Archive for 2019

November 2019 Prayer Letter

November 26, 2019 12:42 pm

Dear Praying Friends,
It is always good to know that people are praying for us. This summer while waiting for my bags at the Nashville airport, Evangelist Dave Young, a friend from college, sent me an odd text message. Based on the message, I figured he was standing in the same room watching for my reaction. I found him and we had a chance to catch up for a few minutes before our bags arrived. At the end of the conversation he said, “I pray for you every Tuesday morning, my friend.”

Thanks, Dave. Knowing people are praying for you, and them telling you they do, is very encouraging.

Between weeks at camp this summer, I attended the funeral of a friend from church. He was a man known as a man of prayer. Every Wednesday evening when Clayton and I were at church together, he would come to me and tell me that he had prayed for me that morning. Then he would inevitably follow that up with, “Well, actually I pray for you every day.”

I would then thank Clayton for his prayers. But Clayton is gone now.

Our prayer card from Mrs. Gellos’ Bible after she passed away.

Mrs. Gellos
A few weeks ago, at the funeral of a friend of 31 years, the family had the contents of her Bible on display. I’m sure the items had been rearranged during the visitation time, but the included picture was sent to me from the funeral. Our family’s newest prayer card was sitting right on top of the items from Mrs. Gellos’ Bible.

When we saw her this summer she knew she was dying of cancer. As my wife and I sat in her apartment with tears in our eyes, she put her hand on my wife’s arm and, with a big smile, said, “Don’t cry for me honey. I know where I am going and I will be just fine.”

I know Mrs. Gellos is just fine; but, we still miss her. This is the first prayer letter that I am sending out after she passed away. In the past, the day after sending out my prayer letters, I would get a short email from her. She would let me know that she was praying for us and she would ask follow-up questions to prayer requests that I had written about in previous letters.

Do You Pray?
For several years I have tried to emphasize to churches that they should be praying for missionaries. Over the last few months I have lost two of the people who were praying regularly for my family and me. Are there others to take their place?

I ask this not because I am looking for a flood of people to write and say they are praying for me (though I appreciate it when you do). My main interest is in encouraging you to make praying for missionaries a regular part of your personal time with God. As you meet missionaries and other servants of God, get to know them in a personal way and make them a serious focus of your prayer ministry.

At this time of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for you and your prayers.

You can download a PDF version of this letter for printing.

August 2019 Prayer Letter

August 10, 2019 6:44 pm

Dear Praying Friends,
The 19-year-old deaf girl exclaimed in understanding, “Oh. Oh! Oh!” That was all she could say when I showed—in signs—how that Christ was a substitute for our punishment by dying on the cross, even though He was innocent of sin and we were guilty. Her sudden, and vocal, understanding was at the end of the 10th message I preached at camp in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. This girl, along with a 14-year-old deaf boy, had traveled many hours on buses and trains from California to hear the Gospel presented in their native language: American Sign Language. When the light of their understanding turned on, it was moving to see how excited they got.

Tyler and Rebekah Thornton.
Tyler is the Deaf Camp Director
at the Bill Rice Ranch.

We had several other deaf teens and adults with us that week. The rest of the crowd was already saved and had been actively praying for the salvation of these two teens. Everyone else in the room was as thrilled as I was to see their response to a clear presentation of the Gospel.

That was the last week of my four weeks at deaf camp this summer. I was at West Branch that week but had spent the previous weeks of camp at the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. West Branch is their camp in Williams, Arizona.

In the five weeks of deaf camp (4 in Tennessee and 1 in Arizona), we saw 17 young people come to know the Lord as their Savior! As I mentioned in my last letter, being part of camp ministry is such a blessing. I travel to churches today and regularly meet people who I met when they were teens coming to camp. It encourages me greatly in the ministry.

While I have spent at least part of 16 summers at the Bill Rice Ranch, I realize there are many other good camps. Let me encourage you to take advantage of sending your kids to camp or going to an adult retreat at a camp that can minister to you as an individual, couple, or family. And, would you consider working at a camp? There are many that could benefit from you volunteering a week or a summer to help them in some tangible way.

Training School
We had a wonderful training school with our missionaries in June. Three families attended with the intention of making application to be missionaries with us. We also had several veteran missionaries who took the time to fellowship with us and share things they have learned from the field that are beneficial to our younger missionaries and missionary applicants.

Upcoming Schedule
We will be home quite a bit the next two months. That allows us to catch up on some projects around the office and at home. Pray that God will give us wisdom in completing what we can and clarity to realize that some things we may have intended to do may not need to be done now, or at all.

Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support. We are able to do our ministry because of you.

You can download a PDF version of our letter for printing.

April 2019 Prayer Letter

April 29, 2019 10:53 am

Dear Praying Friends,
We celebrated the Lord’s resurrection by attending our local church and having a nice meal with family. Though we enjoy ministering to churches and missionaries away from home, it is also nice to be home to participate in local ministry when we can.

Office Ministry
Certainly a large part of our work is serving the missionaries who minister through BIO. The first part of the year is always taken up with paperwork that must be submitted for tax reporting on behalf of the missionaries. It is neither enjoyable nor glamorous; but it is an important part of how we serve the missionaries. This keeps them from having to deal with all the extra tax paperwork that would come their way if they did not work through an agency such as BIO. We can’t take all the burden away from them, but we do what we can to help them avoid an unpleasant IRS visit.

Selfie at the Deaf Rally at Palmetto Baptist Deaf Church

Preaching Ministry
I preached in two evangelistic meetings in deaf churches recently. One was a four-day revival campaign. Another was a one-day rally in which I was asked to give a simple and clear Gospel presentation. It is an honor to be given that task. We did not see anyone saved in those two meetings, but I am confident that God’s Word was clearly presented by the various preachers who were involved.

I trust that fruit will grow from these two meetings.

Bill Rice Bible Institute
I have been teaching a missions class in a Bible institute at the Bill Rice Ranch for the last two years. Some of the classes I teach by Skype, and others I am there in person. I pray God will use these young people in ministry for years to come. None of my students this year have indicated that God is calling them to full-time mission work, but they are open to the Lord’s leadership. This class will help them have a better understanding of how to minister when missionaries visit their churches.

Camp Ministry
A couple of weeks ago I was in a deaf church when a man came up to me and signed, “In 1996, when I was 16 years old, you preached at camp. I understood the Gospel. You prayed with me and I got saved.” Then he gave me a hug.

It is times like this that I am reminded of what a privilege it is to have an impact on the lives of young people through camping ministry. There are thousands of Deaf (and hearing) who have been saved because of camps that preach the Gospel. It is an encouragement to me when I meet someone who tells me they were saved at camp.

I will be at the Bill Rice Ranch again this year for four weeks. Serving in camp ministry is such a privilege. Whether you are a camp speaker, a camp worker or a supporter of camp ministry, allow the Lord to use you in making an eternal impact on the lives of young people in the coming months.

You can download a PDF version of this letter for printing and posting at church.