Archive for the ‘Youth Group’ category

Noccalula Falls

July 26, 2018

Saturday, July 21, Martha and I drove from Winona, Mississippi to Piedmont, Alabama. We left at 11:25 a.m. and arrived at the home of brother Bob and sister Peggy Rogers at 5 p.m. They treated us to supper at a local Italian restaurant across the Georgia line and in another time zone. The tasty food was only surpassed by the company of dear brethren.

On the Lord’s Day morning, Martha and I assembled with the Highway Nine Church of Christ, whereupon I spoke for Bible class, a.m. worship and worship once more at 12:30 p.m. Between the worship periods, we were treated to an amply delicious cuisine, complemented by cherished brothers and sisters in Christ. Incidentally, one of our waitresses in the family run eatery was only 9-years-old. She did a very good job and was so cute. Her brother, mom and dad comprise the balance of the team.

Sunday afternoon, we caught up with our hostess, sister Peggy, at the local nursing and rehabilitation center where brethren from the Piedmont Church of Christ were conducting a devotional. A little over three hours later, we assembled with that congregation, and I was again afforded the privilege of speaking to this church, too. Following worship, youth loaded about a dozen boxes of used songbooks into the van; they will eventually make their way overseas to English-speaking Christians.

Passing through Gadsden, Alabama, we stopped briefly at Noccalula Falls; we enjoyed the natural beauty of the site nestled in the cityscape, and we noted the lore surrounding the spot. Then, through the dark of night, we aimed the car back toward Winona, and we pulled into the driveway at 1:00 a.m. In less than an hour, we had the van unloaded and readied ourselves for bed—thoroughly exhausted.

Monday and Tuesday, young people—10-months-old through middle teens—congregated at the World Evangelism Building. They came from the Double Springs Church of Christ in Alabama. For those two days, boys and girls prepared several mailings (i.e., the Bates’ newsletters, The Voice of Truth International), unloaded a truck and warehoused Volume 96 of The Voice of Truth International, packed boxes of books to be sent to student preachers (free of charge), shredded papers and cleaned. They also loaded literature into Jerry’s utility trailer; Wednesday he and Paula left for Texas where they will offload the literature for eventual shipment to African nations.

Wednesday, Martha and I personally delivered two cases of The Voice of Truth International #96 to the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, Mississippi. We were passing through before services on our way to the Indianola Church of Christ in Indianola, Mississippi. Before we got to Indianola, we paused for awhile in Moorhead, Mississippi at the home of brother Gene and sister Madolyn Gibson. Gene has been and is valiantly fighting illness as they have tirelessly for many years operated a Christian Student Center across from Mississippi Delta Community College.

Brother Gene Hill taught the adult class at the Indianola Church of Christ. It was good to assemble with these familiar brethren. We were cordially greeted, and we left some The Voice of Truth International and Global Harvest magazines as well as a few of the Rushmore Newsletter. We arrived back home at 10 p.m.

Between incidents mentioned above, we devoted ourselves to sundry office duties. Martha has been contacting schools of preaching and Bible colleges associated with the churches of Christ to prepare for sending books to men in training to be preachers. I have been working on the August edition of Gospel Gazette Online and volume 98 of The Voice of Truth International. Today, we also prepared “Thank You” cards for our most recent donors over the past week. There is always much to do—often behind the scenes to further the cause of Christ. We are pleased to be of some service to our Lord, and thankful that congregations and Christian families make it possible for us to so do.

Another Long Day

February 12, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 Ladies Day 1Friday, February 12, 2016 was another long day. Every good day is a long day; this was a good day. This morning in Linden, Guyana, brother Nigel Milo and I visited a lady who is permitting members of the church to teach her God’s way each week. Brother Milo thoroughly and expertly hosted today’s study on the lady’s steps to her humble home. The methodology and lesson context that he devised is beyond compare and worthy of widespread notice and imitation. Therefore, I encouraged him to combine his well-organized outline and narration into written paragraphs for potential publication in either book form or lesson format. He could have pressured her to be baptized today, but he (and I) prefer conversions based on informed conviction as opposed to getting someone wet and boasting of one more added to the number, who in all likelihood would soon fall away if ever darkening the door of the meetinghouse. Sometime, some methodologies ought to be inspected not by how many baptisms they produce but by the retention rate among those baptism.

We also gathered supplies for the Ladies’ Inspiration Day hosted by the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ, which is to occur on Saturday. In 2014, Bonnie was the principle speaker, and 300+ women attended in the old cramped building, predating the new, expansive meetinghouse in which this program will transpire.

96 dpi 3x6 Ladies Day 2We had to have refilled nine big jugs of water and secure food for the event. In both the Bible study and lugging the filled water bottles, I merely tagged along. My wrists and back prevent me presently from heavy lifting. It seems that I may have arrived, at least for now, at demonstrating the lyrics of one old country song: “I am too heavy for light work, and too light for heavy work.” Carpal tunnel and arthritis pains disturbed and prematurely cut short my night’s sleep.

One of our daytime destinations was the local pharmacy. Because of the increasing frequency of pain, I have been popping OTC pain pills like candy. Hence, I was running short. In addition, I was a late night snack for one or more bugs of some sort, leaving welts on my body. Only having two Benadryl caplets with me, I needed to acquire some more for that malady. It was also imperative that I buy some more antibacterial medicated cream to prevent the badly sunburnt left side of my face from becoming infected; I hope that it also promotes speedy healing. I have never burned so badly before, but two and a half hours in a boat on rivers between Mabaruma and Port Kaituma this past week cooked me. I also bought some sunscreen.

Late afternoon and early evening, I presented two PowerPoint presentations to a large contingent of boys and girls in a youth hostel for high school students who normally live in the bush. The first was “The Church in Prophecy,” and the second was about culture in the various countries to which I go for our Lord.

Still later, I spoke to a young married couples class about marriage. In addition, I helped ever so little with some of the Ladies’ Inspiration Day preparation. Throughout the day, I also worked on the next edition of Gospel Gazette Online. Tomorrow promises to be filled as I may address the men who accompany women for their event. Early Sunday morning, two Guyanese brethren and I fly to Paramakatoi where we will conduct the seminar and a Gospel meeting for a few days. Two weeks down, three weeks to go before returning to the USA. Until next time, May God richly bless you and me as well.

First Travel Segment

September 24, 2015

Singapore“I’m on my way!” I emailed to brethren in Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. With that warning sent, I boarded the first of three jetliners in Memphis, TN on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Shortly after that aircraft landed in Minneapolis, MN, I ambled on my second flight, a 12-hour, 20-minute jaunt to Tokyo. I’m convinced that no airplane seat regardless of how cushioned (at least in coach) is comfortable enough for a long haul like that! Three hours after landing in Japan, I began the third leg of my first travel segment to four Asian countries in the fall of 2015.

Finally about 25 hours after leaving Memphis, TN, my jetliner touched down on the island-city-nation of Singapore. In the course of travel that far away, I swapped day for night and night for day, jumping into the future nearly 12 hours. I arrived around the commencement of Friday. After missing my contact person at the airport and an hour interceding during which we could neither find nor communicate directly with each other, we made a short trip to the V Hotel. By 3 a.m., I was showered and in bed for a little nap—though my weary body had succumbed to some shuteye on that last flight of 6½ hours.

Though my hotel room may be among the smallest in which I have ever lodged and Spartan, it is my delightful and fully adequate abode and office for parts of four days. I enjoyed an open-air breakfast on the 4th floor, and then, went for a short walk outside. There is a McDonalds, a Long John Silvers, a bakery and local fare attached to the ground-floor edifice of my hotel; across the street is a Burger King and a 3-story mall. Momentarily I thought to myself, I could live in the V Hotel! However, the menus in overseas restaurant franchises vary significantly from stateside offerings.

My game plan for the day is to rest (compensate for jetlag somewhat), do some office work and beginning at 7:30 p.m. tonight to teach several lessons on evidences to Christian youth of the Lavender Church of Christ here in Singapore. The young people chose lessons on evidences from among the several topics I offered for their consideration. I’m already impressed with that.

Stay tuned. Whenever time is available and Internet connection is conveniently available, I will offer updates over the next two months. I humbly solicit your prayers on my behalf and for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ. My goal is glorify God and edify as many souls as possible with whom I come in contact.

P.S. Indonesian forest fires have shrouded the whole country of Singapore in a smoky haze. The temperature at midnight was 82 degrees, and by nearly 11 a.m. it remains the same, accented with a pleasant sea breeze.

Another Full Day

June 24, 2015

Human ChainThis morning (Wednesday, June 24, 2015) after scarfing down a quick bowl of Fruit Loops cereal and downing some OJ, I started some yard work early in an attempt to beat the abusive heat of late. In the midst of that undertaking, my coworker Jerry Bates arrived with a trailer in tow to retrieve the contents of Bonnie’s sewing room. Jerry, my daughter Rebecca and I commenced loading the small trailer with two sewing machines, one serger, attachments, sewing material, threads, sewing books, notions, patterns, manikin and notions. Brother Jerry Bates volunteered to take all of that to the Action, TN Church of Christ as he and Paula are out this weekend for a preaching appointment not far from Acton. That congregation has a sewing ministry for stateside and overseas outreach and benevolence. I can’t think of a better disposition for Bonnie’s sewing enterprise in view of her passing away.

Almost but not quite finished with the yard work for the day, a visitor came by the World Evangelism Building. Rebecca and I, dirty and sweaty, moseyed down to the warehouse/office to visit for a while with brother Paul Franks who had come by. He and his father and mother publish the Magnolia Messenger.

About an hour later, a freightliner pulled into the World Evangelism parking lot. Aboard were six pallets containing 15,000 copies of volume 85 of The Voice of Truth International. It was printed in Hong Kong with color throughout for the same price of printing black and white inside here in the States. This edition will not be going out very soon since we just shipped volume 84. However, coming from across the globe, it is necessary to allow for transit via oceangoing ship.

Fortunately, youth from three congregations have been laboring in the city with the Winona Church of Christ. While teenage boys were otherwise deployed, several teen girls came to our rescue and loaded the hundreds of boxes into the warehouse; they are from the Siwell Road Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. These young ladies came to do the heavy lifting and by making a human chain, they made short work of the undertaking, despite a blazing hot Mississippi summer day.

That evening, Rebecca and I visited the Elliott, MS Church of Christ. About a year behind or 60 appointments overdue owing to Bonnie’s illness and death, I made my “Overview & Update” PowerPoint presentation. We were well received and encouraged.

Tomorrow promises to be no less full, and Friday we leave for two Sundays of speaking engagements in Florida. Help me fill my calendar and let me know when your congregation prefers an appointment. I am also trying to lineup dates for my travels to Asian countries this fall, as well as 2016, too.

Asked what plans I have for the future, I reply that Lord willing, as long as I have my health and as long as I live, I plan to keep on keeping on in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ with stateside and foreign missions. Your prayers, encouragement and participation are always greatly appreciated.

A Good Week!

March 20, 2015
All women volunteers so we pressed some of the women into roles into which we normally put men. Here working in the warehouse is the preacher's wife at the West President church of Christ, Sheila Shiers.

All women volunteers so we pressed some of the women into roles into which we normally put men. Here working in the warehouse is the preacher’s wife at the West President church of Christ, Sheila Shiers.

The week beginning Sunday, March 15 was a good week from various perspectives. I am happy to report that Bonnie acclaimed this week the best week health wise that she has experienced in many weeks. That is not to say that health related challenges have not punctuated her daily life, but overall Bonnie has felt better than she has felt literally for months. In addition, it has also been a good week regarding the visitors who have come by the World Evangelism Building in Winona, MS to help us.

Sunday between Bible class and worship with the Old Union church of Christ, the preacher inquired of me regarding the possibility of forthcoming assistance to Bonnie and me with our mounting medical expenses. Likewise, before Wednesday evening Bible class with the West President church of Christ, an elder approached me regarding the same subject and the possibility of the congregation also helping us with our burdensome medical bills—mostly relative to Bonnie’s ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer, but this year also my emergency surgery for an inflamed and enlarged gallbladder. Though we have not been campaigning for medical funds, we appreciate the thoughtfulness of individual Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church who voluntarily have offered to help. Furthermore, the non-stop flow of get well cards, texts, emails, etc. uplift our spirits in a very trying time to our morale.

Tuesday, a sister in Christ representing the Old Union congregation came to the World Evangelism Building to help Bonnie and me to process for mailing our most recent Rushmore Newsletter. Sister Betty Choate helped, along with sister Barbara Oliver and a sister in Christ visiting from Tasmania. Besides our mailing, we finished preparing for shipment single issues of Volume 83 of The Voice of Truth International; that included double rubber-banding packets of 10 envelopes and placing them into mail sacks.

Thursday, sisters in Christ volunteering from the West President church of Christ met us at the office/warehouse to help with additional mailings. Many of the ladies processed sister Choate’s newsletter for mailing. A couple of other ladies helped me prepare about 75 packages (mostly cases of The Voice of Truth International) for shipment throughout the States and to American territories or military posts abroad; one of those sisters in Christ helping me is from Nigeria. We also packaged hundreds of Spanish books and Spanish editions of The Voice of Truth International magazine that eventually will make their way to Peru; I made arrangements to hand off this literature to a congregation in Tuscaloosa, AL in a few days on my way to a speaking appointment in Huntsville, AL.

Throughout the week we have fulfilled orders for English and Spanish language Christian literature, which we have packed and taken to the local post office. Thankfully, the day I took around 75 boxes, two of the ladies helped me load the van as well as unload it onto the post office’s back loading dock. Bonnie has worked on Volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International and I have worked on both the April issue of Gospel Gazette Online and a new book of mine on sermon outlines.

Friday was a medical treatment day an hour and a half away from our home in Jackson, MS. First, we had a 9:30 a.m. appointment for yet another paracentesis for Bonnie; another 3+ liters of fluid was drained from her abdomen. Following that, we shared a sandwich at a hospital eatery (it has several) before heading for her next appointment for chemotherapy. Between the distances we travel each way and the appointments, we certainly consume a whole day. We also use these outings to do some necessary shopping and, of course, the car wants fed, too. Since Bonnie’s appetite came back this week, too, and she was hungry, we shared a nice meal at Olive Garden on the way out of town.

Overall, Bonnie is trudging forward with its accompanying emotional ups and downs. She and I are both thrilled that she may be on the verge of feeling a little better more often. Bonnie still tires easily and continues to lose weight. On April 3, she will have another CT scan to compare with the previous CT scan, by which the oncologist will reevaluate future treatment. We continue to covet the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe. Thank you.

These Days

March 1, 2015

Depth of the SnowLast week, Bonnie and I worked on future editions of The Voice of Truth International, and I worked on the March 2015 issue of our Internet magazine, Gospel Gazette Online. Volume 83 of VOTI will arrive via tractor trailer this week; the same truck will bring two book titles – reprints of books we have nearly exhausted, mostly shipping overseas. Yet today, I hope to publish the March GGO to the worldwide web.

Storm Clean UpFriday, Bonnie and I made our way once more to Jackson, MS to have more fluid drained from her abdomen – about 3 liters this time. Each days remains challenging, but the calls, visits, emails and cards help to lift our spirits and encourage us. This coming Friday, Bonnie will have another chemo treatment. The following Sunday after morning worship, a sister in Christ and member of the Old Union Church of Christ will administer an injection to Bonnie that is intended to boost her blood counts to enable her to continue with chemotherapy unabated; sisters who are nurses at the West President Church of Christ are in the waiting as backups when needed.

Bibles for GuyanaBibles for Guyana300 dpi 4 x 6 Bibles 3Saturday, we had a pleasant surprise at our residence. A stranger knocked on our door and volunteered to remove the fallen branches from the snowstorm on our roof, lawn and driveway area. Pickup trucks, trailers and chainsaws in hand, a covey of adults scurried about and made short work of either cutting and hauling away the bigger offenders or taking it to the streets on either side of the property. Whereas I imagined that some enterprising fellows were out to earn a little extra cash, they were doing this without charge. I could tell by their speech and actions that they were religious, and I inquired of them where they worshipped. They were from the North Winona Baptist Church; I hope that members of the churches of Christ somewhere showed the same initiative to reach out in their respective communities. These religious neighbors were more impressive by their thoughtfulness than most any advertising, VBS or suchlike could have been. I was humbled to be the recipient of their kindness, and I gave one of the senior gentlemen a copy of The Voice of Truth International and apprised him of other literature that we have and would be delighted for them to have.

300 dpi 4 x 6 Making Space 1300 dpi 4 x 6 West President Teens 1Today, Sunday, about 3:30 p.m. we had 18 visitors from the West President Church of Christ come to the World Evangelism Building in Winona; they came to work for an hour and a half. These teens and adult chaperones worked on three warehouse projects: (1) consolidating boxes of literature to capitalize on space in preparation for an incoming shipment later in the week, (2) applying strapping tape to boxes of The Voice of Truth International in preparation for shipment abroad, and (3) inserting tracts in nearly 200 Bibles that were purchased by the Collierville, TN Church of Christ for distribution in Guyana, South America. We made sure that teens and adults were afforded some of the hundreds of books, tracts and magazines for their own consumption in appreciation of their help – behind the scenes in foreign mission work.

My AngelBy the way, I was experimenting with Adobe Illustrator along with some online tutorials, trying to learn a little about the program. In the course of such, my experiment turned out this, respecting my life’s partner, best friend and my wife – Bonnie. We remain in the service of Christ, helped along in that through your prayers and financial participation with us.

Onward Christian Soldiers

February 21, 2015

Bonnie's Chemo TreatmentSince our last blog entry, I have worked diligently on the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online. I am waiting for submissions from two staff writers to finish it up and publish that edition of GGO to the Internet. The local World Evangelism Team members in Winona, MS as well as Gay and Byron Nichols in Springfield, MO and Janet and Wayne Barrier in Florence, AL have been working on various facets of volumes 84 and 85 of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 83 hasn’t arrived from the printing company yet, so you can see that there is some significant behind the scenes lead time involved in the production of this quarterly magazine.

Hasn’t this winter weather been interesting! No snow here, just rain, cold and some ice, but my order for printed envelopes got stranded for days because of snow in the north – half of the order stuck in Ohio and the other half stuck in Kentucky; part of the order arrived Friday and the balance is scheduled for delivery on Monday.

All of the 190 Bibles we ordered for distribution in Guyana, South America have arrived. Volunteers from the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS will be inserting into each Bible a “Basic Bible Reference Bookmark” and one of my tracts, “The One True Church of the Bible.” Young people from the congregation will accomplish this a few days from now on a Sunday afternoon.

We are thankful for brethren helping we team members in Winona from time to time.  Today, mostly youths from the Strickland Church of Christ in Glen, MS came to Winona and worked in the World Evangelism Building.  They packed books into boxes for overseas distribution, loaded a trailer with literature that is also bound for abroad and counted out tracts into bundles of 25 to fulfill requests from stateside churches. Our coworkers, Jerry and Paula Bates are sponsored by the Strickland congregation.

Thursday, Bonnie and I headed for Jackson, MS for Bonnie to undergo another (the third) paracentesis, which drains fluid from the abdomen. This time, 4.1 liters (about 8 pounds worth) was drawn off; within the last six weeks, nearly 12 liters has been removed. The buildup of fluid results in pain and nausea, and so Bonnie feels better afterward. Friday, Bonnie underwent another round of chemotherapy, a combination of two cancer drugs, a steroid and anti-nausea medicine. Bonnie became ill during treatment, but additional medicine helped.

We must return to the cancer center on Monday because Bonnie’s blood counts are very low. At that time, she will receive an injection that will aid in restoring her blood counts. The picture accompanying this blog entry is of Bonnie on Friday while she received her chemo treatment.

On a side note, our daughter Rebecca was the speaker for a ladies’ inspiration day today in Tennessee. I was mistaken when I critiqued her preaching at 3-years-old, telling her that girls don’t preach. Biblically speaking, there is an arena for public teaching of the Word of God by Christian ladies, and both Bonnie and Rebecca seize those opportunities stateside and overseas, too.

Another postscript, last evening we were alerted to a popping noise and the smell of an electrical fire emanating from our kitchen. After a few failed attempts to identify the source, finally we were able to isolate the cause, suspecting that the refrigerator was the culprit. A local handyman confirmed it this morning when he plugged the refrigerator back in and it caught on fire. No damage other than certifying that we need to replace the refrigerator, which will happen Monday while we are away in Jackson for medical treatment (see above). We have resorted to an old ice chest for the interim – not so convenient but doable, of course. We are just glad we were home to intervene in the episode for fear had we not been here, the house may have burned to the ground.

Bonnie and I remain devoted to each other and dedicated to serving our Lord Jesus Christ to the fullest extent we possibly can. Thank you for enabling us to do just that. Please continue to remember us in prayers.

Last Sunday This Year at Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ

February 24, 2013

Michael HooperMichael HooperSunday, February 24, 2013 found me worshipping with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ. Brother Bryan Michael Hooper taught an excellent Bible class without written notes, using his Bible and quoting most verses from memory. He is a fine specimen of a preacher of God’s Word well worthy of emulation. Brother preaches for a congregation in Guyana, but happened to be in Linden at Amelia’s Ward because he, brother Nigel and I are traveling throughout Guyana in a series of seminars. We have been using brother Nigel Milo’s home in Linden as a base of operations. A little baby girl took up with him and was so content that she refused to go back for some while to her family members, including her mother.

Louis RushmoreI was privileged preach the Gospel during both the morning and evening worship periods as well as speak briefly for an evening men’s class. Many were the sisters in Christ who expressed well wishes for Bonnie back in the USA, and several men throughout the day also remembered her in public prayers.

The Amelia’s Ward congregation is exemplary in so many ways. It is one of the largest congregations among the churches of Christ in the entire country of Guyana. Its members go out into their community to evangelize Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. In addition, several members pay their own expenses to go on two one-week crusades or evangelistic efforts each year throughout Guyana. The church’s local outreach includes repairing or building homes for its elderly Christians. The Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ has an extensive teaching curriculum for all ages.

The combined Bible class and worship Sunday mornings is three hours. Sunday evening the church not only has worship but a men’s class following. Ladies’ class is on another day of the week. The church has Wednesday evening Bible class, youth classes on another day as well as friends and family days. Every Friday night, brother Milo teaches dozens of girls and boys at a high school boarding house, and dozens of them also attend worship at Amelia’s Ward. Some are converted each year and carry the Gospel back to remote villages. Several boxes of The Voice of Truth International are distributed by church members in the local hospital and in the community.

The Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is one of the most working churches anywhere in the world. It is not a wealthy church in terms of material prosperity, but it is extremely wealthy in souls dedicated to Christian service. At a time when membership in the churches of Christ throughout the nation is diminishing – threatening the existence of some congregations – the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is thriving. Yes, it has human problems, but it is thriving in spite of the frailty of mortals because it is devoted to Jesus Christ.

96 dpi 4x6 Nigel MiloBrother Nigel Milo is the dynamo behind the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ, buttressed by his loyal wife sister Jasmine. Together they are raising a handsome son Zabuel (Zab). Brother Milo has boundless energy, and it is obvious after just a little time around him that he is literally high on Jesus Christ. That degree of zeal is contagious, affecting for good all with whom he comes in contact.

Brethren Hooper and Milo are worthy of any pulpit in any venue in any country, and auditors of their lessons would be much benefited. Brother Nigel shares with me a vision for seeing to the edification of preachers and congregations everywhere in Guyana. It is our intention to help stabilize churches, encourage them, increase Bible knowledge among the most devoted Christians and prompt them to take a personal responsibility for evangelizing their own nation.

I love Guyana. I love my brethren in Guyana. It is a small country of 83,000 square miles and a population of less than 800,000 precious souls, and they speak English. It is a no brainer not only to evangelize Guyana but to equip the brethren for ministry (Ephesians 4:12). In conjunction with that, within a few weeks every preacher in Guyana will have received a box of books from World Evangelism to enrich their personal studies. I hope to continue directing literature including tracts and The Voice of Truth International into the hands of brethren no matter where they reside in Guyana. We plan to grow the church from the inside out, spiritually first, which will permit it to expand itself numerically. We will continue to petition God in prayer toward that end.

A Fortnight or So

July 19, 2012

A “fortnight” refers to two weeks or 14 days. That’s about how long it has been since my last blog entry. I hope that you readers enjoy some of the trials and the travels we encounter. At least, it may be therapeutic for me!

Wednesday, July 4, I taught the auditorium class at the Collierville, TN Church of Christ. I presented one of the lessons on Male Leadership that I had taught during our recent two-weeks of workshops in Guyana, South America. Saturday, July 7, Bonnie and I traveled to Defuniak Springs, FL where on the Lord’s Day I spoke at all services of the Liberty Church of Christ. Monday was a travel day spent driving back to Winona, MS. Tuesday morning, Bonnie had a repeat visit to the dentist office, this time to fill a cavity – nearly two hours south of Winona outside of Jackson, MS. Tuesday evening, we attended the Gospel meeting of the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, MS. This quaint setting deep in the woods and traversed by mud roads is one of the oldest settings for the Lord’s church in Mississippi. Wednesday, July 11, I taught the adult, auditorium class at the West President Street Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS; here also, I taught about Male Leadership as I had done in Guyana recently.

Wednesday through Saturday, youth from the Central Church of Christ in Cleveland, TN worked at the World Evangelism Building in Winona and on the Missionary House in which Bonnie and I reside. They prepared over 4,200 packets for mailing, bundled tracts, cleaned, loaded 1,300 pounds of boxes of books and a tractor-trailer and some helped paint some of the exterior of the Missionary House. They and we were tired! We are always grateful for the help that congregations lend us from time to time by coming to help us in Winona. After all, there are only five of us in Winona of the World Evangelism Team (Jerry and Paula Bates, Betty Choate and the two of us).

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Saturday, July 14 was Bonnie and my 39th wedding anniversary. It seems that each year some event is going on in Winona that trumps our anniversary! So, to say the least, our anniversary was somewhat anticlimactic. However, we are at a loss how to celebrate. We travel extensively so that nights out in a motel or dining out are routine. We haven’t given gifts to each other for at least two years, as through the year if we need or desire something, we just get it. We spend all of our time together, and neither of us could surprise the other with anything. We steal a day or two along the way occasionally between appointments on the road – especially if we are not too far from the Smoky Mountains.

Sunday, July 15, not having an appointment – a rarity, we got up early and drove nearly two hours to attend Bible class and worship with the Siwell Road Church of Christ. This church sponsors us. In addition, this was the official start date for brother Gary and Teresa Hampton to work with the congregation as minister and wife. We wanted to encourage them as well. Sunday evening, we worshipped with the Elliott, MS Church of Christ, one of our supporting congregations. It just so happened that the church was having an ice cream supper after worship, for which we stayed.

Wednesday, July 18, Bonnie and I visited the Walnut Grove Church of Christ outside of Benton, KY. We drove up to Collierville, TN late Tuesday afternoon where we lodged in our daughter’s home. She was not there, though, as she is on a mission trip to Guyana. Staying in her home positioned us two hours closer to our evening appointment on Wednesday – knocking down the drive on that day to a mere three and a half hours. We were graciously received by John and Kim Hunt for supper in their home. Everything was tasty per usual, but I felt like a lead ballast from too much goodness as I spoke that evening. We were well received as always. We opted to drive back to Rebecca’s home that night to more easily return to Winona on Thursday. However, I got so tired – just 12 miles from her house – that we had to pull off the road and rest for about 15 minutes before I could resume and conclude this leg of our trip. We arrived a little after 12:30 a.m.

Thursday, we arrived back at the office in Winona barely in time to see the group from the Strickland Church of Christ in Glen, MS conclude their day’s labor at the World Evangelism Building and head back home. This congregation sponsors Jerry and Paula Bates. Bonnie and I remained for two or three hours tending to various matters. I printed return envelopes among other things for a mailing that will occur on Friday, with still another group helping out – the Liberty Church of Christ from Dennis, MS, which sponsors Betty Choate.

Between times, Bonnie continues to work on the next issue (volume 73) of The Voice of Truth International, readying it for the printers. I continue to work on the July issue of Gospel Gazette Online. Various other duties intervene and demand some of our attention along the way. We never have to despair because of boredom. We just choose from among a buffet of tasks awaiting their turn for our attention.

This coming weekend, we will be at congregations in Alabama. The following weekend, we will be in Georgia.

We’re Back!

June 13, 2012

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Tuesday evening, June 12, Bonnie and I arrived back in Winona, MS from our nearly two weeks of mission work in Guyana, South America. We taught five workshops in various parts of the country, visited patients in a hospital, participated in home Bible studies, taught youth in a boarding school, attended a marriage seminar and worshipped with two congregations.

In the workshops, Bonnie taught Christian women about The Role of Women in the Home and in the Church. I taught Male Leadership in the Home and the Church. Sessions were conducted in Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam and outside of Charity. Sometimes lively panel discussions concluded each appointment, where a capable Guyanese brother and I fielded questions on the workshop theme and other Bible questions.

We were in Guyana during the rainy season. It rained off and on every day! The combination of heat and high humidity made for sticky days. Bugs aplenty made their presence known, with ant, mosquito and spider bites populating our skin with pock marks from time to time literally from head to toe. Of all the places we travel in the world, Guyanese mosquitos cause the greatest, swiftest and longest lasting effects on me personally. One dark, early morning I felt the bite on my forehead, and immediately I began to swell in the affected area. The bulging bump stretched my skin until that hurt, too.

The larger bridges we crossed were all floating on barges. These toll bridges were approximately a mile in length, and they bobbed up and down as voluminous traffic traversed them. The most interesting mode of transportation was a speed boat we rode each way across the mouth of the Essequibo River at the Atlantic Ocean. The boat held about 18 passengers and cargo. It was open topped and traveled around 60 mph crossway to the current and around islands. The water was calm in the morning, and the ride was smooth but we could barely open our eyes for the force of the wind. The return trip across the river that afternoon was bumpy, comparable I would imagine to riding a mechanical bull. We do not have to buy excitement at an amusement park! Passengers hold up across the benches what resembles the upholstery off of a couch when anticipating a blast of water shooting up over the bow or pushed by the wind over the side. Sometimes we deflected the water, and sometimes our timing was imperfect. Even when we managed to avoid being smacked in the face with a wave of water, still the water fell into the boat and soaked us. It was virtually impossible to open one’s eyes due to the force of the wind. Forty-five minutes of bouncing on the waves with the boat battering our kidneys and bladders, sodden with saltwater baths, arms aching from using them as masts to steady the furniture fabric sail meant to protect us, we arrived on the opposite shore. This trip involved a two-day drive, boat ride and taxi ride to our destination near Charity. We went attired in dress shirt and pants with tie in place to be ready for the workshop upon our arrival. We could only laugh to ourselves and know that we could not adequately describe this affair to anyone back home. By the way, one Guyanese brother told us the life preservers were required – to locate bodies easier! Another Guyanese brother pointed out the plastic jugs strapped to the underside of the benches – so the boat wouldn’t sink when it overturns!

There is a lot of ongoing interest in Guyana by American Christians who devote themselves to the employment of various methodologies for evangelism in that country. Perhaps some missionaries edify congregations that they encounter. However, we are not aware of any widespread investment by American Christians to help mature the Lord’s church in Guyana. That is why beginning in 2012 Bonnie and I are devoting ourselves to working with church leaders on a national level to help grow the church from the inside out. We want to contribute to the stability and maturity of the congregations throughout the country – in the more easily accessible areas as well as in the bush as the nationals say. Our primary partner in Guyana is Nigel Milo. He is a graduate of Heritage Christian University in Florence, AL, and he was mentored by Edmond Cagle. Nigel is academically qualified, experienced in the USA and his homeland of Guyana, and he is fully devoted to the cause of Christ. Through him, Bonnie and I will continue to work with Guyanese preaching brethren and their congregations throughout the entire nation of Guyana. We are already planning an extended mobile program for 2013 that will take us to most areas of Guyana. Whatever good comes of these humble investments of ourselves will we pledge to the glory to God and earnestly desire to be a blessing to our Guyanese brethren.