Archive for December, 2011

Winding down year 2011

The end of 2011 finds me resting and relaxing with family and friends. I’ve enjoyed a week of fellowship and Christmas celebration in Greenville, SC, and am now heading back up north. Our family’s gatherings were much enhanced by the joyful presence of my new nephew, Tristan Rivera. He was born 1 year ago Saturday and has been a joy to our family ever since. He has such a happy, pleasant disposition and is full of energy and ambition. He is determined to get places more quickly, so he’s really working on the walking thing. This year’s Christmas was also special because my sister Lori and her husband Justin joined us in Greenville. They hadn’t been down since 2007, the Christmas before their summer 2008 wedding. We enjoyed lots of laughs together, especially when we played a grueling game of ‘Spoons.’

I was also blessed to see the newly expanded auditorium at Mt. Calvary B/C on Christmas Day. We had a 4pm worship service, the fourth service in the new auditorium. The TV screens (to help us see the choir and the preacher better) and the beauty and comfort of the surroundings really enhanced the worship. Pastor Minnick spoke from Luke 2, declaring Jesus Christ to be the only Savior and Lord. His words were a good reminder to strengthen our convictions and hopefully draw the unsaved to God.

I am still praying for the Lord to provide the remaining 5% of support that I need, and I know you are as well. Maybe some churches will be voting in January and will take me on. I am planning on sending out letters soon to appeal to certain churches (where I’ve presented) to consider supplying my remaining support needs. Please pray for wisdom to know when and what to write. I pray that I won’t have to set up any more meetings in 2012 beyond the 4 that I already have.

It was a blessing to see the Lehmkuhls yesterday evening. They drove down from Iowa to see my family and to enjoy a family vacation in the warmer south. We knew each other during our Schaumburg days in the 1990s, so it was great to see them again. I saw them during my travels through Iowa in the early fall, but the rest of my family hadn’t seen them for almost 2 decades.

I return to the office on January 3. Other than a meeting in IL on Jan. 15, I’ll be quite busy next month preparing for the upcoming activities later in 2012. I’ll focus mostly on my trip to India in late January, but I’ll also be trying to work ahead for the events after that trip. I need to prepare for three seminars in India and one or two translation workshops. I’ll be teaching a linguistics course at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in May, and since I’ve never taught that course, I want to work ahead to be fully ready when it comes.

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Dear Family and Friends,

As we witness the protests and uprisings around the world, we may wonder if we will ever see the peace the angels announced would be ushered in with the coming of Christ (Luk. 2:13). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed similar consternation in his song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” He writes, ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’ But with the eyes of faith he rises above the raging of the nations, and writes, Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead: nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, goodwill to men.’ Praise be to the Messiah, especially during this Christmas season, that God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.


I had asked you to pray for a safe and productive trip to Haiti in November as I worked with the translator on the Haitian Creole Old Testament. I hesitatingly asked you to pray that we would be able to finish the Psalms, wondering if that goal was unrealistic. Well, the Lord allowed us to finish all of the Psalms! And we completed our work a day and a half early and in spite of the fact that I contracted a viral infection during the second week of the workshop (I’ve since recovered). PRAISE God for His grace! Next time, though, I’ll ask you to pray for good health as well! PRAY as we strive to print a revised New Testament with Psalms/Proverbs by 2014.


The Lord has also answered your prayers in regard to my support. It has increased by 8% since my October letter and now stands at 93%! Tabernacle Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA; Worthington Baptist Church in Worthington, PA; and Pasir Panjang Christ Church in Singapore have all joined my support team. I PRAISE the Lord for these new partnerships. Also, Faith Baptist Church in Laval, Quebec, and another supporter increased their current support amount. Please PRAY as churches may be voting on support needs through the end of January. PRAY for my remaining support to come in without my having to add more meetings. I have four meetings in 2012.


On November 30 at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, I was commissioned into the missions ministry of Bible translation. The director of BI, Dr. Hantz Bernard, gave a charge to the church to help them realize their privilege of being involved with me in Bible translation and of their responsibility in supporting me in prayer. His words were encouraging and sobering both for the church and for me, since he explained the spiritual, physical, and intellectual rigors of this ministry.

Pastor Minnick then gave a charge to me. Using 2 Timothy 2:15 as his text, he challenged me to be faithful in life and ministry so that I might be an “approved workman.” He also took advantage of the opportunity to help the church put into perspective all the riches we have in the English language. On this 400th-year anniversary of the KJV, he encouraged me to consider that maybe translations I help produce will have such lasting value for their language groups. Please PRAY with me that I would be faithful and fruitful as I seek to help millions of people around the world gain access to the Word of God in their own language. The first quarter of 2012 will include a five-week trip to India, southeast Asia, and Singapore in January and February, and meetings in churches in Illinois and Wisconsin in March.


Speaking of helping people gain access to the Word of God, we are going to just that in 2012 for many different people groups: Kabiyé NT (Togo); Quechua NT (Peru); Bualkhaw, Zotung, and Tedim Chin NT’s (Myanmar); Dagba NT and Rito NT (Chad); Dagaare NT portions (Ghana); Chakma and Inpui Naga NT’s (India);  and Warao OT portions (Venezuela). We are excited about the completion of these projects, but we are pleading with the Lord to provide the funds to print these Scriptures. The printing costs make up a significant portion of the overall expenses of a project. We are thankful for the giving of God’s people, especially recently. PRAY for the remaining thousands to come in. We PRAISE the Lord that we raised $44,000 at our Annual Banquet in October. It was the best-attended banquet yet.

God bless your Christmas and 2012! Thanks for your prayers!

That All the World May Read the Word,



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What is life like as a commissioned missionary? Well, I can’t say it’s changed much, though the feeling of fulfillment and responsibility continue to weigh upon me after last Wednesday’s service. I had a wonderful time of celebration with some friends on Thursday night before heading north on Friday. I stopped off in Indianapolis so that I could be centrally located for a deputation meeting in Kankakee, IL, last Sunday and a work meeting in Cleveland, OH, on Thursday. Then I head back to Grand Rapids on Thursday night.

My meeting at Calvary Baptist Church went well. Pastor Scott Paisley and his church received me graciously. I had been to Kankakee for basketball games as a high school student, but it was good to return on more favorable terms. I presented in SS and then preached in the AM service.

I returned to Indy just in time for the evening service at Colonial Hills Baptist Church. Pastor Chuck Phelps preached a stirring message on the catastrophes that Samuel endured with the loss of his mentor Eli and the Philistines’ stealing of the ark. Pastor Phelps exhorted us to trust the sovereignty of God, remember the brevity of life, and rest in the certainty of hope. He pointed out that the Lord was preparing Samuel to preach a revival later in Israel. I know he must have encouraged his own soul during his preparations for this message, considering all he’s going through. Maybe the Lord will use him to preach a revival as well. I spoke with him after the service and was thankful to see the grace of God at work in his life. He continues to stand strong in the grace that is in the Lord.

So, what else has this commissioned missionary been doing? Writing many thank-you notes after the commissioning celebration, corresponding extensively with a prospective consultant, supplementing the Consultant Manual, making further preparations for my trip to India in January, setting up a meeting with a supporting church this Sunday evening, etc. It’s a good thing I enjoy quiet days filled with endless hours in front of my computer, because that often describes my life.

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On last night’s program, the words of Acts 13:2-4a were written:

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed…

After drawing a distinction between an ordination service and a commissioning service, Pastor Minnick reviewed the highlights of my 19-year relationship with Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. Though we all wanted to have the service in the newly renovated and expanded auditorium, it wasn’t ready yet so we squeezed into the old auditorium, what we call the “Fellowship Hall.” In a sense I was brought “full circle” since I first visited Mt. Calvary 21 years ago in that old building. I began attending regularly in 1992 and joined in 1996.

After Pastor’s introduction, I was able to give testimony to my call to missions and to BI, and then to review what I’ve been doing since 2007.

Dr. Hantz Bernard challenged the church to consider its stewardship of the Word of God. God has entrusted to the church, the pillar and ground of truth, with the custody of the Word of God (Jude 3). The Church must take its responsibility seriously. And in its partnership with the head of the technical department of the only fundamental Bible society in existence, Mt. Calvary has a great responsibility to uphold me in prayer and in finances. Hantz’s words were both sobering and encouraging. He explained to the church the “behind the scenes”, intellectually and physically demanding ministry I have. At one point, I said to myself, “What are you getting yourself into?!” But then I reminded myself of God’s calling on my life and of the unique privilege I have to help people gain access to God’s Word all around the world!

Pastor Minnick began his charge to me by remarking that it was significant that I would be commissioned into the Bible translation ministry on the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. He magnified the importance of this ministry when he stated that the work of Bible translation actually preceded apostolic ministry. In Ephesians 4 we are told that the Lord gave apostles (and others) to the church, but as they conducted their ministry, they carried with them a translation. The Greek translation of the OT had already been done 150 years earlier and provided them with the Bibles they needed to evangelize the Mediterranean world.

Pastor Minnick tried to get us to realize the significance of what we have in the English language by having us imagine what our culture would be like without the English Bible. He drew a hypothetical picture in which the Chinese have all the resources we have, not us. He had us explore what life would be like in such a situation. Deep darkness!

Pastor challenged me from 2 Timothy 2:15:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15 KJV)

He encouraged me to be a faithful steward of God’s Word both in life and ministry. He assured me of the church’s prayers for me. The missions committee laid hands on me and prayed for me to close the service. Many came up afterwards to assure me of their prayers and support.

So, just as with Barnabas and Saul, tomorrow I depart. I head back north to stay in Indianapolis for a few days before going to a deputation meeting in Kankakee, IL, and a work meeting in Cleveland and then back to Grand Rapids at the end of next week. Full-time ministry basically begins for me on Monday, as most of my deputation meetings will be behind me. I still have 1 more in January and 3 in March. Otherwise, I’m praying that some of the 170 churches I’ve already presented at will take me on for support to complete the remaining 9%. Please pray!

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