Posted tagged ‘2015 Overview & Update’

Prisoner on Earth

August 21, 2015

old songbooksIn a sense, sometimes I feel like a prisoner on earth when I think about the fact that my dear Bonnie has gone on from this world. The real “left behind” pertains to loved ones whose departed friends and family have left them behind. The good news, of course, is that there is a heavenly reunion toward which I and others like me look for with earnest. Yet, I’m sure that even such a longed for reunion will be sufficiently overshadowed by the bliss of eternal habitation with the Godhead Three, the angelic host and the redeemed of all ages. Still the time of her leave from me has been so recent that her (and my) headstone hasn’t been chiseled and set yet. There is no pain like it, and this pain excels all others because it wracks havoc both internally and externally. This, too, I know will pass – or at least deaden over time.

The “earth” that I experience isn’t really prison-like. I have everything that I need and more than I want. My health is fairly good. There is more food available than I desire. I have an abundance of clothes and other physical blessings. I live on a relatively peaceful part of the planet. How silly of me to imagine that I am a prisoner on earth!

In the early morning moments before full consciousness I was still making as it were new memories of Bonnie and me. I dreamed that we were together on some foreign field, some place to which we had not previously gone, but ever so familiar a scenario. For a moment, we were together once more making our way to acquire some literature for our overseas brethren. Then, I awoke and began a new day because I must. Duty calls.

It was my good pleasure this past Lord’s Day to be with the Batesville, MS Church of Christ for their evening worship. I felt right at home. I was privileged to make my PowerPoint presentation “Overview & Update” about my participation in World Evangelism and a little later to offer the Lord’s invitation. Some of the brethren of this congregation participate with me materially in my efforts to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m happy to say that the next issue of The Voice of Truth International (volume 86) is ready to send to the printing company, and I am well underway working on the next edition, too. Both of these issues need to be ready for the printing company before I leave for Asia for two months beginning on September 23. In addition, I have started working on the September edition of Gospel Gazette Online. Beyond that, I mailed the August issue of the Rushmore Newsletter today. Over the next few days, I will be out of the office – out of Winona, MS at least. Since I have a mobile office, any place I happen to be is my office. For a few days I intend to resort to my daughter’s home for some family time and some away time before the balance of my Sunday and Wednesdays are taken up with appointments with churches of Christ before departing the USA on September 23. I will continue working on The Voice of Truth International and Gospel Gazette Online.

Finally, my schedule abroad is firm. With Delta Skymiles and a little cash, I purchased flights to Singapore and later from Bangalore, India back to the United States. I have accepted an itinerary with a travel agent for the balance of the flights between and in four Asian countries and will purchase those tickets as soon as the fares are presented to me. Now I need to concentrate on getting the lessons lined up to teach in the various locations to which I will be going in Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. Teaching is almost the easiest part of foreign travel.

Besides distributing literature stateside and abroad, World Evangelism of which I am a part receives useable leftover Bible class and VBS literature, used songbooks, excess Gospel Minutes and House to House, old communion sets, etc. for repackaging and distribution abroad. Recently, we received some old, paperback songbooks. We cannot use them for overseas brethren, but we hate to dispose of them. They date back to 1935, 1937 and 1942. The titles are, Everlasting Praises, Number Two; Best of All Songs; and Sunrise in Glory. I placed one copy of each in my home alongside of some other old books that I have on display. If anyone out there would like to have these songbooks, I will send them to you for the price of postage and packaging; just let me know (Email: rushmore@gospelgazette.com).

Thank you for your encouraging words and any prayers offered on my behalf. Have a blessed day.

Nearly a Fortnight in Florida

June 30, 2015

Glass-Bottom Boat at Silver Springs, FLFriday, June 26, Rebecca and I lumbered along a route resembling the flight of a drunken crow as we drove from Winona, MS in a southeasterly direction headed for Florida. The Gospel chariot was laden down with Bonnie’s clothes (for Martha Noland in Ocala, FL), display material, literature and luggage. Picture Rebecca and me wedged in the command module of our little black space shuttle with barely enough room for ourselves. We paused en route the next two days to consume homemade tuna sandwiches that we had prepared for our lunches.

Weary from the first day’s journey, we lodged in Troy, AL at the Best Western Inn. Rain greeted us throughout the day as well as when we left the hotel for supper. The trip that day was uneventful except for a couple vehicles that seemed to want to play bumper car, but we resisted.

Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the home of our host and hostess in Jacksonville, FL where we would linger for the next two days; brother Jeff and sister Sherri White made us comfortable and fattened us up a little with good cooking. They worship with the Chaffee Road Church of Christ, which is one of my supporters and for which I was to speak Sunday morning. For Bible class, I presented my “Overview & Update” PowerPoint about World Evangelism and my labors therewith. During worship, I presented my PowerPoint “The Church of Prophecy.”

Sunday evening, we worshipped with the Riverview Church of Christ, and I gave my “Overview & Update” PowerPoint once more. Both congregations received us well, and the latter made a special financial participation with me in my mission endeavors.

Following worship, Rebecca and I traveled to the home of Bob and Martha Noland in Ocala, FL. He has served for many years as an elder and a Gospel preacher, and of course, Martha has been a valuable component, too, in their service to our Lord Jesus Christ. Just before our arrival, we received a mobile call as we were driving that Bob was having a medical crisis. When we got to their home, EMS personnel were assisting them, and finally, they placed Bob in Bob and Martha’s van for a trip to a cancer hospital an hour away in Gainesville, FL.

Rebecca and I rode along. Test after test was performed on Bob. However, after spending hours in the Emergency Room with no progress toward admitting Bob to the hospital, Rebecca and I returned to the Noland home in Ocala. We got to bed finally between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Later in the day Monday, we gathered up the Noland’s granddaughter who had been deposited at Christian brethren and friends of the Nolands. The three of us, then, proceeded to return to the hospital in Gainesville. That evening, we returned to Ocala.

Tuesday, Rebecca and I went to a nearby Florida State Park where we rode a glass-bottom boat at the headwaters – 120 natural springs – for the Silver Springs River. Thunderstorms daily have lashed us with wind and rain; while on the boat, a ferocious storm battered land and water. Yet, beneath the surface of the river, we could see through the glass bottom of the watercraft that neither deep water nor aquatic life were the least disturbed by the turbulence above. (Incidentally, the most recent edition of the Rushmore Newsletter, which we mailed on Friday, June 19, finally arrived at residences here in Florida. I beat the mail down here. Imagine that!)

The water was crystal clear, and the depths were deceptively deeper than they appeared. We saw the bluest freshwater fish we had ever observed, plus turtles, gar and other fish. Later while walking adjacent to the river, we spied an alligator at water’s edge. We also saw monkeys, regionally appropriate birds and lizards.

So, we “played” a little – or smelled the roses somewhat. However, Rebecca and I worked as well. Finally, Tuesday evening, we completed entry of articles in a database, chronicling articles already used in The Voice of Truth International so we can distinguish them more easily from articles that have not yet been used in VOTI. We entered articles for over 300 pages encompassing three recent editions of the magazine. I also worked on Gospel Gazette Online a little plus other office work (in my mobile office – on my lap).

Saturday, Rebecca and I will travel to DeFuniak Springs in preparation for speaking all day Sunday for the Liberty Church of Christ. Between now and then, we will continue to work especially on VOTI and GGO. Monday, we will begin our return trip to Winona, MS.

Thank you for your interest in my efforts for the cause of Christ. I continue to make appointments both for stateside travel as well as overseas venues in five countries for this fall and into next year. Please pray for me, and let me know what dates you would like me to visit your congregation (mission report, preaching, Gospel meeting, etc.).

Driving, Driving & More Driving

June 24, 2015

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Sunday morning, June 21 commenced with Rebecca and me exiting Winona, MS just before 7:30 a.m. We headed out of town in a southeasterly direction, completely trusting ourselves to the guidance of the car’s GPS system. Two hours later, after having traveled what was a new route for me, we arrived at the meetinghouse of the Union, MS Church of Christ moments prior to the start of Bible class.

During that study period, it was my good pleasure to speak regarding “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.” My material was a small section of my new book soon to be published, which is entitled Christianity: An Explanation. Next during the worship period, I made my PowerPoint presentation about “The Church in Prophecy.”

Admittedly, I spoke with some haste both in the Bible class and during my sermon, and we covered a lot of ground. Some verbiage from the old Smokey and the Bandit movie of decades ago resonates with me when I try to cram a lot into a little time slot: “…a long way to go and only a little time to get there.”

The occasion for an invitation to speak for the Union Church of Christ (not to be confused with the Old Union Church of Christ elsewhere in Mississippi) this Sunday was the fellowship meal following worship. Christians the world over know how to enjoy one another’s company over delicious home cooked vittles.

This pleasant congregation sent me on my way that afternoon with hearty financial support to help me facilitate the mission work to which I devote myself. Though the Union church does not support me monthly in my labors, the periodic funds that it sends my way equals and in some cases exceeds that of monthly supporters. I am truly thankful for every encouragement and participation in my labors for the Lord.

Next, Rebecca and I drove back to my Winona home. While there briefly, we used it as a way station. I took opportunity to unload and load the dishwasher, which I hadn’t taken time to attend earlier in the day.

Leaving Winona for the second time the same day, we pointed the Lord’s car toward Courtland, MS, the site of my early evening appointment. We arrived too early, but I would much rather be early than the least bit late – which sometimes has occurred when going to other destinations.

There during evening worship, I made my PowerPoint presentation “Overview and Update” regarding my stateside and overseas activities in the service of our Lord. The Courtland Church of Christ, also not a monthly supporter, nevertheless, sent me on my way with substantial financial gifts – a large sum as a memorial for my late wife Bonnie, a lesser amount for speaking and a significant gift from one of the families. A significant portion of my fundraising comes from congregations that I visit and for which I speak. With Bonnie’s illness leading up to her passing, I am about 60 appointments behind, and accordingly impoverished respecting those kind of monetary gifts.

Mounting our motorized steed once more, Rebecca and I continued north to her domicile in Collierville, TN – a suburb of metropolitan Memphis. I often use her home as a bed and breakfast to interrupt my travels northwardly or westward across the Mississippi River or when traveling in a northeastwardly direction. The reason for this particular stopover was to position us for Monday’s travel to Nashville, TN with hundreds of pounds of Bibles, books and tracts, which I am shipping to Guyana, South America.

Monday morning we said goodbye to Rebecca’s home and began another long day of driving, driving and more driving. First, we took another package of leftover medical accessories from Bonnie’s illness to the church building of the Collierville Church of Christ with whom Rebecca ordinarily worships. Distribution will be made as in the past at other times to Christians who can benefit from such.

Next, we swung by the nearby home of the congregation’s preacher and his wife, Torrey and Alexander Clark. With them in tow, we pointed my Gospel chariot toward Nashville for the purpose of delivering our precious cargo to Caribbean Shipping Service. The Collierville congregation enabled me to purchase $1,200 worth of Bibles, and I tasked brother Clark to be the representative of the church to see them shipped. We had on board 160 Gift and Award Bibles for members of the churches of Christ in Guyana who lack Bibles, plus 30 Reference Bibles for about a third of the Gospel preachers in that country who do not possess as useful of a copy of the Bible from which they can prepare and present sermons and Bible studies. Coupled with those items were 30 Hailey’s Bible Handbook, about 12 dozens copies of various issues of The Voice of Truth International, miscellaneous editions of Freed Hardeman lectureship books and 1,900 tracts. In addition, some small New Testaments and Bible bookmarks completed our shipment inventory. Later, I will return to the shipping company with nearly 2,000 copies of The Voice of Truth International for all of the churches of Christ in Guyana.

Brother Nigel Milo with whom I work directly in Guyana prefers shipments in barrels. Therefore, once more I do my best to cram rectangular boxes in cylindrical barrels – reminding me of the adage of trying to put square pegs in round holes. We managed to place everything we hauled on this occasion in two brown, corrugated barrels. Barring any complications, they will arrive in Guyana sometime in August. The shipping date will be the middle of July by oceangoing freighter.

It was a happy experience to spend precious time together with the Clarks. They introduced Rebecca and me to a Nashville area restaurant with which we were not familiar. In addition, on the way out of Nashville, they took us to McKay Books – a mammoth used and new book warehouse-like store. Although I wasn’t looking for anything, I did manage to buy a new book for $2, which was written by one of our Christian brethren. Rebecca, of course, being the book fanatic that she is as well as being a schoolteacher, left with several titles in her possession.

Finally, we made the return trip to Collierville and our temporary, one more night abode in Rebecca’s home. Sometimes in our travels, it seems that we only pause long enough to make a mess and not long enough to clean up after ourselves.

Tuesday, we will head back to Winona, MS. Work of all varieties await us in my house, at the office and on the road – driving, driving and driving some more. Later in the week I will speak for a local congregation, before traveling to Florida for preaching appointments over the next two Sundays. Please remember me in your prayers. Your encouragement and every participation with me is greatly appreciated.

Determined to Go with Me!

March 31, 2015

Unfortunately, the days following Bonnie’s Friday, March 20 chemo treatment were not nearly as good as they were the previous week. Still, there have been worse days. Sunday, March 21, Bonnie received another injection to boost her blood counts after morning worship. We are indebted to an RN who is a sister in Christ for administering the shots, which arrive at our house by FedEx. Tuesday, we again returned to Jackson, MS—this time to have a dentist who is a brother in Christ work once more on the last pesky bottom molar that meets an upper molar. Wednesday, Bonnie was too ill to leave the house.

Lincoln Church of ChristDespite not feeling well most of the week, Bonnie was determined to travel with me to a speaking appointment with the Lincoln Church of Christ in Huntsville, AL. We left Saturday, March 28 from Winona, MS to Huntsville by way of Tuscaloosa, AL. Yes, that was a detour that added about 50 miles to our journey. We had arranged to meet a deacon of the Central Church of Christ to hand off several cases of Spanish language Bible study books and Spanish The Voice of Truth International magazines. That congregation will make sure that this literature makes its way to Peru this summer.

The purpose of our visit to the Lincoln church was to report on the portion of World Evangelism in which sister Betty Choate and her sponsoring congregation are involved. Therefore, I invited Betty to accompany us. I would speak publicly during an assembly, and she would have ample opportunity to speak privately to members of the congregation there. This trip afforded sister Choate the occasion to lodge with and visit two of her nieces outside of Huntsville. Bonnie and I were the happy guests of Patricia and Bob Gaffin; he is the deacon of missions for his church.

After supper, brother Gaffin and I set up my display material at the meetinghouse. Another brother met us there so we could make ready my PowerPoint presentation of an overview of the World Evangelism effort.

Sunday morning, Bonnie and I attended Bible class and worshipped with the Lincoln Church of Christ. Numerous brethren, including Betty Choate, converged on the Gaffin residence for a quick lunch before returning to the church building for a special afternoon class and second worship.

Sunday at 1 p.m., I presented my “Buckets of Bible Time” class, which sometimes I do for pew-packers. On this occasion, my youth class was all grey-headed! There were no children present. Everyone seemed to enjoy the emphasis made on noting the chronological order of Bible events and Bible characters. Immediately thereafter and beginning at 1:30 p.m., we entered worship. At the appropriate time, I made my PowerPoint presentation, “2015 Overview and Update.”

We lingered for about an hour after the conclusion of worship before starting our return trek of around five hours back to Winona, MS. It was difficult to part from brethren who were so eager to interact with us, and it was no easier to part from the brother and his wife the day before when we delivered Spanish literature in Tuscaloosa. Finally, we three arrived back in Winona at a little after 8 p.m.

Monday was not an especially good day for Bonnie, though she did well except for fatigue on our outing over the prior two days. That evening, though, we went to Betty Choate’s office in her home, just an eighth of a mile away from where we live, to help her with a computer glitch. She was having difficulty with some files for the upcoming volume 85 of The Voice of Truth International. No easy fix, but we succeeded and were back at the house around 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Bonnie and I returned to Jackson, MS so she could undergo another paracentesis—the removal of fluid associated with her cancer from her abdomen. Monday, I was finally able to clean up the debris from storm damage in the yard and mow most of the lawn. Tuesday upon returning from Jackson, I was able to complete and publish to the Internet the April 2015 edition of Gospel Gazette Online. Bonnie continues to work on volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International, and now that Gazette has been published, I also will concentrate on volume 84 of VOTI. In addition, I personally have two books ready to send to printing companies, and I have brother Wayne Barrier’s newest book ready for publication as well. There is never a dull moment, but there are sufficient opportunities that one can easily muse on another necessary task for diversion from another necessary job from which a break is desired.

Friday is a big day for us. Again traveling to Jackson, MS, Bonnie will have a CT scan, meet with her oncologist and have chemotherapy. The oncologist will reevaluate future treatment after comparing the two most recent CT scans. Please remember my dear wife and best friend in your prayers.