Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sometimes the Old Way is the Best Way.

Remember the Radio Flyer little red wagon? It was simple, sturdy and fun. The new model appears comfortable but looks as much fun as dragging around an Igloo plastic picnic cooler. I think "modernizing" it just defeats the purpose of a little red wagon: Simple Fun that Lasts a Long Time.

This new model is called the Cloud 9. It has an MP3 player and speaker system, for your child. When he gets tired of that, he can strap himself in to one of the two bucket seats using a five-point racing harness. At his fingertips will be a digital display panel, complete with temperature readouts, odometer and speedometer. Got a Juicy Juice Sippy cup handy? No worries. The Cloud 9 has cup holders too!

But after spending about a thousand dollars, is your kid really better off or more in tune with the outdoors? A wagon that is this expensive probably will never be allowed to leave the side walk or yard. So, if the purpose of a wagon is getting your kid to play outside and like it, that very purpose is defeated by the modern version of the same product.

The same thing happens in church work. As a missionary, we have seen a lot of so called "modern methods" for doing the work of evangelism and church planting, which in reality are methods that avoid doing the core work of missions.

We find there is nothing that beats knocking on a door, asking to come in and reading the Word of God in a person's home. Sometimes the old way is really the best way to get the job done. Besides, it's really more fun that way once you get started!

Please pray as we do it the old way. It is not the easy or most comfortable way, but it is really the only way to fulfill the central purpose of missionary: Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a message that has the power to change a persons life and destiny. There is no better way!

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth

Friday, December 26, 2008

Umm! Roast Guinea Pig!

Mission trips: We give as well as receive!

Here are a few pictures I got from some of my students, Nancy and Marta, who went to Peru and helped a pastor in the Lima area.

We like it when churches and individuals come on down and give us a hand on the mission field. Now we are passing on that idea: our students at Puerto Rico Baptist College take some of their vacation time to help in missions around the world.

These students helped a church in Peru and had some fun too. They built a snowman out of bricks and got to see a Peruvian treat: Roast Guinea Pigs!

Well, these trips are very educational!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas, Sad Christmas

Our Merry Christmas: My newly married daughters and their husbands arrived in Puerto Rico at 2:30 AM Sunday morning. It made for a long Sunday, but we are enjoying some great family time: good food, dumb jokes, old movies and good conversations. They will be with us for two weeks.

Sad Christmas: "Heb 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them."

One of my college students was flying home for Christmas and was stopped by immigration and taken to jail. It seems that he is a Mexican that has been in the USA since he was three, but that his papers were not in order. They took him from the airport and put him in jail, where he was dressed in an orange suit and handcuffs.

It was a real shock to all of us. He has studied with us for 3 ½ years and is only a semester away from graduation and becoming a Christian School teacher. He is definitely not in the same class as a "border crasher" or the kind of intentional illegal that the government tries to catch. He is just the opposite: a responsible and productive student who loves the Lord and helps others. We are praying and working to get him the help he needs to get out of jail and back to preparing for that productive future he was workings towards.

We give thanks for our blessing, and invite you to rejoice with us. But we also ask you to please remember and pray for this student and his sad situation this Christmas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Things Missionaries Miss The Most

I visited Community Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida for a missions conference this last week. Pastor Wayne Golson and people were just great! I found I miss some things in the USA. One is just hearing the Star-Spangled Banner sung, like the "Cactus Cuties" did so well at this basketball game.

I left Florida and returned to the work of missions here in Puerto Rico. I love the work and the people here, but it did cost me something to leave the USA.

The bumper stickers say, "Love it or Leave it" But what if you DO love it but MUST leave it? It is hard to do! But the Lord left a better place than the USA when he came at Christmas to do his Fathers perfect will. I guess you can't have a better example to follow than that!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How to Be Happy and Support a Missionary at the Same Time

People stay home from church and watch TV, but I just found this article in the NY TIMES that states being in church will make you happier!

"Happy People Watch Less TV, Study Shows

Published: November 19, 2008

"Researchers at the University of Maryland found the one activity unhappy people do more than happy people is watch TV. The New York Times reports:

"We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. [John] Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”

I think a good application of this would be to: Cancel your Cable TV, Go to church and Use the money you save to support a missionary!

Too hard? How about...Your missionary giving should be at LEAST as much as much as you spend on cable TV and video rentals. Still too hard? Well, nobody said being happy was going to be easy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obituary: Mr. Common Sense

A friend sent this to me today about the death of an important person. I suspected he was going downhill for a long time. I hope you will keep his memory alive in our churches and we hope to follow his teachings to improve our missionary service here in Puerto Rico.
Obituary: Mr. Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, why life isn't always fair, and how, on occasion, maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student; but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when people became afraid to defend themselves from burglars in their own homes because the burglar could sue them for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and Ima Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

¨He won´t get by me, Pastor.¨

Unlikely Guardian Angel

Last week, I found Miguel sitting on the front steps of my church and wanting to talk. Miguel is 50 something, but muscular and marked by evidence of a pretty tough life. He usually just nods when I invite him to church, but today he had something to say.

¨Pastor, you know that guy that tried to assault you with a stick in the church a few weeks ago?¨ he began. "I want you to tell me all about it."

I told him the story (mentioned earlier in this same blog) and he nodded his head.

Miguel put his arm on my shoulder and said quietly, "The police won't do anything about a guy like that. Let me tell you how to handle it. Take a bat and go for the ankles, shins, knees and the lower two ribs, until he can't walk. Then drag him out to the curb side and call an ambulance. They will take him away like yesterdays garbage."

I told Miguel I appreciated his concern but that we had a testimony as a church to uphold and probably shouldn't be in the knee breaking business.

He thought about this for a minute and said, "Don't worry about it Pastor. That same stick he tried to hit you with, he used it to break a window on my pick-up truck. I am waiting here to see if he will come by again. Don't worry about a thing,...", said Miguel as he patted me on the back, "he won't get by me."

Wow, with friends like that....should I be grateful, happy or afraid? Anyway, I haven't had trouble with any street people bothering us for the last month.

Please pray for our protection, from the street criminals and also from overzealous guardians!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two different Suicide Attempts Makes for a Stressful Week

Carlos, the Knife and I

"I am going to kill myself" sobbed Carlos, as he pulled out a pocket knife, opened it and put it on the table between us,"And I am going to use that knife." He grabbed his head and moaned and rocked back and forth.

Carlos had just told me his wife left and would not allow him to visit his daughter. He handed me a huge, framed picture of his teenage girl that was hanging on the wall, saying, "Take this picture. I give to you my daughter to pray for and to look after. I won't be able too."

I was afraid for Carlos. I felt that taking the picture from him would somehow make him feel that he had taken care of his daughter and then he could go ahead with his suicide. I prayed quickly for wisdom and then spoke, trying to give him as many reasons to live as possible.

I kept an eye on him and I put my arm on the table by the knife and said, "You shouldn't give me that big picture. Hang it by your bed so you can pray for her. She will need your prayers. Remember, in a few years she will be a young woman, and have her own home and then will come the grandchildren. She will think of her father when she is on her own and you can visit her then. You will see her again, and with grandchildren to rejoice over. Imagine how sad she woud be if you hurt yourself. You don't want to make her cry. It would make a sad story for her to tell to her children. You don't want to bring grief to her heart and tears to her eyes do you?" I said,

Carlos nodded is head, and slowed his rocking a bit and we talked a little more about hope, a better life and reconcilliation, especially from God's word. After talking and praying together, I took the knife and closed it, saying, "Let's put this away now. You won't need it. I won't take that big picture. Your daughter needs your prayers, but I will take a small one and help you pray for her."

I left him then. He was still sad, but seemed a lot calmer.

The College Girl, the Pain Killers and Our Church

A girl I will call "M" is a member of our church, was living with her mother and attending a Vocational College. One day she didn't come home and only a few days later did we all find out that she had left to run off with a boy friend. We were all pretty sad. About a month ago, M returned home and came to church with her mother. I spoke to her and it looked like she was coming back home and to church, without the guy.

I am not sure of all the details, but this morning we heard that she was in the hospital after overdosing on pain killer pills her mother had in the medicine cabinate. M sent a text suicide message to her sister. The sister called her husband and he rescued M, carrying her to the hospital in time to save her life.

Our hearts and prayers are with this family. They represent three different households that attend our church. When one suffers, we suffer with them. We ask your prayers for them. They have helped us grow in the past. Now it is our turn to help them heal.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Drink This!

Tina went to the hospital today and took some Radioactive Iodine to treat her thyroid problem. It was not as spooky as the picture or what we imagined, but she was a bit nervous. She seems to have relaxed a bit since then.

The doctor says Tina is not allowed to have anybody within 10 feet of her for three days and must abide by a long list of precautions, such as eating with disposable materials, washing her clothes separately, etc. So we had to make special arrangements.

The twins are staying at a fellow missionaries home. I was going to stay in the guest room at our Bible College, but with the twins gone, I figured I could stay in their bedroom and be withing call if Tina needs anything. I didn't want her to feel abandoned during this stressful time. We rented some videos tonight and watched them together, her at one end of the living room and I at the other. We were able to laugh together, just not sit together.

Tina seems to be in good spirits, but I am sure this is stressful. Please continue to pray for her health.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bite the Bait, or Just Keep Swimming?

The church building we use was formerly an Assembly of God Church. They moved about a ½ mile away and built themselves a new building and now rent the old one to us.

A few weeks ago, their pastor stopped by and asked, "Would you like to buy our building? We will lower the price from $160,000 to around $100,000."

We got excited, but then had some doubts. It sounded too good to be true. We prayed, sought advice and took stock of our situation.

Sunday morning I announced, "Let's give this situation a week of prayer and next week have a discussion. We need to see if we SHOULD say "yes" or not. We can also have a "Faith Promise" service, and see if we are willing to raise our offerings. This will tell us if we CAN say "yes."

I thought the church would like to buy the building, but the next Sunday, everyone wanted to continue renting. The reasons: poor parking, a bad neighborhood, too close to a river and a bad roof. The clincher was when we discovered the owner never got permission or filed papers for a church at our location. So, on any whim, the government could disallow us to meet there anymore.

We then decided to spend our offerings building the congregation through visitation and meeting members' needs, rather than looking for a permanent place.

The good news in all of this is we did raise almost $200 more a month in giving for this next year. We hope to offer this to one of our Bible college students, and in turn, get more help in visitation. Today, I spoke with a young man named Julio, who is a new pastoral major at our Bible College. I scheduled him to preach Sunday and really hope that he will come and help us build up our congregation.

We do hope someday to have a place of our own. Right now, we hope to be helped by someone who has a heart for missions, and in return, be a help to them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everybody Said (But Nobody Did)

I heard a silly, upbeat, Caribbean type Acapella song this week that has a great message for missionaries, pastors and churches. It would be fun song to sing at Bible camp I think.

Here is a Youtube Link:

Everybody Said (But Nobody Did)

Everybody said that anybody could do
The important things somebody should do
Everybody knows that anybody could do
All the good things that nobody did

Well the preacher came to me and said what I ought to do
If I wanted to make my religion true
He'd do it himself but he really didn't have the time
He said that the duty was mine


Well the deacon came by and said give me a hand
If you want to be going to the promised land
Here is something that I don't have time to do
So I better give it to you


Well I'm too busy so I tell everybody
The work's got to get done by somebody
It could be done by anybody
But nobody, nobody, nobody did

CHORUS(2x) All the good things that nobody did (2x)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flying in For the Love of Missions

I love flying into a Missions conference. Everyone is anticipating a blessing, and it is a joy to share with others our passion for missions. Thanks to Pastor Wayne Golson of Community Baptist Church, I am going to get to do this in November.

I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Wayne Golson, who attended a missions conference I participated in when I visited another church in Bradenton, Florida. Pastor Golson graciously invited me to speak in his church from Wednesday, November 19th to Sunday, November the 23rd, 2008.

I hear the church has a Christian school, which is great. We are church planters, but we look to the Christian schools to train leaders for the churches we start. We ourselves teach at Puerto Rico Baptist College and at times have taught at Levittown Baptist Academy, a K-12 Christian School. We hope to get a Seminary going, so the circle of discipleship can be completed here on the island. Because we have no Seminary, our young people go to the US for Masters' Degrees, where, unfortunately for us, many never return to pastor the newly found churches that are waiting for them. I look forward to learning things from their ministry that can help us here in our schools.

We look forward to a good time in Bradenton this November. We hope that you will drop in and see us there and get in on the fun.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tina's Choice: Surgery or a Radioactive Pill

Tina has been having trouble with hyperthyroidism off and on for the past eight years. The doctor said she has "Graves' Disease" which means her immune system is attacking her thyroid making it overactive. She will likely have to have her thyroid out or take a radioactive iodine pill to destroy it since the medication hasn't solved the problem. We found out something scary: because she also has some nodules (bumps) on her thyroid they say that about 10% of these cases are related to cancer.

On September 9th, Tina had a biopsy to determine if the nodules are cancerous. We have to wait about 10 days for the results. If it is cancerous, it will be removed by surgery and the cancer treated. If not, we can choose between surgery or the radioactive pill. The pill treatment costs seven hundred dollars and is NOT covered by our insurance. The surgery would be covered, but leaves a big scar on the neck and could have complications.

Either way, Tina and I need your prayers. We have faith in the Lord, but we are also comforted by your prayers. Please remember your missionaries are often far away from family and friends and appreciate your words of encouragement.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scary Sunday: Almost Attacked

I called 911 Sunday morning. I was alone in the church early with Sarah and Kristin cleaning and setting up. Twenty minutes before Sunday school was to begin, in walked a street person and moved toward one of my daughters. I intercepted him and asked if I could help. He smiled and put his arm around my shoulder but would not let go. I offered him some water or coke and he let go for a minute. I brought him the water, and said, "I offer you this water in the name of the Lord." He then spat it out on the floor. He made faces and cursed, but kept drinking it.

He then looked me in the eyes and began cursing and threatening. The street person then grabbed my shirt sleeve and raised a walking stick as if to strike. Without thinking, I started to go into a wrestling stance, but a thought came to me, "No. Don't fight. Even if you win, you will lose. The church will suffer for it. And if you lose, who will be here to protect Sarah and Kristin?"

So, I walked toward the front door, with him a hold of my shirt and kept talking. I was thinking, "If I can just delay him for 10 more minutes, some church members will show up and help." I spoke to the man, "So, that is how you are going to be. Why are you treating me like that?" He dropped his stick and bent down to pick it up and I stepped back, got my cell phone off the table and called 911. When the street guy saw that he smiled and ambled out of the church and walked slowly down the street and circled back as if to see what would happen. Two policemen came in time for me to point the guy out.

The police said the man was known to them as a vagrant who was on medication, but often did not take it. The officer said I could press charges, but the man would likely be on the street the same day with a warning not to forget his medications.

A new thought struck me during this conversation. Maybe this happened so that I could meet the police and witness to them. I responded to the officer: "You are a professional and know how to speak to people like that. I will leave this situation in your hands and trust your judgment and experience. After all, we are on the same team." He smiled and his deputy nodded his head and off they went to round up the guy who was still lingering around about a block away from the church.

The church members arrived at the end of this, and it made for a quite interesting sermon illustration and after service conversation. Praise the Lord no one was hurt. Next Sunday I guess the first person that comes will have to knock to get in. We don't plan on leaving the doors unlocked even 5 min. before service starts. It's a shame, but the situation could have easily been a lot worse.

Don't forget to pray for those of use out here on the front lines!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Recipes for Good Kids

Many of our college kids were involved in ministries this summer. Marisa, in the photo, went on a summer missions trip to Bolivia, where she worked as a councilor at Camp Tiger. It is winter in Bolivia, so I guess it was a winter retreat from their point of view.

We had opening services Friday night. We had a show of hands of how many led someone to the Lord over the summer and over half of the students raised their hands! That sure is a lot higher percent than I remember from my Bible college and Seminary days! They are great kids and we look for some quality pastors, missionaries and Christian school teachers to come from this group.

We are preparing for classes to start. Tina is the new cook and is learning how to cook for over 50 people. She loves it, but this first week has been hard on her. I have to teach Chemistry this semester and that is fine, but finding chemicals for experiments is really hard nowadays. With all the fear of terrorism and Meth-Labs, it has become almost impossible to get a decent chemistry set or chemicals. But our churches need educated pastors and our Christian Schools need teachers so we will press on and do the best we can.

You can help. There is a place for you! Can you peel potatoes, attend classes or get us some hard to get supplies? Well, OK then, join the team and let's make it happen!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Grilled Computers

We aren't quite as primitive as the guy in the photo, but our computer department was set back due to a lightning strike. We have power strips and UPS power supplies, but they weren't sufficient. We lost 5 computers and a router.

We are thinking of replacing them with laptops. The desktop or tower computers are cheaper, but after you buy the screen, power supplies, wifi-adapters and make space for them, they end up costing more. Laptops come with all these things. They are also cheaper to send through the mail.

The problem is, we don't have the funds to acquire them. If you have a laptop that is in working condition, but have felt you want an upgrade, look no further for a good reason to do so! All kidding aside, we have Bible college students coming in for the fall semester and e-mail and other such comforts we can offer them make a big difference to their emotional well being as well as their educational success.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Online Mind Mapping - MindMeister

Here is a site I use when trying to solve a difficult problem or tackle a large project. It helps with brainstorming and then relating the ideas to each other and by doing so generates a map to help you plot a solution to those big jobs. It is like a sheet of graph paper that allows you to make flow charts, assign priorities, put red flags and other icons next to items, etc.

Currently I am unravelling the mysteries of the Puerto Rico tax system and its relationship to the IRS. This is a very confusing topic. Mindmeister is helping me chart, tag and interrelate all the info I am getting and has helped a lot.

Now, if it could only pay those pesky taxes!

Online Mind Mapping - MindMeister

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rod and reel rescue

As a missionary, I visit and invite people to respond to God's grace in a positive manner. I can tell you that we are not often welcomed as heroes, like the guy in the news article below. It is a great illustration, when you compare this heroic rescue to what the bible calls being "Fishers of Men!"

Rod and reel rescue - Posted By ASSOCIATED PRESS, Posted 2 days ago

HALLOWELL, Maine – A man who was drowning in a Maine river is recovering after someone reeled him in with a fishing rod.

Bob Greene of Hallowell says he heard what he thought was a bird early Thursday as he was having his morning coffee.

He then realized there was a man bobbing in the Kennebec River. Greene says a 911 dispatcher told him to throw something to the man. He snagged the man’s shirt with a fishing lure and reeled him in.

The rescued man is in critical condition at a Portland hospital.

Bob Greene will be thought of as a hero, and he deserves it. But what of those who effect the rescue of an eternal soul? These are real heroes as well. Too bad they don't get treated as well by the news media!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Are you smarter than a vacuum cleaner?

A friend of mine in Puerto Rico bought his wife a Roomba, which is a robotic vacuum cleaner. It has the amazing ability to sense when it is low on power and to return to its home base, where it plugs in for a recharge.

From what I read in the Bible and see in my own experience, men and women disconnected from God all too soon use up their small deposit of energy and cease functioning. I hope that we can become as smart as a Roomba, and find our way back to the original source of power and life and stay plugged in so we can get the job done that we were created to do!

Running on low? Time to return to the source and get plugged in and powered up!

I hope you will be found as smart as that vacuum cleaner that knows where to go when the batteries run low!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Drip that Moved!

Tina asked friends to pray that our leaky roof would get some over-do attention from our landlady, and it did in a surprising way!

The leak was dripping right over our bed onto Tina's forehead, and she mentioned it a few times, but nothing was done. A nephew of our landlady cleaned the roof a bit and put a bit of paint up there, but it did not fix the leak. But the drip has moved to our landlady's side of the house is dripping on her head in her bedroom now!

So the pray was answered, the roof is getting a lot of attention now!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Talking with Smokers

The picture shows a Smoking Lounge provided by some company, but with a ceiling painting conveying a pretty blunt message. I usually am a bit more tactful.

Yesterday, our landlady was smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk in front of my house. I walked out the front door to greet her. She knows I am a pastor, so she started to apologize.

I told her, "You know, a person can smoke cigarettes and go to heaven."

She said, "Oh?"

I replied, "The only problem is, the more they smoke, the sooner they get there!"

She smiled and nodded her head.

It is a good day when you can get a point across and not alienate your neighbors.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weddings and Blessings

What a day! I walked Bethany down the aisle, went back and walked Rachel down the aisle and then went to the from and did the wedding. Our daughters were beautiful and the grooms looked good too. We don't have the wedding photos yet, but my dad took a few and posted them here:

Afterwards we had the reception and showed a PowerPoint presentation of the kids growing up. I signed the wedding license and then Rachel and Max went off to their honeymoon in the Tennessee mountains and Bethany and Abe went to Puerto Rico. Rachel and Max are working at the college this summer, and Bethany and Abe are helping a missionary in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wedding Announcement & Future Plans

Bethany and Rachel Prelgovisk are getting married on the same day, Sat., June 7th at 1:00in the Afternoon, in a double wedding ceremony. The wedding will be held in the Allen Chapel in the Crowne Centre of Pensacola Christian College. The grooms are Abraham and Maxwell Kennedy, two brothers from Indiana. Bethany is marrying Abraham and Rachel is marrying Maxwell. The reception will be held next door in the Allen Reception Room.

Bethany graduated with a double major in Comercial Art and Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising. Rachel graduated with a major in Missions with a minor in Office Administration. Abe graduated with a major in Youth Ministries with an education concentration. Max graduated with a Pastoral Ministires major with a minor in History.

Bethany and Abe plan to honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and then fly to St. Croix to help a pastor with a summer ministry. This fall Abe plans on attending Seminary at PCC to get his Masters degree and hopes to work as a Youth Pastor upon graduation, possibly on the mission field. Bethany will be working on campus as a graduate assistant and pursuing a Masters degree in Commercial Art.

Rachel and Max will honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and then return to Pensacola, where Max will attend seminary and Rachel will be working in the business/records office.

Mail may be sent to:

c/o Mark Smith

920 Langley Ave

Pensacola, FL 32504

Both couples are registered at: Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our Florida Adventure

We are enjoying a few weeks with our daughters here in Florida as we await their upcoming weddings. It is great to have some family time. Besides shopping for decorations and the 1001 other things that go into a wedding, we have found time to visit and speak in a couple of great churches here in Florida.

*Amazing Grace Baptist Church, 4835 Deer Run Rd, St. Cloud, FL

This is a church meeting in a home and is a church with a great future. Pastor Alden & Marie Wightman are great hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay with them.

The Wigthmans took us to The Holyland Experience ( and we saw some authentic papiri, a model of 1rst century Jerusalem and some good dramas and even a musical. Thanks, it was great!

*Maranatha Baptist Church, 35 Maranatha Boulevard, Sebring, FL 33870
Dr. Gerald Webber, Pastor -Phone: (863) 382-4301

Though in a retirement community, this church had over 100 people out on a Wednesday night prayer meeting! And they all came early! Really, this is a fun church to go to, even if you aren't retired!

* Irving Park Baptist Church, 5001 71 St. N, St Petersburg, FL
I spoke Sunday night at this church and enjoyed the good fellowship. A good number of "Snowbirds" go here. We were impressed with there friendly, upbeat manner.

So...even in our family vacation time, our ministry is still moving forward. Family, fun and fellowship with others all go together to make for a refreshing time for us.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

They did it!

They Did It!

Bethany and Rachel graduated from college Wednesday! Bethany had a double major: Graphic Design and Commercial Art. Rachel's major was missions. She got a special award for academic achievement for having a 4.0 for her four years.

Are we proud? You betcha! We praise the Lord, but also recognize the hard work and celebrate the achievements of our children. Great work girls!

A friend is collecting their mail for them for the next few months. It is:

Mark Smith
920 Langley Ave
Pensacola, FL 32504

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Here are four college age girls we have taught and that are part of our ministry here in Puerto Rico. This is how they are going to spend there summer vacation.

(From left to right)
1. Michele: A Puerto Rican girl, she is going to go to Mexico and help some church planters with a Summer Outreach program, 2. Stephanie: A girl from Vermont who is studying missions on the mission field, learning Spanish and helping us in our church planting in Puerto Rico. She is returning to Vermont and will spend her summer working in Bible Camp ministries. 3.Dorcas: A girl from Peru, studying Christian Education with us in Puerto Rico. She is going on the Summer missions trip to Mexico with Michele. 4. Marta: A Mexican girl from California studying Christian Education with us a Puerto Rico Baptist College. She teaches alongside Stephanie in our Sunday School. Marta plans to go to Bolivia this summer on a missions trip and then return to California to be involved in some Summer ministries there.

All four plan on returing to help the work here in Puerto Rico and then go of into various mission fields and ministries upon graduation.

We are proud of these great college girls. Our ministry is multiplied many fold through the good work of quality christian young people like these. Your support is making some great things possible in Puerto Rico, but not just in Puerto Rico! We are happy to report that ministries are multiplying and the work of missions is being helped by great young people such as these.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guilty of Being Innocent

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.
The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.
He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, 'I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him.' I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk; naturally...I assumed you had stolen the car.'

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Eclipsed? Not really, but our 25th anniversary (May 7th), Mother's Day (May 11) and Tina's Birthday (May 31) are taking a back seat to the double graduations and weddings of our daughters Bethany and Rachel that are scheduled to occur during the same time period.

I had always imagined taking Tina someplace special for this anniversary, but I guess I am. What a blessing to see our daughters graduate from four years of college and then see them marry to two great Christian guys from a good family. All our focus will be on these big events, and I suppose that is good enough for anybody.

Tina says the trip to see our girls next month is all the present she needs. I believe her, but...does anybody know of something fun to do in Florida that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? I would like to do SOMETHING for Tina that month. We have a great marriage and it deserves to be celebrated! Either way, with your prayers and God's blessings, May-June 2008 seem to months that hold great blessings in store for us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beware the Wheelbarrow!

We are gearing up for the big events in Florida: two graduations and two weddings. We hope to treat our children right! Our daughters are great and we are proud of them. Read the story below and you can see how important it can be to be nice to your parents!

An old Chinaman was eating too much rice, especially since he was too frail to work. Because the grandfather had become a burden, the father of the home, his son, determined to get rid of him. He put him in a wheelbarrow, then started up the mountain. The little nine-year-old grandson went along. He was full of questions. His father explained that the grandfather was old and useless and the only thing they could do was to take him up the mountain and leave him to die. Then the grandson had a bright idea. He said, " I'm glad you brought me along, Father, because when you're old, I'll know where to take you!"

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Fun Baptism Service

I felt a lot of joy Sunday when I saw Mr. Soto enter the church with his towel. I thought, "It finally happened! After over three years of patient teaching, I am really going to baptize Mr Felipe Soto!"

After the preaching, we went to house with a swimming pool and baptised him there. I was afraid he would get ill in the cold water, so I tried to hurry it along, but he wouldn't let me. I climbed out of the pool and turned to offer him my hand to help him out and he wasn't there! Everyone was laughing and pointing. Mr. Soto was so joyful he decided to swim a "Victory Lap" in the swimming pool!

Well, I guess there is a first time for everything! I don't think we will make this a regular feature of our future baptismal services, but it sure made for an enjoyable service last Sunday!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Belated Baptism

An older man in our church, Filipe Soto said to me last Sunday, "Pastor, I think I may die soon, so I want to be baptised."

Mr. Soto has been coming to our church for about three years now, and we are happy to have him. He asks intelligent questions during our Adult Sunday School time and studies a subject thoroughly before making any decisions. We had him scheduled for baptism about two years ago, but he had some doubts and we cancelled it until he was at peace with his decision. We hope this time he will go all the way!

In the photo above, he is the man just behind my wife Tina, who is sitting in the front pew.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Having Fun Working Hard

We are primarily involved in starting churches with the goal of growing our churches to the point where they become indigenous (pastored by a local pastor), independent and self-sustaining.
Sometimes the church is ready to take the next step and we are ready to leave, but there is no one ready to step in and continue the work. For this reason we train pastors, missionaries, and Christian school teachers at Puerto Rico Baptist College.

Teaching at the Bible College is not just an extra duty for me, but one of the most fun things I can think of doing! I love being around young people who are exited about the future. I am thrilled when we hear of their successes. About five of my former students are teaching at the Christian High school near us and two of my former assistant pastors now have churches of their own. We rejoice with them.

Some jobs sap energy out of you and others give you energy. Teaching a couple of classes a year at Puerto Rico Baptist College really recharges my battery and keeps us keeping on in the tough work of church planting. Who said you can't have fun on the mission field? We are!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

High School athlete finds a new Coach...

A 16 year old high school student named Chris Montezuma was working on an English paper and asked me for help. Chris is a real soccer fanatic and all around great teen, but he was struggling with his homework and came to me for assistance. The assignment was to write about a "Testimony" which is the story of how a person became a Christian or experienced some great change in their life.

The teen athlete said, "My parents say I am a Christian, but I never remember making any decision about that, so I really don't have a testimony."

I asked, "Would you like to make your own decision about this? I can show you some verses from the Bible and you can decide for yourself and then you can have your own testimony and not have to trust something so important to the memories of other people."

He nodded his head emphatically, so we sat down and opened the Bible and read some wonderful passages of how God has worked in history to reconcile man to himself and what young Mr. Montezuma could do to make what he read a part of his own personal history. Chris then prayed and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.

After we prayed, I went to shake Chris's hand, but he surprised me by pulling my hand toward himself and then giving me a big bear hug! Chris left smiling but I think I was smiling just as much as he was!

Now Chris has his own testimony of his very own and I am thrilled to have had a part in it!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dress in silk a monkey, if you will, But after all, it is a monkey still

“Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.”

A lady in our church asked me to visit her brother Emilio who was in the hospital. I went with my deacon, Luis Lopez. We found Emilo, and learned that he had spent two weeks in the hospital because of the damage he had done to his liver through excessive drinking. He was very friendly and acted as if it was no big deal.

He told me, "I've seen three doctors, and they say I can't drink anymore, without killing my liver permanently, but that is no big deal. I have been in here without drinking for two weeks and I don't miss it. I don't see why it should be all that difficult to quit."

I looked at him and realized he was trying to minimize his problem, but there he lay, emaciated, near the point of death, unable to work and support his family, but babbling along as if all was well. I decided it was time to help him get a grip on the reality of the situation.

I said, "Emilio, do you know the Puerto Rican proverb, "Dress in silk a monkey, if you will, But after all, it is a monkey still?

Emilio smiled and said, "Yes! That is like when you wash a dog, but when you put them back in the yard, they roll in the mud. They are still just a dog, in spite of all the work you do."

I said, "Emilio, you have been kept from drinking by the hospital, so what makes you think you won't go back to drinking when they put you back in your house? Don't you have friends that come over and drink with you? I bet you even have friends that open your fridge to see if you have any beer."

Emilio laughed, "That is right! Some of them don't even ask!"

I said, "When your old friends come over, you will likely fall into your old habits, unless you can be changed into a different kind of person. Jesus spoke of a change like this, how we could become a new person, it is called the new birth. The Bible speaks of people as either sheep or goats. Jesus said they would live with one another, but he will come one day and separate the sheep from the goats. He takes the sheep with him. Do you know what people do with goats, right?

Emilio smiled, "Yes! They have a goat barbecue!"

I said, "Yes, that's right! So you can see it is serious business! Goats do what they want and represent those without Christ. Christ wants sheep, those who will follow him. He does not come looking for ways to make the goats better. The thing is to change from a goat to a sheep. If you come to Christ, he can change you from a goat to a sheep. If you change from the inside, and become a follower of Jesus, then you have a chance, But if you continue trusting in outward changes to make a difference, you can guess for yourself how successful you will be,

I asked, “When you are in your old environment and all your drinking buddies come to visit, don't you think a few will bring a bottle to celebrate your coming home?"

Emilio nodded and smiled ruefully “Yes, I bet they will!”

We continued the conversation for a while, read some passages, prayed with him and generally had a pleasant visit. In the elevator on the way back to the parking lot, I asked my deacon Luis what he thought of our visit.

Luis said, "It went real well, but you were a little rough on somebody you just met for the first time. But even though you spoke to him like that, he responded well, so it was a good visit."

I thought about that on the way home. Was I out of line talking that way? But when I see in my minds eye a man facing death, impoverishing his family and making light of both the problem and his part in it all, the feeling again rises inside me that cries: If I don't tell this guy the truth, who will? Emilio's self-delusion and efforts at self reformation seem pretty likely to bring him quickly to his death. I think it is more important that he gets a wake up call from somebody before it is to late.

I think Emilio knew I cared about him. Even though I spoke without pulling many punches, he was positive upbeat throughout the entire visit. I hope he makes the right decision. Anyway, at least his sister in our church will see we care about her family.

Please continue to pray for our church and for wisdom, etc. for your missionaries!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Two Graduations, Two Weddings and Finding a Place to Stay for a Month...Wow! Amen! and Help!

May 7th is the graduation of Bethany and Rachel from Pensacola Christian College. Bethany is graduating with two majors: Commercial Art and Graphic Design. Rachel has a major in Missions and a minor in Business. On June 7th both will be getting married to two brothers, Abe and Max Kennedy in a double wedding.

This is a great blessing for us and we are so proud. We will definitely be there. But it does mean we will have to figure out how and where to to stay in Florida for a month. The plane fare, double wedding and graduation will be a significant expense for us as well. If anyone knows of a place we can stay for a month or could help out with the many upcoming expenses, we would greatly appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Family Fun for the New Year

Bethany and Rachel flew in from the States to spend some of their Christmas vacation with us. We opened our presents this morning and watched some fun videos.

Here is one we made in a class I teach at Puerto Rico Baptist College:

Some of my students wanted extra credit for my Physics class. We were studying electric shocks so I suggested they could get an extra credit grade if they licked a 9 volt battery! No, it's not torture, just an "electricity experience." Even if you don't understand the Spanish comments, it still is a lot of fun watching their reactions.