i am extremely grateful to The Lord for His constant provision, and all of the blessings He supplied in 2009. My "tent-making" job is still working as a private English tutor for foreigners, and He has brought me to the place where - to His praise - i have more work available than i can actually do! He has faithfully provided me with enough work that about two months ago i was able to move into a new apartment right by our fellowship, and right next door to the apartment complex in which the refugees that we're ministering to live. God Is Good! at times i certainly do feel the crunch between working and trying to stay up on the ministry things, but God's grace has been sufficient. This month, i am now stepping out and cutting back on some of my tutoring work in order to devote more time to the ministry, trusting that The Lord will surely provide as He has promised and has shown His faithfulness countless times in the past. By His grace, i am devoting myself more fully to studying His word, to studying languages, and to being more diligent in the labor He has set before me.
Many of you have wondered about what i'm doing now, and so here's an overview of the different ministries that The Lord has allowed me to be part of:
Beslan: i still keep in touch with some of my friends from Beslan, sometimes by calling them, by sending mail/gifts, and also by a Russian website which is kind of like myspace. On Christmas day, one of the dear moms in Beslan - Irina - called to say hi and wish me a Merry Christmas. Those who have been with me over the years may recall having read about Irina (or "Ira" for short) in past updates. Irina is a very strong believer who was one of the hostages during the Beslan terrorist attack along with two of her sons; sadly, the older son (whom i think was around 10) was killed. Just to hear Irina's voice and the things she said when she called were a blessed reminder of the joy that our Lord has enabled us to bring them through the time spent there in Beslan. Irina said to pass on her greetings to those who remember her, and so, "Greetings!" i wish you could one day meet her... she is an amazing woman of God, and full of life and joy despite the sorrow she has lived through and still must deal with daily.
Refugee Ministry: Each month, our fellowship partners with a local church of Chinese believers and we host a Friday evening Community Night for the many refugees that live close to our building. The refugees are from several different nations, some of which include : Burma/Myanmar, Nepal, Congo, and Iraq. For the most part, this is a 'mercy ministry' in that we seek to provide them with food and clothing and things which can help them as they begin and adjust to new lives here in Pittsburgh. And as The Lord provides opportunity, we speak forth about the love of Jesus with them; the last refugee night, our pastor (Kevin Mallon) shared the Christmas story with them from the Gospel of Luke. Many of the refugees are believers, but many of them are not - some are Hindu, and many are Muslim.
*English Lessons for Iraqi Refugees: At the request of one of the Iraqi refugees, i last week began a weekly English lesson for them on Sunday afternoons. The mom is here with her son, whom i believe is about 14, and in talking with the mom, you can see that she has been through a lot and is still really struggling in her new life here in the US. One of the other Iraqi moms will be joining the lessons this coming Sunday. This is a great door into their lives, and pray that The Lord brings many opportunities to tell them about the Messiah, Jesus. The good thing is that they have said they will also help teach me Arabic, and so, 'conveniently,' i will bring my Arabic Bible to ask them to 'help me read' certain verses and parts of Scripture! (Actually, it's also true that i do need to improve my Arabic pronunciation and reading skills, but you know what i'm talking about!) When i was at their apartment last week, i had a real flashback to the days The Lord blessed me to spend in Jerusalem, for in the middle of our lesson, the mom's computer broadcast one of the daily Muslim prayers out loud. The prayer is sung and semi-chanted, and it goes on for a few minutes; those of you who have been in Israel or other places where the daily prayers are broadcast in the streets know the rather eerie and chilling effect the prayer has.
Bible Studies: Most Friday evenings i lead a Bible study at my friends' (Manny and Marilyn Mance) home, and i really enjoy the small group atmosphere and fellowship we have together... and of course her great dinners!
*We resume our teen Bible study in a few weeks - we meet two Saturday nights a month, and are going through 1 John.
*One Saturday evening a month, i hold a Bible study at my apartment; the group is called, "The Sharpening Process," and the concept is taken from Proverbs which speaks of iron sharpening iron. We are currently going through 1 Peter, and The Lord has really blessed these first few meetings.
Music: A brother of mine (Dan Evans) in the Lord and i have been writing music over the past year and a half or so, and by His grace we are moving along in our CD project. Lyrically, we have tunes dealing with Christ's return, false doctrine, abortion, Israel, and so forth. Musically, it's rather different/unique as it combines rock, rap, and some acoustic and funk influences. Additionally, i’ve been writing some solo music over the past few months.
New Believer's Class: A few weeks back, Yah blessed me to speak at a Christian youth conference, and He reminded me of the need for people to get grounded in the faith once they've made the decision. Sadly, too often we work night and day to introduce people to The Savior, but once 'they're in,' we many times fail to ground them; then persecution and whatever else comes along, and you know the deal. Several years back, a missionary said something like the following: 'When you lead someone to Christ, you are as responsible for their growth as a parent is for their newborn child.' Wow! Now of course i'm not getting into the weird 'shepherding' movements which become like cults, but i mean this: we most certainly do have a very real and very serious responsibility to help new believers become grounded in the word of God. And so, next Sunday the 10th, i'll be leading a weekly New Testament read-through on Sunday afternoons with the aim being to get new brothers and sisters grounded in His word, and also to be a reminder-class for those of us who have been in the family for a long time. We will be simply reading The New Testament together, and we'll have times included for discussion, questions, applications, and so forth.
*Biblical Hebrew for Beginners: A few people asked if i'd start a Hebrew class, and after some time praying and thinking about it, we began a few weeks ago and it's been great! i don't present myself as any kind of scholar, but to The Lord's praise, He has enabled me to have studied over the years so as to be able to teach beginning Hebrew. On January 10th, we're starting the 'official' beginning of the class, and all are welcome (Sunday evenings from 6-7PM). Our focus is on beginning Biblical Hebrew, and from the get-go you will be introduced to actual Hebrew in/from The Bible. Maybe you're thinking that learning Hebrew would be too hard for you; well, it certainly is difficult in some respects, but last week a sister brought her young son (who is perhaps 9) along with her, and even he was learning some of the letters very well and asking rather deep questions for his first exposure to the language! You simply have to have the desire to learn, and you ask God for wisdom, put your hand to the task, and you'd be surprised what He will bless you to learn!
*Bible reading: Each Sunday evening at 7PM we have Bible reading at Calvary Chapel of Pittsburgh, and we are currently reading through Exodus.
As always, you can drop by truthproclamation.org
for music, Bible studies, and so forth. And if you're in/near Pittsburgh and would like more info on any of the studies or what-not, please feel free to e-mail or call me (412-853-9845).
Most of all, please keep me in prayer as i serve Him. i thank Him for all the ministry He has opened up, and at the same time, desire most of all to daily be sitting at His Feet, listening to His word and worshiping Him. Many of you have shared in God's work in my life over the years, and i so appreciate that. i am thankful for the advice, the encouragement, the gifts, but most of all - the prayers. In my life personally, there have been numerous high and low points over these past few months - yes, believe it or not, those in ministry really are just normal people with normal failures and weaknesses! But God Is Faithful. And The God Who can use me can use you as well; and The God Who can use you can use me as well... all He needs is our willing hearts. i too have good days and bad ones, joy and tears, encouragement and discouragement, success and frustration, and faith as well as fear. Please pray for me that i stay true, in pure and simple devotion to Christ. i thank God that others come to me for advice and help, but also realize the great responsibility that brings with it, and so pray for wisdom and discernment and that i might continually have a godly life and example both in private as well as in public. Thank you so very much for your share in all this ministry as well - it is thus more accurate to say that this e-mail represents what The Lord has us involved with. For who and what am i? Only someone longing to serve God's purpose in my generation, and then that's it"¦ i'm outta’ here!
A last few things: i've been reading a book about George Muller, as well as a book written by Frank and Marie Drown (who served in Ecuador close to and with some of the missionaries that were martyred there many, many years ago). Awesome stuff - and you should check them out!
And these Scriptures have lately been ministering to me, and so it's my joy to pass them on to you:
1 Samuel 2:30
We have before us a new year, and we can make a renewed commitment to Him.
Come Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace to you dear brothers and sisters in Messiah!