Greetings Fellow Workers,
We continue to remember you all in our prayers, thanking God for His Church and our salvation in Him. We thank you all for your part in God's mission work through the TZ2000 mission effort. We solicit your prayers as I make plans to return to TZ on the 22nd and for Stephanie and her mother. Exel will have surgery on the 16th and if the Lord wills, they will return to TZ sometime in March.
Below is a wonderful story of God's plan unfolding and changing the lives of many through His grace and mercy and by the obedience of His saints.
“Jimmy And Tanzania”
No, Jimmy’s not from Tanzania, he never traveled there but he did hear a lot about Tanzania. And as I reflect on our time together and how I got to this moment in my life, Tanzania did play a huge role in Jimmy obeying the Gospel. I always heard from those that went on mission trips that it would change your life and indeed every year I travel to Tanzania, something happens that indelibly changes my daily walk with God. I could write a chapter or two on just those experiences but this story is about Jimmy. We had just returned from our third trip to Tanzania and it had been a couple of months and I was literally having withdrawals from not having a bible study. I talked with Rod Minor, our minister of evangelism, and he told me he had a study set up but at that time he was overwhelmed and if I could take it, it would certainly help him. Little did I know how it would be a pivotal point in my life. I began the study with Jimmy, his uncle, already a Christian and a cousin but from the first study, you could tell Jimmy was yearning for the truth. After a few weeks of the Jewel Miller Video’s, Jimmy thought he was going to have his knees replaced. Although he was only 51, Jimmy had already had a pretty rough life. He told me he had served two stints in California Prisons for selling drugs, was a recovering alcoholic and after having been burned in a car accident that left him severely disabled, he was still addicted to prescription pain killers. So we changed the study to one I had been using in Tanzania, “Back to the Bible” chain reference that was originated by the Northwest Church of Christ in Lawton, Oklahoma. And here is my confession; I had fantastic bible teachers throughout my formative years, but the one thing I had never been taught was a method to actually teach the essentials of salvation, and for me, this one just hit home and was the method I needed to use. Back to Jimmy; Jimmy was eager, after the first half and we finished with the need for baptism. Jimmy wanted to put Christ on in baptism. He did, week after week, as we continued to study, he would read his Bible all week and when we met, he wanted to read from his Bible and ask a number of questions. Because of his disability, he couldn’t drive but he was regular in his attendance. A couple from church would pick him up, several miles north of town, and bring him in for services. It was the end of the year and we had missed a couple of weekly studies and the couple got the flu and Jimmy had missed a couple of weeks. I don’t know why but I got up and was getting ready for church on January 10th and I thought of Jimmy and wondered if he needed a ride. I don’t know to this day why I thought of him but I did and after a simple call, I was off to pick him up. From the minute he was in the car, I could tell he was agitated and throughout our conversation, Jimmy was struggling with a lot of issues in his personal life. I assured him church was the best placed to be and he agreed. I mentioned the fellowship meal was after services and he said on the way that he just wanted to go back home because he needed to make some important decisions. As I was greeting people at the back after services, Jimmy caught me; you could tell he was different; calmer, more in control and a little at peace. Worshiping God can do that for you. Jimmy had decided to stay for dinner. During our conversations that morning, Jimmy told me he wanted to do two things; he wanted to learn the Bible well enough so he could teach others that had been in similar circumstances the love of God and he wanted to see his mother, who was very ill in California. He just needed a little help to get to Missouri, where his daughter could drive him there. The church paid the bus ticket and Jimmy was gone that night. I’ll never see Jimmy again. Jimmy never made it to California, he passed away during then night of February 5th and coincidentally his mother passed away that same night. Jimmy’s not with us on this earth but I am convinced he is with his Father in Heaven. No struggles with drugs, no temptation to drink and he’s not fighting the constant infections and pain he lived with for so long. It was Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s grace that saved Jimmy, but it was my experience in Tanzania that helped me share the love of God with him. We read the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and Mark 16 but are we acting on it? Are we teaching our children and grandchildren how to live the Great Commission, Deut. 6:4-9. For me, it took going to Tanzania to get enough confidence to teach it in my own backyard. So sad but yet so true. But, as I reflect on that fateful Sunday, and that lone phone call that would give me my last few hours with my Christian Brother Jimmy, James 4:17 still floods my mind, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” I wonder how many Jimmy’s will come into our life that we miss. What will it take for you to share God’s love? (As reported by Brad Whinery, one of the Elders serving the Second & Adams Church in Elk City, OK).
To God be the glory, great things He continues to do!