Thanks to the Lord and thanks to you, there are so many good things happening that I hardly know where to begin. Your prayers and assistance have been bearing fruit that is increasing around the world. So here’s a brief update on what we’ve been up to.
I had a wonderful time teaching in Costa Rica just a few weeks ago on behalf of Denver-based Global Connections. It was kind of a “get-to-know-you” conference, and the Costa Rican brethren apparently liked what they saw, as we’ve been invited back for a pastors’ conference in November. The Lord willing, I’ll be there. I also met a Costa Rican Christian woman who teaches English teachers at a Masters’ level and who has agreed to translate The Great Gospel Deception into Spanish. This is a very significant project as Spanish opens the door to 22 Latin American countries. We’re rejoicing that the Lord has provided the funds to pay for the translation work. We’re trusting Him for the funds for the first printing.
Moldova & Bulgaria
I’ll be leaving this Sunday for two weeks to teach at two of our own pastors’ conferences in Moldova (a country north of Romania) and Bulgaria. Our Bulgarian friends recently have, on their own initiative, translated and printed three of our books into Bulgarian: God’s Tests, Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare, and The Great Gospel Deception. These will be read all over Bulgaria and beyond.
Myanmar, China & Vietnam
Due to demand from Christian leaders, the second printings of The Great Gospel Deception have been completed in Burmese and Chin (two languages of Myanmar). The Lord provided the funds for both printings. He has also provided the funds for a Mizzo language translation and printing (also for Myanmar), which is now in progress. Our main contact in Myanmar writes: “There is a big wave rising among the readers of your book. Some wept, some refused and some asked for more copies.” (Christianity has been in Myanmar for 180 years, and many churches are very lukewarm. Perhaps half of the 370 pastors at our conference there last year were not even born again.) Our contact has also initiated (on his own) a possible translation project of the same book into Mandarin Chinese through a world-renowned pastor in Hong Kong. He wants to smuggle the books into China, something he has been doing with Bibles for many years (and for which he has spent time in prison). Finally, a beautiful door has opened to equip pastors in Vietnam, a country that is always near the top of the list among countries where Christians are most persecuted. I’ll be teaching at a pastors’ conference there in early September, and it looks as if Vietnam will be the first country where my newest book, The Disciple-Making Minister, will be translated and printed for pastors.
Tanzania, Congo & Burundi
The Swahili translation of The Great Gospel Deception is completed and 4,000 copies are about to be printed and distributed to pastors throughout Tanzania and East Africa. We already have requests for this book in Congo and Burundi, where I was in April. The Lord has provided the funds for this translation and printing.
Nigeria, Liberia & French-Speaking Africa
The English version of The Great Gospel Deception, printed in Nigeria, is being sold (at our printing cost, about $1.40) at pastors’ conferences throughout Nigeria and doing well. Our contact in Nigeria has also initiated a French translation for the benefit of pastors in French-speaking African countries where we plan to minister in 2005. The Lord has provided the funds for the translation, and we are trusting Him for the funds for a first printing of 5,000 copies. Additionally, a wonderful door has just opened to ship hundreds of our books from Nigeria to nearby Liberia to be sold at our printing cost at a nation-wide pastors’ conference in July. So far, the Lord has provided about half of the funds for the shipping. The Lord willing, I’ll be teaching at our own pastors’ conference in Liberia in October.
America & Australia
It’s so refreshing to see the great hunger and receptivity in so many countries to the message found in The Great Gospel Deception, which is only an explanation of the most fundamental truth of Christianity, the gospel Jesus commanded us to proclaim, but which has been substantially altered. Here in the U.S. we are also seeing encouraging signs. For example, a pastor in Pensacola, Florida just ordered ten copies to give to his ministry colleagues. And just today I received an e-mail from a Christian brother in Australia who was having an on-line discussion with a backslidden American woman. He directed her to our website (shepherdserve.org). In his e-mail to me he wrote, “Her eyes were opened by the information on your web site—she says she was backslidden for about 30 years but your writings have really shaken her up and made her urgently seek the Lord.” Praise God! A revival of one is still a revival.
My greatest burden, however, is to complete a book titled The Disciple-Making Minister, which encompasses many important biblical topics, and have that book translated and distributed to pastors around the world. I’m making progress with my writing, but I’m so hindered by all of the administrative tasks associated with running our ministry. Please agree in prayer with us that God will send us someone who is called to administration.
We Need You
If you are looking for a place to join God where He is already working (a concept made popular by Henry Blackaby), I’ve found a place you can join! Those who get involved in what is nearest to God’s heart, the making of true disciples of all ethnic groups around the world, are going to be blessed by God. We cannot express how much we appreciate each of you who help us. Please pray for more people like you. And rejoice for all the fruit that we are bearing together, none of which would be possible apart from our friends. Shepherd Serve continues by means of monthly financial miracles, and we thank God for every one of those miracles. It would be wonderful, however, to have more monthly supporters. We need a few more just to replace a few we have recently lost due to their own difficult circumstances.
Finally, a funny, true, and thought-provoking story that I was told by pastor Jim Makley of Elida, Ohio, when I was teaching at his church a few weekends ago. As a teenager, Jim was very much a derelict. He would come home from high school each day (where he was making straight Fs) and just lay on the couch for hours and watch TV. One day his father, a very successful businessman, called him into the kitchen to have a heart-to-heart talk with him. He said, “Jim, what are you going to do with your life? You just lay around all the time. You are getting straight Fs in school. You have no future. If you want to make something of your life, you have to work hard and pursue a goal” and so on.
After his father’s long speech, Jim replied, “Dad, you’ve worked hard for thirty years, killing yourself day and night to succeed. Now you’ve got a nice big home, a house on the lake, a boat, and lots of other nice things. But Dad, even though you’ve worked so hard for thirty years to get everything you have, when you die you won’t have anything. Dad, that’s exactly what I have right now, and I didn’t have to work at all to get it!” (Pretty amazing insight for a derelict teen! And somewhat scriptural!)
Jim said his dad was stumped, and he left him standing in the kitchen with his mouth hanging open! Of course, God saw two fools that day, one lazy and one industrious, but neither living in the light of eternity…neither laying up treasures in heaven. Praise God that Jim was genuinely born again not very long after that, and his dad saw such a dramatic change in him that he told a friend, “I don’t know what’s happened to Jim, but whatever it is, I want it.” He soon also made Jesus his Lord and spent the rest of his life serving Him with all his heart! “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” If we aren’t denying ourselves and taking up our crosses daily, we aren’t following Jesus.
Every blessing to you,
Most Urgent Needs:
1.) First printing expenses for the Spanish and French translations of The Great Gospel Deception
2.) A ministry administrator who can raise his/her own support
3.) More wonderful ministry partners