Archive for the ‘Lectureship’ category

2023 Florida School of Preaching Lectureship

January 21, 2023

The church is different from the world, and so it should be in so many ways. Martha and I were privileged to attend this year’s Florida School of Preaching lectures (January 16-19, 2023). It is always pleasant to be among the caliber of Christians who assemble for such occasions.

One facet of the communal gather of saints this week must be reflective of the masses to be in Heaven. Several ethnicities or races came together without notice of those incidental differences. Likewise, various nations were represented, too – also without distinction. Surely, of such races and nations will Heaven be comprised (Revelation 7:9-10).

I’ve found it largely so overseas as well. Races are politically divided in Guyana, South America. However, inside the church, it does not matter whether someone is of African, of East Indian or of Amerindian descent. We are brethren (Genesis 13:8Hebrews 13:1).

Burma or Myanmar in Asia is made up of tribal peoples, who historically hated and even warred against each other. Inside the Lord’s church, though maybe with tears (I have witnessed personally), Christians love and labor with each other because of Jesus Christ in them.

Martha and I were edified and encouraged in so many ways from the all day, everyday lectures. In addition, it was good to renew old acquaintances and meet other brethren for the first time. Just imagine the reunion with dear brethren and the awesome opportunity to meet other brethren from across the ages when we arrive in Heaven!

Somerville, Tennessee

January 23, 2017

96-dpi-4x6-martha-louis-somerville-tnToday (Monday, January 23), Martha and I attended the first annual mission workshop hosted by the Somerville, TN Church of Christ. We set up a display to represent publications (books, magazines and tracts) of World Evangelism as well as our foreign mission labors. It was also my privilege to be one of the speakers, during which I made my PowerPoint presentation “2016 World Evangelism Media & Missions.”

Beginning at 10 a.m., the program continued through 4 p.m. Dozens of missionaries and interested brethren assembled to encourage each other and update one another about our mission activities. It was an uplifting and encouraging day. Even lunch was a “working lunch” as three speakers spoke while the rest of us munched sandwiches and chips and slurped soup, before crowning mealtime with delicious desserts. Numerous speakers in the auditorium were followed by an open forum and a panel discussion.

Early tomorrow, Lord willing, Martha and I will fly from Memphis, TN to Miami, FL to Georgetown, Guyana, South America. We intend to speak in the annual nationwide Guyana seminars; to date, 14 venues throughout the 10 regions have been confirmed. We will be there through March 9 before returning to the USA.

May God be glorified in all that we and others like us attempt in service of our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, we hope to contribute to the edification of all who we encounter. We covet the prayers of the saints.

We’re Outta Here!

January 21, 2017

Working feverishly in so many different directions simultaneously, well, we’re outta here anyway. Over the past few days, I finished preparing for printing Volume 91 of our quarterly religious journal The Voice of Truth International; its files are available now for printing companies in several nations. We established a cloud-based transmission portal that enabled, for instance, VOTI 91 files to be viewed instantly in India. Now, attention must soon be directed toward the production of Volume 92. The team effort to do this will require nearly a quarter to complete.

I’m sorry to say, “Something had to give!” We simply could not get everything done in a timely fashion. Gospel Gazette Online for January 2017 is not ready, and it will not be published for several days yet. Nevertheless, Lord willing, we will get back on schedule with the production of Gospel Gazette Online as soon as possible.

96-dpi-8x10-martha-guyana-shipment-1Triaging everything, it was finally time to devote the bulk of our available time to finishing preparation of our lessons for overseas in Guyana, South America. At least minimally, Martha and I are prepared, finally! Next, we directed our attention to packing our bags.

96-dpi-8x10-martha-guyana-shipment-2However, before leaving Winona, MS on Friday, January 20, brother Jerry Bates and we packed, marked, stacked and made a manifest for an upcoming shipment, chiefly of literature, to churches of Christ throughout Guyana. We amassed nearly 2,000 pounds or about two pallets. The first opportunity, though, for Martha and me to haul this freight to a shipping agent in Nashville, TN probably won’t be until late April or May 2017.

Late Friday afternoon, Martha and I departed Winona and traveled northward along I-55 toward Memphis, TN. We attempted to meet our daughter Rebecca at Cheddar’s, only to find it is no longer in business! So, we scurried into JC Penny and unceremoniously used it for a much needed “rest area.” Hello, Cracker Barrel—always a favorite of mine.

Lord’s Day, it will be my privilege to speak three times for the Collierville, TN Church of Christ. Monday, we will attend a Mission Workshop in Somerville, TN, where it will be my pleasure to participate. Early Tuesday morning, the plan is to board the first of two flights in Memphis, TN, as we wing our way to Georgetown, Guyana, South America. So far, we have 14 confirmed venues at which Martha will be teaching ladies and at which I will be speaking to men, women, children and whatever else hops in, flies through or otherwise makes its presence known. We can hardly wait; I cherish the opportunity annually to spend precious time with dear brethren in all 10 regions of the country. Martha and I are scheduled to return to the USA on March 9. The following two weeks from then will take us to congregations of the Lord’s church in Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida. Whew! I’m tired already just pondering it all.

96-dpi-8x10-martha-collierville-cabinBy the way, there’s been no time for a honeymoon since Martha and I wed on New Year’s Day. We did stop by an old, old cabin—with no electricity and lacking a mattress atop the bed’s rope lattice. No toilet either, and no running water. The real reason, though, that we did not rent it is because it sits in the town square of Collierville, TN as an exhibit. Honeymoon, maybe later! Just perhaps I can convince Martha that trekking through the jungles of South America, riding fast boats up humongous rivers and cloud hopping in teeny airplanes classifies as a honeymoon to remember.

“Thank you” to the many brothers and sisters in Christ who either help us along our way stateside and abroad or extend to us moral encouragement and offer precious prayers on our behalf. To Jesus Christ our Lord and all of the Godhead be the glory!

2013 Polishing the Pulpit

August 30, 2013

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Bonnie and I arrived in the early afternoon at Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) on Saturday, August 24. Sevierville, Tennessee – adjacent to Pigeon Forge and not far from Gatlinburg – is a beautiful part of the country for sure. Whereas in former years we were able to enjoy some of the Smokey Mountain surroundings for a day or so following PTP, this year we crammed the weeklong activities between two of Bonnie’s chemotherapies. We were fully engaged during PTP and had to rush back to Mississippi to afford Bonnie her chemo on Friday morning.

Bonnie and I tended children of all ages each day. Bonnie assisted with 4- and 5-year-olds from as early as 7:45 a.m. to lunchtime. We, but especially Bonnie, presented a hands-on missions presentation for an hour each of two days; dozens of children pawed our exhibit and tasted the chapatti that Betty Choate had made for the occasion. Perhaps the one item that elicited the most interest from these little ones was The Voice of Truth International produced in Braille. Each morning I roved from class to class teaching Bible Geography to children as young as 4-year-olds up to 11-year-olds.

In the afternoons, Bonnie taught our program of Buckets of Bible Time, where youngsters are called upon to arrange in sequential order three red buckets labeled with “Patriarchy,” “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Then, they are asked to place three dimensional objects (e.g., cars, airplane, dinosaurs) and laminated cards depicting Bible characters in the appropriate buckets. The catch is that some characters belong in more than one time period (e.g., Moses, the apostles) and Jesus Christ does not belong in Christianity. In addition, Bonnie responded to the invitation to help out with children in the evening, too.

Afternoons from 1:30 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. or after, it was my sheer pleasure to assist other preachers who taught 21 budding young men from the ages of 10 to 14 how to prepare and to deliver a devotional. All of them did very well and deserve commendation; some did exceedingly well. One or two could easily serve as an “opening act” (to borrow a phrase from entertainment) preceding a keynote address by a seasoned brother at PTP in the future. I graduated somewhat in 2013 at PTP and was privileged additionally to have an adult class one evening. My assignment concerned the use of printed material in the mission field.

Between working with children, we did attend a few lectures, set up and managed our two display tables, and conversed with numerous people. Some of these brethren we only see at programs such as this, while others are our supporters and encouragers. We sold a few books, gave every budding preacher boy one or more books and distributed some The Voice of Truth International in two languages.

I spied a little tyke who may not have been potty trained yet, but who was an expert already with modern technology. He was mesmerized with a game on a cell phone. His little thumbs were working, and he was sliding his finger across the screen to manipulate the pictures. I was dumbfounded! Is there any hope for me?

The first snafu upon arriving at the Wilderness Hotel and Convention Center was learning that our lodging reservation had been cancelled and that there was no room in the inn. That we would not arrive on Friday was apparently not conveyed by PTP personnel to the hotel, and so staff there cancelled our reservation and gave our room to someone else when we were a “no show” on Friday. We were counting on being in the hotel so Bonnie could resort to the room for rest as needed. The hotel relented and rented us one of the two emergency rooms it had put back in case something went wrong. It seemed that we walked the length of a football field to an elevator that took us two floors below the main floor. Fifteen rooms are nestled in this subbasement adjacent to the loading dock and driveway for vending and laundry. Some bugs knew where our room was located even if housekeeping occasionally did not remember.

Whining aside, the accommodations were very much appreciated, and the hotel room at the convention center afforded Bonnie rest at lunchtime and supper each day, besides restful sleep. We ate two meals daily in our room and ate out once every day, twice as guests of the generosity of other brethren.

Thursday morning, Bonnie tended to small children until the conclusion of the PTP program. I packed our clothes, food and mobile office, and then loaded the car with those things. Next, I sat in on the speeches of seven of our young preacher prodigies as they made public presentations to parents and friends. Finally, Bonnie and I packed our displays and books for our return trip to Winona, MS. About 1 p.m. we pointed the limping Town & Country toward Mississippi. About eight hours later, we pulled into our driveway, positioned for a morning departure on Friday to get Bonnie to her next chemo appointment.

Tired, yes. Gratified, yes. Bonnie and I earnestly desire to serve the Lord to our fullest always in this life and as long as life persists and permits. Triage of looming efforts include contacting and confirming speakers for the April 2014 India Missions Conference, rent a car at the Pittsburgh, PA airport for our northeastern appointments in two weeks, purchase airline tickets for my fall mission trip to Myanmar (Burma) in October, work on Gospel Gazette Online for September and October, work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and bring it to fruition before departing for Asia, prepare my lessons for three weeks in Myanmar (four to six hours daily), prepare and rehearse sermons and classes for two congregations for which I will speak this weekend, mow the grass (it’s been four weeks), prepare six months of classes for Wednesday nights at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ that commence upon my return from Asia, and try and deposit our bucking, sputtering van at a dealership for much needed nurture while away in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; yesterday, the car’s odometer exceeded 173,000 miles. Like me, some of its body parts don’t work right anymore!

I dare say that a few other more routine matters will cry for attention as well. We will triage one and all as needed. It is time for us to send another newsletter, but I’m not sure we can squeeze one out at this time. Thank you for your continued interest in our efforts to serve our Lord stateside and especially abroad.

2012 Kakinada Lectureship

November 8, 2012

The 2012 Kakinada, India Lectureship occurred Tuesday – Thursday, November 6 – 8. Foreign brethren speaking included in addition to Bonnie and me, James Wilcut, Jim and Elaine Kelly, Therman Hodge, Betty Choate and Vinay David. Funny, though, Vinay is from New Delhi in north India; the brethren in south India still consider him a foreigner, and he spoke in English, and his sermon had to be translated into Telegu (since he speaks not Telegu but Hindi). One young local Indian preacher also spoke once. There was much singing, usually in Telegu, once in Kanada, occasionally in Oria and sometimes in English, too.

Tuesday, the program started an hour late due to the difficulty attendees were having getting to Kakinada because of the flooded roads, airports and train tracks. Each day, there were morning, afternoon and evening sessions – running Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Tuesday was about an hour less because of the late start. In the morning and the evening, speakers addressed combined men, women and children, whereas in the afternoons, there were ladies’, children’s and men’s classes. A variety of subjects taught ranged from Male Leadership, Jesus Christ, The All Sufficiency of the Bible, What Is the Mission of the Church, The Role of Women, Sarah, Heaven and many others. Down somewhat from last year due to inclement weather and floods, still the attendance topped 600 – all of whom were fed on premises. Those three days seemed like a week or more given the amount of time devoted to the program. It was good to be there. There was one baptism during the lectureship, which is in keeping with the kind of response one would expect from primarily a Christian audience – many of whom were preachers, elders, other church leaders and their families.

Back in the room near day’s end, I was able to publish the November issue of Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet. Contrary to what I had expected during our absence from America, I was able to publish October and November editions at least as timely as I do when I am in the States. Lacking, however, from both issues was the audio lesson by Tim Childs; I doubted whether we could conveniently transmit the longer audio file to and from Asia because of the often questionable availability of sufficient Internet access in the areas in which we were traveling in various nations. I hope to resume in December the audio lesson.

Therman Hodge left for the airport following his last speech on Wednesday morning. He was headed home a little ahead of us to be a part of his 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Therman was quite anxious since for a while roads, airports and railroads were closed because of flooding. Fortunately, the weather man was wrong (again), and the rains stopped days ahead of predictions, enabling the waters to recede enough to permit his departure on time for home.

We made new friends and renewed acquaintances among America brethren – nearly 12 time zones around the world from our usual neighborhoods. As always, we enjoyed greatly spending time with dear Indian brethren who converge on Kakinada for these lectures. All of us have been invited back to next year’s lectures.

Another aspect of our relationship with Joshua and Ricky Gootam has to do with the production of literature. We carried funds to leave with them for printing my books on the parables of Christ into one volume in the Telegu language. In addition, we left more money for some of the various and many other literature programs that they promote. Besides the massive literature and Bible distribution for which they are responsible, their TV programs also herald the Gospel throughout India and even as far as the United States. Bonnie and I carefully work with reliable brethren who maintain stable and productive works for the Lord.

Friday, November 9, 2012, Bonnie and I along with Jim Kelly and Ricky Gootam traveled an hour and a half from Kakinada south to one last village before Bonnie and I depart for Delhi tomorrow.  The village is named Gunna Palli, and the preacher there is Y. Yosapu Raju. I spoke first, followed immediately by brother Kelly. About 50 attended, mostly women. Men are working during the day and unable to attend day sessions many times. Secondly, here as elsewhere in the world, women often are more sensitive to spiritual matters than are men. Afterward, we were treated to typical hospitality before heading back to Kakinada. Bonnie and I are ready on the morrow to put the 2012 Kakinada trip behind us, and we trust that we have been useful in the service of the Lord while here.

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Lectureship in the Woods

May 12, 2012

May 10-12, Thursday through Saturday, 96 missionaries and other brethren interested in missions met for the annual Maywood Missionary Retreat. The camp is outside of Hamilton, AL, and each year, brethren descend on this wooded vale from stateside and abroad. One first-timer showed up wearing a tie, and we promptly de-tied him. A camp setting with nailed lumber benches and a woodsy setting is hardly conducive to wearing fine clothes, but the quality of the lessons, panel discussions and Christian fellowship is unsurpassed anywhere on the planet. Those present represented many different missions programs from across the brotherhood that take the Gospel into many nations on several continents and islands.

The World Evangelism Team from Winona, MS and the Double Springs, AL Church of Christ sponsor the annual missionary retreat. Missionaries recharge their batteries, give field reports and share information on methodologies that successfully reach into the neighborhoods of millions of precious souls worldwide.

Bonnie and I along with a handful of others arrived on Wednesday to clean the camp and otherwise prepare for the retreat. After plenty of sweat, cleaning the grounds, toilets, sinks, cabins and the cafeteria, many of us resorted to a supper meal together at a local restaurant. Afterward, we assembled for Bible class at the Hamilton Church of Christ.

All ages are represented during the retreat, and activities commence on Thursday afternoon and last until after 9 p.m. Friday, sessions began with breakfast at 8 a.m. and went to after 9 p.m. again. Saturday morning concludes the retreat after a light breakfast and devotional before parting. Then Saturday, we all scattered for our Sunday appointments or mission works. The annual Maywood Missionary Retreat is a boost and encouragement to each attendee. May God bless each of us with many more years of active service in the kingdom of our Lord, whether stateside, abroad or both.

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A Big, Big, Slow Circle

March 6, 2012

Ray & Charlotte WeddingtonSunday, March 4, 2012, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Pleasant Cove Church of Christ outside of McMinnville, TN. Dear friends and coworkers in the kingdom of Christ, Charlotte and Ray Weddington, introduced us to this fine congregation. Each year, Charlotte and Ray give us the royal treatment as we stay overnight with them, and they get to (or are forced to) see all of our pictures from trips abroad the previous year. For Bible class, I gave my PowerPoint presentation about our work in four countries abroad in 2011. My sermon later in the morning was Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Per usual, after morning worship, we were the excuse this time for brethren to enjoy a fellowship meal together; Christians don’t need much of a reason to gather and eat!

That evening, we searched out with the help of Miss GPS the Claxton (TN) Church of Christ. There, we reunited with our dear friends Audrey and Dave Amos. Once more, Bonnie had to endure my PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011. We made new friends from among brethren as well as rekindled old friendships. We left some books for the church library and introduced the congregation to The Voice of Truth International magazine.

East Tennessee School of Preaching & MissionsLater that evening, we caught up with Evelyn and Jody Apple at the night session of the East Tennessee School of Preaching & Missions Lectureship in Karns, TN (a suburb of Knoxville). Each year, the Apples kindly loan us sleeping accommodations for the duration of the lectures. Bonnie and I set up two tables of books, tracts, magazines and displays to acquaint attendees of the lectures with our stateside and foreign missions ministry. When we were not tending to the exhibits, we enjoyed some outstanding biblical lessons. We always enjoy greeting both old Christian friends and making new acquaintances from among good brethren.

CabinWith no lodging reserved, we somewhat aimlessly pointed the van toward Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Finally, we opted for a one-bedroom cabin perched on a knob amidst pines just west of Pigeon Forge. It’s a good thing that the cabin was no higher up the mountainside, because our Town and Country, laden with literature, displays, equipment and luggage was unable to get enough traction on the gravel to climb further; I had to back down a stretch of ridge, thankfully to where I should have turned to our cabin.

There we unwound and slowed down for two nights between appointments. No Internet, but there was a hot tub. With less interruption or diversion than typical, I devoted several hours toward completing a book that I was writing; I finally finished the book days later (after returning to Winona, MS) around midnight.

Smokey Mountain StreamBy day, Bonnie and I enjoyed some unrushed time together, enjoying some meals out and doing a little shopping. As always, we did more window-shopping than made purchases. However, we did buy ourselves each a new pair of leather, moccasin slippers, and we were able to find a couple pair of dress shoes for Bonnie that didn’t fall off her feet when she walked. Small narrow feet are difficult to fit, but the strap across the instep trapped her feet and compensated for not being able to find footwear that fit better than that.

Sunday, March 11, Bonnie and I worshipped in the morning with the North Lexington (KY) Church of Christ. I spoke during worship, preaching Into All the World in 2011. The night before, we lodged with Linda and Wick Moore, as we did last year, too. Following Sunday morning worship, two of the elders and their wives treated the two of us to lunch at Cracker Barrel.

The time change for Daylight Savings Time, being in Eastern Time instead of Central Time, our 6:30 a.m. alarm made it seem like we were getting up at 4:30 a.m. All day I was dragging myself through the day; it was all I could do not to take a nap along with Bonnie as I guided the car that afternoon in the direction of home – about seven hours away. Finally, I succumbed; Bonnie took over driving for a few hours and I napped. Refreshed and going on, we arrived at our daughter’s home in Collierville, TN around 8:30 p.m. Central Time; Rebecca’s home is our bed and breakfast, overnight lodging many times as we travel. Monday, we bought groceries and other necessities before arriving back in Winona, MS.

This week, we have a newsletter to publish, an overdue oil change and inspection for the car to have done, thank you cards to send to contributors, bank deposits to make, proofing of the magazine Global Harvest that must be done, boxes for overseas shipment that need packed and unloading a tractor-trailer of books to place in the warehouse. We have appointments to make, a backlog of emails, letters and phone calls to field, yard work calling our names, preparation for attending and speaking for lectures in April in Indiana, plus miscellaneous things, too. In addition, advance preparation needs to be made for a group of 28 coming on Friday to work in the warehouse; then, of course, we will need to participate alongside of them in what they do while here.

In all over the past 10 days, Bonnie and I made a big, big, slow circle through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. We travel by car about 3,000 miles monthly (I was 800 miles past time to change the car’s oil). These days, we are trying to attend to the car’s complaints: plugs & wires, brakes, shocks, alignment, transmission maintenance. Anytime now, it appears that we will need to change the tires and replace the ailing power steering pump. There is no telling what a car having over 130,000 miles might think that it needs next!

On the road again is routine for us!

February 14, 2012

On the road again is routine for us! Sunday, February 5, Bonnie and I spent the Bible class and worship hours with the Milledgeville, TN Church of Christ. Counting the two of us, the highest attendance was 12. Kindly, brethren treated us to lunch in Lexington, TN and gave us a support check, too. I made my PowerPoint presentation Into All the World during Bible class, preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear in the morning and preached The Three Bears of Galatians 6 in the evening.

Freed Hardeman UniversityMonday through Thursday, we attended the annual Freed Hardeman University lectureship. We, along with coworkers from Winona, MS, set up and manned two tables in the display area – one of literature for sale (we also gave many books away) plus a display table and free literature respecting our worldwide mission work. Graciously, a brother outside of Henderson, TN lodged us in his home for the week.

Jerry and Paula Bates hauled a trailer to Henderson, but since Jerry left the lectureship early for an overseas mission trip, Bonnie and I pulled the trailer back to Winona. We did a little shopping on the way back, not the least of which was buying groceries. Very little foodstuff remained at home; we didn’t buy much before our planned, weeklong absence. Sunday, February 12 found Bonnie and me in the morning with the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS. We enjoyed the fellowship meal following morning worship. Sunday evening, we were with the Union, MS Church of Christ.

Martha NolandBob and Martha Noland came to spend a few days with us following the FHU lectureship. We spent some good time with them in Henderson, and we are enjoying their time with us in our Winona home. Of course, I drug them with me on my Sunday appoints February 12th.

Noise Pollution

November 9, 2011

Honoring Us

Add to the pollution of the ordinary sort in India noise pollution, too. I arrived back at Skinner’s Garden compound at 12:39 a.m. from a village meeting in which I had preached, and at which five souls responded to be baptized. Then, a few short hours later the continual buzzing of the ceiling fan ceased with the daily failure of electric power, but the noise of the ceiling fan was quickly replaced with the compound morning bell, calling the children’s home residents to 5 a.m. chapel services. About the same time, a Hindu temple not too far away evidently began blaring incessantly the banter of its religious dogma; throughout Asia, anyone’s music or radio or point of view is broadcast at any hour of day or night nonstop to as far as the volume knob can carry the sound waves. Did I mention that our bedroom is three stories above the din and adjacent to the compound wall bordering the road; trucks, three-wheeled autos, motorcycles and bicycles all have horns or bells, and the operators know how to use them – and often. The other day an American brother and some Indian brethren were traveling when the car horn became stuck on. Do you know what the difference is in India between a car horn stuck on and the frequency with which Indians typically blow the vehicles’ horns – there isn’t any difference!

Street Meeting

Scalding hot water in an aluminum bucket arrived at 6:58 a.m. courtesy of two young Indian boys, each of whom had a hand grasping the bucket bail. At 7:35 a.m., brother John Dean wanted to bring breakfast into our room, but we were not dressed yet; I was getting dressed, and Bonnie was still applying the bucket and cup bathing. Another American, Cleo Turner was passing through, had spent the night and was preparing to leave, but the Indian brethren wanted to feed him first. The problem was that our lodging is for our sleeping and bathing, but it is also the dining area for visitors. We hurriedly finished dressing. Somehow, neither Bonnie nor I feel overly rested; we are looking forward to our bed back in Winona, MS.

Throughout the day (five hours), I taught Bible Geography to 48 Gospel preachers, for which they were very thankful since they had not had an occasion to study this background material to the biblical text. Bonnie taught 40 ladies for 2½ hours on Sapphira and Dorcas Bible characters. For the evening meeting, Bonnie and I traveled to a village about an hour away where we had a street meeting – up to 90 attendees seated on a tarp placed on a street that had been commandeered for the occasion. I spoke for an hour about The One True Church of the Bible – before and after which brethren provided Bonne and me each a bottle of cold Sprite, plus fruit and cookies as we boarded the bus for our return jaunt. We arrived back at Skinner’s Garden compound at about 11:30 p.m. It had been another full day, a good day of service to the Lord Jesus.

A New Day at a New Venue

November 8, 2011

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The day began rudely Tuesday, November 8 with the sounding of the bell to summon the compound residents, young and old, except for Bonnie and me. The “bell” is really a splicer for railroad rail suspended from a tree by a rope on which the summoning minion beats with an oversized bolt. Shortly thereafter, PA amplified chapel services blared from the meetinghouse – until the loss of electric power once more deadened the boom of distant voices and plunged our little world back into the abysmal darkness of the predawn day. Our third story room was adjacent to and towered over the roadside, perimeter wall, so the horn blowing traffic from early morn compensated for the sedated young voices from the distant chapel. It was a new day at a new venue – Skinner’s Garden.

Without electric, there is neither indoor lighting nor water, since the rooftop storage tanks ran dry overnight. However, a gentle voice of a preteen child at the door announced the arrival of campfire heated hot water in two aluminum buckets. Had I been the one lugging them across the compound and up three flights of stairs, my aging body would have complained from the aching knees to the lungs grasping for breath – besides having sloshed much of the liquid cargo along my pathway.

The pink, pedestal, bathroom sink drains directly on to the floor immediately at one’s feet, and from gravity’s drawing force empties through a corner hole in the exterior wall at floor level. On the plus side, there was a mirror above the sink by which to shave, between dipping my razor in the aluminum bucket of nearly scalding water just a half stoop away. At another location days ago and also on an occasion of an electrical blackout as the day began to dawn, I fumbled with our toothbrushes in the dim light. The foregoing along with my poor color vision, I failed to distinguish in the near darkness between the pink and the purple toothbrush cases. To my dismay and to Bonnie’s horror (you guessed it!), I brushed my teeth with her toothbrush. Yuk, Yuk and Yuk!

Everywhere we go in India we come face to face with what even the Indians call Indian Standard Time – which means virtually nothing starts at the appointed hour, but is more likely to begin at least an hour later. That translates to “wait, wait and wait some more!” Time is relative, but here time is nearly meaningless. However, the airplanes do not run on Indian Standard Time, as one fellow lecturer from New Delhi discovered when he missed his airplane. A second commonplace phrase is The Indian Way when it comes to trash disposal. Any location where the one dispensing the trash is not personally sitting or standing is a suitable discard site for virtually any unwanted wrapper or other item (e.g., over the compound wall, out the window of a car or a building and on the ground where one emptied the disposable teacup, etc.). Indian Standard Time and The Indian Way may be what bind together the diverse Indian states, cultures and languages into one nation.

Fortunately for Bonnie and me, everywhere we have lodged in India (and Myanmar before coming to India this trip) has sported a western toilet, and few of the places to which we have gone away from our temporary homes have lacked what we have come to think of as a civilized necessity; only rarely has Bonnie needed to succumb to the inconvenience of an eastern toilet, and only sometimes did I need to face the same scenario. Maybe not so good for dehydration or for our kidneys, we are good at not drinking too much or waiting for a more opportune occasion. Frequently under the best of circumstances, though, hygiene and cleanliness completely escapes the hosts with whom we lodge or the inns in which we stay. Where we travel in the world, a bathroom is a luxury, indoor or outdoor, and most nationals use any and every little piece of real estate as their personal but public toilet facility – shamelessly in plain view of passersby.

Today for breakfast we were introduced to “black salt.” Upon reading the ingredients, black salt is powdered rock salt. Bonnie commented that in the USA we put that on snowy and icy highways, but we do not eat it. When discussing last night our breakfast meal for today, I opted for scrambled eggs or oatmeal, but not both – we got both! I had never thought of having tomatoes for breakfast, but I enjoyed the whole saucer of those slices, since Bonnie has never developed a taste for them.

Nearly every year when we come to India, I get sick with bronchitis, but this year so far I am fine. Instead, Bonnie took ill yesterday with sore throat, swollen glands and coughing. She is sleeping even now from some medicine she took, though happily, she is not feverish. In less than an hour each of us begin four hours of teaching; I will teach preachers and Bonnie will teach their wives and other women who have convened for the next two days of biblical edification. I will be teaching Bible Geography and Bible Archaeology while Bonnie will be teaching character studies from her book Living Principles. Brother John Dean has already scheduled me for teaching next year in one of the preacher training schools with which he works – teaching Hermeneutics as well as Sermon Preparation and Presentation.

Over an hour after the scheduled beginning of our classes, they finally commenced. Bonnie taught about 40 women as Vani (the wife of John Dean) translated. John Dean translated into Telegu for the 42 men besides the two of us as I taught preachers. I lost six or less to slumber in the hot, Indian winter morning, but vowed to dance on the tables if necessary to keep them awake in the afternoon sessions. Whereas in the a.m. I made my PowerPoint presentation about Bible Archaeology, in the afternoon I introduced the Bible Lands Overview and Palestine Maps. Then, it was the students’ turn to recreate the map on a blank wall by pointing out selected points in relationship, for instance, to the city of Jerusalem. The class had a lot of fun with that exercise.

In the evening, I went with Indian brethren to a village congregation about an hour away; we left Bonnie behind to rest since she was ill with maybe bronchitis and a fever. Perhaps 80 gathered for the meeting, but it was impossible to know how many were present as attendees seated themselves in an irregular pattern from wall to wall until no room between persons was left. In addition, numerous souls gathered outside the small, plaster walled structure with a thatch roof. Besides these, the village could hear every word spoken inside the humble meetinghouse by way of bullhorn loudspeakers affixed to the roof.

Spiders repeatedly repelled themselves from the thatched ceiling during our services. Walking between the minibus and the building without the benefit of light beyond what the moon provided, I was shocked when children began pelting me with something; I had seen them upon exiting the bus, and they were holding the tin pans out of which they customarily eat their rice meals. Though I had greeted them, in the dark of night as we walked, the young girls began hurling the contents of their plates at me, getting it in my hair and down the back of my shirt. Were they throwing their leftover rice at me? That’s what I thought, but they were throwing flower petals at me similarly as people in America throw rice or birdseed at newlyweds.

Four precious souls indicated by standing amidst the crowd seated on the ground inside the building that they wanted to be baptized. Two men had been outside, but came inside when invited to obey the Gospel. However, upon carrying people miles away to a creek, another woman also decided to be baptized, bringing that number of conversions to five. With headlights shining on the water, a brother waded into the muddy water in the otherwise blackness of night to receive the baptismal candidates and immerse them into Christ.

We arrived back at the Skinner’s Garden compound at 12:39 a.m. The long drive over rough roads – sometimes not as good as goat paths – made my stomach uneasy. I popped another acid reducing pill and laid my tired body down on the elevated pallet where Bonnie already slumbered. Indian style, we had a sheet on what seemed like padded plywood; the only other covering is a blanket, but cool, not warmth is what we desired, so we rested as best we could under the whirling ceiling fan, awaiting the soon beginning of still another day.