End of 2018
Dear friends, what a great year 2018 was here in the Northwoods! The year was full of blessings and difficulties, but God is always faithful, and His help is always nearby. And just as David thanked the Lord before the children of Israel in first Chronicles chapter sixteen, so I want to praise the Lord for His mercy that endures forever. Please bear with me as I give you a longer letter to read this time.
Since our last newsletter in October and after having three services each week during the summer, we prayerfully decreased service times to one a week for the winter. Although, this did not make sense to me, I chose to obey the Lord and this one service has been the most attended. Additionally, people have stayed longer to fellowship and increased in their desire to know the Lord. Proverbs 27:17 states, Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.; and this is exactly what is occurring as these folks try to be in God’s house. We have finished 2018 with more faithful church attendance – weekly average attendance of fifteen – and $10,000 over budget in our giving. To give you an idea of our ministry, we had fifty-six visitors in 2018 with forty-seven of those being snowbirds or those on vacation. This is not an area that may have large numbers in attendance or many church members, but as preachers of the Gospel, we are to fulfill God’s command to go into all the world, even the hedges.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons wrapped up the year with friends and family visiting. We had the joy of renewing our friendship with Josh – the young man who hoped to be baptized after bootcamp – and although his military schedule did not allow time for his baptism, he has increasingly grown in the knowledge of the Lord as he read his Bible during those lonely days. Although,
he is still away in training, he actively encourages his family to be in church and we are thankful for his influence.
The Christmas season brought three daughters and one son-in-law home for a visit. God unexpectedly provided nearly a thousand dollars for one daughter to fly home and answered prayers about her college funds, giving her over $2,000 in one day. She was so blessed by God’s grace, she was beaming with joy! My son-in-law, Fotinos, played his mandolin as his wife, Cheney, played the piano. Fotinos delivered a great Christmas message on the Fruit of the Spirit that encouraged us not to take for granted Christ’s reasons for coming to this earth; that we may walk and live through Him. Lastly, it is a joy to see how each of them have grown in the Lord as they pursue God’s will for their lives.
Happy New Year!
2019 brings with it continued blessings. As my wife I discuss our future for the next few years, we realize more than ever the importance of having an intentional relationship with the Lord – a relationship that is cultivated and nourished on purpose. Our church’s theme for this year is, Faith Works, taken from James 2:18. This verse centers around showing those within our influence our faith in God by how we serve Him. It is our personal desire and our church-wide goal to grow in
faith and service to the King of Kings. To compliment this theme and hone our faith, we handed out the Trust and Obey devotional, by Pastor Paul Chappell, to encourage everyone in our church to establish and cultivate their own walk with God. I am looking forward to the spiritual growth.
On a personal note, to start the new year off right, my wife and I
attended (with our last two daughters at home) The Lake Superior Conference on Preaching at Twin Ports Baptist Church in Superior, WI. It was a joy to receive the needed encouragement, to see old friends and to be used of God as I spoke on prayer in one of the sessions. These folks were true servants of Christ as they labored for the Lord to make this conference a success and we are thankful for
their godly examples. Let me challenge you to make 2019 a year of purposeful service and a cultivated walk unto the Lord.
In 2017-2018, we were able to accomplish a lot of remodeling on the building that we rent; this has helped us to accommodate comfortably more people. And we still have more remodeling goals to expand into the basement for other ministries if the Lord allows. These improvements could be costly, and we would need laborers to help with: installing a toilet (including plumbing), sheetrock, making an exit (cutting through concrete), installing a ceiling, kitchen and grading for a walkway, just to name a few.
But in 2019, it is our main goal to focus on outreach. Prayerfully, we plan to do two-three mail-outs within thirty miles from the church and possibly some newspaper ads. The local newspapers in this area are well-read and offer great possibilities. We have learned to be creative with our soul-winning efforts here, to include “Invite Packages” during the Christmas season. These were small gift packages that had candy, an ornament, an invitation to our Christmas service and the Gospel. We have given a lot of personal invitations on a regular basis and word-of mouth is very beneficial here. Additionally, so many people who have been invited have commented that they have seen the church, but still we wait for them to cross the threshold of the building. Please pray that these folks that God is beckoning will attend. Lastly, door-to-door soul-winning in this area is not as effective due to the distance between homes and the high number of seasonal people, but it is an avenue that we still practice. Please pray for us as we seek to reach more people for Christ through the many available soul-winning resources and as we pray for more laborers.
Lastly, your prayer and financial support are always appreciated. It is tremendous to have friends who care about us, but most importantly, care about the work of the Lord here in the Northwoods. We are actively seeking God’s will and direction for everything we do, and your support encourages us to stay faithful. Thank you for your love for us and for the Lord as we labor together in our different fields, you are in our prayers.
May the Lord Bless,