Greetings to all, and may the Lord God bless each and every one of you:
Over the past few months, Full Proof Gospel Ministries has been laboring hard among a handful of different people groups. Things have been real busy; and the Lord has shown Himself faithful to draw men to Himself through the preaching of the Gospel. Two months ago, I sent out an update explaining come of the work we did up in Ladakh in northwestern India. I do pray it was a blessing to the saints to hear testimony of God’s faithfulness in these dark days. If you missed this testimony, it can be found HERE. From where I left off, Jesse and I ventured into the far western regions of Nepal where Christ has not been named; we hosted a few teams from a couple of churches in North Carolina and South Dakota; and we spent a week in Bangladesh laboring with some dear brothers we met back in 2012.
I rejoice to think of the many people in numerous villages of the Baitadi and Bhajang Districts of Far West Nepal that received God’s Word for the first time in their lives. I also praise God for the opportunities we have had to work with local churches in Nepal and Bangladesh, some of them made up of persecuted brethren, to teach them evangelism and to labor alongside them in the ministry. However, I would like for this particular update to focus upon our interaction with the Jewish people in this part of the world. As we have traveled throughout South Asia going back to early September, we have been very intentional about following the Israeli tourist routes and seeking out lost sheep of the House of Israel. To understand this strange phenomenon of thousands of Jewish travelers perpetually trickling through this part of the world, you must refer back to my earlier post entitled For They Shall All Know Me. Along our route, much of it overland, Jesse and I were able to share with many young Jewish people. Some we found in the large market areas just waiting for their bus to arrive so they could hop to their next destination, and some we came across at the Buddhist shrines or in busy hostels. I can still see so many faces in my mind’s eye, so many young faces listening to a stranger describe their own God to them. ‘Twas fascinating, yet a little sad. Oh that God would restore Israel!
One afternoon, Jesse and I walked all the way across town and up to the top of a hill where the Japanese erected a Buddhist shrine called Shanti Stupa. It is one of the main tourist attractions in the city and a place we were hoping to find Israelis. The sun was a bit hot and the desert air really dried out my mouth. I was so foolish not to bring water with me but thankfully I found a little shopkeeper at the top selling some ice cold waters. He gave me cold water for my body and I returned to him cold water for his soul in the message of Jesus Christ. We walked around the stupa looking for someone to share the gospel with, but we found no one. Jesse decided that it would just have to be an audience of Youtube viewers who might listen to a message preached in front of this glamorous display of Buddhist vanity. We set up and Jesse shared a message in front of the enormous structure about Buddhism and Jesus. Here is the video footage:
As we were leaving the stupa, we stopped for a moment and shared with three local teenagers and gave them some Gospel tracts. We then circled around the corner to find two Jewish women standing before us. They were mesmerized by the religion of Buddhism and more than once mentioned how wonderful it was to be in such a holy place. Oh contraire dear ladies! Oh contraire. We then told them how much we love Israel and how often we try to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They seemed to appreciate that and then one went on to say how spectacular the Old City of Jerusalem really is. Jesse took the conversation further by declaring how the only true way to peace for Jerusalem is the return of Messiah. When talking to Jewish people about the Messiah’s coming, you may notice a slight difference in their use of words. Pay attention though, because it displays a major difference in theology. A Christian will mention the RETURN of Messiah while Judaism will only ever speak of His “coming.” Notice the difference? Judaism is looking for a Messiah to come but, just as in Jesus day, Judaism refuses to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. In fact, as you look through the Talmud or Midrash about the Messiah or ask a rabbi about his thoughts concerning the Messiah, you will find the portrait of their Messiah looking very different from the Biblical Saviour (just like the portrait of Jesus in the minds of many American churchgoers is worlds apart from the Jesus Christ of the Bible). The two young ladies we spoke to that day did receive proper instruction about the King of Kings and about how He will come to bring atonement to Jehovah’s people. They both took Hebrew Gospel tracts and thanked us for the love we have toward Israel. The encounter was an answer to prayer and a real blessing.
I can almost hear the words of the prophet Haggai questioning the priests, “If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No” (Haggai 2:12). God’s point with the law has always been to show us our sins. And so with Haggai, “Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:14). When God says that you must be holy to see the Lord, He makes no exceptions. His judgment is without dissimulation and without respect of persons. Even the slightest bit of sin makes us unclean in His sight! “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). So many Jewish people have learned to work hard for salvation and do as much mitzveh (good deeds) as you can in this life. Yet, God is clear that He does not want self-righteous hypocrites entering His holy kingdom. He is calling to Himself the elect by His own grace and making them truly holy by His own righteousness, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Another encounter we had was while walking through a market in India’s Manali hill station. There were two young ladies nearby that I noticed to be Jewish, so I started to speak with one of them. For the next ten minutes, Jesse and I engaged these in conversation about Israel and the loving God who is faithful to keep covenants. After a short time, one of young ladies laughed like Sarah in Genesis 18. She said she had heard things like this before but never from someone like us and that she was really interested to know more. I then reached into my bag and gave her a Hebrew New Testament which she gratefully received. The Lord is truly doing something powerful and phenomenal with Jewish people right now; and it is such a blessing to be a part of it.
This, my friends, is how the ministry would like to continue with regards to reaching out to Israeli travellers here in South Asia. Right now I am set up in Kathmandu, Nepal with a two-bedroom flat so that I can bring Israeli men back to my home and through genuine love and hospitality preach Christ to them. Right now, because of the visa situations in India and Nepal, I will likely spend the near future working in Nepal from the autumn season until spring and then move to northern India to work during the summer. This is the most convenient option at the moment; and it works well with the monsoon season in Nepal since not much can be done during that time. Also, the past couple of years FPGM has partnered with a very beautiful congregation down in Bangladesh and has done a few trainings for them on evangelism. Recently, we visited the country to do some trainings for a large group of pastors and a local church. At the end of our trainings, we would open a question and answer session. Believe it or not, these pastors, after asking questions about doctrine and ministry, asked some honest and pointed questions about Israel. It was a sign from the Lord that I need to return to them again later and do some teaching about Israel and God’s plan for them. Jesse and I had already been talking about how in a Muslim country like Bangladesh there is not much possibility of the Christians witnessing to Jewish people. Although they may not be able to witness, they can pray for Israel! They can pray for the Jewish people as God has told us to do in His Word (Psalm 122:6). My friends, an integral part of Jewish ministry is to teach the church more about Israel and our responsibility to love the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8). Please keep these efforts in prayer as we plan for this type of work.
In my recent updates, I have mentioned how wonderful it was to see the Lord bringing another missionary into FPGM to focus on the Tibetan-stock peoples while Jesse and I focus on the Nepalis and Israelis respectively. I regret to inform you that this missionary has forsaken the ministry, leaving us with a mess and much more work to do in her stead. Just as Paul implored in the context of Demas forsaking him on the field (2 Timothy 4:9-10), “do thy diligence to come shortly unto me.” I know many of you cannot come to South Asia to help out on the ground, but at least come shortly in prayer. I need help and intercessory prayer as I will be doing both my duty and the duty assigned to the one who “John Mark-ed” us in South Asia. On top of my Israeli ministry, I will be laboring diligently in the off-seasons among Tibetan-stock people in Ladakh and throughout Nepal and Bhutan. There is much work to be done and leaving it undone would be contrary to the example of God’s faithfulness to complete His work. May God send forth faithful laborers into the fields!
As I conclude this update, I remember one other encounter with a Jewish man that I feel I must share. When Jesse and I initially came through Delhi with his family, we visited to the Paharganj tourist area and did our best to search out Israelis. By the Hand of Providence, we found ourselves inside a hostel lobby speaking with an orthodox young man about countless prophecies and the weakness of God’s law. Scripture explains that through man’s flesh the law is weak and powerless to save from sin and death. But, the Spirit of the living God is what grants repentance and gives to us the resurrection from the dead (Hebrews 7:18-19). The young man kept stumbling over God’s grace and tried to convince us that self righteousness was acceptable to God. He finally ended his arguments by telling us to go to Youtube and watch the debates between rabbis and pastors. My friends, I have seen these debates and they are just as scripted and skillfully edited as the Islamic propaganda you find trying to discredit Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Of course, showing the whole conversation would expose the rabbis’ lies and the Truth of the gospel, so they manipulate the video and simply speak over the Christian. Young people today can be very easily swayed by a video on the internet. It is sad. But, such are the times. Imagine that, appealing to a YouTube video as an authority over the saint-used, time-tested Absolute Monarch of the Books, God’s Holy Word. Sheer profundity!
May you be blessed by the Lord God in your walk, my dear brothers and sisters. It is but a little longer; and we will rejoice at the Messiah’s glorious appearing. We will proclaim the goodness of the Lord and the saints will even reign with our King. Until that time: Let us occupy. Let us continue laboring. Let us be found faithful when He raptures the Church out of this present evil world. I do believe He will very, very soon. Hallelujah!