December 2019 Prayer Letter

As we head into the Christmas season, we are so thankful again to be reminded of just how much God loved us in sending His Son Jesus to Earth. It’s a special time to celebrate as Christians, and we certainly hope all of you will have a very blessed Christmas season.

As for us, we couldn’t be more excited about taking the gospel to Chile, and we hope to be doing that fairly soon! These past few months, God has been so good to us in giving us several new supporting churches. We’ve been overwhelmed by the speed at which our support has suddenly increased, as we are now over 30% of our needed amount (And who knows, by the time you get this, it may be even more)! We’re praying that if God will allow, that the rest will come in within the next year so that we can leave for the field. It may sound like a big request, but with God, nothing is impossible. Would you consider partnering with us so that we can reach Chile with the gospel? And if we aren’t scheduled to be in your church, would you consider having us in to present the ministry?

On another note, while we’ve been elated at how God has been providing, we were also devastated this month by the news that Leslie’s mom has stage 4 cancer. When her parents went to the doctor originally, there was somewhat of a misunderstanding, and they believed that radiation and chemo would be able to treat her completely. As shocking as it was to find out that the cancer was more advanced than they thought, she’s undergoing treatments and there is still hope. We’re praying she will make a full recovery, and we know that God has her in His hands and that we serve the Great Physician. We also rejoice that she knows that as well and has trusted in Jesus Christ for her salvation. Come what may, our hope is in Him.

Please continue to pray for us as we travel. God has been so good to us and we are thankful for HIs provision. Thank you all for your continued support, both in prayers and finances. May God richly bless you, and have a Merry Christmas!

Saying Goodbye to Dolly

Last week started off extremely well as we heard back from a church in New Jersey that voted to begin partnering with us in the ministry! I was so excited to receive that text from the pastor, knowing our reaching Chile with the gospel just got that much closer. We’re still praying God will provide the rest of our funds within the next year, and we believe He will do so.

As I read that text, I was sitting in our Toyota Highlander in Florida (It was parked, in case you’re wondering). Little did I know that this vehicle was about to breathe her last the very next day as we drove to Pensacola. Having just crossed the Escambia Bay moments before, she summoned all her strength to pass one more truck before blowing her engine. We had her transported to the shop, and a few days later, we received news that she was too far gone to salvage.

It was a sad day as we went to clean her out. Dolly (This was the name Leslie had given her before we got married) took us as far north as Maine and as far west as Texas in her brief year on deputation. We packed her up so many times we had it down to a science. She did a great job for us in the time we had her.

Since we’re approaching Thanksgiving and it is a time to be thankful, I will say how good God was in allowing us to break down just two miles from where we were supposed to be staying, so we weren’t stranded out in the middle of nowhere between meetings. I’m also thankful that He’s been providing so that we were able to put back money month by month in the event that this happened, so it didn’t take us completely by surprise. He is truly so good to us.

As to an update about our deputation travels, we were in Florida this past week or so getting to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ who are doing a great job serving Him. We’ll be more local over Christmastime, staying mainly in the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia. We’re excited to be able to spend Thanksgiving with Leslie’s family in a few days.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We pray you all have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to your December. It’s hard to believe we only have one month left in 2019!

Until next time.

Our Current Support Level and an Update on Leslie’s Mom’s Cancer

*Written on November 14, 2019*

Many new happenings are taking place as we approach Thanksgiving!

First things first. As you may have read a couple of weeks ago, we found out that Leslie’s mom has cancer and were unsure what would happen going forward. We want to thank several of you who have reached out to let us know you were praying for her, and we’re excited to say that the cancer has not spread, and that the doctors believe that with chemo and radiation, they can get it all! This is a huge relief to us, and while nothing is ever a sure thing, this was about as good as the news could be for us right now. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue praying as you think of her and us.

Further below, I’ll mention where we are on our monetary support, but I wanted to say thank you to the churches that have had us in recently. We’re in the South for the winter, and we’ve had a wonderful time in the Carolina’s, Georgia, and Florida. In one church we were in, I was able to reconnect with an old college friend of mine, Craig Howard. It’s always exciting when I see people with whom I went to college serving the Lord.

Just last night, we got to be in a meeting with some friends of ours from Vision who are going to China! Andy and Lily Smith have recently started deputation and are doing a wonderful job together. If you’re interested in having a missionary to China come into your church, their information can be found at: https://thatchinamayknow.com.

As I alluded to earlier, God has been richly blessing our deputation lately and we’ve received several new partners in the ministry! A couple of Sundays ago, the church we were in that morning voted to partner with us in reaching Chile with the gospel. “We’ve got an empty spot on the wall over there that we need to fill,” the pastor said, pointing to framed pictures of their supported missionaries. Our hearts were filled with joy as we left, knowing we were that much closer to Chile.

Then, this morning, my phone rang, and a pastor’s name from a church we were in a couple of months ago popped up on the screen. I picked it up and, after greeting one another, he told me the church’s Faith Promise offerings had just gone above and beyond what he had anticipated. “Well, that’s great! Good for them!” I said, genuinely happy for the direction the church is going. “Well, actually, good for you,” he responded. “We just voted last night to take you all on for support.” You can imagine my excitement!

These two commitments, along with several others, have propelled us beyond the 30% mark of our needed support, and the number keeps rising! We’ve been so elated by how many pastors and churches we’ve heard back from recently, and we want to say thank you to all who have just taken us on or those who have already been supporting us for some months now. We know God is doing something great, and we can actually feel the momentum shifting in our favor.

To those who may not have taken us on yet, would you consider partnering with us so that we can reach our support goal within the next year? I truly believe that with God’s help, it is completely possible. Also, if we aren’t scheduled to be in your church, we’d love to come by sometime and present the ministry God has given us to Chile.

Lastly, over the past couple of months, I had mentioned the World Evangelism Fellowship at Vision Baptist Church. I’m happy to report that several pastors, assistant pastors, and laymen in churches across America came to be challenged in the area of world missions. It was such a blessing to see pastors whose churches we’ve been in and to reconnect with one another. If you weren’t able to make it this year but would like to come next year, the dates are November 9-10th, 2020.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for us. We’re so immensely blessed. Until next time!

Please Pray for Leslie’s Mom

*This post was originally written on October 28th, 2019*

Chile has been in the news lately, but more on that in a minute.

I usually like to keep our updates as upbeat as possible, including the titles of the emails, because we are truly loving the life God has given us and are seeing Him work in great ways. However, we were blindsided about a week and a half ago with the news that Leslie’s mom Lisa has cancer. We had known that was a possibility and were praying it would not be the case, but God has seen fit to allow it to be so for now. She’s supposed to go tomorrow to find out how advanced it is and what the next steps should be. We’re praying it will not be too serious and that it will be resolved quickly by God’s grace. She is trusting in the Lord and resting in His perfect peace, whatever may come.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been in several churches and a couple of missions conferences, and we’ve loved every minute of it. At Cornerstone Baptist Church in New Hampshire, we got to be a part of one of my favorite outreach events so far, the Pumpkin Regatta. It’s a fall event in which many locals bring the pumpkins they’ve grown so they can be weighed in a competition. There are also several booths that people set up to sell various items, and we set one up for the church where the kids could play games and we could talk to the adults. It had a small-town feel to it that we really loved.

Also, the results of having travelled for about a month, with the generosity of God’s people (and they really are incredibly generous to us) are evidenced by our packing below:

Many of you may have heard of recent protests in Chile due to rising public transportation costs, among other things. Things got so out of control that the military was called in to squelch the rioting, and I was sad to see Chile’s falling into a state of disarray that I never witnessed in the time I was there. However, I’m happy to report that things are returning back to normal, though the damage will take time to repair.

While the political and civil situation in a country may fluctuate, we know that in the end, King Jesus prevails. However, many of these same Chileans are woefully unprepared to stand before Him, having never accepted Him as their personal Savior. That is why we must go and why we cannot wait to get there. We’d love to see Chile turned upside-down for Him in such a way that, as the world could not ignore this, so it could not ignore Jesus’ saving power in the lives of Chile’s citizens.

And, speaking of the world, our World Evangelism Fellowship at Vision is coming up next week. Many great men of God will be speaking, and Leslie and I are excited to be there for it. If you are not registered to attend and would like to, here is the link: https://visionmissions.org/world-evangelism-fellowship/.

Thank you all again for your prayers and continued support. We’re happy to report that God has given us a wonderful month or so with several new supporters. Each one leads us closer to Chile, and for that we are so grateful.

Until next time!

Many “New” Things

Post originally written October 15th:

Fall is in the air (and I have the allergies to prove it)! We’re currently in New York, and I’ll admit I was a bit nervous this past Sunday that my voice wouldn’t hold up throughout the day, but God was very good and gave me the strength to preach His Word. I paid the price yesterday and am still recovering today, but I’m praying it gets better before our missions conference in New Hampshire this week.

God has been so good to us these last few days and weeks. This morning, we received word of a new supporter in Pennsylvania, which marks our first in that state! A few days ago, we also heard from a church whose missions conference we were in in Alabama (You may remember I requested prayer for Pastor Vaughan and his wife) that they too voted to partner with us in reaching Chile with the gospel!

These past couple of weeks have been exciting. From being home in Georgia for a few days, to going to Maryland and New York for meetings and missions conferences, we’ve had a wonderful time meeting God’s people.

As a side note, I loved this statement written behind the pulpit from which I preached last Wednesday night:

Pastors (and anybody interested in missions), we have an exciting brand new event next month at Vision. The World Evangelism Fellowship is from November 4-5 in Alpharetta, Georgia, and is a conference in which we’ll discuss the need around the world and how to get the gospel to them. I’d like to invite you to come. Among others, one of my personal favorites, Dr. Don Sisk, will be there. The registration link is here: https://visionmissions.org/world-evangelism-fellowship/.

Also, for those interested in missions, get your new year started right by coming to our annual Our Generation Conference (Formerly known as the Summit) on January 2-4, 2020! It will be held in Buford, Georgia, and is a great opportunity to learn more about your part in world evangelism. Here is the link to register for that conference: https://visionmissions.org/ogc2020/.

As always, thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Lord willing, we are headed to New Hampshire tomorrow for a missions conference. We’re excited about all God has done and is still doing, and are praying He will continue providing support so that we can look in the near future at setting a definite date for our departure.

Until next time!

240 Years and Going Strong!

Don’t ask how I did it, but somehow I scheduled us to be in Texas a week and a half after we were in Pennsylvania (It was not originally supposed to go that way). But it’s actually worked out very well for us inasmuch as one of the churches we were in yesterday has already voted to take us on, and the pastor in the other one told me he’d been praying for a missionary to South America!

“I prayed and prayed, and nobody called. I had about given up and on a Friday, I told the Lord, ‘If you want one, you’ll have to bring them to us.’ And the very next day, you called me.” This story reveals to me that God answers prayer even when we don’t see the answer forthcoming, and He does have our support out there as long as we are faithful to pursue it.

Before we came to Texas, we managed to stop into our home in Georgia and present the ministry to a sweet church in South Carolina. The pastor there has undergone some serious health problems because of a fall at work, but it was an encouragement to see his still trusting God through it all.

Yesterday in Texas, we were invited to eat at the pastor’s house for lunch. When we pulled up, lo and behold, there were goats in his backyard! Those of you who saw our April video know that I really like goats because, for whatever reason, they crack me up.

It’s the little things in life.

Finally, I’m so excited to say that our home church, Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church, celebrated its 240th birthday yesterday. What a blessing to see what God has done down through the years in the church in which I grew up! The work that men and women in the 1700’s were faithful to begin is still going strong today.

Perhaps the man who started the church never could have imagined that it would have a far-reaching impact throughout the world, but every missionary sent out of Buffalo Ridge somehow connects back to him and that original congregation. Someday, Lord willing, many Chileans will hear the gospel because this man was faithful to fulfill the call of God on his life 240 years ago.

Stay faithful to God, my brothers and sisters. We never know who will still be reaping the rewards centuries from now.

Eternal Dreams

I would have sent this update earlier but we were in the car most of the day heading home to Georgia from Colonial Heights, Virginia. We just finished a wonderful week in Pennsylvania and Virginia in three churches, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. We always have such a good time and certainly hope to return to all of these churches at some point in the future.

On the way to church Sunday morning, we passed through Washington, D.C., and saw the Capitol building. This was a very neat experience because I’d only seen it once before and Leslie had never seen it.

But it reminded me of something. It reminded me of the dreams I used to have for myself, dreams of entering the political world and one day becoming the President of the United States. I’m so thankful God changed those dreams to put something much more eternal in my heart.

Perhaps God is working in your heart about the things of eternity, and I urge you to let Him use your life in whatever way He sees fit. It may be to be a sender here in the States, or it may be to be a missionary overseas. Either way, the life He has set forward for us is much more fulfilling and rewarding than the life we could ever design for ourselves.

And we certainly love the life He’s given us. Thank you all for your support and kindness to us as we’ve visited your church. We can’t express the love God has given us for our Christian brothers and sisters that we have met. One thing that thrills our heart when a church partners with us for support is knowing that we will get to see those brothers and sisters there again in the future, if the Lord allows.

To me, that beats working on Capitol Hill any day.

To the North (Again!)

“I have to teach about Isobel Kuhn, whoever that is.” Leslie looked at me for at least some kind of hint.

I had read Kuhn’s book By Searching a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. “She was this missionary somewhere,” I said, not really remembering exactly where. “You should read her book; it’s great.”

Thus began Leslie’s first experience teaching the young ladies at the Our Generation Training Center. As it turns out, she did do her research on Isobel Kuhn and worked hard putting together a good lesson. I can’t wait to hear her do it someday in Spanish!

This past Wednesday, we presented the ministry to Chile in Easley, South Carolina (We’ve been to that area several times lately and are becoming Pickens/Easley/Six Mile regulars). Then, on Friday morning, we embarked on the journey from Georgia to Maryland at 6 AM and made it just in time to share dinner with a pastor and his family (whom we grew to love) that evening. We have thoroughly enjoyed the couple of times we’ve been up North. God has been blessing our travels and giving us safety on the road. We will be in Pennsylvania for another week and we are excited to see which of our brothers and sisters in Christ God will allow us to meet next.

However, while we love what we get to do, our ultimate goal is to see Chile and the world reached with the gospel. Would you consider partnering with us so that we can get to the field quickly?

Pictured below: God allows us to see the most beautiful things as we travel around America presenting the ministry to Chile.

Thank you to all who have been so kind to us. We’ve loved those we’ve met and can’t wait to meet those we haven’t. Until next time!

Our First Marriage Retreat

This month we attended the first of what we hope will be many marriage retreats over the course of our lifetime. In years gone by, I’ve watched everybody else go to these, and it was nice to finally be able to participate in one of them together. We learned so many invaluable things that we are sure will help our marriage going forward.

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The retreat ended on Saturday and we somehow found ourselves in Pennsylvania the next day for a couple of meetings (It was quite a drive to get there, but we made it!). I’ve only been to Pennsylvania one other time that I remember, when I was a young boy, so it was neat to go back as an adult and to be so close to the memorials of our nation’s founding. It was especially great, however, to meet our brothers and sisters in Christ who are serving Him several hours away, and who treated us with such great kindness.

From Alabama, to Georgia, to North Carolina, to South Carolina, to Pennsylvania, to Tennessee, to Virginia-this month has been packed. We’re getting into a season of our lives right now where we’re not able to come home as often, but we’re excited about that because it means we’re out making our way closer and closer to Chile! God has been so good to keep our cars running and providing everything we need. Please continue to pray that we will be a witness everywhere we go and that God will use us on deputation to bring glory to His name.

 

In Which We Go to Texas

“What are you doing to grow right now?” This question was asked to all of us at the Vision Baptist Missions Orientation, which was held at the Wild’s Christian Camp midway through the month. Orientation is a special time to come apart and be with all of our other missionary friends at Vision, and it was truly a refreshing and encouraging time for the two of us midway through the month of May. This question really hit home because it’s so easy to get caught up in getting to Chile that it’s easy to overlook how we could be growing and being used of God even now, on deputation. He has us right where He wants us, and we are truly loving it.

Orientation was barely over before we found ourselves in our little Honda Accord headed to Texas.

What an exciting trip that was! I whooped in excitement as we crossed the Texas line. For those who have never been to Texas, let me just say: You can actually feel the freedom when you cross the state line. I just love it. It was great to spend a week there with a supporting church, as well as to present the ministry to Chile in another church.

On top of gaining several new supporters, we also received various blessings from individuals who wanted to give in many different ways. Any time we seem unsure how God’s going to handle a need that arises, He always comes through on our behalf. One thing we are learning through the process of deputation is that God will truly take care of His children. It may not be how we envisioned (Actually, it rarely is), but we can truly say, as did the psalmist, that the Lord is our shepherd, and we shall not want.

Please pray that God will continue to use us on deputation to bring glory to Him and to see souls saved even as we travel. Pray that He will provide our needed support to leave for Chile as soon as possible.

God bless each and every one of you!