Friday, October 31, 2008

Witnessing in a TB Sanitarium

While serving with Operation Mobilization in India in 1967, tuberculosis forced me into a sanitarium for several months. I did not yet speak the language, but tried to give Christian literature written in local language to the patients, doctors and nurses. Everyone refused!

I sensed many weren't happy about a rich American (to them all Americans are rich) being in a free, government-run sanitarium. (They didn't know I was just as broke as they were!)

The first few nights I woke around 2:00 a.m. coughing. One morning during my TB coughing spell, I noticed one of the older and sicker patients across the aisle trying to get out of bed. He would sit up on the edge of the bed and try to stand, but in weakness would fall back into bed. I didn't understand what he was trying to do. He finally fell back into bed, exhausted. I heard him crying softly.

The next morning I realized that the man had been trying to get up and walk to the bathroom! The stench in the ward was awful.

Other patients yelled insults at the man. Angry nurses moved him roughly from side to side as they cleaned up the mess. One nurse even slapped him. The old man curled into a ball and wept.

The next night I again woke up coughing. I noticed the man across the aisle sit up and again try to stand. Like the night before, he fell back whimpering. I don't like bad smells, and I didn't want to become involved, but I got out of bed and went over to him. When I touched his shoulder, his eyes opened wide with fear. I smiled, put my arms under him, and picked him up.

He was very light, due to old age and advanced TB. I carried him to the washroom, which was just a small filthy room with a hole in the floor. I stood behind him with my arms under his armpits as he took care of himself. After he finished, I picked him up and carried him back to his bed. As I laid him down, he kissed me on the cheek, smiled, and said something I couldn't understand.

The next morning another patient woke me and handed me a steaming cup of tea. He motioned with his hands that he wanted a tract.

As the sun rose, other patients approached and indicated they also wanted the booklets I had tried to distribute before. Throughout the day nurses, interns and doctors also asked for literature.

Weeks later an evangelist who spoke the language visited me, and as he talked to others in the sanitarium he discovered that several had put their trust in Christ as Savior as a result of reading the literature!

What did it take to reach these people with the Gospel? It wasn't health, the ability to speak their language, or a persuasive talk. I simply took a trip to the bathroom.

Anyone could have done that!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Witnessing in Manila Garbage Dump (Philippines)

I think it was about 1980 that Aries, a Filipino co-worker, and I were standing at the top edge of the Manila Garbage Dump, better known as "Smoky Mountain". Below us lay the village which was home to the 15,000 people who eked out an existence at the dump.

It was early morning, around 5:45, and the sun was just coming up over Manila Bay. Aries and I had met there to pray. We were asking God to assist us and the other team members in effectively reaching these extremely poor people with the Good News of salvation in Christ.

As we prayed, an old man approached us. He had begun his day's work, scavenging at the dump. He was gathering aluminum cans but was too weak to carry many at the same time. When he asked if we would guard the cans he had already gathered while he looked for more, we gladly said yes. We continued to pray as he gathered cans.

The old man came and went with his tin cans as Aries and I discussed evangelism, discipleship and prayed. At the end of our time of prayer, the old man approached with another load of cans. Since it was now daylight I could see that he was really quite elderly.

It is respectful in parts of Asia and especially in the Philippines to ask older people their age. I greeted the man, commented on the fact that it was really something that he was up so early to work, and politely asked his age.

With a big smile, he said, "Oh, it's wonderful that you asked. Today is my birthday! I am 78 years old."

Aries and I gave him our congratulations and then broke out singing "Happy Birthday!" As we finished, we shook his hand and gave him a hug. He thanked us very much for being so kind to him on his birthday.

We then easily asked him if he was prepared to go to heaven. He didn't know what we spoke of or how to do this. We proceeded to share the Good News of salvation in Christ. After several minutes, this can-gathering, old man, this garbage dump resident, turned from his sins and in joy trusted Jesus Christ as Savior!

What a place to receive Christ-on the top of the Manila garbage dump!

The old man then invited us to his little shack to meet his family. At his home we met his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. During the next several weeks several in his family also trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. I guess you could call this event "from the dump to glory!"

All this came about as a result of a simple prayer meeting on the top of a dump and in the process guarding a few dirty cans for an old man.

Anybody could have done the same.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Poor, Abortion, and War

Should a missionary speak regarding issues that seem political? Jesus and Paul taught involvement in all of life to the glory of God. My hero, Pastor Charles Spurgeon in London, was very political on things righteous!

Years ago, I became very interested in Africa and later African-American history, slavery, and civil rights issues. Through my study it was interesting to discover that the main party of the slave states was the Democratic party. It is the same party today which is pro-gay, socialist in leanings, pro-abortion, promotes higher taxes (which causes much unemployment and poverty), and big government which still keeps people in slavery in life and dependence. There is no real love and concern for truly helping the poor, but only keeping them in poverty and throwing money at them during elections!

For example, it is interesting that the Democratic presidential nominee was a community organizer in Chicago and is a senator for the same poor area of Chicago. This area is still extremely poor, unemployable and violent, yet he and his friends have become rich!

The Democratic party is aggressively pro-abortion! This is my main concern as a missionary of the Gospel and compassionate care to needy children!

1.2 million children are estimated to be aborted annually in the USA. Since 1973, 48.5 million Americans have been aborted (the holocaust of Nazi Germany was 6 million). If we expand the view worldwide, we, as human beings, are killing 42 million humans PER YEAR. That trumps capital punishment, disease, death from malnutrition or poverty, and all wars.

Abortion has decimated blacks in America to the point where in states like New York, 9 out of 10 black pregnancies end in abortion. These statistics are not part of a conspiracy group but come from the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood (

I do not like the war in Iraq, but in compassion, if 17 are dying daily in Iraq with 3288 children aborted daily, what is the comparison? One death is tragic, but so are thousands! By the way, there were more violent deaths (123 people died from gunshot wounds) over the summer in Chicago, nearly twice the US combat death toll in Iraq over the same period (Chicago CBS TV station, World Magazine, October 18/25, 2008, p. 71). Is this not Obama’s city?

The other party (Republican) had the opportunity while it had the majority in Congress to correct many wrongs, but it seemed to instead want to win a popularity contest instead of leading and serving the country. So, the other party came into power and now we have the economic crisis caused by the Democratic party which now wants to even do away will all guidelines for shameful abortion!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Small Missions and Accountability

There are about 440 Protestant mission organizations in Canada and the USA where missionaries serve a minimum of four years. About one-fourth (121) of these missions have one to five missionaries! About 300 of the missions have 50 missionaries or fewer. Praise God for these small missions which have not let size keep them from moving forward in faith with evangelism, discipleship, and development to the masses of the world to the glory of God!

ACTION is a relatively mid-size mission of 250 members serving in 25 countries. Of the 440 international sending missions, there are 32 larger than ACTION (two at 251 to 300 missionaries, eight at 301 to 400 missionaries, eight at 401 to 600, eight at 601 to 1000, four at 1001 to 2000, none at 2001 to 3000, and two at 3000 to 4000).

The Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) was formed for organizations (not missions) in the USA. Instead of membership in ECFA, many missions are members of Cross Global Link (formerly Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association) or The Mission Exchange (formerly Evangelical Foreign Mission Association). ACTION follows the same financial guidelines as these mission networks and is also a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC), the Evangelical Alliance (UK), and the World Evangelical Association (WEA).

Most missions have not joined ECFA for several reasons: 1) it is not needed as most missions already follow ECFA guidelines, 2) all missions already have a reputable board of directors, 3) it is expensive and thus diverts funds from ministries to ECFA fees, when the donors have given for specific purposes, and 4) it is the responsibility of the board of directors to oversee the mission. Being a member of ECFA does not guarantee financial accountability; that is the role of the board.

Under the laws of the USA and Canada, each mission has a governing board of directors which enforces guidelines of operation and use of funds as required.

Some have asked why ACTION is not a member of ECFA. There are several reasons (as listed above), but one reason is how ECFA allows some of its members to use finances. For example, “. . . 30.9 percent of ECFA members spend more than 25 percent of their income on fundraising. Four members were above 50 percent, and two exceeded 70 percent” [Christianity Today editorial, May 12, 2004]. This use of funds would be completely unacceptable to donors or its trustees.

ACTION’s annual report, financial statements, independent audit, and Form 990 are available to the public on request. Specific questions are always welcome and responded to individually by the USA Director or Lead accountant.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Famous Charles

Our grandson, Douglas Charles, is now fifteen. When he was born, I asked our son, Robby, why he named him Douglas Charles. I knew where the name Douglas came from, but what about the name Charles? Robby was surprised and said, "Dad, you know. Charles Spurgeon, your hero!"

Yes, most of us have heard of Charles Spurgeon, the famous godly preacher, orphanage and pastors' college founder, author, and pastor of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle in the 1800s. However, there is another "Charles," a Charles about whom many of us have heard very little or nothing. This is Charles Loring Brace of New York City in the 1850s.

Imagine yourself a child, abandoned on the streets of New York. Your immigrant parents died on a ship on the way to America or in poverty in a city alley. You have no money and no relatives. You can't speak English, and you are left to fend for yourself.

As many as 30,000 orphans found themselves in exactly that predicament in the 1850s. They slept in alleys, huddling for warmth in boxes or metal drums. To survive, the boys mostly stole, caught rats to eat, and rummaged in garbage cans. Girls sometimes worked as "panel thieves" for prostitutes, slipping their tiny hands through camouflaged openings in walls to lift a watch or wallet from a preoccupied customer.

Immigrants were flooding New York City then, and no one had the time or money to look after the orphans—no one, that is, except Charles Loring Brace, a 26-year-old minister. Horrified by their plight, he began the foster home plan. When he ran out of homes, he organized a unique solution, the Orphan Train. The idea was simple: put hundreds of orphans on a train heading west. As the train passed through towns along the way, Christian committees brought approved Christian families to the train station to claim a new son or daughter from the Orphan Train.

By the time the last Orphan Train steamed west in 1929, between 150,000 and 200,000 children had found new homes and new lives. Some of the homes were not the best or very loving, but most of the children were taken in by families who loved and cared for them even in a day when orphans were looked down upon. Two orphans from such trains became governors, one served as a United States Congressman, and still another was a U.S. Supreme Court justice. [Source:]

Perhaps our loving God would raise up another Charles in this century to take the Gospel and compassionate care to the 10 million orphans today in Africa. If one hundred people named Charles (or Carl or Carol or Clara) took responsibility for 100,000 orphans each in Africa (as Charles Brace did), a total of 10 million would be ministered to and cared for in Jesus' name.

Is this too much to ask and trust God for? Yes, but only if God meant James 1:27 for a few orphans and not all of them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Know What the Bible Says about Life and Euthanasia

1. Human life is sacred because man is made in God’s image.
"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’" - Genesis 1:26

2. God alone is sovereign over life and death.
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." - Deut. 32:39

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

"Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139:16

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…" - Ephesians 1:11

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." - Hebrews 9:27

3. Suicide is defined as self-killing.
"Thou shall not kill." - Exodus 20:13

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." - 2 Tim 2:3

4. The human body belongs to God.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." - 1 Corinthians 6:19

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” - I Peter 4:1-2

5. Suffering can draw us closer to God.
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." - II Corinthians 1:8-9

"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - II Corinthians 12:9

6. The eternal transcends the temporal.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - II Corinthians 4:16-18

7. God's steadfast love offers us hope.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38

8. We can glorify God even in death.
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’" - Luke 23:46-47

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." - Philippians 1:20

9. Jesus Christ offers us ultimate victory over suffering."For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ - I Corinthians 15:54


Friday, October 17, 2008

Slavery Under Ideal Conditions

By Henry Bibb
Christian History, Issue 62 (Vol XVIII, No 2)

Mr. Young [a devout Methodist] never was known to flog one of his slaves or sell one. He fed and clothed them well and never overworked them. He allowed each family a small house to themselves with a little garden spot whereon to raise their own vegetables; and part of the day on Saturdays was allowed them to cultivate it.

In time, he became deeply involved in debt, and his properly was all advertised to be sold by the sheriff at public auction. It consisted of slaves, many of whom were his brothers and sisters in the [local Methodist] church.

The first man offered on the block was an old gray-headed slave by the name of Richard. When they had bid him up to 70 or 80 dollars, one of the bidders asked Mr. Young what he could do, as he looked over old and infirm? Mr. Young replied by saying, “He is not able to accomplish much manual labor, from his extreme age and hard labor in early life. Yet I would rather have him than many of those who are young and vigorous; who are able to perform twice as much labor because I know him to be faithful and trustworthy, a Christian in good standing in my church. I can trust him anywhere with confidence.”

This giving him a good Christian character caused them to run him up to near two hundred dollars. His poor old companion [his wife] stood by weeping and pleading that they might not be separated. But the marriage relation was soon dissolved by the sale, and they were separated never to meet again.

After the men were all sold they then sold the women and children. They ordered the first woman to lay down her child and mount the auction block; she refused to give up her little one and clung to it as long as she could while the cruel lash was applied to her back for disobedience. She pleaded for mercy in the name of God. But the child was torn from the arms of its mother amid the most heart-rending shrieks from the mother and child on the one hand, and the bitter oaths and cruel lashes from the tyrants on the other. In this way the sale was carried on from beginning to end.

There was each speculator with is handcuffs to bind his victims after the sale, and while they were doing their writings, the Christian portion of the slaves asked permission to kneel in prayer. While bathing each other with tears of sorrow on the verge of their final separation, their eloquent appeals in prayer to the Most High seemed to cause an unpleasant sensation upon the ears of their tyrants. They were soon raised from their knees by the sound of the lash, and the rattle of the chains, in which they were soon taken off by their respective master -- husbands from wives, and children from parents, never expecting to meet until the judgment of the great day.

Having thus tried to show the best side of slavery that I can conceive of, the reader can exercise his own judgment in deciding whether a man can be a Bible Christian and yet hold his Christian brethren as property, so that they may be sold at any time in market, as sheep or oxen, to pay his debts.

Henry Bibb (1815-1854), a fugitive slave, became a leading abolitionist. This selection is a condensed excerpt from his 1849 Narrative of the Life and Adventures of an American Slave.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Truth and Life Go Together

The desire of marketers and emergents to engage the culture is commendable. Engaging it, though, is not the same thing as capitulating to it. Missionaries know the difference. They know they can adapt to local dress and blend in by learning the language and by fitting in with the accepted rhythms of daily life. They can understand the fears and hopes of those they serve without actually embracing those hopes and fears themselves. However, the day they accept the worldview of those they work among, it is time to go home. They have nothing to say anymore.

If the evangelical church does not want to lose its voice, it will have to ensure that its engagement with postmodern culture is done biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.

They church must remember two points in particular: first, that Christianity is about truth, and second, that those who say they are Christians must model this truth by their integrity. A world without truth, postmoderns know, is an empty and dangerous place. And in a world full of hype and spin, manipulation and posturing, personal integrity is like a precious jewel. Even a little integrity goes so much further than all the technology, the country-club churches, and the big performers that can be mustered in the propagation of the biblical gospel. [Page 92]

Source: The Courage to be Protestant (Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Modern World) by David Wells, William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

ACTION: Past, Present, and Future!

by Doug Nichols

ACTION began in the Philippines in 1975 and is an international, evangelical fellowship of missionaries with main sending offices in Canada, United Kingdom, and the USA. 250 missionaries minister in 21 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

We presently need 100 additional missionaries (age 30 to 80) to work among the 3.2 million untrained pastors worldwide. We are also trusting God for 120 additional missionaries (age 21 to 70) to minister the Gospel and compassionate care to 160 million street children and 143 million orphans throughout the world.

Seeing the people, He (Jesus) felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:36-38, nasb).

Friday, October 3, 2008

As a Christian, do you walk around naked?

In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul says we are to take off our filthy sinful garments and put on the clothing of Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). Are we so dressed?

We are to put on nine pieces of Christ-like clothing. Look at the three in verse 12,” … compassion, kindness, … gentleness.”

Is this how you are dressed? Are you kind (good) to your family, your neighbors, teenagers, children, Muslims, and to non-Christians? Do you show compassion? Are you gentle and kind to others?

If not, we are standing before the world naked, and most of us do not look too good. Let us clothe ourselves with the garments of Christ, to show and share the Gospel, and He will draw people to Himself!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What is the Social Gospel?

Is there such a thing as social gospel? The Gospel stands alone. It is a message of salvation of good news of salvation in Christ alone, salvation by God’s grace by faith in Him through Christ alone! (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) (John 14:6)

As believers in Christ alone for our salvation, we are then to live out the Gospel in obedience to Christ who said if we love Him, we are to obey Him (John 14:15). Good works are not the Gospel (as the Gospel stands alone), but are the results of the Gospel (Ephesians 2: 8-10).