This has been an amazing ministry year. It all started with an unexpected trip to Romania in August to teach a Discipleship Training Seminar. Fernando Frincu, who I teach for in Brazil is from Romania and was home on sabbatical. He felt like there were some good opportunities to teach similar content in Romania and invited a team of us to come and teach. I have not been to Eastern Europe before so this was a little out of my comfort zone, but it all came together as we prayed about it and a team of 4 of us headed over. I was encouraged by the people and the response to the content. I was also amazed by how beautiful Romania was and since our seminars were on the weekends, I got to see a lot of the county side. An unexpected blessing was getting to see Richard Mauney who was a student leader in WDA at Florida State. He has been a missionary in Romania for 20 years and is a great mentor of young men. I loved meeting some of his disciples.
I got home in time to jump into the beginning of the Purdue year, but at the same time became aware of another unexpected opportunity. Some good friends approached the 5 members of our staff team about making a trip to Israel in October. I would not normally make two overseas trips this close together, but since they were giving us this trip as a gift, it did not take Sharon and me long to say yes. The Purdue ministry had gotten a good start, and we were now off again. In two weeks we got to see a lot of Biblical locations in Israel, also Petra in Jordan, and Sinai in Egypt. Seeing so many locations where Jesus walked and ministered was refreshing and has made the Bible so much more alive as I can envision what happened where. So much of the Christian life is just being faithful in the little things, but this trip was truly a mountain top experience.
We returned home to reconnect with our Purdue leaders and move ahead with Alpha Fellowship, our Fraternity/Sorority weekly Bible study. I truly love these young men and women and am blessed by their heart for God. This year I had a good problem in that there were more interested young men than I could meet with weekly, so I was able to start meeting with men two at a time. A couple of our seniors graduated, but I have a great group of juniors who will be returning in the fall. I have enclosed some photos of the end of the year. Our prayer is that we can continue to build on the great foundation we have and do a good job of reaching out to younger students next year. I was ready to slow the pace and get a break at the end of the school year, but have been blessed as I have reflected on what God did this year.
The school year is over and things are hopping around our house as we get ready for Michelle’s wedding and have Susanne (our daughter in law) and Olivia and Felicity with us. What wonderful chaos. Michael won’t make the wedding as he is deployed overseas with the US Marines. Please pray for his protection. May God bless you with a great summer.
It was a full school year! First, there was the wonderful surprise of the trip to Israel which has made my studies so much more dynamic. At the beginning of second semester, the RatioChrist Symposium was centered on the history of the Bible. That sure added to the richness we experienced in Israel!
At Covenant, the ministry of Pleasant Streams shifted to World Welcome, encompassing more than the Chinese so we have folks from high school through retirement age and usually have a discussion table for Mandarin speakers. I was at that table last week (with some translation for me). It was so powerful to talk about the end of Matthew, the resurrection and the Great Commission. Some are new believers and some “not yet.” What a great opportunity to give account for the hope I hI have also had my International Friendship friends. Zahirah, from Malaysia, is graduating next week, Jihee finishes her Masters in August. I am thankful for being able to stay connected through Facebook because their stories are still being written! I am thankful for being able to stay connected through Facebook because their stories are still being written!
Puting has been a delight to meet with and watch her faith and understanding grow. We also have good discussions with Jae, her friend from the same interdisciplinary Chemistry lab. One such discussion was about how the Judeo-Christian worldview led to the study of science because of the desire to understand all that God had created. I had Putting read Job 30-41 where God challenges Job “where you there when….”, listing a clear sequence of creation. Jae is moving in the right direction! Puting has been a delight to meet with and watch her faith and understanding grow. We also have good discussions with Jae, her friend from the same interdisciplinary Chemistry lab. One such discussion was about how the Judeo-Christian worldview led to the study of science because of the desire to understand all that God had created. I had Putting read Job 30-41 where God challenges Job “where you there when….”, listing a clear sequence of creation. Jae is moving in the right direction!
Puting is from China here at Purdue to get her Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry. I have discipled her for quite a while and led her to the Lord. She has been a believer for about 18 months! I invited her to the Good Friday evening program at church. I waited for her to arrive then got a text that she wouldn’t be able to get there until about 7:30 (30 min. late) but she finally arrived during the last song set with two friends from the same chemistry lab. One of them had just arrived in the U.S. in January as a new “post-doc” and had never been in a church before. They slipped into pews in the back for the last few minutes. Afterward, he asked her how long she’d been a Christian and what (internal) changes she had experienced. She was so excited about the opportunity to testify! They will have many more conversations since they are research partners on a project.
Then, a week later, she and her other friend, Jae, came over (she stayed overnight). Jae also works in the same lab as Puting focusing on the chemistry of optics. Amongst things he is working on is creating a groundbreaking portable biopsy machine! Over cups of tea, we talked about the wonders of science and creation. I talked about how the Christian worldview gave rise to scientific exploration in previous centuries. I suggested looking at Job chapters 38-41 for an amazing look at the order of creation. Puting started reading it out loud and was loving it. She is seeing the wonders of creation their research. Jae is open, moving in the right direction.
We in invited Steele Johnson, a Purdue diver, to speak at Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity on Tuesday evening, March 22. He won the 2015 NCAA national championship in the 1-meter and 10- meter platform diving, was diver of the year and Purdue male athlete of the year. He is currently training to go to the 2016 Olympics with Team USA.
Steele shared how he got involved with diving at the age of 7. At age 12, during one of his dives, he hit his head on the 10-meter platform and torn his scalp open. He could have easily died as result and was told he might never dive again. But true to his name, Steele is a pretty tough guy! After his recovery he continued to dive and was a 15-time junior national champion. Please watch this video on YouTube where he tells the story:
Steele is currently on Olympic practice waiver at Purdue. He and Olympic gold medalist David Boudia (who also was a Purdue diver) have been training together as synchronized 10-meter diving partners. They just returned from China and Dubai were the pair won a bronze medal in their synchronized diving event.
Steele also shared with us how his faith has become a very important part of his life. He said that he had traveled all over the world and won many accolades in diving, but that this left his empty and unsatisfied. In his testimony, he told us that he had rededicated his life to Christ in January of 2015. He now has his focus on Christ. If he wins that’s great, but he wants to glorify God in all that he does.
We were thankful Steele was able to fit us in the middle of his current busy competition schedule from Rio to China to Dubai, back to Purdue and now on his way to Canada and Russia!
Look for Steele Johnson and David Boudia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio!
I continue to be a Faculty Fellow at Purdue and am assigned to a floor in Tarkington Residence Hall. This enables me to build relationships with the men on that floor. We generally have 10 to 15 men who come weekly on Wednesday evenings for floor dinner at one of the dining halls. They are such a great group of guys to be around and a very close-knit group with great camaraderie. It is so refreshing to see this! An example is every Tuesday evening, they go to the gym and sit in the hot tub and play water basketball and volleyball!
During a floor dinner, one of the men said he went to a religious high school, but that he was not very religious. I asked him to explain what he meant. We had a great conversation about what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ.
Recently, I had about thirteen of the guys over at my house for a Super Bowl party as well as a dinner last semester. They love coming over for a home cooked meal and are such an enjoyable group to be around.
I befriended one of the Tark guys three years ago and have been sharing Christ with him. He is not a Christian yet but God is working in his life. Please continue to pray for these men, that I will have opportunities to encourage them and share Christ with them.
One of the things I enjoy the most about working with college students is the opportunity to reach out and share my faith. Most of the evangelism I do is very relational as I mostly meet with students I have some kind on association with at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house. These young men come to my office with a friend and we get to have an honest God talk. However, every now and then, I love to get out of my comfort zone and trust God in reaching out to students who I don’t know.
The last two years I have had this opportunity as we have sponsored the Great Exchange (GE) which has it headquarters in Athens, GA. and works in conjunction with local ministries to conduct a spiritual interest survey. When we did the GE in Sept 2014, I was amazed at what good conversations I had especially with international students. In 3 days I got to share with students from China, Cuba, and Vietnam. I led 3 students to Christ and continue to meet with a Chinese student who prayed with me.
This fall was similar as we again conducted the GE at Purdue, Wabash, and DePauw University. My best conversation was with a student from China who had been in the US for a week. She told me that she had come to the US to get more education, but also to learn more about how to know God. Shannon Hammond got to finish the conversation and she accepted Christ.
Doing the Great Commission has reminded me that God has prepared hearts and I need to continue stepping out in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In October, Everette & Sharon, Parks & Julie, and Mary were able to go to Israel! It was an astonishing, unexpected gift from some supporters!
Lon Solomon, a Messianic Jew from McLean, VA, led the tour. He has led over 45 tours! Lon gave great messages at each location, making it memorable in so many ways.
We have always heard, “You’ll never read the Scriptures the same again!” It is true! We can now clearly picture where Jesus was in places like the synagogue in Capernaum or out on the lake (Galilee) or along the shore and the Jordan River. It moved us all to see Jerusalem for the first time. We were able to step onto the Temple Mount (equal to 27 football fields) and see the model of what it would have looked like in Jesus’ time. To add to the experience, Everette & Sharon were also able to go to Mount Sinai and Petra.
The opportunity to add our prayers at the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall) was very emotional and powerful. Especially knowing what happened in that area over the centuries and knowing there will come a day when the Eastern Gate will no longer be blocked. The Lord will come back in Glory!
Our reading and teaching is now richer because of this trip and we will never forget it!