I would first like to say “Thank you” to all of you who were so kind to us during the past 6 weeks, showing up for the viewing and the funeral, and sending your love and support. It was a great comfort to us. In all the times that dad went in and out of the hospital, I never imagined what this letter would be like. Its been a little harder to get started than I would have thought. As you can imagine it has been a very challenging time for mom. Please keep her in your prayers. Her and dad were married for 57 years. I know her parents couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams that dad would turn into an evangelist. He was a piece of work when the two of them first married. I think the only thing in this world that was bigger than dad’s ego was Jesus. There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t fix himself, except his need for a Savior. We are so grateful for a God who’s bigger than our messes, bigger than egos, bigger than our plans, and Who pursues us even when we aren’t looking for Him. He is a revolutionary life changer. If you watch television for any amount of time, you will see something brand new that’s guaranteed to change your life. All we need is Jesus. Its what He came for. In John 6:51, Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Hallelujah for the Bread of Life! Because of Jesus, we have this hope.
I started off the January 2018 newsletter with Psalm 136:1-4, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever. To Him who alone does great wonders, for His mercy endures forever; To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, for His mercy endures forever.” My opinion has not changed, He is a good God and His mercy endures forever. In February I put this scripture in the newsletter; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” How great is it that He uses us in spite of ourselves! He put “this treasure”, His treasure, His Spirit, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, in these “earthen vessels”. It doesn’t matter what shape you are, the more room you make inside of yourself, the more of Himself He will pour in there. He has shone His light into our hearts, that His light can shine out of darkness. Not because we’re so smart, or talented, or capable, but so “that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” We can only love through Him, because of His great love that He has towards those whom He longs to draw to Himself. We may look like ordinary people, but when you’re filled with an extraordinary God you become a treasure of incredible value.
In John after Jesus had fed the 5,000 with the 5 loaves, the next day the people who’d eaten went seeking Him. They actually asked Him in 6:28 what sign would He perform so they could believe in Him, and even quoted scripture to Him about their fathers eating manna in the desert, “bread from heaven”. The other day I realized how ironic their statement was. The day before they had just eaten bread from heaven and didn’t realize it! And even when their “fathers” ate manna, if they really knew scripture they’d of remembered, that their fathers called it “worthless bread”, Numbers 21:5. Jesus is so gracious. He could of told them how dense they were, He could have insulted their intelligence. He could of called them a bunch of ungrateful loafers (why weren’t they at work anyway?). But instead He told them again that He was sent down as the bread of life and how they can find fulfillment through Him, that anyone who comes to Him will not be cast out, and He was here not to do His will but the will of the One who sent Him, that none should be lost and that all may have everlasting life. (John 6:32-40)
Jesus taught by example. When questioned we don’t have to try and prove our opinion or our own self righteousness but keep the goal in mind. Since God has entrusted this treasure to us, it’s more important that we do the will of Him who has sent us. Through these past 10 years, in doing prison ministry with dad, I seen him live that out. There were trying situations with officers and volunteers when dad could have blown his lid and his witness but I seen him humble himself because he had his eye on the prize. It was more important to him that the light shine into the darkness. There is nothing I want more than to continue to carry that out.
We had a board meeting of the ministry this past week. I now carry the title of president which I’m very humbled by. I believe in ministry that a man is supposed to be over woman, so it feels a little uncomfortable. I am trusting this is where God wants me and am definitely submitted to Him. I also am blessed to have two senior board members, Jim Hines and Monty Sheets, to whom I can turn to for guidance. Mom will continue to be treasurer, secretary and Chief Prayer Warrior. Her value in this ministry is beyond measure.
At the end of this past January when I came back from Alabama, I told mom how it was on my heart to teach inmates how to read the Bible. You think if someone can read, they can certainly read the Bible. For those who’ve never had it in their homes or even been to Sunday School, its intimidating. A lot of the inmates we encounter don’t even know the basic Bible stories like Jonah and the whale, Noah and the ark, or even the story of the Ten Commandments. So we began praying for God to give us Bibles and 3 weeks later, 1,000 Bibles were donated to us! They say they have 1,000 more if we need them but for right now the first 1,000 are sitting in the gym of my church. I’d also like to get comic book Bibles to take along with the regular Bibles, so if they have trouble at first the pictures will help them, or for the ones who don’t need the comic book Bibles, it’s something they can send home to their children. Two weeks ago, I took these Bibles to the Women’s Work Release here in Fort Wayne and we had a great time looking at scriptures together, explaining the gospels and Paul’s travels through Acts. By the time you receive this letter we will have done this also at the Blackford County Jail, March 30th & 31st.
Are you wondering what we’ve been doing in prisons all these years if not teaching the Bible? Dad’s seminar was a pre-release seminar where he gave them biblical principals for how to make it when they were released from prison, as well as first-hand testimonies of people who’d been in prison and have succeeded with the help of Jesus. He also never ended without an altar call. When dad first started doing prison ministry, the prisons didn’t offer any classes on how they’d merge back into society. Over the years, the prisons have picked up on this and now they have there own pre-release training that inmates are required to take. Also years ago, most people had some basic knowledge of the Bible either through Sunday School or a praying grandma. These past few years, its became more evident, especially since prayer was removed from the schools, that many children never even have an introduction to the Bible. So you may be giving a message and refer to one of the biblical stories, thinking they’ll know what you’re talking about, and all you get back is a blank stare, because they have no idea who Lazarus, or Mary, or John is.
Last week one morning while I was praying, my apartment filled up with the smell of freshly baking bread. It was 5:30 am, and my neighbor definitely wasn’t baking, so it was undoubtedly the Presence of our Savior. He is a sweet smelling aroma, our comfort, the Only One who satisfies, who nourishes us and encompasses us. May His fragrance fill you and surround you as His mercy washes over you.
Your sister in Jesus,