Newsletter – Summer 1996
Baja California Sur
As the plane left the runway, all I could think was “We begin again.” Even with all the planning, it was hard for me to believe that we were again leaving the country, headed for Mexico. With months of preparation behind us, a great adventure lay ahead. Your prayers went before us to prepare our way and we thank you.
This is only a small part of what our God did in the Baja. We must start by thanking our dear friends, Fernando and Vicki Crews, PEF missionaries to Los Barrilles, Mexico. They and their children are committed to using the puppets and story telling equipment that you provided. Their great patience and sacrifice enabled us to effectively minister in the Baja. Their children even gave up their beds so that we could have a nice place to sleep.
Please keep them in your prayers as they seek to plant the only evangelical church in their town.
The Worst Road
One of my favorite memories was our trip to El Cardonal. The winding, wash board, dirt road with no side rails clung to the side of a cliff with the Sea of Cortez far below. It was barely wide enough to pass an oncoming vehicle and cows kept roaming across the road. We bounced and laughed and finally arrived in a place which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere.
With only a few houses and only an ocean of cactus and scrub visible, we were not prepared for the more than 100 men, women and children that arrived for the puppet show. Many drove for miles through the desert to see the puppets and heard the Gospel. Fernando was especially pleased to see that one third of the group was adult men.
Lions, tigers, bears!
The Santiago Zoo wasn’t like any zoo that I ever visited. The animals appeared as hot and tired as all of us. We had received special permission from the Mayor to share on Sunday afternoon under a covered pavilion. As we tied balloons, gave out Gospel bracelets, and shared with the puppets, a crowd gathered to watch. The guard that was unhappy with us at first, changed his heart after Vicki spoke to him and he invited us to come back the next week. We thank God for the guards changed heart.
School in Baja
Always, we were aware of the spiritual war that waged all about us. We shared in a local kindergarten one day and in the elementary school the next. However, after that day, we were not allowed to share in the schools again.
When one door closed, God opened another. The very next day, we drove forty minutes through the desert to San Antonio. We were able to share with over 100 people, children, teens, mothers, and the local police. It was awesome! Many truly listened and afterwards, when we handed out Spanish tracts, even the police wanted them.
There are too many stories to tell, but the following will give you a taste of the things we saw God do:
…a puppet show at Fernando’s house for all of the Doctors in town. This was a unique opportunity to challenge these men and women who privately profess Christ to publicly confess Him.
…a puppet show for the soccer team that Fernando coaches. They werevery open and listened carefully to the Bible stories.
…the church’s first community outreach. Vicki and the ladies planned a wonderful meal and we shared with a puppet show, challenging everyone to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. It was well attended, even the Principal from the local elementary school came with his family.
…a Sunday morning worship service where Mike had to rush Fernando to the local clinic, while Vicki, their children, Linda and the puppeteers were left to finish the service. God blessed!
God’s ways are not our ways and His timing is not our timing. Many times this summer, I have been reminded of this truth. If the Lord had left things to me, I would never have chosen to work at the Olympics all summer and have Linda and the team travel without me.
Actually, I spent most of my time since February working in the Atlanta area. I have learned lessons by being apart from my family, friends, and church that I could not have learned at home.
When the Olympics ended, I gladly left my motel room in Atlanta. I was happy to be home with my friends and family and I was also much closer to the Lord.
New Team Member
This summer, we welcomed a new member to the team. Josh Brown, son of Bruce and Barbara Brown, is a Godly young man and we are thrilled to have him with us! He is working very hard to learn the skits. Please ask God to help him!
The New Van
Two days after we returned from Mexico, I was to leave for Atlanta, with Linda and the team planning to travel thousands of miles without me. I wasvery concerned that they would be traveling in our old van, a 1975 Plymouthwith 279,000 miles. It is literally falling apart, with the front seat broken, a drivers door that opens on its own and almost no air conditioning.
The day after we returned, a friend drove into the yard with a neighbor’s van that was for sale. Within 24 hours, God, through several dear friends had provided all the funds for the purchase and repairs.
Our “new” van is a customized 1984 GMC with only 113,000 miles. It has captains chairs and all of the dials, switches and buttons work, including the air conditioner.
The team traveled in wonderful comfort, because these dear friends joined together to answer our long time prayer for a better van. Linda’s health would not have allowed her to drive the great distances in the summer heat without the new van.
Because of their faithfulness, “The Agape Puppets” team was blessed to share Christ with more than 1,500 people. Hundreds of children, adults and teens met Jesus as their Savior. We praise the Lord for this terrific answer to years of prayers.
Again, we see that God’s plan was so much better than our plan. We were so sure that the van was worn out years ago when its’ mileage reached 170,000miles and it still had more than 100,000 miles left.
Synod of the City
This is a group of men and women committed to reaching the inner city of Atlanta and its surrounding cities for Jesus. One weekend, we worked with Ben Wilkinson, Ken Belton, Joseph Sanchez, and Doug Graulich in an exciting time of ministry.
Ken Belton’s congregation shares a building with a pawn shop and if you drive too far, you will arrive at Club Nicky, a strip club.
Pastor Sanchez has a store front for his church where only one half of the building is now usable. He routinely walks through the community, bringing in children to tell them about Jesus.
Ben Wilkinson crowded 55+ people in a room that should have held only half that number.
Doug Graulich holds the record for packing the most kids in a Honda and could really use a van.
All of these men are bright light in the middle of terrible darkness.
More Snap Shots
…God blessed tremendously this summer. In one eight day period, the team traveled to four cities in two states and saw more than 100 children, teens, and adults confess Christ as their Savior.
…a visit to Smoky Mountain Church Camp with Dwight Wilkinson where we shared with inner-city children from Nashville. This is always a special time and we delight in the time that we spend with these young people.
…PEF Family Evangelism Conference. In late July, we took 11 young men and one young lady to Western Carolina University in North Carolina. It was aterrific week of Bible Study and prayer.
…working with CEF sharing with hundreds at the Olympics, while sharing in morning puppet shows for kids in a housing project. More than 45 of these children and teens prayed to receive Christ, including one 65 year old woman who prayed out loud.
…we visited Camp Joy near Columbus, Ga. and saw 3 teen age girls meet Jesus.
…an exciting time of sharing at Kennesaw First Baptist.
…the many churches and groups that we visited represent a wide range of denominations and provided us with awesome opportunities to share Christ.
Our deepest thanks to these dear brothers and sisters who welcomed us and took such good care of the team. Their love for God blessed us deeply!
Linda’s New Ministry
Since Josh and Matt have started college at UTC and she is not home schooling, Linda will have more free time during the school year.
She is preparing material to share during chapel programs in Christian schools. The new equipment for this ministry has been underwritten by the Vacation Bible School children at Trinity, PCA in Covington. We thank them so much for their kindness.
She is interested in speaking to ladies groups and groups interested in missions. Please contact her now for fall and winter scheduling.