Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings in the wonderful name of Jesus! Happy Easter! How are you? How has your year been? I hope and pray that you are doing well and following Jesus closer and closer each day.
Not long ago, I arrived home to cold, wet, Tulsa from hot, dry, sunny northern Africa! It’s amazing to see churches again, rather than mosques. On this trip, I was privileged to have my good friend and board member, Ken Janke, walk with me as I carried the cross. Only Jesus could have gotten us through this trip. The sounds of the Muslim call to prayer regularly blasted from the loudspeakers of the many mosques, with their rising spires and domes that decorated the skyline. Yet, in the midst of that … a 12-foot cross was carried and the simple message of Jesus was openly proclaimed! Just to get the cross into these countries was absolutely miraculous – everyone was thoroughly checked through customs … except us! We went through struggle after struggle, saw extreme poverty and inhuman injustice, but God’s grace led us through. All glory to God!
Thank you for praying for us. At times we could feel the strength of your prayers–time and again we had miracle after miracle happen. You can’t believe the response and the welcome we received! People looked, smiled, and waved. People would hug and kiss me, or they would be touching and kissing the cross. Sometimes, so many gathered around to ask about the cross and have us pray that walking was nearly impossible! We were literally mobbed for gospel tracts and Jesus stickers! We had the beautiful privilege of sharing with them about how Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and is alive today. We spoke about how to follow Him, love Him, and live in His way. In some places (one of the countries we were in had only 60 known believers, and in another we received word that four Western tourists had been killed only days before), well-intentioned Christians warned us, “You can’t walk with that cross in this place–they will kill you!”… but God had called us to carry the cross.
The cross was welcomed by village after village! Sometimes, prayers at the local mosque were even stopped (even during the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan) so the people could ask about the cross and Jesus! We only received love, kindness, and beauty from all people. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much need, it was almost unbearable. My heart broke daily over the incredible need. After years of war and famine, the people of this region have been ravaged and are destitute. The streets were literally full of the hungry, the homeless, the disabled and disfigured, the unloved, the abandoned, and those considered outcasts–so many had lost all hope and faith in life. I believe with all my heart that this is surely one of the places where Jesus would be–with the hurting, the broken, and the lost. This is where the cross is to be today–in the crossroads of life…life at its best and life at its worst. It truly is at the cross where the worst of man has met the best of God.
A few thoughts from this latest cross walk trip: The streets were full of people on the way to or from the central market and wild camels and donkeys wondered along the roadsides. Many of the men wore long robes and headdress, and the women, loaded with huge baskets on their heads, walked along the roads. Children carried chickens, wooden sticks, pots and pans, and almost anything imaginable. The sun was hot, the ground was red dirt, and the air was filled with dust and diesel exhaust. This land was alive with the smells and sounds of life.
We are so thankful for your friendship, and we really want you to know that. So many of you have taken time out of your busy schedules to read our letters, write to us, and pray for us, and some of you have even given sacrificially. Often, as I walk down a road or preach in a little village, I think of many of you–wondering what is happening in your life and wishing you could experience, first hand, what is happening along the road. You’re such an important part of what God is doing through our lives and the witness of the cross. We simply want to say thanks for loving us and being our friend. Please continue to let us know how things are with your life.
Without sharing a lot of details, I’m asking you, please be praying for us. We’re facing some major challenges, and we just want to walk in the simple way of Jesus, free from promotion, sensationalism, and gimmickry. Please pray that our hearts and motives will be pure – we just want to see Jesus, hear His voice, and put a smile on His face! May we all be a witness for Jesus and care for those who are lost, hurting, and suffering around the world. We truly love you all!!
God Bless You!!