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Archive for December, 2010

Back in the Warm South

My trip down to South Carolina definitely wasn’t ideal. I left late in the afternoon on Monday and stopped in Fort Wayne, IN, for supper and to check email. I was planning on staying in Indianapolis for the night. About an hour away from my Indy destination, the snow began to fall. The snowfall increased to the point where it was no longer safe to keep to the speed limit. With my recent accident, I am even more sensitive and careful about wintry roads. Since the snow plows were not able to get to the roads quickly enough, there were some accidents along the way, but the Lord kept me safe through it all, even when I had to find a second place to stay when I realized that the first place was not available.

I wasn’t sure how the roads would be on Tuesday morning. Praise the Lord that though they were wet and a little slushy, they were not slick. I arrived in Greenville at around 5:30 pm. I was kicking myself for having forgotten some sweaters for my two months on the road. But as I did some shopping in Greenville on Wednesday, I began wondering if I shouldn’t have brought shorts instead! The temperatures rose to 66 degrees that day! They’ve gone down some since then and are even predicting snow for Saturday, though the chances continue to diminish as the week wears on.

My sister Michele found out that she’ll be having her baby next week, either naturally or by inducing. Her original due date was Jan. 5, but the doctor doesn’t think she should wait that long. Michele is very excited about having this baby and being relieved of the late term discomfort, and the rest of us are excited to welcome Tristan into our lives! Tristan will be my first nephew!

I’m so thankful I can spend Christmas with family and friends down here in Greenville. I enjoyed Mt. Calvary’s annual carol sing on Wednesday. What a blessing to sing praises to Christ for humbling Himself to become flesh for our salvation! I’m looking forward to another week of vacation next week. I’ll be spending a good portion of the time learning about buying a house and researching on various possibilities, as I’ll most likely be moving into one in 2011. Please pray for wisdom.

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I spent the first two weeks in Grand Rapids in the Haitian Creole OT workshop, so this past week was the only week I had to get caught up on other responsibilities. Since I was traveling back from Ohio on Monday, my week basically began on Tuesday. Tuesday began with a 2.5-hour meeting with the director and the other manager. That afternoon I met with the director and another co-worker to evaluate how things went for the Haitian Creole workshop. That took an hour or more.

On Wednesday I spent an hour and a half meeting with the director to discuss various aspects of my department. On Thursday morning I spent another hour and a half meeting with another manager and our administrative assistant to evaluate her work over the past few months. That afternoon I met with the head of the translation consultants and the other manager to discuss the Sango Bible revision project and the new project in Luxembourg. On Friday I spent an hour with the other manager and a research coordinator to discuss a new literacy project in Myanmar. We are testing the waters to see if we can launch a translation project there soon. I spent most of that morning preparing for that meeting by reading a string of emails, some of which dated back to 2009.

Between meetings I wrote personal notes to my supporters on my Christmas prayer letter. Thankfully, during that time an IT guy improved the functioning of my computer.

So, I’d say this was quite a busy week! I’m glad it’s over and that I’m beginning my Christmas vacation on Monday. I’ll be taking a break for two weeks before jumping back into things. I head to South Carolina early next week and will be there until January 8. Please pray for safety!

During this busy week I set up things to be part of a missions conference at Community Baptist Church in South Bend, IN, in October. I look forward to being with Pastor Pennington and his people.

Yesterday, I found out that a couple took me on for support. I met these people at a missions conference in Ohio in early October. They had mentioned their desire to start supporting me. I’m so thankful the Lord has enabled them to do that! I now have 69% again. Keep praying for the Lord to provide all my support by Easter of 2011. Praise the Lord that I was able to fill all empty slots in my schedule for early 2011!

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Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve been on deputation for over three years now and I’ve had to fight discouragement, especially as I hear about other missionaries finishing their deputation in less time and getting onto the field. But the Lord has really ministered to my heart recently and has increased my faith. He’s helped me to gain confidence that He will provide, since He has called me to the work. He’s also given me a broader perspective on why He’s directed that I remain on deputation for over three years. He’s shown me all the blessings that I would have missed had I not continued past the three-year mark. In addition to blessing me with more ministry opportunities and meetings with more wonderful people, He’s also showered His goodness on me through the generosity of His people in such a way that I can meet many present and future needs. Now I actually feel sorry for missionaries who finish their deputation quickly! How refreshing it is to have a change in perspective!

DEPUTATION

Though I am thankful for all the blessings of deputation, I still long to be involved in the work full time, because there’s much to do. God has been adding other solid churches to help me achieve my goal of finishing by Easter of 2011: Community Baptist Church in Fleetwood, PA; Sweethaven Baptist Church in Portsmouth, VA; Faith Baptist Church in Laval, Quebec, Canada; and Calvary Baptist Church in Westminster, MD, have joined my support team. I’m excited to be a partner with such sound churches! Because of them, my support level has gone up seven percent since my October prayer letter. (But because of various increases in expenses, my support level is actually at 68%.)

I have meetings through Easter, so keep PRAYING for God’s provision. PRAY also for power as I minister at churches and for protection, both physical, emotional, and spiritual, as I travel as a single guy in “this present evil age.”

MINISTRY

Most of the past two months was spent in deputation activities, especially as I had five missions conferences in October. But in November, I began preparing for another Haitian Creole Old Testament workshop. The workshop took place in Grand Rapids at the end of November and beginning of December. We normally do the December workshop in Haiti, but because of the national elections we decided we would be better off holding it in Grand Rapids. That proved to be the right decision, since riots and protests did erupt in Haiti because of accusations of election fraud.

This workshop involved five people—Daniel Telfort, the national translator; Dr. Hantz Bernard, the BI Director; Dr. Hye Ree Park, a future BI consultant; Alex Wheeler (for just a few days), a BI consultant on deputation; and me. Because three of us are still learning about consulting, the workshop progressed at a slow pace. But with the many sets of eyes seeing the text, we helped the translator significantly improve his translation. We almost finished the book of Genesis and worked out a plan for the translator to finish Psalms and Proverbs in a couple of years so that we can reprint the New Testament with these two books. Please PRAY for the translator to be able to maintain a more rigorous pace, and for us consultants as we try to keep up with him.

What are some of the other activities that have kept occupied during the past two months? Glad you asked! I spent numerous hours counseling students who are considering becoming BI consultants. One is on a short-term trip right now, three others are considering internships this summer, and many others are in need of direction concerning the next step in their education. I helped a consultant in Chad, Africa, set up a plan for an Old Testament project there so that the translation team can complete the project in a reasonable amount of time. I contributed to the writing of footnote entries, glossary entries, and Book Introductions that will be used in all of our projects. I secured a special speaker for next year’s Consultant Seminar. I read and responded to numerous emails about projects in India, Myanmar, Togo, the Philippines, and Luxembourg. I think I’m staying pretty busy! Thank you for your PRAYERS for grace, strength, and wisdom. Please keep PRAYING.

I hope the Lord gives each of you to a blessed Christmas and that your New Year will get off to a good start. What a joy it is to celebrate Christ’s first coming! How I long for His second coming! I pray each of you will know more of His presence in the coming year.

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Safety in an Accident

Yesterday I came to realize that not only does the Lord often deliver me from accidents, but He also protects me while in an accident. No one was hurt, but my car and others were pretty banged up. Here’s how it happened…

I was heading back to Grand Rapids after a good weekend meeting in north-central Ohio. The roads seemed to get progressively better as I drove into Michigan. But I also noticed that in some stretches, it was solid ice.

As I crested a hill and came around a curve only a few miles from the intersection of Highway 23 and Interstate 96, I saw a Mazda in front of me sliding almost uncontrollably. Eventually he was perpendicular to the oncoming traffic and then even turned so that he was turned completely in the wrong direction. I tried to slow down as quickly as I could while also trying to avoid hitting him. But because of the icy conditions and the insufficient space in which to stop, I couldn’t miss him entirely.

Thankfully, I didn’t hit him head on but instead went next to him. The driver’s side rear corners hit as we passed, putting a big dent into both cars. He had already hit a semi, so his car was quite messed up. He quickly ran his car into the center ditch after hitting me, least he get nailed by other cars.

What caused him to swerve out of control was a wrecker that was stopped partially in the left lane. It was trying to get a pick-up truck out of the center ditch. Because of the limited site distance before this scene, the situation was quite dangerous. In fact, it quickly became obvious to me, as the minutes passed at the accident scene, that the circumstances were extremely dangerous. While we were waiting for the police, a few other cars fished tailed and almost slid out of control. One driver did lose control enough to side-swipe the wrecker, adding one more damaged car to the accident scene.

I soon realized that it wasn’t even safe to walk on the shoulder, or I might get run over by an out-of-control car, so I walked in the snow in the center ditch from then on. The temperature was 12˚ with a wind chill that was probably below 0, so my hands nearly froze as I tried to get the driver and insurance information from the Mazda guy.

When the police investigated the situation, they determined that the Mazda was at fault for my accident. Praise the Lord for that verdict! Praise the Lord also that no one got seriously hurt! Only God’s protecting presence kept things from getting much worse.

As I was waiting for the police, I got a call informing me that a church in Indiana wants to have me in for a meeting next year and is planning on taking me on for support. That was well-timed good news! My meeting at Maranatha Baptist Church in Ashland, OH, also seems promising. The pastor seemed to get even more excited about my ministry as I presented it, and the people also showed genuine interest. The attendance was down because of the weather, but many of the regular attenders were there. We’ll see how God leads!

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Workshop and Weekend

The Haitian Creole OT workshop finished yesterday amidst both uncertainty and hope. The uncertainty came because of the situation in Haiti. The translator, Daniel Telfort, is getting married on December 27 and has much to do before the wedding, but the unrest down there has caused all flights to be canceled. He was supposed to fly out this morning via American Airlines, but they postponed his travel to Dec. 18. That’s way too late for him, so he was permitted to use his reservation to get to Miami, and then it’s up to him to get to Haiti. There are some possibilities, but nothing certain. Please pray for him to get back home soon.

The workshop also ended with hope. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to finish Psalms and Proverbs over the next two years so that we can print them along with a reprinted NT. We weren’t able to finish Genesis in this last workshop, but that’s mainly because there was a significant amount of mentoring going on. Dr. Bernard is still mentoring me, since I have not yet completed the Consultant-in-Training program. He and I are also mentoring Hye Ree Park as she begins preparation to join Bibles International. In addition, we were mentoring Alex Wheeler who joined us for a few hours.

The other thing that really slowed us down was Jacob’s deceitful scheming. He also threw us for a loop for a little while as we tried to figure out exactly what he was doing with the sheep and goats in his efforts to outsmart Laban. I never studied that passage in great depth, so I had a hard time sorting through everything. After spending almost an entire morning we finally figured things out and helped Daniel translate a passage that totaled only around 9 verses.

Please pray for Daniel as his goal is to translate 65 verses per day. Since he will (hopefully) picking up the pace and since we weren’t able to finish all that he prepared for this past workshop, we will have lots to do in June. We have increased the length of the workshop by 1 week for the June workshop. But we will have over 100 chapters to do! The most we’ve ever finished in one workshop (that is usually around 7-10 days long) is 28 chapters. I’ll need the Lord’s grace to prepare and then conduct the workshop this summer.

I leave this afternoon for Maranatha Baptist Church in Ashland, OH. I’ll be presenting my ministry and preaching in the AM service and then talking for another 15-20 minutes in the PM service. Pastor Grover wanted to squeeze me into this year’s schedule so that I could be presented as a possibility for becoming a supported missionary when they vote in January. Please pray for this weekend’s meeting to result in a partnership with this church, if it’s the Lord’s will.

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Support Increase

During the Haitian Creole OT workshop today, I got a call from Steve Kindstedt of Calvary Baptist Church in Westminster, MD, saying that they voted to take me on for monthly support! Praise the Lord! Steve and I ushered together at Bob Jones University in the early 90’s, so we go way back. We also attended the same church for a number of years–Mt. Calvary B/C in Greenville, SC. He’s been the assistant pastor at Calvary since late last year, and he was instrumental in connecting me to his church. It turns out that I knew the head pastor, Tim Leaman, from a distance at BJU. Pastor Leaman also attended Mt. Calvary during his years at BJU. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship at his church in October and am excited that I’m partnered with such a good church. I can’t wait to get back there to be with them again!

I now have 68% of my support. God will provide!

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Michigan’s December welcomed me back with a good bit of snow. In fact, it continues to fall today. It’s time to head back south! Actually, I won’t be able to do that until closer to Christmas, because there’s work to be done up here.

The Haitian Creole translator arrived last weekend, and we’ve been working with him on his translation of Genesis. He has half of Genesis ready to check as well as 10 Psalms. As of today, we’ve gotten back on schedule to finish most of the material during this workshop. The workshop continues until the end of next week. Please pray for wisdom to understand the sacred text and to be able to communicate clearly to one another. Dr. Bernard and Dr. Hye Ree Park are also in the workshop. Alex Wheeler will be joining us for a few days next week.

The Lord really helped my mom and me last weekend. We had many ministry opportunities as we attended the funeral for my sister’s daughter, Abigail. Please continue to pray for my sister Lori and her husband as they adjust to a life that’s different than what they were planning on.

I had a great time with Pastor Slutz and Thompson Road Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN, this past Sunday. I wish I were related to Peyton Manning to increase their desire to be associated with me, but after watching his performance later that night, I’m having second thoughts!

For the first time in four months, I’ll be back at my church here in Grand Rapids for a Sunday. I’m looking forward to worshiping with them.

I had a very unusual experience today–three pastors wanted to contact me about meetings for the future (I’ve been in contact with all three for 2-3 years)! And all three are from Illinois! What a blessing and answer to prayer! One pastor wants to have me back “to make supporting me official.” The other two are new contacts. I set up one meeting for January 2012. I have only one free Sunday for the other two, so pray for everything to work out to go to both churches. I might be able to combine one church with one of my other two meetings in Illinois in March 2011.

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