Global Outreach Update – Kleis Family

kleisIn June we celebrated 10 Years in Italy! Ten years of sweat, heartache and triumphs serving a God who is always faithful and who desires to use weak vessels like ourselves to bring truth and hope to a people we have grown to love. We could not have made it these past 10 years without you standing behind us!

Although mission work in Italy typically moves at a glacial pace, we are excited to see visible results of God’s work in the last few weeks. We praise the Lord for the salvation of one individual and the opportunity we have had to invest in his life over the past year through the study of God’s word. He has wonderful leadership and pastoral qualities that we pray will develop through one on one discipleship and training. We are also seeing glimmers of understanding and gospel acceptance in the life of another, a woman we have been ministering to for a year and a half. We see the possibility of a core group being formed in the near future which could constitute the beginning of the church plant in Caselle–and this gets us excited! Pray for us as we pray, prepare, and plan to this end.

This month we have launched a new Jobs for Life course that will conclude the beginning of October, at which time we will have spent over 60 hours together in job and life skills training from a biblical perspective. Three women are attending the course, all of whom have significant needs and complex issues to work through. All three have already demonstrated an openness and a desire, not simply to find work, but also to come to a better understanding of God through the Bible. Pray that as we continue to work with them that God would give us wisdom as we try to offer them help on a number of levels and that ultimately they would come to know the hope that only Christ can give.

Continue to pray that God may grant that in a religious and cultural landscape that has for centuries been dominated by Rome, true gospel reformation would finally come!

Family Life: We enjoyed a brief visit to Michigan in June for the wedding of Jonathan’s brother. Jonathan officiated his first wedding, Noella made the cake, Samuel and Luca were ushers and Emma was the ring bear(ess). We are thankful for the opportunity to be present for such a special day for our family. The kids are busy working on their summer homework assignments, continuing with piano lessons and creative projects like writing and crafting. We have had over a month of relentless high temperatures in the 90s plus humidity that makes it quite difficult to function at times without AC. Jonathan in particular has had difficulty breathing with the heat but we are thankful that he is making improvement with some remedies.

 

 

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Leaving a Legacy | Getting to know PhilanthroCorp

We are told that a staggering 70% of Americans do not have a current will.  Wow!  The ramifications of this on children, surviving spouses, on taxes and fees is immeasurable.

123We think there are many reasons for this.  Fear of dying, procrastination, confusion about the estate planning process, the cost of creating a will…and more.

We, at Grace Baptist Church, want to provide some “layman friendly” estate planning information that can enable you to protect your family and be a wise steward of what He has entrusted you with.

So, grab a cup of coffee or tea, kick off your shoes and browse around the links below.  If you just want to get down to business, you can click on the Estate Plan Organizer on any page and walk yourself through a tutorial/data gathering process.  At the end, you can print it at home or ask for help. All of the information you log in is confidential.  The Estate Plan Organizer does not ask for social security numbers or bank account numbers.  No one will see your entries unless you submit at the end and ask for help.

HAPPINESS is a habit

In that case, one of our friends at PhilanthroCorp (a trusted estate planning firm) will be in touch to serve you in any way they can.

We invite you to watch the video below to learn more.

Also if you would like, please click this link and make an inquiry!

Global Outreach Update – Carr

Tom and Paula Carr

Hi, Everyone!

Rainy season has been declared over, but we still seem to be getting rain off and on.  We get tired of the rain sometimes, but at least it keeps temperatures down a bit!

PRAISE the Lord around 30 children have signed up to attend Children’s Camp this Thursday and Friday, July 23, 24! We weren’t sure, since we’re still pretty new in town, whether parents would be willing to send their kids off to camp, so we are very excited that six of those who have signed up are from here in Izumi!  Please PRAY for the Lord to work in these children’s hearts and draw them to Himself, and for strength and endurance for all of us workers.  (Praise the Lord there is no shortage of workers this year–there’s around 25 adults who are planning to be there, too!)  Please also PRAY for the start of once-a-month youth activities, beginning August 8.  PRAY that many junior high and high schoolers will come.  Also, one of our single ladies has a desire to start a young adult get-together each month.  She wanted to start this month, but all of her friends decided at the last minute they couldn’t come.  PRAY that she won’t be discouraged and that this new ministry would get off the ground.  There will also be an “Anyone Can Come” camp on August 13, 14.  PRAY for all of these outreaches and activities to be used to produce lasting fruit.

PRAISE the Lord for different opportunities the Lord provides for us to show His love.  Before Lindy left, the Petite family, a visiting intern, Itaru, and our family went to help one of our church lady’s mother celebrate her birthday.  She lives in a nursing home and Miss M thought her mom would enjoy seeing Lindy dressed up in Miss M’s yukata.  They probably hadn’t had quite that much excitement in the nursing home in a long time!  Miss M continues to ask us to pray for her mother’s salvation, so please PRAY along with us.

PRAISE the Lord Lindy arrived safely back in Cedarville and is involved this week in the MK Re-entry Seminar.  She seems to be really enjoying it and says she’s learning a lot.  Please continue to PRAY for her and her adjustment to being back in the states and for her preparations in attending Cedarville University as well.  PRAY also for Andrew, who will be moving off-campus this year and living with some friends/fellow students nearby the school.  PRAY for them both to continue to follow the Lord and want to serve Him with all their hearts.  Paula leaves next week for the U.S. and will be helping Lindy get set up for college.  Continue to PRAY for us as we adjust to another one of our family leaving.  We’re so thankful we still have two kids left behind with us!

PRAISE the Lord we have decided on an online school program for the next year.  Though this is a bit more expensive, we’re hoping and praying it will do the trick for our family. PRAY that we will adjust to yet another change in our home schooling and the the kids will be able to learn well and grow in the Lord.  PRAY that we all will keep our eyes on the Lord become more like Him.

Thank you once again for your faithful support, your prayers, birthday and anniversary cards, as well as encouraging notes.  We really appreciate them and need your prayers.

CARRying the Gospel,

Tom, Paula, Mitchell, Tevia (in Izumi) and Andrew and Lindy (both in Cedarville, OH)

A Summer of Shifts & Shocks

Vantage PointsBeing driven to one important conclusion

It’s the midpoint of summer, and as often happens, plans for a slower pace have been blown to bits by the onslaught of the summer “specials”–those things that come along where you decide, “Sure, I can do that, it’s summer and the normal stuff isn’t happening.” Except, as you probably know, much of the normal stuff does keep going, and now you have more to do than you thought.

Don’t get me wrong; the special stuff makes the summer exciting and, well, “special.” We’ve hosted a few special events at our church that have been a real delight. We’ve had unexpected guests in our home, spent enjoyable time away, and were blessed with unique opportunities to serve. This weekend, for example, we’re hosting 40-50 TCKs (third culture kids) attending a cultural “re-entry seminar” for a Nacho Bar!

But it’s been a very different summer in a number of key points. The weather has been atrocious. Here in Ohio we had the same terrible winter that lots of the rest of the country had, and because of that you hope for a respite in a beautiful summer. We managed to get one week of that–in Myrtle Beach on vacation. Coming home, we’ve had mainly clouds, rain, and cool temperatures until this week, when we went directly to hot and humid with thunderstorms. I can count on one hand the number of warm, sunny days we’ve experienced (OK, maybe the thumb of the other hand would be needed). Our experience is not different than so much of the rest of the country.

There have been a few disappointments this summer for people and relationships. I’ve seen people who were seemingly getting healthy die, and had people who said they would be around decide to disappear.

But it’s also been a summer of unsettling news and change. I won’t take time to revisit the Supreme Court decision to require all states to recognize the union of same sex couples as “marriage.” In overturning a fundamental definition that has existed from the beginning of history, five justices have just done something that undermines family and society, defies common sense, and finds a “right to marry” that simply does not exist in the Constitution (the basis for any ruling they are making). It would be as if they declared blue to be yellow, along with yellow being yellow, and pity the person of aesthetic soul and conscience, as well as logic and a smidgen of historical sense who says that only yellow is yellow.

ESPN ignored genuine heroics by people who achieved great things, paid incredible prices (and in some cases lost their lives) to achieve success in the realm of sport and have served as examples to inspire others, and chose a former athlete who is now a transgender celebrity whose actions have more of the self-aggrandizing than the self-sacrificing about them to designate as the winner of their “Courage” Award. How does milking your former athletic glory and subsequent celebrity marriage, reality TV show, and coming out on national television count as courage?

Planned Parenthood’s medical director was video-recorded having a nice lunch over which she sips her wine and discusses the proper way for an abortionist to crush heads and legs of a fetus to save the liver for sale. It’s guided by ultrasound, don’t you see? And the reaction of many? How terrible that such “sting” videos make the news–unless it is a video for a cause we like!

Our government officials have negotiated a deal with Iran that ensures their continued ability to enrich uranium and move toward possession of a nuclear weapon, while they lead public chants of “Death to America” and continue to hold four Americans as prisoners for no justifiable reason, including a pastor. If you read Joel Rosenberg’s novels and commentary on current events and prophecy (not to mention those scriptures themselves), you can’t help but shudder at these developments, just a little bit.

And as we get ready to select a new president next year, one party can’t field a single candidate who would say a good word about any abortion limitations (ban on late term procedures, require an ultrasound to be shown to the mother, allow the father a say, parental consent for minors, forbid when pain can be felt, etc.) for any reason [For me, abortion is one of those “beyond debate” issues, and when given the chance I will ALWAYS vote for a pro-life candidate, having led me to vote for candidates in the past whose other positions were not mine, but whose commitment to protecting life was solid. That’s me, and I’m not telling you that you are wrong if you disagree, but do think about it.]. Their front-runner seems unable to give straight answers, tell the truth about past decisions, or hold a position held ten years ago, but the others just can’t seem to attract any real attention yet.

And the other party? Well, it is quite a “party” actually, with more candidates than people who attended my last birthday party. I actually can respect a number of them, and they all support protecting life, EXCEPT THE CURRENT FRONT RUNNER! I am mystified that a blowhard billionaire can, by sounding mad as h###, move to the front of the pack when he previously supported the current president that he’s now blasting, gave money to his potential opponent from the other party, and has advocated policies most in his party abhor. He recently said a decorated veteran and senator, who was a POW in Vietnam, was not a war hero just because he got shot down and spent years in a POW camp. The billionaire says he likes guys who didn’t get captured. He ought not to be taken any more seriously than his TV show. But I also have to wonder what makes a man (or woman) say, “I am sure I can pull away from 15 others and be the next nominee and president.” When does self-confidence slide into self-delusion?

Just for good measure, I’m seeing reports of an expected mini “Ice Age” coming in my lifetime (maybe we can promote more global warming to stave it off), and a 30% chance of an earthquake that will wipe out the Pacific Northwest coast in the next few decades. The economic recovery isn’t huge, and financial institutions are very nervous, as Greece’s eventual default may rip through the world’s banks, if China’s massive economic slowdown doesn’t shake them first.

So, let me see where I stand.

  • I can’t count on my bank account or retirement.
  • I can’t count on the environment.
  • I can’t count on the ground under my feet.
  • I can’t count on political candidates or solutions.
  • I can’t count on my governmental leaders.
  • I can’t count on the culture.
  • I can’t count on the media.
  • I can’t count on law or judges.
  • I can’t even count on the weather.

Even I can see that, perhaps, this is a not so gentle reminder from the God of our salvation that there is only One in whom we can trust and never be disappointed. How about you?Share This Post!

Global Outreach Update – GateKeepers | Hanson

This is a “To God be the Glory” post for all who are interested.  It is always a major task to ask God’s people to respond to a ministry need and when $12,000 needs to be raised, it is imposing, intimidating and slightly embarrassing to ask people if they might like to contribute to such an undertaking.  With the Central State University football team heading to Scioto Hills Camp for the second time this year, where we have an opportunity to speak to the entire team two times per day, it is an opportunity that is very difficult to say ‘no’ to.  It sets us up for ministry the rest of the year and helps build relationships that give us access into other areas of the university also.

Here is the final result, we put the plea out to God’s people and without any arm twisting, taking people out for coffee or guilt… His people responded to His nudge.  We have all the money committed for this opportunity and program and we are encouraged once again as we stand amazed at the goodness of God.  It is so encouraging that when you believe you are being faithful to the call of God and step out on faith to make it happen without the resources to pull it off, God is always faithful to provide the means to His endeavors.

Now the countdown is on for the time with the team.  Please be in prayer for us as we leave August 10-13.

All for One and One for all,

    Brian D. Hanson

GateKeepers Ministries

  “Leading with the Truth”

www.gatekeepersministries.com

Thriving in Babylon

73cb82fb-3d7c-48ba-8a92-04273ee8c3f4One pastor’s book title perfectly captures our opportunity and goal

Larry Osborne is a pastor from Oceanside, California, that I’ve known since the late 1980s. He has led a solid church ministry in northern San Diego County, but it is his books that have really challenged me, especially the titles. They are such good titles, and they set you up for a great experience reading his books.

His book on getting people connected in and committed to a body of believers? Sticky Church.

His book on what happens when our “standards” become too important to our Christianity at the expense of grace? Accidental Pharisees.

But his latest may be his best title yet (can’t say about the book because I just got it). It is using the life of Daniel to learn about how those who love God can live, serve, and prosper even in a culture that stands for all the wrong things. It calls for “hope, humility, and wisdom.” The title is Thriving in Babylon.

The book is certainly timely, because of its subject matter. But that title just grabs hold of me, almost making me shout “That’s it! That’s what we need to do!” I don’t know that there ever was truly a “Christian America”–in fact, I’m pretty sure there never was. But there was a time when America and Americans took most of their cues on the nature of life, right and wrong, the value of human life, the definitions of human relationships, and more, from biblical understandings. After all, all men being “created equal” doesn’t stem from evolutionary thought, atheism, or rationalism. I know we are not the “morality police,” but Christian faith has been the “morality source” for the underpinnings of the nation. It was that niggling “all men are created equal” that was the impetus for the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, and a few other good things.

Those days are gone. Forever. Don’t assume the next election will change it all back. It won’t. We are, as another book title from decades ago put it, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. Christians have always been “strangers and aliens” in this world, but in America, an illusion developed that because our values had shaped the nation’s founding in so many ways, we would always have a better culture and an easier way in the world. No more.

Unlike Daniel and his friends, we have not been carried off into captivity. Instead, we have had the true nature of being exiles made clear as the glossy curtains of America’s civic Christianity have been ripped down. It’s taken long enough that the coming generation has no real memory of it being different, but historically, the pace of the change has been breathtaking.

So America isn’t the promised land. It is Babylon. A powerful nation with dangerous rivals who would eventually overthrow it, Babylon was not a friendly place for Jewish faith to thrive, and to do so as a captive carried off to serve in the palace would be even harder. But Daniel and his friends decided that a hostile environment didn’t change the truth from God or the power of God to accomplish the will of God. When they could seek accommodation (in their diet for example), they did. When they could serve (interpreting a dream or serving in administration), they did. And when they couldn’t compromise and needed to trust God (as in not worshiping an image on pain of death), they did. And they didn’t just survive–they thrived. They made a difference and an impact. And they did so with no guarantees that it would all turn out for them. Even though it did, as Osborne says, they were “exceptions, not examples.”

America is a powerful nation with dangerous enemies, and it is not necessarily a place that fosters faith or faithful obedience to God. It seems to have become (or is certainly on its way to becoming) another Babylon–not in the biblical prophecy in Revelation sense, but in its increasing opposition to God and His Word. Yet, many of God’s people in Babylon managed to do so much more than just survive. It wasn’t just Daniel and his friends. Whole communities of captives in Babylon kept the faith alive. Synagogues were born in Babylon, and biblical scholarship among Jews actually flourished–one of the great copies of their laws was called “the Babylonian Talmud” because it developed there. Many were able to thrive, because they didn’t forget God, and they knew he had not forgotten them.

That’s what we Christians need to do. We need to decide to thrive. It doesn’t matter what the culture may adopt next, or whether we won’t be popular or respected or tax exempt! We know our God, and he hasn’t forgotten us or lost control of his plan. And because we are still here and the end hasn’t come, there is still the opportunity to bear witness to truth and know that our witness and fruitfulness can thrive. So, let’s do this. Let’s not back off what we believe, but let’s stop being surprised that others don’t believe it. Let’s expect iniquity to abound–these are, after all, the last days. But let’s remember that when sin abounds, grace still abounds much more. Let’s believe that God may be making the lines between truth and lies clearer, and pushing those who claim to know him to show where they stand. Let’s believe that some pressure (and maybe some persecution) is going to be the catalyst for cleansing and empowering God’s people. And let’s thrive, like the faithful Jews in Babylon, or like the church just after Stephen was killed, or like believers in China for the past sixty years.

(Oh, and maybe you’ll want to read the book, too. You can order it here. I haven’t finished so I can’t offer a full endorsement yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far.)

Global Outreach Update – Blumenstock

bstock1July Update

How to pray this month

We have a busy summer here in the US with many meetings, church visits, and a great deal of traveling. Please pray for us, especially that we will find some rest in the midst of the hectic schedule.

Karma Vs. Grace

In mid-June, we visited one of our supporting churches, The Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh, and presented our ministry during the adult and youth Bible fellowship hour. A highlight of our visit was our time with the VBS. We gave a brief lesson to 4-6 graders on the difference between karma and grace, using real, Thai items to explain to them some Buddhist practices. What a wonderful reminder that we cannot earn God’s favor, but that His love and grace is freely given through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son.bstock

Praise

ABTS hosted a special event at our home church in Cedarville, OH: Grace Baptist Church. One of our adjunct professors, Dr. Scott Carroll, an expert in ancient manuscripts, spoke on the topic of the transmission of Scripture. We had an excellent turnout, and a wonderful time exploring God’s written revelation in this unique way.

Praise

We are praising God for wonderful trips to The Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh and Aboite Baptist Church in Ft. Wayne, IN. Aboite is the newest, regular ABTS supporter, and we had an opportunity to present the ministry to them last week. Thank God for providing supporters who are strategic, generous, and committed to training Church leaders in Asia.

Prayer

Pray for our upcoming travels to Michigan from July 3-13.  We’ll be having numerous meetings at Cornerstone University and will be visiting our long-time supporting church, Grace Community Church in Hudsonville. Pray, too, for our departure back to Thailand on July 24. One day after our arrival, Jim will be going to Singapore for the special ABTS class with Dr. Darrell Bock.

Global Outreach Updates

tonightWe have something new for you! After much consideration and evaluation, we want to share our global outreach partner updates with you. These people are important to us, and we know many are important to you. The updates we will be posting will be their stories, experiences and photos, so we invite you to read them, share them and comment with your encouragement to them! God has blessed Grace with being able to partner with a vast and diverse group of people and we can’t wait to share their passionate outreach endeavors with you.

Don’t Waste Your Summer

Tsea-nature-sky-sunsetime for some educational, apologetic, (and perhaps remedial) reading for such a time as this.

Summer is always a time that people think about reading (perhaps taking a book on vacation), or may have a little more time to do so. Of course, you can now “read” through audiobooks, so that counts, too.

I am a great advocate of reading, and I do so widely–theology and contemporary issues, history, biography, and fiction (classic and new) all interest me. But I also find that at times when there are very pressing issues or concerns for Christians, good reading can be an essential bulwark in building up both my faith and my knowledge so that I might give good answers to anyone who would seek them from me.

There are a number of such issues today, but none seems to have captured our attention like same-sex marriage (SSM) and same-sex attraction (SSA) and how we might respond to it. Let me suggest that the need to find ways to engage those who support SSM and believe that acting on SSA within “loving, committed relationships” is a biblical option is a great one; those who simply say, “well, there are good arguments and scholars on both sides” need to actually engage their brains instead of assuming we can’t really know. In order to get yourself equipped for this ongoing conversation, let me suggest some reading that will help (clicking on the title will take you to an Amazon.com link where you can buy it):

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. This is a short book, but a powerful one, and if you are only willing to read one book, choose this one. It covers the biblical texts, deals with the most common arguments against them, and then wrestles with the questions raised by many Christians. It is excellent.

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry. Sam is a Baptist pastor from England who deals with SSA in his own life, and has written another short book on this subject, and his own life and testimony certainly provide the perspective of one intimately involved and concerned on this issue. I’ve heard Sam speak, and I have great appreciation for his work.

God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, by James Hamilton, Denny Burk, and Owen Strachan. Vines, a former Harvard student and former “evangelical” wrote a book that became very popular repeating many of the claims that have been used before him to justify homosexual practice within “committed relationships” and it caused quite a stir. This book goes through those arguments and responds. Since Vine’s material wasn’t really “new,” neither were the responses, but they were needed and they were good.

Out of a Far Country, by Christopher Yuan, is one of the best personal stories of both conversion and commitment to faithfulness to Christ. Yuan’s visits to Cedarville University may have made his name familiar to you, but his book should be read if you haven’t already.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield. This is the story of a former atheist, lesbian, feminist studies professor who came to a very unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ. Her story is incredibly powerful and informative.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill. This testimony of a young man battling against SSA and trying to discover God’s will is a powerful one. His commitment to celibacy and the development of spiritual friendship within the Church is commendable.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, by Robert A. J. Gagnon. OK, for those who still want to argue about the texts, this book is the single most exhaustive study available, and has been strongly endorsed as accurate even by many who oppose Gagnon’s conclusions that the Bible is opposed to all homosexual activity. It is big, it is detailed, and as someone once said in another context, “if this doesn’t convince you, you may not be open to being convinced at all.” This is not light reading, so don’t take it to the beach.

There are other books I can also recommend, but these should get you started. Not every statement in every book is endorsed by me, but these authors hold high views of Scripture and demonstrate good understandings that make them all easy to endorse for your consideration.

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