Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quotes from Modern Bondage

By Marvin Olasky
World Magazine (July 12/19, 2008), pages 24-25

The following are quotes from an article entitled Modern Bondage, an interview with E. Benjamin Skinner, the author of A Crime So Monstrous.

1. A 10-year-old girl was offered to be used for sexual and domestic slavery, for $50…compare that to 1850 when a slave in the American South would cost between $30,000 to $40,000, in today’s dollars.

2. As many as 400,000 Moldovans have been trafficked internationally.

3. Previously known as “the untouchables,” they are currently called the Dalit (“crushed”), who occupy the lowest tier of the Hindu caste system…Today, they form a majority of the 260 million Indians living on less than a dollar a day.

4. Every half hour, on average, one more person enters the United States and loses freedom. Many are held in underground brothels, illegal factories, illicit escort services, or tucked-away plantations. But some might be held in our neighborhood.

Modern Bondage by Marvin Olasky. World Magazine. July 12/19, 2008. Pages 24-25.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coffee, Cup of Tea, or a Glass of Wine?

I have always liked coffee. Even when I was “almost an alcoholic” in my drinking days, I enjoyed coffee in the mornings, especially with bacon and eggs around a campfire in the California desert mountains.

Working and traveling in Africa, Latin America and Asia, I have been able to sample the best coffee, as well as the worst. Someone said, “Life is too short to waste it on a bad cup of coffee.” I agree.

Years ago, someone enrolled me in a coffee club, from which I receive some of the best, most expensive coffee from around the world. However, saying it is expensive is relative because it averages to only about 10¢ to 15¢ a cup. Wine averages around $1.00 to $2.50 per small glass.

However, the cost is not the reason I do not drink wine. When I came to faith in Christ, one of the first things I gave up was alcohol, mainly because of what it had done to me, the majority of my family members and many of my friends.

Someone mentioned to me, “Oh Doug, you should have a glass of wine, after all, Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake.” However, this verse shows that not all people in biblical times drank wine, or Paul would not have had to tell Timothy to drink wine for his sickness. Therefore, what they drank was not fermented to the extent wine is today.

Then, I read the following, It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, For they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.(Proverbs 31:4-5, nasb)

Those of us in leadership in the church and missions need to be careful to drink something that might impair thinking and disable us from serving God and caring for His church and the needy in a thoughtful, clear manner, not clouded by fermented juice.

So, dear friends, if your conscience allows you to drink wine, fine, but don’t push it on or make it easily available to others. If your happy times depend upon the booze, then ask the Lord to deliver you from it so that your joy can be in Christ and in ministry to others for His name’s sake.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

American Evangelicals Believe There Are Different Ways to Heaven

Recently I was reading an excellent blog of Randy Alcorn entitled “American Evangelicals Believe There Are Different Ways to Heaven” ( In the article it says the following:

“I believe that everything I write, fiction or nonfiction, is subject to scrutiny by God's Word. We should take our cues from the Berean Christians, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day” to determine whether what they were being taught was true (Acts 17:11).

Jesus didn’t say, “I am a way and a truth and a life; I’m one way to come to the Father.” He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

This spring Oprah said on her television program, that when it comes to getting to heaven, "There couldn't possibly be just one way." So, does Oprah know something Jesus didn't know? Or did Jesus know something Oprah doesn't know? (No offense, Oprah, but I'm putting my money on Jesus.)

Raised in a culture that condemns such thinking as narrow and intolerant, even many Christians now consider it arrogant and out-of-date to say that only those who trust in Jesus will go to heaven.

It certainly would be arrogant if we were the ones who came up with it. But we didn’t. We’re just repeating what Jesus said. We’re not trusting ourselves; we’re trusting Him. If it were up to us, we’d think up something more popular, wouldn't we? But it’s not up to us. He said it. Our choice is to believe it or reject it. I for one am not going to tell God He's mistaken.”

Let’s be diligent, dear friend, in sharing the glorious Gospel of Christ with others.

Jesus said, “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, nasb)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Living Up to Our Name: The Internationalization of ACTION

At the 2006 International Council held in Mount Vernon, Washington, it was resolved that ACTION become a multinational missionary sending agency. We decided to view every ACTION country as potentially both a sending and receiving field. We began to seriously entertain membership applications from Christian workers in non-ACTION countries. Two years after adopting this new emphasis, I would like to comment on some of the ways God has led us.

• The 2008 International Council officially recognized every country where ACTION has workers, as ACTION fields.

• Ingo Abraham, ACTION United Kingdom Executive Director and Europe Coordinator, has forged ahead with expansion of the mission onto the Continent. Harry & Catherine Bryans, working in Belgium, merged their children’s ministry into ACTION and gave us a toehold in the Francophone world.

• Seni & Lose Finau of Tonga were accepted for service in the Philippines. Our International Director, L. Nelson Reed, started formation of an ACTION council there to facilitate the sending process.

• Dr. Wayne Whitbourne, Canada Director & South Asia Coordinator, joined the Christian Leadership Alliance.

• Nelson Reed is undertaking a worldwide itinerary to visit the ACTION fields. In 2008 his schedule has included Mexico, India, the Philippines, New Zealand, Tonga, Brazil, Ecuador, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, and England.

• While in New Zealand, Nelson strengthened ties with our partner agency, the International Resource Network, directed by Rob Purdue. Half of the donations sent to ACTION for relief work in Myanmar following the May cyclone will be administered by ACTION New Zealand.

• Nelson Reed in consultation with an attorney who has expertise in international law and business is studying the ACTION Fellowship model. The present constitution actually has no legal basis. It was set up when the Philippines was the only field and the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom were the only sending countries. Since ACTION now ministers in 25 countries, an updated agreement linking the various branches of the mission will be proposed.

• Our single women members are internationalizing the mission as they marry Christian workers native to their countries of service. Ruth Barry of New Zealand has married Brazilian Pastor Samuel Oliveira. Julie Kacena of USA has married a deacon of her church in Brazil, Elías Madeira. Merlyn “Lika” Braun, a Brazilian raised in Ecuador, is engaged to a director of Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Brazil, Mário Milhomem de Castro Júnior, and American Nita Evans, raised in Paraguay and serving in Ecuador, has married Ecuadorean Pastor Francisco Vargas.

• ACTION USA is in the midst of adopting new software designed by LightSys, a mission to missions, which will enable our organization to serve our members with real-time information (up-to-the-minute reports on donations and expenses) and cope more efficiently with growth and the multinational character of the society.

• Mark Royce Summers was named Director of ACTION Ecuador. Under consideration is the establishment of a receipting office so that workers accepted in the mission there can accept support donations from Ecuadorean Christians, and eventually be sent to other countries.

• The USA Board of Trustees is directing establishment of metrics and forecasting to enable more careful stewardship of mission resources.

• ACTION India is incorporating and ACTION Spain is registering.

• Founder Doug Nichols is spearheading an expansion of our Pastoral Leadership Development division.

In conclusion, let me state what an exciting time this is in the development of our agency. Please join us in prayer for the LORD’s guidance and blessing, His provision for existing ministries and expansion, for more workers from all corners of the globe, and for direction and strength for Nelson Reed in his task of leadership and mentorship for the whole mission. Thank you for your part, dear reader, whether as a member, donor, friend, or prayer warrior. Fulfilling God’s calling requires us all to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission.

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes (Isaiah 54:2, KJV).

These are exciting days for ACTION. May our LORD continue to favor us with leadership, recruits, and resources to fulfill the Great Commission.

Yours in Christ,
Rex Lee Carlaw, USA Director, Latin America Coordinator
and International Council Chairman

Friday, July 25, 2008

Witnessing to a Catholic

Adapted from: “I Know a Catholic Who Is Saved” by Mike Gendron
Reaching Catholics for Christ

The assurance that we or someone else is a Christian comes not by church membership, nor by the observance of religious regulations and rituals (Colossians 2:8-13). But this assurance is based upon what we believe in our hearts (Galatians 2:16) by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:5, 8-10) in the truth of Christ and God’s word (John 14:6. Romans 10:17). The Catholic gospel is one of works and sacraments based upon the authority of Rome over the authoritative teachings of Scripture leaving Its’ followers dead in their sins. While there may be saved people who worship in the Catholic Church, they are no longer Roman Catholics.

Only God can see a person’s heart and knows with absolute certainty if someone is a Christian. Even so, the Bible teaches with absolute certainty the basic and essential characteristics of a Christian. A Christian believes the gospel(1 Corinthians 15:1-8), has put faith in Christ (John 6:29), and recognizes that Jesus comes from the Father and the Christian loves Him (John 8:42, 58). The Christian knows they were spiritually dead apart from Christ, trusts in Him, and has given up any efforts to justify themselves by good works and religious activity, but relies on Christ alone (Ephesians 2:5, 8-10; Colossians 2:8-13). He abides in God’s word and is set free from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36), and is born again unto eternal life by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8, 14, 15). A Christian is motivated to obey God’s commands by their love for God, and not to merit salvation (John 14:23; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15, 19, 21). He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things pleasing to God and to avoid the things that God hates (Titus 2:11-14).

A true understanding of the Gospel is necessary to trust God’s only provision for the salvation of sinners. Often, the truth must be contrasted against the errors of religious indoctrination for the Gospel to be clearly understood. Biblical terms must be shared and defined in order to expose man’s traditions and philosophies that oppose the Gospel. Only by asking questions can we know a Roman Catholic’s beliefs and present, without arguing, a true understanding of the glorious Gospel of grace.

Before asking questions you may briefly share your personal conversion experience and how you came to faith in Christ, the new birth, and some changes in your life as a result.

The following are some key questions to lovingly and gently ask.
Questions About Conversion

Did you know that you must be born again to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8)? When and how were you born again? What were the events that led to your conversion? Catholics tend to interpret their conversion in light of their indoctrination. They usually refer to their baptism as their conversion and consuming the Eucharist as the means to receive Christ. Many Catholics are reluctant to talk about these things. This may be an indication that there has been no conversion. Those who have experienced the second birth will want to sing the praises of the one who called them out of darkness into His glorious light (1 Pet. 2:9). Giving details of a conversion brings great joy to other Christians (Acts 15:3).

What were you converted from and to? Do you have a personal relationship with God? Were you converted from a religion to a relationship with God? Has God converted you from a slave to sin to His adopted son and heir?

Questions About Faith

Is faith necessary to be saved (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 3:21-28)? If it is, how do you explain the Catholic teaching that infants are saved, not by faith, but by water baptism? Has the object of your faith ever changed? On what do you base your salvation? Is the Lord Jesus Christ the object of your faith and obedience or do you still trust and submit to the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church as a means of salvation? Do you believe there is only one Gospel of salvation? What is the Gospel? How can you discern which Gospel has the power to save sinners and which gospel condemns those who preach it? (Galatians 1:6-9). Are you relying on what Christ has done (grace) or what you are doing (works) for your salvation (Galatians 2:16)? In whose righteousness are you trusting for your justification with God (Romans 3:21-28; 2 Corinthians 5:21)?

Questions About Sin and Salvation

If you were to leave the Catholic Church would you still be saved? Do you know that God’s righteous justice demands death as punishment for even the smallest of sins? (Rom. 6:23). Even if you keep the whole law and yet stumble at just one point, you are guilty of breaking the whole law? (James 2:10). Catholics are taught that only certain types of sins are deadly. Have you been completely forgiven from the guilt and punishment of all your sins, past and future, mortal and venial? Or do you still believe Purgatory is necessary to purge away the sins that were not purified by the blood of Jesus? What about indulgences? Do you believe they are necessary for the remission of temporal punishment for sin? Catholics are taught by doing penance, the guilt of certain sins is forgiven but the punishment still remains to be paid by indulgences and/or suffering in purgatory.

Questions About Jesus

Do you believe Jesus bore your sins and was condemned in your place to bring you to God (1 John 2:1,2; 2 Corinthians 5:21)? Do you believe He canceled your infinite sin debt and removed the entire curse of the law as the Bible promises (Galatians 3:10-14)? What do you believe about the Mass? Can Catholic priests really offer sacrifices for sins after Jesus offered Himself once for all sin for all time (Hebrews 7:26, 27)? Can you show me in the New Testament where the early church followed this practice? Why does the Catholic Church continue the one-time event that Jesus said "is finished"? (John 19:31). The Bible teaches that the one offering of Jesus Christ has made perfect forever those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). The offering was sufficient and is never to be offered again (Hebrews 10:18).

These questions will not only determine if a Catholic has truly been converted to Christ, they will also help a new convert grow in grace and truth by cutting away the traditions of men that often hinder a believer’s spiritual growth. Please note that all these questions are focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did to reconcile condemned sinners to God. Avoid asking questions unrelated to the core issue, "What must I do to be saved?"

We do people a grave disservice if we encourage a faith that is not in Christ alone. If we do not lovingly confront them in their true spiritual condition, they risk the irreversible tragedy of being condemned by Jesus at the Great White Throne judgment. I cannot think of anything more horrifying than a professing Christian, coming face to face with Jesus, and hear Him say, "I never knew you; depart from Me" into the eternal lake of fire. Yet, there are many Catholics and non-Catholics who will hear these words unless they come to know and trust Jesus through His word.

Doctrinal error must be lovingly exposed and corrected using the infallible word of God. False teachings that have been craftily veiled with truth can be difficult to detect. In fact, seldom is error presented without first mixing it with truth. Catholics must be warned, their eternal destinies hang in the balance.

The Apostle Paul said that he was free from the blood of all men. May the same be true of every ambassador for Jesus Christ! Christian love is making the Gospel clear so that those who are lost in their religion will recognize their need of a Savior.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Wish I Could Be a Brother Like That

Years ago in the Philippines, I heard a story of a man who parked his car in his office complex in downtown Manila. There was a street boy nearby and to pick up some money, he asked if he could watch (guard) the man’s car while he was in the office.

Several hours later, when the man came back to get his nice Mercedes, he paid the boy some loose change and, as he was getting in his car, the little street boy said, “Mister, you sure have a nice car.” The man was quite surprised that this boy had even spoken to him and said, “Well, thank you.” Then the little boy said, “Where did you get your car? Did somebody give it to you?” The man replied, “Well yes, somebody did give it to me. My brother gave it to me.”

As he continued to get in the car, he expected the boy to say something like, “Oh, I wish I had a brother who would give me a nice car.” Instead, he heard the little boy say, “Your brother gave it to you? I wish I could be a brother like that.”

The man was so amazed at the statement of the little boy, he asked, “Have you ever been in a nice car like this?” The little boy said, “No.” The man replied, “Well, get in. Let me give you a ride.” The boy jumped up in the front seat and as they drove down the road, the man had to roll down the windows because the little boy was so smelly.

The boy was so joyful and in awe that he said, “Sir, could we go get my little brother and give him a ride too?” The man said, “Tell me about your brother. Where is he?” The boy pointed at a poor slum area of Manila called Tondo. They drove there and parked and the man said, “Go get your brother and we will give him a ride.”

The little boy ran down a filthy alleyway and a few minutes later came back with his little brother on his back, as he was crippled! The man said, “So this is your little brother; what’s wrong with him?” as they put him up in the front seat. The little boy said, “He had an accident. He’s crippled and can’t walk.”

As they drove and talked, the man found out that the brother had a crippling accident and because his family was so poor, they could not get him the medical care he needed.

The businessman said, “Well, my brother is a doctor. Why don’t we go see him and find out what he can do for your little brother.” After the examination they found that after a simple operation, the boy would be able to walk again. The operation was performed and the little boy who could not walk, but had a brother who loved him, was able to walk again.

Why did all this happen? Simply because of the unselfishness of someone caring for someone else, rather than for himself. So, might we have the words on our lips, “I wish I could be a brother (or mother, father, sister, fellow worker) like that.”

In the words of the missionary, the Apostle Paul, …regard one another as more important than themselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others(Philippines 2:3-4, nasb).

Yes, “I wish I could be a brother like that.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Notes from "Spiritual Leadership"

By Doug Nichols

“Spiritual Leadership” is a 306-page book by Dr. Henry Blackaby published by Broadman and Holman. A few quotes I have marked are as follows:

1. A Calling. “Holding a leadership position in a Christian organization does not make one a spiritual leader. Spiritual leadership is not an occupation; it is a calling.” (page xi)

2. Leaders you can trust. “People know intuitively that claiming to be a leader or holding a leadership position does not make someone a leader. People are warily looking for leaders they can trust. (page 5)

3. Leadership based on Scripture. “The trend among Christian leaders has been an almost indiscriminate and uncritical acceptance of secular leadership theory without measuring it against the timeless precepts of Scripture. (page 10)

4. God’s authority in the spiritual and secular realm. “The problem was the Israelite’s assumption that spiritual concerns, such as righteous living and obedience to God belonged in the religious realm while the practical issues of doing battle with enemies, strengthening the economy, and unifying the country were secular matters. They forgot that God Himself had won their military victories, brought them prosperity, and created their nation. He was as active on the battlefield as He was in the worship service. When the Israelites separated spiritual concerns from political and economical issues, their nation was brought to its knees. Scripture indicates that it is a mistake to separate the spiritual world from the secular world.” (page 13)

5. God’s leading for leaders. “Spiritual leadership is not restricted to pastors and missionaries. It is the responsibility of all Christians whom God wants to use to make a difference in their world. The challenge for today’s leaders is to discern the difference between the latest leadership fads and timeless truths established by God. (page 14)

6. God’s agenda. “There are a number of helpful definitions of leadership available, but we believe true spiritual leadership can be defined in one concise statement: Spiritual leadership is moving people on God’s agenda.” (page 20)

7. Valuable model of leadership. “Too often leaders allow secular models of leadership to corrupt the straightforward model set forth by Jesus. (page 24)

8. Leading through obedience. “Jesus has established the model for Christian leaders. It is not found in His ‘methodology.’ Rather, it is seen in His absolute obedience to the Father’s will.” (page 28)

9. Look and listen to the Father. “If Jesus provides the model for spiritual leadership, then the key is not for leaders to develop visions and to set the directions for their organizations. The key is to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of His will.” (page 29)

10. Pleasing God. “Spiritual leaders do not try to satisfy the goals and ambitions of the people they lead, but those of the God they serve.” (page 29)

11. Seeking and acting. “Spiritual leaders seek God’s will, whether it is for their church (mission) or for their corporation, and then they marshal their people to pursue God’s plan.” (page 30)

12. Being Christ-like. “Just as Christians are aware that a worldly lifestyle can discredit their Christian witness to others, so leaders know that a careless lifestyle can diminish their credibility in the eyes of their followers.” (page 158)

Dr. Henry Blackaby

Quotes compiled by
Doug Nichols

Monday, July 21, 2008

AIDS in Africa: What Does the Christian Faith Require?

Stephen McGarvey, Faith Magazine, Issue Number 20,June 2008

The stirring film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of Paul Ruasesabagina, a hotel manager who helps prevent the slaughter of 1,200 refugees during the infamous Rwandan genocide of the early 1990s. In one scene when a journalist arrives back at Ruasesabagina’s hotel with video footage of the atrocities, Paul comments with relief, “I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.”

When the cynical reporter scoffs at Paul’s comment, Paul responds, “How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?” The reporter answers, “I think if people see this footage they'll say, ‘Oh … that's horrible,’ and then go on eating their dinners.”

This has too often been the case when it comes to Africa’s problems. The citizens of Western nations, the United States specifically, are largely insolated from the extreme poverty and tribal conflicts that plague sub-Saharan Africa. An occasional two-minute feature on the evening news provides hardly enough information to convey the immensity of most significant problems. In the 1980s Americans were largely focused on communism and the Soviet Union. And in the 1990s, with the USSR’s collapse, we focused almost exclusively on ourselves and America’s domestic concerns.

During these times Americans were largely ignorant of the genocide in Rwanda. We knew little of the civil war in Sudan and the dozens of conflicts across Africa. And we didn’t realize that the most devastating disease outbreak in perhaps the history of mankind was beginning to take hold in the populations of this often ignored continent.

The Greatest Apologetic?

During the “Prescription for Hope” conference hosted by Samaritan’s Purse a few years ago, author and apologist Ravi Zacharias told those assembled, “If the church of Jesus Christ rises up to the challenge of HIV/AIDS, it will be the greatest apologetic the world has ever seen.”

A bold statement certainly, but the devastation of HIV/AIDS around the world cannot be overstated. And the need for Christians to rise to the challenge is dire.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Major Qualities to Look for in Missionaries

(in addition to salvation and the call of God)

1. Heart for God – Handles Scripture accurately and with obedience; listens to God; exhibits spiritual maturity.

2. Compassion – Has concern for those without Christ and the needy of the world; displays a zeal for the gospel.

3. Responsible – Each must carry his own load (Galatians 6:5, nasb). Recognizes personal responsibility for the success of the ministry. Accepts responsibility to trust God for workers and finances to do the job He has called us to do.

4. Thankful, non-critical spirit -- When something goes wrong, does not complain or gossip, but goes to the person who can deal with it. After a matter is dealt with, drops it.

5. Loyalty – Displays faithfulness to Christ, the mission, and the team.

6. Team spirit – Sacrifices personal comfort and plans for others; is humble and selfless; shows tolerance and understanding of others.

7. Generous – One of the first marks of a Christian and definitely that of a missionary.

Other qualities:

1. Spirit-controlled – lives out the fruit of the Spirit

2. Submissive to Christ – lives in obedience to Christ

3. Hospitable – with home, possessions, and time

4. Willing to serve others

5. Flexible

6. Perseverant

7. Bold in testimony

8. Able to control appetite and not picky about food

9. Possessing a sense of humor (very helpful)

10. A desire to grow in maturity in Christ and ministry for His glory

11. Teachable

12. Joyful

13. Experienced cross-culturally

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Honor to Whom Honor

In this rude, disrespectful world, it is refreshing to read simple teachings in the Word of God, such as giving honor to others. Romans 12 and 13 give very practical guidelines for God’s people to live the life of Christ, being salt and light, in a dark, cruel world.

Take, for example, the simple phrase, Render to all what is due them…honor to whom honor (Romans 13:7 NASB).

Recently I was thinking of men and women who have influenced me in practical daily living for Christ. When I was twelve, my widowed mother remarried and we moved to Southern California to the little desert town of Indio. As a 12-year-old boy, it was difficult for me to find work that summer. I began to go door-to-door asking for odd jobs. One kind, older man, Mr. Jones, hired me to mow his lawn, using his lawn mower since I did not have one. He was very patient and kind, and took time to show me how to use the lawn mower and do a good job.

Mr. Jones knew that I was trying to find other lawns to mow and that I did not have a lawn mower. He said if I would mow his lawn throughout the summer for free, he would give me his mower. What a wonderful, generous offer! He inspected some of the lawns I worked on and showed me how to do a better job. Soon I had more than I could do and began to hire other kids to help me. He taught me how to supervise and pay them properly. By the end of the summer, I had eight others working with me.

Over the next three years my lawn mowing business grew such that I had to hire older people to help me including one with a car to drive and pull my gardening trailer to various mowing sites. When I was 15, I had a crew of 30!

I have thought of Mr. Jones many times. Not only did he reach out to me as an unknown 12-year-old nobody with no job skills, he patiently and kindly instructed me in basic work skills. Mr. Jones, therefore, was a man I sought to emulate when I came to Christ years later.

Another man to whom honor is due is my father-in-law, Walter Jespersen. Margaret and I have had the privilege of living with him for several years. Even though he is 95 and cannot see or hear well, he still radiates Christ’s love and has a desire to continue to walk with God and minister to others loving care and the good news of salvation in Christ.

A good description of Dad Jespersen is in a “thank you” note he received recently from Daren Beck, ACTION Cambodia Director. Dad wanted me to send Daren four of his books by the Puritan John Owen which he knew Daren would appreciate because of his love for the Puritan writers. The note reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Jespersen,
Knowing that these books might be in the mail, we opened up the box immediately upon receiving them today! Thank you for the wonderful volumes by John Owen. His godly wisdom is a breath of fresh air. I pray that God will use his ongoing ministry to encourage, exhort and challenge me in my personal pursuit of Christ. These books represent a treasured gift from you and testify to the persevering work of the Holy Spirit in your own life over the years. Thank you for your godly example! Be encouraged, your life is a vibrant testimony of God’s grace and a source of wonderful encouragement to many.

In His Bonds,
Daren Beck
Colossians 1:28-20

So, dear friends, whom shall we honor today? Let us be men and women who obey this simple, but important, command in God’s Word.

Render to all what is due them…honor to whom honor (Romans 13:7 nasb).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toolbox for Effective Missionary Service

Even though we say God can use anyone in ACTION, there are a few basic requirements:

1.The ability to feed yourself on the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Timothy 3:14-16).

2.The desire to rejoice in the Sovereignty of God in all circumstances (Daniel 3:17, 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

3.Basic evangelism skills with a clear grasp and understanding of the gospel (2 Timothy 4:5, Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Philemon 1:6, John 14:6).

4.Discipleship skills - (2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Peter 3:18).

5.An understanding of the biblical guidance (leading) of God to missions (Luke 9:57- 62, Matthew 28:18-20).

6.A life marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

7.Relationship skills that allow for one to gently confront others, and also to receive correction without being offended (Galatians 6:1-2, Matthew 18:15, Proverbs 15:31-32).

8.Team skills that allow one to function on a team and to share and help carry the responsibilities in ministry (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 12:24b-27).

9.A servant attitude (2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:7).

10.Willingness to adapt to a different culture and to understand that what is personally familiar and comfortable does not always work elsewhere in the world (1 Corinthians 9:1-23).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Little Lady in the Cancer Ward

Several years ago while going through cancer treatment, I was in a room with about 15 other oncology patients in a major Seattle hospital.

As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, ill and miserable along with these others, I looked around and realized everyone was a sorry mess! In fact, we were all in such terrible shape, it was quite humorous. As I smiled, a little black lady sitting across from me said, “What are you laughing at?”

I said, “Oh, am I laughing?”

She said, “Yes; what do you have that big smile on your face for?”

I said, “Well, ma’am, have you looked around this room? We are the most sorry-looking bunch of people you have ever seen!”

She replied, “Well, I don’t think it is funny!”

I said, “Well, you are correct, but to tell you the truth, I am so ill I feel like lying on the floor right now and dying because I am going to heaven and I can hardly wait to get there!”

She said, “Are you going to heaven? Well so am I.”

I asked, “How do you know you are going to heaven?”

She gave her testimony of how she came to faith in Christ. It wasn’t a normal testimony. She shared how she was a wicked person and someone shared with her the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ alone.

As she related how she turned from sin and trusted the Savior, her face beamed. Here was a little lady with red spots all over her beautiful black skin, who could hardly talk because her face was so skinny and drawn that her false teeth didn’t fit properly, whose wig was off to one side, and yet, she glowed with the joy of the Lord.

When she finished, she said, “And how do you know you are going to heaven?” So, I shared how Christ had worked in my life, how I had come to repentance, and that I had trusted Him for salvation.

It was amazing how two sickly, miserable-looking people could share what Christ had done in and through their lives for His glory with thirteen other people listening intently.

My, oh my, it was worth having cancer to share the Gospel so openly in a cancer ward.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you and your team planned a camp for 75 underprivileged street children of Manila but 280 boys ages 10 to 18 showed up? Would you send them home? If so, which ones?

What would you do if you planned a Christmas jail party for 10 prisoners who had trusted Christ the previous year and you became aware that there would be about 220 other prisoners listening in and watching from their near-by jail cells? Would you invite them also?

What would you do if you published a Gospel ad in a secular magazine with funds to handle follow up for 100 people but you received 3000 letters? The letters not only requested more information about the Word of God, but many asked for someone to meet with them for a Bible study in their home?

What would you do if you and a team were conducting a midnight ministry at two in the morning for 150 children and a little child prostitute 9 years of age came to faith in Christ? Would you let her remain with the lady she was living with in the park, the lady who was selling her to men?

What would you do if a man was dying of heart trouble in a small village in the central part of the Philippines, and the only way to save his life was to fly him to Manila as soon as possible? You could not get him to a main airport which was 3 hours away. The only way to get him out was to fly him from a small landing strip nearby but this would involve leasing a private plane at a cost of $4000, money which you did not have? What would you do?

Hard decisions? Let me mention a few more:

What would you do if one of your follow-up workers visiting a small boy who had trusted Christ the week before in a camp became aware that the boy had no food in his house and had not eaten since the camp? His sister had died the previous week of tuberculosis, his father had just abandoned the family, his mother had TB, and they had no money for medicine. Would you close your Bible (as the follow-up worker did) and take the family to buy some food and medicine, feed them and then have the Bible study? I hope you would, but what would you do if you found out the follow-up worker had used all of his own personal money and the organization had no money to repay him?

What would you do if you were already swamped with nearly 8000 people who trusted Christ during the year and yet more people were crying out for follow-up, for Bible studies, for counsel, for help?

These are just some of the situations we are faced with almost daily! Some may not be as dramatic as these, but many are. What would you do?

It is very easy for people to say, “Well, all you have to do is say 'No.' " We would like to challenge these people to come to the Philippines (or India or Uganda or Mexico or Colombia), join the team, and be in a position to say “No." ACTION needs missionaries!

We would like to encourage many to participate with ACTION and other missions in dealing with problems like these. Especially for additional missionaries to reach out to others in the name of Christ , to ask Him to give wisdom in dealing with situations like these, and encourage men and women to trust Him as Savior.

The need is overwhelming and the opportunities are staggering. What can we do?…All we can!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dr. James Boice

Years ago, before computers, one of my six assistants in Manila sent a carbon copy of a letter that I had previously sent to James Boice with a note attached asking if he had received it. We did this on a regular basis because much mail in the 70s was lost or stolen so we never knew if a letter got through or not.

My assistant came in the office one day and said, with tears in her eyes, “Mr. Nichols, who is Dr. James Boice?” I said, “Why do you ask?” She said, “Well sir, he wrote me a wonderful letter.”

It was a letter that said something like “Miss Carmen, I am sorry I have not responded to the letter but I did not get the first copy. I went to my three offices looking for it and asked my staff to look for it, but none of us could find it. I want to apologize for any inconvenience I have caused you in your work and ministry, etc.”

She said, “Sir, Dr. Boice must be a wonderful, godly, humble man.”

That is the type of man that Dr. Boice was. That is the kind of person I want to be.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Long Walk, Sore Feet

On a study break recently, Margaret and I walked the 10.5 mile Apple Capital Loop Trail in Wenatchee, Washington, on both sides of the Columbia River. We crossed three bridges (two over the Columbia River and one over the Wenatchee River). It was really too long of a hike for us as we did not have proper clothing or shoes. It took us 3 hours 15 minutes, resulting in sore legs and feet.

Dad Jespersen in China years ago would sometimes need to take long trips of 90 to 150 miles and would walk 30 to 35 miles daily!

We get painful feet from exercise, but missionaries in the past suffered much physically in normal, everyday ministry.

… do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord … but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity … who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8-10, nasb).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why should I attend church?

from William du Plooy

The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes the importance of local assemblies. In fact, it was the pattern of Paul's ministry to establish local congregations in the cities where he preached the gospel. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands every believer to be a part of such a local body and reveals why this is necessary.

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).

It is only in the local body to which one is committed that there can be the level of intimacy that is required for carefully stimulating fellow-believers "to love and good deeds." And it is only in this setting that we can encourage one another.

The New Testament also teaches that every believer is to be under the protection and nurture of the leadership of the local church. These godly men can shepherd the believer by encouraging, admonishing, and teaching. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 help us to understand that God has graciously granted accountability to us through godly leadership.

Furthermore, when Paul gave Timothy special instructions about the public meetings, he said, "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching" (1 Timothy 4:13). Part of the emphasis in public worship includes these three things: hearing the Word, being called to obedience and action through exhortation, and teaching. It is only in the context of the local assembly that these things can most effectively take place.

Acts 2:42 shows us what the early church did when they met together: "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

Christians came together:

to learn God's Word and the implications of it in their lives
to join to carry out acts of love and service to one another
do they commemorated the Lord's death and resurrection through the breaking of bread; and they prayed. Of course, we can do these things individually, but God has called us into His body, the church, which is the local representation of that worldwide body. We should gladly minister and be ministered to among God's people.

Active local church membership is imperative to living a life without compromise. It is only through the ministry of the local church that a believer can receive the kind of teaching, accountability, and encouragement that is necessary for him to stand firm in his convictions. God has ordained that the church provide the kind of environment where an uncompromising life can thrive.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ushers, Get the Plates!

My family and I recently attended four days of seminars on “Evangelism to World Religions,” led by Ron Carlson. He is an excellent communicator. Ron, his wife Marge and their two young sons served in the Philippines with ACTION for one year in the 1980s. He spoke and conducted lectures throughout the Philippines and instructed many pastors and Christian workers on how to share the gospel to the cults. It was a great year of ministry!

Upon return to their large home church in the Minneapolis area, Ron was asked to give a report on his year in the Philippines on a Sunday evening. During his report, he shared how ACTION had a real burden to start a ministry among the 50,000 prostitutes in downtown Manila. However, he said that we were not able to start a ministry because we had made a decision that until we had a budget for one year of ministry, we would not begin. The budget would include the rental of a facility for evangelism and counseling ministry, support for a large team of godly Filipino ladies for evangelism and discipleship, a small van, discipleship material, food and many other expenses. As the budget was $55,000, Ron said that we would probably never begin because, as a small mission, how could we ever come up with that huge amount of money?

As he continued his report, he began to hear people tear checks out of their checkbooks. He suddenly realized what was happening, and because the elders had informed him that they would not be taking an offering, he stopped and said, “I think you might be writing checks for ACTION’s ministry, but please do not do so, as we have no permission to take an offering.” However, the people continued to write checks and there was a continuous rustling noise of checks being torn out of checkbooks.

Ron began to cry, basically in fear of getting in trouble with the church and the elders. At that moment, the chairman of the elders stood up and slowly walked up to the platform, put his arm around Ron, and said, “Ron, I am the new chairman of the elders and you are not in trouble.” Then, looking to the audience, he said, “Ushers, get the plates!” The ushers began to pass the offering plates randomly throughout the church, collecting a cash offering of $55,400!

The money was used for a one-year ministry, right in the heart of the area of Manila given over to prostitution, with many people being trained in working with the girls involved. Nearly 900 of these ladies of the night indicated coming to faith in Christ, and many of them left this wicked profession.

In the last meeting recently with Ron, the pastor said he felt he should take an offering to raise $10,000 to print Ron’s book in Italian for use in Italy. This was not a planned offering and was a real testimony and encouragement to all when the pastor shared the need. He then said, “Ushers, get the plates.”

Friends, as God leads you among your people, always be ready when there is a need and you sense that God’s people want to do something about that need to encourage and challenge them and simply say, “Let’s, get the plates! Let’s do something about this need for the glory of God.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thanks, Mister, for Talking to Me

I try to walk at least one or two miles daily. One afternoon, on my daily one-mile walk, I was reading printed-out copies of my email. A little nine-year-old boy getting out of school walked up behind me and said, “There you are again. We talk about you at school all the time. This old man that walks down the street reading. What are you reading?”

Surprised, I simply answered “Oh, I’m reading some letters from the people I work with in other countries who work with street kids.” He then asked, “What’s a street kid?” I said, “A street kid is an orphan.” He replied, “What’s an orphan?”

This really surprised me because here was a boy of at least 9, not knowing what an orphan was. I answered, “You know, that’s a good question. I am a Christian and God has given Christians a book called the Bible to show us how to know Him and live for Him. God says in His book that an orphan is a fatherless child.”

The boy was quiet for a moment as we walked along. He said, “Oh, I guess most of my friends are orphans because they don’t have fathers.” A few moments later he said, “I guess I am an orphan too because I don’t have a father.”

I said, “I know a Father who cares for you.” He said, “What Father?” I replied, “God, the Heavenly Father.” I then began to share with him the glorious Gospel of Christ.

After a few minutes, he had to turn into his house and as he walked away he waved and said, “Thanks, mister, for talking to me.”

Two or three days later I had almost the same conversation with a 13-year-old girl. As I was walking and reading, she got off the bus just as I passed the bus stop, and walking behind me said, “Hey mister. There you are again reading. What are you reading?”

As I began to explain, she suddenly said, “Do you have a cigarette?” I said, “No, I don’t. Do your parents know you smoke?” I expected her to say, “My parents don’t care what I do,” but instead she said, “My parents don’t care about me.”

At that I said, “I’m sorry, but I know a parent that cares about you.” She said, “What parent cares about me?” I replied, “God, the Heavenly Father, cares about you.” She said, “Really?” and I began to share the Gospel with her.

The same thing happened as with the little boy. As she came to her house and turned to leave, she said, “Thanks, mister, for talking to me.”

So, dear friends, whether you are out walking, reading, or whatever, even if you’re an old man or an old woman, God will bring opportunities to share the glorious gospel of Christ. Perhaps someone will say to you today, “Thank you for talking to me.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recruiting for the Great Commission

Many additional ACTION missionaries are needed for the ministries of Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD) and Children in Crisis (CiC). The following have been requested by the fields to work with PLD and CiC:

1.Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD): Fifty additional missionaries age 40 to 72 are needed. About forty of these pastors will probably be married, so this is a total of 90 missionaries (husbands and wives).

2.Children in Crisis (CiC): The fields are requesting up to 100 missionaries to work with needy children. Most of these missionaries will be young and single, but if 25 are married, this will be a total of 125 to minister to children in crisis.

3.Therefore, the total number of additional missionaries that we need to trust the Lord for with Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD) and Children in Crisis (CIC) is 215 (90 plus 125).

A few side notes …

4.There are an estimated 48,000 untrained / undertrained pastors in the Philippines; if ACTION had fifty missionaries working with them, this would be one PLD missionary for every 960 needy pastors (50 x 960 = 48,000).

5.If 50 additional missionaries worked among the 1,500,000 street children in the Philippines, this would be one ACTION missionary for every 30,000 street children.

6.If ACTION had 100 additional missionaries working with the four million orphans of Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia, this would be one missionary for every 40,000 orphans.