tides of ministry, they go out
. . . continued from Tides of Ministry, They Come In
Almost a month ago, I started this post speaking of the tides of life, the tides of ministry, and the rest we can have in the promises of God, the certainties of His Word, and the inevitable Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. With regard to the election madness here in America, I said it once, and I'll say it again:
Just as getting married and having children during the Holocaust that would make grandchildren (who would then populate the Modern State of Israel) was the greatest of all vengeances the Jews could have exacted upon the Nazis, even so, our resting in God’s truth and in His Messiah; our living well; our rowing with the tides of life; our rest and joys at home amidst family and friends; our Bible in our hands; our peace making the LORD, not America, our true dwelling place; our obeying God rather than men; and our raising up children to do the same—this is the greatest and sweetest revenge against the fools that solicit our votes and claim that the nation and the world rise or fall depending upon what happens in a little election in one country at one point in time in all of history. LOL.
As for more important matters, I requested prayer concerning this summer's Team Yeshua; and we continue to covet the same. Brother Ricky returned safely to Nepal, spent a fruitful two weeks on the ground there with Brother Bishnu, and he is now back up in Ladakh, making preparations for our eventual arrival. The team starts arriving here in NC on June 1st, and after a week of orientation and intense training, we will depart for South Asia on June 11th. I am really excited about some of the guest speakers who are coming in to help with the initial training, not the least of whom is a dear friend who has been working with Israeli backpackers in Argentina for nearly a decade. He and his wife have a great ministry going on down there in Bariloche; and from them, we have learned a lot. Concerning prayer specifics for this summer, please refer back to the previous post linked above.
Lord willing, Team Yeshua Nepal will take shape for the Fall season in Kathmandu. Presently, we have one young lady who has met the requirements and has been accepted. We need at least one more young lady and a couple of young men who are willing to give of themselves from September 15-December 15 for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. If you know any solid young people who might be interested, please have them contact us ASAP (828-292-0045).
Now, there is a story that never got told, so indulge me for some moments.
Back on February 22nd, I hit the road. Seven weeks later, when I finally pulled back into my driveway, I had driven 6,300 miles across America AND 2,200 miles around the Modern State of Israel (keep in mind that Israel from its tip-top to its very bottom is not even 300 miles). It was a true missionary journey that involved preaching the Gospel "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16), giving out the Word of God, discipling and better equipping men already in ministry, supplying needs of the brethren in a foreign land, building up a ministry platform, and better preparing ourselves for outreach to Israeli backpackers this coming summer. We are very grateful for all the prayers that went up for us during this time.
I actually drove out to California from North Carolina and left for Israel from there. The roundtrip tickets out of Los Angeles were really cheap; the gas was cheap; and the two brothers who came over to labor with us live in California. Thus, our team could travel together; and Brother Ricky could pick us up at the airport in Tel Aviv, having come from Nepal a week prior. On the way to California, I got to visit and fellowship with some dear supporters of FPGM; these were good times. One highlight of the road trip was preaching with Brother John Hedburg outside the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. He delivered a powerful message, and I had the privilege of following-up, a warm-up per se for the opportunities that I knew would soon be presented in Israel. You can actually listen to this message here: Open-Air Preaching at the Alamo.
My friends, there is power in the open-air preaching of the Gospel. Jesus preached in the open-air; the Apostles preached in the open-air; the prophets preached in the open-air. The Church should preach the Gospel in the open-air as the Lord gives the opportunity.
For any young men who might be interested in lifting up the Gospel or a public testimony on the streets in these dark days, there is a great little manual by Gerald Sutek, a Baptist missionary to the Philippines, about the ethics, legality, mechanics, results, and biblical mandate of open-air preaching. I got my hands on this little book many years ago, and it was instrumental in my walk with the Lord. It's not very long, but it's a great read and can be accessed online HERE. And as Mr. Sutek points out: "There is a right way and a wrong way; those who choose the wrong way may gain immediate attention, but their reputation is short-lived."
The lonely drive out to Los Angeles was actually pretty special. There was some sweet fellowship with the Lord in Carlsbad Caverns, in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in that little boot of New Mexico on its southwest side, and in the hills along the Mexican border where Coronado, the Spanish conquistador, once walked. I crumbed a few Gospel tracts here and there and camped or picnicked in some nice spots.
Finally, I rendezvoused with Brothers Ken Lightsey and Tim Mejia in LA, and we made the long trip via Moscow to Tel Aviv where Brother Ricky stood waiting in the terminal.
The day after we arrived in the Israel, it was the weekly Sabbath, so the four of us walked along the seaside down to Jaffa. We found the location where Simon the Tanner's house supposedly once stood and mulled over how Peter saw his vision in Acts 10 on the rooftop which looked WEST out over the sea. The Gospel, he was told, would also be for the Gentiles. And, as history bears witness, it truly did barrel west from the Promised Land, west and literally over the sea. In those moments, I thought about how my ancestors were persecuted in Europe and then carried the Gospel to American shores; I thought about how the Gospel was in my family back in the days of Jamestown; how the Lord gave me a godly heritage and saved my grandparents and saved my parents, and saved me; I thought about how Jesus Christ of Nazareth changed my life and sent me back to the place where it all started. I thought about how I, a lowly Gentile, had the privilege of provoking Christ's brethren after the flesh unto jealousy by preaching the same Gospel to them that their ancestors once preached to mine. I thought about the Church, the glorious mystery of Jew and Gentile together as the Bride of Christ, and what a great honor it is to be a part of that Remnant Body and to be sent our by her with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As we read some Scripture in a little Jaffa alleyway in front of a locked door, I was humbled.
Shortly thereafter, we found a little Messianic congregation that Ricky had been invited to the previous week. The people there were praising God and dancing unto the Lord, literally shouting "Jesus is our God." No charismatic fleshly worship either, but genuine praise of Jewish believers unto the Messiah. There is Remnant of grace even now as it has been with the Jew since the New Testament Church began (Romans 11:5), since the days of Peter and the great sheet full of animals. It was a blessed Shabbat.
The next evening, the Lord's Day, we went down on the boardwalk between Tel Aviv and Jaffa and preached our guts out. Some Jewish believers had been out there evangelizing and were packing up as we arrived. Wow, that was encouraging! We prayed together and then went about our Father's business. We preached until the sun dipped into the Mediterranean and a cold wind stirred up. There were some good conversations, some Gospel tracts went out, and Jesus the Messiah of Israel was clearly proclaimed. Little did we know that in those moments, Vice-President Joe Biden was dining nearby; and shortly after we departed, an American tourist was killed and ten others wounded near that very spot when a Mohammedan terrorist went on a stabbing rampage. We didn't find out about this until later that night when a journalist approached Ricky and I on the streets as we searched for some dinner. In light of the stabbing, she was noting the reaction of other tourists and asked for an interview. We gave it to her, told her Yeshua was the Messiah, that we loved Israel, that no terrorist would change our plans, and that Islam is of the devil. In the end, she did take a Gospel tract. Here is an article from the Jerusalem Post about the terrorist stabbing that occurred shortly after we finished preaching and left the area:
Later, I found the article penned by the above-mentioned journalist, Miss Zeveloff. Funny, she referred to Ricky and I as "Christian Zionists." I've never been called that before, but hey, praise God. Of course, she didn't mention anything we said about the Messiah, but one of Ricky's quotes did make the cut. The article stated:
"Concerning this stabbing, I am wearing an ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ shirt” — the slogan means “The Nation of Israel Lives” — “and I am not taking it off,” Springer said. “As a tourist, it makes me feel like I can stand side by side with the Jewish people as there are attacks and say, ‘I stand with you.’”
Anyway, you can read the full article here:
So things got off on a crazy note, and the next 3-4 weeks would prove a whirlwind from one end of the Modern State of Israel to the other and many places in between. As mentioned, we drove 2,200 miles around that little country, a nation-state only roughly the size of New Jersey. As we did last year, it was Eilat to Metula, the Meditteranean to the Dead Sea, and Dan to Beersheba. For the first twenty days, Brothers Ken Lightsey and Tim Meija were with us, and on the back side, my wife joined us for twelve days with a little overlap in between.
There is so much that could be written, one of the highlights being that we carried over a nice load of sound textbooks in church history, theology, and Bible commentary to help stock the student library at the Israel College of the Bible. Books like this are difficult to obtain in Israel, and our bringing them prove a huge blessing to believing Israelis who want to study the Bible and better equip themselves to reach their countrymen with the Good News of the Messiah. Praise God for those who helped contribute from their own libraries, praise God these got into the country with no problems in immigration, and praise God they were delivered. The Dean was so grateful saying, "Around here good Christian books are like gold."
As for other highlights, they are too many to list, so I'll instead post a few journaled entries from along the way:
ongoing labor in south asia
Through all of this, our work, labor, and partnerships in South Asia continue. Recently, having discovered that our supply of Project Jagerna Nepali Scripture portions was pretty much exhausted (i.e. a good problem to have), the Lord provided for us to send the funds to print another 30,000 Gospels of John. My late grandfather, Earl Taylor Green, was a faithful supporter of Full Proof Gospel Ministries for many years; and he often gave to the work of Project Jagerna. In this edition, we included the following dedication in the Nepali language:
This Gospel of John is printed in memory of Earl Taylor Green who was born on December 19, 1928 and went home to be with the Lord Jesus Christ on December 24, 2012. He was a lover of God's Word, the Bible, and a lover of the Nepali people. God bless Nepal!
These came off the presses several weeks ago; and this new batch will help supply believers that Brother Bishnu supports to preach the Gospel and plant churches in remote village districts. I'm reminded of Psalm 68:11: "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it." Below, are some recent recaps from Brother Bishnu, our national partner in Nepal, that describe how the previous supply was exhausted.
Your prayers and support for FPGM help us undergird and partner with local brethren like Brother Bishnu and those he trains and sends out. Presently, that brother is personally supporting four Nepali missionaries each month, right from his own pocket out of monies he earns from his bookstore. Two of these were sent out by him to the remote Jajarkhot District to preach and plant churches. Another brother is involved with a church plant down in Kapilbustu District; and the fourth is supported in the work of evangelism and church planting in the remote Ramechhap District, one of those areas hit pretty hard by the earthquake last year.
Speaking of the earthquake, Full Proof Gospel Ministries collected $32,000 for Nepal Earthquake Relief last year. Except for about $200, that fund has pretty much been exhausted. The last of it went to help complete rebuilding of a brother's village home near Gorkha, one of my oldest and best friends in Nepal, my first language teacher. Ricky hand-delivered the funds a couple weeks ago. Daya Ram wrote to me shortly thereafter as construction neared completion: "Special thanks to my Bhai (i.e. younger brother) and FPGM. Many people have come to see our house because I have made it with earthquake resilience. You can see the belt on the wall." He included a few photos of the work, and my heart was glad. We have so much to be thankful for here in America, and we take it all for granted. That's what Solomon did, and his heart soon went after other gods. We better wake up, my friends. The actions and attitudes of our poor and persecuted Christian brethren around the world stand in judgment against us.
It was also a blessing to help Brother Bishnu's family move to a new home, something they desperately needed, especially following the quake. The new place provides adequate room for their family and was constructed after the earthquake. It also means I have a prophet's quarters in which I can crash when passing through :) Brother Bishnu gave so much of his own time and effort, and dug deep into his own pockets this past year to help us reach out to believers in the hardest-hit areas and to distribute supplies and the Word of God well off the main roads. So many copies of the Scriptures in the Nepali language went into the hands of the lost. It was a blessing to extend help to them in a way that would insure the Gospel continues to go out in the days ahead. Thanks to all who gave last year.
Bishnu shared with me that earlier this year, he used some of the funds to purchase water pipe for a village area in Shading. The earthquake had destroyed a lot of the village water systems in this area. One of the village elders was so grateful and said, "My friend, this water piping is like milk from a mother's breast to her thirsty baby. Thank you." Of course, no earthquake relief without Gospel preach, so many likewise heard the Word.
Christian Parks was on of our Team Yeshua members last summer in Ladakh; and he later returned to South Asia to intern with FPGM in Nepal for another eight months. He returned home to the States on May 16. Ricky had these words to say: "Christian has been a great help in the work over here. It has been very encouraging to watch him grow and be used of the Lord. It is rare to meet someone that is so diligent in sharing the Gospel (as opposed to a mere youthful zeal). He is now heading back to the states to seek the Lord about his next step in life. My prayer is that he will not cease to publish the glorious Gospel among the nations and that he finds his way back to South Asia soon. The laborers truly are scarce and the work is overwhelming! I gave him some of our pictures to put on his computer before he left, and I was pretty encouraged looking back on all we were able to accomplish. I can say with a clean conscience that by the grace of God we truly glorified the Lord on all of our journeys. All that remains of his presence here in my Kathmandu flat is a neatly made bed and his hollowed-out shelf. I'll miss you brother! God speed."
ongoing labor stateside
These past few months have also been very busy stateside. I've been involved in some martial arts tests in both California and here in North Carolina, including a brown belt promotion for three of my students, all young men who love the Lord and are willing to share the Gospel and use martial arts as a platform to point others to faith in Jesus Christ (In TOOLS, an FPGM Travel Blog post dated February 12, 2015, I speak about how the LORD has used my martial arts background and my dojo to open up doors for the Gospel both here in America and in closed countries. It's an interesting read.) I rendezvoused with these guys in San Pedro, California the day after I returned from Israel; and they tested for their brown belts out there before a panel of some of my high-ranking colleagues. What was most satisfying was not the awesome martial arts demonstrations and proficiencies of my students, it was the opportunity this event yielded for being a vocal witness to those who need the Lord. After leaving San Pedro, Ricky and I drove these guys to Albuquerque for their return flight home. It was so excited that I journaled these words:
Daniel, Eric, and Jason truly earned and deserved their brown belts. And, though the skill and proficiency demonstrated was well beyond black belt level according to most dojo standards, we endeavor to maintain true to the high standards upon which Catawba Valley Martial Arts was founded. I am very grateful for these guys, for all their hard work and dedication, for their loyalty and accountability, and for their friendship. In many ways, my students are my teachers. Now, we get to ride back across the country together, preach the Gospel together in Las Vegas, go to the Grand Canyon, and reminisce about this experience along the open road. Last night, as we drove to Vegas to crash at some friends' house, I observed something at a Dunkin Donuts that spoke more to the character of my students than anything I had observed in any kata, any technique, or any grueling aspect of their brown belt test. In the last picture, I turned to see Daniel buy a stranger a cup of coffee, share with him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then put his arm around him to pray with him that God would meet his needs.
Amen. Later, we would preach with boldness down on the Strip in Las Vegas. It was wicked down there, but each of these brothers stepped up to the plate, and the Word of God went forth. Ricky, too, was bold. And, as I preached without mincing words, there was no fear. I was surrounded by brothers who could and would protect me. At the Grand Canyon, I was amazed by how many opportunities we had to share Messiah with lost sheep from the House of Israel. Anyway, praise God for platforms and talents we can use to point others to faith in Jesus Christ. If you have them, my friends, use them. When you go out in whatever you do, shod your feet with the Gospel.
I've also been continuing my exegetical study of the Book of Revelation at New Testament Christian Fellowship here in North Carolina as Sundays are free to do so. This adventure in the Word of God began back on January 13, 2013, and is now up to 84 messages. Just the other day, I got through the first ten verses of chapter thirteen. All these sermons are available on Full Proof's STUDIES IN REVELATION PODCAST; you can also subscribe on iTunes. Beware though: words ain't minced; truth ain't dissimulated; and there ain't no apology for what the Word of God has to say :) He that has an ear, let him hear; and I pray these are a blessing.
We've also been helping out on an interim basis with the preaching at Living Word Baptist Church in Creedmoor, NC--my original sending church. Pastor Mike Vaughn, a good brother and a solid shepherd, has been dealing with some major health issues that have had him hospitalized. It's been an honor for me and Brother Ricky to step in and fill this brother's pulpit, to give back to a local church body that has been so faithful to support this work back to its inception in 2004. Please pray for Pastor Mike Vaughn and Living Word Baptist Church during these trying times. I am sad to leave the brothers and sisters of this small fellowship (ten of which are widows) and go over the big pond to India. But, I praise God for some preachers I have been able to round up to help, not the least of which include a couple of my martial arts students who sense a call to ministry and needs opportunities like this to grow in that call. Here's a message I preached to the brethren at Living Word back on May 1st - an encouraging word from Psalm 11 to the Remnant Body who wonder what to do when the foundations be destroyed: IF THE FOUNDATIONS BE DESTROYED? (PSALM 11).
As always, we labor without benefit of furlough; and we can't complain.
Well, Team Yeshua 2016 will start arriving here in North Carolina this week. Orientation starts next week, and Lord willing, we all depart for South Asia on June 11th. There is so much to do and so little time in which to do it. But, God always shakes things out. What is worrisome now will be cause for a chuckle a few weeks from now.
The tides of ministry: they come in and they go out. Let's occupy until He comes. Maranatha.
Jesse Boyd & the FPGM Team