Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings in Jesus’ precious name! How are you? Has your fall been good? We sure do hope and pray that everything is going well and that you’re loving Jesus more and more each day.
I’ve recently returned from my second trip into the Middle East this year–except this time it was into a totally Islamic nation. What an awesome trip!! This was such an incredible trip that it would be hard to believe … except this time I had a witness! I’m so thankful that my good friend, Bob Jobe, from Tulsa, went with me. His wife and Impact Productions, where he works, graciously permitted him to join me.
From the moment we arrived, there was incredible openness and favor shown to us. While others had their luggage inspected at customs, we walked through without a single question … with a twelve-foot wooden cross!! The entire time we were there, we did not receive one negative word or reaction. All we heard was, “You are welcome in Jordan, and your cross is welcome here.” We were overwhelmed at the wonderful hospitality shown to a pilgrim cross-bearer in a traditionally hostile land that is toward Christians. To our knowledge, nothing this openly evangelistic had ever been attempted in this area of the world.
After praying for a few days, I felt that God gave me a strategy. When people approached me and asked about the cross, I was to answer, as always, “I bring good news! You can have peace … but only to the extent that you allow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to rule and reign in your hearts.” Then I was to ask for forgiveness for all the atrocities that had been done in the name of the cross against the Arab people, explaining that the cross was not an instrument of fear and cruelty against a people but against a Man. Who forgives all of us. Since the cross was really a message of forgiveness, it brings hope and peace–if only we ask Him. People began asking more questions, and the crowds would grow, and before long I was preaching!! Once, even in front of the Mosque at the hour of prayer … and the people asked me to stay!!
As you know, I hesitate to report how many commit their lives to Jesus simply because I really don’t know. Only God knows what really happens in people’s hearts. I will say this, though, for someone to kneel at the foot of a cross in a Muslim country and say a prayer out loud is a pretty good indication that the person has truly counted the cost and wants to follow Jesus. In countries like this, if one person does this publicly, it is an amazing thing.
On this trip, however, many people were kneeling at the cross and giving their lives to Jesus! It seems that on so many trips, I go to reach others, but God uses the people and circumstances to reach more of my heart. I once felt that God spoke to me that He was more interested in reaching all of my heart than He was in reaching all of the world … because if He had all of someone’s heart, He had someone He could use to reach all the world. I met so many who challenged me to love Jesus in a greater way. I was humbled at the hospitality and generosity of so many (especially the Muslims.) We were with a group of Egyptian Christians who had left Egypt because of financial problems and religious persecution. Most had been abandoned as children, and then raised as orphans at Lillian Thrasher’s orphanage in Egypt.
They all had such childlike purity and simplicity in their love for Jesus. One particular night especially stands out in my mind. It was a beautiful, starlit night out in the desert where a group of Filipino students and workers, an African from Ghana, and myself worshipped God in prayer and song. The beauty of that clear night, mixed with their voices and the closeness of Jesus, was absolutely incredible! So much of the Church in this part of the world is in the “survival mode.” Because of the reality of persecution, most have strong feelings against the Muslims. As a result, there really isn’t a motive to reach out to the lost.
One day as I walked down the road, a carload of Christians got out with tears in their eyes, saying, “I heard there was a cross out here, but when I saw it, my heart leapt over the moon!” Bob and I had the privilege of speaking in some of the churches and challenging them to follow Jesus outside the walls of the church buildings. By the end of our trip, some of the Christians were walking openly in the streets and roadsides with us and witnessing. One even led a Muslim man to Jesus!
Again, as always, we sure would rather sit down and talk with you face to face, and pray together. We’re thankful, though, that because of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be close wherever we are. We hope and pray that through this newsletter you will here our heart This isn’t about what we’re doing–it’s about what God is doing through so many of you and us together. We don’t have a ministry, but Jesus does. We only want to be the kind of vessels that He can use to reach a lost and hurting world. Thank you so much for writing or calling, and thanks for your prayers and your gifts! Only in heaven will you know how deeply thankful we are to work alongside of Jesus with people like you. Thanks for loving God so much!! Hope to see you soon!
God Bless You!!