conference come to their city either.

But one of the reps I oversee, a woman in her mid 70s named Lu, took this challenge to heart. She dreamed of having a conference in her own home church in her own small town. She put an incredible quantity of prayers and sweat to her dreams. And God honored her initiative. This past weekend, 500 people came to her church for an entire day to learn about the persecuted church, and more importantly, the God of the persecuted church.

They came to Flagstaff from many places. I personally met people there who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri; and people who had driven all the way from long distances like Carlsbad, New Mexico; Yuma and Sierra Vista, Arizona; or Leeds, Utah. Some of them showed up an hour and a half early.

God blessed the conference with a line up of five compelling speakers. Darcie Gill, a woman whose travels throughout the world have given her an incredible grasp of the persecuted church's message to us in the West. Getaneh Getaneh, whose body has been tortured and imprisoned for Jesus in his native Ethiopia. Mujahid el Masih, who was raised a nominal Christian, became a jihad-bent Muslim as a young adult and then had a dramatic, life-changing encounter with Jesus. Brother "E", whose tales of North Korea seemed like something from Ripley's "Believe it or not". And Gracia Burnham, whose life has been forever changed by a year as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf guerillas in the Philippines.

Another VOM staffer and I spent Friday night with a kind couple from the host church who have a house just down the street.

Their house is beautiful and elegant, with (literally) a large mountain (Mount Eldon) behind it.

They were hospitable and helpful, even making a gluten-free breakfast (to accommodate my health problems) and serving it on their back deck so we could enjoy the beautiful morning.


Their dog was just the right balance of personality and even their cat was friendly (how rare is that?). The hospitality was so nice that it seemed unfitting for a conference about persecution.

I planned a team dinner on Saturday night for my reps, but leaned on my own "experience" more than on God for organizing it. Consequently I made several logistical miscalculations which caused the dinner to be late and rushed. A good lesson to learn (again).

The "icing on the cake" was that God worked things out for two of the speakers to actually come to our house and meet Mom and pray for her. What a blessing!

Thank You Father for the pile of blessings! Help me not to simply hoard them but to increase my joy--and Yours--by giving them away to others!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

VOM Conference This Saturday!

The Voice of the Martyrs is doing a free, all day regional conference in Flagstaff on Saturday, bringing in some speakers with very powerful testimonies. About 830 people have pre-registered for the conference and we anticipate about 600 will actually show up, based on statistics from other regionals that VOM has done. VOM HQ has worked very hard (in coordination) with our Flagstaff rep to pull this thing off.

Prayer requests for this:

  • That our small, informal prayer meeting for the conference on Friday night will be balanced, focused, passionate, and God-directed. (And not go off into one of the many ways prayer meetings can become misspent.)
  • Safety in travel and health for speakers and attenders
  • For the speakers to be rested, anointed, speaking in the fear of God
  • For direction for each of us reps in our many “chance” conversations with people at the conference – that we will be a blessing to them
  • That Mom feels well enough that Dad can go too
  • That Mom will be able to meet a couple of the speakers who plan to be in or pass through the Verde Valley
  • For the many logistical details related to food, lodging, and transportation
If you are interested in attending, and you live in the Verde Valley, contact me for information on carpooling.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Realtime Death Counter

This is sobering and thought provoking. But it can be healthy and motivate us to live better while we can. Which of these categories will your death fall into?

Click here to view the death counter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lloyd Breaks Loose

Our church's evening outreach at the Cottonwood July 4th celebration went well. Thank You, Father!

We met at church to pray first. Then carpooled to the park.

There were 6 of us. Here's the team picture. My Dad is not in the picture because he was holding the camera! :)




The man at the far left, Lloyd, is a very quiet man, almost shy. I was surprised--and grateful--for his willingness to join us. You see, Lloyd had never given a gospel tract to a stranger before in his life. The older you are, the harder it is to break out of your comfort zone.

Our team divided up. I handed out tracts mostly. My attempts at starting conversations with unsaved people didn't go anywhere. I did have a nice talk with a retired pastor and his wife. It turned out they had been in the Advanced Training Institute homeschooling program at roughly the same time we were. (A very rare "coincidence" but God enjoys orchestrating these!) Jim and his son Michael, on the other hand, focused almost exclusively on evangelistic conversations rather than bulk tracting. God blessed them with some fantastic conversations.

When we regrouped to return to church, I asked Lloyd how it had gone. "Well, I got rid of all 200 tracts!" he said happily. That made my day. And I think his too. A man most of us would write off as too old to change had just broken through his comfort zone in a new area.

More pictures are here on my photo album.

We hope to stay longer at next year's July 4th celebration -- it was a great opportunity.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4 Pictures from Lake Montezuma

Once again, the Lake Montezuma July 4th parade was great. Was able to distribute about 250 of the "shrinking dollar" gospel tract. By God's grace, had a few conversations with people about Jesus. The conversations were very cordial but I wish I were more skillful at it. I felt like I was working with a dull axe, not really getting down to their hearts.

Failed to recharge the batteries on the camera so we didn't get as many pictures this year. But there are a few good ones (and even a couple short videos). Here's the link for them.

Friday, July 3, 2009

An Opportunity Too Great to Miss!

For Christians in the U.S., July 4 is a fantastic opportunity to pass out gospel tracts and share Jesus with people at various community events.

God willing, we will be doing so at two local events tomorrow. Here's the announcement I made about it at church last Sunday:

This Saturday we have the wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with thousands of people celebrating July 4th. Events like this are ideal for evangelism because the people are well fed, happy, and not in a hurry to go anywhere

But maybe you’re petrified at the thought of sharing the gospel with a total stranger. I remember how scared I was a few years ago when Mom first suggested our family hand out tracts at our Lake Montezuma July 4 parade. I’d been in church all my life, heard hundreds of sermons, read the Bible a bunch of times, but I was frightened to hand someone a piece of paper!

Here’s something Charles Spurgeon said about tracts:

[Tracts are] adapted to those persons who have but little power and little ability, but nevertheless, wish to do something for Christ. They may not have the tongue of the eloquent, but they may have the hand of the diligent. They cannot stand and preach, but they can stand and distribute here and there these silent preachers… I look upon the giving away of a religious tract as only the first step for action not to be compared with many another deed done for Christ; but were it not for the first step we might never reach to the second, but that first attained, we are encouraged to take another… Let each one of us, if we have done nothing for Christ, begin to do something now. The distribution of tracts is the first thing.

So now I’m going to train you in how to distribute a tract.

You have a choice when handing out tracts. You can either hand out as many as possible without getting into conversations, or you can use the tracts to start conversations.

If you just want to hand out tracts without conversations, the less you say to the person, the better. Just walk up, smile, hand it to them, and keep going. To make it more friendly, you should say something like “Here you go” or “Here’s one for you” or “Happy 4th” or “Have a good evening”. If you’re not sure whether the person may have already gotten a tract earlier in the evening, you can say “Did you get one of these?” In about 95% of cases, people will take anything you give them without a question. You could be handing out tracts for the flying spaghetti monster and they would take them. In about 5% of cases, people will ask, “What is this?” You can just say, “It’s about Jesus.” The name of Jesus is hard to say to a stranger – so say it! People will then say “Ugh, no thanks” or “I’m a Christian already” or “Oh, that sounds good. Thanks” and you can move on.

If you want to start a conversation with someone, hold out the tract to them and say, “Would you like one of these?” They will then say, “What is it?” You can then say, “It’s a tract that explains the gospel. Do you know what the gospel is?” or “What kind of spiritual beliefs do you have?”

This Saturday is an opportunity for you to give someone the hope of salvation! Hope to see you there.
I encourage you to look at your own community's events and see if God might use you to plant seeds there.