Archive for the ‘Mission Forum’ category

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 Gospel Gazette Online for January 2017 is not ready, and it will not be published for several days yet.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!

1-Ton Gospel Cube

September 1, 2016

Monday (August 29), I slept in my own bed in Winona, Mississippi. Tuesday, I slept in a borrowed bed in Alabama, whereas Wednesday I commandeered another bed for the night in Tennessee.

Tuesday morning, my coworker Jerry Bates and I loaded my van and his trailer that we attached to my vehicle. We encumbered available space therein with 110 boxes of The Voice of Truth International magazines (35 magazines per box, 55 each of volumes 87 and 88), miscellaneous issues of VOTI also, 14 cases of songbooks, 10 boxes of tracts, a carton of communion ware and several cases of miscellaneous religious books and other Christian literature. Almost to the pound, we manhandled one ton or about 2,000 pounds of Gospel resources. We even loaded two wooden pallets just in case the destination warehouse in Nashville, TN didn’t have any available, since most shipping from that site is in barrels.

After showering the sweat from myself and otherwise getting cleaned up, I departed Winona after lunch for Florence, AL as a way station on my way ultimately to an agent for Caribbean Shipping in Nashville. That night in Florence, I attended a mission forum hosted by Heritage Christian University.

Nigel Milo

Nigel Milo

Wednesday morning, I continued toward Nashville, arriving at 3:30 p.m. Doubtlessly on Guyanese time, the Guyanese proprietors of the little warehouse arrived an hour later, and we proceeded to offload my cargo. They operate out of the warehouse in the back of a strip plaza defunct store, and the husband and wife team have day jobs elsewhere. Once more in two days, I got my exercise by personally handling a ton of freight. Soaking wet from sweat in the near 100 degree temperature and high humidity, as well as the even more oven-like conditions inside the metal trailer, it didn’t take us too long to amass a giant, 1-ton, Gospel cube on a single sturdy pallet. This shipment represents my largest single consignment of Gospel literature to brethren in Guyana, South America. Brother Nigel Milo remarked that the last load that I sent earlier this year was “awesome”; I wonder what he’ll think of this load.

Next week, my Gospel cube will make its way to Miami, FL, whereupon it will be loaded onto a container ship. About 30 days later if the Lord wills, it will arrive in Georgetown, Guyana, from which it will be distributed to all of the churches of Christ in that country. Guyana is small enough that I can wrap my mind around it, and with available resources, I have made it my pet project to supply as much Gospel literature to our brethren as I can for their edification and to equip them to evangelize their country. In addition, I travel to all regions of Guyana for five weeks annually to encourage and edify Christians and congregations, as well as to prepare them to take the Gospel to their families and neighbors. There is a special place in my heart for Guyana.

Besides hauling Christian literature to Nashville and attending a mission forum, some other activities were successfully accomplished also. Monday, I was able to finish and prepare for the printing companies (in India, Ghana and Nigeria) Volume 90 of The Voice of Truth International; brother Bates will get those to each of the printing locations, carrying one of the DVDs personally to its destination in India. Today (September 1), I also published to the Internet the September 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online. A few other things, too, are ongoing (purchase of my visa to Myanmar, buying airline tickets for my fall excursion to Myanmar and India, preparing for the publication of four quarters of teen Bible study booklets, etc.).

Someone once advised me that once I was dead, then, I would have ample time to rest. Toward that rest I look with joyful anticipation, and it cannot come too soon. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NKJV). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

Mission Forum

August 27, 2016

Mission Forum SpeakersFriday morning August 26, I slipped out of Winona, MS without even stopping by the office. In addition, I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to exercise that morning either before exiting town. (It didn’t take much convincing of myself to skip out of my fitness and health regimen.)

Disregarding my GPS for the first few miles until it decided to calculate a route based on my decided direction of travel, I made my way along a scenic, countryside path for around two hours toward Meridian, MS. Just in time for lunch and a menu catered especially for me, I arrived at the home of sister Sadie and brother Therman Hodge. Umm, homemade meatloaf and real mashed potatoes and freshly harvested tasting cream corn! If that wasn’t enough, this feast was topped off with homemade cake and icing crafted from a passed down family recipe.

My trek to out of Winona had two purposes. First, Therman and I wrangled for hours with potential airline carriers and routes with their corresponding prices for our fall mission trip together to Myanmar (also called Burma) and India. Part of that endeavor included each of us applying online, accompanied by stipulated fees, for our visas to Myanmar. Owing to the weekend, we probably will not hear back before Monday. After we ensure that visas are granted, we will purchase our airfare to those countries and our return trips to the USA.

The Hodges once more accommodated me as a guest in their home. Sometimes I get to return the favor as they stay overnight with me in Winona, MS. The second occasion for my visit to their home was to facilitate my attendance on Saturday of the Fourth Annual East/Central Mississippi Mission Forum hosted by the Union, MS Church of Christ (not to be confused with the Old Union Church of Christ).

The program ran from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. with three speakers before lunch and three speakers after lunch. The very first speaker, brother Ken Gardner, made an impressive presentation and set the tone for the balance of the day. Following lecturers included brethren Joey Barrier, J.C. Enlow, Gordon Hogan, Kevin Moore and L.T. Gurganus. The attendance was encouraging with nearly a full house with which to begin. It was estimated that over 20 congregations were represented.

The Union Church of Christ is to be commended for the excellent suite of speeches by which we all were encouraged, uplifted and called upon to pursue relentlessly lost souls with the Gospel. Many present have participated in overseas missions. We look forward to next year’s spiritual buffet at the same venue. Each year so far, truly, the interest and attendance continues to increase. May God be glorified, and may precious souls be edified – both Christian workers and lost souls, too, to whom God’s servants may go with the Word of God.

New Chemo Regimen Begins

April 19, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom1

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom2

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom3Bonnie asked for a picture to be taken of our blooming azalea bushes in front of our home, which I was glad to do. I also included the hanging, flowering baskets and the birdfeeders. All of the birds, though, were camera shy. The Rushmore bird café offers sunflower seeds and humming bird nectar. Aside from the hummingbirds, a gallery of birds visit our avian diner, including beautiful, brilliant red cardinals, some gold finches, other finches, wrens and an unidentified bird – plus an ingenuous woodpecker. Too large for even the larger of the two birdfeeders, it hangs upside down and cranes its neck up to feed on the sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, April 15 is doubtless an infamous day to many Americans – the deadline for filing annual federal income taxes. For Bonnie, though, it was also the day on which her new regimen of chemotherapy began. We left Winona, MS for Jackson, MS around 9 a.m. to make the hour and a half journey to Jackson Oncology at Baptist Health Systems (hospital). The infusion of chemo drugs and other medicines took about five hours. Upon completion of that, an additional chemo drug was introduced in conjunction with an accompanying pump in a satchel for Bonnie to wear or hang on the bedpost at night for the next three days at home. Happily, none of the side effects about which we were warned occurred during the session on Wednesday. Weary and tired, Bonnie and I returned to Winona.

Thursday we worked at the office for a few hours, and I packed the van for a display at the mission Sunday to be hosted by the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the south side of Jackson, MS. About 10 p.m. Bonnie began to have severe back pain. All night long and through Friday afternoon and early evening, Bonnie had nausea, vomiting and excruciating pain. Neither of us slept well through all of that, and we were both exhausted during the day Friday.

After lunch, we drove to Jackson in torrential rains for Bonnie’s appointment to have the chemo pump removed. To address the nausea, a new, additional medication was prescribed, and Bonnie was advised to take the pain medicine more regularly and to take two pills at a time.

Friday and Saturday nights we lodged with one of the elders and his wife of our sponsoring congregation – the Siwell congregation. Saturday, I put up two banquet tables of display material for World Evangelism. That evening back at the home of our host and hostess, brother and sister Leggett, I was able to prepare computer files to be sent off to the printing company for the next issue of The Voice of Truth International.

Sunday, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Siwell church. A fellowship meal was sandwiched between morning worship and a 1 p.m. assembly. Four missionaries, including myself, had opportunity to update all present regarding our labors for the Lord. Afterward, Bonnie and I returned home to Winona. At the house and having Internet available once more, I sent the files for volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International to the printing company in South Carolina.

Later in the evening, Bonnie again began experiencing serious pain and nausea. Whenever she can sleep through it all, she seems to have some release from the intensity and discomfort of both. Bonnie is very tired, but she is a fighter, and as long as she can, she heartily applies herself to the work of Jesus Christ.

As I close, we are under a tornado watch. Presently, we have a nasty thunderstorm going through again. The lights are flickering. Pain, suffering, storms and such like are temporary speed bumps on the road to eternity. In the meantime, with help and encouragement of many brethren and friends, we press on.

Weekly our dining room fills with get well cards. Daily we received phone calls, visits, emails, texts and Facebook correspondence. The other evening, we received a phone call from a dear brother in India. Wednesday, we came to find out, a congregation in Guyana, South America was fasting and praying for Bonnie while she was undergoing five hours of treatment. In America, we have added an “e” to “fasting” and enjoy “feasting.” Elsewhere in the world, brethren still fast and pray. In Bonnie’s words, we are “humbled” by such encouragement by brethren toward us. Our church family worldwide buoys our spirits at a very difficult time in our lives. Thank you one and all.

India Missions Conference

April 25, 2014

Heritage Christian University and the World Evangelism team cohosted the 2014 India Missions Conference. The get-together of India missionaries took place on the HCU campus in Florence, Alabama Tuesday through Thursday, April 22—24. Again this year, brother Wayne Kilpatrick led a Restoration History tour on Friday for some of the conference attendees who lingered for that purpose.

The overall program consisted of discourses, field reports, panel discussions, Christian fellowship, and of course, eating together—lunch and supper. Approximately 71 participants enjoyed the fare. Interaction was frank, cordial, instructive and encouraging, irrespective of differing methodologies and areas of emphasis. Wednesday and Thursday, sessions began at 8 a.m. and concluded at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, we only had the night sessions after supper together.

World Evangelism distributed free samples of our full-color, shirt-pocket tracts, outreach books, the Global Harvest and The Voice of Truth International magazines. We also distributed a dozen cases of 35 to congregations and HCU.

Bonnie and I arrived back in Winona, MS about 4 p.m. on Friday. Before parting from Florence, AL, though, Bonnie and I (with sister Betty Choate who was hitching a ride with us back home) tracked down and visited brother Edmond and sister Maurine Cagle; Edmond is in a nursing/rehab center. Together, they have made a significant impact on congregations of the Lord’s church in Linden, Guyana, South America—where Bonnie and I now also work with their protégé brother Nigel Milo.

Following are some pictures of several of the speakers and others who attended the 2014 India Missions Conference. Next year, the Pulaski Street Church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN will cohost the 2015 India Missions Conference with Heritage Christian University once more at the HCU campus in Florence, AL. The Central Church of Christ in Vincennes, IN will host the 2016 India Missions Conference in its meetinghouse in Indiana.

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Working Lunch & More

August 16, 2013

India Missions ConferenceFriday morning, Bonnie and I left Winona, MS at 8:25 a.m., bound first for Florence, AL. That was over a three and a half hour drive. It was our purpose to meet up with Janet and Wayne Barrier, which we did at noon for lunch at the Olive Garden restaurant. The occasion of our get-together was to plug into the schedule the speaker names for the 2014 India Missions Conference. The World Evangelism Team, of which the Barriers, others and we are a part, has accepted responsibility for hosting the next India Missions Conference.

First things first, though. We had a sumptuous meal with pleasant company; Bonnie and I shared an Italian sampler of lasagna, parmesan chicken and creamy fettuccine. The male server excelled, too – even bringing us fresh drinks and finally to-go cups an hour after we had finished our meals and paid for them, too. Essentially, we monopolized the table after eating, turning it into a workstation.

It took quite a while to fill in the schedule on which previously World Evangelism Team Members had agreed at our annual meeting a few weeks ago. In addition, we had whittled down potential speakers to a pool with which we were working today. The next undertaking will be to invite the various speakers and attempt to confirm their participation in the various slots as speakers, panelists, moderators and master of ceremonies.

Before parting from the parking lot, we delivered two packages to the Barriers, one of which was a case of Global Harvest magazine. Afterward, Bonnie and I pointed the car toward Cleveland, TN, where we will lodge Saturday evening with brother Robert and sister Barbara Wright; each year, they graciously open their home to us and extend the sweetest hospitality to Bonnie and me. Sunday morning, I will speak during the Bible class and worship for the Central Church of Christ. That evening, I will speak for the Ooltewah, TN Church of Christ, and we will lodge Sunday with our dear friends, brother Winston and sister Cathy Stringfield.

Friday night, though, we are lodging at the Best Western in Huntsville, AL. We ate supper at Jason’s Deli, a chain restaurant with which we were not familiar. It turned out to be an excellent choice! The sandwich we shared was superb, only out performed by the exceedingly friendly good service of every employee we encountered. That was a far cry from the interaction I had with a Wal-Mart employee a couple of days before in Mississippi, when I inquired about the price of a HP Photosmart printer; the pricing was neither on the shelf nor on the box, which was high on the top shelf. The “associate” told me to take the box to a counter and have the price checked; the item yet sits where I found it, and it can sit there forever as far as I am concerned. It is always a delight to find persons who decide to own their jobs and serve both their employers and the customers in an admirable way. My confidence was restored and bolstered today at Olive Garden and Jason’s Deli.

We are at rest. Tomorrow, we resume our journey. We pray for safety on our trip and hope that the car doesn’t strand us. The engine light is on, and the Town & Country van jerks and bucks. Of course, something is whining as well, and has done so now for two years. In addition, the air conditioner is leaking inside on the floor at Bonnie’s feet. We attempted three times to have the AC problem fixed in Winona, but to no avail. We tried to have the engine light, jerking and AC problems addressed at a Chrysler dealer on Monday, but the shop wanted me to drop the car off so that maybe on Wednesday someone could look into the problems, and that days after that perhaps it could be repaired; they were willing to rent me a car! Subsequently, we tried again to have these problems addressed in Winona, but unsuccessfully. Somewhere along the line, between travels and not in the county where we live, we need to leave the car with a Chrysler dealer. The Town & Country has over 171,000 miles on it, and little things (and maybe some expensive things also) are breaking down. We kept the last car 10 years, but we are wearing this one out more quickly with our extensive travels. We prayed for the last car every time we went on a trip, and it must be about time to start praying for this one, too!

Bonnie is doing well; she always has fallen asleep if not doing something as we ride along the highways, but our drive affords her ample opportunity between respites to rest and recharge. The real rest for which we both long is in heaven – eternally.

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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