September 29, 2016
Heartfelt, grateful greetings,
I want to open this update with a sincere thank you for your prayers and ongoing support for IOM associate missionaries. In August, Ronald Gray (IOM Board member and Director of Mission Support) and I took a 25,000+ mile trip where we fellowshipped, shared the Scriptures, and prayed with some of these “faith” heroes. Our journey included stops in multiple cities in Cambodia and China. These faithful servants are joyfully following Jesus in some of the most difficult places in the world, doing work that is as spiritually challenging as it is emotionally draining. Yet we can joyfully report that we found them mostly in good spirits, excited about all the Lord is doing in their midst. Thank you for supporting their efforts.
One of the things I’m always impressed with when visiting IOM Associates is their willingness to use their gifts, whatever they are, to share the love of Jesus in environments that often seem frightening and desperate. I’m reminded of the young man David, who used what he had in his hand—five smooth stones—to attack and conquer a similarly frightening enemy who had everyone else trembling. This story from 1 Samuel (chapter 17, verses 40-49, NLT) is both challenging and encouraging:
“He [David] picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.”
Today, IOM “giant killers” are using their “smooth stones” to confront an assortment of evil “giants” opposed to the purpose of God. Instead of slings and rocks, they deliver and demonstrate by word and deed the good news of God’s redemptive love and forgiveness. As they call people to experience God’s grace, they are seeing giants fall and God victorious. Like them, we are called to take what we have—our smooth stones—and diminish with God’s love the darkness in our own communities. That mission belongs to every disciple of Jesus.
Your involvement with IOM missionaries is crucial to their success; they cannot do what they do without you. So let me close by again thanking you for your ongoing financial support and prayers for IOM Associates and for those of us serving them. Though I consider the opportunity to visit these heroes a privilege, extended trips away from home, journey’s in and out of airports and airplanes through multiple time zones, and the stress that comes from hectic schedules can be wearisome. Knowing that people are praying for us, and a deep awareness of the grace of God, makes these kinds of trips much more tolerable. Your prayerful support really matters and we appreciate it.
Your fellow servant,