Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall come quickly "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 1:8). But, praise God, the saints "are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief . . . For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:4,9). There is a big difference between the wrath of wicked men and the devil and the wrath of Almighty God. We all know the former, and the only escape from the latter is Yeshua Ha'Messiach, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Christ, my friends, is not His surname; it's His office. How appropriate then is the second Psalm:
And no, verse 8 is not a "great missionary passage" as so commonly taken out of context. The heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth are reserved for Messiah, to break them with an iron rod and to dash them in pieces like a piece of pottery (Psalm 2:9). But alas, that day is not now. Oh, it's coming; and it cometh quickly. But, it is not today. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (I Thessalonians 5:6). To watch and be sober is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16), and to follow the example of the one who penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (II Corinthians 5:11).
Some of my earliest adventures for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ, adventures that equipped me for the work FPGM now does, were alongside a bold brother who now works for the National Park Service in one of Alaska's remote national parks, one of those only accessible by boat or plane. My first open-air sermon, my first California hot springs, my first mountaineering exploit, my first successful summit of a Himalayan peak over 6,000 meters, my first cross-walking feat, and my first Great Commission labors at a true uttermost corner of the globe were all accompanied by this soldier of Christ known to me and some others as The Nomad. He had an old Nissan pickup that I believe eventually topped 400,000 miles before it was retired. I slept more than a few nights in the back of that thing under a leaky camper shell, and I would doze off staring out the back window and through the tattered bumper stickers arranged across it. My personal favorite was a white one with black letters that read Kill Your Television. And, I was always fond of two words pasted on the bottom center just above the latch: Team Jesus. Some years later, I etched the same words on the back of my SAG trailer as I pedaled a bicycle across America. I fancied my pregnant wife and myself Team Jesus as we took the Gospel of the highways and byways, one pedal revolution at a time. Long after that, it was this same epitaph etched on the Nomad's old pickup that inspired dubbing Full Proof Gospel Ministries' annual Israeli backpacker outreach groups Team Yeshua. This is now our third summer, and we are just a few days away from departure, this time to Huaraz, an Israeli hotspot at 10,013 feet in the Peruvian Andes. As for the Nomad's old truck, I think it is permanently parked somewhere down in Alabama, and the last time it crossed my path was two years ago in Yellowstone National Park. Kill Your Television was still there, and Team Jesus was just barely discernible, paired with a few new stickers and some classic duct tape patchwork.
This year, I will be leading Team Yeshua. We are a smaller team made up of three young people from South Dakota, myself, and my oldest daughter. I'm excited because all involved have experience with this type of outreach and have already served with FPGM in some capacity. Thus, there won't be much orientation, and we can hit the ground running. Please pray for Alexis, Jay, and Kyle as they drive here from South Dakota this week, stopping to seek out Israeli kiosk workers at shopping malls along the way so as to get "warmed-up" witnessing in a Jewish context and distribute free copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. May these initial efforts be the start of a summer full of encounters.
Saturday and Sunday will involve orientation, a commissioning service, and a Passover Seder courtesy of Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Lord willing, we will depart before dawn on Monday morning to make the long drive to Orlando. That evening, some believers are hosting us and graciously allowing me to store my vehicle there for the summer. On Tuesday, we fly out from Orlando to Lima, Peru with an extended 20-hour layover in Bogota, Colombia: just enough time to get a little sleep, do some open-air evangelism, and stock a few hostels popular amongst the Israeli backpackers with copies of the Hebrew New Testament.
It's a little strange . . . I'm used to long 15-hour flights to India via the Middle East or 8-10 hours flight broken up by a layover in Europe. This time, it's only 4 hours to Bogota and then 3 hours from there to Lima. And, we'll stay the same as Central Time Zone in the States. Nice!
We will be carrying nearly 100lbs of Bibles and Gospel material with us down to South America--English, Hebrew, and Spanish. Thanks to Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, and The Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures for supplying us Hebrew Bibles and other materials for the Israeli backpackers. And, thanks to my friend Marv at One Million Tracts for hooking us up with a big load of Spanish card tracts with a link to our larger Blunt Truth Booklet. Marv prints a lot of good card tracts, and they are available in large quantities for a very reasonable printing cost. Of course, we are also taking our Hebrew and English Trekker Tracts, some English King James Bibles, and some great little Spanish John/Romans editions. Our desire and our prayer is to get all this material out. We are also trying something new, putting the Hebrew Bible and the Hebrew New Testament on flash drives. Trekkers shy away from anything heavy or bulky, so maybe they will take a pen drive on the trail that contains God's Word and can also be used to store photos from their South American adventures. We'll see how that works.
Thanks to Brother TJ Lindsey and his wife Pam who head up a nice Gospel work there in Lima, Heart of Christ Ministries. They will be housing us for a few days on the front end as we join them for some street evangelism in Lima and to assist with their ministry among the children in the Caja De Agua slums. These are good people who love the Lord and the "least of these" and do not shy away from declaring the biblical Gospel in favor of secular humanitarianism. It will be a blessing to labor with them again. One of our team members actually spent last summer helping this ministry; it really is a small world.
The Lord provided us a good 3-bedroom flat from which to base in Huaraz. It's in a great location with an awesome view. The main plaza is nearby as are various trailheads frequented by the Israelis. Also, I'm stoked about the nearby Los Olivos climbing area. Some of the same Israeli backpackers who stayed at the Shelter on the Lake in Argentina earlier this year are now posting pictures from this place. It looks like I need to throw my climbing shoes in my bag.
Please pray for us as we take the Gospel this summer to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. As it was for the Apostle Paul, an apostle to the Gentiles who always made initial efforts to also reach the Jews, may it be the terror of the Lord that motivates us to persuade men. Our theme passage for the summer reads as follows:
The Prophet speaks of a regathering of the people of Israel into the Land in a state of unbelief that precedes a Time of Jacob's Trouble (a.k.a. the 7-year Tribulation, Daniel's 70th Week). After this time of trouble, the remnant that remains (only 1/3 living in the land at the time according to the prophet Zechariah) will be saved out of that trouble by Messiah Himself. They will acknowledge their offense as a nation and call for Him (Hosea 5:15), and He will come to deliver (Isaiah 63). Thus, "And so all Israel [i.e. living at that time] shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). The Lord will fulfill His promises to the Jewish people, unconditional promises made to their fathers. The regathering into the Land in a state of unbelief began full force in 1948 and continues unabated today. Most of those today who complete their compulsory terms of service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and then travel to backpack around places like South Asia and South America were born in Israel of parents who were part of this regathering. The dry bones have sinews and flesh and are covered with skin, "but there was no breath in them" (Ezekiel 37:8). This regathering, though glorious proof of the truth of God's Word, will be followed by a terrible time of trouble that serves to wake up the people to the fact that they missed their Messiah. Many will perish, and much of what has been built in terms of the modern state and its infrastructure will be lost. After being brought nigh to an utter end with nowhere else to turn, the nation will have a spiritual awakening and recognize Jesus as the Messiah: "So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army . . . And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:10,14). For us, we rejoice over this ultimate salvation for the children of Israel, but knowing the terror of "the time of Jacob's trouble" that must first come, and that many will perish, we are compelled to go forth and declare to both Jew and Gentile that same message that Messiah Himself first preached during His earthly ministry: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
Thanks for your prayers and support. We are Team Yeshua, we are, as etched on that old pickup, Team Jesus. Stay tuned for news from the front lines . . .